Photo by Getty Images

The Leader-Post (Regina)
Published August 14, 2010


When legendary pop-punk band Blondie reunited in 1997, they began writing and rehearsing in a basement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan — which is exactly how the original journey started.

“It really felt like kind of going back to the beginning,” says drummer Clem Burke. “When we were playing at CBGB in the middle of the ’70s … who would have thought we’d be playing gigs in 2010. It was unfathomable. We’re pleased with our success. The legacy of the band is the music.”

Blondie — the unlikely brainchild of a former folk-rock singer (Chris Stein) and one-time Playboy bunny (Deborah Harry) — became a regular in New York City’s downtown, new wave scene.

The current line-up features original members Stein, Harry and Burke, along with Leigh Foxx, Matt Katz-Bohen and Tommy Kessler.

Blondie eventually burst into the mainstream with infectious pop hooks and post-punk overtones in hits such as “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” and “Call Me.”

“We always wanted to get played on the radio, but we always wanted to do it in our own way,” says Burke. “That whole do-it-yourself attitude that came out of the underground rock scene, we were big proponents of that. We didn’t have stylists or people telling us what to do.”

The band often did the unthinkable — mixing distinct genres to achieve a unique sound. The rap-infused “Rapture” was one of the earliest songs containing rap vocals to climb the charts, and record companies weren’t sure what to make of it, Burke says.

“We’ve always been pretty eclectic,” he explains. “Coming from New York, it’s such a melting pot of cultures and styles. We’ve kind of assimilated a lot of those different things, always striving to be a little unique in what we do.

“Some of the choices we made have not always been the most popular, but that’s what the band has been about. Making radical decisions.”

Blondie dramatically parted ways in 1982, a result of rumoured mismangement and tension within the group. Burke went on to play drums for music legends like Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop and the Ramones.

“I brought a lot of that stuff back to the table,” Burke says. “To be around someone with that genius, to be in the studio with them and observe them … I’m a fan, and to get to transcend and be a musician is an amazing learning process and very inspiring.”

Some 30 years since its inception, Blondie is back together. The image and the sound lives on.

Deborah Harry’s cool sex appeal and style has been emulated by contemporary artists such as Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga.

“To see that a band could come out of the streets and have a No. 1 record, that’s a guiding light for a lot of bands,” says Burke. “That’s really been fortunate for someone like us. We did so much media back in our heyday, that’s a big contributing factor to our success, especially with our younger audience. We were a cultural influence.”

Blondie is currently on a world tour promoting its latest album, Panic of Girls, to be released in Canada next spring.

“We came back together for love and money, I always say,” Burke laughs. “I always thought that we would — just where and when, I wasn’t quite sure.”

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