OKAY, WE ALL KNOW THAT BLONDIE is a band, not the singer, but during the recent Call Me Invincible tour with Pat Benatar, it’s clear that the singer still knows how to make an entrance.
“Hey, I’m doing an interview with Guitar Player,” says Blondie guitarist Chris Stein, as singer/icon Deborah Harry bursts into his dressing room at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California.
“Who gives a f**k?” she says, dropping some sort of vitamin concoction on the dressing table before zipping back out the door.
“We’re playing all the hits on this tour,” says Stein, rebooting without a hint of annoyance. “I think we’ll be out in front of a lot of people who never got a chance to see us before.”
Stein keeps his stage arsenal simple, relying on a Marshall JCM900 head, a Vega 2x12 cabinet, his new leather-covered Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, and a Dean Soltero.
“If something sounds good and it works, I don’t mess with it,” he says. “For example, I keep the amp clean, and just use a Tube Screamer for crunch.”
Stein is also demoing songs for a new Blondie album. “I’ve never gone into a record with this much material before,” he says. “I’m using Apple Logic, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, Submersible Music DrumCore, a Samson USB mic, and a laptop. Everything is right there, so it’s easy to build songs. DrumCore gives you a ton of beats, so I try to make patterns that sound like Clem [Burke, Blondie drummer]. Debbie gets in there pretty early, but I tend to write the melody lines on the guitar.”
When asked if it ever gets old performing classic Blondie hits, Stein laughs, and says, “No, but I’m sure the parts I play onstage now are way different from what I played on the hits—many of which were ‘studio constructed,’ and had nothing to do with the band playing together. Check out the BBC radio show on ‘Heart of Glass’ I posted at rednight.net, if you want an insight into how some of our tracks were recorded in the late ’70s.”