Sunday, October 14, 2007
Deborah Harry hasn't released a solo album in 15 years, which is fine because most people have spent that time wearing out all the amazing singles she made with her band Blondie. But now that "Necessary Evil" has arrived, the 62-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee would like to redirect your attention to more than a dozen new songs she wrote for the disc, many of which she previewed on this past summer's True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper and Erasure. Harry also took all the photographs for the album cover.
Q: What are you going by these days: Deborah or Debbie?
A: Oh, I don't care. I never really did.
Q: It seemed like a bit of an issue for a while.
A: That's surprising. You never know what marketing things they come up with.
Q: Who did you make this album for?
A: I don't know. I don't know if I had any one particular person in mind. Why? What's your theory?
Q: It sounds like you made it for yourself.
A: It's true. I just tried to do the best writing that I could, and I really like the material. Going under that, I would surmise that my audience might like it.
Q: The title track is a love song. Who writes a love song with the lyric, "The secret ingredient is the knife in the cake"?
A: It's sort of like when love takes you prisoner, there's no escape, and they used to put the knife in the cake. It's also the knife in the wedding cake, so it sort of has a double visual.
Q: What you're saying is that it is a double-edged knife?
A: It's a symbolic knife. Let's not go too far with this.
Q: In "School for Scandal," you sing, "The devil's d- is hard to handle." Does the knife come back?
A: No, the knife doesn't come back and attack the devil.
Q: All these lyrics are a bit rude, aren't they?
A: Well, I feel like they should be the way that you talk. I mean, I don't talk like William Wordsworth. I talk like a regular person.
Q: What's your idea of romance?
A: Gee, I don't know. It's different. Real romance is sharing something and enjoying something with another person. It's not one specific thing. It's a moment.
Q: I was always led to believe it was a sunset stroll on the beach while drinking piña coladas.
A: It could be. It just depends on how you approach it.
Q: How would you describe yourself in a personal ad?
A: Oh, I don't know: Fun-loving sex maniac available.
Q: That should do the trick.
A: Yeah, that would work.
Q: You took the self-portraits on the album cover. Did you just hold a camera and reach out as far as you could?
A: Pretty much.
Q: Why didn't you call a real photographer?
A: I just thought, "I'll try this." It was a pretty interesting experience. With digital, you can't go wrong. You just erase your mistakes.
Q: So, basically, you were bored on a Tuesday night?
A: Not quite. I did it on a Sunday.
Q: You've cut off all your hair. When was the last time you had short hair?
A: It was probably in the late '70s.
Q: Your hair has been such a big part of your identity. You even named the band after it. How does it feel to have it gone?
A: It's a lot easier. One of the things that's always been problematic for me doing tours is the hair always gets wet and hangs there. So having the short hair is kind of great. You just brush the water out.
Q: Did getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year allow you to put Blondie behind you?
A: No, I don't think so. I don't think I would really want to put that behind me. This solo album came out of nowhere. I was just writing songs and having fun, and next thing I knew, I ended up with a bunch of songs.
To hear Deborah Harry's music, go to www.myspace.com/debbieharry.
E-mail Aidin Vaziri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page N - 48 of the San Francisco Chronicle