Blondie to Spread 'Panic' with First Album in 7 Years
Blondie is planning a staggered worldwide rollout this year and next for "Panic of Girls," the group's first set of new material since "The Curse of Blondie" in 2003.
While label and distribution deals are still being formulated, drummer Clem Burke tells Billboard.com that he expects the set to come out in Australia in time for Blondie's November-December tour with the Pretenders. Following that, the band plans to release it in 2011 in other territories, including the U.S. "There's a lot of politics involved," Burke says with a laugh.
Blondie recorded "Panic of Girls" during November and December in Woodstock, N.Y., which Burke says is only the second time the band has made an album outside of Manhattan (the first was 1980's platinum "Automamerican," which was done in Los Angeles). "We were living in the country out there, kind of the antithesis of the urbanite kind of atmosphere that exists around Blondie," explains Burke, adding that the album photos shot by Bob Gruen feature the band members posing with farm animals. "We tried to make the recording process as organic as possible and tried to stay away from programming as much as we could, because ['The Curse of Blondie'] had a lot of programming on it. So in the spirit of Woodstock, we kept going in the studio and playing."
Burke says Blondie was prolific, recording about 35 songs during the sessions, about 14 of which will make the album; some of the extra songs may be targeted for Internet release, he adds. "Everyone in the band contributed songs," Burke notes, though singer Deborah Harry wrote the bulk of the lyrics -- "Panic of Girls," in fact, is a line from one of the songs. "We've switched out a few people in the band, so the creative dynamic has changed a little bit." Original keyboardist Jimmy Destri, who's retired from the road, was planning to contribute to the album but wound up not being part of it."
Blondie has been previewing several of the new songs, including "What I Heard," "The End" and "Mother," during its summer tour dates. "We've been getting a great reception with the new material," Burke reports. "We're doing about five or six of them in the show, which is kind of difficult for people, hearing new material for the first time at a show. But we've been doing really well with it."
This year also marks the 30th anniversary for "Autoamerican" and its hits, "The Tide is High" and "Rapture." Blondie isn't doing anything special to commemorate the landmark, but Burke says the group remains proud of the record. "The thing that everybody always talks about is when we delivered it, the record company told us it had no hits on it," he recalls. "They were confused. And then it had 'The Tide is High' and 'Rapture,' which were big hits around the world. It's probably my favorite album. It's very eclectic. It was a groundbreaking record in a lot of ways, and we still love playing those songs."