For Blondie, touring this summer will be more than opportunity to entertain fans and earn some income. It will bring the band one step closer to creating its next album.
"In the course of rehearsing for the tour, we have also been doing pre-production for a new record and just working out new ideas," says longtime Blondie drummer Clem Burke. "That's going to be an ongoing thing at soundchecks and on the bus while we're on the road."
Burke says that while considerable work remains to be done on the record, Blondie will most likely preview a couple of the new songs live. The goal is to record this fall and release the album in 2010, and Burke says he expects it to be musically eclectic.
Of course, eclecticism is nothing new for Blondie. Consider the range of such hits as "One Way Or Another" (a rocker), "Heart Of Glass" (a disco-influenced track), "The Tide is High" (with its island sound) and "Rapture" (one of rock's early rap-influenced songs). Burke says being musically original has been part of the band's ethos from its beginnings in the mid-1970s, when it came up in a New York scene alongside other enduring and distinctly different-sounding bands like the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television and the Dictators.
Burke has an explanation for how such diverse bands all emerged around the same time in the same city.
"The catalyst to it would be the club CBGB and [owner] Hilly Kristal," he says. "I always make the analogy to it being like a workshop; that's what CBGB was. The main criteria was the music had to be original."
Formed by guitarist Chris Stein and singer Deborah Harry, with Burke and keyboardist Jimmy Destri next to join, Blondie broke through with its third CD, 1978's Parallel Lines. Success continued with Eat to the Beat (1979) and Autoamerican (1980) before health problems and internal tensions split the band in the wake of 1982's The Hunter.
Stein began lobbying for a Blondie reunion in the mid-1990s, but it took several years before Harry, Burke and Destri agreed to rejoin forces. (Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison, two other band members during Blondie's biggest years, were not invited back.)
The band returned in 1999 with No Exit, which included a hit, "Maria." A follow-up, The Curse of Blondie, didn't spawn any hits, but did solidify the notion Blondie was again active.
The edition of Blondie that is touring now, though, is missing one notable longtime band member — Destri, a significant songwriting contributor.
"The road basically didn't seem to really agree with Jimmy," Burke says. "He's a good songwriter. We were hoping to get some more of his songs on the next record. He's still involved in Blondie, but he doesn't go on the road with us.
"It's funny, because basically the beginning of the band was Debbie, Chris and myself," says Burke. "It seems that the three of us are the ones left standing."