Blondie and Devo stop at the Warfield on Sept. 10, a night for two legendary bands to show how much they still enjoy playing live music and how decades of working hard and being creative have built enduring and influential legacies. The bands also help to prove that audiences over 40 (or even 50) can incite some of the most excitable and energetic mosh pits around.
Blondie's iconic lead singer Deborah Harry called us to consider such notions as her feelings on playing in S.F., and whether she's ever really gotten used to seeing herself on T-shirts.
Do you have any fond memories of playing here in San Francisco?
Deborah Harry: [hearty laugh] What a question! I think I've had some of the best times I've ever had, playing in San Francisco. You probably weren't around when the Mabuhay Gardens was there?
I was around, but I wasn't old enough to get in.
Ah, ha ha! Aww. It was a good rock club and it was a good scene. San Francisco is a crazy town with lots of fun people. It was a little bit of madness and a lot of fun and we participated. Ha ha!
Do you have a favorite spot here where you like to play?
Oh, nowadays? Well, I guess we always like to do the Fillmore for historic reasons, for a sense of continuity.
The Fillmore is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and it'd be so interesting to know what the full musical history of the venue is.
It probably dates back to vaudeville and burlesque. They used to have places called opera houses and the Palladium in New York was once a small opera house where there would be musicals and acts, it was probably like that.
So how did this amazing double bill with Devo come about?
The agents put it together and came to us and said, "What about Devo?" and so we said, "Yeahhh! What about 'em?" We've been watching each other for centuries. Not centuries, but decades really.
Do you have a history of performing with Devo, or have your paths crossed before like this?
We met them when they first came to New York, and Chris [Stein] took pictures of them and then we went to see their shows. I think we were in Akron when they were shooting the "Satisfaction" video at a little theater. So I mean we've sort of been around them throughout the years. A mutual admiration society. I love them and I respect them and I think they'll be great to tour with. We'll have some great shows.
With some very adult mosh pits.
Ha! That's funny!
What are your live sets like in 2012?
We try to satisfy ourselves and our audience and play some of the hits and some of the new stuff and we always try to throw in a few curves to keep everybody on their toes -- including ourselves.
At a time when the music industry isn't necessarily the best place to be, Blondie put out the Panic of Girls album last year, which was great to see because it showed that the band still has an interest in putting out new music.
Thank you, definitely. We're still interested in music.
Do you foresee more new albums in the future?
We have some new stuff that we want to put out as soon as possible, so we're all ready to go with that. I think we're going to try to put it out electronically and not pressing it, have it available for download, that kind of thing. We're going to try to move faster with our product.
Your face is one of the most iconic images in music. Do you ever get used to walking around and seeing your face on people's T-shirts? Is it strange?
I think I'm used to it, sometimes I'm sort of taken by surprise. I guess, you know, by now, I should be used to it. Get over it, Deb! Get over it!