(Reuters) – Blondie and Devo, two pioneering bands of new wave music played different styles during their heyday, but more than three decades later, they’ve found common ground for an upcoming U.S. tour that vibrates with 1980s nostalgia.
Blondie, formed by Deborah Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke in 1975, came up through the ranks of New York City’s punk rock scene in the late 1970s, breaking into mainstream pop with their album “Parallel Lines.”
Devo, formed in 1972 by brothers Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and named for their concept that people of Earth were in a stage of “de-evolution,” gained a loyal following with their wild costumes and high-energy music epitomized by the 1980 hit “Whip It.”
The pair plan to “Whip It to Shreds” – the name of their brief U.S. tour of 13 cities starting September 7.
“It seemed like a nice, complimentary fit because it takes us back all the way to the very beginning,” Devo singer Mark Mothersbaugh told Reuters as tickets went on sale last Friday.
Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, echoed Mothersbaugh’s sentiments, adding that their music may resonate even deeper with today’s audience – both young and old.
“I’ve always really loved their songs and their music and their crazy style,” Harry said about Devo. “Back in the day, it was very fresh and advanced. I think it’s more contemporary today than it was back then.”
Harry, 66, who has toured annually for the past 15 years and launched her own solo career, said she still loves hitting the road to play live.
“I love performing even more now. I’ve been doing it for long enough that it’s completely heartwarming to walk out on stage and have people going crazy for you and wanting to hear your music, especially if you’ve written it yourself,” she said.
While audiences at Blondie shows often expect to hear the big hits – the band has sold over 40 million records worldwide – Harry said her favorite songs to perform are from the band’s lesser-known albums, like “Cautious Lip” and “Bermuda Triangle Blues” from 1978’s “Plastic Letters.”
She maintains Blondie’s live shows will be “straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll,” but the band will incorporate some new elements such as visual projections and a “technical look on stage” for their tour with Devo.
“Even when we were at the peak of our exposure and popularity, we never had a show with multiple costume changes and back-up singers and dancers,” Harry said.
Devo’s portion of the show? That’s a different story.
‘DEVO HAS MARINATED THROUGH THE DECADES’
Known for their electro-pop sounds, creative outfits and frenzied stage shows, the dads of de-evolution bring back the synthesizers and guitars of decades ago, alongside newer technologies, to create their sound live.
Mothersbaugh, 62, promised some costume changes in their hour-long set and music that has never mellowed with age. If anything, it’s only dug deeper into the Devo philosophy.
“Devo has marinated through the decades and become more scarier and intense, and if anyone wrote it off as quirky or a joke, now they can see that we were obsessed with a particular viewpoint of life on planet Earth,” he said.
The singer said Devo, whose first album “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” was produced by experimental music master Brian Eno, has seen a resurgence in recent years led by the popularity of electronic music and people discovering them on the Internet.
“Kids nowadays are more sophisticated about music,” Mothersbaugh said. “They can find a band they’re a fan of, and if the band says they listen to old Devo music, kids have enough information to get them interested and listening to things. The Internet had a lot to do with Devo’s staying power here.”
Blondie reunited in 1997 due to the popularity of new bands like No Doubt and Garbage, which had a sound similar to Harry’s group. Blondie released the album “Panic of Girls” in 2011. Harry credited their longevity to their passion for music.
“I never thought we’d be working and making music this long, but the people I always really admired, the musicians like BB King or the Stones or Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan, music is their life,” Harry said. “It’s not just something you did in your youth. It’s something that you live for.”
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Stacey Joyce)
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