Destri Rides Again
By Tony DiLorenzo
There was a time when our airwaves were dominated by sultry sexy vocals, tightly woven keyboard and guitar textures driven by some seriously "In-The-Pocket" drums. These songs had what every song writer prays for... Hooks! Hooks that stayed with you. Hooks that had you humming, whistling and singing along long after the songs were over. These songs lingered in your head like the smell of fine perfume on your own clothes after you've kissed your girl goodnight. Songs like "Atomic", "Call Me", "Dreaming", "Heart Of Glass", "One Way Or Another" had us all singing along. These songs were definitely part of the soundtrack to our lives. Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are back. You know them (and love them) as Blondie!
Whether Jimmy Destri is laying back to support Debbie's vocal or driving an organ chord right through your speakers he knows what parts to play and where to play them. Take the Destri penned hit "Maria." This song is a shinning example of his strength as a song writer. If their songs where part of the sound track of our lives then Jimmy Destri definitely conducted the orchestra.
(TD) First off let me say that as a fan it's great to have you guys back and on the charts where you belong.
You're a friend. You're more than a fan.
(TD) What synths were used for the making of "No Exit"?
The Kurzweil K2500x and K2500sx. This is a fully blown one but just under the maxed out model. It costs so much less but you get just as much. You don't get the brushed chrome exterior. I bought my first one at Sam Ash and I'm very happy with it. I was warned that the manual would drive me crazy. It turned out that I still haven't gotten through the manual but at a certain point in Kurzweil-eezz – when you're going through the thing and at a certain point in using it – a light bulb comes over your head and you say "Ahh, this is the method you're using.” This is how they distorted Ray's vision" (Jim's talking about Raymond Kurzweil, the designer of the original K250). I got my K2500sx from Kurzweil. It's fully blown with an internal hard drive and lots of memory. It's really a wonderful machine.
I used to own a Synclavier II and of course it was an old 16-bit machine with FM synthesis. It didn't have MIDI but the great thing about the Synclavier was that the FM synthesis strings and horns and a lot of their other sounds were so bizarre and so wild and so fat and thick that it really had a character of it's own and I haven't seen a keyboard match that until this Kurzweil series came out.
(TD) So the K2500 is like a Synclavier for the 90s (and 2000).
Yeah, I really think so. The K2000 really started on the steps with it, I know you own a K2000rs and a K2500rs and I know you love them. The K2000, what it lacked in memory it made up for it in the extent of it's sounds and factory programs which were just brilliant. It's a point where you could just leap off. This is even better (the K2500) because beside having some of the same factory programs and more like it, this has more memory, the ability to save songs, a mixer, and a full sequencer, and total MIDI control.
(TD) It's a full function workstation.
It does have it's flaky moments and it's not a real road machine. I've been using it on the road and we had to buy an extra one, a rack module just as a back up. Every now and then we need to send one out to be fixed.
(TD) So you have duplicate models?
Yeah. My advice to anyone who takes one of those on the road is to really seriously spend good money on a road case system where it's a total dedicated keyboard road case where you could stack them flat. When you put them on their back on a truck, they get shaken up and most of the brains and boards get jarred.
(TD) What other keyboards did you use for "No Exit?"
I used my Hammond XB-5 which I love. I'm very chagrined because they've stopped making them. It's a wonderful keyboard. It's a Hammond organ with a full array of programmable sounds. The XB-5 has presets beside the drawbars on each keyboard, both upper and lower. I've EQed number five to sound just like my old Farfisas, really tinny and bright and sharp on the low end.
(TD) So you've mostly rolled off the 16' stop?
Exactly. Peter Danilowicz my keyboard tech and I have A B'ed it against some of the Farfisa songs from our catalog and it was very close. With the Leslie added, the difference becomes negligible because I always use the distorted Leslie. I have the other presets dedicated to different types of organs sounds, some great percussive sounds. I keep the lower keyboard at a very Matthew Fisher (organist for the band Procol Harum) type of wet organ pad sound. Sometimes I MIDI it with the Kurzweil and put a string together on the lower half.
(TD) Did you use any of your vintage gear for this CD? I know you have a vintage collection.
No. I had the Polymoogs and I had a Mini Moog but that sort of fried.
(TD) Did any of that stuff make it to the record?
No, none of it did but I used the Roland JP-8000 to approximate a lot of those sounds (vintage analog), it's pretty good. I've tried the Nord and some other stuff but the JP-8000 was really the best of the lot as far as being user friendly.
(TD) So you're using the JP-8000 to replace all your old analog synths.
Yeah, I like to use it in a non programmable form, I like to use it like an old analog synth.
(TD) You mean actually playing the knobs? Opening and closing filters manually?
Because the great thing about the JP-8000 is when you recall a program number it goes back to the way the sound was set before you started playing with the knobs. I'm using the JP-8000 for the sweeps in "Heart Of Glass" on my right hand and the sequenced "Duga Duga Duga" sounds on the Kurzweil. I use the JP-8000 MIDIed to the Kurzweil so I just trigger the K2500 to do the sequence and it uses the bottom half of the JP-8000. The sweeps are on top and the bottom is the bass.
(TD) So on "Heart Of Glass" you're getting a little added bass boost from the JP-8000?
Right. For that "Duga Duga Duga." All those sequenced lines are called Duga in Blondie land because of Giorgio Moroder. When we were recording "Call Me" he came up to me and asked "Can You Play Duga Duga Duga?"
(TD) So now every repetitious 16th note pattern is a "Duga Duga Duga."Yeah. (TD) Are you making use of the sampling capabilities in the K2500? We did a few samples for the album on a song called "Dig Up The Conjo." We really make use of the sampling for live performances. My sister Donna sings all the backing vocals on the song "Maria" in a choral effect. I had our record company send me her tracks soloed. This was the digital track off the Radar. Rather than sampling the whole phrase, I sampled each note so that I could play it in time. I had my sister sampled for the backing vocals in that song and I mix it with their program of choir and it really works well. A lot of samples, when mixed with their factory programs work well.
(TD) Did you sample any of your vintage synths or are you using a sample library?
No. I was going to but we found that we approximated the sounds pretty much the same. I do miss some of the sample and hold effects from the Polymoog. I just let you hear a track I'm working on and I'm using a sample and hold effect that I made up myself but I haven't really gotten into the V.A.S.T. synthesis capabilities of the Kurzweil. Anything with a data wheel and an numerical key pad scares me. It's not like an analog synth.
(TD) Sure, analog is very intuitive.
I found one program that could be used like a sample and hold type sound. Having to flip through all those parameters is hell. It not like reaching for a knob (like on an analog synth). You have to find what you're looking for while starring at this little blue screen forever. It's very digital but it great because I'll always have it once I save it.
(TD) Did you sample any unusual sounds for use on the record?
On "Out In The Streets" we regenerated the drums through some DDL and squash box. Craig Leon (producer of "No Exit") regenerated a loop of echoes off the drum kit that worked very well. We did an old sixties version of the song by the Shangrilas which we considered to be sort of a precursor to Hip Hop because it's about gangsters but fifties gangsters so we gave it a Hip Hop beat but with a fifties backing vocal flavor. We didn't sample anything but that one loop of drum echo. We also used binaural recording but it didn't make it to the album. Lou Reed did an album using this technique. This gives you an exact representation of the way the human ear perceives stereo. This gives you sort of a 3D perception of sound. We took some street sounds that we were going to use for "Out In The Street" but then we wouldn't have had enough time for it since we added another track to the album.
We didn't get as electronic and "Studio Hip" as we wanted to with this record. We felt it was really important to just go in and do the songs and do what we do best. I think on the next record we'll get a little more "Out".
(TD) How were the synths recorded? Was there any particular signal chain (such as synth into a submixer or preamp of sorts, compression, EQ to disk) or did you just run the keys direct into the studio's mixer?
We went right into the studio mixer. On some occasions when I used the organ I sent it through the Leslie. We then miked the Leslie. Sometimes with strings we sent the strings out to give them a little room sound. We sent them into the studio room and put some mics out. A lot of that stuff (room ambiance and effects) is built in to the patches. We had some time and we tried to play around a bit.
(TD) Are you using the same rig live?
Yes. My live rig and my studio rig are the same. I didn't use any extraneous keyboards on the album. I didn't even use a regular grand piano, which I've used on every Blondie album, because I like the Kurzweil piano so much. It was just so easy just to dial them up and use them.
(TD) So wherever there is piano on the record it's really the K2500?
Yes, exactly and that was one of the reasons for getting the 88 note keyboard. When you dial up the piano sound you really have a piano in front of you. If you're playing classical piano or if you're Elton John or someone who relies heavily on real piano when they're making a record then you'll hear a difference. You don't get the wood resonating like when you mic up a piano. It's squashed down into the digital sample, but for Blondie music I don't think it matters at all.
(TD) Any problems keeping this rig alive and well on the road?
Oh yeah. Like I said earlier we started using regular flight cases. Although they're good if you're going from studio gig to studio gig or doing a few gigs, when you're on a major tour and the synths are going on container ships and air freight and trucks it's much better to have a flat storage case that takes a series of keyboards. One huge case that your tech can deal with and unload all the keyboards from there. So we've got a flat storage case just for the K2500s. The Hammond is built really well. It hasn't really broken down. The only problem with the Hammond is that the wood work has gotten a bit scratched up.
(TD) Normal road scars?
Yeah, and I play it very hard. I play all my keyboards very hard. I think Fatar makes the keyboard portion of the K2500sx. It's really built well. I haven't had any problems with the keys. I have been breaking the Hammond keys because I play it really hard.
(TD) Palm Glisses?
Palm glisses and just beating it hard.
(TD) So Peter has been fixing the keys for you?
Yeah, Peter always has some super glue ready and he has a few extra keys that we bastardized from an old keyboard. I think it may have been from an ARP String Ensemble. It's the same size key.
(TD) So it's job security for Peter?
Yeah, exactly. Peter has plenty of job security. I don't know what I'd do without Peter. Not only does he play some left hand parts and some harmonies but he triggers most of my sequences. He took the hell of dealing with a drummer away from me and it's now his hell. It's his own personal cross to bare.
(TD) Because Peter is trying to lock with Clem?
Yes, and that's a hard thing because Clem throws in these fills and flourishes and Peter is always trying to catch up with him. We take a cowbell sound from the K2500, we use it as a metronome and then we send this to Peter's and Clem's headphones. The audience just hears the sequence.
(TD) Are you getting a piece of the cowbell?
No, I don't want to hear any of that.
(TD) Tell me about your stage amplification for the keyboards. Are you using a sub mixer for the keys and then taking a feed to the house mixer?
We use the Yamaha 01v mixer and we have one as a back up. We like it because it's automated, when you change songs the faders fly. It remembers the MIDI patches, volume etc.
(TD) What's driving the program changes for the mixer?
It's all being controlled by the K2500. What we do is put each song in the set list into a bank of setups. Each song contains 4 or 5 different setups split across the keys. Some of those setups contain sequences. Peter usually has the sequences. My setups contain different sounds. Let's say Peter changes his song from 201 which may be "Dreaming" to 202 which is "Hanging On The Telephone." "Dreaming" may not have any sequences but it tells the Yamaha 01V to recall all the levels and settings necessary for "Dreaming."
(TD) So the whole show is being controlled by the K2500.
Yes. A lot of the show is being controlled by the K2500 because that's what Clem listens to. It's basically the padding and the orchestration, if you want to call it that, for the whole band. What we hear on stage is through the monitors. We have the Leslie off stage. The house gets a stereo mix from my keyboards, a separate mix from the organ, a mono mix from Peter's K2500 and another separate mix from my Roland JP-8000. We were using JBL powered EON-10s but now we're using ear monitors.
(TD) So you don't have a speaker set up on stage?
No, as a matter of fact if you get too close to the stage you start to hear mostly drums and vocal coming from the floor wedges so we solved that problem by putting little PA speakers that face the audience giving keyboard sounds to the audience. Most of my stuff comes out through the PA without any stage ambiance. It comes from my mixer right to the PA.
(TD) So you're going from the Yamaha 01v to the house mixer and you're controlling EQ and volume from the 01v.
Yes, our sound man Vincent Kowalski keeps it flat. Sometimes a synth may jump out a little too loud because I've been working on a program and I didn't bring that keyboard's volume back. When this happens, Vinny just brings that synth back in the mix. It's different in every house. He usually has to boost the keyboards in open air gigs because they get lost in the wind a bit.
(TD) It sounds like doing it this way makes Vinny's job a little easier.
Yes, it's much easier.
(TD) When I listen to "No Exit" it almost seems like you guys picked up right where you left off in terms of *Hooky* well crafted songs. To me the whole album sounds very current and yet it has that *Blondie Sound*. How did the band accomplish this?
We've always tried to push the envelope a bit. This was our first album after so many years. What we tried to do was just get along, enjoy ourselves and do what we do best, which is write catchy melodies and use the idea to dictate the form of every song. That's what we always did. We just wanted to make a Blondie album. We didn't want to make a Blondie album that points it's way to the future, we just wanted to come back and make a Blondie album and place it in today's contemporary music and see how it stood up. I think on the next album we'll try and stretch the limit a bit. On this one we put the songs together and tried to have fun playing as a band.
(TD) The fun definitely comes across, the album sounds great.
We had a good time doing it. (TD) We all know that if all of you (Blondie) come together as a band to write, the songs are going to have a *Blondie Sound* but beyond writing approaches Is the *Blondie Sound* due to specific recording techniques?
First of all it's due to Debbie's voice. It's so recognizable and so there. Her voice is so associated with us as a band and what we do as a band. It's so symbiotic. The band needs that voice and the voice needs the band behind it to be Blondie. It's a mixture of Chris style and my style of playing that really add the harmony to that voice and of course Clem drives it all.
Leigh Fox (bass) and Paul Carbonara (guitar) really understand what we're doing. They really are excellent musicians who fill in and thicken up our sound. We come in and say "we want to do this..." They know the exact way to thicken it up and make it strong. In the beginning it was so easy because they understood Blondie. They knew what it was about. We didn't have to say "play this", they just got it. They understood it, they're very smart guys and they know exactly what the band needs and we're very lucky to have them.
(TD) When you write, do you do it at the piano first and then start to expand on it as you go?
I write a lot of stuff on my worst instrument, the guitar because I can only play bar chords. When I'm on the piano I might say "lets make this a sixth or a diminished seventh." This takes me away from the melody that I originally wrote in my head, so I'll get the chords on the guitar. If I hear a melody in my head, and that's how it usually comes, I'll run to a guitar and just put the block chords to it. I'm a really terrible guitar player. I can play open chords and some bar chords but it hurts my hand after a while so it makes me want to finish it. I'll put those block chords down and then get a piece of paper and write down what I played, then write a scratch lyric or a finished lyric or maybe I'll call Debbie and say "here's a la la thing can you do a lyric" and it'll be just guitar and me humming and the song gets done.
Once the song is done I'll make a proper demo for everyone to hear how I want it to sound. Then I'll go to the keyboards and I'll discover alternate chords. I can get all keyboardy with it. It all has to work over the block chords first.
(TD) So you start your basic structure on the guitar?
Yeah. (TD) At what point do you start to orchestrate with the synths?
Once Debbie does a scratch vocal. It's important to let the vocal tell the story, everything else is embellishment. Then it's important to see what you can do to prop the vocal here or embellish it there or highlight it in certain parts of the song. Sometimes a string line will do or sometimes just introducing the organ in the chorus or the bridge is so reminiscent of what we're about. It just says "it's them again."
I like to put the organ in a padding level. I just have my own sound, very pad like and hard chords. Everything else is just lines and strings, I'm pretty good with stuff like that. I worked with Michael Kamen for a while and he taught me a lot about orchestration and contrapuntal arrangements. I never went to school for music. I can't even read golf clubs (Jim means quarter or half notes), but I understand music. I understand that horns work one way and strings work another and when you're using a digital synth you can't play it like a keyboard. If your playing string lines or horn lines or guitar lines you have to think like that instrument. You have to think about breath control and bowing. You can't just bring the attack up so you can hit it like a keyboard unless you want something different. To actually score and orchestrate strings you really have to think like a string player.
(TD) Anticipate the beat a little bit so the attack isn't behind?
Right. (TD) Does a sound from a synth influence the parts you write or do you plug the sounds in after you've come up with the parts?
It depends on what we're going for with the song. Sometimes it's good to start with a synth that gives it sort of a feel. Maybe a Euro feel of something else. Once the song is written, verse, chorus, bridge, and melody then it's time to play around. I feel the best thing to do is see what vibe the song will accept, or what mood it will accept by using the synths to either be an approximation of live instruments or as a synthesizer itself. Sometimes when you're using it as a synthesizer itself you need to be very minimal. You have to hear all the spitting and groaning and filtering come through. You can't make it sound like it's taking the part of the bass. I really don't believe in that, I really hate synth bass. I love real bass players. Synths should sound like synths. I like to hear the ring modulation and the cutoff frequency. A song might need that and then you just go for the synths. You just make it a very synthesizer oriented song. I really don't think a synth should be there just to be there. It should be there if the song needs it.
(TD) That's part of the discipline of being a good song writer. Knowing what parts to put in and what to leave out.
The song comes first. (TD) Are you using any computer based sequencing at all?
No. All the sequencing is coming from the K2500. I could have run a sequencer from a lap top but that takes away from the spontaneity of the show then everyone has to follow that. If something goes wrong with the computer then you can't play that night because everyone is so used to following that computer arrangement.
(TD) It's like you're doing a track date.
Right. If my K2500s blow up we can still play a Blondie gig, I'll just play organ. The show should never depend on machinery it should always depend on people.
(TD) Do you sequence all parts for the final recording or do you use the sequencer to sketch arrangements?
Usually to sketch it out. I might sequence things to lay down some drums with Clem to get a mood but for the final stuff I'd rather fly a part in than sequence it. It gives it more of a feel. I like when things are a little off. It's a lot better.
(TD) A little dangerous?
A little dangerous, a little off, it comes from listening to Beatles records when I was a kid. Nothing on the Beatles most amazing recordings was ever on time or right on the money or right on the note but it was the most amazing mix you've ever heard.
(TD) Are you using any of these sequences on stage or is the band doing everything live?
Yeah we're doing stuff live but the "Dugas" are played on the one with Clem. I've seen Peter go from 140 bpm to 138bpm within the body of the song while trying to follow Clem. Peter has an amazing ear, he's a great musician so he can do that.
(TD) I noticed in the notes of "No Exit" Chris Stein thanks Forat Electronics. Is Chris using a Forat 9000 (sampling workstation)?
Yes he is. He has it in his home studio. (TD) Does he use it as a writing tool or are these parts getting used on the CD and live?
Chris usually finishes a song sequences and all. He's a very good keyboard programmer and he'll finish it to a certain extent, unlike me. I'm more guitar oriented. It's so strange he's more of a sequence guy.
(TD) So Chris is a big tech head?
Yeah, he's a very good programmer. He'll bring the stuff in nearly finished and I look at what keyboards I can add or subtract. I'll say "you really don't need this" and I'll play it by hand and it'll be a little more organic.
(TD) So he's doing all his sequencing on a Forat 9000 and not a computer or a K2500?
He just got his K2500 but he hasn't cracked it yet. I've warned him about how long it'll take. He also uses a Linn 9000 as his basic control center. He links the Fortat to that.
(TD) He's using a Linn 9000 and a Forat 9000?
Yes, Chris has more gear than he knows he has. He has too much stuff.
(TD) What mics were used for Debbie's vocals?
A lot of different mics, Neumans, Sennhiesers
(TD) Any favorite outboard gear used for the vocals? Any particular compressor, EQ, mic pre?
Her voice is very strong and she's very good with mic control so she needs minimal limiting. Her mic control comes from performing with a jazz band (The Jazz Passengers) and performing live with rock bands for so long. She really moves her head around the mic, she comes in close for the really soft breathy things. She doesn't even need a pop filter. She knows when to turn her head when a "P" is coming up, she's really that astute in the studio so there's very minimal limiting that's used on her vocals.
We use compression on her vocals after the fact when we compress the whole track. Sometimes we take her and play around with some of her more scary and strange vocal lines by going into an H-3000 (Eventide Harmonizer) and pitching her down a whole octave. That's a lot of fun and she likes that. Basically she needs no harmonization she's always right in key and we record her dry.
(TD) What about recording Debbie's voice? Does she like to go for a *One Take and Nail It* approach or does she like to piece together different parts from different takes?
It depends, sometimes she'll just knock it out and sometimes she'll ask for something else. Sometimes it gets very hard and we have to tell the producer that she could do it again because she'll do something that kills but we'll always save her last track, so a vocal comp is rare. Sometimes she'll hit a chorus in a different way and you'll sit there and say "hhmm, which one do we like."
(TD) So you get a lot of material to pick from that way.
She's really good too because she'll be very subjective and say "I don't know" when she's finished, "I don't know what do you think?" Then an hour later she'll come into the room and say "that one, I like that one." You've got to give her the credit and go with it and she's been proven right for years.
(TD) In the chorus of the song "Maria" there is a beautiful choir feel when Debbie sings the hook. Tell me how you did that?
That is a cop from a scene from "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" when they take that five note sequence and they're on a hill and they change it around. I had no idea what to do in that chorus and I came up with that "Close Encounters" idea. I was singing it at the board while Craig was doing a little mix of the chorus. I called my sister Donna and she came in and did some backing vocals. We had her sing her line then double it then we added a harmony to it and that was it.
(TD) How did you get some of those classic analog synth effects in the song "Nothing Is Real But The Girl" ?
That's the JP-8000. (TD) "No Exit" has such an assortment of great guitar sounds did Chris and Paul go into the studio with an arsenal of guitars and amps for their different sounds or did they just use a guitar preamp direct to the board?
A lot of the time Chris would use a guitar preamp direct into the board. He tried out all these different things. When a band like us is coming back we get contacted by all these manufacturers. The guitar guys get everything the keyboard guys get nothing. We can buy keyboards a little cheaper but the guitar guys keep getting guitars and preamps and they get the new little boxes and new amps. Chris got a whole bunch of new pedals and we went direct into the board. For the song "No Exit", we recorded his guitars into the Radar in his basement and brought it into the studio later as a finished track. We just did the mixing on the Neve Capricorn which is a wonderful console. Between the Radar and the Capricorn you have total recall of your performances.
(TD) "The Dream's Lost On Me" has such a perfect country feel, tell me about recording this song.
Chris did the demo of that song in his basement and the feel was just there so it was so easy just to cop it.
(TD) It has such an authentic country vibe.
Chris is really great with that stuff. He did his demo on keyboards. Then we did a demo of it in his basement during pre-production where I played a toy accordion. I used that as the pad rather than a keyboard.
(TD) So you miked up the toy accordion?
We miked the toy for the track. I can't really play accordion, I don't understand the black buttons. We tried just the right hand on a real accordion but it didn't have the same feel or vibe so we went back to the toy accordion and we did it in the studio with a really good mic and a proper set up and it sounded wonderful. Clem really copped Chris's feel from the demo he made it come alive a little more. I think what really pushes that song across is not so much the backing track but it's Debbie's vocal and the way she sang it and the lyric is great. You can give Chris all the credit for that song for the demo and Debbie and Romy (Ashby) for the lyric and Debbie for the vocal performances. It's my wife's favorite song you know.
(TD) I was lucky enough to be invited to a session at Electric Lady. You were cutting to an Otari Radar (hard disk recorder). Why the Radar and not some other digital or analog recorder?
Craig Leon, our producer is so familiar with the Radar and he introduced it to us and showed us how wonderful it is. He brought in the Radar for pre-production and we actually did the album in pre-production. We would cut right to the Radar so we had a sketch of what the album would sound like and if we thought we needed to drop a chorus in a song we would go to the Radar and drop the chorus. If the drums were a little out of time in a section we'd put them in time and see what it would sound like. We could actually change beats. We could move a guitar riff, that we liked from the beginning of the song to the end.
(TD) So you were able to correct timing errors with the Radar?
Yeah, you could do all of that hard disk editing and it's very fast. Craig really knows his way around on this machine. We recorded the basic tracks live but we had the option to extend songs or cut them down, to put a chorus earlier, lose a bridge or go right to a chorus. We had that option with the Radar.
(TD) You could have done this type of editing with a Pro Tools rig. Why not Pro Tools?
Craig is just very familiar with the Radar and he's very comfortable using it. Pro Tools is something that we all are a little familiar with and we would have all been in there playing around with it. With the Radar, Craig had the producer's control.
(TD) Was all the tracking for "No Exit" done in commercial studios like Electric Lady or were you starting tracks in home studios?
A lot of the tracks were started in my place and Chris did his tracks in his place. We used the commercial studios for live drums. We would transfer our demos to the Radar and pull out our drums and replace them with Clem's parts. In some cases we did it old school. We just went out and played to a click and that worked.
On the song "No Exit" we had a problem because the Kurzweil went down so I played piano and had them give me a click in my ear that was at the same bpm from the Kurzweil and I played the song live. Clem and I cut that song alone at first and then we built up from there. We pulled the piano out after a while and then Chris put the guitars on in his basement.
(TD) Really thick guitar sounds on that track.
Oh they're great. Chris did a lot to take that track a level up. When I heard the guitars on it I was really amazed. We wanted to do a rap tune but we didn't know how exactly we would do it. We decided to do what Kid Rock is doing today, just make a rock track and just rap over it. The thing that set that song apart was the chorus.
(TD) At the beginning of the title song "No Exit" you play Bach's Toccata And Fugue In D Minor as an introduction, were you classically trained?
No, that's one of the few things I could play. (TD) What kind of exercises do you do to keep your hands in shape?
Just some simple scales. I accept that fact that I have a different style and I use what I can. I don't consider myself to be an adept piano or organ player. I just use it as a tool to get the song done.
(TD) Do you do any warm up exercises before you go on stage?
I should. I drink. (TD) I know when I used to play live my hands would go cold before I went on.
Well if you have some vodka you don't notice that. A shot or two of vodka warms the whole body. It goes to the hands and the feet.
(TD) I know you're touring heavily to support "No Exit." After the tour will you be doing another album? We want Blondie in 2000!
Yes, we're really looking forward to that. We'll probably start in the spring maybe earlier like February or March. Maybe start recording in April and get it out by Christmas. We'd like to put the album to sleep and then sit with it for a while rather than rushing it out. I would really like to record a track in between the two albums. I'd like to see Chris come up with something that's so very Chris. Let him point the next direction because he really is the visionary. I'm too confused. I could follow but I'm too confused to lead.
Until Next Time... Stay Well. ©Tony DiLorenzo This article appeared in the January 2000 Issue of EQ Magazine.