Blondie singles out a Christchurch song

HIT WRITER: Blondie is a fan of Duke's lead singer Matt Barus.
HIT WRITER: Blondie is a fan of Duke's lead singer Matt Barus.

It is fair to say that Christchurch musician Matt Barus is a bit overwhelmed. Blondie, aka Debbie Harry, has chosen to record a Dukes song on her upcoming album.

"Dukes supported Blondie and the Pretenders on their 2010 New Zealand tour," Barus explains.

"Over three shows we got the chance to meet them and on the Waipara show they watched from the side of the stage. Chris Stein, their original guitarist, came up to us after our set and said he loved our songs and asked if we be interested in writing some for their next album. I thought he was just being nice as music is full of nice people and promises."

STAR APPEAL: Debbie Harry met the Dukes when she performed at Waipara's Mud House Winery.
Kirk Hargreaves
STAR APPEAL: Debbie Harry met the Dukes when she performed at Waipara's Mud House Winery.

Barus said the group's manager, Lorraine Barry, kept in touch with Stein via email and Barus studied up on Blondie classics, just in case.

"I pretty much pulled out Parallel Lines and tried to come up with a few songs that might fit that feel. My wife Lauren [LA Mitchell] came up with a killer bridge and off went two songs. Pretty much I didn't hear from them for over a year and I thought that was the usual story."

Out of the blue, a lone email arrived that said Blondie's band was working with the Killers' producer and they had worked up one of the songs, Wanna Drag You Around.

"Again, we didn't hear anything for ages and then we received a MP3 file on email that said 'don't play this to anyone'. And it was the virtually untouched version of my song but with Debbie Harry on vocals. So I knew it was real then."

Barus isn't sure why that particular song appealed to Harry and jokes that he likes to think he nailed what it's like to be in the head of a 60-plus new wave icon.

"As for the project, the first we've heard is from an interview Blondie did in London where she sang our song in the interview and namechecked us. Wowee."

Barus says he got into music by going to see live music at Dux Live and "having his head opened" by seeing bands like Chameleon, Pumpkinhead and Jeremy Taylor's "amazing" Cinematic.

Barus's first band was Deluxeboy.

"We begged Ross at the Dux to let us support someone. We were a Cinematic wannabe band. We had my brother, Jo, on bass, Adrian Palmer from Zed on drums, Devin Abrams from Shapeshifter on sax and me on vocals and very bad guitar. Probably quite horrible."

Together with wife Lauren, Barus has a new band called Terrible Sons which features Lauren on vocals and piano and Barus on acoustic guitar and vocals, with percussion and occasional double bass.

"We've got an album in the can but Lauren has to add vocals and her grand piano playing skills yet. It's somewhere in the vicinity of Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Serge Gainsbourg and Dr John."

Barus is firmly committed to remaining in Christchurch.

"It's a choice regarding priorities and my people here are foremost, more than music. That's scary to say because everything demands us to be more, it seems like career suicide but we don't subscribe to 'career'. You choose your values at the end if the day."

The Press