Christchurch songwriter Matt Barus officially has Blondie's Debbie Harry in raptures.
The group recently recorded one of his songs Drag You Around and this week, in announcing their upcoming No Principals tour of the US, confirmed it will be on their new album.
The song is one of five exclusive downloads being offered to fans who buy tickets for the 18-date tour, which kicks off in Hampton Beach, New Haven, on September 4.
"That's really cool," said Barus who fronts The Dukes, the band who supported Blondie and The Pretenders on their 2010 A Day On The Green winery tour of New Zealand where they won over Harry and Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. "They haven't really told us much about what's happening with the song. Initially, I had been in touch with Chris but our email correspondence has been a bit haphazard because they have been in the middle of a world tour."
While Barus is one of the most respected songwriters in New Zealand, and has been asked through his publishing company Native Tongue to write for various artists, he was too nervous about opening for two such iconic bands to notice that one of them was actually paying attention to him.
"On the last night of the tour at The Mudhouse Winery in Waipara, we were in the middle of our set and I turned towards the sound desk and Chris and Debbie were there offstage watching our show," Barus said. "When we came off stage Chris came up to me and said 'we really like your songs, do you write for other people. I said, 'I haven't really'. And he asked me if I'd be keen to write some music for their next album. I just assumed it was a really nice thing to say at the end of a tour because people really don't know what else to say.
"It took me a while and a few conversations with the people who look after my career to actually think he might have been serious so I started listening to their classic album Parallel Lines and thought about the kind of things Debbie might sing about and came up with Drag You Around. It's me imagining the kind of relationship Debbie would be in. She would kick arse and be dragging whoever it was around. That's the image I wanted anyway."
Baris also wrote another song called Hollow Man, which he actually liked better but was amazed when he got an email back from Stein saying "hey, we have been working on Drag You Around in the studio with producer The Killers producer Steve Lillywhite. Here's our manager's contact details so your people can work out the financials."
The songwriting royalties could be quite significant. Blondie have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and with Harry announcing this week that after 40 years in the music business it was time to retire, their last album is expected to be a best-seller