DEBBIE Harry was the original bleached popstar, long before Madonna or Lady Gaga. Now she's 65, the Blondie frontwoman shrugs off the label of icon. She talks new Blondie album, Micheal Jackson, Alicia Keys, Lady GaGa, Favorite Blondie Covers & BEING AN ICON!

What can you tell us about the new Blondie album Fear of Girls?
We're really excited about it. We hadn't recorded in such a long time (since 2003's The Curse of Blondie) that everyone had really good ideas, there were a lot of great contributions and a wide variety of material. I think it's the typical Blondie mishmash. I'm not sure when it's coming out, the (record) labels are in a terrible state now of course. But I want it out the sooner the better.

Rapture is now seen as a pivotal song in music - helping introduce rap to the mainstream in 1981.
It's a song I've always loved, I'm very proud of it. It was the first, I say rap song but it's not really a rap song, but we paid homage to the rappers and the genre. It was the first rap song to go to No.1 in the US.

Have you heard Alicia Keys' cover of your song Rapture?
Of course. I'm very flattered, Alicia Keys is one of the most talented people around, her boyfriend Swizz (Beatz) is a great producer. Those two working on Rapture - I was very honoured they'd do it.

You're touring Australia in summer with the Pretenders. That's a lot of hits in the one show.

It's going to be great. I love the Pretenders, I love Chrissie Hynde. We toured the US with Pat Benatar last year, that was fun. I wanted to do something together with them on stage. Maybe we can do that with Chrissie.

What's your favorite Pretenders song?
There's so many, but I love Brass in Pocket. What a great song.

You're doing a cover of Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough live. Why that song?
We put that into the show after Michael died. We like that song. How do you choose really?

Did you ever meet him?
No. I was going to see a show of his in LA a while back, it was when he had some heart trouble I think, he wasn't well. I was really set to meet him, I had (backstage) passes. But it actually caused a riot. What a tragedy. What a great loss.
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Apparently there's some guest vocalists and covers on Blondie's new album.
Yes. Well, I don't really want to talk about it. We've learnt to keep our mouths shut. We did record a few covers. We did a really good version of a song called A Sunday Smile by Beirut. We recorded over 30 songs. We worked really hard.

Any other favourite Blondie covers?
I did like Lily Allen's Heart of Glass - we did a duet on the Today show, she's a great girl.

You met Lady Gaga at a Rainforest benefit recently, she cites you as a big influence.
We stood right next to each other on stage and I am completely in awe of her. She's the real thing. She's got a great style, she's a very talented person.

Blondie have been having a victory lap lately - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a TV Land icon gong . . . that can't be too bad.
Well, it doesn't suck. It seems like there's an awful lot of awards floating around, but it's nice to be given credit for the stuff you've done.
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And be labeled an icon?
That's baffling. I've always wondered about that. I feel like if you stick around long enough you become an icon automatically. That took me unawares at first, I've learned to live with it though.

There was even a Blondie Barbie doll last year - did you get some of those?
Yes. Poor unsuspecting people get them as gifts from me. I've given them to friends' children, people who like to collect them. I was completely surprised but if they did Joan Jett, why not me? It's Barbie but wearing my hair and my dress. Barbie does Debbie!
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Countdown broke you in Australia, what are your memories of that show?
Good ones. We were in Australia very early on in our career. Nobody knew who we were really but part of the reason we got there was Countdown and Molly Meldrum playing the B-side of our single (X-Offender) In the flesh. People liked it, so we came on down. Australia's always been a special place for us.

You've got a milestone birthday (65) in July. What's your secret?
I don't know. I'm lucky, I'm blessed in some ways. I've been careful. I've had corrective surgery at different times when I've felt like I needed it. I advocate that for women or men actually, if they feel they need it. It does a lot for you. It's part of the job. I like to stay fit, I like to exercise, eat well, blah blah blah. I don't really want to preach about it.
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How is the new material going to fit into the live show?
I feel pretty certain people are really going to love this material. It's a good set. A high energy show.

With all the hits?
I don't know if we can manage to play all of them. It's like Elton John, he can play for three hours. We could too, we could play for a long time. I personally don't have that kind of strength, I don't know how Elton does it, it would be very difficult for me to do.

Videos from Woodstock May 28, 2010.