Clem Burke Talks New Blondie Album, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and Beyond

Uncategorized June 13, 2024

Clem Burke Talks New Blondie Album, Tall Poppy Syndrome, and Beyond

Blondie’s legendary drummer Clem Burke is on the brink of unveiling his memoir, a captivating journey through the highs and lows of his remarkable career. As he prepares to share his personal story with the world, Burke also hints at exciting developments on the horizon: an eagerly anticipated Blondie album slated for early 2025.

Beyond his enduring contributions to Blondie, Burke remains a dynamic force in music, continually exploring new frontiers. His recent collaborations with icons like Alice Cooper and innovative projects such as Tall Poppy Syndrome underscore his unwavering passion and versatility. With a career that spans decades and includes many pivotal moments recording with fascinating artists, Clem Burke continues to enrich his musical legacy.

Tall Poppy Syndrome | Photo by Lee Escobar

“We recorded a new Blondie album scheduled for early 2025”

It’s great to have you. How have you been lately?

Clem Burke: I’ve been great and pretty busy. I’ve just returned from a sold-out UK tour with a group of musicians performing Iggy Pop’s music. The band was called Lust for Life and included my friends Glen Matlock on bass and Kevin Armstrong on guitar. All three of us have history with Iggy; each of us recorded an album with him — in my case, ‘Zombie Birdhouse’ — and we’ve all toured with him as well. Kevin, who was Iggy’s musical director for a long time, also performed at Live Aid with David Bowie, so he has quite the resume! What made the band unique was that it was fronted by a woman named Katie Puckrik, which gave a whole different spin to the music and lyrics. This idea came from a friend at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, with whom I’ve collaborated before. He also put together a similar project called Holy Holy based on David Bowie’s music, which Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey later continued. Right now, I’m in Australia with Blondie, performing a series of co-headline shows with Alice Cooper of all people! After this, we’ll head back to the States for the Cruel World Festival in Pasadena, where we’ll be playing alongside Duran Duran and Interpol, among others.

How much time, effort, and fun went into the creation of your latest release by Tall Poppy Syndrome?

In terms of my involvement, I spent a few hours recording the basic track with Jonathan, Alex, and Paul. Vince later overdubbed his part at his home studio in the UK. I think I came up with the idea to cover that particular Kinks song; I’ve always loved the album ‘Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround.’ If you listen closely, it’s a real lesson in what was going on in the ’60s UK music biz. Ray Davies’ lyrics are always brilliant; his latest solo album ‘Americana’ is fantastic too! A few years ago, while I was in London, I was fortunate enough to see the Kinks’ stage play ‘Sunny Afternoon.’ ‘This Time Tomorrow’ was featured in the play and worked well in conveying the storyline of The Kinks’ tumultuous first visit to the States. The play reintroduced me to the song, and the idea of covering it stuck with me. It’s been exciting to see the positive response Tall Poppy Syndrome has received with each of our releases. It’s a fun and interesting project to be part of.

What initiated the concept behind Tall Poppy Syndrome?

A while back, I collaborated with singer Paul Kopf in the band Magic Christian, which also included Cyril Jordan of the Flamin’ Groovies. A few years ago, Paul and his current band Strangers In A Strange Land were working with Shel Talmy, the original producer of The Kinks and The Who. They asked me to play drums on a couple of songs, and they also brought in Vince Melouney from the ’60s Bee Gees and Jonathan Lea on guitars. Two songs were released as singles and did well. When the idea came up to record a third track, we decided to form a proper group and call it Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Could you share some insights into the typical recording process within the band and how it differs from your other projects?

Recording with Tall Poppy Syndrome is typically relaxed; we enjoy each other’s company, which makes the creative process fun and engaging for everyone. Everyone is very capable, which leads to great results.

You’ve been involved in various music projects over the years. What’s been the most exciting collaboration you’ve had recently, and what made it stand out for you?

Recently, I worked on an album with Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys. Cheetah’s an old friend from my CBGB days and the NYC music scene. Also, a few years ago, I worked on an album with Echo and The Bunnymen that is set to be released soon.

Who are some of the most important players that influenced your own style, and what in particular did they employ in their playing that you liked?

My list of musical influences is endless, starting with the so-called British Invasion groups of the ’60s, who ironically introduced us Yanks to great American artists who were nearly forgotten. Everyone from Buddy Holly to Little Richard, Muddy Waters, and Hank Williams, among others. I also loved The Four Seasons and their greatest hits album from the ’60s. As for drumming influences, it starts with Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts, then moves on to Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Keith Moon, Dino Danelli, Jerry Nolan, Al Jackson Jr., Mo Tucker, and Tommy Ramone.

As opportunities like this don’t come often, forgive me for asking a question or two about your experience with Blondie. Can you tell us about your upbringing and how you were first introduced to music?

Regarding my upbringing and other questions about Blondie, I can tell you that I’ve nearly completed my memoir, which will be published by Hachette in the States and HarperCollins in the UK soon. Also, we’ve recorded a new Blondie album scheduled for early 2025. We’re considering a few special ways to promote it, such as residencies around the world and possibly a video album project similar to what we did with the ‘Eat to the Beat’ album.

Clem Burke

Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.

Peace and love to all.

Klemen Breznikar

Headline photo: Tall Poppy Syndrome | Photo by Lee Escobar

Clem Burke Instagram / Twitter
Blondie Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / YouTube
Tall Poppy Syndrome Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp

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