When I heard that Cherie Currie was playing in both Toronto and in Hamilton, I considered catching both shows. The Runaways are one of those bands that remain on my bucket list and quite honestly I never imagined I would ever get a taste of their music LIVE. Now Toronto is an obvious stop for most touring acts but when I heard she was playing at This Ain't Hollywood in Hamilton, I was both surprised and a little proud as I grew up in the Steeltown an hour west of Toronto.
My Sister-in-law and I arrived early and grabbed a spot at the bar with a decent view close to the stage. We discussed the establishment, how it was built in 1893 and some of the rock n roll history that have graced it's stage. This Aint Hollywood certainly doesn't lack character, to be sure, just check out the washroom and enjoy the years of graffiti and stickers from the various bands that have spent some booze soaked nights within.
We also wondered how many people would attend a midweek show on a cold November night but we needn't have worried, the Hammer came out in force and the place was packed when The Beaches hit the stage a little after 9:00pm. First thing you will notice if you catch The Beaches live is that these girls are young, the second thing you will notice is these GIRLS CAN ROCK! How poetically perfect to see such a talented group of rocking young girls opening up for the "Original Teen Queen" herself.
These ladies can not only rock their respective instruments, but the songwriting skills these girls have already developed are way ahead of half the crap I am subjected to on the radio. As they played through their set, I turned around only to notice Cherie Currie quietly watching their set from behind the bar. She smiled and directed my attention to the girls rocking the stage, as she too was enjoying the music. I couldn't help wondering if The Beaches weren't stirring up some memories of the mid seventies for Cherie. It was a very cool moment.
After a short break, Cherie followed her band up on stage and wasted no time launching into "Queens of Noise" the title track of the second Runaways album of the same name. A perfect opener made for air guitar (which I did), the band comprised of Nick Maybury (guitar), Mayuko Oki (guitar), Grant Fitzpatrick (bass) and Cherie's son, Jake Hays (drums) sounded great behind her and Cherie's vocals sounded spot on, almost identical to the recorded versions I love.
The set was a perfect blend of "Classic Runaways" hits mixed in with some of Cherie's solo material including from her yet to be released Matt Sorum produced record and a few covers for good measure. Sporting a Lita Ford T-shirt, Cherie looked to be having a blast onstage. She seemed very grateful to be back up there rocking but truth be told the 200 in attendance were the lucky ones, it was amazing getting to hear these songs live after so long.
After the show, Cherie informed the crowd that she would soon be out to meet everyone for autographs, photos and hugs! True to her word, with barely enough time to catch her breath she set up shop at the rear of the bar and took ample time with each and every fan that wanted to meet her. The lineup was long but Cherie spent quality time with each and every fan. Others could learn a lesson from the way Cherie and her entire band, it was truly a special evening.
About 2 weeks before the show, Cherie checked in with the Decibel Geek for the following interview...
Decibel Geek: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the Decibel Geeks.
Cherie: I am looking so forward to this, my son and I were up in Toronto back during the Presidential Debates, shooting Warehouse 13. My Son, who is in my band just fell in love with Toronto. It's just so clean and the food is amazing and I don't know what you people do but Jake and I had Sushi and it was just a spiritual experience, it was so good. The people were so nice, I wish California would take tips from you guys on how to present an absolutely beautiful city.
DBG: Well thank you, and you just answered one of my questions. I was going to ask if your son was still involved with your band?
Cherie: Yes, he is actually going to be on drums for this leg. He loves drumming the Runaways songs and great guitar player/front player, killer vocalist and I am going to miss him up front with me because he's such a great vocalist. I wish I could sing like this kid but he and Sandy (West) were really close and he really just embodies Sandy's playing so well and he loves drumming so I am letting him do it this leg (laughing)
DBG: Well, I have to say that I am just recently diving headfirst into the Runaways catalogue as I was only 6 years old when you ladies were tearing it up. I remember clearly the moment I heard Joan Jett's I Love Rock n Roll and of course became a huge Lita fan as a metalhead of the 80's. I also have to say I loved your book and WOW, you couldn't script a more riveting story...
Cherie: Oh thank you, I pulled out all the fear stops on that one, there's a lot of things in that book that many people wouldn't want to talk about or even admit but you gotta tell the truth.
DBG: It seems to me, that it was just so fast how it all happened for you. You attend your very first rock concert and within weeks you are auditioning for the band...
Cherie: Right, it sure felt that way. I had really gotten into David Bowie and saw him on the Diamond Dogs tour and it really was like an epiphany, like a moment of clarity where I knew I wanted to pursue this. So yeah it was was soon after that that I met Joan (Jett) and Kim (Fowley) at the Sugar Shack and they liked how I looked. They asked me if I could sing or play an instrument and I told them I could sing a little, but I had never sang professionally or anything. Not even close so it really did happen very quickly, yes.
DBG: Speaking of Kim Fowley, he certainly comes across as quite the character. Having read the book, as a parent I cringed at some of the things that he put you through. Repulsive is a word I have heard to describe him...
Cherie: Well you know what? It's funny how life changes and how opportunities come about. I just came out of the studio with Kim.
DBG: Well that's what I was going to ask you because I have heard that you have made peace with him.
Cherie: I did and you know what I really made peace with myself more so. Because, when I saw Kim at a party around 7 yeas ago I thought to myself, me being angry only hurts me. It doesn't hurt him and I just decided I wasn't going to live in the past anymore. I mean we were kids (15-16 years old) and I reached out to him and i said let's talk and the first phone conversation we had was like 2.5 hours because Kim can talk (laughing) and he apologized to me and me being a Mom, I got this because he didn't know how to handle not even one teenage girl, let alone 5! He had a crappy childhood. His parents basically abandoned him and he has never been a parent so I have to cut the guy some slack. One thing I have to say about him is that he is brilliant. He is a brilliant, gifted songwriter and gee, if you don't have a pencil in hand and ready you are going to miss the magic because this guy delivers.
This I found out two weeks ago when I reached out because I heard he was very ill and he said "let's make a record" and I said sure. Literally within two hours on the phone with him we had lyrically written 4 songs and he doesn't even have to go back and change things. He recites it, you write it down and then he asked me and my son Jake to come over to his apartment. So I called Lita and told her what was happening and of course she had a lot of trepidation at first and I said "don't you want to look back and those memories of us being kids that were maybe sour, don't you want to change them into something sweet" and she agreed and came and was a part of it. Jake sat there and wrote some music while Kim recited some lyrics and then we took them for a couple of nights and shaped them into songs and from there spent four days in the studio recording them.
DBG: Now will we get to hear any of these songs on the upcoming tour?
Cherie: No, these were just recorded last week so Jake is mixing them and we will go back into the studio when we get back off this tour but Lita came in and played on two of the songs and we are going to record a few more and late January is when we are aiming for a new record out.
DBG: That's awesome! So what can we expect to hear on this leg of the tour then?
Cherie: The classics and some tunes off my record that Blackheart (record label) has that Matt Sorum produced and fingers crossed that record will be out sometime but I am not dwelling on that anymore.
DBG: The Runaways certainly have a special place in history, tearing down the doors for girls to play hard, aggressive music. It's easy to see that now but were you aware this was happening as you lived it?
Cherie: Well we did, because we knew we were doing something that hadn't been done before. Not to say there weren't girl bands but none that were teenage girls playing the kind of rock we were doing. So yeah we felt we were unique and kind of blazing a trail but to be honest after the runaways broke up I really couldn't listen to the music for a while. I remember years later seeing an interview with Madonna and they were saying "wow, your the first one to wear a corset on stage" and then I really thought we were forgotten. I am like my god Madonna, you have to know that's not true, can't you just say it but she didn't. So you know I kind of thought we were forgotten but it's the fans that have really kept the memory of that band alive.
Even John Linson (Runaways Movie Producer) being a Runaways fan and he was actually a fan of me, because everyone seems to have their favorite Runaway and for John, I was that. For him to approach Kenny Laguna who was my Manager at the time and want to make a movie about the Runaways using my book was really amazing.
DBG: I really enjoyed the movie and wanted to ask you, was the movie instrumental in mending some of the relationships? I know you have always remained close with Joan but I think it's great that you have patched things up with Lita.
Cherie: Yeah! Well in fact Lita asked me..We have a Christmas single where she reached out to me a couple months ago to do a duet with her. Which was just to me "the holy grail" are you kidding me? To work with Lita, I have had dreams and even nightmares of seeing her and with her and her not wanting to talk to me. That again, is all that unresolved childhood stuff that rears it's ugly head. So we cut this incredible Christmas song that she wrote with Mitch Perry, it's called "Rock This Christmas Down" and it ROCKS!
DBG: Is it available now?
Cherie: No, we did a photo session last Sunday and we're shooting another session tomorrow for the cover and I think it will be out near the end of the month. Lita has her live album "The Bitch Is Back" out, I think November 4th and then they will release the Christmas single around Thanksgiving and it just kicks ass! So yeah, but the movie didn't bring Lita and I together.
DBG: Well yeah I remember her being interviewed at the time and she was pretty negative about the project
Cherie: Well that's because she had an ex-husband, well now thankfully an ex-husband that was withheld information on that contract. She was led to believe by her ex that they were only offering her a thousand dollars for her life rights. I asked her, did you read the contract and she said no and I informed her that was absolutely false and told her what the actual deal was that set her back on her heels a bit. That just goes to show you that Jim didn't want her involved in anything that separated her from him, but that's all water under the bridge.
DBG: Well I guess I have to then ask the million dollar question. Is there any chance we will get a Runaways reunion?
Cherie: Well Lita and I are definitely moving in that direction, we have reached out to Joan. I mean Joan had done in interview in the LA Weekly where she didn't really see how a reunion would benefit her or the band to do it. Lita and I don't believe that's true and we want to give the fans what they want and that's for us to be reunited so we have reached out to Joan and...Lita and I are having so much fun, we are hoping it will be contagious and Joan will want to jump on board. So that's just the way we are going.
DBG: Well I think it would be great and maybe this time you might actually see some money.
Cherie: (Laughing) Yeah that would be something. Let me tell you it would be a dream to stand on stage again with Lita and Joan because when you leave a band that you put your heart and soul into and it didn't end well with so many unanswered questions, to be able to come back and have it all good with the original magic that I know is still there. It would be wonderful.
DBG: OK, totally off topic, chainsaw art? When I first heard about this, I couldn't quite imagine Cherry Bomb with a lumberjack jacket and Canadian toque. How did you get involved in such a unique form of artistic expression?
Also you know, it really helped me greatly with the fear aspect in my life. A lot of us walk through life being afraid, so many things that hold us back from doing what we are put here to do. Cause you know, working with something as dangerous as a chainsaw intimately and doing fine detail work you always have to have great respect. So I have been doing that professionally now for 12 years and quite frankly that beat out working at a local drug store (laughing)
DBG: As far as music goes. Looking at today's popular music, I personally find most of it processed and lifeless but are there any current artists out there that you feel are delivering the goods?
Look you have shows like The Voice and American Idol, these unreachable and untouchable talents that are for the most part prodigy and it's great to look up to people like that, but what I really love...look I wasn't born with the best vocal chops, but what I can do is deliver a song, so what I really miss are the days of Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, people who never considered themselves great singers. Even the Rolling Stones, Mick and Keith they are not so gifted as singers but it was what they delivered and how they delivered it and the music behind it that made it so real and from heart and that is what I think lacks. Now it's just can you hit that highest note and are you a Mariah Carey or are you not because if your not you don't get the record deal. Well you know what the record companies can go screw themselves because guess what, we really don't need you anymore. We need distribution, if we can get it that's helpful but they have made it so unreachable. That's why the Runaways people appreciate it because you can play it and you can sing it and you don't have to be a prodigy to do it and feel it.
DBG: One last question for you, what was the one song you wish you wrote?
Cherie: (long pause) oh lord!, I wrote a song called "Believe" on this new record that's coming out with Kim Fowley that I am most proud of but there really isn't a song out there that I wish I had of wrote...What's YOURS!...
DBG: Ahhhh wow, wasn't expecting to be asked (ahhhh ummmm ahhhh)
Cherie: C'mon, whats yours?!
DBG: I don't know (laughing) Maybe something by Zeppelin?....Stairway to Heaven?
Cherie: Ok yeah, great song and of course that was written back in the early 70's when the magic was still happening, but you know what? You could write a Stairway to Heaven, pick up a guitar and write is today, what's stopping you?
DBG: Possibly talent?
Cherie: (laughing) Thank you so much for this I really enjoyed this interview and I really appreciate all the support.
DBG: The pleasure was all mine and I look forward to the show!
Be sure to keep check out Cherie's website for the latest news...http://www.cheriecurrie.com/
|Cherie Currie and Wally Norton|