Interview – Cherie Currie

It is often said what does not kill you makes you stronger. Applying to this positive outlook on life, legendary rocker Cherie Currie has been through the fire and lived to tell the story. Beginning her career, while only fifteen years old, as the voice of female Rock band The Runaways, Currie and the band would become one of the most talked about acts of the past four decades.

Recognized as pioneers for females in Rock-n-Roll, Currie went on to a variety of artistic expressions from writing music, to acting, to even becoming a wood-carving artist. Having learned a great deal of life lessons along the way, Currie’s love for music has never died, and now, for the first time in thirty-five years, she unleashes a new solo album entitled Reverie. Recently we sat down with the humble musician for a personal look at the ups and downs of life, her experience as a member of The Runaways, her new album, devotion as a mother, and much more. – You have been involved in Rock-n-Roll for almost five decades now. When you began your career with The Runaways while still a teenager, do you recall your mindset at the time, and did you have a clear perception of the history yourself and the band were making?

Cherie Currie – Being fifteen years old going into a business that was really male dominated, I do not think we had an inkling of what we were getting ourselves into. It happened very fast. We were just on a mission to be able to play and to be able to taken seriously. I think if we had enough time to really think about it, it would have been very difficult for all of us. It was a very tough, rough back in the mid ’70s, especially teenage girls.

Mercury – Absolutely, no teenager would be fully aware of the magnitude of matters at that age.

Cherie Currie – No, when my son was around fifteen or sixteen, I would look and him and think how did it happen? How was I allowed to be on tour and on the road at that age. I would never have let it happen as a mother (laughs). It was an experience of a lifetime for sure. I would sometimes think, “Wow, I missed the prom, or those nights sitting on Mulholland Drive necking with the school football star.” (laughs) Then I would think, “I have seen the world, we played in front of thousands and thousands of people, and we made a difference.” I would not trade it for anything, ever.

The Runaways promo photo – That has to be an amazing experience. You obviously have overcome a variety of obstacles in life, as outlined in your memoir Neon Angel. Do you feel you are a stronger person now because of these life experiences?

Cherie Currie – Definitely, it has not been easy. Still, things come up today, especially with the kidnapping and everything that happened. I do not think I dealt entirely and completely with that experience. You are constantly working to try and be the best person you can under some pretty trying circumstances. It has not been an easy road, but I have always managed to come out on the other end ok. I feel I have almost been through just about everything you can think. I am glad to still be here and be as strong as I am. – That is a very positive thing and really admirable to see your strength. We all have trials and tribulations in life. It is great that you have lived to tell the story about everything. It all makes you a stronger person.

Cherie Currie – Yes it does. People have been through a lot worse than me as well. That always sets me straight whenever I feel regret, anger, or resentment. I think about the harrowing experiences other people have gone through and come out ok. They are my heroes. Someone has always had it tougher than you. That is what I always try and remember when I have those dark days. We all have those days.

Capitol – Yes, it is all about putting things in the proper prospective. Obviously it has been thirty-five years since The Runaways dissolved. Since then, each member has gone on to continue music careers respectively. One can imagine you have been asked the question many times over. Have you found resolve that sadly a reunion will not happen?

Cherie Currie – I was always the last one that believed it could happen. I  have worked with Joan Jett; I have been on stage with her numerous times. I have worked with Lita Ford; I have been on stage with her numerous times. I just did not understand why the three of us could not come together. I think I held on too tightly to that. Of course, when something dissolves in a way that was not the best, you always want to resolve it.

The same with Kim Fowley, the way I was able to care for him in his last days. I was able to resolve something that caused me great pain when I was a kid, now that pain is gone.  I thought a reunion would not only show ourselves how magical we were together, but also be able to put to rest some bad feelings we had as kids. Now I realize it is not going to happen, even though I wish it would have and believed it was going to. You have to move on with your life and move past it. That is what I have done, I have just let it go. – That is a good outlook. Well, you have kept yourself active of recent, performing shows and now you return in 2015 with your first studio album in thirty-five years titled Reverie. What was the writing and recording process like for this material?

Cherie Currie – Four songs were written with Kim Fowley in his apartment with my son, and Lita Ford was there as well. Within three days, we were in the studio. Kim had become so ill that he could not be there on that last day, so he turned the record over to my son Jake. From that point on, Jake became the producer of the record. Jake and I wrote and recorded songs. We finished the record while he was also signed to a record label, making a record of his own. That is why it took a little longer than I had hoped. I was really hoping the record could be finished before Kim passed away. It was literally weeks after he passed that the record was finished. It really was quite an experience. – It sounds like you went through a lot to get this record done. It is sad Kim did not get to see the finish product, but chances are he would be very happy with it.

Cherie Currie – He had asked me to hire Brant Biles, a very talented mixer. He mixed and mastered the record. Kim knew if I hired him it would sound great. He was at least able to hear a few of the songs before he passed, and he was thrilled with them. I think that kind of put him at ease as well. Kim knew he would make the record sound good. Kim had a hand in it all the way to the end.

cherie1 – That is really a great to hear that.  The record does sound excellent, so Kim did a good job steering you to work with Brant Biles.

Cheri Currie – Yes, I am very blessed that my son is the writer and producer that he is as well. Without Jake, I do not know where I would have gone with Kim as ill as he was. We would have had four songs, and that would have been it. Jake came up to the plate, and helped finish this record. I am very proud of him. He is a very talented young man who just happens to be my son. – You should be proud of your son Jake. One can imagine deciding to do a record after such a long break has to be an exciting, but also frightening, experience. Did you have reservations going into recording a new record after all this time?

Cherie Currie – Actually, I have been doing guest appearances on others’ records for the last couple of decades. Also, right after I opened for Joan Jett in 2010 at the The Pacific Amphitheatre, Matt Sorum and I went and made a record for Blackheart Records. Billy Corgan wrote a duet that we do on the record. Slash, Duff McKagan, The Veronicas, Brody Dalle, and even Juliette Lewis were involved.  That has been shelved by Blackheart Records for the last five years. So, I have made a record, but I am not sure when it will come out, or if it will.

I really wanted to go out on tour though, so I put myself out on tour without management. I did four tours and I had a chance to do a lot of great tours, with my son as well. Therefore, going into the studio was pretty easy since I had been performing a lot. I also made a single with Lita Ford two Christmas’ ago called “Rock this Christmas Down.” I have still been in the studio here and there. – Let us hope that record you just spoke of see’s the light of day. Well, this new record certainly has many strong songs on it and displays a broad range of emotion. Were these songs ideas you had brewing for years?

Cherie  Currie – I wrote the song “Believe” nineteen years ago. That has been hanging around my house for a long time. I had done a recording of it in my living room, and that was about it. I really wanted to re-record that song, because it reminds me of a great time in my life when I believed anything was possible. Every time I listen to that song, I still feel that same way. “Reverie” is a song my son and I wrote for a movie a few years back. The movie never transpired, but we still had the song. We decided to put it on the record. Again, you have to realize Kim, becoming so ill, changed everything. We were really planning on writing all the songs with Kim, and when he became too ill to do that, it really put a lot of pressure on Jake and I to finish this record. Therefore, Jake and I wrote songs together and took a couple from the past. Plus, we recorded two The Runaway songs with Lita Ford singing a duet with myself. – This record certainly has a flavor of history and new material as well. It is great you had a chance to combine all that together.

Cherie Currie – Yes, and it was great to do a duet with my son as well on “Shades of Me.” I really love that song. – Speaking of your son, when did you start to realize your son had a knack for music?

Cherie Currie – When he was thirteen years old. I took him with me to Steve Jones radio show called Jonesy’s Jukebox since he picked up the guitar at twelve years old and really had a knack for it. Jake had a chance to play with Steve, and I sang live. Basically, anything I did music wise, I took Jake with me. He started to really get a knack for being on stage and recording. Little did I now this really shy kid would turn into the frontman for his band Maudlin Strangers, as well as writer and musician that he is today. He is just fantastic. It was great to have him on the road with me for those four tours. Now he is on the road with his band, he is a seasoned tour guy now (laughs). Nothing scares him, he has been doing it for a while now. – That is a wonderful story. Honestly, many parents want their kids to explore what they want to, but secretly they all hope they perhaps follow in their footsteps as far as an artistic passion.

Cherie Currie – To be honest with you, I have always wondered why I was born. People will say, well you were born to be in one of the groundbreaking female Rock bands, that is your legacy. The thing is, I do not believe that anymore. I really believe I was born to have Jake. He is so talented. He has more talent in the tip of his finger that myself and my wonderful ex-husband Robert Hays have in our entire bodies. I was born to have Jake. He is going to go on to do what I could not do in this business.  He has heard all the horror stories and he also witnessed through my life the things to look out for. You cannot rattle him, he has seen so much. I cannot wait to see him make a mark in this business, I know he will.

cherrie-curray_0120 – That is really special to hear you have such pride in your son and his talents. Besides music, you have found other artistic outlets of expression over the years such as chainsaw carving sculptures from wood. What inspired you to get involved with that?

Cherie Currie – That was a fluke that happened about fifteen years ago. I was already working as a relief carver, which is two-dimension such as table tops and wall hangings. I was driving to the beach one day and I happened to see some guys chainsaw craving on the side of the road. Even though I did not stop, I could not get it out of my head. Every morning and night, that inner voice which we always need to listen to, was telling me, you have to go back.  I did a couple of weeks later and brought some of my art to show them.

As soon as I walked into their gallery, I saw the most beautiful mermaids and dolphins. It was not that crude of what you would expect chainsaw art to be. It was detailed, refined, and gorgeous. That voice inside told me, you can do this. I immediately asked if I could apprentice there, and they agreed. I believe it was my third piece, which was three sea turtles swimming around a piece of corral, was taken to the Malibu Art Expo which is very difficult to get into. It is very difficult to get anything in there. I realize then I had a knack for this. I started to compete in 2005 and I was placed in major world competitions. It became my full-time for the last fifteen years. The reason I have a roof over my head is that chainsaw. I am very grateful for that. – That sounds like a really fun job. It is a wonderful form of artistic expression. It is a lot different than what most would expect. You can make some really beautiful pieces.

Cherie Currie – It is very gratifying for me when I can stand back and look and something I carved; to really like what I see. It is a dangerous job, but a very fulfilling job. I enjoy it as much as I do making music. I would like not being covered in gasoline and oil as much (laughs). That is what I have chosen to do with my life, I am very happy about it. – Well it certainly is really a wonderful thing to do what you love . My last question for you is pertaining to movies. covers music and Horror films.  If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?

Cherie Currie – I love Horror movies! Of course The Exorcist (1973), I recently saw The Conjuring (2013) too. I do not like blood and guts, but I am a big Horror fan. I love Saw (2004), and I liked Hostel (2005). – There are a lot of great Horror movies that are not as bloody. The Horror genre has definitely become more graphic over the years. The effects have become so realistic that they are extremely intense.

Cherie Currie – Yes, I think we have become kind of numb with all the computer generated effects now a days. It is almost overkill. I am still a big fan of the older films. Even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) scared the bejesus out of me. Now I think it is sort of overdone with the computer effects. Give me a good story and I am happy.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Hostel (2005)/ Raw Nerve
Hostel (2005)/ Raw Nerve – There is something to be said about strong dialogue in a film. Traditionally, Horror films are really not to be as action orientated as they are today. Most Horror films are very slow moving films, building suspense.

Cherie Currie – Right. When you look at films like Jaws (1975), you never saw the shark much, and you were scared to death. That was just great film making. I kind of hope we go back to that kind of film making where we do not depend so much on graphic stuff. We have become conditioned to this kind of craziness.

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