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Todd 'ToddStar' Jolicoeur | 5 August 2019 |
According to her bio: “Cherie Currie’s extraordinary life reads like fiction. From a teenage rock star to becoming an accomplished Chainsaw Carving artist, Cherie has always taken the road less traveled. Cherie Currie has been an artist her entire life, but only in the last several years has her creativity led her to the craft of professional wood carving. She is most reknown as a performer. Cherie Currie rocketed to international stardom as the teenage lead vocalist for the now legendary all-female rock band, The Runaways, alongside bandmates Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West & Jackie Fox. The multi-talented Cherie continues to act, record and perform around the world. Recently, she added the role of record producer to her impressive resume, and opened her own Chainsaw Art Gallery in Chatsworth, California. Cherie has competed and won awards at three world Chainsaw Art competitions.” As she embarks on a new adventure with Brie Darling, we grab some phone time with Cherie about a week before their debut album, The Motivator, is released. We get Cherie to discuss new music, a possible tour, and much more…
Cherie: Hey Todd.
Toddstar: Cherie, how are you?
Cherie: Good, we’ve lost five minutes. Gosh darn it.
Toddstar: That’s all right. I’ll make use of whatever time I can get. Let’s talk about something so exciting, The Motivator dropping in one week on Blue Elan records. What can you tell us about this project that once people get their hands on it, they might not grab the first or second time they listen through.
Cherie: Oh, I think this record just speaks for itself from the downbeat. It’s a great record. I think that what we’re going to do is introduce a whole lot of a new generation to some great music of the late 60’s and the 70’s. One, which is from The Kink’s, which was the 80’s. But these are just great songs. These are the feel good songs that used to give me that dopamine feeling when I was a kid. You know? Nowadays I think that music lacks this kind of exceptional music. So Brie and I and Dave Darling, we just did our very best to bring the songs to more present time. And every single one of them are just great.
Toddstar: You said that from the downbeat this really takes off. And so it does, I mean from the opening notes of “The Motivator” and then into one of my favorite Stone songs of all times “Gimme Shelter,” all the way through to the end of the record. This thing is just good vocals, good music, and just great songs. What is it about these songs and this project with Brie that made now the right time to do it for you?
Cherie: Well, to be honest with you Todd I was out of the business. I was putting my house up for sale. I was in escrow for some land up in Lockwood Valley and I just wanted to be a chainsaw carver and be out of this business. It just seemed to me like it was done for me. And I think what this record proves is that when you think it’s done and you let go of everything, something great comes your way. I guess I needed to release all the past, all the disappointments in order for this door to open. And it was the easiest record I’ve ever made. A lot of these vocals are just first pass vocals or key checks. These songs, I mean that’s all I seem to listen to is classic rock because it just brings me back to better days. We’re just in such turmoil today and I just love that. That’s my way of escaping, is music like this. I don’t know. You’re probably way too young, but…
Toddstar: You’ve only got me by a few years. So…
Cherie: Well then you know what our lives were like when these songs were hits. And you know I still long for those days. I think that this music is really soothing to me. I’m just so happy with everything about it. And Dave Darling being such an amazing producer, of course six time Grammy nominated producer, I think that he really shines on this record with his ability to arrange these songs that are really staples in our lives from childhood and being able to breathe new life into them.
Toddstar: Well getting into the songs again, we talked about the opening track and “Gimme Shelter.” You guys just nailed that song in my opinion. Which song wound up making the disc that you kind of fought tooth and nail or you just didn’t think it would be right for you and Brie to tackle?
Cherie: I’ve never fought tooth and nail about any of it. I didn’t sing “Gimme Truth.” I really honestly didn’t see how that song was going to… That was not a song I’d ever heard before, by the way. Not that I wasn’t a big Lennon fan, I just never heard the song. And Dave would say, “Trust me on this.” And then Brie went in as she always did to do a scratch because she lives… Her husband is Dave Darling. So she would go in to do a scratch and they sent me her scratch vocal and I said, “Oh my God, well this is done.” I didn’t have that vision. The original is quite different from what Brie and Dave did. And then of course me stepping in and doing some really cool backgrounds and support for that song was a challenge for me because I’ve always been the lead singer. But I can always do higher harmonies by ear. Lower harmonies have always been a bit of a challenge for me. And Dave came up with such amazing harmonies that I had to master in order to get it right. But that was the one song that I just didn’t seem to grasp. But boy, was I wrong.
Toddstar: Yes, it’s another good one. And I’m like you, I was not familiar with that song when I first heard it through. So I had to Google and see who it was and all that good stuff and learn about the song myself.
Cherie: Oh, I’m so glad I’m not alone Todd.
Toddstar: The album comes out next Friday on August 2nd. What’s the difference for you now when you’re releasing new materials to back in the day when you were in a band or when you were doing solo materials? Are you still giddy, excited, and nervous or is this just part of the job now?
Cherie: Well, I think when you get to be my age at 59 a lot of that giddiness has been lock on. This business has changed so dramatically that even good hard work doesn’t make a hit anymore or money, which used to be how hits were made way back in the 70’s, in the 80’s it took a record company with a large corporation type bank account to be able to make these songs. And from what I heard through someone that had had quite a few hits that it costs about $100,000 to make a hit; paid directly to the moderators of the record or of the radio stations. So nowadays, I don’t even know how that happens. But to believe so much in the music and Dave Darling and Brie and myself in this union, it’s a, again, it astonishes shows me that I could go from leaving this business, I mean, Todd, to all of a sudden here I am talking to Todd. And about a new record that I just feel that Brie and I, who’ve been really pushed aside for the majority of our careers, that we can do this together and do all the things that we never were allowed to do or felt that people didn’t want us to do. Now we can really fulfill our dreams on stage and in the studio. And that to me is a relief because when you get to my age you think, oh what a shame. I didn’t get that opportunity. Hopefully that this record will do really well. We get to go in the studio and do another one. We’ve got a four album deal and we see what happens. But this is all just, I think for me at my age it’s got to be, you know?
Toddstar: When your last studio release with your sister, Messin’ With The Boys(1980) came out and you rode that out, did you think you would still be doing this in 2019?
Cherie: Oh boy. No, I did not think that. I thought I was going to be like Janis Joplin type that whose life ended when she was 27. I mean, those were days that were just very different from today. A lot of drugs , a lot… Which were the norm. If you weren’t doing cocaine or Quaaludes there was something wrong with you. So I didn’t even expect to see this this age and I’m so grateful for it. If any young people are listening, my Gosh, this life is tremendous and so worth living. It really is. And got a lot of kids going through a lot of hard times right now with social media. And it’s very difficult to survive these days I believe. I’m so glad I didn’t grow up in these times. But just one of these young people happen to hear this interview and are feeling a little down. Let me tell you boy this life is worth every breath. Hang onto it.
Toddstar: You mentioned the word stage and I see rumblings in the press releases and the record release that there’s a tour on the horizon. Is that a full length plan? Are you guys kind of hoping to get something? Because I know back here in Detroit we’d love to get you on a stage.
Cherie: Oh thank you. Yes. I love Detroit by the way. Fond Memories of Detroit from 1976 on. No, we definitely. We’ve signed with TKO, a great booking agent. And we planned a tour in the fall. But we have a lot of tricks up our sleeves that we’re hoping we will be able to pull off. Of course me being a chainsaw artist for the last 19 years, I would love to be able to incorporate that into our shows. But these are really baby steps in putting together a performance that’s going to wow people. We need to wow people. And it’s just so much fun that I don’t have to ask is this going to be okay or is that going to be okay? We’re just going to pull out all the stops.
Toddstar: Well, you mentioned chainsaw a couple of times. What to you is the biggest connection between your former life as a musician and the chainsaw work that made that a good jump for you?
Cherie: Well, there’s nothing like being responsible for every stroke. Because the thing is I find that I’ve blamed a lot of people for a lot of things and rightfully so. But the great thing about being a chainsaw artist or being anybody that has their own business is that it all falls on you. Every stroke, everything I do and I’m alone doing it, I’m not… I don’t have somebody telling me what to do, how to do it, what I’ve done wrong. The thing is, I by name when I signed my name with that chainsaw on that base, I know that I’ve given it everything I got and that it’s truly a creation of mine and mine alone and I love that. I don’t have anybody breathing down my neck and it’s very freeing. And of course it is quite a brutal job. It’s pretty violent and brutal and all that kind of very dirty job. But I just absolutely love it. It’s the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have continued doing it for 19 years if it wasn’t something I truly love.
Toddstar: Is this something you will continue doing even with the resurgence of your musical career?
Cherie: Absolutely. In fact, once I’m done with my interviews today, there’s only a couple after you. I’m going out there to do some carving. It really helps me balance the little bits of stress that we have in this business, in the musical business or with the album coming out to be able to relieve that stress by going out there and carving. The phone’s not ringing. I have no phones out there. It’s a really great way to decompress.
Toddstar: Well, I want to thank you so much as a fan of you, your music, your legacy. I want to thank you for the time you’ve given me today. I know you’ve got other interviews coming. We want to make sure everybody picks up the album, they can grab it on Amazon, they can grab it at Blue Elan records.
Cherie: Todd, thank you so much and I love Detroit. I would love to come out. I was out there, I think about three or four years ago. I just love Detroit. I’ll always have fond memories. It was the first place The Runaways ever stayed that had bulletproof windows. I remember that clearly. A little bit of fear went through me, but I love Detroit. And thank you Todd.
Toddstar: Thank you so much Cherie and hopefully we’ll see you back here in Detroit soon.
Cherie: You absolutely will my friend.
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