|Return to Cherie Currie||
A full decade ago, ex-Runaways “front fox” Cherie Currie began work on Blvds of Splendor with former Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum producing. But a funny thing happened on the way to the glam-rock forum. “The plan was to get it done and get it out there,” she says of the set, which features high-caliber cameos from Billy Corgan (the title track), Slash and Duff McKagan (“Mr. X”), and — on a rollicking rendition of her old outfit’s classic “Queens of Noise” — Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle, and The Veronicas. “But life happened — what can I say?” First, veteran knob-twiddler Thom Panunzio was recruited to tweak the mixes. Then, her old Svengali, Kim Fowley — who was dying from cancer — reached out to her to collaborate on one final record, Reverie, in 2015. Next, Fanny percussionist Brie Darling opted to track a duets disc with Currie (last year’s The Motivator), and somewhere along the way, she also fell 12 feet from a chainsaw-carving scaffold, resulting in partial face paralysis that lasted nearly a year. Now, finally, courtesy of her old bandmate Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, **Blvds is hitting the street. “It seemed like now was a good time for it to come out,” she observes. “Because here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, with the world shut down, and there’s new music for people to listen to. And it’s a great record.”
CHERIE CURRIE: I’ve got my son Jake (Hays, with ex-husband, actor Robert Hays) with me. He lost his house — it burned down in the wildfires, and he ended up renting a condo about 35 miles away. Then all of a sudden, he came home while I was touring, and he said, “You know, mom, I kind of like this!” And I had wanted him home so bad. So he moved in, re-did the back room, put his studio in, and now he’s got a real home that ain’t going anywhere. So it’s just great to have him here.
IE: Are you addicted to Netflix yet?
CC: I don’t watch Netflix. Jake has it in his room, but I don’t have Netflix. I just watch paranormal, caught-on-camera stuff, ghost adventures, or The Good Doctor — that kind of fun stuff. But hey — I don’t have any spare time. I’m a chainsaw artist!
IE: Do you have a barn-sized workshop or what?
CC: No, I actually don’t. I carve at the side of my house. I’m in a residential neighborhood, but I’ve carved something for just about everybody around me. But the thing is, I have always been very thoughtful in terms of not starting before 10 a.m., and I never work on Sundays, never, ever. And if I hear a party or something start, I stop immediately. But most of the people work, so it’s never bothered them. I’ve been carving here at my house since The Runaways movie went into production in 2009. So I just walk out my door and I’ve got my little carving spot, and away I go.
IE: So you’ve recovered from the fall and you have a new film coming, too — Spirit Riser?
CC: Oh, my God — yeah. It was the very first time in my life I had a pretty devastating accident. I broke my tailbone, put on a lot of weight, and I was tipping back the bottle a little bit, which was not good. But I really enjoyed doing this film after that, although I don’t know when it’s coming out.
IE: Chicago’s own Michael Madsen is in it!
CC: And he is such a sweet guy. The movie had a bit of an apocalyptic groove to it. I wasn’t able to read the entire script, because a lot of the stuff was on-the-spot directing. But I just loved working with all the other actors, and I brought a lot of props from my house. It was a super low budget fun thing to do.
IE: And Alan Merrill was in it, the guy who wrote “I Love Rock and Roll” and a recent victim of the coronavirus.
CC: I did not know that. I loved him. He probably filmed his scenes in New York, because I know that the director flew out there to do the movie. He passed away from the coronavirus (a few weeks ago), and he was a sweetie. I was looking through my drawers and he had sent me a CD that I hadn’t even had the time to listen to. I’m gonna pop that in and give it a listen now. But he was truly a darling man. He was a very popular guy, especially in Japan, but you’d never know it. Because I’ve watched a lot of people in this business get some stardom and change. But that was not Alan.
IE: I still remember as a kid, feeling so proud to have tracked down a Japanese import edition of The Runaways — Live in Japan.
CC: That was a fun album! And that’s my favorite album, that’s for sure.
IE: The other night, Rock and Roll High School came on at 3 a.m., featuring your posters in scenes. I compulsively watch it, every time.
CC: I was up for that film. I was up for that and the film Foxes at the same time, and I had to choose between the two.
IE: YOU were almost Riff Randall?
CC: Maybe. I can’t remember who exactly I was reading for, but it looked like they wanted to give me the part. But I wanted to work with Jodie Foster in a bad way. But what an iconic film, though. It’s still very cool.
IE: The song “Roxy Roller” is a cover, right?
CC: Yeah. Nick Gilder wrote that. I opened for Nick a couple of times.
IE: “Hot Child in the City.” I interviewed him once. I think he was very tall, despite that voice.
CC: Really? I always thought he was a little bit on the short side. But you know what? I was wearing six-inch platform heels. I have to remember that. I remember meeting David Bowie at the Rathskellar in Boston, and I kept thinking, “God, he looks so small!” But I was wearing those enormous platform boots! But Bowie was just the best, no one like him, ever.
IE: How did you assemble this cast of cameos?
CC: Matt did. Billy Corgan is a good friend of Matt’s, Juliette Lewis was a friend of Matt’s. The Veronicas and Brody were big fans of The Runaways, and a fan of mine just because I was the lead singer. So they were on board, and they wanted to pay their homage to the song. And of course, The Veronicas couldn’t be nicer girls or more talented. And Brody was incredible – she was pregnant when she did that, and I was so happy for her. And – being a mom myself – we just connected on some deep, wonderful levels. She was just so much fun and very giving of her incredible talent. And what you see on that video we made live in the session, and those are the vocals we used on the record.
IE: You dedicated the disc to late Runaways drummer Sandy West.
CC: She passed away in 2006. It was just horrendous. But even when she was terribly ill and she was bald, she went to see my son’s shows. Just to give him respect. She was just my best friend, and [we were] best friends basically from the time I left The Runaways — we always stayed really close. She helped me paint my house, helped us build a room when I was married to Robert Hays. So we stayed close, and I’m so grateful for that.
IE: You’ve probably known Slash and Duff for awhile, right? And you kind of hope for a career like Petty’s, right? Where you stay out of the tabloids and quietly release a new album every three years.
CC: I performed with Slash and Lita Ford at an MS benefit, so that was fun to have a Slash sandwich between me and Lita. But Slash has always raised money for reliefs and charities — he’s just one of those guys who’re always giving, just a really good human being. And Duff was fun. I got to meet him in the studio, and they’re both just really great guys. I grew up in this business and seeing people become huge stars that had opened for The Runaways — everybody from Cheap Trick to Tom Petty, they basically always stay that way in my head. Just really down to Earth, cool people. So I wasn’t starstruck, but I certainly do appreciate how terrific those guys are.
IE: And you’ve managed to do all of this AND successfully raise a child (actor/writer/director/musician Jake) in Hollywood.
CC: Yeah. And I have a terrific kid. And he’s a great guy, too. So I feel extremely blessed because if things hadn’t gone the way they did, I wouldn’t have had Jake, and Jake has a lot to contribute to this world. And that’s when I know that the decisions that I’ve made — even though I’ve kicked myself many times for making those decisions and felt they were wrong — I look at him and think, “How could I possibly have been wrong?”
IE: And Junior actually managed to film mom and dad, back together again and sleeping in the same bed for the video of his song “Sleep Talk” from his EP Room 13. Impressive!
CC: Ha! You actually saw that video? Jake is terrific, and he directed a film called The Heart, which he wrote when he was in Texas acting in a movie called Night Run. But while he was in Texas, his house here burned down, and he lost everything — nothing was saved. He came home to a mound of ash. He had just rebuilt his studio, and all my guitars were there, even my Martin and my tambourine from The Runaways. But he just took it on the chin and never stopped. Ever since he first picked up a guitar at 13, that kid has never stopped. And he played on every single song on my record except for the Slash and Duff and Matt song.
IE: So what’s next?
CC: We shall see. I’m gonna fit a cigar-store Indian I’m carving, and hopefully, we’ll jump on tour once all this blows over. That would just be great.
– Tom Lanham