|Return to Cherie Currie||
Sure, it was a wild ride. The career of vocalist Cherie Currie had started back in the mid-‘70s with the Kim Fowley-assembled all-girl outfit with Joan Jett, The Runaways, then rocketed into film roles (“Foxes”), an album with her sister Marie, a trashy autobiography (“Neon Angel”), even a Hollywood film about the group, 2010’s The Runaways, directed by Floria Sigismondi. But — as her side gig as a chainsaw artist revved up — her fondness for show business powered down. By 2017, she says, “I was over it — that was it, I was gone. I was actually in the process of selling my SoCal house and moving to Northern California, where I was buying two cabins. I was through with this industry for good.”
Still, Currie hadn’t quit rock and roll altogether. In 2017, she was still accepting occasional session offers, some quite disheartening. “There was one production from Brazil that was particularly irksome, she recalls. “It was in English, thank God, but they wanted what they wanted — namely my name, but the style they wanted me to sing it in was like nothing I was used to, and it was incredibly strange. And while it was fun to do sessions like that, none of them were anything like the Fanny one. Not even close.”
She’s referring to the time two years ago when she was invited to attend a studio session with the first girl group, Fanny, to be signed to a major imprint back in 1969. The original Fanny members were recording a comeback album, Fanny Walked the Earth and she was excited to participate. Currie gravitated immediately to drummer/vocalist Brie Darling (nee Howard) who had been running a profitable cake-making business on the side. Quickly realizing how well their voices complemented each other, the pair not only became fast friends but resolved to track a duets album together. Out August 2, it’s dubbed The Motivator, after the funky T Rex classic they perform, alongside eight other covers, like “Get Together,” and three originals, “Too Bruised,” “This is Our Time,” and “I’m Too Good, That’s Just Too Bad.” Plans are already in the works for a followup, leaning heavily on their own compositions this time.
Currie almost followed through on her twin-cabin plot, but she swears that Darling’s voice was so majestic, it stopped her in her tracks. “And to actually work with Brie? I mean, how could I not?” She adds. “So there was nothing that was gonna stop me from recording with this gal because I was truly finished with this business. And it took her to bring me back.”
IE: Brie, were you at all creeped out by Cherie’s overwhelming adulation?
BRIE DARLING: You know what? I was not creeped out. But it was different. There’s not a lot of people in this business who are that openly appreciative of what you do, you know? And that’s what Cherie does. It’s uncommon to meet someone so open about how much she loved my voice on our (Fanny) record. And that’s what I love about her — she’s really supportive and unique, and that’s an interesting way to work. Now we get to talk about how cool each other is instead of just talking about ourselves, and that’s a great thing. It was hard to get used to, but we got used to it. And now I love it, and I get to tell her how much I love what she does. She just has a special quality that’s hard to describe, and she brings something to the table, to the recordings, that no one else can do. You know when she’s singing, and that’s a very important quality. You can’t learn it, and you can’t create that if you don’t have it to start with. And she’s got it in spades. So we’re just each other’s biggest fans.
IE: Cherie, you had no real plans to make another album, right?
CHERIE CURRIE: No, I was finished. Like I said, I was heading to the mountains to build my cabins and do my chainsaw carving. And I wanted to buy whatever I needed outright after selling my house and be done with it all. And that’s the beauty of this record that Brie and I made. And not only the record, but the journey that we went on. Because I had no hope. No hope before I met her ever to make music again. I did not want to tour again, and I was sick and tired of being asked if there was going to be a Runaways reunion, because I always had to turn around and say, “No, there is not.” I knew my time as a musician/singer/performer was over, so I could go on and live my life peacefully. But it took Brie — and only Brie — to bring me back and recharge me like this. I’ve never been as excited about something; a tour — even The Runaways can’t come close. Except maybe the elation of stepping off the plane with The Runways to thousands of cheering fans in Japan, nothing compares to the elation of getting to work every day with this woman and just having her as a friend. So I’m here. I’m here now, and I can’t wait for tomorrow, I can’t wait to tour, and I can’t wait for the next record. So what it is, is that there is hope for anybody who thinks that their life is over and they’re finished. You know what? I WAS finished and happy with it. But that isn’t what was meant to be. THIS is what was meant to be, and I’m grateful. Very grateful.
IE: How do you choose covers for a project like this?
BD: Good question. Both Cherie and I had very similar backgrounds in music, and we had both cut our teeth on the music of the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, which was a wonderful time in history, with these really great songs that stand the test of time. So we had a few songs that we automatically remembered, and that meant something to us, but we also wanted to remind ourselves what else was out there. So we did a big search, and there was SOOO much out there. And we wanted to have some originals, as well, so we ended up picking just nine songs from that whole pool of material. And it was hard.
CC: And I’d been watching some of these older bands out there, and I didn’t like what I saw. You know, when you’re trying to pretend to be young again when time has marched on. So I just felt like my time was up, and I was fine with that. But then hearing us sing together generated all this excitement again. We went in and did “Gimme Shelter” first, just to test the waters. And our voices blended so well together; I went, “Oh, my gosh!” I loved her; I loved her. I loved her. And I recognized a lot of myself in her — the damage that we both suffered in this business for different reasons. And this is a tough business and something I didn’t want to do alone. Ever again. It just wasn’t worth it to me. But to meet this gal that is so extraordinarily talented, who’s also a wonderful human being? There was just no question, and nothing was going to keep us from doing this album together.
Look for The Motivator is out now via Blue Élan Records.
– Tom Lanham