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Cherie Currie talks new music, reviving ‘Queens of Noise’ and how wielding chainsaws is therapeutic
Currie's latest solo album, 'Blvds of Splendor,' features collaborations with Velvet Revolver's Matt Sorum, Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan and Slash and Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan.
PUBLISHED: June 16, 2020
Though the coronavirus global pandemic put a pause on live concerts as well as most planned album releases, rocker and ex-Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie just wanted to let her latest solo album rip.
Currie’s “Blvds of Splendor” had been a decade in the making, but finally dropped digitally back in April via Runaways guitarist Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna’s Blackheart Records. Though the album was originally put out as a very limited edition red-vinyl on Record Store Day in 2019, the digital release is more widely available and features an updated mix and additional songs.
“This is just a killer mix,” Currie said during a recent phone interview from her West Hills area home in Los Angeles. “I have listened to it start to finish a number of times now because I had put this album in the back of my mind and away from my heart for so long because it just sat on a shelf. The only way for me to move forward was to basically forget about it, but here we are and it’s front and center and for it to get this kind of response from people is a dream.”
Currie began working on “Blvds of Splendor” back in 2010 when she teamed up with former Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum to start lying the down tracks.
However, life and other projects got in the way. In 2010, Currie was out promoting “The Runaways,” the biopic based on her ’70s all-female rock band, starring Kristen Stewart as Jett and Dakota Fanning as Currie. She released another solo album, “Reverie,” in 2015 and “The Motivator” with Fanny drummer and vocalist Brie Darling in 2019.
Though she is proud of both of those releases, she wanted to get back to “Blvds of Splendor.” The record features a number of collaborations including Guns N’ Roses Duff McKagan and Slash on “Mr. X” and Smashing Pumpkins vocalist-guitarist Billy Corgan, who wrote and is featured on the title track.
“I’m a major fan,” Currie said of Corgan. “He was the most gracious and giving writer and he’s brilliant. Even after we recorded that song we’ve stayed in touch. He actually sat down and, of course, he has had some big stuff going on in his life, and he knew what my life was about, but he gave me the more tough lines like the ‘I’ll kick your ass’ line, that was specifically for me and I appreciated that.”
For the digital release, Currie and Sorum got together with Brody Dalle of The Distillers, Juliette Lewis and The Veronicas for a cover of The Runaways “Queens of Noise.” Working with such strong female vocalists, Currie said “it just renewed my faith and hope in humanity to have such giving and talented gals to work with.” The track also serves as Currie’s tribute to her late friend and Runaways drummer, Sandy West, who died of cancer in 2006.
“Sandy and I remained best friends until the end of her life and I had never played ‘Queens of Noise’ without her,” Currie said. “I’ve done quite a few shows from the time I left The Runaways, but she’d always come up and play The Runaways stuff with me. To lose her in 2006 and then have the movie come around … she’s always with me, right beside me. For Matt, nobody has ever laid sticks to a drum head on that song but Sandy West and he was so taken by her performance and recognized what a really excellent drummer she was and he paid true homage to her spirit in that way.”
Though COVID-19 made touring an impossibility in 2020, Currie is hoping she can get back out on the road with these songs next year. In the meantime, she’s working on her second beloved art form: Chainsaw carving. Back in 2016, Currie had a near-death accident when she fell off of scaffolding while working on a piece. She suffered partial facial paralysis and severe head trauma, but was able to recover. The accident didn’t scare her away from the buzz of the chainsaws.
She’s still working on her art and showing it off in her Chatsworth gallery. She’s carved dolphins, bears and made-to-order personalized dog statues out of giant logs. Though chainsaws are loud and can be intimidating, for Currie, when she’s in the carving zone, she said it’s soothing and therapeutic.
“It was just something that was always ingrained in me,” she said. “It’s something I’m supposed to be doing and it just got to a point where I can see it in my head when I look at that log and you can’t make a mistake, because you can’t put it back on so you get pretty strategic with each cut, that’s for sure. I love my chainsaws and I’ll keep doing it until I can no longer lift one.”