Words El Jefe.
It was one of those days. First day back at work from annual leave, up early. But I was also locked in for a quick chat with Cherie Currie, frontwoman for The Runaways, solo artist, actor, author, as well as (I had only learnt the night before!) chainsaw artist and is also about to begin her Australian tour this May. So things weren’t all bad. I dialed the number in the states (555….) and was greeted by Cherie’s very warm and friendly voice. I also found her to be very open and charismatic. And she was a whole lot of fun to have a conversation with.
Cherie: Hey, is this Jeff? How are you, great to talk to you!
EJ: Hey Cherie, thanks for the chance to talk to you, I’m really excited about this. Being on limited time, I thought I’d jump straight in. For starters, I was checking out some of your chainsaw carvings, which really intrigued me. I hadn’t seen this done before and was wondering what the inspiration to do this was.
Cherie: I had been sculpting and sketching for a long time, I was just always drawn to creating art. I was driving one day, in 2002, and passed some guys who were doing it. I was fascinated, and while I didn’t stop at the time, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I went back a couple of weeks later, and met the guys and they agreed to take me on as an apprentice. When I first told my family, they were totally against me doing it, working with chainsaws and forbid me to do it. But I wasn’t going to be stopped and being forbidden to do it just made me want to do it more. It’s not an easy thing to learn, but before too long, I was winning competitions with my carvings, and selling them as well. I have my own gallery now as well.
EJ: As a woman, how have you found working in the music industry, being notoriously male-dominated.
Cherie: It’s been hard at times, especially in The Runaways. We were so very, very young and just learning to play. And there were lots of drugs around, being the ‘70’s, things were pretty loose and wild. And Kim (Fowley), who’s influence was huge. He was a totally one-of-a-kind, and so talented. He could write lyrics on the spot. And he was the kind of guy who if you met him once, you’d never forget him. Over the years, I’ve learnt that you really just have to stick to your own opinion, and keep writing and doing things the way you want to do them. If you do that, you can survive and achieve things on your own terms.
EJ: You work very closely with your son Jake Hays. How do you find that?
Cherie: It’s great, you know. He’s such a great talent, and from the time he was 13, I’d take him with me to do radio shows, and he became a really great, stinging guitarist, really fast. He’s played rhythm and lead guitar in my touring band and also switched to drums and played a tour. He’s written songs with me for the new record, and because Kim who was producing it became so sick and passed away before we had finished the record, Jake took over and produced it. It was a difficult juggling act, because he has his own band called Maudlin Strangers, who he was also working with at the same time. I also had Jake sing lead vocals on ‘Shades Of Me’ which was one of the songs we wrote together.
EJ: What were your thoughts on The Runaways film, especially being based on your own biography?
Cherie: I really liked it. Dakota (Fanning) and Kris (Stewart) were fantastic, such great actors, and the films also looked so great. They really captured the look of the ‘70s. It’s also helped revive my musical career.
EJ: Live? What can we expect from you and the band when you hit here. And what else do you have in the musical pipeline?
Cherie: We’re gonna play what everyone wants to hear. We’re gonna do some Runaways songs, some songs that were used in the movie that weren’t Runaways songs and a few from my new record Reverie, which is my first solo record in 35 years. I also have a new live LP coming out, should be out by the time we tour Australia which also has Suzi Quatro on it, which is really great. When I joined the Runaways, I’d modeled myself on Bowie, the hair and makeup. And Joan (Jett) was Suzi Quatro to my Bowie, so she has been a really big influence on me.
EJ: Ok, thanks a lot for your time this morning, it’s been a pleasure. I have to wind things up now as my time is up.
Cherie: Thanks Jeff.