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| 5 April 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Cherie Currie 01

Former Runaway and original ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb CHERIE CURRIE is heading Down Under for the first time ever next month, so 100% ROCK settled in for a long chat about life, music and being kind to yourself.

THURSDAY 26TH MAY – The Triffid, Newstead
FRIDAY 27TH MAY – Manning Bar, Camperdown
SATURDAY 28TH MAY – Corner Hotel, Richmond
TUESDAY 31ST MAY – The Gov, Hindmarsh
WEDNESDAY 1ST JUNE – Rosemount Hotel, North Perth
100% ROCK: Hi Cherie, thank you so much for your time today.

Cherie: Oh, thank you so much for having me I really appreciate it.

100% ROCK: We’re very excited about your Australian tour.

Cherie: Me too, you know what, Australia is the one place I’ve always wanted to go to so I just feel like it is such a gift, a real gift for me and I just can’t wait. Honestly I can’t. I’m really excited about it.

100% ROCK: It sounds like it, that’s fantastic. So you’ve never even been down here on a holiday at all?

Cherie: No, I have not.

100% ROCK: Oh, exciting.

Cherie: I know and I’ve always been drawn to want to go there but I’ve just never had the opportunity until now so I feel like I must have done something really, really good.

100% ROCK: Well I’m sure it’ll be fantastic. What are you planning to deliver on stage? Is it going to be a cross-section of your entire career?

Cherie: Yes, I think so. A lot of Runaways stuff – of course, I believe, our very first gold album came from Australia, and so ever since I was 17 years old I’ve wanted to come over and meet the wonderful Runaways fans. So I’m going to be doing a lot of Runaways songs, the ones that the fans want to hear. I did a lot of asking around over the years to see what the best songs were to do and then I’ll do some tributes and some originals – not many originals, but some, and just put on a great show.

100% ROCK: Fantastic. I really enjoyed your most recent album too, Reverie, and your son Jake played a blinder on that. You must be so proud.

Cherie: I am proud of him and his band Maudlin Strangers has been just great, I mean really doing well and all of their shows are sold out and he’s taken a little break from that now to be an actor, which I was wanting him to do when he was a lot younger but he would have nothing to do with it. He’s just mastered so many instruments and producing and singing and being a front man as well and so now he wants to take on acting so getting him into the studio is kind of difficult these days.

100% ROCK: Is he not going to be coming on the road with you, then?

Cherie: No. I’ve got the band that I had in the United Kingdom, put together by Alex Michael, just great guys. We really feel like a family. It was almost immediate and they’re great players – good looking young guys too! So I think that the young audience – I’ve had a lot of young people coming – they’ll just be thrilled with the guys as well because they’re just terrific.

100% ROCK: Whilst making Reverie, you made peace with Kim Fowley [ex-manager of The Runaways] shortly before he died, and the album has a couple of songs co-written by him. Was that an important process for you to go through?

Cherie: It was the utmost important process because I had been so resentful for decades of the money that had been stolen and really the way he had treated us and the name calling and all of that. That affected me very deeply and I really realised the only person that resentment hurt was me. Probably about eight years ago I saw him at a party and he was a little scared because of the time I had seen him before I wasn’t very kind and then I just approached it on a different level. I was ready to really talk about it and we just spent hours and hours on the phone and he got really tearful and I kind of, as a grown mother now, I really kind of understood in a way that he had a pretty rough childhood himself, he had been abandoned by his parents and here he’s got five teenage girls and how does he prepare young girls for the kind of musical environment that we were walking into? He was rough but he did prepare us and I do have to say he honestly did. He made us kind of warriors for the road and we needed every ounce of it, I’ll tell you that much. We did.

It was, for me to be able to forgive him and to start over and then work with him on this record when he was so ill, and to bring my son in to write with him as well, was kind of full circle, and then towards the end of his life he did call me and needed to live with me for a while. It only lasted nine days but I spent 24 hours a day with him, just him and I basically and it was just a wonderful experience. We recorded together. He was bedridden of course but we recorded together and I miss him. I do. He really was a good man. Towards the end of his life when I really got to know him, he was not the same young man, he didn’t have the same attitude, he was a different person but brilliant. Probably one of the best lyricists I’ve ever met or witnessed. He was brilliant on so many levels.

Cherie Currie 05

100% ROCK: The last few years I’ve seen you talking a lot more about The Runaways, with having the movie out and everything. They weren’t all good times by a long shot, it must have been painful to relive some of those experiences – not to mention seeing them on the big screen.

Cherie: Yeah, but I think writing my book in 1989 with Neal Shusterman which the movie was somewhat more-so based off of the original book, that was hard but again it is so true that if you take responsibility for your part in things, if you take responsibility it’s incredibly forgiving for yourself as well and it really does allow you to put it behind you and move forward and that’s why it was so important for me to have a much more happy memory of Kim because had I not done that, to have to carry that around is not good. Not for anybody especially when you’re dealing with such a young impressionable person as I was back then. It was great. I really recommend anybody that has the opportunity to make those good memories instead of always focusing on what happened in the past which does not exist, only in our minds. It’s torturous. Make good memories and so you move on and that’s a chapter closed, is it not?

100% ROCK: Absolutely. Even now many tout The Runaways as an influence on them starting their own bands. Do you feel that the band was ahead of their time?

Cherie: I do. I actually do, but also I think with The Go-Go’s and others coming out in the ‘80s, and they said that we were their influence… and even Courtney Love. I really thought back about 25 years ago that we had all but been forgotten, that when Madonna came out in a corset they would say she was the first one [to do that] – and I was thinking, ‘no, I was the first one!’ And then I kind of thought, ‘gosh, Madonna, you’ve got to know that I was the first one.’ Anyway it’s wonderful to see that we have a whole new fan base now, with really young girls picking up guitars and doing it, kind of in a rebellious but tasteful way, and I’m very proud that we did what we did at the time we did it.

Cherie Currie, circa 1977

Cherie Currie, circa 1977

100% ROCK: That’s it, I’ve got an 8-year-old daughter and she’s just starting keyboard lessons and she’s always walking around singing Cherry Bomb and Queens of Noise. Does it surprise you that the music still resonates so strongly almost 40 years later?

Cherie: You know what, it doesn’t because the one thing that I loved so much about The Runaways’ music and participating in some of the writing was that anybody can sing it and anyone can play it. Nowadays when you see, like American Idol, The Voice and that kind of show, if that is what these young people have to achieve it’s just almost impossible and devastating. A lot of these young people are going to see these shows and feel that even though [singing] is their dream and it’s really what they’re supposed to do, [the shows] are going to stop them. So I appreciate it, but a part of me doesn’t because I think that especially in today’s day and age, if you’re not just absolutely over the top as a singer or a player, it has nothing to do with – let me just say it this way: some of my favourite singers aren’t great singers. Like The Rolling Stones, I mean Mick Jagger isn’t a great singer but I’ll tell you he is a personality and a performer like no other. I just think that it puts a heavy load on young people to feel that they have to be that good and I think it takes a lot of the heart out of it, for me anyway.

Cherie Currie 02

100% ROCK: Absolutely. What advice do you have for teenage girls embarking on their own rock and roll journey?

Cherie: To not, first of all, be afraid and to not listen to anybody. Don’t ask anybody’s opinion because they’re never going to be able to give you the right advice because it’s not their path. They’ve got their path you’ve got your path. Stick to your path and you’re going to succeed. There’s just no doubt about it and in my 56 years I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again even with myself. When I became a chainsaw artist the thing is that it was very scary, very dangerous, people would say this is not smart and you can’t do it and they were wrong, all of them. So I just learned that I just don’t [have to] listen, I go with my heart and I never fail, but when I listen to other people and their fears and I actually own that, then I ALWAYS fail.

100% ROCK: That’s very good advice.

Cherie: That’s my advice: don’t listen and don’t ask.

100% ROCK: You worked with both Lita Ford and Joan Jett over the last five or six years and I believe that a Runaways reunion almost happened. Do you think that the time has passed now?

Cherie: I do. Yes, I do… and I had to actually admit that, because I really didn’t see why we couldn’t and of course Lita wanted to, Joan wanted to – all of us 20 years ago, Lita had put together all of us, me and Sandy and Joan and herself – then Lita backed out last minute because she didn’t get along with Kenny Laguna, Joan’s manager, and that was devastating for me. Then of course after The Runaways movie and Lita and I became friends we approached Joan and now Joan didn’t want to do it so to me it was like, you know, I just can’t. To me it’s over.

Cherie Currie, Joan Jett & Lita Ford

Cherie Currie, Joan Jett & Lita Ford

100% ROCK: Was it a case of ‘why keep wasting energy on it’?

Cherie: Exactly. Exactly. I’ve just let that go and in fact if anyone approaches me about it I just say, ‘look, if you want to go get them to say yes, then contact me but I will have nothing to do with it anymore.’ I really did believe it was going to happen myself – but now I get to come to Australia!

100% ROCK: I know, it’s very exciting.

Cherie: And that’s better than all of it, to be honest with you.

100% ROCK: Fantastic. David Bowie was obviously a very primary influence upon you. I’m sure you were as cut up as we all were when news of his passing came down the wire. What does his legacy mean to you? Would you have even joined the band without Bowie?

Cherie: No! I would never have been in the music business, I don’t believe, without him. At that time in my life, he was my very first concert that I ever went to, and it was at that concert, at the Universal Amphitheater in 1974, on the Diamond Dogs tour, when I stood in that audience and saw probably the most amazing performer that had ever lived. For me, I was dumbstruck and I also knew right at that moment, that voice in my head said, ‘you’re going to do this.’ I never thought I wasn’t going to and within several months I was in The Runaways.

100% ROCK: Thank you, David.

Cherie Currie 03

Cherie: Yes. And what was so wonderful was, for me, David Bowie – I didn’t know who I was when I first joined that band. I had never sang besides maybe in the Kiwanis club with my twin sister and my father as a child, I’d never sang in front of an audience so I was basically cutting my teeth live on stage and so I kind of pretended, I did what I thought Bowie would do, as Joan was using Suzi Quatro with her persona, I was using David Bowie until we started finding out who we really were and that took a lot of stage performances. So without him I don’t think I ever would have been able to do what I did, personally.

100% ROCK: For sure.

Cherie: It was shocking.

100% ROCK: Thanks so much Cherie, obviously 15 minutes you barely scratched the surface. Thank you so much, can’t wait to see you when you’re in Western Australia. I will try to say hi.

Cherie: Thanks Shane, I look forward to it.

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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