Cherie Currie: Return of the Queen of Noise (Interview)

Cherie Currie: Return of the Queen of Noise (Interview)

Photo: Patti Ballaz
Photo: Patti Ballaz

“Hello daddy, hello Mom, I’m your cherry bomb… Hello world I’m your wild girl….”

Carrying on in the grand tradition of groundbreaking female rockers, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Fanny and Suzi Quatro, in the late ‘70s Southern California’s The Runaways made an indelible mark on the music scene.

Through Runaways signature classic like Cherry Bomb, American Nights and Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin, a feathered peroxide haired teenager named Cherie Currie served as the voice of a generation of disenfranchised youth. Dressed in a skimpy corset for Cherry Bomb, the highlight of their live shows, looks were certainly deceiving in Cherie’s case.

No wallflower, like her band mates she was a bonafide badass who’d cut you to ribbons with a switchblade if you crossed her without a second thought. The best of the Runaways music, a crafty synthesis of glam, bubblegum, power pop and hard rock hot wired to tough, slashing riffs, channeled bratty adolescent rage and frustration and hit with the seismic force of a thousand power drills. Queens of Noise indeed.

CherieCurrie_Cover_FINAL2Flash forward a few decades later and the original “cherry bomb” has mellowed and matured.

Witness Reverie, her first solo album in 35 years, which finds her reunited with Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley who co-wrote and produced a few tracks before his passing in January of 2015.

Former Runaways band mate (and recent RCM intervieweeLita Ford also makes an appearance singing background vocals on new renditions of Runaways gems Is It Day Or Night and American Nights. However, it’s Cherie’s son, Jake Hays, who earns honors as the record’s MVP, co-penning many of the tracks and lending muscular instrumentation to the entire record.

The DNA of her former band is ever present, particularly on Queen of the Asphalt Jungle. Yet in both sound and songs, the record impresses in its stylistic versatility, stretching the boundaries far beyond her ‘70s roots; in essence creating a “reverie” of adventurous and more sophisticated music and deeper, thought-provoking lyrical content.

Rock Cellar Magazine: When did it first hit you that you were a bonafide rock star?

Cherie Currie: Oh my Gosh, you know, I have never felt that way and I still don’t. I feel so grateful that I’ve made a different in people’s lives. I was thrilled with the Runaways movie and people thought it was important to tell our story.

To me, I’m just a chainsaw carver from the San Fernando Valley. (laughs)

But come to think of it, I did feel like a rock star in 1977 when we went to Japan. We were greeted with overwhelming crowds and fans that were crying. It was incredible. We couldn’t walk don the street without being chased. That was a first for us as a band. And again, that my last tour with them. That was when I felt that way.

I also felt like a rock star when we came back from our first U.S. tour and we played the Santa Monica Civic in Los Angeles. We left playing small clubs like Wild Man Sam’s and came back with Cheap Trick opening for us at the Santa Monica Civic and that made me feel as well that we were definitely on the right track.

Back in the day...
Hanging with Robert Plant back in the day.

Rock Cellar Magazine: You’re a lifelong fan of Suzi Quatro.

Cherie Currie: I also loved Suzi Quatro; I mean, holy cow! She’s a really talented gal. I hope she gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s hard to take the Hall seriously with her not in it.

People always ask me about my thoughts on the Runaways getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  They ask, “Don’t you think the Runaways should get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” and I can’t even imagine it before Suzi Quatro.

No way! To me, it wouldn’t be reality and wouldn’t be deserved. There are just some people that should be in the Hall of Fame that aren’t and Suzi is definitely number one as far as I’m concerned.

Rock Cellar Magazine: Suzi Quatro was always much more popular outside of America, can you explain why?

Cherie Currie: Well, I think she broke here in the States. I remember hearing Can the Can and Your Mama Won’t Like Me on the radio. Before I was in the Runaways I would listen to her; also, playing the character of Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. I saw her open for Elton John at the Forum and I think she also opened for Alice Cooper but I think I could be wrong about that.

But I will tell you, she kicked ass! She was a person I looked up to and aspired to be like, “I she could do it, we could do it.” She kicked open the doors as far as I’m concerned for the Runaways. I was blessed to be at her wedding in Japan with Suzi. She and I are very friendly. I’m very lucky they asked me to participate in a documentary about Suzi.

Rock Cellar Magazine: You should tour with her; you could call it “The Queens of Noise” tour.

PATTI BALLAZ-ME-VIPER-GOOD
Photo: Patti Ballaz

Cherie Currie: (Laughs) Lita and I contacted her to see if she’d be interested in doing some recording together but since she is in Europe, it never transpired. I’m hoping to tour Europe in October and maybe I’ll be able to meet up with her. I was looking at some of her videos the other day with my son, Jake, and my wonderful ex-husband, Robert Hays. We sat and watched some of Suzi’s old videos. She was just amazing!

Rock Cellar Magazine: It’s been a long 35 years between solo albums, why the protracted delay?

Cherie Currie: I wrote music for years and even during my marriage with Bob I wrote quite a few songs with a great writer named Tony Artino. We wrote music for soundtracks and movies and things like that. So I continued to write and to sing. But I did make a full album right after the Runaways movie came out with Joan (Jett).

I made that record with Matt Sorum. We made that for Blackheart Records. It’s a really good record. It’s got Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins; he wrote a duet for us to do. We have the Veronicas on the record, Brody Dale and even the actress Juliette Lewis who came and sang on a Runaways song.

We also had Matt Sorum, Duff (McKagan) and Slash playing on it as well. We do a song that was written by then. But the album was shelved, which was unfortunate.

Cherie and her son, Jake.
Cherie and her son, Jake.

Rock Cellar Magazine: Why was it shelved?

Cherie Currie: I’m not exactly sure. It took a back seat to everything for three years; I didn’t even get a record contract from Blackheart. After opening for Joan at the Pacific Amphitheater it just set everything off. I was offered a deal immediately.

But I went with Blackheart Records and my album never came out. When it finally came time for Blackheart to sign me to a record contract years later, I had sat around for almost three years not playing and they didn’t want me to play.

I just felt it was best that I part ways with them at that time.

Rock Cellar Magazine: In what ways is Reverie a different album from the one you recorded for Blackheart Records?

Cherie Currie: Matt Sorum is a great producer and of course he’s an incredible musician. Reverie was truly a labor of love. Kim (Fowley) called me and after making sure I had no paperwork with anyone else, he asked if I wanted to make a record. Of course, I had two reasons for wanting to work with Kim Fowley again.

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One Response to "Cherie Currie: Return of the Queen of Noise (Interview)"

  1. Pingback: Which female rocker inspired The Runaways? | Tombowler

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