The argument over whether the inheritance of artistry is passed through genetics or via application and commitment, is one which has been researched for centuries and will continue to be for years to come. Without doubt there are prime examples for both sides of the debate; but upon closer inspection of notorious artists with offspring whom are also remarkably gifted, a pattern certainly does emerge. On a musical dimension, Tim and Jeff Buckley are exemplary models and although both sadly passed away criminally young and more incredibly, barely knew each other; each left respective legacies that are still to this day, utterly priceless.
Cherie Currie, the former lead singer of the legendary girls-in-rock movement outfit The Runaways and now accomplished solo artist (amongst other pathways, more on that later), has a first-hand exposure to artistic flair within her family. As most would know, one relative being her twin sister Marie, with whom Cherie enjoyed success with their Messin’ With The Boys album; however, Cherie’s son Jake Hays is also a very accomplished musician, singer and producer in his own right. For Cherie’s most recent solo record Reverie, Jake not only featured on the full-length as a guest musician and vocalist, but after the untimely death of Kim Fowley, went on to produce the remainder of the LP, as Cherie explains:
“I’m actually exceptionally proud of my son Jake Hays who ended up producing it. Kim (Fowley, producer) was of course the one who got the album started before he became horribly ill after four songs and had to turn it over to Jake. But he did a fantastic job coming up with songs with me and producing as well. Working with him has always been a highlight for me, as well as standing on-stage with my son all these years has just been an amazing journey.”
In her typically infectious bubbly personality, more than pride can be felt through Cherie’s adoring praises to her son; it’s another level of passion for the musician, actor and chainsaw wood sculptor. It reminded this writer of an interview with Natalie Curtis, daughter of post-punk icon Ian Curtis from Joy Division who stated: “I don’t really listen to Joy Division very much, I would if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s my dad singing. Who wants to listen to their dad singing? It’s like watching your dad dance. It’s just dead embarrassing. Your dad’s never cool, is he?” When questioned about whether Cherie thought her son might have similar feelings about his mother’s endeavours, she confidently replies: “NO not at all, I mean it’s probably sickening for other people when I just continue to boast about him.”
“(Laughing) Not in any disturbing way. He is very deserving of all of it I can assure you. Not only does he play just about every instrument you can think of, but he is also an amazing singer. I talked him into doing that duet with me on the album for the song he wrote, Shades of Me, he was actually quite resistant to doing it. He was like: ‘Mum I don’t know with the lyrics,’ but I persuaded him by saying: ‘Jake it’s mother and son for crying out loud.’ I’m so glad that he did sing it because he did an amazing job. He has a fantastic voice and all the background vocals on the album are Jake and myself.”
As brushed upon earlier, Reverie was more than a challenge to create and complete. Serving as a follow-up to a still unreleased record, Ms. Currie actually utilised the full-length’s generation to mend ties with her former manager and producer from The Runaways era Kim Foley and earlier band member Lita Ford. In what would have been a rather dangerous yet ambitious and therapeutic project; Cherie only expresses gratitude and sincere appreciation for the limited time she had with the aforementioned co-workers, even in its limited capacity.
“It really was therapeutic working in the studio with Kim again, it just gave me such an appreciation for his brilliance. As a song-writer and as a producer he could not mess around and was extremely inspiring. He moved into my house towards the end of his life and I got to take care of him for a bit of time, then he became too sick so went back to the hospital where he sadly passed away.”
Cherie continues with a slightly emotional undertone: “But having both him and Lita (Ford, The Runaways guitarist) on the record, which were two sort of contentious situations in my life, to do it over again in such a happy environment left just a really loving and amazing result. All those nightmares I had for some 30-odd years are now gone and I just have wonderful memories when it comes to those two amazing people.”
So all disputes were resolved to a degree? “I mean I cannot even imagine having not been in touch with Kim before he died. We spent countless hours going over The Runaways and the why he did those things he did. In the end, I understood why; in a selfish way it was very important for me to do that. I don’t know how I would have handled his passing and ultimately leaving a big hole there, a big void if you will.”
In better news, the untitled and unreleased album discussed previously has actually progressed in its current ‘shelved’ status. Though the interview mostly concentrated on last year’s record, this previous LP certainly has a design which will surprise and impress music admirers of an array of genres; Ms. Currie elaborates:
“I honestly do not know what happened with that album. Kenny Laguna was my manager at the time and we made this great record with Matt Sorum (Guns’n’Roses) producing and a lot of incredible people on it including: Billy Corgan, The Veronicas, Brodie Dalle, Juliette Lewis, Slash and Duff McKagen. For some reason it was shelved and that was the main reason why I left Kenny as a manager. The good news is though finally as of about a month and a half ago I did sign a contract to release it in September.”
“It definitely does have a diverse feel to it. Matt wanted the album to be a lot about my life which makes it a really interesting album. I’m quite sure everybody will really enjoy it as it was very enjoyable to do and has quite an assorted collection of music to it.”
The actual purpose behind this scribe’s very honorary opportunity to interview this individual of rock royalty, albeit an astonishing woman, was that during the month of May Cherie Currie will be embarking on her very first solo Australian tour. But what can we expect? Reverie in full? The Runaways material?
“Of course I am doing songs from The Runaways! I am a little more mature now (laughs), but I definitely never get tired of doing those tracks. It’s hard to explain, but I just find the music to be so much fun and I have great memories of fantastic performances with those songs.”
Any in particular?
“Well obviously, Cherry Bomb, is kind of my ‘thing’ and signature song; I was the first one to ever sing it and then perform it for many years. I kind of own that one I think (laughs)! American Nights is another one which I enjoy, but there isn’t really just one song that stands out for me, honestly they all do. The reason is mostly because that’s what the fans want to hear and I appreciate that; when I go see a band that I love or a solo artist where their music has touched me in one way or another, I want to hear those tracks. It can become so nostalgic and bring the listener and performer back you know?”
Cherie Currie will be touring Australia at the end of May. You can grab tickets and more information HERE.
Cherie Currie: Australian Tour 2016
26 May – The Triffid, Brisbane
27 May – Manning Bar, Sydney
31 May – The Gov, Adelaide
01 July – Rosemount Hotel, Perth