Cherie Currie of the Runaways: We took a lot of sh*t
Cherie Currie may have initially made her mark as the voracious teen vixen of a lead singer for the Runaways, but what stands the test of time even more so than groundbreaking rock 'n' roll, is the strength of a woman who has overcome a lot. It's no secret that the Runaways had such a short run because the rock star lifestyle forced upon teenage girls didn't yield the most positive results. But whether it a tell-all memoir Neon Angel, its major motion picture adaptation, or simply being a mother, Currie has taken command of her experience in every possible way. And fortunately, it still rocks.
Gimme Noise chatted with the punk legend preceding her performance at Girls Got Rhythm Fest this Saturday.
Gimme Noise: First things first, you're still making music but are primarily a chainsaw carving artist?
Cherie Currie: Yeah that's basically been it. I've been a chainsaw carver for twelve years, and you know we're just getting the album finished. It's been over two years in the making and it will come out, I believe, towards the end of this summer. But yeah I'm a chainsaw carver; that's what I do.
It looks like it could potentially be pretty cathartic.
It's got some risks, that's for sure. I've been very very lucky but most carvers that I know have taken a blow or two from a chain or two that's broken. You know it can be pretty devastating. I heard about a guy that had been carving for 30 years over on the coast and wasn't using the right bar and it kicked back and hit him in the throat and he was gone in 3 minutes. You can never let your guard down when you are doing this kind of thing.
How do you think things have changed in the realm of gender-specific challenges in the music industry?
Oh it's night and day from what it was back in the '70s. I think also that I was so young and really coming out in such a bold fashion instead of being like, you know, Carly Simon. Don't get me wrong, I love Carly Simon. We just kind of took a lot of people by surprise. Of course, at face value, I understand the criticism looking at the Runaways. I wouldn't have believed it myself if I would have been a record buyer or someone buying a ticket to see it. I really wouldn't have believed it! But today is just leaps and bounds different. It's completely accepted; it's inspiring and it's been proven that it works. All the guys out there, they can't deny it anymore. You can't tell me that the sky isn't blue. Girls are great. Girls rock! Girls are exceptional.
Do you get much outreach from modern bands?
Yeah! Cherry Bomb is one, these are some pretty young girls, and they are also very pretty. They're very exceptional musicians and on-the-rise. I saw an interview with them and that they were huge fans of the Runaways. I remember the GoGo's back in the '80s mentioning that we were an influence and that was absolutely stunning to me. I always kind of felt that we had been sort of passed over. Courtney Love was a huge Runaways fan too. Also I think the movie helped bring a lot of young people into our music, which is great. It's nice to feel like we influenced people. We took a lot of shit, excuse my language. We really did. It's hard to even believe how difficult it was at times, being so young on the road without our parents for months and months at a time. I don't really think people can grasp that because that just wouldn't happen to day, at least not in the same way.
So then what was your perception of being a woman during that time? How has it changed in retrospect?
[pause] You know I can't tell you. Because from when I was just about to turn 16 when I joined the Runaways in 10th grade, I was just starting to become a young woman. And I missed out--I think all of us did--in what would have been normal because we spent the next couple of years on the road. That's a really hard and emotional question for me to answer because if I hadn't of been in the Runaways I would have been able to experience the proms and hit those marks where you really realize that you're growing up. I have a different perception of it if you understand what I mean.
What's the center of your universe today?
Probably my son...no, not probably, definitely. He is 22 and he's a musician and artist, very talented, so just watching out for him and watching him. I guess I have a little bit of a feeling of protection for him and also all of the young people who reach out to me. I certainly don't want them, even though you can't stop people from making mistakes, I don't want them to do it if you can help it. I'm 53 years old. When I was young that seemed really old. Even though I don't feel any different than I did when I was in my '20s, I feel like we have to remind these beautifully wonderful young people that absolutely anything is possible if they want it.
If you could dole out any advice to a young woman today what would it be?
Nothing has to happen right this moment. Don't jump the gun. Don't be pushed into things. Sit back and take the appropriate time to make the right decision in your life. Don't let other people motivate you to hurry up and get it done now, because you always look back and wish you would have taken more time. Weigh the consequences.
What most appealed to you about playing GGR FEST?
Really I think it's an honor. I haven't performed since I opened for Joan in 2010 so it will be great to get back out there again. And my son will be with me! He plays in my band.
That's has to be a pretty amazing thing to share.
Oh he is amazing. And he's gorgeous and has a voice like you will not believe. I used to be married to Robert Hayes, the actor from Airplane. He's my best friend. And even though we divorced 15 years ago we are closer now than we ever were when we were married. We made this amazing, gorgeous, sweetest person and he can certainly play guitar and sing I'm really excited for all of the girls to see him [laughs]! It's indescribable to be able to do this with my kid. And I'm just glad that he's such a nice kid.
Well you know what they say: "they're a product of their raising."
[Laughs] He's almost too good.
Girls Got Rhythm Fest is at Amsterdam Bar & Hall Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11. Tickets and info here.