Cherie Currie is back with a new record that has been a long time coming. The album Blvds of splendor is produced by Matt Sorum and takes fans on a musical journey. The album is a mix of rock, punk, blues mixed with a few ballads. I was able to talk to Cherie Currie about the making Blvds of splendor and working with Matt Sorum.
Angel Alamo: How did you get Matt Sorum to produce Blvds of Splendor?
Cherie Currie: I didn’t get Matt Sorum, I was very, very lucky. He had reached out to me to sing on his wife’s record, and I was in the middle of doing PR with Ken Phillips for the Runaways movie, and when I finally got back to him, of course, her recording was done. I had just been asked to open for Joan Jett at the Pacific Amphitheater in 2010, and I didn’t have a band because I hadn’t performed in years and years.
I called Matt and of course, he said he didn’t need me for the session, but I said, “Do you know anybody I could open up at Pacific Amphitheater for Joan? Haven’t played in years, do you know a drummer, do you know people that might be interested in backing me?” And he goes, “I’ll be your drummer.” I was shocked. I was like, “What?!” And he goes, “Oh, I’ll help. I’ll put a band together for you. You don’t have to worry about that.” And he put together the most kick-ass band.
I brought my son Jake Hays in as well, and we rehearsed so hard for that show, and just kicked ass. And then when the show was over, Matt just walked up and he goes, “We’ve got to make a record.” I was like, “Right…” But he was serious, and before I knew it he had me in studio recording Roxy Roller to see how it all meshed. The guy just took this whole situation by the reins, and he believed in me, and he masterminded this amazing record.
AA: The album took 10 years to make did you ever feel any pressure to rush the album?
CC: Well actually, it was made just about 10 years ago, and at that particular time I guess Blackheart didn’t feel it was the right time to release it. That I don’t know. The thing is, is that when I was ready, they weren’t ready, and then vice versa. Often I’d be doing another project, and then they thought they’d released it, and then it didn’t happen. And then I had an accident in 2016 which took me out for a year, and then I just kind of just thought the album is just never going to come out. I just kind of made peace with all of that, and so now they’ve decided this is the time for it to come out, and I’m grateful because it is a kick-ass album.
AA: Mr. X is the first song on the record. How did that song come together and when did the idea of bringing in Slash and Duff McKagan to perform on the record?
CC: They (Slash and Duff McKagan) wrote that song, and Matt just thought that it would be good for the record. They hadn’t really recorded it, they’d done a little demo, but they hadn’t really done a proper recording. He asked if I liked it, and of course, I thought it was just a brilliant kick-ass song. He called Slash and Duff and asked if they’d be interested in letting me record the song, and they were thrilled about it. They came and played on it, and it was really a monumental moment in my life. I love Slash, I’ve worked with him before, but this was really neat. And they liked my performance, and that was important.
AA: You got (Smashing Pumpkins) singer Billy Corgan to do the duet on Blvds of Splendors, and just curious, how did that come together because it’s almost like it came out perfectly. Did you decide then that this would be the song to do a duet in?
CC: Well, you know what? Listen, I’m just a chainsaw carver from the Valley. At that point, I’d been a professional chainsaw artist for 10 years. I didn’t know these people. This is all Matt Sorum. I have to give credit where credit is due. He called Billy and asked if he wanted to write a song for my record, and Billy wanted to. He came in and started writing, and I put in my two cents here and there, but the guy is a genius. I’m a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan as it is, so to be able to work with him and do a duet with him is something I’ll never forget. But it’s all Matt. I have to just say, the guy has got great friends, and I was very blessed that they wanted to come and be a part of this record.
AA: Two of the songs that really stand out, I guess just because, in this day of the digital age, you put together two amazing songs that had string sections in them. The two songs I was talking about is Rock & Roll Obvilion and Air That I Breathe. How did that come together with adding the string sections to those songs? It comes out amazing.
CC: Yeah, and that’s Matt again. Lanny Cardola came in with Rock & Roll Oblivion. In fact, the vocal on that song is scratch. This record really became quite the production, and Lanny Cardola is a great writer. I’ve known Lanny, and I’ve worked with him on different projects. Matt put the strings on that, but with Air That I Breathe, he really loved the original version as I did. I brought that song to the table because it was one of my favorite songs. He went to Kenny Laguna and said, “We need to put real strings on this.” And Kenny okayed it, so they wrote up the charts and did a fabulous job.
AA: Those were my favorite because you don’t hear that many songs like that nowadays. So it was like, “Wow, this sounds really awesome.”
CC: You really don’t. You really don’t, and it’s too bad. It’s the digital age, and it’s been the digital age really since the 1980s, but to be able to pull these amazing players in, and have them do such a fine job. But, thank you very much. Yeah, I really do love strings, I do. So, it’s great to have him on this record. Thank you, Matt.
AA: You had a web segment on YouTube that followed the making of the record. Did you ever have any concern about giving too much away on the making of the record?
CC: No. Again, those are all approved by Blackheart (Records), and I haven’t listened to the album, I have to be honest, for probably eight years. To listen to it again, I was just shocked at how great it was. There’s so many different songs, so many different styles that I really don’t think there’s much you could give away when you have an abundance of talent that people won’t even realize unless they hear the record.
AA: As a fan, I liked the segment you did with Billy Corgan, which gives us the fans almost an inside look into the 1970s influence that was on that song. That was one of the coolest things.
CC: I agree, but I think it actually still would work in today’s music I think. Again, I listen to classic rock. I couldn’t tell you who is number one or any of these singers out there today. I just couldn’t because I just happen to like classic rock, I’m sure you do as well.
AA: Oh yes, I don’t listen to the radio.
CC: The record really, I think it ignites something in all of us that miss that kind of music. It’s not hip hop, and it’s not all the craze that’s happening these days, but it is something that we love, and it’s nice to resurrect that kind of music today.
AA: What was the toughest part about making this record? If there was any, because I know you mentioned in past interviews it was just a lot of fun making this record.
CC: It was, but it took a long time. It took months and after a couple of months of working almost every day tensions ran high, and we were tired. We really were tired. Matt, he’s a true musician and he’s tough, and if you don’t cut it, man, he lets you know it. I was very lucky that my vocals happened to be good enough for him, but you want to move on, you want to get it finished. I think towards the end it didn’t end on the best note, simply because look, just like the Runaways. If you work too hard, and you work too long, and the outcome is unsure, you can kind of not end on the best note, and unfortunately, this record really didn’t. But the beauty of it is that 10 years later we can really appreciate the hell that we went through to finish it. And so there you go. It’s something that was meant to come out, and I’m just glad it’s finally coming out now.
AA: Especially now in the time that we are in where we can just sit down and listen to a record from start to finish, because I listened to it from start to finish, and it took me back to the old-style records where you really had to listen to every song. It was almost like you were taking the fans on a journey, so to speak.
CC: Thank you very much because it takes me on a journey as well, and a very powerful journey actually, and a positive one. I’m very, very grateful that you love it. Thank you very much.
AA: Once this thing is over with the whole virus situation, do you plan to do shows to support the record?
CC: I really don’t see how I couldn’t. I did a tour on this record, believe it or not before it came out. I started going on tour I think in 2014 and played a lot of the songs from that record. But now definitely I think it’s the kind of music that people want to hear, and people love listening to Runaways stuff too, and I love playing the Runaways songs. I absolutely say yes, it’s going to happen. Just fingers crossed.
AA: You added Queens of Noise, how was it revisiting that song for the new record?
CC: Whenever I did do shows, and again they were very few and far between, but I always included Queens of Noise, always had Sandy playing with me. Whenever I did shows, Sandy was always on the drum, and then we lost her. So, for Matt to pay such homage to her, and really, he knows what a great drummer she was. The whole thing started to revolve around lifting Sandy up and giving her the praise that she deserves as one of the greatest female drummers. And to bring in Brody Dalle, and The Veronicas, and Juliette Lewis, it was just a gas. We had a fun time doing it. I know that song, I could sing it in my sleep. It was really just a lot of fun to share it with other women.
AA: Do you ever get nervous before a record comes out or are you ever concerned about what the feedback is going to be to the new record?
CC: Not really. I hope, everyone hopes, and all I can do is know how I feel about the record, and I think it’s just kick ass. There’s going to be people that don’t like it I guess. Oh well. You know what, when you get to be 60 years old, that kind of stuff doesn’t matter. The little things don’t matter. The bottom line is, is we accomplished something great, and Matt Sorum is a fantastic producer. A lot of great people came together to make this record, and I’m a very blessed human being that they came together to do it with me.
Interview by Angel Alamo