In this post-coronavirus age, most folks have plenty of spare time on their hands while sheltering in place. Not former Runaways frontvixen Cherie Currie. Ever since Jake Hays — her musician son with actor ex-husband Robert Hays — moved back in with her last year after his house was destroyed by California wildfires, her San Fernando Valley homestead has been jumping.
Junior installed astudio in a spare room, where the family worked together on her new solo album “Blvds of Splendor,” out this week on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records and featuring high-octane cameos from Slash, Duff McKagan, Billy Corgan and — on a rousing cover of The Runaways classic “Queens of Noise” — Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle and The Veronicas. “So now is the time for this record to come out, she says. “In the middle of a pandemic, with the world shut, it’s important that there’s new music for people to listen to.”
There’s been no new Netflix addiction taking control of her, Currie says, laughing.“Jake has it in his room, but I just don’t watch it,” she says, admitting an occasional fondness for ghost hunter reality shows .If those hours don’t add up to much, she adds, “Don’t forget — I’m a chainsaw artist! Ever since ‘The Runaways’ movie went into production in 2009, I’ve been carving at the side of my house. I live in a residential neighborhood, but I’ve always been thoughtful in terms of never starting before 10 a.m., never working on Sundays, and if I hear a party or something start, I stop immediately. Plus, I’ve carved something nice for just about everybody around me.”
Currie’s stature in rock history is nicely mapped out in “The Runaways,” Floria Sigismondi’s inspired take on how a Bowie-inspired teenage Currie (played by Dakota Fanning) met a Suzi-Quatro-loving Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) in 1975 to form the eponymous glam-rock group, under the auspices of shrewd Hollywood Svengali Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). She recorded only three albums with the all-girl group before forming a short-lived side project with her sister Marie and then flying solo with 1978’s “Beauty’s Only Skin Deep,” but her influence was so pervasive that it was easy for “Blvds” producer Matt Sorum to assemble guest stars like Slash, Corgan and the Lewis/Dalle/Veronicas trimvirate.
Any blanks in her career — including her battle with drug addiction and later acting pursuits, like the movie “Foxes” — were filled in by her tell-all autobiography “Neon Angel.”
Currie’s most renowned performance with The Runaways — the chugging single “Cherry Bomb” — still sounds vibrant and alive today, and has been by countless later homage-paying outfits, including The Riverdale Vixens on a recent episode of the Archie-inspired CW TV series “Riverdale.” She’s been so occupied with projects ever since, she says that she began work on “Blvds” with Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver drummer Sorum way back in 2010, but was sidetracked from completing several times.
“Life happened, what can I say?” She says. “First, Kim Fowley reached out and asked if I wanted to do a record with him, and this was right when he found out that he was very sick. So I jumped at that chance, and I wanted Jake to work with him, because still — to this day — Kim was the most amazing, prolific, brilliant songwriter. And I got to witness that as an adult — no longer at 15, 16 — which floored me completely. He would take things out of thin air and sing it to anything my son was playing, and it would be perfect — every lyric, every inflection, every melody.” That album, “Reverie” came out in 2015, just after Fowley’s death from bladder cancer at 75.
Currie also released “The Motivator,” a duets disc with original Fanny drummer Brie Darling, and had a frightening chainsaw-related accident when she tumbled 12 feet from a carving scaffolding in 2016, sidelining her with a broken tailbone and 10 painful months of partial face paralysis.
“Blvds” was originally issued as a translucent red vinyl pressing of only 3,000 for last year’s Record Store Day, but she added three extra tracks — including “Queens” for this week’s digital edition. She completed work on a new film, as well, “Spirit Chaser.”
But most importantly, she says, “I’ve got my son with me, and it’s just great to have him here. ” He recently launched his own show biz career with the pop EP “Room 13.”
What’s next for the Runaway at 60? “Right now, I’m going to go outside and finish this vintage cigar store Indian carving. “And hopefully, Jake and I will jump on the road and do a handful of shows once all this blows over. That would just be great.”