Chatting with front man Lucas Silveira, who comes to play in Houston with the band. EXPANDED WEB INTERVIEW
Plus JD Doyle’s Queer Music Heritage holiday show, and holiday CDs.
Queer bands are becoming more and more visible and are finding ways in which to distinguish themselves from the pack. The Cliks do so in a couple of ways. Musically, their sound has a harder rocking edge to it than some of the others, which goes a long way in setting them apart. Also, having a transgender front man, as The Cliks do in Lucas Silveira, is the kind of thing that is destined to earn the band more attention. The Cliks, whose debut disc Snakehouse (Silver Label/Tommy Boy) was released in April 2007, was one of the acts on Cyndi Lauper’s multi-act True Colors tour last June, and I spoke with Lucas shortly before he and The Cliks hit the road (at Fitzgerald’s in Houston on December 13).
Gregg Shapiro: Nine of the ten songs on Snakehouse are credited to you as writer. What can you tell me about your songwriting process?
Lucas Silveira: It kind of depends. Every song is different. But I can do something as simple as sit in a room—I usually just kind of like to be on my own. I’ll sit in a room and come up with something that’s knocking at my gut. I can come up with the guitar first, then the lyrics after or a melody first, and then add guitar. Sometimes I’ll have a tune in my head that I’ll be humming for days. I actually have this cell phone that records stuff, so a lot of times I end up singing stuff into my phone. [Laughs]So people see you walking down the street doing that, and they think, Wow, that’s so sweet! He’s singing to someone on his cell phone.
[Laughs] That’s funny!
Who would you consider to be your biggest musical influences?
I think in the last few years Jeff Buckley had a huge impact on me. My roots are kind of all over the place. I listened to the Beatles a lot when I was a kid because of my parents [and] a lot of old rock and roll like Kiss, Blondie, The Pretenders. Then when I got older I listened to a lot of R&B and soul music. I listened to a lot of Motown. Some Concrete Blondie, and Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne. I kind of go all over the place.
I’ll say! That’s interesting because a number of the songs, including “Misery,” “Eyes in the Back of My Head,” “Start Leading Me On,” and “Whenever,” have a bluesy quality to them.
Well, I listened to Jimi Hendrix religiously for about two to three years of my life.
“Complicated” and “Oh Yeah” are great songs for dancing. Do you have a preference, one way or the other, for songs that have a slow burning impact or those that get people up and moving?
No, I think every song has its place. I think there is some stuff on the album where the energy and the essence of the song was a little bit more aggressive. I think Morgan, our drummer, captured that. A lot of the beat stuff I will credit to her, giving it that back bone. I think [with] the slow songs, when we’re trying to get people into a moody atmosphere, get them to listen to the lyrics, if you pull back a little bit, it’s easier to do that. I do like performing fast songs! I think it’s really fun to see people dancing around and stuff.
The Cliks also do a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.” Why was that song chosen for inclusion on the disc?
I came into band, one time, kind of singing it because I had been in a situation where I was in a really bad break up. I had a long-term relationship that ended after six and a half years. I really connected to the lyrics of the song. It’s a really great song, and I brought it in. I’ve always thought that the song itself, even though it’s great—I felt a little more aggressive about what was being said. We started doing it as a band and when our producer, Mo Berg, came in. He was, like, “You guys have to put that on the album.” I think it really fit with the content of the album. It’s kind of a break-up album. It was pretty much right in there with the rest of it. It fit the whole mood.
Has there been any feedback from Justin or his camp?
Not yet. We know he apparently has gotten a copy. We met his booking agent from Germany named Steven who told us that he gave him a copy, but we haven’t heard anything. It would be really cool to know what he thinks of it, actually.
On The Cliks’ website there’s a picture of you in which there appears to be some elaborate ink-work on your forearm. Is there a story behind it?
Yeah, I actually have a full sleeve and continuing work. The part I think you can see is I have a dragon on my arm, and it’s rising out of flames and at the bottom it has a name: Ripley. Ripley was my first dog, and I’m an animal lover. He was pretty much my kid, and when he passed away it was the first death that I had in my life. I took it really, really hard, and I did it to commemorate him. I did this dragon because dragons signify protection. I always thought that he was looking out for me and that he still is, so that’s why I did it.
The Cliks performed on the True Colors Tour in June 2007. How did that come to pass?
Essentially, our record label and our A&R woman, Rosie Lopez, have been working alongside Logo, the MTV network who sponsored the event. They have been extremely supportive of our band. [At the time of the interview] our video is number one on the Click List, and all that. Also, Cyndi Lauper’s manager was very into the band and asked us to come on board. I think it was pretty perfect for a band like us right now.
As a transgender person, you represent the T in the GLBT community. What did it mean to you to be a representative of the trans community on the True Colors Tour?
It was an honor. It’s pretty much new to a lot of people and I think a lot of people are a little inquisitive about the T in GLBT because it hasn’t something that’s been talked about and a lot of people aren’t very open about. I am hoping that I can open a lot of people’s eyes to this, including the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community, because, I think on both sides of the camp, there’s a lot of education that needs to be done. I’m not there to educate people, per se, but I’m there to go, “We do this, too, and we’re here, just like everybody else.” It feels cool and I’m looking forward to hearing what people have to say.
Gregg Shapiro is a past recipient of the annual OutMusic award that recognizes contributions by non-musicians in furthering the work of GLBT performers.
HOLIDAYS ON AIR
Every December, JD Doyle’s Queer Music Heritage segment on the Queer Voices radio show is one of the highlights of the season. Doyle, the renowned GLBT music historian and enthusiast who lives in Houston, once again promises “Xmas music you won’t be sick of by then” for his annual extravaganza. In 2006, the three hour-long shows included queer carols you would never hear during the Sunny 99.1 holiday-music marathon. These included Sandra Bernhard’s Hanukkah song “Miracle of Lights,” “Frosty the Snowman” performed by the delightfully twisted cabaret act Kiki & Herb, and the Pansy Division track “Homo Christmas.” Doyle promises similar tasty Yuletide treats for his 2007 shows.
The Queer Music Heritage holiday show will air on Monday, December 24, at 9 p.m. on KPFT 90.1FM. Doyle generally offers special internet-only content (which includes saucy holiday fare not suitable for the public airwaves) at his website, www.queermusicheritage.org.
Six new CDs make the season merry and tuneful
Broadway’s Greatest Gifts
Carols for a Cure, Vol. 9
Tony award winner David Hyde Pierce, Rosie’s Broadway Kids and others from some of Broadway’s most popular shows come together for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ most recent annual holiday CD project, which to date has raised more than $2.5 million in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
These Are the Special Times: Collector’s Edition
Mrs. Angelil combines some of her greatest hits with holiday faire on this remastering of her 1998 holiday CD that includes duets with Andrea Bocelli, R. Kelly, and Rosie O’Donnell. She even throws in a bonus DVD for good measure. Sony BMG Music Entertainment (www.legacyrecordings.com). Preview: N.F.
Miss Patti’s Christmas
The only thing better than listening to these soulful holiday sounds from this delicious diva might be if she were cooking for you while you were listening. Contains traditional songs like “Do You Hear What I hear” and “Away in a Manger”, four new tunes by the CD’s producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and more. Def Jam Recordings (www.defsoul.com). Preview: N.F.
In the Swing of Christmas
A wonderful Christmas album that showcases 10 newly recorded songs by music icon Barry Manilow. Produced and arranged by Manilow, In the Swing of Christmas features traditional Americana songs, including his exclusive rendition of “Silver Bells,” featuring 26 background vocals, all performed by Manilow. Available through December only at Hallmark Gold Crown stores (www.hallmark.com). —Review: Andrea Rodricks
The Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
These classic funksters celebrate their 50 th year in show business with a collection of contemporary Christmas standards and a couple of newbies (“I’m in Love” and “What can I Buy You?”) written by the CD’s producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Def Soul Classics (www.defsoul.com). Preview: N.F.
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
I Heard A Voice: The Music of the Golden Age
The choral selections from 16 th century Renaissance era composers provide an excellent soundtrack to your most traditional and formal holiday events. The 30-voiced choir, which traces its roots to the 15th century, is directed by John Frasier. EMI Classics (www.emiclassics.com). Preview: N.F.