Bringin' It Backwards: Interview with Brie Howards Darling

about 7 months ago

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Bringin' it Backwards

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Brie Howards Darling over Zoom video!

The Runaways front-woman and solo artist Cherie Currie and Fanny drummer and singer Brie Darling were ‘70s icons who got the headlines. But they didn’t always get the credit they deserved as strong women holding their own and forging new ground in a rock & roll playing field then dominated by old-school masculine mores.

While Currie and Darling had a mutual admiration society, the two didn’t meet until 2017, when Darling reached out to Currie to contribute vocals to Fanny Walked the Earth, a reunion album from the trailblazing Fanny, the first all-female band signed to a major label (Reprise) in 1969. Now fierce friends and cool collaborators, they’re singing together on the new album, The Motivator, a 12-song album featuring nine classic covers by bands including T. Rex, The Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, Stevie Wonder, and John Lennon, plus three powerful new originals, including the tough rocker “Too Bruised” and the topical “This Is Our Time”. The tour is set for late 2019.

The two Californians, who grew up with similar influences and worked tirelessly to overcome similar obstacles in their pioneering all-women groups, vibed quickly. “It was truly collaboration,” says Currie, who actually was ready to leave the music biz after years of grueling touring. “With us, there’s no ego, no push-pull. I don’t stand for that. I grew up with it, and I’m fed up with it. I’m into lifting people up, not putting people down.”  

The covers chosen mostly share—unintentionally—a socio-political resonance that’s as relevant today as when the songs were written. Whittling down the selections from a huge group of favorites, the songs chose their singers. “Lennon’s ‘Gimme Some Truth’ was not one I was screaming for until I heard Brie’s scratch vocal on it; and I said, ‘That’s it. That’s done,’” says Currie. Darling, likewise came to love it: “At first, the song seemed so one-sided, so kind of fed up, angry. But as I sang it, with its intensity, especially with what’s going on in the country today, I got it, and loved singing it.” The poignant take on the Hollies version of “He Ain’t Heavy” was one Cherie brought to the table plus she wrote a poetic addition, “a beautiful counterpoint piece that we used as a background part.”  

“The original album concept was that Brie was going to sing a few, I’d sing a few, and we’d back each other up,” furthers Currie. “But I knew our voices really work well together. On T. Rex’s ‘The Motivator,’ Brie did a great soulful rock scratch vocal but maybe I have more of a tough rock quality to my voice, so I think Dave decided I was going to sing it.  But in my head I heard a duet, me doing the first verse, her on the second verse….and that started the dialog of using our voices together as a concept. Our voices complement each other, so we decided we should share the majority of these songs, because it makes them better.”

Producer Dave Darling says, "It's extremely rare to have two such powerful vocalists in the same band. Cherie's a steam roller and Brie's a flame thrower. That just doesn't happen!"

While there’s at least one female musician on every song, with Darling playing drums on nearly all the cuts, everyone had to earn their place. “We don’t wanna use women musicians just because they’re women,” says Darling. “I don’t think that helps the women’s cause. You have to be good at what you do. To make it in this really hard business, be the best one in the room. Earn it, just like anybody.”  

If the covers resonated lyrically, so too do the originals. “I feel strongly about what’s going on with women,” Darling states. “So the song ‘This is Our Time’ is not only about what’s going on with women, but it’s also what’s going on with Cherie and me. Both of us having been in these girl groups who never really got their day in the sun. I’m not bitter about it, but this song is very intentional on my part. I said, ‘listen—this is about women. This is about you and me. This is our time, so let’s take it.’”  

Cherie Currie & Brie Darling’s The Motivator is the end product of years of groundbreaking musical and personal work. But it’s also a new beginning, an album infused with a power, joy and enthusiasm that was forged—and doubled—thanks to the inspiring and exceptional Currie and Darling collaboration.

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