Music and style have always gone hand-in-hand. David Bowie helped bring glam to the mainstream. Kurt Cobain’s greasy hair and seemingly unstylish self gave us grunge. And now rockers The Cliks and their well-suited image may change the way people look at female fashion – and gender.
For this installment of The Style Issue, we sat down with The Cliks lead singer and founder, Lucas Silveira, a trans man who knows a thing or two about looking good.
Queerty: Letâ€™s start with the history of The Cliks. How did you guys all come together?
Lucas Silveira: I started the band in 2004 and it had two different members â€“ a bass player and a drummer. I think we were about a year-and-a-half or two years into the band, had released an album, started getting some attention in Toronto and my bass player realized that she didnâ€™t want to be in the music industry. Then, my drummer realized about three weeks later that she wanted to pursue her own solo stuff. So, I got stuck not having a band and thatâ€™s when I found drummer Morgan Doctor and Jordan Wright, who is the bass player on the band album. Jordan left the band when we started touring this album and decided she didnâ€™t want to be a part of it. Along the way, after we recorded the album, we got Nina Martinez on to just fill up the sound, because we wanted a really full guitar sound, but we decided that we wanted her to be a full member, because she rocks. Then we got Jen Benton to play the bass when Jordan quit.
QT: You guys are getting a lot of attention for what people are calling your â€œandrogynousâ€ style.
LS: With me â€“ I know that people have pegged this as androgynous, but itâ€™s not really anything contrived. Itâ€™s essentially just the way we dress and it is our style. I guess itâ€™s bizarre to most people when women put on suits, but Annie Lennox did it a long time ago, so Iâ€™m kind of surprised that people are still taken aback by it. As far as Iâ€™m concerned, I relate more to male clothing than I do to female, obviously, so thatâ€™s just the way I dress. It wasnâ€™t something that we sat down and said, â€œWhatâ€™s going to be our look?â€ We kind of presented ourselves as â€“ you know, this is rock nâ€™ roll and you want to put on a good show and we just took it up a notch from our everyday style.
QT: Do you feel that people ask you to play it up more than youâ€™re comfortable with?
LS: I havenâ€™t been asked to. I think our label [Tommy Boy] and our management are really happy that we have this look, because image is as important in the music industry as what youâ€™re selling with regard to your music. There is something about the way that you express yourself in your style that reaches out to people to let them know what youâ€™re about. I think people can relate to that. People who are into metal music tend to wear studs and leather and so forth, and then you have the Celine Dionâ€™s of the world who would never do something like that. There is something of a connection between style and music and how the people who like your style and your music â€“ it all connects. Youâ€™ll find that a lot of our fans dress the same way we do. Not all, but some do.
QT: Who is your primary fan base, so far?
LS: We have a root following, a lot which comes from the queer community, but weâ€™ve been playing lately and the more we go to shows, itâ€™s shocking to us how many different types of people come out to see us. The most shocking which is middle aged straight guys who love us. I donâ€™t know why Iâ€™m shocked at that, but it sort of does shock me.
QT: Do you think that youâ€™re shocked because of the queer overtures of The Cliks?
LS: I think itâ€™s because â€“ Iâ€™m shocked because a lot of people have pegged us as being this â€œqueerâ€ band, which I still donâ€™t really know what that means, and it shocks me because even though weâ€™re being pegged as these people within mainstream culture â€“ not to say that queers arenâ€™t part of mainstream culture, but more so becoming – but that these people who are just completely out of the culture feel like they can relate to me. That is something that Iâ€™ve worked really hard at doing: creating music thatâ€™s universal. That means that Iâ€™m doing my job. Iâ€™m just really happy that it actually got to reach their ears.
QT: Are there any designers that you would like to rock?
LS: People always ask me these questions and I donâ€™t really know of any designers outside of the extremely obvious. I canâ€™t really say that thereâ€™s anybody out there who I can really think of off the top of my head. I just really like fashion in general.
QT: Have you always been into fashion? When you were a kid, did you get decked out?
LS: I did. I tried to. It was kind of hard to get decked out in a Portuguese family and try to where a suit as a kid. My mother would make me wear dresses.
QT: What does your mother say now?
LS: Well, my momâ€™s pretty cool. I come from a Portugeuse family and I have to say that I am one of the lucky, lucky people on this planet, because my family has been nothing but supportive. Theyâ€™ve been pretty cool about it.
QT: How old were you when you moved to Canada?
LS: I was born in Toronto, I moved to Portugal when I was four and I moved back when I was ten.
QT: Letâ€™s talk about the style of your music. You guys are obviously rock nâ€™ roll, but who are some of your inspirations?
LS: There are so many! I grew up listening to everything from The Beatles, Elvis, my sister introduced me to The Pretenders, David Bowie. I used to live in Portugal and I moved to Canada and I started listening to a lot of 80â€™s music. I got really into Mo-Town, Marvin Gaye. I would listen to Prince and Wham! and then I got into metal. I was a metal head for a really long time. Judas Priestâ€¦ From there, I just started evolving into every sort of music. Iâ€™d have to say that over the past few years, I listen a lot to Jeff Buckley and Janeâ€™s Addiction. Everything, man.
QT: Of course, we have to talk about the Justin Timberlake cover. Why did you choose to take Cry Me a River and rework it?
LS: That song came out around the same time that I started writing the music for this album and I had just gone through a really intense breakup. I was in a relationship for about six-and-a-half years and the end came about because of the same type of situation as â€œCry Me A Riverâ€, the lyrical content. I just really connected to the lyrics, but I think that songâ€™s great, I wasnâ€™t trying to say that it wasnâ€™t by doing the version that I did, I just had a different take on the emotion behind it than Justin. His version is a little more laid back, itâ€™s connected with this anger in the lyrics. I went to rehearsal one day with the band and I just started playing it and they just joined in and I was like, â€œThis is a great song.â€ I was just a matter of taking it to an electric guitar with a bit of distortion and putting the emotion in it that I loved. We only started doing it live, I never thought Iâ€™d put it on an album, but when we started working with our producer, he heard it and was like, â€œYou guys have to put it onâ€, so we put it on and there you go.
QT: Is it awkward fronting the band â€“ you are the one doing the interviews. Does that put you in an awkward position?
LS: No, I donâ€™t feel awkward about it at all. Iâ€™m the sole songwriter, I did start the band. As much as I think my band I completely â€“ what makes The Cliks is not just me, but at the same time, all the lyrics are written by me, the musicâ€™s written by me. I think thatâ€™s just a natural reality to how to deal with the situation.
QT: You guys are touring right now. Youâ€™re part of the True Colors tour. Can you tell me about getting involved with that?
LS: We were asked to be on the tour. We were at South by Southwest in March and there was a connection made between Cyndi Lauperâ€™s management and our rep, Rosie Lopez over at Tommy Boy in the U.S. on Silver Label. Itâ€™s kind of bizarre, because Cyndi Lauperâ€™s manager introduced us to Rosie on an airplane and then a year later she got the second CD and was like, â€œThis is meant to beâ€ and because of that connection, Cyndi Lauper knew about us and thought that weâ€™d be a good addition to the tour. It was great. [Weâ€™re] just getting started and the next thing I know Iâ€™m going to be on stage with Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Harry and Margaret Cho.
QT: Are you coming to New York anytime soon?
LS: We were just there! We had two shows. I love NY. Thereâ€™s something about that city. Iâ€™ve never been anywhere â€“ except for Toronto â€“ where Iâ€™ve said, â€œThis feels like homeâ€. Thereâ€™s something about that city that just makes me feel completely at ease. I donâ€™t know if all the insanity going around makes me feel peaceful inside!
Head on out and pick up a copy of The Cliks‘ Snakehouse, out now from Tommy Boy Records. And, just to give you a taste, here’s the video for the group’s single, “Oh Yeah!” Oh yeah…
Top: Krissica Campbell
Lucas in flowers by Clint Mclean