Lucas Silveira’s last two years have been filled with the types of life experiences many aspiring musicians dream about.
His band The Cliks released their debut disc, Snakehouse, to critical acclaim. The group was championed by a plethora of peers and artistic heroes, ranging from The Cult’s Ian Astbury to Margaret Cho to Cyndi Lauper, who invited the Toronto group to join her True Colors travelling human rights music festival.
All the while, the band’s fan base continued to expand and their opportunities grew exponentially.
So what happened after many of Silveira’s musical dreams came true? He returned home to Toronto after touring and hit bottom… losing some of his spirit, but not his sense of humour.
“I’m always in a dark time, man,” he chuckles. “I’m a trannie!”
The Cliks’ new CD Dirty King (out Jun 23) was largely written in the midst of the intensity of that difficult emotional journey, Silveira reveals.
“The song ‘Dirty King’ came out of the feeling of that duality, of this trying to maintain a sense of normalcy after coming home from the road, having people look at you like you’re on top of the world but actually coming back feeling like you’ve been trampled on.”
The sombre expression on his face speaks volumes. “When you think about it, really, the entire album is about duality, it is about being one place and floating to another place. When you are on the road, you miss home, and when you are home, you miss the road.
“The whole Dirty King thing is about feeling completely disturbed by the greatness that you create. A lot of stuff was really intense, because it had to do a lot with seeing the truth about your own life and who is around you. It is rediscovering what is actually happening as opposed to what you think is happening.”
As difficult as it was, the process that brought them to the creation of this new CD allowed them to blossom artistically, with the band taking their songwriting and overall musicianship up to a whole new level.
The heartbreakingly beautiful “Not Your Boy” is a disc highlight, finding Silveira’s voice soaring, singing through poignant lyrics filled with self-doubt.
Silveira also admits that although much of the CD is filled with joyful rock and roll, there were two other songs that really affected him after hearing the final versions.
“‘Red and Blue’ and ‘Animal Farm’ were both really meaningful to me. When I wrote ‘Animal Farm,’ I was in a really dark place; it was about how animals are treated. I left before the strings were added — when it came back to me, it was symphonic; the first time I listened to it, I actually started crying. I can’t believe I actually started crying to one of my own songs, but it happened.”
Cliks drummer Morgan Doctor says that although the band has gone through an evolutionary process, they have consistently preferred to take the tougher road throughout their half-decade ride together, seeking new challenges rather than resting on their laurels.
That quality, though admirable, brings its own stress to the group in different forms throughout their lives.
“We’re constantly breaking new ground, making everything a risk. I think that is how we end up in turmoil with labels and management because everyone has the best idea of ‘what is the best option for us?’ Is it a good idea to open up for this band? Is it a good idea to market ourselves this way? Is it a good idea to take these photos? It is like you are taking risks with every step.”
Perhaps the most overt example of that is the cover of their sophomore CD, which features the trio in a boxing ring with frontman Silveira wearing a crown, a beaten-down body and scars still fresh from then-recent top surgery.
“This album cover is probably a bit risky,” offers Silveira. “It was something that I wanted to do, because it is part of my art and part of what I’m trying to express and I think it is important. I don’t want anyone to look at it as ‘wow, you’re trying to get attention.’ It isn’t like that. There’s an artistic purpose to it.
“It was a thought and it was originally completely annihilated because the publicity people said, ‘that’s not a good idea’ and ‘You’re just trying to make it harder for yourself’ because that is what their job is.
“But if it’s easy,” Silveira laughs, “I don’t like doing it.”