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Music

From Biker Dudes to True Colors: An Interview with the Cliks

Michael Christopher

Lucas Silveira has found himself in two worlds musically, and if that helps people come together, then he's satisfied.

The second annual True Colors tour was a success this year not just in raising awareness for the gay, lesbian and transgender community, but also in providing a multi-act festival that catered to both those with alternative lifestyles and mainstream concertgoers as well.

Fans gay and straight were treated to a revolving roster of artists and comedians with the goal to bring together the masses in perfect harmony. Spearheaded by quirky and outspoken Cyndi Lauper, the tour included acts that varied from Joan Jett to the B-52s to Regina Spektor.

But not many acts on the bill -- strike that -- none of them could boast having just come off a major tour opening for the Cult, and trading in a leather jacket-clad, fist-pumping audience for a rainbow flag waving one where everyone sings along to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by the end of the night.

Except for the Cliks.

Touring behind the edgy and passionate album Snakehouse, the Toronto foursome has what is likely the most interesting backstory of the True Colors package. The band lineup consists of three lesbians and frontman Lucas Silveira, who a few years ago used to go by Lilia.

The singer is a transsexual, female-to-male, and despite becoming somewhat of a spokesman for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersex (LGBTI) community, easily manages to balance questions from the curious with turning up the volume and rocking out.

“I think it’s great that people want to know and to write about it, and I’m not in any way sick or tired of it,” Silveira said. “I really don’t mind, because I know that if people, in general, listen to the music, they’re not going to stick with it over the fact that I’m transgendered; they’re either gonna love it or leave it. I give people a little more credit than that.”

“If I were to sit around and go, 'Oh god, another tranny question,' I think I’d have a big, huge chip on my shoulder and I’d be a pretty bitter person by now. I think eventually, though, people will just sort of focus on the music and it will be a foonote.”

The recent history of the frontman is colorful, if not dotted with heartbreak. Silveira’s original incarnation of the Cliks fell apart in 2004, as did a romantic relationship. Mix in the continued questions about his sexuality and subsequent operation to make things right, and there probably isn’t a more difficult period for a person to face.

“I just decided that I had to keep moving forward, because when things like that happen to you, you can go one way or the other; you can just quit, or you can persevere harder than you ever have,” he said. “I’m one of these people who believes that everything happens for a reason, and the stars all aligned at some point and the new band came together. In between that came the turmoil that gave me the place to go to and write the material.”

Snakehouse is the result, and along with deeply personal tales of love, loss, and growth is the seemingly odd choice, on the surface at least, of a cover; Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.”

The Cliks - Cry Me a River

“I love R&B and I love soul music, and I remember listening to that and thinking, 'Wow.' I really identified with it,” Silveira said. “One day I came into band practice and I said, 'Have you guys ever heard this song?' And I started playing it, and everybody sort of joined in, and we were like, 'It sounds pretty good!’”

What separates the group from most other acts is that it isn’t going after one audience. Artists in a similar situation might cater primarily to the gay culture, but not the Cliks. The True Colors tour followed on the heels of an opening slot for the testosterone fueled rock of the Cult, which is pretty divergent, to say the least, when it comes to the respective audiences.

“It’s two different worlds, and both worlds, to me, I come from,” Silveira said. “I don’t just come from this queer-based pop world even though I grew up listening to pop music. And then there’s the element of the LGBTI, and even just people who support the cause of the Human Rights Campaign and the True Colors tour.

“Coming from the other world, the Cult, which is a rock world, which I also grew up in, it’s really interesting for me because I feel connected to both of these places, but I know that both places don’t feel connected with each other.”

That stark contrast in audiences doesn’t matter when it comes right down to it said Silveira, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the performance and the songs.

“It’s music, and music is universal, so it’s really, really cool to be able to go to a Cult show and have some biker dude come up to you and say, “You guys rock!” Then you go to a True Colors show and have a young gay kid come up and say the exact same thing. It’s wonderful -- I love it.”

One thing Silveira said he feels lucky about is to not have faced any intolerance on the road, and, if anything, has experienced just the opposite -- nonstop support from both mainstream concertgoers and the headlining acts.

“I was talking to [Cult singer] Ian Astbury,” he said, “and he was telling us how proud he was to be able to look out into his audience and see these young, queer kids. He was happy to be taking part in it. And I thought about how intense that was, because I had never really thought of it that way. You’re bringing people together.”

Acknowledging the fact that it’s on a small scale, Silveira still can’t help but take pride in doing his part to unite people through the power of music.

“I am proud of both sides of our audience for being so tolerant of everything, because we don’t really fit the mold in either world,” he said. “The lesbian and gay model, we’re all identifying as queer here, and that side of the world sometimes takes issue with that. And then in the hetero world, being queer sometimes is an issue. But that’s what I think is so great about this, and I don’t think of it consciously, but we want to play music that we love, and we have to be who we are.”

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