You know you're a rock star when someone asks you to sign their breasts after a show.
"It's a true sign of success," said Lucas Silveira, founding member and lead singer of the queer band the Cliks. He quickly added that it just makes him happy that people are so excited about the band, which is known for its high-intensity live performances.
Another sign of success? They've been invited to join the True Colors tour, which benefits the Human Rights Campaign. Hosted by Margaret Cho, the tour features Cyndi Lauper, the Gossip, Debbie Harry, Rufus Wainwright and the Dresden Dolls in addition to the Cliks. In addition, lesbian listeners may recognize their song "Complicated," which was featured last season on The L Word.
Although the Cliks started out as an all-woman band, guitarist-vocalist Silveira has since transitioned from female to male. But they are still all-queer. Bassist Jen Benton and guitarist Nina Martinez said they get involved with people regardless of gender, and drummer Morgan Doctor said she identifies as queer or bisexual, adding, "I leave it pretty open, kind of like I am."
The band has an androgynous sex appeal that doesn't seem to be directed at any particular gender. "When you give off that kind of energy, and you're open to the world in that way, the world also opens itself up to you," Martinez said. "And fans become more open to being attracted to everything that queer is about."
Chief among Cliks fans is Margaret Cho, who has credited the Toronto-based band with bringing back her "embarrassing fangirl days" and has said that "no one else can inspire such crushed-out admiration and full-on rock star screaming."
When Cho first sent the band fan mail, Silveira couldn't believe it was really the Margaret Cho writing to them. Now Cho is producing a "Beatlemania-style" music video for their song "Eyes in the Back of My Head" that will include footage from the band's recent gig in Los Angeles.
The Cliks are often compared to the Pretenders — particularly given Silveira's passionate singing and songwriting — and the White Stripes. Silveira, who loves both of those bands and is flattered by the comparison, said he thinks the Cliks have a sound that falls somewhere between the Strokes and the Killers.
In April the band released their second album, Snakehouse, which the Boston Globe describes as "rock with primal, stylish ferocity." MTV.com notes the band's "defiant intensity," and IN Magazine highlights their "improbable transformation of Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me a River' into a seething rock anthem." The words "sweet" and "ballsy" tend to appear simultaneously in the album's reviews.
It was released on Warner Music in Canada and Tommy Boy/Silver Label, an LGBT-focused imprint, in the United States. Tommy Boy lays claim to having launched the careers of Queen Latifah, RuPaul, Naughty by Nature and Coolio, among others.
Silveira said he is grateful to be signed to a label geared specifically toward queer audiences. "For them [queerness] is a nonissue," he said of Silver Label. "And they understand the market and how to focus on one audience in order to take us to the mainstream."
He added: "I feel like I have a horseshoe up my ass. We have the best of both worlds, really." Silveira noted that Warner is being educated by Silver Label, and that the two entities are working together.