The Cliks' self-titled debut was independently released in 2004, featuring Silveira and a drummer and a bassist who are no longer with the band. The band's lineup has also changed since the release of Snakehouse. Though Silveira and Doctor remain, Benton replaced bassist Jordan B. Wright in February, and Martinez was added this past October after first sitting in as a temporary second guitarist.
Silveira said the band now has a bigger, fuller sound. A self-taught musician who plays bass, drums and keyboards in addition to guitar, he had a heavy hand in how the other musicians approached their parts in the band’s early days. But he said he now trusts his band members’ interpretations of the music, which he thinks often surpass his own. "And just the fact that there’s somebody there independently creating a little part to fill out the song that I’ve written is awesome," he said.
Back when two of the band’s original members quit, Silveira found himself grappling with multiple misfortunes: He was going through a difficult breakup, his father had a stroke, his grandmother passed away, and his friend was diagnosed with a cancer recurrence. As if this weren’t enough to handle, at the same time Silveira was deciding to transition.
"Music is what saved me from going into the absolute pit of despair," Silveira said. "I decided I needed to focus on something that I love and something that has always been there for me and something that I’d never given up on."
He’s certainly a tough one. Consider his mid-set asthma attack at South by Southwest in March. Suddenly he was barely able to breathe and had to stop the performance, but a festival volunteer found him an inhaler, and moments later he was back busting his lungs singing.
"I’ve always been a fighter," Silveira said. "If the world’s going to tell me that I can’t do something, I will try 10 times harder to make it happen." Born in Toronto, he and his family moved to a small island in the Azores when he was 4. Six years later, they moved back to a Toronto suburb.
Silveira said he doesn’t mind getting transgender-related questions and loves that people want to understand it. "The more I talk to people about being trans, the more I understand myself," he explained.
"It’s important to be visible, but at the end of the day, if the music doesn’t stand up, the fact that I’m transgendered is not going to matter," he said. He is confident that his music stands on its own.
The people who gravitate toward the Cliks are a diverse bunch, according to the band members, who make a point of interacting with fans after their shows. "You look out in the crowd and you see a straight guy rocking out with his girlfriend, lesbian couples holding hands or kissing, and then little homo man singing along and dancing," Martinez said.
A Toronto native, Martinez described herself as a music school dropout who explored music on her own terms. She started playing gigs with the Cliks within a couple of weeks of joining the band.
Benton also started touring within two weeks of joining. The set list at her first gigs consisted of track numbers rather than song titles because she didn’t know those yet, but she had already learned to play the band’s entire new album. She grew up in Waterdown, a small town outside of Toronto, and studied jazz and classical studies in college.
Doctor, who grew up in Los Angeles, is also classically trained. She minored in music at the University of California, San Diego, then moved to Toronto eight years ago and studied jazz. She began doing session work in a diverse array of genres and played with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. She has a solo recording project she described as "down-tempo, ambient," and also performs solo on a drum kit she made that includes tabla, djembe, junjun, snare, keyboard, a computer and two looping pedals.
Over the next few months, the Cliks will be touring throughout the U.S. and Canada on their own and as part of the True Colors tour, and all of the band members said they could hardly wait for the True Colors dates.
Silveira wasn’t sure if he’d manage to keep his cool when he meets Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Harry. Doctor said she’s excited to meet the other musicians and to play in front of such large audiences. "And," she added, "it’s for a good cause, so it feels good to be doing something that’s worthwhile."
Watch the Cliks’ video for "Oh Yeah" here: