If you havenât already heard of The Cliks - and the bandâs ĂŒber-hip lead singer Lucas Silveira - youâve probably been living on my parentâs farm. Over a few short months this summer, Silveira, who was raised in a village of 600 on Portugalâs Azores Islands, became North Americaâs best-known transgender man.
The Cliks (thecliks.com) have had quite a year, releasing their major label debut album Snakehouse with Tommy Boy Records and joining Cyndi Lauper on the True Colors Tour before hitting Europe on their own. The lead single from Snakehouse, âOh Yeahâ made it to LOGOâs Top 10 Countdown, while the videos for âOh Yeahâ and âComplicatedâ have played on LOGOâs Click List for weeks.
On the verge of becoming veritable rock gods, The Cliks wrapped their European tour this week and are now gearing up to open for The Cult. This month theyâll perform everywhere from Northampton, Mass. to Toledo, Ohio, and then itâs back to Canada where the Toronto-based foursome will heat up the great white North with numerous November gigs.
More often than not, itâs been Silveiraâs transgender identity that initially draws media attention, but itâs the bandâs rocking beats that garner the group critical acclaim. The all-queer band has busted out of the gay ghetto, drawing attention from both gay and mainstream presses, including coverage in The Village Voice, CBS, MSNBC and an appearance on The Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
The praise hasnât been universal, though, and some critics even accused Silveira of identifying as transgender for the publicity - speculation he dismisses. âTo say I got a double mastectomy for publicity is insane.â But he will milk the attention. âEverybody needs a story to get people to listen. Thankfully, mine is real and unavoidable to those interested. If I were Amy Winehouse it would be that Iâm troubled and in rehab, or if I were Keith Richards it would be that Iâm the human cockroach.â
As one of the first openly trans artists to be signed to a major label, Silveira recognizes that his gender identity is âa focal point to begin with,â but heâs been pleasantly surprised at the outcome. âIt is my story and itâs what initially draws people in. But truly, I havenât heard or read much that hasnât put that on the backburner and decided that weâre just a good band with good music.â
Concerned that being out as trans might hurt his career, the singer songwriter originally feared the reception wouldnât be so positive. âIn the beginningâŠI truly thought that it was the end of my career, but I was willing to lose that because I needed to be who I was.â And, he acknowledges, âIt has impacted my career. Oddly enough, what I feared the most has been whatâs helped me the most: just being myself. I think my songwriting in the past, and the way I came across, wasnât strong enough to carry a band like this. I wasnâtâŠat a place of honesty and people can see right through that. My songwriting grew [as] I got to know [myself] better and that honesty came out as good olâ rock nâ roll.â
That rock nâ roll has attracted some influential fans, including Cyndi Lauper, who bumped The Cliks from five dates to eight on the True Colors tour, and comedienne Margaret Cho, who helped make and appeared one of The Cliksâ music videos.
Preferring to be known for his music, Silveira isnât interested in being a trans poster boy. But he believes, âPeople will look at us as political no matter what.â And he says, he welcomes the chance to pave the way for other trans musicians.
âMusicians like us shouldnât be overlooked simply because of who we are. Itâs what we do that makes the difference. [And that] is just good old fashioned rock ânâ roll. I can guarantee that when you get past the trans thing, youâll still stick around - because weâve got what it takes.â
Trans writer, Jacob Anderson-Minshall, co-authored Blind Leap, the second book in the Blind Eye Mystery series, available in October. Contact or visit Anderson-minshall.com for more information.