“Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman”
An interview with Cheryl Cooley of KLYMAXX
By: Lexi Lewis, Celebrity Journalist
Meeting in The Ladies Room, I Miss You and The Men All Pause are just a few of the popular songs from the all-girl band KLYMAXX. But, what’s in a name? You’ll soon find out! Cheryl Cooley is the original guitarist who still carries on the KLYMAXX sound performing all over! KLYMAXX formed in 1979 in Los Angeles, California. Wait until you read what you possibly didn’t know about this hot all-girl band who is still in demand today.
Lexi: KLYMAXX was an all-girl band back in the day when there were no all-girl bands previously! How did that come about?
Cheryl: It was not planned. Each of us had an individual story as to how we ended up in that same rehearsal room but once [we were] formed, we realized we had an all-girl band!
Lexi: Tell me how the name KLYMAXX originated.
Cheryl: We wanted to have something that was exciting, sensual and something that people would pay attention to. The drummer came up with the idea of fooling around with the letters of the name. We did not want to be “Climax” in your face. We wanted to be creative about it. We wanted people to pay attention to the music.
Lexi: I read that you wrote the song for the demo called Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman. How did you come up with that title and what was your inspiration behind the song?
Cheryl: That’s correct! We had an all-girl band and we had to write some original material that made a statement about being women in music. At the time, society was not really ready for an all girl band. We wanted to make a song that made a purpose statement; something that told what we wanted the band to do and what we wanted to see in the world for KLYMAXX. We wanted an affirmative title for the song so since there were so many nay-sayers at the time we came together and said “never underestimate the power of a woman.”
Lexi: That demo song landed a contract with Solar Records, right?
Cheryl: Right! I was working at a bank and I was telling my supervisor about this all girl band I was in and I was all excited with a promo picture we had put together. She said “why don’t you get a demo tape together and I will give it to my uncle. He is Johnny Tate, a producer for Peabo Bryson; maybe he can do something for you.” We went to the studio and did a demo tape of the top 40 songs we didn’t know. He told us we needed write our original material. That’s how we were able to go back and write Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman and three other songs. Tate was not crazy about the songs.
It was interesting because about two weeks later he happened to have lunch with Margaret Nash who was the VP of Solar Records. He said to her “I heard about this all girl band my niece told me about at her job. They gave me this demo tape but it is not that good; maybe you’ll be interested I don’t know.” She listened to the tape and she loved everything about it. Next thing I know, she called me at my job at the bank. She could really see the potential in the band. She brought the President of Solar Records to see us rehearse then Solar signed us to a deal within months.
Lexi: Reflecting on the words “never underestimate the power of a woman,” how powerful do you think we are as women today?
Cheryl: We are more powerful than we really think we are. The women (fans) would come up to us and say “you inspired me to be a scientist, a musician, a teacher” – it was a gift to us to know that we gave them inspiration as women to take the next step toward their dreams.
Lexi: That is powerful! You have had hits like Meeting in the Ladies Room and I Miss You just to name a couple. A lot of people I know personally like I Miss You, was that song written specifically for anyone in the group that was going through something?
Cheryl: Well, that was actually written by the keyboard player in the group but she was great at writing ballads. It was something she had experienced in her life. You know sometimes being a female musician, especially at that time, would be lonely. A lot of people did not believe in it; some thought it was phase. In following your own dreams your relationships sometimes fall away – I miss you, there is no other way to say it.
Lexi: Is there a story behind the song Meeting in the Ladies Room?
Cheryl: Yes. One night at a club, one of the members of Midnight Starr was there with his girlfriend and one of the members of KLYMAXX saw him, ran over to see him then started kissing him and hugging him. Well, his girlfriend was right next to him thinking “who is this person?” so she got up and said she had to go to the ladies room. She stormed her way to the ladies room then it sparked an idea in his head for the song. Midnight Starr wrote it.
Lexi: I want to know your favorite KLYMAXX song.
Cheryl: A song called Divas Need Love Too. It was on our fourth album. It was something about the groove of the song; it has always been my favorite. The next one would be The Men All Pause. You know a lot of people don’t realize that KLYMAXX recorded five different albums.
Our first album was entitled Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman, our second album was called Girls Will Be Girls, our third album was Meeting in the Ladies Room, our fourth album KLYMAXX, and our fifth album was The Maxx is Back.
Lexi: Who are some of your personal/professional female mentors?
Cheryl: I would have to say my sister. She actually put the spark in me to learn to play the guitar. Of course my mother was my mentor – you know you have to include your mother.
Lexi: What about in music and why?
Cheryl: I would have to say Tina Turner because she has such a broad story. She inspires me. But, in terms of human struggle – Rosa Parks who was just an average woman doing what she does. We were in the forefront of changing people’s ideas about what women could do with music. People never saw a whole band of women up there playing instruments. People were mesmerized and there only reference was that we sound like guys up there.
Lexi: Describe yourself to me.
Cheryl: Optimistic. Always optimistic, always looking for the good in people or situations. I like to laugh, have fun, and of course play music. I guess people would call me a spiritual seeker. I am learning my relationship with me and the universe. I am constantly reading spirituality books and positive thinking books always on a path to be a positive energy to people around me.
Lexi: What are you most proud of in your life?
Cheryl: Being a positive person. There are so many things that can make people bitter. I am proud of being a guitarist.
Lexi: Do you have a motto that you live by?
Cheryl: Yes it is almost like “Why Not?” If you believe in something why not pursue it?
Lexi: What are your hobbies outside of music?
Cheryl: Reading, camping, the Beach, traveling to new places and finding new foods.
Lexi: What is one of your favorite things to do?
Cheryl: Go to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles with you in Los Angeles. I have pictures up on my Facebook page as evidence that we were there!
Lexi: What’s the latest and greatest news about KLYMAXX?
Cheryl: I am so happy to announce that in May 2015, we signed a new management deal with M.E.C. Management. We also have a new record contract with Multi-Platinum Record Entertainment (MPRE)/Sony Music and we released a hot new single which charted on Billboard entitled ‘My Way This Time.’
We kick-off our worldwide tour, “The Back On Top Tour,” beginning August 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, NV. We’re really excited to have the opportunity to bring our high-energy performance to all our fans, friends and family. Both M.E.C. and MPRE have worked so very diligently and have successfully focused on bringing live music to as many concert markets as possible. Bringing back the KLYMAXX music legacy will be an awesome experience for the entire team!
Lexi: What do you want to say to your die hard KLYMAXX fans who would be reading this?
Cheryl: I am so grateful that the KLYMAXX listeners, fans, and friends are just as excited about the music as they were back in the day. I am so appreciative and grateful for that. They want to hear the music and I enjoy playing the music. Thank you for keeping the KLYMAXX music alive!
As fans, you have kept the memories and music of KLYMAXX alive! As Cheryl mentioned, they’ve got a new contract, new management, and new music, however, that doesn’t stop them from performing their biggest hits for you while on tour. Go back down memory lane with them and be sure to visit their website (www.klymaxx.com) for more information on exact tour dates and cities. They may be performing in your town and, who knows, they might just meet YOU in the ladies room!
(Interview originally published in the March/April 2015 issue of Onyx Magazine)