Worth the Licks

Actress turned musician, Juliette Lewis

Juliette Lewis, the actress with the off-kilter gaze probably best known for her role as Mallory in Natural Born Killers, experienced a full-blown musical conversion a few years ago and formed a band called the Licks to record some Stooges-style rock. Lewis took some time while doing laundry to talk about it from her L.A. home.

New Times: Can you remember the moment when you realized it was time to turn to music?

Juliette Lewis: It's been slowly building from many moments, and they've all been fucking petrifying and completely exhilarating at the same time because I'm going for broke. [But] in the beginning, the real turning point was just starting a band — when I decided I wasn't going to do music through a producer developing me or picking up a guitar to be a singer-songwriter, but through the live experience. I knew I wanted to cut my teeth live, by trial and error, making mistakes.

Juliette Lewis: "I don’t mind being the circus freak."
Juliette Lewis: "I don’t mind being the circus freak."

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Juliette and the Licks, and Muse are scheduled to perform on Thursday, September 20.
Mesa Amphitheatre

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NT: What did you think you'd find in music that acting wasn't providing you?

Lewis: Acting is a reeeally interesting thing to do. I love being part of a group that's doing something interesting, but more and more, it's hard to get movies that are breaking the rules. And I only use part of my creative voice, if you will, through acting. Music utilizes everything from the visual aspect, to songwriter, to overseeing the stage show. It has more to do in it that I want to do.

NT: After Fiddler Records went under in 2005, you went on to develop a massive following in Europe and even released your latest, Four on the Floor, over there several months before you did back home. What happened?

Lewis: I was all inspired and crazy and driven and writing and rather than wait around to get another label in the States, I just went back to our European label and built our following over there with the new album, Four on the Floor. The whole thing is, I started music a little bit late, at 30, so I'm not really into waiting around until somebody graces me with, 'Oh, we'll put out your record.' I'm too into the DIY of music and making it happen.

NT: You have no movies booked and it's been a few years since you filmed one. Has music officially trumped acting for you?

Lewis: It has. I just thought about that. I haven't done a movie in two years, and that's the longest it's ever been. The only other time was when I quit doing drugs at 22, and I didn't do a movie for a year and a half. But it's going to be more exciting when I do do a movie!

NT: How do you react to the American antipathy for actors turned musicians?

Lewis: I don't mind being the circus freak. I don't mind being what brings them to the room. As long as they're in the room, we'll do the rest.

 
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