Juliette and the Licks
Come and get your heart set on fire
By Simon McCormack
With her well-established acting career on hold, Juliette Lewis is ordering off the multi-medium entertainment menu. Her main course is Juliette and the Licks, a dirty, sexy, playful, classic rock-rooted quartet featuring Lewis on vocals and former H20 member Todd Morse on guitar. The Licks got Dave Grohl to play drums on their latest release, Four on the Floor, which is the band's most well-rounded offering to date. The Alibi caught up with the band's frontwoman and got her thoughts on her genre-hopping experience.
How did the Licks get started?
It was something I had been avoiding over the last decade. I was always going to do it but was petrified about how to begin and what direction I wanted to go. I worked with a friend of mine and he said, "Why don't you meet Linda Perry [of 4 Non Blondes]?" I ended up writing some songs with her and she helped me find my own identity. After that, I think my hunger to live and breathe through music became so huge I couldn't deny it. Plus, I was 30 and the clock was fucking ticking.
There are quite a few actors who do the band thing. What makes your band work?
One of the big differences with us is there are not a lot of female-fronted rock ’n’ roll acts. I feel it's a void that needs to be filled. Also, some other performers are doing music as a hobby, but we're touring as hard as any new band that's just starting out.
Have you had to prioritize music over film or vice versa?
I absolutely made music the priority and it's what fulfills me on a much richer level. I will still do movies in the future, though, because I miss that whole process.
What are the challenges of being an established actress that starts a band?
A lot of people are so ready to hate on you because they think everyone's going to love you. But my whole thing is just trying to get people to come to our live show. That's why I put my name front-and-center. Even if people go because they think it's gonna be a train wreck, if you come down and see us, we'll do the rest.
What's a Licks show like?
You should expect to come and get your heart set on fire. We're full-on, hearty-flavored and really fun. Our whole band runs on joy, not drugs or sexual perversity.
Tell me about working with Dave Grohl.
He's my rock ’n’ roll angel. We met a couple years ago and he was a big supporter of the band. We both listen to music in a wildly excited way, like hyper kids. Watching him play five feet away is goosebump-inducing because he's so fucking good. His attack is punishing and he fits with what we're doing.
Do you feel like sometimes other members of the band don't get the credit they deserve?
That's the challenge of every band, whether you have a known lead singer or not. Nobody has sensitive egos and their hearts are in the right place. I personally can't wait until people start recognizing the musicianship. Hopefully, by the next album, people will move past the thought of "oh, she doesn't suck!" to looking at the songwriting and how well the musicians play live.
Juliette and the Licks play an all-ages show at the Launchpad on Sunday, Oct. 21, with cheeky dance-rockers Scissors for Lefty and Suffrajett. $15 at the door or buy your tickets in advance at www.launchpadrocks.com. The heart-burn begins at 7 p.m. Before the show, see what Juliette and the Licks are up to on their MySpace page: www.myspace.com/julietteandthelicks
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