>Juliette Lewis. Aprende inglés (del bueno) con Harlem

“Once people see us live they see that we are a kick ass rock & roll band. Noone is ever bored at a Licks show”

Juliette Lewis (Los Ángeles, 1973) se dio a conocer internacionalmente como actriz. Se dedica a la interpretación desde los 14 años y participó en películas como Abierto hasta el amanecer, Asesinos natos y El cabo del miedo, cinta de Martin Scorsese con la que obtuvo la nominación al Oscar a Mejor Actriz Secundaria. Pero se cansó de Hollywood, no de la actuación, y desde 2004 lidera Juliette & The Licks, grupo de punk rock con el que ha grabado dos discos. Recientemente regresó a España para presentar el segundo, Four on the floor, y aprovechamos para hacerle llegar por tercera vez este cuestionario. Por lo visto iba a empresa, a taquilla, porque esta vez se dignó a responder. A lo que quiso.

(Todos los errores ortográficos que aprecies en las preguntas, pequeño Shakespeare, serán cortesía del gran Bruno Vazquez Alonzo, que fue quien nos echó una mano a la hora de traducirlas de inglés chapucero a english sandunguero. Conste)

Why is Four on the floor the Juliette & The Lick’s best album?
Four on the Floor is a more focused full flavored rock record. And I think after touring the past couple years we really developed a strong sound. I wanted to try and capture the power and raw emotion from our live show on record. You’re speaking my language we didn’t have a producer and its a bit all over the place but definately has some good songs.

You have sung in albums with a more electronic or techno ambient, as Outnumbered never outgunned, from The Prodigy. Despite that we find a more organic and punk rock concept in Four on the floor and You are speaking my language. Do you think the same?
The exciting about music is there are no limits and I really love it all. So I would definately like to do more collaberations in the future. Dance music or ambiant allows me to use other facets of my voice and I can write lyrically in an even more unconventional way. The next record for The Licks will show even more range not just straight up guitar driven rock. I want to introduce more instrumentation and odd sounds. As well as explore myself vocally. I want more haunting.

What kind of sources do you find inspiration? Where do you get inspiration when you are making a song or singing on stage?
I get inspired by anything really. But hunger and longing seem to be a central theme in my music. The consequences of this longing. I also get inspired by my musicians and what they play. I hear lyrics and melody in the music and just follow that lead. Frustration can inspire weather over the human condition relationships whatever. I like to play with rythm in my phrasing. When I wrote “Death of a whore” I always heard a spoken word in the verses then a kind of haunting voice in the choruses. And I thought the song was about a murdered prostitute and her feelings of regret and despair. Its my most cinematic song. Hot Kiss was written on the road. It started from a great dirty little guitar riff that Todd Morse came up with and the chorus lyrics were the first thing that came to my mind. “Hot kiss, won’t you tell me what you miss boy, blind love you got me spinning like a wind up toy”. Its just a song about missing my man on the road. Purgetory Blues is a song about feeling stuck and seeking redemption. I like to write using metaphors a lot. I’m not a very literal writer. I like playing with words that are visual and dramatic. Get up is a song I wrote because my guitar player Kemble Walters was just noodling at sound check and I started singing to what he was playing. That song is story of the Licks, having a dream and starting a rock band against the odds.

How did you get Dave Grohl’s participation on the record?
I met Dave in 2005 at the Reading festival in the U.K. We became great friends and both very similar in our enthusiasm toward all things music. We had talked a lot over the year and traded musical ideas. My drummer didn’t want to tour anymore so he left. I asked Dave to play on Hot Kiss, Mind Full of Daggers and Bullshit King. We recorded at his studio in LA. The demos turned out great and we were all excited about the collaberation. It was a perfect window of time because he wasn’t touring and could do it. We tracked drums for 3 days. I think he really shows some more sides to his playing in songs like Sticky Honey and Get Up.

You have been compared with Iggy Pop and Patti Smith. Who are your musical idols or references? Are Iggy and Patti two of them?
I guess I’m really inspired by theatrical performers like a Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Nina Simone, Mick Jagger. But musically I can get into all kinds of sounds. I hear the details in songs sometimes. Distant voices, hand claps, detorted base. I want to explore more sonic details in the next record.

When did you discover your musical vocation? It was before the beginning of your cinematographic career, or after singing a PJ Harvey’s song in Strange days?
When I was a kid I always was connected to drama, music and physical performance like dance but more avante gaurd. I always wanted to combine all these elements. My entire creative fire is made up of these 3 things. I got successful only acting and always missed songwriting and very much longed for the live show and this connection to people so I finally put a band together to make it happen.

Is it true that you are really disappointed (“unfulfilled”) after fifteen years of making movies?

Have you ever felt any kind of prejudice from other musicians because your cinema star condition?
To succeed in any field in the arts is difficult. Weather is painting, being a writer, actor whatever. You have to have a lot of hunger and passion and belief in what your doing and be willing to work very hard. I’m used to having to prove myself. We’ve toured so much and on so many festivals and made friends with many bands like, foo fighters, jet, the Killers, Queens of the stoneage. Once people see us live they see that we are a kick ass rock & roll band. Noone is ever bored at a Licks show.

You have worked hard, as a lot of bands that start its career in rock music. Little audiences, etc. your role of rock singer is more than a simple caprice, isn’t it?
I wear many hats in the band. I am the driving force not just a singer. I make many business and creative decisions all the time. Its a lot of pressure but I love and believe in what I’m doing.

Do you find similarities between two things, to sing on stage and to perform in front of a camera?
No they’re very different. But the similarities are that I try to be honest in my work and very revealing of emotion and connect with people emotionally.

I guess it’s necessary to be an exhibitionist (healthy exhibicionism) if you want to do both things (to sing and to perform). Is Juliette Lewis A little bit exhibitionist?

Are you agree with artists as Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle. R.E.M. and The Rolling Stones, who criticize George W. Bush’s foreign policy?

One of your slogans is “hugs not drugs”. So you don’t think drugs encourage artist’s creativity. Don’t you?
Musical is a spiritual experience. It unites people. I try and surrender on stage to the energy of the room the people the moment. I like to feel everything. I like the sound of the instruments to pass thru me. I’m very connected to the drums. I can’t imagine every doing drugs. First because I hate them and what they do to people spiritually and emotionally but also because they ultimately kill feelings. And create a barrier between yourself and other people and sound. I like trying to face life and your feelings that means all of them. Your passion, anger, confusion, love. Its harder but its worth it. You got to think about your future and take care of your body. I approach touring like an athlete. I’m always trying maintain my health and energy.

How is a show of The Licks?
When you come to a Licks show you can expect to sweat, shake your hips, and have a big smile on your face. Our live show is a combination of danger and joy!

What about your next projects?
I am gonna work on making another record this year that will come out in 2009. I’m very excited.