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Juliette Lewis: The ferocious little rocker who throws dance parties

The actress revisits her other side as rock and roll bandleader.
Adam Berry/Redferns

We love actress Juliette Lewis for her many fierce performances — from MartinScorsese’s“Cape Fear” to her current role on ABC’s “Secrets and Lies.” But she’s a committed rocker, too.

This summer sees the 43-year-old's first U.S. tour in several years following the disbandment and reunion of Juliette and the Licks, just months after MichaelRapaport'scareer-spanning doc, "Hard Lovin' Woman," debuted at Tribeca.Now, she'll tour withRage Against the Machine'sBrad Wilk,collaboratorJuan Aldereteof Mars Volta and formerLicks collaboratorTodd Morse, as a new EP takes shape.

Ever the multi-tasker, Lewis spoke with us on the phone from outside a grocery store in Los Angeles.

Your single “Hello Hero” has a dancier feel to it than your other stuff. Is all the new material like that?

It’s funny ‘cause “Hello, Hero” has this big bottom end and a big, funky bass. And the next single is a song called “Any Way You Want” that’s really soulful rock and roll. Those are the two sides of me. There’s this ferocious little rocker and then a girl who wants to celebrate and take everybody with me and have a dance party.

When it comes to music, what do you consider to be success?

For me, it begins and ends with my live show. Maybe we’ll have more vegetables on our rider. Not more booze — more organic vegetables! That’s success. I’m not working for a label. This is a labor of love. I work for the people! And my heart, and my soul.

How is the emotional release different with music versus acting?

Music is instantaneous. I can be feeling frustration, confusion, longing, joy and I can write a song in 10 minutes and play the song that night, and have people ride that wave with me. And that’s totally liberating.

They’re both storytelling, but acting is more insular. I love disappearing into the emotional truths of a different person. So music is my truth and acting is ultimately the complexities of humanity told through other peoples’ stories.

You’ve said you listened to Jimi Hendrix every day while filming “Natural Born Killers,” to help create the character of Mallory. Have you done that for other roles?

For “Cape Fear” I was listening to all ‘50s girl groups like the Shirelles, the Chantells, and also Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. All these girls just singing about longing. There was something slightly juvenile in it, because that’s a pubescent heart—it’s all about your relationship to love, or the wanting of a man.

The beautiful thing about music is that within 10 seconds, from just a note or a sound, you can feel. It’s a shortcut to one’s emotion.

If you go:

Boston
August 7 at 8 p.m.
Brighton Music Hall

New York
August 6 at 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Bowl

Philadelphia
August 8 at 8 p.m.
Union Transfer

 

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