Lick This: Time spent in the company of renaissance woman Juliette Lewis is never time wasted. Even over the phone, the singer/actress/all-rounder enters the conversation with a level of energy that is not only infectious but inspiring. It’s near-impossible not to surf that wave. It’s also tough not to ask her questions about Mallory Knox, Audrey Griswold, Iron Maven and Natalie Scatorccio, but we stuck to the music.

It helps that her band, the Licks, is genuinely good. She’s far from the only Hollywood star to give the music game a go, but we can’t think of anyone better. At least in recent times. Keanu Reeves, Johnny Dep, Jared Leto, Keifer Sutherland, Dennis Quaid, Adam Goldberg, even Steve Martin, all have given it a go. Depp even has rock icons Alice Cooper and Joe Perry in his Hollywood Vampires. But none can match the raw rock ‘n’ roll brilliance, the punky energy, the fucking songs that the Licks offer.

That said, it’s been way too long since 2006’s Four on the Floor album, and the shows are few and far between. As a result, when the Licks do play out, each show feels like an event.

“You literally took the words out of my mouth,” Lewis says. “We’re an event band. It’s an experience. It’s a happening. And we’re not interested in touring like we once did. All the guys from the Licks are in other bands. So it was so hard to get us all in town. And this was just a test. It was like, let’s see, let me just test the water. And we’re playing punk-sized venues. Yeah, so as middle-agers that are fiery rock-n-rollers, that’s what we’re into. We’re not into getting on a bus for four months, like we once did.”

(Trabendo Paris)

While it’s always a treat to see the Licks live, playing the old material, the prospect of new songs is a thrill. In these most turbulent of times, what will Lewis have to say? Thankfully, we might not have to wait long to find out.

“It’s so weird, being in this time,” Lewis says. “What’s weird about it is, because being an independent, creative person, everything’s done for the love of it. It’s pure love and expression. I’m working with Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant. They were working on their record for the last two years. I go to Nashville and I’ve been steadily getting closer to having an EP done, and Brad is producing it. I’ll have the vocals done by the end of March and I should have some new music this year. But again, everything is on our own terms. I feel like people have a short attention span. I’m just doing an EP – probably five to seven songs. Awesome, but killer, killer songs.”

We don’t doubt it. Killer songs have been the Licks’ bread and butter for over two decades. And while Lewis’ name is front and center, the Licks is a genuine band. A collaborative effort. Guitarist Todd Morse has been with Lewis and the Licks from the 2003 beginnings, while bassist Jason Womack, rhythm guitarist Kemble Walters and drummer Ed Davis have all been in the band since 2006. That’s 18 years of this line-up, which, even given the hiatuses, is impressive.

“I call them the Licks because, us together, there’s nothing quite like it,” Lewis says. “We developed this chemistry, for better or worse, from all the band dynamics that happen when you write music and tour and live in small spaces together for years. I’ve never been able to match that chemistry. We just have a crazy energy we’ve had to acknowledge.”

While the new songs are nearly done, there’s still some pending work to do with the lyrics. Still, Lewis assures us that they’re fire.

“There’s one song called ‘Satellite Communication,’” she says. “That’s a purely angsty, post-pandemic song. It’s just really powerful. But lyrically, I can’t totally answer that question because that’s my homework. I’ve got to finish my lyrics and then we’re doing vocals in March.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Juliette & the Licks perform at the Teragram Ballroom, part of a mini run of dates. Don’t expect any new songs, but there will be some surprises.

“There’ll be songs that we have never played before,” Lewis says. “Old songs. There’ll be a couple of new covers. But again, these three shows were just to say, ‘Hey, is anybody interested?’ Because we are and then people said they were, too, over on the West Coast anyway. We have two festivals that are happening in June and then October, and I’ll have new music then. But we’re just going to do what we do, which is get exhilarated and your blood pumping and make you feel good about life and living, which is absolutely what we need to do.”

Besides the love of the music, the Licks have more important reasons for throwing themselves into these shows. Bassist Jason Womack was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and he has been through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. He still has some way to go.

“He’s still getting chemo, but so some of the funds will go to help him pay his medical bills,” Lewis says. “(Here is his GoFundMe). I get teary-eyed because you have to embrace who’s here now and we give each other so much life and love. I’m happy to help him in any way. So that was really the impetus of getting together. Womack loves this band number one, and we love him.”

After these gigs, the Licks will be looking ahead to festival season.

“We have one in October in Sacramento – Aftershock,” Lewis says. “It’s with the Foo Fighters. Some old friends. A lot of rockers on the bill. So we’re gonna play. It’s fun to do things on one’s own terms and to see if people are in to that with us. I aim to please, so I think we’re just gonna find more opportunities to get together and play.”

Lick This: Juliette & the Licks perform at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Teragram Ballroom.








































































































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