Lights, Camera….lyrics! — Actors in Bands

Parents often tell their kids they can be anything when they grow up.  And then there are the parents who must have told their kids they can be many things when they grow up.  These kids grow up wired with creativity that needs to be plugged into more than one outlet, or they’ll short-circuit.  And that includes actors who cross over into writing music and lyrics, and playing in bands.  Sure, their starpower might initially get them bookings and audiences, but only true talent keeps ‘em.  Here are actors whose tunes and lyrics have solidly established their credibility as musicians:

30 Seconds to Mars

Helmed by Jared Leto (”Panic Room,” “Requiem for a Dream,”), who sings, writes the band’s music and lyrics, and plays guitar, 30 Seconds to Mars is a tight, talented, intense hard rock machine.  Their 2002 debut album scored mixed reviews, but their second album went platinum and spawned the singles, “A Beautiful Lie,” “From Yesterday,” and “The Kill,” featuring Leto’s anguished lyrics, “Look in my eyes/You’re killing me, killing me/All I wanted was you.”


No, you have not entered the Matrix — Keanu Reeves really did play bass in a band called Dogstar from 1991 - 2002.  They released one EP and two indie-label albums filled with music and lyrics ranging from alternative to power-pop.  Although singer Bret Domrose wrote the bulk of the band’s music and lyrics, Reeves wrote a few of Dogstar’s songs, including “Isabelle,” an ode to a friend’s young daughter, and the love song “Round C,” whose title was inspired by — brace yourself — cheese.

Juliette Lewis and the Licks

Actress Juliette Lewis (”Catch and Release,” “Natural Born Killers”) has fronted this hard rock/alternative rock band with her powerful, wild-child interpretation of lyrics and uninhibited gyrations since 2003.  Lewis, who had previously sung in the movie, “Strange Days,” became obsessed with forming a band after seeing a Blondie concert.  Luckily, she had that moment of truth — she and the Licks kick like a double-shot of Jagermeister.  One of their most popular songs, “Hot Kiss,” has lyrics that are as scorching as its music and vocals:  “I’m his favorite toy/Like a beach ball/Bang it up and down/Or throw it against the wall.”

The Bacon Brothers Band

Kevin and his older brother, Michael bring home the Bacon on four albums, as well as live shows, where they really cook.  Both brothers play guitar, and definitely know their way around a fretboard.  Kevin isn’t merely riding on Michael’s coattails — the guy can definitely play.  The siblings both write lyrics and music, as well.  Kevin wrote these introspective lyrics to one of their best-known songs, “Chop Wood (Carry Water)”: “I want to break this legacy/Change this angry history/And plant a brand-new family tree/I guess the rest is up to me.” Playing music together since childhood, the Bacons have officially been sizzling in a band since 1995.

Being a great actor doesn’t necessarily make someone a great musician.  Their fame may give them access to the stage — but their talent for singing, playing, and writing great songs and lyrics will keep them there in a starring role.

Merryl Lentz

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