Much like Michael Jordan’s failed foray into pro baseball, when high-profile actors branch out into rock and roll, the results are almost never pretty. In fact, nine times out of 10, they’re downright embarrassing — with Jared Leto’s 30 Seconds to Mars being perhaps the sole exception. But that’s not deterring “Brick” baddie Lukas Haas from taking a stab at it himself.
After all, he’s not Keanu Reeves, nor is he Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Bruce Willis or Billy Bob Thornton — all of whom have tried their hands at music with laughable results. When it comes to Haas, music has always been in his blood.
His mother, he explained, was an opera singer, and his uncles played in a 1980s German new-wave band called Steinwolke, who had a hit with “Katharine Katharine.” Haas said he’s been writing music since he was a child — he played in various bands in Austin, Texas, when he was in high school — but never pursued it seriously because of his hectic Hollywood schedule.
“I’ve always wanted to make a record, especially when I was younger, but since I’m an actor, I wasn’t able to do both,” Haas explained. “Releasing a record always just seemed like a dream. But writing music, singing, it’s always been the thing I’ve done when I wasn’t making movies — and sometimes, it was what I’d do even when I was. It’s so easy to play music, and I write songs all the time.”
But does he care that some fans may approach his music with some degree of skepticism because he’s a thespian? “All I care about is the music,” he replied. “Of course I want people to hear it, but beyond that, I’m not too worried what the ramifications are. As long as the music is good, it will stand on its own, and it won’t have anything to do with my acting.”
Haas has been working on his record for more than a year now, but only started recording his songs last month with producers Josh Abraham and Ima Robot guitarist Tim Anderson. He’s hoping to have the yet-untitled record, which he said will sound like a cross between Beck and Damien Rice, out this spring. While he plays the majority of the instruments on the LP, he did recruit Jet drummer Chris Cester and Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett to lend him a hand.
“We’re getting a bunch of cool musicians to be a part of it, which is awesome,” Haas said. “All I want is for the music to be the best it can be, and I love including people in that. And they all love the music, which is kind of #1 for me.”
Does Haas think he missed his true calling? Is there really a musician trapped inside his actor body? “I have always loved acting, and it’s been such a big part of my life, so it’s hard to discount it at all,” he said. “[The two art forms are] just so different. I think that, at the end of the day, music is just a much more pure way for me to express myself. I love acting equally, but it’s just a different type of creativity. I love the creativity in acting and in music, but music’s all mine — it’s my music, my words. It’s just more directly me, which I love.”
The songs, he said, are very melodic and mostly acoustic. Haas is taking his time with the album, wanting to get it just right, but admits he has experimented greatly with his sound. “Stylistically, it’s all over the place,” he said. “I don’t have a style that I’m trying to emulate. I like to write good songs and see where they go.” Lyrically, he said he writes about “my sort of philosophy” in some songs and reminisces about his childhood in others, but mostly, “they’re about love and girls and that kind of stuff.”
With just two movies on the way — the Kim Basinger thriller “While She Was Out” and the drama “Death in Love” — and none to shoot anytime soon, Haas said he’s putting his film career on hold for a bit, while he gives his album the full attention it deserves.
“I’m going to do everything I can for the record,” he said, adding that he may even tour. “I don’t know what the situation is yet, as far as that goes, but I’m going to try and hop on a tour if I can.” In fact, he’d even consider playing the Warped Tour, which could be a perfect fit for him, following his lead role in My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
“I’ll play anywhere,” he joked. “Balancing my film career and my music will be something I’m just going to have to deal with, as it happens. I think I can balance it out; the choices will probably be pretty clear. If there’s a movie I just have to do, I will work the music around it. If there’s something I don’t need to do, I’ll just keep on playing.”