Huey Lewis and band took creative ride on "Express"

Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:48pm EDT
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By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Billboard) - Huey Lewis says that coming up with the title song for the hit stoner movie "Pineapple Express" was not necessarily a huge stretch for him and his band, the News.

"I do have some experience in that area," he said with a laugh.

Lewis added that he's not depending on "Pineapple Express" to vault the News back to the multiplatinum levels of its mid-'80s "Sports" popularity.

"Y'know, we used to be a beer-and-hot-dog band; now we're with the wine-and-cheese set," Lewis noted, "and I don't know if 'Pineapple Express' appeals to the wine-and-cheese set. And I think for the guys who made the movie, we're like Tony Bennett to these kids. We're that square -- we're so square it's hip again. It's very odd."

He added that the band's contribution to the soundtrack was not a career move. "It was a creative thing, trying to write the song, and we had a lot of fun doing it."

Lewis said that the News is in the process of writing a batch of new songs. "We're probably going to make a record eventually, for some reason. I don't know that anybody cares, but as a storyteller you need a new story once in a while. What you need is a new song to play in the set every so often, and we've got that."

Lewis -- who dueted with Garth Brooks on the latter's 2007 version of the News' hit "Workin' for a Livin"' and sang on a track for an upcoming Tower of Power 40th anniversary tribute -- said that he and the News are "at the very beginning of the process," with songs running a stylistic gamut. "If somebody writes a blues song, fine. If somebody writes a pop tune, fine," he said.

"It becomes harder when you're a pop writer -- and I'm not ashamed to say that," Lewis said. "As a pop writer, you're informed by your audience a little bit. When there's no audience out there in terms of radio, it's different. So we write for the band, and it's a little bit different, to be honest. There isn't as tight a focus -- and there doesn't have to be."