For Lenny Kravitz, the U.S. leg of his "Let Love Rule" 20th anniversary tour -- which kicked off two weeks ago and wrapped Saturday (Nov. 1) with a headlining gig at the Voodoo Experience festival -- was more than just a series of gigs. It's a long-anticipated return home from Paris, where the rocker has lived for the past two years.
"I moved to Europe because of the climate in America -- and I don't just mean the economy or politics," says Kravitz. "It was also what my record label was going through. People were getting fired every week. There was no money, and people were operating out of fear as opposed to creativity...it just became a drag."
"I was like, 'This is not what I do,'" says Kravitz. "I do what I feel. I don't hire the producer du jour or have so-and-so rap on the middle part of a song."
Now that Kravitz is back, though, he says there's been progress. "I think the relationship is better now. We're talking, we're going to work things out and I'm going to put my next album out next summer. I'm hoping that they will support it in the way that I would like them to."
Kravitz describes his new material as "schizophrenic -- it's a very Gemini album. It's super raw, very raw with a lot of jazz and R&B elements. There's still a rock sound to it, of course, but it's more on the funk side."
If Kravitz's plans hold, he'll finish the new album by December and release it next spring. In the meantime, he has a movie to help promote -- "Precious," the Oscar-contending drama that hits theaters Nov. 6, co-stars Mariah Carey and was directed by Kravitz's longtime friend, the filmmaker Lee Daniels.
"I play Nurse John, who's an interesting character," he says. "He's not in the original book. They wrote him in to have a positive African American male role." Though the singer didn't film any scenes with Carey in "Precious," he was as impressed as many critics upon seeing her performance. "Mariah was amazing -- what can I say? She was truly in the role, you know, talking with this heavy New York accent and looking like an everyday social worker. She transformed."
Kravitz says he'll begin shooting another film for Daniels in mid-January, though it probably won't be the rumored musical that the director is developing. "Lee's very interesting in the way he works," says Kravitz. "He'll say 'Okay you're doing the next movie,' but then he's got three completely different scripts and ideas and they all kind of twirl around until one sticks."
As for Kravitz's own artistic process, he says it'll be faithful to the vintage-leaning sound of "Let Love Rule," at least in its production. "A lot of the records that are out right now sound the same," laments the singer. "It's like, where's the expression? Give the Grammy to the computer, not the person.
"I've always been about being organic," he adds. "I play all the instruments most of the time. I put my hands on an instrument, and I want you to hear and feel it."