Talks Breakthrough Album, New Music and Being Recognized as 'The Guy in 'The Hunger Games'
Creating a new Deluxe Edition of his platinum 1991 sophomore album "Mama Said" -- which comes out June 5 -- sent Lenny Kravitz back to a time when the rocker says "my world was just spinning."
Just off touring to support his debut album, "Let Love Rule," Kravitz tells Billboard.com that, "It was a crazy time. My ex-wife (actress Lisa Bonet, who he divorced in 1993) and I were going through issues. I just had my child the year before ('Let Love Rule' came out). I was adjusting to success and...fame. It was a lot to deal with. I ended up kind of going into hibernation, 'cause at that point I went through a pretty serious depression. I just let all these feelings out onto the songs. It was very cathartic for me."
The venting struck a chord with Kravitz's burgeoning audience, of course. "Mama" made it to No. 39 on the Billboard 200 but more importantly gave Kravitz a No. 2 Hot 100 single in "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over" and a Top 10 Alternative Rock hit in "Always on the Run," with guitar by high school pal Slash. "That changed things," he notes. "That was the first time I would walk outside and hear the songs coming out of people's cars and out of stores in New York City. I was happy about that; I grew up wanting to get a record deal and make records people listened to, and now it was happening. But it did change the perspective."
For the Deluxe Edition of "Mama Said," Kravitz raided his vaults to create a two-disc package that features 21 bonus tracks, 15 of which have been previously unreleased. The treasure trove features home demos of "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," "The Difference is Why" and "What the...Are We Saying?," remixes, instrumental takes of several tracks and eight songs recorded live in Japan and in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The set also includes two previously unreleased (and unfinished) songs, "Riding on the Wings of My Lord" and the instrumental segue "Framed, Lying, Crying."
"You forget about all these things," Kravitz notes. "Then you listen and you're like, 'Oh, man, wow!' These were things I didn't have time to finish, or I didn't feel they were (right) for that moment. I was tempted to finish them off and put vocals on them and whatnot, but I said, 'Y'know what, man -- no. Let it be what it was, from that time. Don't bring this into this time period.' But, yeah, it's interesting to find that stuff."
Kravitz is currently on the road in Europe, supporting 2011's "Black and White America" with a mix festival stops with headlining dates. He's plotting a return to North America at some point and is "writing now" for his next album, as well as working on other projects. And he'll be filming the next installments of "The Hunger Games," in which he plays Cinna, a stylist and ally of hero Katniss Everdeen. The first installment's phenomenal success, Kravitz says, has taken him by surprise.
"Y'know, I didn't see this coming," he explains. "I knew the books were huge, obviously, and I had a great time making the film. But (the success) is just out of this world. It's crazy. I was in a bookstore in Paris and there were all these 10-year-old girls in the store, giggling. I finally came out and they said, 'You're 'Hunger Games!' and I nodded and kept walking and they started screaming. They had no idea who I was other than the guy in 'The Hunger Games.' It's really interesting to all of a sudden by this character now to a lot of people. It's a trip. But I thought it was a really cool movie. I'm looking forward to doing the rest of them."
The full track list for "Mama Said: Deluxe Edition" includes:
1. Fields of Joy
2. Always on the Run
3. Stand by My Woman
4. It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over
5. More Than Anything in This World
6. What Goes Around Comes Around
7. The Difference Is Why
8. Stop Draggin' Around
9. Flowers For Zoe
10. Fields of Joy (Reprise)
11. All I Ever Wanted
12. When the Morning Turns to Night
13. What The .... Are We Saying?
15. Light Skin Girl From London
16. I'll Be Around
17. Always On The Run (Instrumental)
18. It Ain't Over Til It's Over (12" Remix Instrumental)*
19. It Ain't Over Til It's Over (12" Extended/Dub version)*
1. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Rough Demo)*
2. It Ain't Over Til It's Over (Home Demo)*
3. What The .... Are We Saying (Home Demo) *
4. The Difference Is Why (Home Demo)*
5. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Funky Vocal)*
6. Riding On The Wings Of My Lord (Instrumental)*
7. Framed, Lying, Crying (Instrumental)*
8. Stand By My Woman (Instrumental)*
9. Stop Draggin' Around (Live in Rotterdam)*
10. Always On The Run (Live in Rotterdam)*
11. Fields Of Joy (Live in Rotterdam)*
12. Stand By My Woman (Live in Rotterdam)*
13. More Than Anything In This World (Live in Rotterdam)*
14. Always On The Run (live in Japan)
15. Stop Draggin' Around (live in Japan)
16. What The... Are We Saying? (live in Japan)
(*) Indicates previously unreleased