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Lovett takes on Las Vegas with Isaak at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Updated June 15, 2022 - 7:52 am

Lyle Lovett is asked about his role in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the 1998 film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s groundbreaking 1971 novel.

This tidbit surfaced in a search of Lovett’s filmography. He seems surprised his name is formally fastened to the movie.

“I am credited?” he asks, laughing. “What’s the credit?”

“Road Person.”

“Road Person — OK, I remember they had me wear some real ’70s-style sunglasses, and they parted my hair like I used to wear it when I was in the seventh grade,” says Lovett, who along with his famed Large Band is co-headlining with Chris Isaak at the Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Saturday night. “ ‘Would anyone like to buy some LSD?’ It was in slow motion. The dialogue was slowed down. But I was in a flashback scene where Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson is walking through a club and sees Hunter S. Thompson sitting at a table. The young Hunter encounters an older version of himself.”

So it is that Lovett owns that piece of Vegas trivia. More from our chat:

Johnny Kats: What is the format of this show? You alternate sets with Chris, then perform something together?

Lyle Lovett: We’ve flipped a coin about who is going to play first on which night. I think we’re playing first in Las Vegas. We’re thinking about trying to cook up something to do together during the second set each night, but we haven’t figured it out yet.

You actually flip a coin to decide this?

We were actually going to put a referee shirt on my tour manager and flip the coin right before the show. It’s Vegas — why pass up that opportunity? (Laughs.)

You could go out to the roulette wheel or a blackjack table or roll craps, and whoever wins gets to decide. Yeah, that’s really good. Yeah, even if it’s predetermined we could do that. I think Chris would be up for something like that. I remember that casino before, when it was the Hard Rock. We played the room and it was very nice.

This is the first time you’ve co-headlined here. How did you decide to pair up?

He’s a wonderful guy. This tour really came out of our doing a livestream together during the pandemic isolation. I did 21 livestreams across that period. Chris was nice enough to do one with me where we just sat and talked and swapped songs. He was just so great to work with. So we just kept the conversation going.

I have to ask about your experience with Johnny Depp, given he’s been in the news so much lately.

I’d met him on a flight from Los Angeles to Austin. He was going to Austin to write songs, and so we struck up a conversation. He is a very serious musician and always has been a very nice guy and great to me. In the movie, we had a day on the set, and I was with Terry Gilliam, Harry Dean Stanton that day. We were in Johnny’s trailer, Benicio Del Toro and Hunter S. Thompson. What an amazing, fun day on the set.

You knew Thompson, too, right?

Yes, I got to know him and become friends with him years ago, from playing in Colorado.

What was he like as a friend? Was he really gonzo?

It was interesting to me, hanging out with him in Aspen. My favorite thing to do was to go to his house because he was just so smart. But out in public, you know, people would almost want to goad him into being the Hunter S. Thompson that they expect to see. I was around him on occasions when he would sort of perform for folks. But yeah, he was actually a really sensitive, kind and perceptive person.

Your latest album is called “12th of June.” The inspiration behind the title?

The theme of the album is relationships and family. My songs on the record came from my children, and as you know, I have young twins and they inspired most of the songs.

They are 5, right?

Yes, their birthday is the 12th of June, so that’s a song title and the album title.

How is it being the father of twins?

It’s just the most miraculous thing I’ve ever experienced. I know other people in the world who have had children, but I feel like I’m the only one that’s had this revelation of what it’s like to be a dad. (Laughs.) I mean, it’s just been wonderful. I always felt like I wanted to have children. I always imagined having children. But I had no idea how much I’d enjoy it. It has really been great.

You were, what, 59 when you had kids?

Everything happens the way it happens for a reason. If I had had children earlier, they wouldn’t be these children. So, I’m grateful to have these two particular ones and I’m enjoying every second of it. My buddies were teasing me, “Boy, is your life going to change!” And I said, “No, it’s not!” But of course it has. It’s been wonderful for my extended family as well, and the extended community you feel with other parents is something I had not anticipated.

The pandemic must have been interesting with two little twins.

The pandemic isolation was definitely a mixed blessing. But the absolute best part of it for me, it was getting to be with my children every day and night for two years straight. I just get excited to see them interested in anything, whatever they’re interested in. I find myself being fascinated and just wanting to encourage their interest, and being very conscious about not imposing my interest on them. Just seeing what they gravitate towards themselves is thrilling.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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