Whatever happened to Shane West?
Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Liam Hemsworth and Zac Efron all won over hearts in film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling novels. But before these dreamy leading men could sweep in to knock viewers off their feet, actor Shane West helped lay the groundwork for the sub-genre of Sparks films when he starred opposite Mandy Moore in one of the first adaptations of the author’s work: 2002 teen tearjerker A Walk To Remember.
By the time West landed the role of Landon Carter in the teen romance, he’d already spent years building out a name for himself in the industry. The budding star’s resume included cameos in the likes of Boy Meets World and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He also appeared in teen-centric movies such as Whatever It Takes and Get Over It.
But A Walk To Remember elevated West’s career to the next level and cemented his status as a scene-stealing heartthrob.
His success in the industry continued well after the star-making role. West went on to appear in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and ER in the ’00s. After that, he booked long-term work on TV shows such as Salem, Nikita and Gotham.
A look at his profile on IMDb promises more acting projects to come.. But what makes his career doubly impressive is that he’s balanced his noteworthy success on TV and film with his equally impressive musical ambitions.
Yup, you read that correctly. Shane West is a double threat.
Pop fans of the early aughts hopefully remember that West co-starred in a music video with his pop star cast mate Mandy Moore. Her bubblegum ballad “Cry” landed on the A Walk To Remember soundtrack, and they linked up for the accompanying visual.
Mandy Moore’s “Cry” Video
What fans may not realize is that Moore was not the only musically inclined star in the movie. West also appeared on the soundtrack.
At the time of A Walk To Remember, he was the lead singer of a punk rock band called Johnny Was (formerly Average Joe). West told Buffalo News that the movie’s director Adam Shankman was a fan and wanted to feature one of their songs in the movie.
The track — “So What Does It All Mean?” — wasn’t credited to Johnny Was. Instead, it appeared on the track list under the band members’ last names: West, Gould, Fitzgerald.
Their plucky bop was featured toward the very beginning of the classic movie and was just the start of West’s career in music.
“So What Does It All Mean” From A Walk to Remember
West was clearly making it big as an actor. But he came to music even more naturally; you could even go as far to say that it was in his blood.
In 2008, he told Rolling Stone that both of his parents were in punk bands before he was born, and that he grew up inspired by their musical tastes.
“I’m very much influenced by the Clash, [that] Generation X Sex Pistols-type of punk rock,” he explained to Buffalo News.
How did he describe Johnny Was? “We’ve got a pop-y edge but we’re more punkish,” West said. “We’re not as edgy as Rancid, not as full mainstream punk as Rancid but edgier than Blink-182 and Simple Plan and those types of bands.”
Unfortunately, the group’s music is not available on Spotify today, and the band is no longer together.
However, the end of Johnny Was was not the end of West’s music career.
The same year as his Rolling Stone interview, he starred in What We Do Is Secret, an indie biopic focused on the punk band Germs that took over the Los Angeles scene in the ’70s. He played the role of the late lead singer Darby Crash.
West was such a natural that he was welcomed to perform with Crash’s remaining bandmates. After playing together at the movie’s wrap party, they lined up several more shows and toured.
Things got off to a rough start but led to great success.
“When it started, everyone was leery. It’s not a thing that normally anyone would think would have happened, so there was a lot of negativity. In the beginning, the crowds were 80% negative and I was pretty much fighting for my life,” West told Rolling Stone. “It’s gone down to about 10% negative which is great. It will never be 100% positive, but now the fans have seen us doing the show and they know it’s gonna be a good one. They know it’s gonna be tight and sloppy in the essence of the Germs.”
He went as far as to list the performance at the wrap party — his first set with Germs — as the coolest night in an interview with Glamour.
“There’s been Emmy parties or Oscar parties through the years where I’m standing next to Sean Penn or Kevin Spacey, and those are phenomenal, geek-out moments,” he explained. “But when you’re putting your heart and soul out on the line in music and they are there supporting you, that’s pretty awesome.”
As a member of Germs, West played at Vans Warped Tour in 2008. He pulled that off while also working as an actor… Pretty impressive if you ask us!
West continued to talk about the differences between acting and music in interviews at the time. While he was having plenty of success in the acting world, music clearly had his heart.
“There is no better experience than being live on stage,” he told TV Guide. “In a concert, you know if you’re good or bad right away — you’re not seeing your performance later and thinking, ‘Oh great, that sucked,’ and for an entire year I thought it was pretty good.”
When West’s time with Germs came to an end, he was far from done with the music industry.
In 2016 he became the frontman of a new band: Twilight Creeps. The group dropped their self-titled debut album that year, and a sophomore effort followed in 2019. They even released a spook-ified Christmas song in 2020.
Twilight Creeps’ “Poison in the Mistletoe” Video
Twilight Creeps is still putting out music today. The band’s most recent album, Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls, arrived in early 2021. The group closed out last year by advertising performances on Instagram.
Meanwhile, West welcomed 2022 with a reflective post on his personal page.
“It’s been one hell of an adventure but I’m proud of it and excited to see what comes next,” he wrote. Hopefully, there are plans for even more music on the horizon, but we’ll have to wait and see!”