Posted On 30 Oct 2015
Tag: 36 Cents, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Americana, Artist Interview, Asbury Park, Carnegie Hall, Folk, Folk Music, Fox, Hand Jive, Hookers and Blow, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Lefty, Michael Bacon, New Jersey, NJ, Steve Buonanotte, Stone Pony, The Bacon Brothers, The Following, The Stone Pony, Wonderful Day, You Learn
The Bacon Brothers, Michael and Kevin, grew up in Philadelphia with their four sisters in a home filled with music. By the late 1960s, Michael, already a professional musician, would gig with his band at the city’s famed Electric Factory with a young Kevin tagging along when he could. It’s a time preserved in the cover art for The Bacon Brothers’ New Year’s Day with a preteen Kevin singing alongside a mandolin-strumming Michael. The record, laden with the brothers’ trademark gritty rock and a touch of Philly soul, hearkens back to those roots in the City of Brotherly Love when life was less complicated and music filled the air. Michael has gone on to become an Emmy Award winning composer for film and television; most recently scoring Good Fortune – The Story of Morgenthau, as well as a documentary about Texas Governor, Ann Richards for HBO. Kevin, a prolific stage and screen actor, is now starring in the FOX TV drama, “The Following“.
But there’s something about singing with your sibling. In 1995, the two formed a band, now, 18 years later, any cynical preconceptions about well-known actors “dabbling” in music can safely be discarded. As The New Yorker observed: “Hollywood hangs like an albatross around the neck of any movie star turned musician, but this duo shakes off the burden of fame with sharply executed rock that has a blue-collar, rootsy edge.” The band has gigged relentlessly to build up a following and have released seven albums and a live concert DVD. The band continues to win believers—show by show, album by album.
And along the way, Kevin has apparently caught up with his elder brother in some surprising ways.
“Kevin writes a lot more songs than I do,” Michael says. “While my days are filled with composing instrumental music for film and TV, songs are a more daunting challenge. If I write one or two a year that I like, then I’m happy. But Kevin has this amazing gift of turning everyday experiences into universal thoughts that everybody can identify with.”
“I like risks,” notes Kevin, a classic understatement from an artist who’s played challenging, unsympathetic roles in everything from The Woodsman to Sleepers to Oliver Stone‘s JFK.
“And there’s nothing more risky about being a well known actor than playing in a rock band as well.”
For The Bacon Brothers, taking risks has certainly paid off, their infectious music has fans dancing in their seats and singing along at every show; they finished out a tour last January in 2014, and released their latest album, 36 Cents.
The Bacon Brothers Band: Michael Bacon on vocals, guitar, and cello; Kevin Bacon on vocals, guitar, and percussion; Paul Guzzone on bass guitar and backing vocals; Joe Mennonna on keyboards and accordion; Frank Vilardi on drums; and Ira Siegel on lead guitar, mandolin, and backing vocals.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had the pleasure of interviewing both Michael and Kevin. Enjoy getting to know the band and their journey more below:
Hi guys! How are you doing today? What’s on your agenda today besides our interview?
Kevin – Heading home from work on The Following.
Michael – Finding interviews that I forgot to do, Sorry! I’m just catching up on stuff that’s accumulated during the holidays including, working on my ‘cello concerto, practicing singing and learning French. I’m also back to work on several scoring projects and you know, just gonna hit the gym hard. Oh and lastly, dreaming about sailing in the spring!
Please tell me a bit about your newest studio album, 36 Cents. It has been since 2008 that you guys released an LP. How did you approach differently from your previous work? Was there an overall vibe that you wanted to capture on this album?
Kevin – My wife says it’s the closest we’ve ever come to capturing our live sound so that was a great compliment. Some new songs , some old, some alternate versions of things we’ve recorded before.
Michael – Usually we’ve banked a lot of new songs in the couple of years between recording. We did’t have quite enough songs for an entire CD, so we revisited some old things and did a cover of “You Learn”. We grabbed an ancient KB song called “Wonderful Day” and gave it to our co-producer Steve Buonanotte and he killed it.
Although you both have played music together since you were boys growing up, you have only been a working band since 1995.When did you know you wanted to pursue music together?
Kevin – Our first gig was terrifying for me…knees knocking and nausea. Then it was over and I wanted to do another!
Michael – We were always pursuing some kind of music project together but it was pretty unfocused. The structure of a performing and recording band has a lot more demands attached to it. Timing is everything and it just seemed right.
As brothers, there must be some fun stories to share about being in a band together. What is a recent one that you can share? (i.e.: funny stage antics…etc)
Kevin: We need to do some more goofy videos.
Michael – We did one called “Lefty” that I still think is funny. Another one-we found one of those weird Italian waiter dolls with the bobbing head. KB made it go and the guys played a tarantella to it.
You have a hilarious tongue in cheek song called,”Hookers and Blow,” for those that are unaware and “OMG what did they just say?!” Can you explain how that song came about? What was the inspiration?
Kevin – I used this phrase as a response to the question “How was your weekend?” “Oh ya know, the usual…hookers and blow.” lol …I started out trying to write a funny song, but it just came out sad.
What is your song writing process like? How do you capture inspiration when it comes to you?
Kevin – It’s a mystery how and why a song happens. And every time I finish one I’m sure it was my last.
Michael – It’s a very illusive process and one that requires down time and a lack of external stimulation.Its not a position I find myself in often.
Kevin, you have a great quote: ”I say, when it comes to acting, you have to ‘use yourself and lose yourself.’ When it comes to playing music, it’s like, ‘this is what I wore all day, this is what I’ll wear.’ It doesn’t change much.” Can you elaborate. What is it about music and performing that you love?
Kevin – Its a very personal expression and a very vulnerable place to be. To say this is me, my voice, my instrument, my song. How do you like it? Its very risky because there is no one to blame if it sucks.
Michael, you are celebrated for your film and tv scores, do you prefer one versus the other? What do you enjoy about each?
Michael – Right now I’d love to sink my teeth into a narrative film. I’ve been a little heavy on the TV side recently.
There is certainly an “Americana” movement and your first record, Forosoco, was an early example of this evolving trend. The Bacon Brothers has an inherent roots–folk-rock-soul-country vibe. What bands and musicians are in your current playlist?
Michael – I’m not sure the American influence has ever not been there in our music. I’ve played this style of music since I was 10 years old and never strayed from it too much. When you get to my age it’s less about going back to a previous genre and more about doing what you’ve always done and are best at.
Is there anyone that you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Michael – I’d like to do a collaboration with an orchestra 1/3 us, 1/3 them, 1/3 together.
What has been your most memorable show so far and why?
Kevin – I think playing the Stone Pony in NJ was pretty memorable. And we’ve never had a bad gig in New Jersey.
Michael – It’s hard not to go back to a show at Carnegie Hall when we opened for the band, Rick and Levon who were still kicking it and we joined their encore with “Hand Jive”.
What is on tap next for you guys? What are you most excited about in 2015?
Kevin – I’m just excited to make it to 2015!
Michael – KB will be wrapping up The Following and then we’ll regroup Can’t wait to start playing again.
To keep up with the latest, visit THE BACON BROTHERS website, here .