You &... The Bacon Brothers
Interview conducted by Friday from your letters!
Being a sidekick isn't usually glamourous, believe you me. There's the prepping of BG's battles and, of course, the cleanup. But lest you think I complain, it does have its perks. Chatting on Monday afternoon with The Bacon Brothers, while not part of the job description, was one of them.
Kevin and Michael Bacon have written and played music together for well over twenty years, starting in the family basement. While Kevin chose to pursue an acting career, Michael continued with his music and became a success in his own right. He's recorded many albums on his own and is also widely known for his compositions for film and television. He has won numerous Emmys and, most recently, scored the Academy Award-winning documentary, King Gimp.
The Bacon Brothers, are coming to us fresh off the release of their second CD, Getting There. "Getting There" showcases the songwriting skills of the two and continues in the FOlk, ROck, SOul, and COuntry tradition of their first album, aptly titled, Forosoco (get it?!), which was nominated for "Independent Album of the Year" at the Los Angeles Music Awards.
The Brothers Bacon answered not only my questions, but also yours, and here's what they had to say.
Friday (from a question inspired by Katrina): How did you guys get started?
Michael: "Well, we've always played music together, ever since Kevin was old enough to bang on a drum, so that's a long time. But the actual band got started about six years ago, when an old friend of Kevin's heard a demo of some country songs we'd written. He asked us to come down to this club he was working at in Philadelphia as the Bacon Brothers to do a gig. I guess he figured the two of us would come. I didn't really think we could do it as the two of us, because Kevin had never played before; I figured we'd need a little help. So we got a bass player whom I'd known for years and a percussionist, and we did some rehearsals. Then we booked a job to get ready for the job in Philly, so we had two gigs booked and that was gonna be it ... but it went really well! It turned out Kevin enjoyed doing it and was really good at it. Someone asked us to do another job, and one thing led to the next, and then all of a sudden we felt we had enough songs for a CD. We got an offer from a small record company and made the first CD, and added a couple of guys to the band and made a second CD, and now we're starting to think about the third."
Michael: Not really. I always sorta hoped we would, and Kevin played in my band when he was 13 or 14 I guess, but [our working together] was always more like doing specific projects like writing a song for one of his movies; we wrote a song about roller disco once when that was big!
But it never really was "let's form a band;" it was "let's make the best possible music for ourselves and not for some alternative reason." Nothing ever came from all the work we put into these songs we wrote until we put the band together, and at that point, we started to get the kind of energy that you need to keep something going. You can do a certain amount yourself, but something has to come back, to keep the wheels going. Forming the band's when the wheels really started to roll.
Friday (from a question inspired by KennyT): What music do you feel is the best for love, romancing, and sex?
Kevin: Well, um ... Marvin Gaye?
Friday: Barry White?
Kevin: (laughs) Yeah, Barry White.(Friday is most pleased that she made young Bacon laugh.)
Kevin: I think that obviously it depends on what kind of musical connection you make in your relationship. I'm a big James Taylor fan, and I remember when I first met my wife [Kyra Sedgwick], it really kind of freaked me out because she's a lot younger than I am, and I was amazed that she was as hip to his stuff as I was. I kept singings songs and saying, "You know this song? You don't know this song!" And then she'd say, "Oh yeah, I know that, it's off of Gorilla..." or whatever.
Kevin: I was very impressed...(Friday is most pleased that the young Bacon appreciated her word choice.)
Kevin: I was very impressed ... and I realized that there was a certain kind of connection there between us that extended to music, and I was interested in that. Now I don't know what happens if you have a relationship where the two people really have totally opposite tastes in music; I'd be curious to see how that would affect the relationship. I mean obviously a lot of times relationships are built on differences or compromise; maybe if you had a Rage Against the Machine fan and a Backstreet Boys fan...
Friday (Noting to self not to fall for a Rage Against the Machine fan): It might not work out?
Kevin: You never know.
Friday (from a question inspired by Katie): You're both married and have children. Is all of the touring you're doing difficult on them and on you?
Kevin: I would say that throughout our lives, relationships and our families have always taken a priority over everything. It makes it difficult sometimes. Even before we got together with the band, we had a two week rule in my family, where I don't really spend more than two weeks away from them, ever. Somebody's getting on a plane and going to see somebody every two weeks. And Michael and I have been able to set up our tour schedule so that we'll go out for ten or twelve days and then come back for a while and then go out again for another ten or twelve days. We just do it that way.
And you know, in general, when it comes to work and family, everybody's got a struggle with that . I mean, whether you're actors or singers or plumbers or nurses or whatever. It's a struggle; you just have to prioritize.
Friday: Kevin, do you think your celebrity as an actor has hindered or helped the Bacon Brothers as a musical entity? Or has it not affected it?
Kevin: No, I think it has affected it. I think in general, it's less of a help because ... well, credibility has been the hardest thing, establishing credibitity. You know, it's not a vanity project; it's not a novelty; it's not an actor band; it's a band. We did one record, but a lot of people do one record. I think getting the second one out helped a lot.
And we've started to build a fan base. People actually come to the shows who know the songs, who appreciate Michael's skills as a musician and come to see him. They are as much a fan of his as they are of mine; they're fans of the music. And that's been a hard thing to establish.
On the other side of it, with where we're at as a band right now, would you be having us on Oxygen without my being a celebrity? I dunno. Maybe not.
Friday: What's that like for you, Michael? You're the established musician. What is it like having to deal with people who don't recognize Kevin as a musician just because they thought he was an actor and only an actor?
Michael: Well, I think I'm an incredibly lucky person because if this man sitting across from me were, number one, not my brother and, number two, not a movie star, I would form a band with him anyway. I'm dead serious. If I saw that kind of talent -- songwriting talent, performong talent, and innate musical ability, not a trained ability but an innate one -- I'd be in a band with him, and I've been in bands with some amazing people, super duper musicians. That's the first thing. The second thing is that I would do stuff with him just to hang out with him, just to spend time with each other, like go bowling or play tennis...
Kevin: We should go bowling this afternoon.
Michael: No (laughs), I don't want to go bowling.
So first of all, he's a great talent and second of all, we get a chance to spend time together which we never would because we're busy; you know how that is. There's something more to a relationship than getting together at Thanksgiving and Christmas and stuff like that. We spend ten days sleeping on a bus with each other and our friends, the guys in the band.
Friday: Were there many sibling tensions present when you were younger that come up now because you're spending so much time together?
Michael: Not as much as you'd think because I'm a lot older; I'm nine years older, so there isn't that competitive kind of stuff. I mean, there's always the little things; there are musical differences, and I'm sure we both annoy each other at times.
Friday: Is that harder, working so closely with a brother? I mean, you already have that strong, familial connection. Do you think it might be easier, in a working relationship, to talk to or criticize someone else? Someone who's not flesh and blood?
Michael: Well, once we're in the band, we respect each other so much. It goes beyond our fraternal relationship. And if we didn't have that, it wouldn't be good. We don't have any guys in the band whom we don't respect. And they respect us, too. So that's not a big issue. That's creative stuff and doesn't really enter into it.
Friday (from a question inspired by Emily): If you guys could open for or share the stage with any artist or band ... who would it be?
Kevin: We got a chance -- it's no longer really possible to do -- to open for The Band, which was a real thrill. We're big fans of The Band. Dave Mason was supposed to open for them, but he blew out a vocal chord, so two days before the gig, they called us up and said, "What do you think about opening for The Band?" And this was at Carnegie Hall! So that was a lot of fun.
Breakup Girl herself (slyly quoting from the song the two just sang in the studio): What's the only thing that can make you a man?
Kevin (duly): "...Only a good woman."
(BG and Friday swoon.)
BG: Why, why?
Kevin: Well, that song is about this search for manhood. Ultimately, for me, I found it when I found the right woman to spend time with.
Michael: I think it's almost a biological thing. When you're growing up into a man, you get carried away about how it's defined. But when you do find a relationship, you see that that's the true struggle, not winning a football game or carrying a gun in war, that transcends all that kind of stuff. Having to provide and raise a child is about being with a woman. It's a funny song; it's goofy, but I think one of the reasons people like it is it has a lot of truth in it. There aren't that many songs where a strong statement is made about men and women and both sides support it. Women like it, and men like it, too.
For more info on The Bacon Brothers, their albums, and upcoming shows, check out their official Website.
Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb