Q&A: Bacon Brothers serve up musical food for thought

Special to the Union Leader
August 23. 2017 1:07PM
As the musical Bacon Brothers, siblings Kevin and Michael have crafted their own style of Americana. Their latest single is “Broken Glass.” 

The Bacon Brothers’ early musical interests were miles apart. As kids, Michael was classically trained while Kevin fell hard for rock and soul.

But the two would find common ground with Americana, folk and British rock acts — Elvis, Pete Seeger, Chet Atkins, the Beatles, James Taylor and Led Zeppelin, along with some Philly soul.

Over more than 20 years and eight albums, the two have shared songwriting duties equally, penning country, folk and rock tunes gleaned from personal experience.

Their names precede them: Kevin Bacon may be most famous for his acting roles as a dancing nonconformist in 1984’s “Footloose” and a hardlined prosecutor in 1992’s legal drama “A Few Good Men.” A prolific TV and movie actor, he’s been nominated for Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG awards.

Meanwhile, film and TV composer Michael Bacon created the soundtrack for PBS’ “The Kennedys,” for which he won an Emmy, and the PBS miniseries “The Jewish Americans.” He most recently scored the HBO documentary “Underfire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro.”

Ahead of their show Friday night at the Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center in Plymouth, the siblings spoke via conference call about their varied musical influences, old 45 records and life on the road.

Are you both most comfortable on the road or are you homebodies?

Kevin: I really, really love a home, but I’m someone who thrives on having some mystery about what the future is. Both my wife (actress Kyra Sedgwick) and I will sometimes complain about the fact that we never know where we’re gonna be, (but) that’s the life that we’ve really created.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for that kind of lifestyle. And I think it’s something that ultimately we really actually love — just having a suitcase that’s standing by.

Michael: I love looking out the window of the bus and imagining what life is like in some little town in Texas, which is so different than my life.

I like to be at home. I get kind of stressed on the road. You’re with nine, 10, 11 guys, you’re moving every day, you gotta keep track of all your stuff — your glasses, your phone, your wallet. We were coming back from a gig on Sunday night and Kevin (was) driving off, and five minutes later the phone rang. I said “OK, what did I lose?” I left my glasses in his car.

Do you remember one of the first records you bought?

Kevin: “(After work) our dad would take his pants off at night and his coins would fall on the floor. When he wasn’t there, I’d walk into his bedroom and just kind of gather some coins off the floor (laughs).

My friend Harry and I went and got (the Beatles’) “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and we split it. We kind of shared that record.

What did you think when you heard it?

Kevin: It blew my mind. And it wasn’t just the record, which was amazing. I remember the original record had all kinds of things included in it. I think there was, like, a mustache that you could cut out, and it was cardboard.

One of the things that was also fun about it was you could pore over it and see ... who played what and read the actual lyrics. All that seems to have disappeared ... which I think is a real drag.

It’s not the same as holding a record in your hands.

Michael: When the Beatles came out with their new record, that was intense. I mean, that lasted for weeks. I don’t think people now really get the opportunity to experience music that way. I just find music way too accessible now.

Sometimes I think of the days before there was any recording, what the experience of listening to music must have been if you could never hear it any other way but live.

Michael, do you remember the first record you bought?

Michael: We had four sisters, and they were kind of bobby-soxers. They had 45s — Elvis Presley records. I think I started (buying records) when I got my first 45 player. I was kind of recycling my sisters’ records first. “Don’t Be Cruel,” that was one I can remember. It didn’t even have drums on it and it just … it made a million records.

What are your songwriting inspirations?

Michael: I think that we tend to write about things that happen to us, and which, in itself, is probably not that interesting. So the challenge is to make it resonate ...

When we put the band together, we decided that we would be leaning more towards what I call the confessional style (of songwriting). You’re just kind of responding to thoughts and feelings in your personal life, and then hopefully trying to write the song that someone can relate to.

The biggest compliment for a songwriter is for someone to come up and say, “You know, I really identify with that ‘cause that’s the way that I felt” and “That’s what happened to me, too.” That’s when you know you’re communicating with people.

Do you have an example?

Michael: “Angelina,” certainly.

Kevin: Oh yeah, we had a song called “Angelina.” I think a fan who had been really sick said that that song specifically kind of helped her get through that time in her life.

And you know, as Michael said, if you’re a songwriter, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Kevin, as an actor, do you feel the same kind of anticipation under the lights as a musician?

Kevin: It’s very similar to doing theater. You know that at this moment, before you walk out on stage, you’re gonna share this experience with this group of people, and it’s never gonna be exactly the same as it was the night before.

So I think that playing live is a lot more akin to doing theater, and being in the studio recording is more akin to making films because it’s a more controlled situation. You get multiple takes, you can edit. You’re trying to recreate the feeling of it being live.


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