There’s an obvious catch-22 for any screen actor pursuing a parallel career in music. Sure, your name helps to sell concert tickets, but how do you convince an audience to set aside your Hollywood image and focus on your music for two hours each night?
Maybe the answer is simple: You just can’t expect them to forget. If you’re Kevin Bacon, who’s been a prolific actor for over 30 years — appearing in such titles as Footloose, A Few Good Men, and Mystic River, to name a few — you start a band with your brother Michael.
Michael’s a composer with numerous film and television score credits — mostly for documentaries like the Oscar-winning short A Time for Justice — and he and Kevin have been members of the Bacon Brothers since 1995.
The title of the group’s debut album, 1997’s Forosoco, tidily sums up the Bacon Brothers’ sound: a blend of folk, rock, soul, and country. That album was released 20 years ago, and since then, Kevin and Michael have released four others — Getting There, Can’t Complain, White Knuckles, and New Year’s Day, as well the greatest hits compilation Philadelphia Road — all providing that music is more than just a side fling.
On Tuesday, May 30, The Bacon Brothers will perform at the Lyric Theatre. Recently, Weld spoke to Kevin and Michael by phone as they prepared to embark on their current extended tour.
Weld: You started the Bacon Brothers over two decades ago. How did that come together?
Michael Bacon: I don’t remember a time when we weren’t in some kind of musical partnership. People had asked us to play live occasionally, but a really good friend of Kevin’s who was working in a club in Philadelphia called him up and said, “Why don’t you put a band together, call yourselves The Bacon Brothers, and come play just for fun?” It sounded like an intriguing idea, so we put a band together and played the gig.
We started hearing from little clubs up and down the East Coast — they knew we would draw some people because of my brother’s celebrity status. We were driving around in my station wagon. It grew organically from that, and now it’s been 22 years.
Weld: How would you describe your songwriting process? Does time and location allow you to sit in the same room and collaborate?
Kevin Bacon: We used to do more of that. When I first started writing, I couldn’t play an instrument, so I would write lyrics and bring them to Mike, and he would structure them into a song. As time has gone on, I’ve been able to write on my own, so mostly we write on our own now.
We’ll do a demo, and sometimes a song ends up being very similar to the demo, and sometimes it ends up going through a completely different transformation. That transformation is sometimes the input from the other brother or from the band. We have four very brilliant musicians with a lot of experience between them and with a lot of different styles.
Weld: Michael, aside from The Bacon Brothers, what are your other musical projects at this time?
Michael: Business is really good right now. The band is heating up, I’m trying to launch a cello concerto that I wrote a couple of years ago, and I also teach film scoring at two different colleges. So a lot of stuff is going on.
Weld: Kevin, how would you describe the initial transition from screen and theater acting to performing music in front of a live, interactive audience?
Kevin: You mentioned live theater, and I had that interaction, and it’s the closest thing to acting and playing music that you can compare. In fact, I was really busy with movies and was doing less and less theater, and theater was a really big part of my life.
When we started the band, that fed the need that I had to do things live. There’s a dangerous aspect — you never know what’s going to happen. You could be well-rehearsed, but it’s always going to be a little different. That’s an exciting proposition, and I think it’s important for an artist to have butterflies regardless of how old you are.
Weld: What are the individual strengths that each of you bring to the band?
Kevin: Mike is a fantastic songwriter, singer, and guitarist [who] has a tremendous amount of musical knowledge and experience. He has a great sense of harmony and melody. In the live show, his approach is to have people lean into him. My approach is to get into their face and make a lot of noise. The combination of these two things is part of what is interesting to watch in the show.
The Bacon Brothers will perform at the Lyric Theatre on Tuesday May 30. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show range from $27.50 to $44.50 and can be purchased at lyricbham.com.