Although Kevin Bacon is a well-known name — and famously separated a mere six degrees or less from everyone in film history — his brother Michael, nine years his senior, is equally well-known in the industry.
An award-winning composer for television and film, Michael Bacon was well-established in music while his younger brother was finding fame in films like Footloose and Apollo 13, among others.
But as brothers, they found time to write songs together, and eventually the opportunity came for them to perform together in their hometown of Philadelphia.
Letting the songs lead the way
Little did they know that almost 25 years later they would still be taking the stage as the Bacon Brothers.
“A friend of Kevin’s who knew some of our songs asked us if we wanted to play, and I figured why not?” Michael recalled in an interview with Whatzup. “Kevin had never played live before. Our first time playing was at a radio station, and then we played two gigs together. We were surprised that we were pretty good, and we already had this backlog of songs. Kevin discovered he enjoyed it and was good at it.”
“We developed a network of clubs, and we’d pile people into the station wagon and drive around the east coast for three or four years,” Kevin said. “We had had a lot of our stuff recorded by someone else, but Michael was the musician in the family, had been a musician his whole life. I was an actor who was writing songs because I have a fondness for writing. The fact that we have as many albums as we do is because I really like to write, and at some point when you write, you really want to share it.”
Now with nine albums — including one live album and last year’s self-titled record — the Bacon Brothers are no longer a little experiment.
But juggling two successful individual careers and their joint one can be tricky.
“When it comes to recording, we can just pick a time when we have something we want to record,” Kevin said. “That’s not so hard to schedule since we can cut a few things and mix it over time. When things get more complicated is when the question of touring comes up, and then we really have to look at the calendar.”
“We don’t have any set rule for when we do it,” Michael said. “Looking backwards over the last 25 years, we’ve done a decent number of shows and a lot of recording. Last year we released our ninth CD, and it’s really when we start having a lot of songs building up that we need to go. I feel like it’s leading us around by the nose more than the other way around. But so far it’s worked out.”
Busy with projects
In an industry where it is increasingly difficult to make money by recording music — or at least releasing it in a physical form — some musicians are turning to digital releases over products like CD or even the reinvigorated vinyl format. And here the brothers seem to be of different opinions.
“I think I might slightly disagree with my brother on this,” Kevin said. “It’s nice to say we have nine CDs, but it’s a big investment, and there are fewer outlets for selling them. Unless you want to sell them at shows, and then you have to have a plan for shows. This is an ongoing question, and people ask this all the time. But the general theory has always been, ‘Put out more content. Put out more content. Put out more content.’
“For me, I get a little antsy when I have to wait until it’s time to go into the studio and can’t until we have a whole record. But we start playing them live for awhile and have it ready and can start having people hear it until we get in to record them.”
For now the Bacon Brothers are hitting the west coast before visiting the Midwest, including their stop at The Clyde Theatre this month. They head out for a couple weeks at a time, take a break, then go back out.
That will continue through the fall when they hit other areas for a time. In and around those dates, both Michael and Kevin have projects in their “day jobs.”
“I just did a score for a film called Master Maggie which is being screened at Tribeca soon and has been making the rounds of the film festival circuit this summer,” Michael said.
Kevin, whose recent Fox series The Following was derailed after three seasons by what he calls “a regime change at the network,” is now starring in the Showtime series City on a Hill, produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
Keeping up with those jobs, their family life, and their recording and touring partnership requires some effort, especially since they are based in different cities for the most part.
“I go back and forth from New York to Los Angeles,” Kevin said. “My family lived in New York, and I’d never really lived on the west coast. Actually that’s not true, I lived for many years on the west coast but always in hotels or rented houses. But we did buy a house in California a few years ago. My wife [actress Kyra Sedgwick] has a production company, and both of our kids are in L.A. But my series shoots in New York. So I just go where I need to go.”
“I was based in New York for many years,” Michael said. “Then we decided to spend the next year in Pennsylvania, so I go back and forth between the two. It’s really been an experiment because after living in New York for 35 years, we just thought it would be nice to be in a different environment.”
“Who would have thought that the most complicated question you’d ask us is, ‘Where do you live?’” Kevin said.
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March 27 • The Clyde