Bacon Brothers bring confessional sound to Ridgefield
The Bacon Brothers will bring their ironically-named Shaky Ground tour to the Ridgefield Playhouse on Sept. 21. With solid and prolific careers in their respective fields — Michael as a veteran composer for film and television as well as a college professor and younger brother Kevin as an actor with over 80 films and TV/stage credits to his name — neither brother is on shaky ground.
What’s immediately evident when you talk to the brothers or attend one of their shows, is their love of music. Taking their annual summer hiatus from their own fulfilling and busy careers to tour across the country, they have kept their band with its infectious America/rock/country sound going for over two decades even while maintaining their own busy day jobs.
Andrea Valluzzo: What can audiences expect at your show here?
Michael Bacon: It’s a six-piece band and it’s original songs. Since the time we last played the Playhouse, we have a lot of new songs. Since we have been on tour this summer, we have been working those new songs into the set so we are pretty excited about that.
AV: Your music is very eclectic. Tell us what kind of music most influenced you?
Kevin Bacon: We listened to all kinds of stuff. For one thing, there’s a nine-year age gap [between Kevin and Michael] so at that time in music things were changing over from the Elvis-y sort of era of rock and rock into the British Invasion. Also, my brother grew up on a lot of show tunes and things that I don’t remember my parents playing. We are from Philadelphia so a lot of soul music was being played there and on the radio stations in Philly so it’s really across the board in terms of popular music.
AV: When you write, does the melody come first or the lyrics?
MB: I look at it as two major types of songwriters, one I call Tin Pan Alley style. I used to be a staff writer at National many years ago and I would call up someone I wanted to write with and I’d say meet at the studio at 10 o’clock and we’d start drinking coffee and we’d start throwing out titles and we try to create a song and by 5 o’clock, hopefully, we’d have one. Sometimes my brother and I do that with other writers and we actually did that a lot before we formed the band. Once we formed the band I think we found our strong suit was really in writing more personal, what is described usually as confessional, where something affects you and you try to turn it into a song.
AV: How do you split up songwriting and where do you find your inspiration?
KB: We both write. The guy who wrote the song tends to sing the lead vocal on the song. We have home studios where we demo and get the idea for how we want the song to be arranged. Usually we take it to our wives first and run it by them and if they don’t kick us out of bed, then we will continue along that journey and play it for each other, then the band and start working it up. If we have to be in a situation where we are playing live, it’s always fun to try things in front of an audience. In terms of inspiration, that’s a hard thing to really put your finger on. I’ve always felt like if I really knew where the inspiration was coming from, then I’d try to go there every day and write a song every day but it’s random. They just kind of pop out.
AV: Is being a brother band tough and how do you two line up musically?
MB: The impression people have is that brother bands are susceptible to not getting along like the Everly Brothers, Oasis and the Beach Boys. We are not close enough in age that our relationship [growing up] was kind of defined by fighting or wrestling.We have a very common aesthetic as far as songwriting and music arranging.
AV: With nine albums under your belt, any plans to head back into the studio?
KB: We are going to the studio in about two weeks. We have quite a few new songs. For some reason, all of a sudden we both have been writing a lot. It’s a weird thing with songwriting. Whenever I write a song I always think it’s the last thing I wrote so I’m always pleasantly surprised when something new pops out.