By Simone Goldstone, NB Indy Soundcheck Columnist
The Bacon Brothers, consisting of actor Kevin Bacon and composer Michael Bacon, have just celebrated the release of their new EP “Erato,” named after the goddess of romantic poetry.
With songs like “Dark Chocolate Eyes” and “Let Me Happen to You Girl,” romance is bursting through the soul of the record, and tunes like “Karaoke Town” and their title track prove poetry is put forth by the creative sibling duo.
The Bacon Brothers will grace Orange County with their presence at the Coach House on August 24.
Kevin and Michael chatted with NB Indy Soundcheck columnist Simone Goldstone about their new songs, banjo players, and a postcard from Pete Seeger.
Simone: What do you get out of singing that you don’t get out of acting?
Kevin Bacon: I’ve never broken it down that kind of way before, because it’s all just a big soup of trying to create for me. The thing that’s between the two of them is that when I act, I have a character between myself and the audience. When I sing or write songs, you get to see a bit more me. I never became an actor because I wanted to tell people about me, that’s like the opposite of what I think about acting. Acting is the ability and joy that comes from walking in another person’s shoes, when we get up at play music, it’s my shows.
Simone: What lyrics from the new EP are the most meaningful to you?
Michael Bacon: Well, the song I wrote “Let Me Happen to You Girl” is not usually how I’d write songs. I have a folder on my laptop with tracks from the years I’ve written for movie and TV shows. One of those songs jumped out at me while I was archiving it, and I wanted to write something on top of it that was up-tempo and fun. The song had just been sitting in that folder until now. And for Kevin’s song “Erato,” that’s a songwriters’ theme-song, hoping inspiration will just strike you. It’s just a beautiful song. I think this EP is the best work we’ve done.
Simone: Kevin, you’ve worked with both your wife, Kyra Sedgwick, and now your son, Travis, on this new EP. What’s that been like?
Kevin Bacon: I think one of the greatest joys in life is to be able to work with your family. Travis produced “Karaoke Town” and it’s the first song I ever asked him to produce. In “Erato” Kyra sings background. It’s the greatest. At this point, to have children who are speaking to you is something to be grateful for (laughs).
Simone: Michael, you say you’re inspired by an “array of archetypal folkies.” Can you give us an example of one of those inspirations?
Michael Bacon: It would be Pete Seeger. He was in a band called the Weavers and they were really the first folk group that led to Peter, Paul, and Mary and the Brother’s Four, which I was brought up on. I started playing the banjo because I went to see a Pete Seeger concert and he played the banjo. I wrote him a letter asking if I could buy his How to Play the Five String Banjo book, and he was a big star at this time. He wrote me a postcard back enclosed in his banjo book and told me to not give up playing the cello. He also asked me to send him $2.50 back, which my mom did. The most magical thing Pete Seeger did was write “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” which surpassed his present and lived on into the future. I never got a chance to meet him, sadly. But I hope one day to write a song that lives on into the future as well.
Simone: In that same vein, can you tell us more about playing banjo?
Michael Bacon: Playing banjo is cool because I learned a style called frailing. The newer style is the three-finger style, and it’s showier.
Simone: My favorite old banjo player is Dock Boggs, from Southwest Virginia. He kind of fused Appalachian and Blues style banjo playing.
Michael Bacon: I love that Appalachian banjo! So, he’d use frailing style, where they kind of hit down on the strings. It’s also called drop-thumbing. I love that old style.
Simone: Kevin, if you had a play a musician in a biopic, who would it be and why?
Kevin Bacon: I’m at an age now where most great musicians died young, so I wouldn’t be able to play them. You’d want to play someone who was kind of on the edge, like Hank Williams. I explored a biopic of Hank Williams before, so that’s who I’d play. I didn’t grow up with country music, but I’m not opposed to it, or anything like that.
Simone: Michael, if you had to compose a song that was a soundtrack to your life, since you compose so many soundtracks to movies and tv shows, what would that song be like?
Michael Bacon: “The Way We Love,” which was on our last record. If you really want to know me, that’s the song!
The Bacon Brothers perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday, Aug. 24. For tickets, visit https://thecoachhouse.com.