Interview with The Bacon Brothers
The Bacon Brothers have been doing their thing on stage (and in the studio) for a hot minute now but they still might be better known as an instantly recognizable actor (Kevin) and an Emmy-Award winning composer (Michael). The Philly natives just released their seventh studio album on June 1, 2018, and are in the midst of a tour that will bring them back to the City of Brotherly Love on August 11. Before the Bacon Brothers blow away fans at the Keswick Theater, they hopped on the phone to chat with us about making music, growing up in Philadelphia, their upcoming projects, and much more!
Independent Philly: You guys are nearing the end of your tour, which kicked off on June 1st, the same day you released your latest studio album. How has the fan reaction been at your shows to the new music?
Kevin Bacon: I think it’s been really good. We have had a kind of surprising amount of people in the audience, that we are not always used to, I’m not sure if it’s the time of year or something that’s just in the vibe of what is going on now, but it’s been good. When you are playing in a band that the majority of people who come to see the show, don’t know the music, that’s a challenge. It’s a challenge for the audience because we are asking them to absorb a whole bunch of new songs, and it’s also a challenge for us because we have to say, “Hey listen, here’s this tune, and we hope you like it and connect to it even though you’ve had no connection to it previously.” You know as well as I do that when you go to see a show, and the artist plays that hit or that one that was so important to you when you were fifteen, or last week, you’re like, “Wow this is the great thing about live music. This is why I’m here.” If people have no relationship to the song already, it’s a challenge for everyone. In this case, I don’t really know why maybe it’s just the amount of time we’ve spent doing it, but it seems like more people know the songs, and certainly, they are aware of ‘Tom Petty T-Shirt’ which is kind of a single, for lack of a better term.
Independent Philly: You’re wrapping up your tour right here in the Philly area on August 11th, 2018, at the Keswick Theater in Glenside. What can fans expect from a Bacon Brothers performance if they’ve never seen you in person before?
Kevin Bacon: We have a fantastic band. There are four guys who back us up who are immensely talented. We have a lot of instrumentation because there are a lot of people who play a lot of things, and it’s not like we write our songs to just be guitar, bass, and drums. Michael plays cello; we have accordion, we have harmonica, we have percussion, mandolin, ukelele, saxophone, organ, piano — it’s just like when you walk into the theater and look up on stage, it looks like a music store. We have a good time. We do almost all of our own tunes, with a couple of covers if we are feeling like it. We try to talk to people a little bit about what the genesis was of the song, to a certain extent. I think sometimes people have fun with that. We try to be ourselves and to put on the best show that we can.
Independent Philly: What was the tipping point for you guys when you really decided to make a go of being a professional band instead of just two brothers who enjoyed playing music together?
Kevin Bacon: My brother was a professional musician almost from my earliest memories. He’s older than me. He would encourage me to play music and to write. We would get together and we would write but a lot of what we were doing was thinking, “Let’s try to get a song in a movie” or “Let’s try to get a song cut by another artist” and then what happened was we made these demos of songs, hoping to be more recognized as writers, as opposed to an act. A friend of mine that I grew up with in Philly, Harry Spivak, the Electric Factory was in his family, and The TLA was one of their venues, and he said, “Why don’t we plan to do a show down in Philly and I’ll promote it and we’ll call it ‘The Bacon Brothers’?” I hadn’t even really thought about as a possibility of something that I was interested in doing, nor had I played any live music in front of people, so of course, I was terrified. My brother had a tremendous amount of confidence in me. We played that one show and then that was it. From that point on people started hearing that there was a band, and hearing that we didn’t suck. We were playing as a four-piece and we started writing for us to sing (as opposed to music for someone else to sing), and the songs got much more personal. In my opinion, the reason that the band has lasted is because we have songs that we want to share. That’s what we are: we’re a songwriter band.
Independent Philly: You both have impressive careers outside of your work together as the Bacon Brothers. What do you have on tap for once the tour wraps up?
Kevin Bacon: I’m going to do a film in the UK that starts in September. Then I am also doing a series for Showtime network which is called ‘City on a Hill’, and I’ll do that pretty much after Christmas.
Independent Philly: Do you have a favorite memory from your time growing up here in Philadelphia?
Kevin Bacon: I absolutely loved growing up in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t have traded my childhood for anything. I grew up right in Center City. I had a lot of friends right in my neighborhood. Back in those days, I was kind of a latch-key kid. As long as I was home by dark, it was fine. It was great, I have very, very fond memories of it. Specifically, I’m not sure if I have a favorite.
Independent Philly: How was it coming back and getting to save the event (from cancelation due to lack of funding) and be the Grand Marshalls for the 2010 Mummers’ Parade after growing up and (probably) watching it as kids?
Michael Bacon: Yeah that was a big part of our childhood. January 1st we would all go down to Broad Street, and it was always freezing. There were always lots and lots of people and it was a great event. It was so much a part of Philadelphia so to think that it wouldn’t happen [in later years] seemed wrong. That’s when we kind of jumped in to see if we could do something about it.
Independent Philly: As native Philadelphians, how much did the Eagles recent Super Bowl victory mean to the both of you?
Kevin Bacon: It was great; I loved it.
Michael Bacon: It was quite amazing. It was awesome.
Kevin Bacon: I watched it in L.A. and made sure that at halftime, we sent out for cheesesteaks.
Independent Philly: The Bacon Brothers have performed at a slew of benefit shows and charity fundraisers. Is there an organization you are currently working with that deserves some added attention?
Kevin Bacon: I have my own organization which is ‘SixDegrees.Org‘. We are working on building out a new app which will be used by someone who normally focuses on one charity. It’s a system by which you would be able to raise a whole lot of money and we hoping it is going to be great and we have been working on it for a while. It’s hard to explain in a short amount of time but it’s coming soon.
Independent Philly: Bacon is hot these days. There is everything from bacon flavored soda to bacon-infused vodka, bacon jam to bacon ice cream to chocolate covered bacon. What is the most delicious, and/or most disgusting, bacon-inspired dishes that you have ever tried?
Michael Bacon: It’s gotta be a peanut butter, bacon, marshmallow sandwich.
Kevin Bacon: I like a B.L.T.
Independent Philly: If you guys are like most brothers you are fairly competitive so tell me, who would win the following head-to-head match-ups? The first is a dance off…
Michael Bacon: Definitely Kevin.
Independent Philly: A game of 1-on-1 basketball?
Michael Bacon: I played basketball quite a lot as a kid. A game of Horse I would definitely win.
Independent Philly: A cook-off?
Michael Bacon: Kevin.
Independent Philly: A race up the Rocky Steps at the Art Museum?
Michael Bacon: Kevin, definitely (laughing).
Independent Philly: Last one, a bacon eating contest?
Kevin Bacon: Michael.
Michael Bacon: Yeah, I’d probably win that.
Independent Philly: Tell us something about yourselves that might surprise, or even shock our readers.
Michael Bacon: I’m learning how to speak French and I love doing crossword puzzles. Pretty shocking and surprising?
Independent Philly: Oui.
Kevin Bacon: I love to collect succulents.
You can catch the Bacon Brothers on Saturday, August 11th, 2018 when they play the final show of their tour right here at the Keswick Theater. Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased here.
[Interview by David Miller]