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Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon, the Bacon Brothers, will perform at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel on Friday, July 26. (Photo by Jacob Blinkenstaff // courtesy of devious planet media)
Kevin Bacon and Michael Bacon, the Bacon Brothers, will perform at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel on Friday, July 26. (Photo by Jacob Blinkenstaff // courtesy of devious planet media)

Q&A: The Bacon Brothers bringing their own style of music to Buffalo

by jmaloni
Fri, Jun 7th 2024 03:20 pm

Kevin and Michael will share songs from new album, ‘The Ballad Of The Brothers’

Preview by Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor


How ironic that a band featuring one of the world’s most recognizable people prides itself on being almost unrecognizable when it comes to genre?

Kevin Bacon – the A-list actor seemingly connected to everyone within “Six Degrees” – and Michael Bacon, a multiple-award-winning composer – let their songs do their defining.

Are they folk? Rock? Soul? Country?


It just depends on what makes the most sense when pairing lyric and melody.

The Bacon Brothers have honed what they call “forosoco”: it’s the name of their 1997 album, and the combining of those four (and sometimes more) musical styles.

This mashup is on display in Kevin and Michael’s 12th release, “Ballad Of The Brothers.” As the duo’s team states, “The two siblings may be bound together by blood and a mutual love of American roots music, but they've grown into sharp songwriters and storytellers with their own distinct approaches. ‘Ballad Of The Brothers’ makes room for both of those approaches, offering a mix of edgy alt-rock (‘Take Off This Tattoo’), Motown-inspired soul (‘Put Your Hand Up’), fingerpicked folk (‘Let That Be Enough’), and everything in between.”

Though the styles differ, the songs, storytelling, and approach to sharing the music is distinctively Bacon Brothers.

Ahead of a July 26 concert at Batavia Downs, Kevin and Michael explained more in this edited Q&A.

The Bacon Brothers, “Ballad Of The Brothers” (Cover art courtesy of devious planet media)


Q: Congratulations on the album, first of all. We're excited to have you guys back out to the Buffalo market. We're looking forward to hearing these new songs.

Kevin Bacon: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Q: The album released in April. You guys are going on tour late-June, July, parts of September, which I think is really smart. I think these are perfect summer songs. What makes it the right time for you guys to go on the road? Clearly, both of you guys are very busy. When do you get the itch to go on the road and tour?

Kevin Bacon: You know, it's really just around my schedule. Michael’s a little bit more flexible. He does work as a college professor, but he could sometimes teach classes remotely; and shooting schedules are really not that flexible.

We certainly don't say, “OK, well, it's summer,” but a lot of times – certainly like any other band – there's more music; live music seems to be happening in the summer. We play in the winter.

I hadn't even really thought about the record as having summer-type songs, but I guess there are some things that are kind of upbeat and fun.

Q: It's not a super-, super-long tour, and so we're very fortunate you included our market in your routing. I'm also wondering, similarly, how do you come up with the places where you want to play?

Kevin Bacon: Well, there are certain places that we have played before that, if you come to a place and you do well, they want you back, right? And there's pockets; we do well on the East Coast. We do well in Texas. Some cities, yes, more than others. So, it's really just we’ve got a good agent and manager, and they route the tours.

Q: “Ballad Of The Brothers” – certainly, when you name something like that, I feel like you have something specific that you want to share with the world, share with your audience – not just in terms of the music, but maybe also in terms of the message, as well. I wonder if you guys can tell me a little bit about what the process was like in coming up with these songs; where you are now in your careers; and what you wanted to get out to your fans at this time?

Michael Bacon: Well, I guess I wrote “Ballad Of The Brothers,” which is the name of the record. I think one of the things that we enjoy doing is kind of poking fun at ourselves. I don't know why, but we've always kind of liked that. And I think that, if you look at us on paper, and didn't know anything about us, you'd probably say, “Well, these guys think they're real big shots.”

But I don't think we think about ourselves in that way. And so, “Ballad Of The Brothers” was just a way to look at ourselves in a different way.

And I also, with that song, I've always been fascinated by the "Faust" concept, where you sell your soul for some kind of success – which, in a funny way, if you pursue a career in the “arts,” whatever that means – like, be an actor, a musician – in some ways, you do; because you give up possibility. You risk the fact that you may spend the rest of your life making no money and not being successful.

So, I guess, there's always a temptation of what could you do to jump over that hurdle? Of course, there's nothing you can do. So that's kind of “Ballad Of The Brothers.”



Q: I enjoy the fact that, in addition to the music videos you share online, you also have videos talking about the making of the songs, the making of the recording process. I found it very interesting when you guys were talking about writing songs, and where you were, and sort of what was going on at the time.

Again, you guys are very different – very different backgrounds, careers, you live in different places. Tell me about the songwriting process, how you can come from diverse places and different situations, and still have songs that make sense together.

Kevin Bacon: Well, I'm glad you think it's cohesive. A lot of times people go, “Well, it's completely not cohesive” (laughs).

You know, I think that it's cohesive in its lack of cohesion, really; because we do have two writers, and because we've never written the songs and then tried to fit them into the sound of the band. It's more like the sound of the band becomes whatever the song is dictating. So, if we've imagined the song as a hardcore song, or if we imagined the song as a country song, or an instrumental, kind of classical jazz piece or heartfelt ballet – you know, whatever it is we've imagined it, that's the way we kind of play it and record it.

In terms of like the songwriting process, you know, songwriting, to us, is elusive. It happens when it happens. It's something that I don't think either one of us really feel we can force.

The one thing that we’ve started to explore and dip our toe into a little bit is writing with other writers because, in some ways, that is a forced situation – because you're going to go, and you're going to get into a room, and you're going to have four hours, and you're probably going to try to come up with a song. You're going to try to come up with a song that comes out of that. And that's kind of new for us, but also sort of exciting.

And “Take Off This Tattoo” happened in that way. And “Losing the Night,” another song on the record, both of the songs were written in Nashville with outside writers.

We have multiple producers on the record. We have multiple instrumentalists. We have multiple different kinds of recording situations. Some stuff was all done in our home studios, and then almost completely by just the two of us, with no outside players. And then some things were taken to our core band, and actually going into a studio and recording for a couple of days, and doing a real, kind of traditional, old-school method of doing it. Some things were passed down to producers who weren't even in town. You know, out of town, and that we had almost no interaction with.

It happens the way it happens, but it's always just about the song.



Q: I'm 45. I've been covering entertainment for 25 years. When I was first starting out, pretty much the thought was, if you're going to have any sort of music career, you have to go to New York; you have to go to Los Angeles. I can't believe, in the past five-10 years, how many people have gone to Nashville to write with people; just in every genre and every type of music, people are going down to Nashville. It's not just a country music market anymore.

You guys, you can go anywhere, you can play with anyone – any producers – you have the pick of the litter. So, what was it about Nashville that provided an inspiration for you?

Michael Bacon: I love that question.

On May 27, 1972, my wife and I got married. So, we just had our 52nd anniversary a couple of days ago.

We rented a U-Haul and we moved to Nashville, and I had a contract as a staff songwriter for Combine Music, and also had a multiple record deal with Monument Records. Both of those companies are legend. I thought I was really hot as a songwriter, in Nashville. I came down and gave my first two songs to the publisher. Both of them got cut, which is what you're doing in Nashville, and then after that, it kind of slowed down quite a bit.

But I was very humbled. The story I always love to tell is there’s place down there called the EXIT/IN, which I believe is still around. So, I'm talking from the ’70s – 55 years, something like that. And I went to a writers night, which would be probably a Tuesday night, and each writer could do four songs. And I was feeling pretty cocky. And my wife and I went to the EXIT/IN, and Guy Clark got up and just destroyed me. I went, “Oh, my god. I don't belong here. I cannot compete here.” And that was really kind of where I go, “OK. I got to focus on a little more work, and a little less feeling good about myself.”

And the funny thing about Nashville now – that's 1972 – is it's still the same. It's still a writer's town. And there's no place else in the world, that I'm aware of, that's really a writer's town. L.A. and New York are producers towns. But the song, which exists of one person getting up with a guitar or a piano, without any harmonies, really doesn't exist. (Nashville) is the only place that really exists anymore.

And so, whenever I go back down there, even though it's become very glitzy and there are a lot of people that weren't there when I came in – when I came, it was a little country town. Music wasn't even the biggest thing. It was insurance and religious publishing; music was No. 3. It still has that feeling that all you'd have to do is walk into somebody's office, pick up the guitar, play a killer song, and you will be venerated. And I think that that's a very special thing about a town like that.

Q: Tell me about your live show and what we can expect when we see you guys up on stage in a couple of weeks.

Kevin Bacon: We play a lot of stuff off the new record. I don't even know – I was going to ask you, Mike – I don't know how many band members we're going to have. Sometimes we have more; sometimes we have less; but usually at least a four-piece band. And we play a variety of different instruments. It gets sort of rocking, and it gets quiet, and we have a really good time.

You know, it's definitely a show that is about the songs. That's the thing that is always kind of at the forefront. And you see two people that have very different kind of stage presence, and even though we have a shared musical experience in a lot of ways, our taste is different enough to create a nice kind of creative tension to the show.

It's a lot of fun.



Q: Certainly, you guys have Bacon Brothers fans at your shows. But, because you are good at so many different genres – because you have been creating songs that can fit so many different categories – do you find you have a certain kind of music fan in the audience? Or are you ever surprised at the types of fans you find in your audiences?

Michael Bacon: I think, if I could say one thing about one of the denominators, they're mostly kind of family people. And I think that they're drawn to the fact they’re seeing two guys that are in a family, and they're really talking about themselves and exposing parts of their lives that are kind of intimate. Songs we write about our wives, about our kids. And I would say, overall, there are not that many fans that just want to get up there and light candles and rock and surf on the audience, or that sort of thing.

I think, with any kind of band, you get back what you send out. That being said, though, I gotta say that the reaction when we finish is generally very, very strong. People, I think, have come to the show and feel like they saw a really good show, and saw something unique that they maybe weren't expecting, and saw our commitment to putting on a really good show.

We don't play gigantic venues, but the fans that we do have I think are really dedicated and see something a little bit different about my brother and I than they would in somebody else's show – and also appreciate the fact that it's so all over the place.

And that's kind of the way we like it – and it's also what we're good at. I think, if we could have one sound and we were really good at that, we would do that. But I don't think that's our strength.

The Bacon Brothers perform Friday, July 26, at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. The show is part of the “Rockin' the Downs” summer concert series. Click HERE for tickets or more information. Kevin and Michael are online at https://baconbros.com/.

The Bacon Brothers (Photo by Jacob Blinkenstaff // courtesy of devious planet media)

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