Catching up with the other brother ... Michael Bacon

The Bacon Brothers to perform at Paramount in Aurora

 
By Megan Bannister
Updated 8/29/2011 2:30 PM
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  • Actor Kevin Bacon, left, and his brother Michael have been touring as The Bacon Brothers since 1995. The pair will play Aurora's Paramount Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30.

    Actor Kevin Bacon, left, and his brother Michael have been touring as The Bacon Brothers since 1995. The pair will play Aurora's Paramount Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30. Associated Press

If he were to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Michael Bacon would win every time.

The 62-year-old musician is the "Footloose" actor's older brother. Though you won't find him on the red carpet or featured on "Access Hollywood."

Michael, an Emmy Award-winning composer and founder of Michael Bacon Music, began collaborating with his brother in 1995. The pair has recorded six albums and toured internationally.

The Bacon Brothers take the stage at Aurora's Paramount Theatre on Tuesday, Aug. 30, but before the duo arrives, Michael answered a few questions for the Daily Herald about music, fame and family.

Q. How did you first get involved in music?

A. I think it was just something, sort of a thirst I've always had for instruments. They were almost like magical things. I just thought about drum sets and mandolins. I remember when I first got my cello when I was 8 years old. I remember the room it was in and what the lacquer smelled like. Instruments have just been something very special to me. I was brought up in a family that really valued creativity and exposed us to all of the arts.

Q. Your website says you "yanked your brother out of the music closet" to join you in the band. Did it take a lot to convince him?

A. It did in a way. We've obviously written songs and played music together our whole lives. When I had a band in my own name, he played percussion with me as a teenager. But I think that once his acting career really took off he was reluctant to do stuff publicly just because he thought it was complicated and he had never really played or sung before. I think he really did want to do it, but just didn't feel like taking a leap.

It just took one little gig. An old friend of Kevin's asked us to do a show, so we decided to give it a try and see how we liked it. He was kind of scared to try it, but I always knew he would adapt to it really easily.

Q. I read that your partnership with Kevin was originally supposed to be a one-time performance. How did The Bacon Brothers come about?

A. I think it really was that once we played the one job. It was at a little, tiny club and there was a network of club owners all over the East Coast who heard we weren't actually too bad and could draw some people. And the phone started ringing. I was the agent, the manager, the driver, the guy who got the food. We started working more and we started getting a little more professional.

It just started rolling on its own. It wasn't anything where Kevin and I sat down and said, "We're going to have a band." The band has kind of a funny way of pulling us along rather than us pushing it along.

Q. You also write scores for movies and TV shows. What do you enjoy most about composing? Do you prefer it to performing live with your band?

A. It's hard to compare them, but I would be very unhappy if I didn't have both. I love being a composer and it's a completely different kind of craft than being a songwriter and performer and singer. I think those are two things I'm really good at. I've always had this theory that if you're good at something, you should do it.

Q. Tell me a little bit about your latest album, "New Year's Day."

A. We did it in a completely different way. We had, as a band, liked to go play live in the studio. Because of a lot of factors, money being one of them, it seems easier to have all the guys in the band work in their own studios independently and just distribute the tracks (digitally). It was done in the most un-live manner possible, but there's something about working in your own studio by yourself, sometimes late at night, that is really kind of nice because you don't have anyone looking over your shoulder and you can be more spontaneous.

Q. Are you and Kevin working on anything new at the moment?

A. (Our record label's) next project is they're putting out a Best of the Bacon Brothers CD in the fall. We picked all of the songs, mostly from our first three CDs, but there's a couple of new things.

Then we have a video that we're working on. It's a song ("Unhappy Birthday") that Kevin wrote on Sept. 11, 2002, for the anniversary of 9/11. Now approaching the 10th anniversary, we went and changed some vocals to correspond to 10 years later rather than one year later. We're just going to release it on YouTube as kind of our tribute.

Q. How do you and Kevin divide up the composing and songwriting for your albums?

A. On the CDs, if he's singing lead that means he wrote all the music and lyrics and if I am, I did. Overall he does music and lyrics and, in fact, he has his own studio and does a lot of arranging on his pieces. He's not a virtuoso guitar player, but he's very comfortable with music.

Q. Do you have any preshow rituals?

A. We like to sing Beatles songs, just to warm our voices up. I love to sing harmonies and the four singers in the band are all very good at harmony. We sing it and arrange it just on the spot and that's a lot of fun.

Q. What's the best/worst review you ever received?

A. Kevin doesn't read reviews. I do. I'm always fascinated. I think the thing that bothers me is that there's a component of the Internet where people can write really nasty things anonymously. A band with an actor can generate some hostility in people, because I guess they feel like they're actors, why are they doing music? I think we get more bad reviews from people who have never heard of the band. I think generally when people hear the band they're surprised and begrudgingly acknowledge that we're not too bad.

Q. What is it like to collaborate with your younger brother?

A. On the face of it, having a partnership with your brother, having a business and that business is successful, is very rewarding because you're sharing it with someone you love and are close to and trust. I think the really rewarding thing is how much better musically we are than when we started.