Bacon Brothers draw on soulful sounds for Metropolis shows
The Bacon Brothers, the rootsy rock band led by actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael, have been active for more than 20 years, giving them the kind of longevity that would make a lot of other bands jealous.
The group's sound has remained fairly consistent during that time -- an energetic mix of folk, soul, country and rock that recalls the music the Bacons heard while growing up in Philadelphia. What has changed, the brothers say, is their chemistry as bandmates.
"We've evolved," said Michael, the older of the two. "Our shows are better, the performances -- we can do things now that we couldn't before. I see it in the songwriting, too. Kevin is a more independent writer now."
The Bacon Brothers are in the midst of a national tour that brings them to Arlington Heights next week for two shows at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Michael said playing live is one of the joys of being of being in a rock band.
"For us, it's about making the show worth every single dollar that the fans pay to see it," he said. "We know people can spend their dough on other things, so we want to make sure our fans have an amazing time."
Both brothers held fairly demanding day jobs when they formed their band in the mid-1990s. Kevin was an A-list Hollywood actor, and Michael was a noted composer of scores for film and television. (They continue to hold those same jobs today.)
But they grew up in a part of Philadelphia that hummed with rock, soul and folk music, and they wanted to form a band that would reflect those influences both on record and on stage.
"Music was everywhere when Michael and I were growing up," Kevin said. "It was in all the clubs and coffee shops. It seemed like everyone was in a band. I know Michael was influenced by what he was hearing in the clubs, and I was inspired by what I heard him play at home."
Each brother writes songs for the band on his own, but they often work together on the final arrangements. Kevin said he tends to write about people and incidents he's experienced in his own life, though he also enjoys writing songs that are miniature character studies.
"It's the kind of thing Bruce Springsteen does so well," he said. "I'm not close to that level, but I do like to try. It's a fun challenge to take on the point of view of a different character."
The Bacon Brothers have released seven albums so far; their most recent, "36 Cents," came out in 2014. There are no definitive plans for a new record right now, but they recently released a single, "Driver," a midtempo ballad about having faith and trust in another person.
"It wasn't exactly what was in my mind when I started writing it," Kevin said. "But then I got that idea of just letting someone else take the wheel, and that just took hold."
"That song came together more quickly than just about anything else we've done," Michael said. "We didn't agonize over it the way we do sometimes. Now watch it become a huge hit!"
The Bacon BrothersWhen: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 17-18
Where: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121, metropolisarts.com
Tickets: Start at $70