Music & clubs

Interview: The Bacon Brothers

Michael and Kevin went their separate ways for a while, but a shared love for music and strong family ties brought them back together. They play RBB Großer Sendesaal on January 3.

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Photo by Timothy White

Singers want to be actors, actors want to be singers, and nobody wants to take out the trash. But The Bacon Brothers, well-known Footloose film linchpin Kevin and his older, long-time composer brother Michael, possess a pedigree somewhat more legitimate, having put out five rootsy albums over a decade and a half. They take the show to Berlin’s RBB Großer Sendesaal on January 3.

Where are you guys?

Michael: I’m in New York City on the Upper West Side.

Kevin: I’m in Georgia, and I’m switching hotels.

How do you work together when you’re apart so often?

M: A long time ago, when we started writing songs, Kevin didn’t really know how to play any instruments, so he would write his lyrics and I would help him form it into a song. Now we pretty much write separately. Some people divide it, where one writes the lyrics, and then hands it to another guy and he writes the song. I can’t imagine doing that.

K: I don’t think I’d ever written a poem in my life, but I would just kind of have the lyrics and the melody, even if I had to sing it over and over and over to myself. And then I would bring it to him, because I didn’t have an instrument at the time, and he would work something out on the keyboard or the guitar.

M: I think that for both of us, we’re so much better as musicians and songwriters than we were when we first put the band together. Being a musician is really a life-long process of trying to become better and better, and never really reaching satisfaction with that.

Michael, you work with your wife and also perform with your brother. Is this personal aspect something that’s reflected in your work?

M: I never really thought about it that way. I think my wife and I work together because it gives us a certain kind of freedom. If she doesn’t want to work, she can go to the gym. As far as my brother goes, it’s just something we’ve always done. I don’t remember a time that we got together and didn’t work on a song or some kind of project, so it’s really just a kind of natural extension.

Is there any sibling rivalry on stage?

K: There is a very intense sort of wordless communication. So we’re constantly reviving and updating and trying to gain one another’s approval. All the guys in the band are very involved with trying to make the show great. That doesn’t mean that you’re always agreeing on everything.

Sort of like being part of an acting troupe.

K: I think acting in theatre is a lot like performing with the band, both are about sharing a very special moment with a limited amount of people. Whereas being in a recording studio is a lot more like making a movie, where you try to create something that feels live but is actually not.