24 star Kiefer Sutherland is coming to The Apex in Bury
- Credit: Archant
The actor is a natural storyteller both on screen and on stage armed with a guitar. We take a look at his new album and intimate concert tour
Hollywood superstar Kiefer Sutherland, star of 80's teen movies Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, Young Guns and Flatliners as well as the courtroom classic A Few Good Men and TV sensation 24 will be in Bury St Edmunds this month.. but not to act.
Kiefer, son of the legendary Donald Sutherland, has quietly developed a well-respected singing career in between acting jobs and is currently touring a small, intimate show in support of his latest album Reckless & Me which was released earlier this year.
The album was well reviewed with The Guardian observing: "The action star's whiskey-sodden country music set is genuinely poignant," while Rolling Stone noted his "edgy vocals blended with passion."
His first single from the album Something You Love was a Tom Petty-meets-Bruce Springsteen-style rocker which was written to pay tribute to the "average person who works very hard just to stay in the middle" who finds themselves betrayed by big business. "Has it happened to a lot of people I care about?" questions Sutherland. "Yes, of course it has."
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Reckless & Me emerged organically from Sutherland's touring in support of his 2015 debut album Down In A Hole. The ten songs were written primarily by Sutherland but with contributions from his producer and long-term friend Jude Cole.
They recorded the majority of the album in two sets of sessions, each spanning three or four days, at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Sutherland was inspired by the location's rich history, and especially by posing next to a photo of Paul McCartney looking back at a photo of Frank Sinatra. Their supporting musicians shared a strong pedigree, notably guitarist Waddy Wachtel (Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt), drummer Brian MacLeod (Sheryl Crow) and the legendary pianist Jim Cox.
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While contemporary country music is the beating heart of 'Reckless & Me', its songs span wider Americana, encompassing folk, rock and blues. They're all connected by Sutherland's love of storytelling, whether recounting snapshots of his own life or relating the experiences of others.
"As an actor I know that making a connection with an audience always comes by virtue of the story or the character," he explains.
"This is very different. They're personal stories from my life. As lucky as I am, there are things you can't avoid: friends of yours are going to die, you're going to be let down, your heart will be broken. Hopefully they help both me and the audience to realise that none of us are alone in trying to get these things in life. And there's something comforting about that. At least to me."
One of the album's highlights is 'This Is How It's Done', a high octane honky tonk that demonstrates that Sutherland's take on country is steeped in tradition. He was waiting in a bar when he had a flashback to his youth which inspired the song, hastily scribbling the lyrics onto napkins and recording the melody onto his phone.
"It's about the first night I walked into a bar," he recalls, "and it was the first time I'd seen two adult men beat the shit out of each other. And that happened like three minutes after I walked in the door. It scared me a bit, and I'm still trying to figure out why I kept going back!"
The album is bookended by two songs with a special place in Sutherland's heart. 'Open Road' dates back to 1987 when Sutherland and Cole took a road trip: Sutherland was travelling to Savannah, Georgia to film '1969' and Cole was heading to Memphis to launch his debut album. Sutherland fell asleep as they hit the Georgia stateline, leaving Cole to sing to himself to stay alert. "It's absolutely his song," admits Sutherland, "but I feel a part of it because I was there as it was written."
And 'Reckless & Me' comes to close with Sutherland's heartfelt ode to his daughter, Sarah. Looking back upon photos of her as a baby, he started writing what eventually became 'Song For A Daughter'. In that emotional moment, he promised to finish it. "Long after I'm gone, the song will still be there and she'll know how much I love her," he says. "I cried when I wrote it thinking about how much she's meant to my life, and how different it would've been without her."
It's been an eventful life in which he has balanced his busy acting career with a variety of other occupations including a decade as a cattle rancher. Starting around 1992, he turned his back on the LA high life and began raising cattle and embraced the lifestyle to such a degree that he also became a competitive cowboy (roper) and performed on the roping circuit. He ran a successful ranch with partner John English for almost a decade. During that time, Sutherland won numerous roping events around the country including Phoenix, Indio and the Los Angeles Open.
In 2002, Sutherland, with his music partner and best friend Jude Cole, began a small record label called Ironworks. The goal of this label was to record local musicians and distribute their music at a time when the music industry was going through a monumental shift and wanted to record more artists with a global following.
Kiefer Sutherland will be performing at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday July 25 as part of a small scale UK tour.