STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Kiefer Sutherland is the latest actor to crossover into the world of music. After decades of starring in feature films and TV, (“Stand By Me,” ‘”The Lost Boys,” “Young Guns,” “Flatliners,” “A Few Good Men,” “A Time to Kill” “Dark City,” “Melancholia,” “Forsaken” and the popular TV series “24”) and now in music, Sutherland is proving to be a man of many talents.
Sutherland’s debut album, “Down In A Hole,” is slated for a summer 2016 release. The recording features an edgy Americana country sound and is lyrically rich.
Exhibiting a life long passion for music, Sutherland reflects on the trials and tribulations of the human experience and, at mid life, what that means to him on a very personal level.
“It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a journal or diary,” says Sutherland, while on his concert tour in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “All of these songs are pulled from my own personal experiences. There is something very satisfying about being able to look back on my own life, good times and bad, and express those sentiments in music.”
Together with his best friend and music collaborator Jude Cole, Sutherland launched the Ironworks Record label in 2002 as an avenue for local artists who were being overlooked by the music industry. In an effort to refocus his creative direction, Sutherland left the label in 2009 and then approached Cole in 2015 with the idea of recording and distributing some of his original songs to established artists.
“I had no intention of making an album,” says Sutherland. “I had about 25 to 30 songs that I’d written that I liked, and I wanted to see if I could get another artist interested in doing one of the songs. So I went to my oldest friend, Jude Cole, and asked him to record a couple songs and then I could send them out. We finished the two songs and he said, ‘I really like these songs. You should do these for yourself,’ and I laughed at him. I said, ‘Not a chance,’ because I’m acutely aware of the stigma of an actor doing music and I certainly didn’t want to be that guy. So, we made a deal that we would do a couple more songs and we did. “
“I started to like the way they were sounding. So we just recorded a song at a time, and if we were gonna hate it, we would put it in the drawer. Around the fifth or sixth song, I had my ‘come to Jesus’ moment and I thought, ‘I really do like this and I would like to go play these out and confront all of the fears that I had.’”
Armed with an arsenal of material, Sutherland, who co-wrote with the project’s producer Cole, recorded what he considered his best 11 tracks. The end result was “Down In A Hole,” featuring the single “Not Enough Whiskey.”
“Two songs became four and four grew into six until Cole suggested that we make a record,” says Sutherland. “If I was going to try and define myself as a musician, I like the telling of a story. I think one of the reasons why I’ve gravitated in writing in the form of country music is because of Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings or the recently late Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson. They all tell amazing stories and they tell them in the first person narrative, which I think is really interesting because I’m almost positive that Johnny Cash didn’t shoot a man in Reno. You have it outside of country music as well — Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seeger — those guys wrote amazing stories in their lyrics. I think that’s the thing that I gravitate to first as a writer and a musician, and it’s the thing that I gravitate to as a listener as well.”
“The songs actually weren’t difficult to write,” adds Sutherland. “In a very weird way they’ve become cathartic and they’re written about some very sad things in my life. I enjoyed the writing and recording process. My desire to be an actor was always to tell a story, and my desire to play music is very much the same thing. I started to realize that was the real similarity between music and my history as an actor. It’s all actually rooted in the same place, which is the enjoyment of telling a story and communicating that to a group of people.”
Currently on a 30-city nationwide concert tour in support of “Down In A Hole,” Sutherland is finding tremendous satisfaction in sharing some his deepest thoughts on the concert stage.
“I am experiencing great joy now in being able to play these songs to a live audience, which was something I hadn’t counted on,” says Sutherland. “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about doing these shows is that I get to explain to an audience this is where I was in my life when I wrote this song and this is my perspective on it now. So, it’s not a character, it’s actually me. Inherently, they are quite different.”
“I want an audience to realize that we’re not that different,” adds Sutherland. “I’ve an incredibly fortunate life, but we all kind of go through similar things, and I think when you get to have that kind of a conversation people actually come together in a really nice way. That’s certainly what I’ve been experiencing so far on the road. That’s been something that has been really nice for me.”
IF YOU GO
Kiefer Sutherland performs a sold-out show at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, Thursday May 26, 2016 at 8:00 P.M.
To stay up to date with Kiefer Sutherland, visit www.kiefersutherlandmusic.com.