When TV and film star Kiefer Sutherland whips out his guitar and croons country tunes live in Wilmington on Wednesday – it won't be an act.
When TV and film star Kiefer Sutherland whips out his guitar and croons country tunes live in Wilmington – it won’t be an act.
While best known as Jack Bauer from the FOX drama “24,” Sutherland wants to be adored for his singing and songwriting ability.
He’ll share his musical talents at the World Café Live on Wednesday, playing cuts from his debut album, “Down in a Hole.” The concert is part of Sutherland’s North American spring/summer tour.
Excited to play his music on the road, Sutherland admitted he didn’t initially envision things working out like this.
“I had no intentions of actually making an album,” he said. “There was about a 10-year period where I was kind of prolific with my own writing. But I was also very quiet about it. It was something I was just experimenting with very quietly in the back of the studio where I lived.”
Armed with 15 to 25 of his songs, Sutherland approached his best friend, Jude Cole, with whom he started a record label with in 2002 called Ironworks. Sutherland wanted Cole to record a few of his tracks with the goal of possibly selling them and having other artists record them.
Cole, however, believed in Sutherland and encouraged him to stick with singing his own songs.
“Jude actually said, ‘I really like these for you. They’re clearly very personal,’” Sutherland explained.
“I think I kind of laughed,” the actor responded. “When you’re certainly aware of the stigma of an actor doing music, it was not something I really wanted to get involved with. He made a deal and said let’s just support you more and see how you feel.”
Now the actor-turned-singer is on tour, ready to tackle Wilmington.
Sutherland spoke via phone last Friday on how he separates music from acting, his new TV show and being vulnerable in concert.
How do you juggle music and acting?
Personally, I never felt I had difficulty with that. There was a 10-year period where I was professionally competing in rodeos as a team roper. I devoted a lot of time and energy to that. When I wanted to go do a film, I was completely immersed and focused on that. The same with “24.” Now I’m in the middle of shooting a show called “Designated Survivor” for ABC. When I’m shooting that, that’s what I’m thinking about when I’m focused. When I’m here playing these shows I’m focused on thinking about that. That, for whatever reason, has never felt very difficult for me. I’m part lucky for that.
How has acting helped with music?
I think the one common denominator that I’ve found, and it actually works both ways, is that I really like to tell stories. The thing that drew me to acting was being able to be an integral part in the telling of a story and being able to manipulate a character towards that end goal, which was telling a story as effectively and kind of emotionally-committed as possible. And the same thing with music. It is the desire to tell a story. The big difference for me, and I don’t think I’ve thought this through, is that in doing a film or television show you get to hide behind a character, whereas the music comes from experiences that are very much a part of my life and the history of my life.
I’ve likened it to the closest I’ve had to a journal. I hadn’t thought about that. So the first few times I was in front of an audience I remember, kind of, [I] couldn’t believe some of the things I was saying because I had opened myself up in a way that I hadn’t expected on a real personal level. There is no character there. But again, the stories that I’m telling are stories from my own life.
Have you ever experienced stage fright in concert?
It must have been about five years ago. It was the first time I had actually stood in front of an audience. I remember my right hand was shaking so badly, I was so nervous. It was at that moment I realized that I [also] experienced that as an actor. I’ve experienced my hands starting to shake. As an actor, the most simple thing you do is you put your hand in your pocket. You can’t do that as a guitar player. So that was a hard night.
I remember my hand was shaking so bad I remember banging on the pickups. I couldn’t figure out where the sound was coming from but it was my hand actually doing it. So that has dissipated. I’ve certainly played 100 shows; I have as a guitar player from that point to now. Having said that, I’m nervous every night. I was nervous every night when I was doing Broadway. The nice thing for me when I was doing “That Championship Season” on Broadway, and no different than this show, [is] I’m getting nervous before the show. But I’m figuring out how to take that energy and use it as oppose to have it knock me down.
What was one of your major takeaways from your album?
The thing that I was the most excited about was being able to go out and play in these small clubs and bars and being able to share that music [in] a very intimate setting with an audience. That has been the thing I’ve enjoyed the most, being able to explain where I was when I wrote it, why I wrote about it, what was happening in my life at that time.
I think the more kind of common denominator at the end of the evening is I think people realize we’re not all that different. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had one of the most incredibly-fortunate lives of anyone I’ve ever met.
But it doesn’t change the fact that at some point things happen and we all experience sadness and we all experience joy and we all experience not getting all of the things that we want. [I’ve] been able to express that in some of these songs and [been] able to share that with an audience, and that’s been the real joy.
IF YOU GO
WHAT Kiefer Sutherland in concert with Austin Plaine
WHEN 8 p.m., Wednesday
WHERE World Café Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
MORE INFO worldcafelive.com or call 994-1400