When Kevin Bacon was a kid, he looked up to his brother Michael, nine years his elder in the family of six siblings and a promising musician from the get-go. Back in their hometown of Philly, the Bacons would take Kevin to see Michael’s shows. “He’d get up there and he’d hold the audience in the palm,” Kevin recalls. “There’d be a lot of super-cute girls swooning over him. That made me very proud. I was thinking, ‘That’s my big brother. I’m with the band!’”
Kevin went on to become a world-class actor whose omnipresence in Hollywood films inspired the saying “six degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Michael carved out a career as an Emmy-winning TV and film composer. But for both of the wildly successful and tight-knit Bacon boys, the dream of playing music together never faltered. In 1995, the two formed the Bacon Brothers, a folky roots-rock band. In late 2008, they released New Year’s Day, their sixth — and best — album so far. Ranch & Coast caught up with the Bacon Brothers not long after their November gig at Solana Beach’s Belly Up Tavern.
What have you learned from playing together?
Michael: The key word is learned. When I look at the kinds of musicians we were when we first started, and where we are now — I think we’ve both come a long way.
Kevin: I feel like we’re always learning about each other. We both live in New York, but we never would be spending as much time together as we spend having a band. That’s one of the great benefits of having the band. We get a lot of hang time and we see each other in all kinds of different situations.
What was your childhood like?
Michael: Our upbringing is really hard to describe. We were sort of brought up to be blue collar but our parents definitely were not. We were sent to Philadelphia public schools, all six kids, mostly because it was cheaper but also to gain an experience of being with people from a lot of different slices of life. We weren’t the slightest bit insulated from kids growing up in Philly’s tough neighborhood. But at the same time our parents were not blue collar. Our mother was a socialite from New York, our father came from a Quaker family that came to Philadelphia in the 1600s. It was a funny kind of amalgam with all sorts of different messages about who we were.
The new album’s cover art shows you both, very young, sitting together and playing music. Do you remember the day it was taken?
Kevin: Can’t say I do. I was going through my old pictures and it just kind of popped up and I thought, whoa, this might actually be kind of cool. There’s something about it. It may not be New Year’s Day when it was shot, but it just sort of has that vibe. It’s after New Year’s Eve, and you’ve woken up, and you’re just sort of hanging around and playing some music and laughing and feeling hopeful for the coming year. That’s also the vibe of the record.
Speaking of New Year’s, do you have any resolutions for 2009?
Kevin: I don’t believe in them. I think they’re just a set-up for disillusion and disappointment. [Laughs]
Michael: Well, I’m going to set myself up. My New Year’s resolution would be to really do absolutely everything we can to get this record going. I’m really proud of it. I think it has the potential for people to really like it on a really large scale. ANNAMARIA STEPHENS