He played counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the heart-racing TV show 24, and plays the US president in the heart-pounding drama Designated Survivor. But like an unexpected plot twist, Kiefer Sutherland also began crooning about heartbreak and heartache as a real-life country-western singer.
In a follow up to last year’s Not Enough Whiskey Tour supported his debut album, Down In a Hole, Sutherland has taken to the road again, coming to Toronto, May 10. From April to June, he’s hopscotching across the US and Europe.
Sutherland talks here about what his music means to him:
How would you compare being a musician, to the experience of being an actor?
What I love about acting, and what I love about music is very similar. I love being able to tell a story. The delivery of that is massively different. When you are playing a music show, you want people out of their seats, and you want them to move, and you want to them to have more a kinetic experience. But at the root of it, you are still trying to tell a story.
You want to make that connection.
So I guess dynamically, the biggest difference is when I play music with my band, I feel an incredible sense of energy when we are playing. I want to convey that to the audience, and have them feel that at the same time. I think that is the biggest difference, is it’s immediate and tactile. When I’m doing something like Designated Survivor, I am doing something that is much more internal, and the audience will see it almost a month later.
How, and when, did you know you wanted to record music and become a performer?
I had 25 songs that I had written that I wanted to record, and send to Sony or BMI, and see if I could get other artists to do them. I recorded three songs with a dear friend of mine named Jude Cole who said: “I think these songs are so you, and I like the way that you are performing them, I think you should make a record.” Being so aware the kind of trappings and cynicism of any actor doing music, I said “no way”. He took me out later that night and we had a couple of drinks and somehow it sounded like a better idea and we agreed to record a few more. I was really happy with the way he was helping me make them sound, and we went forward from there.
Why is it so important for you to express yourself through music?
It’s a different way to tell a story, and I think at the root of that, it’s just more personal. Whether it was 24 or Lost Boys or Stand By Me, those are all characters and were written, and they really have nothing to do with me except that I portray them. But the songs that are on the record, those are all personal stories about my life — except for Shirley Jean, which was a story. If it goes really well, hopefully, we realize that we have a lot more in common than you might think, and that kind of shared experience is, from my point of view, has been really special for me. There’s personal interaction in those songs about me having a broken heart, me losing a friend, me struggling with certain aspects of my life, and I talk about that with the audience, and it is much more of a meaningful performance.