After years portraying Jack Bauer on 24 actor Kiefer Sutherland is currently gracing stages across America. For the first time Sutherland is telling his own stories in his own words thanks to his country-tinged debut solo album Down In A Hole.
“I think as an actor I’ve been actually able to hide behind a character,” Sutherland said during a late April call. “These songs are actually very personal. They’re very autobiographical and that’s the big difference. When I play a show I spend a lot of time explaining [that] this is where I was at in my life when I wrote this song. It’s not a character, it’s actually me.”
Sutherland, performing at The Stephen Talkhouse on May 28, originally didn’t plan to make Down In A Hole but had roughly 30 songs written. He considered sending those songs to labels hoping an artist might cover one of them. After working on some demos with Jude Cole–who encouraged Sutherland to “do them for yourself”–Sutherland grew more enamored with the idea of a solo album.
“The truth is around the fifth or sixth song I had my come-to-Jesus moment,” he said. “I had to confront all of the fears I’ve probably had for 20-some-odd years of an actor playing music and all that stuff. That always made my eyes roll when I heard of it.”
Earlier this year Sutherland released a video for the song “Not Enough Whiskey” from the record. He said while a few songs deal with drinking the album overall is his equivalent to a personal diary. He believes because he’s turning 50 later this year it helped him put things in perspective.
“I think it took me to get to this point in my life where I was comfortable enough with myself and the music,” he said. “I would like people to like the music but if they didn’t it wasn’t going to stop me from doing it. I’ve hit a point in my life where I don’t really care. I really like what we’re doing and the thing I was most excited about was being able to play live.”
As for the country style Sutherland said icons like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were huge influences.
“They tell amazing stories and they tell them in a first-person narrative, which I think is really interesting because I’m almost positive Johnny Cash did not shoot a man in Reno,” he said. “Yet he takes on that story and that’s a really bold way to write music. If I was going to define myself as a musician on any level it would be wanting to be that of a storyteller.”
Finally while speaking about a variety of topics Sutherland won’t delve much into the Presidential campaign.
“This is where my Canadian citizenship becomes a blessing,” he said, adding he can’t vote. “If you would’ve wrote this as a script for a film 10 years ago no one would’ve believed you.”