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NOT ENOUGH WHISKEY: Kiefer Sutherland Discusses His Musical Evolution

While Kiefer Sutherland may be best known for his work on the silver screen, in his heart he has always been an aspiring musician. With the 2016 release of his debut country album, ‘Down In A Hole,’ Sutherland ushered in a new era of his already captivating career. Featuring 11 tracks co-written by Sutherland and producer Jude Cole, the album offered up a perfect blend of hard-edged country-rock songs about love, pain, and regret, all washed down with whiskey. The release would garner the attention of a wide-ranging variety of music fans, along with the most seasoned critics. Dedicated to bringing his music to the people, the multi-faceted performer continues his trek across the United States and will soon embark on the European leg of the ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ 2017 Tour. Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Kiefer Sutherland to discuss the success of the album, his musical evolution and where he sees himself headed creatively in the near future. 

Music has played an important role in your life. How do you view your musical evolution?

Well, it’s different. My evolution as a listener would be that I listen to a great many more genres of music then I did in my youth. When I come home at the end of the day and make dinner, I’m not going to play the same six records over and over, which I certainly would have done in my 20s! As a listener, I have evolved a great deal. As a writer and a player, it’s all still very new and fresh. I’m excited about the fact that I feel I have so much to learn. I think one of the interesting things for me, is that I’ve done 70 some odd films, 216 hours of ‘24’ and other series as well. I feel I have accumulated a lot of information that I feel very confident, I don’t want to say settled as an actor, but I have seen a lot and I really do have a process as an actor that I think it’s quite evolved. Musically everything feels really fresh, new and exciting because, to me, it is in fact really new. In regards to music, I feel I am an evolved listener but as a writer/performer, I feel like I have just gotten started and have so much to learn. That’s actually a really exciting prospect for me.

What can you tell us about the headspace you were in creatively when you started penning the songs that would appear of ‘Not Enough Whiskey.’

Kiefer Sutherland

When I started writing and when I started writing a lot more, the things I would draw on were the personal experiences that I have gone through. Like anyone else, they were very general things — loss of love, finding love, and over the course of my life I have lost some really good friends far too soon. As I would write about all these things it became the easiest thing. The only song in the record that is not a personal story was a song called “Shirley Jean,” which is about a man’s last night before his execution. Everything else was just what was in front of me. Maybe I was or maybe I wasn’t evolved enough as a writer to spend a lot of time trying to create and craft a story. I’ve never kept a diary in my life but, in a way, maybe this becoming that for me.

I figured that with 30 years of being onstage or in front of a camera, I would be able to go out and figure out how to perform and that would be that. All of a sudden, I realized I was telling the audience where I was when I wrote a song and I realized I was talking about my life. I put myself in a position to open up and away that maybe I wasn’t prepared for. I felt very guarded and uncomfortable at first. That took a little bit of an adjustment. I have to say when I finally did and came clean and talked about what a particular song is about, it was a really freeing experience for me. I think that’s a big part of why I have been enjoying this as much as I do.

What where the biggest lessons learned from this first album and tour cycle?

We played almost 75 to 85 dates last year. It became one of the most exciting that I have ever had an opportunity to do. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I won’t quit. The first few shows were not easy and I had to force myself to get out there and do it. I think it was very nervous I did not know what the outcome was going to be, but I pushed through it. I think that’s something I have done all my life. Then I got to a place where I actually really enjoyed it. I can’t say enough about the audiences that we got to play to over the last year and half. There was a thing that I really started to feed off of. I guess the biggest thing I learned about myself was that if I task myself with something, I’m going to follow it through for better or worse!

Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future?

We have been writing and we are well into writing the second record. I’ve got about 5 or 6 songs that we have bed tracks for for the record. When we finish this tour, I will go back to Toronto to start shooting ‘Designated Survivor’ again. After that hopefully we will start finishing up the second record, which will hopefully be ready by the spring of next year.

Thanks for your time, Kiefer. We can’t wait to see where the journey takes you!

Thank you so much, man! Thank you for that!

Keep up with Sutherland on the road by visiting kiefersutherlandmusic.com or connect with Sutherland by following him on Twitter and Facebook.

April 30 – Stagecoach Festival – Indio, Calif.
May 02 – Belly Up – Solana Beach, Calif. (SOLD OUT)
May 03 – Roxy Theatre – Los Angeles, Calif.
May 04 – Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, Calif.
May 06 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, Ore. (SOLD OUT)
May 07 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, Wash. (SOLD OUT)
May 09 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, Utah
May 10 – Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colo.
May 12 – Choctaw Event Center – Grant, Okla.
May 13 – 3Ten – Austin, Texas
May 14 – Gruene Hall – Houston, Texas (SOLD OUT)
May 17 – Terminal West – Atlanta, Ga.
May 18 – Singin’ River Live – Florence, Ala.
May 19 – Exit / In – Nashville, Tenn.
May 20 – Fubar – St. Louis, Mo.
May 21 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, Ill.
May 23 – The Birchmere – Alexandria, Va. (SOLD OUT)
May 25 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, N.Y.
May 26 – Stephen Talkhouse – Amagansett, N.Y. (SOLD OUT)
May 27 – The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, N.J.
June 01 – Skraen – Aalborg, Denmark
June 03 – Rockefeller – Oslo, Norway
June 04 – Debaser Strand – Stockholm, Sweden
June 06 – Mojo – Hamburg, Germany
June 07 – Heimathafen – Berlin, Germany
June 08 – Technikum – Munich, Germany
June 10 – WUK – Vienna, Austria
June 12 – Gloria – Cologne, Germany
June 13 – Gibson – Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
June 14 – La Cigale – Paris, France
June 16 – 013 – Tilburg, Netherlands
June 17 – Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands
June 18 – Rockhal – Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
June 20 – Bierkeller – Bristol, UK
June 21 – Worthy Farm – Pilton-Somerset, UK
June 21 – O2 Academy – Birmingham, UK
June 22 – Islington Assembly Hall – London, UK
June 23 – Trucker & Country – Interlaken, Switzerland
June 25 – Glastonbury Festival – Pilton-Somerset, UK
June 26 – Manchester Gorilla – Manchester, UK (SOLD OUT)
June 27 – SWG3 – Glasgow, United Kingdom
Aug. 11 – Boots & Hearts Festival – Oro-Medonte, Canada
Sept. 23 – Bourbon & Beyond Festival – Louisville, Ky.