Kiefer Sutherland Q&A: his love of touring and songwriting and new TV projects

Kiefer Sutherland is doing a special acoustic show at Eddie's Attic March 17, 2022, to promote his latest country/Americana album "Bloor Street," which offers more hope than despair. PUBLICITY PHOTO

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Kiefer Sutherland is doing a special acoustic show at Eddie's Attic March 17, 2022, to promote his latest country/Americana album "Bloor Street," which offers more hope than despair. PUBLICITY PHOTO

Kiefer Sutherland knows that when all is said and done, his acting career is what paid the bills and provided him his primary acclaim and adoration.

But like his acting cohorts David Duchovny and Kevin Bacon, he derives sustenance and joy from performing his own songs in front of an audience. Sutherland is coming to town March 17 at Decatur’s Eddie Attic, which fits all of 165 people at full capacity. Sold out? Of course.

The Canadian native just released his third album “Bloor Street” after touring aggressively from 2016 to 2019, 450 dates in total all around the world. He even sandwiched in shows on weekends while shooting the ABC/Netflix drama “Designated Survivor” in Toronto.

“The stigma of an actor doing music is certainly there,” Sutherland acknowledged in a recent Zoom interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have certainly rolled my eyes at some of it. I rolled my eyes at myself doing it.”

But when Jude Cole, a singer-songwriter who produced the band Lifehouse, saw Sutherland perform in 2015, he approached the actor and offered to record with him. The result? Two country and Americana albums “Down in a Hole” (2016) and “Reckless & Me” (2019).

“I did it more as a lark,” Sutherland admitted. “I ended up loving the way he produced me and made the music sound. I also ended up falling in love with touring. At this point in my life, if someone is going to make fun of me, it’s not going to bother me.”

Sutherland considers himself a cynical person. “I think sarcasm is the greatest form of humor,” he said. So he was surprised himself when he penned cheerful ditties like “So Full in Love,” “Lean Into Me” and “Two Stepping in Time” for the latest release.

The pandemic, he said, shifted his perspective on life and shaped the album’s songs.

“It was the longest period of time I had ever spent at home,” he said. “I looked around and I realized how lucky I am, how grateful to have my family and my friends and this really nice house. If I had to be locked down two years, there’s a lot worse things that could happen. I had friends who live in New York City in tiny apartments whose entire lives were designed around being out and about. They had a hard time. I had two friends get really sick and had long haul COVID. They could barely walk up the stairs.”

At the start of the pandemic, he and his touring band decided to be part of their own “social bubble” so they could record the new album. He credits his band mates for giving the record a more buoyant touch. “We found a lot of happiness making the record,” he said.

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Kiefer Sutherland is promoting his latest album "Bloor Street" with a tour running in March into April 2022. PUBLICITY PHOTO

Credit: PUBLICITY PHOTO

Kiefer Sutherland is promoting his latest album "Bloor Street" with a tour running in March into April 2022. PUBLICITY PHOTO

Credit: PUBLICITY PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
Kiefer Sutherland is promoting his latest album "Bloor Street" with a tour running in March into April 2022. PUBLICITY PHOTO

Credit: PUBLICITY PHOTO

Credit: PUBLICITY PHOTO

The title of the album and the first cut “Bloor Street” references one of the main thoroughfares in Toronto.

Sutherland said while shooting “Designated Survivor” in the city, he stood on the corner of Bloor and Yonge streets and memories flooded his brain.

His first job as a teenager was at a food court in the Hudson’s Bay Centre on the northeast corner. He had his first meaningful kiss at the Bloor Street subway station. And he recalls busking there at age 12 with a guitar and three songs he’d play over and over.

“People usually couldn’t stay for more than five minutes so I could get away with that,” he recalled. “I’d have to say honestly that three quarters of what I made was probably people thinking, ‘Ooh! Look how cute he is and how big that guitar is!’ The other one quarter was, ‘I’ll give him some change and maybe that’ll encourage him to practice more!’”

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Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman in "Designated Survivor," which aired on ABC, then Netflix. NETFLIX

Credit: NETF

Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman in "Designated Survivor," which aired on ABC, then Netflix. NETFLIX

Credit: NETF

Combined ShapeCaption
Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman in "Designated Survivor," which aired on ABC, then Netflix. NETFLIX

Credit: NETF

Credit: NETF

While he has done tours in larger venues, the choice of Eddie’s Attic was deliberate. He wanted to do something simple. The first half of the show will just be him and his guitar. Two other musicians ― Marc Copely and Rocco DeLuca ― will join him during the second half.

“I did a tour in Europe of small churches from the 1500s and 1600s, really intimate acoustic shows,” Sutherland said. “I wanted to try something like that here.”

And as a TV/film actor who normally doesn’t perform with an audience, the chance look fans in the eye makes a difference.

“I wrote a song called ‘Saskatchewan’ about the passing of my mom,” he said. “I played that song one night. I saw a woman put her arm around a friend and I realized she was going through something similar. I watched her as I played it. She kind of nodded at me. That was a very personal intimate experience that I don’t normally get.”

And it’s not as if Sutherland’s acting career is on the wane. He’s been plenty busy.

A new film with Chris Pine called “The Contractor” comes out April 1. He plays yet another president in the upcoming Showtime limited series “The First Lady”: Franklin Delano Roosevelt opposite Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. That was shot in metro Atlanta last year. And he said he recently did a film in Atlanta that he can’t talk about.

And when he finishes his tour next month, he will jump into the starring role in a new Paramount+ series “Rabbit Hole” as private espionage operative James Weir. The producers describe Sutherland’s character as someone “who finds himself in the midst of a battle over the preservation of democracy in a world at odds with misinformation, behavioral manipulation, the surveillance state and the interests that control these extraordinary powers.”

It sounds very Jack Bauer-like but season one is just eight episodes long, a pretty typical run nowadays for streaming shows.

Sutherland said when he was younger, he followed the early Robert De Niro concept of doing one movie every 18 months. But after playing Bauer for eight seasons of “24″ on Fox, where he did what was the equivalent of 12 movies a year, “Rabbit Hole” is a cakewalk in comparison.

“When other actors complain that this series will take five months to do, I tell them, ‘You have no idea!’”

Sutherland said he enjoyed the challenge of “24″ despite the heavy workload.

“If I want to go to the Olympics, I have to run every day,” he said. “As an actor, I was placed in this incredible situation that I had stopped myself from doing the first 10 years of my career. I got to get into the minutiae of a character I’d never been afforded the opportunity or time before to do. It was an honor.”


CONCERT PREVIEW

Kiefer Sutherland

7 p.m. March 17. $36.50-$40 (sold out). Eddie’s Attic, 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur. eddiesattic.com