January 25, 2011 - The Tennessean Interviews Christian Kaneby CK Admin on 01/06/13
Christian Kane pulls double duty as actor, singer
It’s not something he talks about much, but Christian Kane, the long-haired actor who plays the tough-as-nails, Harley-riding, villain-pounding avenger on the TNT series Leverage, stood in line for fame. Literally.
Kane, who pulls double duty as a country singer, launched his singing and acting careers simultaneously in the mid-to-late ’90s when he answered a casting call for a part in Fame L.A., a show he likens to American Idol. Like Idol, Fame held auditions in towns around the country, and its participants were all multi-talented. Kane says he got the part of Ryan ‘Flyboy’ Leggett because he was a country singer as well as an actor. And now, while it keeps him busy, he says he couldn’t imagine life without both careers.
“If you think about it, that day I walked on set I started my singing and acting career at the same time,” he says. “It’s not important to me to do both, I just don’t know how to do anything else. I’m an entertainer. I’m an actor. I’m a singer. I don’t view myself as (just one).”
Tuesday, Jan. 25, Kane will leave his Leverage character Eliot Spencer behind for a night in favor of his real-life country singer persona. He’s one of the artists on the bill for Nashville Lifestyles’ Seventh annual Music in the City event, a two-night, two-venue series of performances. (Nashville Lifestyles is a publication of The Tennessean.) Kane, who released his debut country album, The House Rules, in December, will play Nashville’s Tin Roof. The agenda: Introduce the crowd to his particular brand of high-octane country. The part-time Middle Tennessee resident says if people want to know what to expect from his live show, all they have to do is listen to his new single, also called “The House Rules.”
“I needed to let people know right off the bat who we are,” says Kane, who refers to the bar he’s playing as his house in the song, and sings lines such as, “Everybody sings and drinks and laughs and gets high” and “Where the girls do the thing with the Mardis Gras beads, yeah, you know they’re gonna show ’em if they got ’em.”
“When you listen to that song, that’s the show you’re going to see if you go see us,” he says. “You work hard all week and at the end of the week you want to go wash it all off with your friends and some laughter and some alcohol … and that’s what ‘The House Rules’ is about.”
The song was inspired by Kane’s early days spent playing in the only country band that worked the Sunset Strip. His acting career tied him to the West Coast, which kept him from spending significant time in Nashville to showcase his music. So Kane spent the daylight hours building his acting chops with significant television roles including Lindsey McDonald in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff Angel and Jack Chase in the legal drama Close to Home. At night he played rock bars, letting the crowd and the setting influence his country-esque sound.
“We wanted to play so we had to play (the Viper Room) and (the Whisky A Go Go),” he says. “I loved to do ‘The Dance’ and I loved to do ‘The Chair,’ but you couldn’t really because if you did ballads then you’d lose the crowd. You had to keep it rocking when you were playing places like that and that’s how we developed our sound.”
Country gets a rockin’ boost
As Kane’s acting career picked up steam, his country career followed suit. The Oklahoma native landed his first major-label record deal about the time he signed on to film Leverage alongside Oscar winner Timothy Hutton. When that deal fell through, it gave Kane more time to familiarize himself with his new television series and write more songs, and he thinks those couple of years allowed country music catch up to his rock-infused sound. He credits acts such as Big & Rich and Jason Aldean for “kicking down doors” and making it acceptable to “have a little gasoline with your country.”
“This has always been us,” Kane says. “We have always played this music.”
With that in mind, when it came time to record his debut album, Kane opted to work with Jimmie Lee Sloas and famed rock producer Bob Ezrin. (Ezrin built his career working with acts including KISS, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper and is now partner and chairman at Kane’s record label, Bigger Picture.)
“Bob comes from a rock ’n’ roll background, and we like to amp up our country a little bit,” Kane says. “It absolutely turned out to be the right mixture of everything. Bob understood where I was trying to go even if I didn’t.”
Ezrin says it wasn’t the edgy side of Kane’s country that appealed to him, but the singer’s obvious passion for his music and his unwavering ability to write and tell a moving story.
“When I meet someone that wants to make a record I read their fire level,” he says. “And Christian is really an intense guy. He’s very intelligent, and that’s incredibly important to me, someone who understands what they’re doing well enough for us to work on it in an intelligent way.
“Then he played me some of his music and then I was surprised at how good a writer he really is. Put it all together, plus that, he just looks like a star. Once we got working together on it, I felt vindicated because he lived up to every one of my expectations.”
Ezrin and Kane's common goal: make a diverse, honest record. Ezrin says “every song is a mini-movie” and Kane described it as “eclectic” and “filled with different emotions.”
“I’ve always said in country music you have to tell the truth, and that’s why you don’t hear me playing songs about being married or being on the back of a tractor because I don’t know anything about that stuff,” Kane says. “I do know about whiskey and women, so that’s what we sing about.”
by Cindy Watts