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
Christian Kane was just in the Cincinnati area recently at the Madison Theater in Covington last month for an outstanding show with Randy Houser. This month, Christian Kane returned home to share his talents in Oklahoma on Monday, January 10th to perform at the 2010 Inaugural Ball for Governor Elect for Oklahoma, Mary Fallin.
Kane, who released his debut album entitled The House Rules last month, performed an original song during Fallin’s first dance at the Inaugural Ball.
Kane, an Oklahoma native, was asked to be a part of the historic event held at The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum because of his long standing ties to the state.
"Governor Elect Mary Fallin has long been a supporter of homegrown Oklahoma talent and we have all watched Christian Kane’s rise in the entertainment world so he was an obvious choice to ask to perform at the Inaugural Ball," said Bud Elder, Vice Chair of the Inaugural and Producer of the Inaugural Ball. "We wanted the ball to celebrate the best and brightest that Oklahoma has to offer and Christian certainly represents that."
by Ginny McCabe
For more about this event from Music Row Magazine, click here.
Christian is featured on CMT's "Minute with." This is where Artists are asked as many questions as they can answer in 60 seconds. See how Christian does...
If there is one thing that is true of Christian Kane it's that he is an entertainer by every definition of the word. It's a brand of entertainment that has led him to success in front of the cameras with 'Angel' and more recently with 'Leverage' as well as behind the mic. Currently in between season tapings of Leverage Kane is on a packed national tour in support of his debut album The House Rules. On Saturday January 8, 2011 he delivered a rugged and rowdy energy to the lively crowd at the Toby Keith I Love This Bar and Grill in Denver, CO. Once Christian had command of the stage he riled the Kane faithful with rock infused country that has become his signature sound. His simple southern charm electrified the intimate venue for a not soon to be forgotten set.
I spoke with Christian in March of 2010 before his album release and he said, "I really think that if you love something it's not a job it becomes more of a hobby and I just happen to get paid for it." Opening the evening with the boisterous track, "American Made" which he quickly followed with "Callin' All Country Women" it was clear he brought to the stage this love for Country Music, his fans and performing. Supported by a full band Kane primarily stuck to lead vocals and audience interaction but at times grabbed an acoustic guitar and played. He skillfully balanced the fast paced set with personable interaction between songs pausing to reveal personal anecdotes of on tracks like “Let’s Take A Drive” which he said he wrote after speaking with an ex-high school girlfriend and pondering how life had changed her. He also confided before starting in on “Let Me Go” that it’s one of his favorite songs on the album.
The energy and anticipation of the evenings performance cultivated with the closing song, title track “The House Rules”. When the band reached rule number seven which states, “Don't touch the women, but they can grab whatever they want to.” The band dramatically cut out allowing the crowd a climatic pause before finishing the song. After the encore it was clear that no one was going to leave the Toby Keith I Love This Bar and Grill disappointed, in fact nobody really left right away at all. Christian Kane has proven he is the type of performer that is unforgettable and his energy is not only infectious and addictive but a force that is unique and invigorating in the Country Music world.
by Marian Tuin
Christian along with co-hort Steve Carlson bring the country-rock to the Last.fm Discover studio early one morning in mid-December of last year. Watch the two doing “Different Kind Of Knight,” only available as a bonus track if you bought the album The House Rules on iTunes, with Christian giving us the story behind the it by clicking here.