Kevin Costner & Modern West

Tag: Country, Rock
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Kevin Costner is one of Hollywood’s most famous men. He is best known for his roles in Field of Dreams, JFK, The Bodyguard, and The Untouchables. The multi-award winner, actor, producer and director, Kevin Costner found his own rock band ten years ago Kevin Costner and The Modern West to reconnect musically, and to connect better with his fans. I spoke with Costner about what the band has been doing, comparing it to his acting career, as well as where his musical talents stemmed from.

Costner says his music interests began as a child, “I have always done it (play music). I grew up in a church, so my mother and grandmother were in the choir and all of that kind of stuff. So I would always follow what they were doing. Then I was playing classical and playing the piano. I was in traveling choirs and then I gave up music when I was in college. I was thinking about what I was going to do. Then acting came along. I got with some of my friends and we started playing music again, actually two of the friends I started with outside of college are actually in this band now, Modern West, and we’ve been doing that for 10 years now.”

Costner described when filming movies he may be away from home for two or three months at a time. He started the band to connect better with fans while he was on location filming movies. “I wasn’t having any authentic relationships with the people that I’ve encountered. I don’t like just signing autographs and having my picture taken, I love playing music and I thought if I were able to play once or twice that would be fun. It would be a way to be in the community. I missed music and wanted to play it while I was making a movie. I also wanted to play original music, not covers.”

Costner says the inspiration for their original songs come from their own experiences, or things that are happening around them. “We write age appropriate songs and sometimes we write about our past. The relationship between men and women or situations happening right in front of us. We have a song called Five Minutes from America. I was making a couple of movies and we had hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans, so that song is about that moment in time. So we just write about what we feel and usually it is about relationships in a way and sometimes it’s the state of the world. I wrote a song about soldiers coming back from Iraq and Iran. It was guessing on how they’re feeling. The songs don’t come from one source.”

Kevin Costner and Modern West is often labeled as a country band or country rock, but Costner says the band is often mislabeled as country. “I’m not attracted to country music. I’m attracted to all kinds of music. I think we play a lot of rock ‘n roll and we’ve been mistitled. He added, “ I deal with the press a lot and once they put a tag on something you can not change it. If you listen to our music, there’s a country tone for certain songs and other songs are straight rock ‘n roll.”

Expectations or plans were not something Costner had for his band when they were first starting out. “I had no idea I would take this band around the world. I didn’t think we would make a single record; we made four. There was no plan. There are some people in Hollywood who still don’t know I have a band. I don’t rely on a lot of publicity, I just go play.”

Over the past ten years, they have toured world-wide. He talks about playing at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. “I’m very satisfied with what we’ve done. I’m very surprised when I look back with where we’ve played. We’ve played at the Kremlin. It’s kind of crazy and unbelievable to think we’ve played three times at the Grand Ole Opry. It was not a plan, I don’t need to be more famous, I don’t need to do anything other than to satisfy creatively what I enjoy doing.”

He describes the connection he gets between him and his fans by performing his music. “You don’t have a great musical outing unless there’s people in front of you. Then the people that go to hear your music don’t have a good experience unless they think the band is really playing for them. In this instance, we’re not playing songs that they know, we’re playing new original music and there’s a whole group of people who explore original music. It’s a natural thing, people who love music come to people who love to play it. You meet them at these clubs across the country.”

Costner has won numerous Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Emmy’s. He says he doesn’t need awards to feel successful in his music career. “I don’t, I really don’t. I’m not going out to radio stations and trying to expand my audience in a way where I need to do this. The band really has grown naturally. More and more people know about us and we’ve always been kind of just playing. You can look up where we play and you’ll find a few things. I just like to play and play for people.”

He has starred in numerous films and is most well known for his roles in Field of Dreams (1989) and Dances with Wolves (1990), which he starred in and directed and has won seven Oscars for. He compared acting and producing to performing music. “It’s wildly different. You have to be ready. Performing a role takes a whole day, producing a movie is putting a lot of parts together, and playing a band you have to show up at a specific time and you go, the drums start, the guitar starts, and it’s a certain amount of time your playing. It’s wildly different you can’t redo anything. Its very spontaneous and only happens one time during those two hours. It’s a really authentic relationship. You get to talk to the audience, they’re talking back to you, it’s a fun thing to do.”

He says the best part about touring and playing music is spending time with his friends. “I really enjoy seeing them. I enjoy that moment when the band starts 1-2-3 BANG and the drums hit. There’s just something about that moment, it just feels really electric to me and feels really alive.”

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