Kevin Costner: From Screen to Stage

In new issue of Country Weekly, Kevin Costner discusses his leap from a long and successful movie career into the world of music.

Kevin and his band Modern West recently released the album Untold Truths and will be on the road throughout January and early February. To learn more, pick up the Jan. 12 issue of Country Weekly, on newsstands now. Here are a few exclusive outtakes from our chat with Kevin.

CW
Why did you decide to make a country album?
KC
I didn’t decide to make a country album. People have kind of placed the [music] where they think they should. My family’s from Oklahoma and [guitarist and songwriter John Coinman’s] family is from Clayton, N.M., so our songs are very rural. I think our songs come out with kind of a Western feel. It’s just representative of the way I grew up. But how our album got classified is really up to the record company. I wouldn’t let them do something I thought was entirely wrong, but I don’t think of myself strictly as country.
CW
I read that you sang in the First Baptist choir when you were a kid. Did that whet your appetite to perform?
KC
Well, I loved the moment when it became my solo. I always felt very comfortable performing. My mom and her sister and my grandma, they all were in the choir. I used to watch them, and I guess I just grew up wanting to perform.
CW
You chose acting, but was there anything inside of you that said, “I’m going to go for a singing career?”
KC
Two of the guys who are in this band were in my first band, Roving Boy. I always loved music, but as the movies took hold it seemed like the music went to a back seat. Then my wife really encouraged me. She said, “I don’t think people really know you, Kevin. They know you from the movies, but when I see you play music, I see the person I fell in love with. I see the person that you really are.” She just did a steady prodding of me for a couple of years so three years ago, I just started again with John. I said, “Let’s write and let’s play live.” We didn’t intend to make a record.
CW
How does singing onstage before live audiences compare to acting on a movie set?
KC
Well, it’s a wonderful feeling, and I look forward to it. I’ve always liked that moment. I think something big can happen that you’ll never ever forget. I love that part of it. I think it makes for a really fun night, and the songs people seem to respond to them. I also love the exchange with an audience that has been going to the movies for 20 years.
CW
Were you out of your comfort zone when you took your band on your first worldwide tour last year?
KC
No, I felt absolutely in it. I wouldn’t do this if I felt out of it. Because that was one of the points in my life. I’m not a fool. I understand. If I were out of my comfort zone a little bit, imagine putting on a two-hour show in Istanbul or in Italy when no one’s ever heard your music. Do you think you could hold an audience for two hours? I thought we could, and we did. That was a really interesting thing. There’s something about the music that I think is immediately accessible.
CW
Are you serious about your music career, or is it more like a hobby?
KC
Look, I have the lives of my friends and their wives and their children in our hands right now, and I don’t ask anybody to do something that I’m not really serious about. But I’m always very clear with people. I take it really seriously but I also know it is what it is. It’s music. And the truth is it has to get over my own creative bar because I have to decide, am I going to take this out of my living room and put it into someone else’s? I have to really try to be honest with myself. I’ll never be a person who goes out and tours 300 days a year. That’s probably not who I am right now. If it would evolve into that, then it would evolve and it would mean I’m dropping my movie career. But let’s face it, I make cowboy movies, okay? I love to make them, and I’m probably going to keep making them.
CW
When fans approach you and start talking about Dances With Wolves or Field of Dreams, do you get tired of talking about those films?
KC
I feel lucky to have that. I also feel lucky that when people come up to me they’re not always saying the same movie. They might be saying “I love The Untouchables.” Somebody might say, “I love Fandango” or “I love No Way Out” or “I love 13 Days.” “I love Waterworld,” or “I like Open Range.” Dances never gets mentioned! I’ve been very pleased that movies could have had that effect. I probably wouldn’t be doing it right if everybody zeroed in on one movie.
CW
I did love Field of Dreams. I think I saw it five times.
KC
I loved making it. No one was sure that that movie was going to work. Guys coming out of a cornfield? Come on! It was a movie that was not given high expectations, but if you’re going to make a life of telling stories, whether it’s music or movies, you need to take chances. Often in the movie industry, if you hit on something that works they want you to make that movie over and over and over again. I’ve been very content to try to go on to the next thing—maybe not the wisest business move, but it’s just the way I chose to conduct my life.

For more on Kevin Costner, check out the Jan. 12 issue of Country Weekly.

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