Those walls have come crashing down with the release of his new Outlaw Saints Music/Bigger Picture album, The House Rules. He is proud of both careers, as he tells Roughstock he wouldn’t have one without the other. “I got my start as an actor because I was a singer. I drove from Oklahoma out to Los Angeles to audition for a television series, Fame L.A., that needed a singer, and I ended up getting the role. So I owe my acting career to my singing career. It’s just the acting career took off a little bit faster.”
As is the case with many entertainers who can shift seamlessly from music to acting, there is some degree of skepticism that Kane has had to endure from the industry. While he understands it, he thinks that It can be one-sided at times. “I get the question a lot ‘What, the grass isn’t green enough for you, you’ve gotta come over here and try this singing stuff?’ I always tell them that I’ll quit singing altogether when you stop sending your singers to be actors. It’s true. Most people shut up after that because they don’t say anything about Tim McGraw or Reba becoming an actor. Nobody talks about that. If you’re an actor who wants to sing and believes he can sing, and has a producer like Bob Ezrin, and puts out a great record, some people say ‘Oh, he’s an actor, we can’t have him over here. It’s really a double standard.”
At the same time, Kane admits he hasn’t had to deal with those questions in preparing for the release of The House Rules. “We haven’t dealt with that this time,” he says. “It really doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do, if the music’s not there, then nobody’s going to listen or play you anyway. I believe this time that we have the music, and the right album. That’s why we haven’t run into that question at all. I’m glad people are listening to the music, and not looking at the singer.”
Leverage has given Kane a chance to show both sides of his talent. “It has. I had my music on ‘Angel’ a long time ago, and we built a lot of fans after that, but the Leverage episode is really what did it,” he admits. The episode that he is referring to is “The Studio Job,” which aired in July. In the show, Kane performs his song “Thinking Of You.” The exposure the song enjoyed helped it to become one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes. The episode was very special to the singer, who also got to watch as John Schneider---playing an evil music business tycoon---performed the song, as well. “The third coolest thing about that episode was getting to sing my own song. Everybody would think that would be number one. The second coolest thing was that John Schneider got to sing my song. He sang a song that I wrote. A lot of people don’t know, but John Schneider had four or five number one records, and he toured with Waylon Jennings and George Strait, and lived with Johnny Cash, and of course, the coolest thing was that I got to trade blows with my all-time favorite hero, Bo Duke,” he says, alluding to the fight scenes between the two in the episode.
If you didn’t catch “The Studio Job,” you missed a rare evil turn by Schneider as music executive Mitchell Kirkwood. Was there an inspiration for the story? Kane chuckles, and asks “What have you heard? Yeah, I walked into the writers’ room, and I told them the idea that I had. It was pretty much based on a true story. I had someone in mind, and they wrote around my idea.”
Songwriting is a facet of his career that he enjoys very much. “I do. I wrote 90 percent of the album. We used to write all our own stuff when we were playing in Los Angeles. We were really the only Country band in L.A. for years and years. It wasn’t until I started going to Nashville that I found out what songwriting was all about. The best songwriters in the world are in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was fortunate enough to get to work with them. It changed my songwriting dramatically,” he says of the creative community known as Music City. “I learned that you can be creative and you can walk the fence, but you’ve got to get from A to B. That was a big thing for me. Most of the time, I would get there, but not like these guys do. All these guys have been doing it a long time, and are award winning writers, like Casey Beathard, David Lee Murphy, and Tom Shapiro. I was fortunate enough to hang with them, and it was nice.”
The set’s first single, the infectious title cut, is steadily making a climb up the singles charts, and the video is getting plenty of exposure, as well. The clip was indeed a group project for Kane and his Leverage cast and crew.
“The whole cast was really a part of it. We wrapped on a Friday night, and everyone took their own time to come over for that. It’s a big family up there. They came over and filmed on a Saturday, their day off. They did it for me, and they did it for Timothy Hutton (Leverage’s Nate Ford), who directed it. That was unbelievable. He’s one of my best friends. Another one of my friends, Aldis Hodge (Alec Hardison on Leverage), was in the video, and Beth Riesgraf (who portrays Parker on the show) was there taking photos, and she did a lot of artwork for us. It’s really been unbelievable---being all the way up there in Portland, Oregon, and being disconnected from the rest of the word, especially the Country world, and still have fans fly there, having the cast show up, having the crew show up, and everyone was there supporting the music. It was kind of like we never skipped a beat after we ended filming. It was very much an honor to walk away still working with these people that Saturday, and create something like that. It’s been doing really well on CMT. Jay Frank really liked it, and was very kind to put it into heavy rotation.”
Some of the highlights of The House Rules include “Let Me Go” and the rocking “Calling All Country Women.” While he had a hand in writing or co-writing several of the songs on the album, there’s one cover on the disc----of a song that is very special to him, “Fast Car,” a chart-topping 1988 hit for Tracy Chapman that played a huge role In his career.
“That’s one of the songs that got me my first role as an actor. I walked in, and that’s one of the songs I sang to show that I could sing. I don’t know why I did it. I was a Country singer, but I didn’t sing Garth. I didn’t sing George. I just sang what was in my car. That happened to be ‘Fast Car,’ and I was singing it on the way there, so I ended up singing it. I kind of owe Tracy Chapman as well, for getting me my first acting role. I told Bob that story, and he said ‘You’ve got to put that on the album.’ We put it on there as a tribute to how Tracy helped me get my start in Los Angeles. It was very important that we kept it the same----We didn’t come up with any new licks or new ideas, we just paid homage to her for what she did for me.”
Getting The House Rules out to the masses has not been a completely smooth process. Just like with a lot of artists, Kane has dealt with some behind the scenes issues that have prevented him from releasing the music---until now. How does he feel, now that the album is out?
“I’m not sure how I’m going to feel, to be honest with you. I wish I could sum it up. I really don’t know how it’s going to feel. The one thing I do know is that I’ve got the best fans in the world. They’ve supported us through years and years of ‘Here we come…No we’re not….Here we come….No, we’re not.’ They’ve been there the whole time, and they believe in us. The best feeling I’m going to have is gratitude because I owe these people. Hopefully, we’re going to get some new fans and new listeners, but the ones who have been there for ten years---this is why the album’s coming out. I owe this to them. They’ve been nothing but kind to us. They’ve been with us through thick and thin, and this is really a gift to them.” The fact that the album is the last major Country release of the calendar is not lost on Kane. “I think it’s absolutely perfect that it comes out the last month of December. This is my Christmas present to them because they’ve been there and given us so many gifts in the past just by sticking with us that it’s our turn to give back to them.”
Leverage airs Sunday nights at 9pm EST / 8PM CST on TNT. For more information about Christian Kane, Click the photo below.