Ep. 103 “On Tour with Kevin Bacon + Bacon Bros.” – Voice Lessons To The World


Hi Singers! Welcome to
Episode 103 of Voice Lessons To The World. Today I’m joining
you from beautiful Alexandria, Virginia where I’m on tour with
the Bacon Brothers. Pretty much every
earthling knows Kevin Bacon the actor. In fact, you’re at
least six degrees away from Kevin
at all times. ♬ But not everyone
know that Kevin and his brother
Michael Bacon have been professional
musicians for over 30 years. I’ve been working
with Kevin and Michael as their vocal
coach for some time. And let me tell you,
these guys totally rock. ♬ Kevin and Michael
formed the Bacon Brothers in 1995. Since then they’ve
released numerous albums, have done several tours, and have played some
of the most iconic venues in the entire country. They’ve got as much
professional music experience as
you can find. And today they’re
going to share their wisdom with us. So let’s head
to the theater and meet the guys! ♬ [Applause] So I’m here with
the Bacon Brothers and we’re in
Alexandria on tour. Before we get started,
if you could talk a little bit about the band. You’ve been together since
’95, and done a lot of albums, a lot of tours. How’d it all
get started? Well, Kevin and I
always played music together when
we were kids. I’m 9 years older
so I kind of taught him how to
play the guitar. And, he started writing
songs at a very early age and would sing
them to me. And I would write
the chords and help him get it into,
you know, song form. And then as we developed
we started writing songs for reasons. To get someone
to record it, to cash in
on a fad. Later on when Kevin
was doing movies we would write the
songs for his movies. And when we put the band
together 25 years ago we sort of had to change
our focus and become more internal song writers. Just because, I think that
if people pay a lot of money to come out and
see you play you’ve got to sort of reveal yourself. I think that’s
part of it. At least, in our concept. Yeah, gotcha. What’s probably
the hardest part about being
on tour would you say? For me, it’s
the waiting. You know, there’s
a long, long- I mean, there’s a
sound check. But the show is
an hour and a half or two hours long. And, um, there’s a
long time spent just kind of wandering
around backstage or sitting in the hotel room. And at first that sounds
like it’s kind of nice because you know if you’re
really busy like we are, there’s no pressure to
keep working all the time. But after a while
I think that’s the hardest part. Well that’s what they
say about film too, “hurry up and wait”. You know it’s interesting
they do say that about film. And, it is a very, very different
kind of energy though, because when you’re doing a show
you know that the show is going to happen at 8:30
and you know how long it’s going to last. When you’re doing a film
the day is much longer. I mean, you’re at work for
at least 12 hours usually. And you never know
when your energy is going to have
to come up. So it’s a different kind
of energy skill, I think. Gotcha. Michael, do you have
a hardest part about being on tour for you? Oh definitely
the vocals. Okay.
[laughter] Without a doubt. Michael: We’re a songwriter band
and if you wake up in the morning and your throat
doesn’t feel good it puts a pall
over everything. So, um, I think that
you need to find a vocal technique
that actually makes you stronger in
that process. And it took me long
a time to find that. And you know, if you’re
with a singing teacher and you’re not getting
stronger you’ve got to find another technique. Justin: Fair enough. Because, you’re gonna push,
there’s a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of energy. But, there’s a way to do that
without hurting yourself. Now, I’ve gotten the great
pleasure to work with both of you on your voices
and is that what brought you to seek
vocal coaching, the difficulties of tour? Or, was it something else? Oh it’s definitely- you know,
I want to be as good a singer as I can but when I’m singing
I’m generally out with the band and sometimes, you know,
you get tired, and sometimes it’s two shows a night. And your voice
cannot let you down. To me there was
also an element of sometimes I feel like
singing is so elusive. You’ll have a night
where things feel really good. And certain licks
are popping out and you feel like things
are more in tune than others. And you feel strong and
you feel connected to the audience and then all of
a sudden that goes away the next night. And you kinda go,
what happened? What happened, and how
come I’m just going back to singing this song, um,
you know, the old way. And, I think that it’s
always trying to look for an answer to that
has been big part of what has made me want
to get vocal training. Justin: Gotcha. When it’s working- and I’m
not looking for larynxes or cricothyroid muscles
or things like that- but how would you describe
why it’s working for you? I’d say for me, honestly,
um, it’s almost like I want to feel like I’m in a little
bit of a transcendent kind of thing. Where I’m not thinking
about the voice. Where I’m not stepping
back from myself and looking at myself. Where I’m really like
emotionally connected to the song and emotionally
connected to the audience and musically connected
to the band. And again, I feel the
same thing about acting. You can do, you know,
15 takes of the same line, the same scene, the
same moment and all of a sudden you do one and you
go, okay I was actually walking in those shoes for that moment. I wasn’t me and I wasn’t
outside looking at myself saying, we could
have done that better. Justin: Yeah, yeah. Michael do you have a
feeling or something that you do or think about
when everything is working for your
voice onstage? Well, I would say
I’m still in process. You know, music is the
type of thing where you never really get there. You’re aspiring to
get to some place but what I’m finding
now that my voice is responding to what
I feel emotionally I think, well I’m going to
sing this line a certain way because I want to be
very breathy and gentle and now I can sort of
trust that I’m going to be able to do that. And, I think one
of the things that Kevin mentioned
is consistency. Because you don’t want
to have a good night and a bad night. You want every night
to be good because people pay a lot of
money to hear you you want to just
hit a home run every night. And that’s a very, very
hard place to get to. And I have to say it’s
taken me 40 years. That’s kind of pathetic,
but it really has. Well, I care about vocal
technique more than anybody that you can find
but I’ll say that when you get on stage you want
to be able to forget. Michael: Yes, absolutely. Kind of what
Kevin was saying. You really want to be
right there present with the emotion
of the song and what you’re doing. And if you have doubts
about your voice then you’ll never get there. Justin: Yeah. You’ve got to feel completely
confident about it. We have lots of
viewers and singers that are wanting to
go out on tour or maybe they’re just starting
to go out on tour. Do you have any tips or
advice for those people that are getting started? Get the right teacher. [Laughter] Really, I mean I’m
not blowing smoke, it’s really important. And, as someone
who never found the right teacher and
spent a lot of time- Kevin and I have put in a
lot of time into vocalizing. Hours and hours
and hours and hours. And many, many
different kinds of teachers. I also think, you know,
you in a certain way you have to think of your
voice as part of this bigger kind of instrument
and that you have to take care of your entire being. Get enough rest if possible and
try to eat well and you know try to kind of take care of
yourself and get some exercise and just all
those things that people say about just getting
through the day you know. Drink plenty of water. You know, I find that
when you combine the physicality of oftentimes,
like we do, sleeping on the bus at night, which is not really
a preferential place to sleep. Then, almost never being able
to eat food that you’ve actually prepared for yourself. Staying up much later than
you maybe have in the past. All these things can really,
I mean it’s such a cliche, but they can really
take a toll on you. I mean, if you’re 25 I
guess it’s probably easier. So I try to really
keep that in mind and then you add to that
the stress of wanting the show to be good and
having a good night or a bad night or, you know,
you get a call from your manager and he says
you guys aren’t selling any tickets and we’ve
got to figure out a way to push the show
and stuff like that. I would add having
a great band you can really rely on
and a great crew. And, it makes the
whole thing- I mean its like a, um,
traveling circus really. I mean the amount
of gear that they- I mean look at all
this gear that’s got to be put away this evening
and put back on the trailer and unpacked and the hotels
and you get to the hotel and the rooms aren’t ready. It’s kind of a nightmare
but if you have really good people then, at least
for us, it feels smooth. Which is great. Justin: Yeah, cool. With the voice sometimes
taking a little wear and tear is there stuff that you
do in a vocal warmup or anything that maybe we’ve
worked on together that you go back to, that you rely
on, that you maybe practice beforehand? On this tour, what I
have done is I worked at least starting maybe
3 weeks or a month before we left I would
work on your lessons for probably an hour
or an hour and a half every day. Justin: Good. And then, once we got
out on tour I stopped and just really
concentrated on the show. And sometimes I’ll
do a little bit of a warm up. And we do a warm up
sometimes in the dressing room and often a sound
check I think is a really good kind of
vocal warm up. I find that sometimes
during sound check I’ll try to sing the song. It’s a good chance to
vocalize the song without absolutely
slamming it in the way that I’m planning
to in the show. I mean, even if I don’t
even plan to do that. It’s like, we often
ask each other are you playing
your guitar at stage volume? Are you playing the
drums at stage volume? Because everybody kind
of holds back a little bit. You can’t help it,
it’s just the energy of the audience and stuff. And I think it’s kind of
the same thing with the vocals. Which means that
you get a chance to warm it up, it feels like,
without putting it out there. Yeah, I would have to highly
agree with that, personally. That the preparation is
more important than the vocalizing
beforehand. Because actually you don’t
want to over warm up your voice, I find. You know, typically 5
or 10 minutes should be enough. That prep on your
technique before the tour even starts,
which you did, that’s I think what’s
most important. I also find that it’s,
if possible, and it’s not always possible,
to keep the amount of conversation light
during the day. You know, that’s a
crazy thing to say. Because how are
you going to not talk that much. But if you do a show
and the dressing room get’s really crowded
after the show and the volume starts
to go and you get into kind of a long conversation, that’s when I find that
I’m a little bit weaker the next day. Not from the show,
it’s from the yacking afterwards. Michael: I think my point
of view in that is I used to think of
these vocal exercises that you did
every time. And you wouldn’t
be able to sing if you didn’t do it. Now, I probably do
10 to 15 minutes- not a whole lesson-
not so much to warm my voice up but to
reinforce what it is I’m doing now so that
I’m able to sing night after night without
getting a sore throat. Justin: Mhm. Gotcha. Yeah so you sort of
mentioned that you’ve taken 40 years to
find the right path. What is it about
what we’ve done that you’d say is
helping you find that? I think, if I can say one
thing, it would be that for a lot of voice teachers
it becomes a spiritual thing and a “do what I say”
and “magically think of this”. And, your technique is
much more technique. Justin: Mhm. And that’s what’s
really worked for me. Justin: Gotcha. Here’s where
the sound is. Here’s how you
make it low. And, I thought singing
was shouting out. I thought that’s how you
communicated to people, by shouting out. And the way that I
protected myself on the road is that it
comes from a deeper place. And as long as I’m there
I can push against it as hard as I want to
without any bad results. So I think that’s the thing
and also you’ll say, well that’s an E-flat, that’s
an E and that’s an F. And a lot of singing
teachers don’t want you to think about
what the notes are. But that doesn’t work
for me because I know what an E feels like and
I know what I have to do to get it right. Justin: Gotcha. And it also is my ceiling
and I’m hoping to raise the ceiling higher in the meantime. Now my E’s come in, as
you once said, like money. Justin: Yeah. yeah.
[Laughter] Every night, every night. And that’s what
consistency is and that’s what build’s
confidence in the ability to put a song
across emotionally. Justin: Definitely. The technique definitely
breeds the confidence. So for you it’s been
getting away from more imagery and
things like that and actually knowing the
mechanics of the instrument. Yeah. I’m not a dummy,
I can actually do it and I don’t need to have
dreamy things and imagining things and
all that kind of stuff. Yeah, it’s like your guitar,
you don’t think of an image and then play
your guitar. You want to know
what’s that scale, how do I play
that chord, etc. Michael: Takes a lot of work. Justin: Yep. You know, technique is
a very time consuming and effortful endeavor. Yeah. That’s
your instrument. Kevin is there anything
that you’ve felt has been working for you? I think that your ability
to say, “you got this”, has been huge. You know? Because I think that
a lot of times, and you know I’ve had a
few singing teachers, and I’ve also had a
lot of acting teachers, and directors too, which
are not really teachers but you sort of sometimes
frame them in your mind that they should be. And a lot of it starts
from a point of view of, “okay, we’ve got
a lot of work to do”. [Laughter] You know? Or, “Uhhh, alright we’ll
just start with the-” You know what I mean? There’s a kind of negativity,
a position of negativity that sometimes people start from. Because, I think that
it’s a natural instinct so that it makes you
feel like your job is more important
and you know. But from the first time
we started working together you were like, “Well, you sing better than
you think you sing”. You know? And that, just that,
to me was like huge. Yeah, I mean you
guys have been pros for a long time. There’s so much
more going right for you than wrong. But, any true
professional still wants to get better, better, better. So, you know, that’s
really to me what we’ve done is just added
the nuances and the technical bells and whistles
to take it to the next level. It’s not like you have
to scrap it and start from scratch. It’s just tweaking it
to make it even that more artistic. Yeah, it’s funny, I know
in your classes you have that last bit of
encouragement. And when I first
started looking at those I was like,
well I don’t need to look at that. [Laughter] But now I actually
watch them because they’re kind of
interesting and helpful and good and
sweet and it’s nice. And I think about that,
I think about the fact that there’s a lot people that
you will never meet and they’re getting this, you know,
encouragement from you It’s a cool thing. Yeah, I mean
with the voice it’s always us. You know, that’s
where it’s different from the guitar. You can master the guitar. But, ultimately, the
guitar is not you. When you sing,
that’s your instrument and it’s also you. Yeah. And so you
have to believe in your instrument. You have to
believe in yourself. And if there’s too
much negativity attached to that
the voice doesn’t work as well. Right. Which is why standing
up in front of people and singing and
playing an instrument or especially singing
is one of the hardest most vulnerable
things you can do. In the Stanislavsky and Lee
Strasberg method technique there’s the singing exercise. And I’ve seen where you
basically stand up, and you can pick any song, it
could be Happy Birthday. And you basically stand
in front of the class and start on just the first note
and just sing it and go to the next note. And I have seen people
completely dissolve into a blubbering pile of
emotion on the stage. Time after time after time,
when I was in acting school and studying that technique. And it made me realize that
that is a very powerful thing to be able to, and a terrifying
thing, to be able to stand there and open your mouth. Much more frightening
than saying a line. or voice lessons
or Skype lessons with the
NYVC staff visit us at
NewYorkVocalCoaching.com. If you’d like a
vocal course that you can
do at home check out the Voice Lessons To The
World Vocal Course. This twelve part
program takes you on a singing journey
from beginner to master level
vocal exercises. You can find it at
VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com. Or, if you’d like
free vocal tips sent to you
each day sign up at
DailyVocalTips.com. And now,
here’s Justin with this week’s
vocal benediction. Phew! Well, that was
tons of fun and we learned
so much about touring life and
being a pro musician. Thanks again to
the Bacon Brothers for sharing your wisdom
and experience with singers everywhere. ♬

32 comments

Wow! That was freakin awesome! I never thought I'd see Justin Stoney literally Interviewing Kevin Bacon. ( ͡⊙ ͜ʖ ͡⊙) 👍

Hello, I'm Kaleb from Ethiopia. I would like to thank you for your help you are providing first. There are many vocal exercises, However what are the procedures to practice these?…What're your best vocal warm-ups and which one should go first for better effects?

An amazing episode!! It was extremely informative to hear from professionals, like the Bacon Bros, regarding their voice challenges on and off stage and how Justin has helped them to define and refine their vocals. Listening to Kevin, a consummate actor, was especially inspiring since voice is so vital to both his singing and acting careers. I also enjoyed their comparison to Justin's teaching techniques compared to other voice teachers they've had. Building on your positives and fine tuning them is such an encouraging and constructive approach and can truly bring out the best in an artist as opposed to a negative and destructive approach. Thank you Justin for this inspiring and impressive episode!!

My students tease me that I'm 1 degree from Kevin Bacon since I have taken your teacher training course. Really cool to hear the brothers say how much you have changed their vocal journey. You have certainly changed mine, and all the lives I have touched since, and many more to come. Thank you, Justin, for being a game changer, and a world changer.

Been wondering if we'd ever get to see a video of you and the Bacon Bros. Wish you would have sung something together! That would have been mega-amazing. Next time? Please please?

Hey Singers! As the recording engineer and video producer at NYVC I have the great pleasure of producing "Voice Lessons to the World" with Justin Stoney. What I really loved about shooting this episode wasn't just meeting Kevin and Michael but the rapport Justin established with them. It's true that Justin knows everything there is about singing, but conducting a strong interview with seasoned performers is another talent altogether! Kevin and Michael offered so much deep insight into their process because Justin provided them the space, time and encouragement to enjoy the discussion. That's a huge lesson in and of itself! Be sincere and considerate with artists at every level because it always matters!

So proud to be apart of the NYVC team. Best job in the world. Great work with this video, Justin!!! – Kristy Bissell

This was such a great interview- I loved how watching it from beginning to end just got me inspired more and more with their insights. Thank you Justin for bringing their wisdom to us aspiring singers, songwriters and actors- you sat in the interviewer’s chair with finesse💪🏼!! and thanks Bacon brothers for sharing your souls, artistry and music🙏🏼

It's so great to hear more about the Bacon Bros. journey! Kevin hit the nail on the head with Justin's positivity. Beginning a practice session or performance with the right mind set immediately preps the voice for glory!

Can you show a singing technique using the song Loving You by the late singer Minnie Riperton singing the really high notes ?

Kevin bacón uno de mis actores favoritos desde que fue protagonista de la película Footloose de 1984, ojalá algún día tanto él como su hermano Michael vengan y visiten mi querido país de "CHILE"

Justin…. u are so adorable …. and u got some frikin networking skills or connections with the freakin music industry !!

I know exactly what kevin is talking about when he talks about film and acting. I feel so on the inside…. hehehhe. I feel so knowledgeable. Most people dont reaaaallllly know what hes talking about unless they have been on film sets as an actor…. meow lol. Oh so much fun being on set

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