What do Johnny Depp, Rita Wilson, Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Kevin Costner, Scarlett Johansson and Kiefer Sutherland have in common? The music, man.
Kiefer is the latest to join the “Um, Why?” club with his new country music single and video, Not Enough Whiskey. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see “Kiefer Sutherland” and “video” in a headline, I will click on it, because I’m always up for a viewing of this:
I live for that video. Not Enough Whiskey is (sadly) not Kiefer knocking over a Christmas tree while agreeing that yes, he is indeed a pirate. Not Enough Whiskey is an honest-to-goodness earnest attempt at country, which, to my untrained eye, looks like an outtake from Nashville (the TV show, not the city).
I pulled out my trusty country cliché checklist and here’s what I found. Boot cut jeans? Check. “Dive” setting (in this case, motel)? Check. Cowboy boots and hat? Double check. Multiple references to booze, smokes and missing a little lady? Triple check.
And in terms of living that stereotypical life of a country music man – well, he’s a boozehound. This is well documented in the occasionally “shirtless Kiefer wasted in a bar” photo that pops up on the internet, and the fact that he’s had 4 DUIs (one which landed him jail time when 24 was at its peak). He headbutted one-half of Proenza Schouler in a (one can only assume) drunken attempt at defending Brooke Shields’s honour. So, he’s had trouble with the law and all.
And he knows it, everyone knows it. Even PEOPLE, the friendliest magazine of them all, once wondered if he would be able to quit the drink. Judging by the video and album, he has not. Maybe the prop bottle is ice tea, and at the end there seems to be some attempt at redemption for country Kiefer, but I don’t think this is exactly a cry for help. His self-described “problem drinking” doesn’t seem to be that much of a problem here – it’s more of a quaint storyline.
Maybe Kiefer is trying to work out his demons, or maybe he’s trying to indulge them. But here’s the thing: at least he’s not precious about any of it – drinking, fame, performing. He’s not trying to be a Sunset Strip legend with a young blonde wife and more wallet chains than good sense. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he acknowledges that, yes, many actors have tried the rock star thing, but many also shy away from promotion, and he is willing to put his face out there. He talks about working with a writing partner, self-financing, and not hiding behind a band. He talks about liking the texture of his singing voice (they all – Gwyneth, Jeremy Renner, Zooey Deschanel – really love their own voice).
Music has been a hobby since Kiefer made a f-ckton of money doing 24. He has owned a record label for several years, and filmed a documentary, I Trust You To Kill Me, about being a tour manager for one of his acts. Now he wants to play really small venues and tell the audience about how he used to get drunk in that exact bar with Emilio Estevez.
That’s the thing with Kiefer: he’s game. He loves a good anecdote. He’s going on a short tour to support his album and in his interviews with morning radio and local affiliates, I don’t think he will get pissy if someone asks him about 24. (Lainey: will he be sober on morning radio?) I don’t even think he would get pissy if you asked him, in a roundabout way, if any of his songs are about Julia Roberts.
It’s country music, so heartbreak is par for the course. And to get your heart broken by America’s Sweetheart – well that seems worth a country ditty or two.
Now once more, with feeling.