You know him from such classic movies as The Bodyguard, Field Of Dreams, Dances With Wolves, and dozens more, but these days Kevin Costner is tapping in to a new generation of fans, and performing to a different audience.
His country music band, Kevin Costner & Modern West, is currently touring the globe and performing songs from their current album Famous For Killing Each Other, and though you know him first from the silver screen, music was his first love.
In an exclusive CBS interview, Costner tells US 99.5’s Trish Biondo that movies and music play an equal part of his life. “I don’t separate my music from my movies, because most of the songs you will hear were written during the making of those movies. It’s not an ‘okay lets start taking me serious for music, and please forget about my movie life.’
Kevin Costner (Photo by Henning Kaiser/AFP/Getty)
It makes perfect sense that music would have been Costner’s first influence. His grandmother, mom and aunt all played the piano. “I took the stupid piano lessons. Not that they were stupid, but they just kept me locked up as a kid. I would look out the window and see everybody playing, I would just be thinking, this ain’t happening. I did that for about 4 years.”
What’s his secret now to keeping the energy and drive in place? “Staying interested. Whenever you’re interested in your business or your personal life…that’s a great place to be.” He continues by saying “whenever I’m not interested, it’s kind of a tell tale sign that I should be doing something else.”
Kevin Costner & Modern West Famous For Killing Each Other. Download or purchase here.
If you catch Modern West on tour, according to Costner you can hear “four to five songs from his most recent 19 track album, as well as songs from the band’s previous two releases. Costner says he was working on Famous For Killing Each Other: Music From and Inspired by Hatfields & McCoys while he was making the mini-series (Hatfields & McCoys) and began to write about the people “in that time.” He describes the album as the “fabric of our nation” and admits it has a “pretty severe title with a certain level of violence, but it is an easy listening record.”
“The Angels Came Down” is a song that has particular meaning for Costner and shows his compassionate side. A song written about the Civil War, but as he tells it “it really deals with any man or woman who would find themselves on foreign soil at that last moment in their lives.”
He relates a story about a really “unbelievable letter” he received from a woman who had lost her son. She tells him in the letter, that her son had been machine gunned, and he died on the helicopter enroute to the hospital. She was haunted by this, but when she heard the song, she said it helped her imagine a different ending for her son’s life. “It just kind of floored me, that it helped her imagine a different ending for her son.”
The song is intended to be a meaningful tribute to the organizations and people he supports including Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives, though he says it’s “not the kind of club anybody wants to belong to,” they represent those who have lost a spouse, son or daughter in the line of duty.
Does Kevin Costner believe in angels? Yes he does. “Yeah, I ask them every night to watch over the people I love and sent the toughest ones you got too for the people I care about.”
Performing along the way, he has learned some tough lessons and had some Taylor Swift related “Mean” experiences. He admits he doesn’t have a “thin skin” but can get his feelings hurt. Costner did relate the experience in the interview, but isn’t the type of guy to dwell on the negative.
One place you won’t see Costner is behind the judges table on American Idol. In regards to possibly filling the shoes of the likes of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, he tells us that he wouldn’t consider the “gig.” Recalling when he was in his first play, “I was awful…really bad, and I knew I was bad…the difference was, I knew it was what I wanted to do and knew I would get better.” His reasoning is that it doesn’t matter what a lot of people think and you can really crush somebody. Some people (judges) are better at that and he gives Howard Stern (America’s Got Talent) as a “really great” example. “I think he surprises everybody when you think he’s gonna blast somebody and he doesn’t.”
“When I audition actors, when I direct, I swear to God, I want them all to get the part. I want people to succeed.”
It is obvious that this family man’s upbringing gave him a solid foundation and life lessons that he strives to pass on to his own children. “I don’t care what they become in life, I’m more interested in what kind of people they are. I’m really proud of my kids.”
As far as his own dreams go, Costner says he is living them. He jokes about acting out his dreams in reference to his movies when he says, “Hey, I pitched a perfect game in Yankee Stadium, (referring to For Love of the Game) don’t ever forget that – almost made it to the bigs in Bull Durham and feel like I took mushrooms in Field of Dreams.” Speaking of baseball, Kevin insisted on giving a shout out to the Cubs – “every time I come to that town and have a chance to see a game that whole organization opens up their arms to me – they’re very cool they don’t make me go up and sing, I just get to watch and enjoy the game.”
We also get the inside scoop on his clothing company (designed around diving, marine and archaeology) and his adventures in Mozambique. Click here to hear the full three part interview from US99.5’s Trish Biondo.
Steve Koscik / US99.5
Nanci Haskin/CBS Local