Debuting on the Grand Ole Opry is a big deal for any artist, even one who’s got an Emmy award. Kiefer Sutherland achieved that monumental milestone earlier this summer when the 24 star performed several songs on the vaunted stage, including the sobering “Not Enough Whiskey.”
The tune, about futilely looking for the answer in the bottom of a glass, is a stand-out track on Sutherland’s country debut, Down in a Hole, out Friday, August 19th. “I’ve certainly been there, where something will happen in life, and one, two, three bottles of whiskey are not going to fix it,” Sutherland, 49, told Rolling Stone Country earlier this year. “In the context of the song, those moments are important to realize so you have to find another way to deal with them. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way.”
Sutherland, who accompanies himself on an old Gibson Country Western, first picked up a guitar when he was 10, and at one time had 75 guitars to his name, but has now gotten his collecting habit under control. “I got to the point where if I saw a guitar I really liked, I’d have to get rid of another one,” he said. “I’m down to 15 or 20.”
Though he had a few butterflies before he took the Opry stage, he found his footing in no time. “Yeah, it would be disrespectful not to have something going on! But they settle pretty quick,” he said. “And one of the things I’ve realized pretty quick with the music is that if you’re not nervous about something on any level then it’s not feeding you back.”
He originally planned to pitch Down in a Hole‘s often ruminative songs to other artists to record, but his best friend and musical partner, Jude Cole – best known for producing rock acts including Lifehouse and Beth Orton – convinced him to record them himself.
Sutherland, who returns to TV Sept. 21 in new ABC series Designated Survivor, reckoned the time was right, in part, because “now, I just don’t give a shit.” He’s the first to add that he knows as an actor, he has an uphill battle to prove his authenticity as a musician. I had to have that come-to-Jesus moment because, trust me, an actor doing music makes my eyes roll in the back of my head, too,” he said. “So I can’t blame anyone for thinking that, and that’s why we’re prepared to go one bar at a time. It’s the most constructive thing I’ve ever done in a bar [laughs], so it’s working out.”
Watch Kiefer Sutherland discuss recording his new album ‘Down in a Hole.’