Kevin Costner can spot the looks from the stage. He and his band, Modern West, have carved out quite a musical following over the years, so the crowds at his shows include people who have become fans of his music. Still, there are some that might originally be drawn to his performances because of his allure as a Hollywood star -- due to hits like "Dances With Wolves" and "Bull Durham." Either way, Costner feels the band will leave casual fans happy. It's something they take very seriously.
"They're ready for a good time," Costner told Billboard about his crowds. "They know that we're going to be playing original music. The songs have been crafted for them that night. We're not going up there playing loosey-goosey. We're not a jam band. We're very disciplined about what we will play, and what we think will work in a set."
On the musical horizon next for Costner is a project that will allow him to combine his talents, "Hatfields & McCoys," a miniseries set to premiere Memorial Day weekend on the History Channel ( Watch the Trailer). Costner will produce, as well as star as "Devil" Anse Hatfield. But, he's also involved musically. "The band wrote all the music for behind the scenes and the documentary," he says. "Out of that, we're putting together a concept record which deals with that era, and it's pretty cool. We'll call it Famous For Killing Each Other, and it will come out a couple of weeks before the miniseries comes out."
Costner also says he's hoping to put another studio album out, adding that he and the band are "writing constantly." The band released Untold Truths in 2008 on the Universal South imprint, and has released a pair of discs to European audiences -- Turn It On and From Where I Stand. He says his wife Christine encouraged him to showcase his musical talents.
"She heard some of the early music, and wondered why we hadn't been keeping it up. We talked about it over a long period of time - a couple of years, actually. She didn't understand why I didn't continue it. After about two years of that kind of talking, I told her I would play wherever I was making a movie, or if we found ourselves at some place. That's what I really wanted to do was to play live. The idea of making a record really wasn't part of the grand plan."
And just like with his movies, Costner has made quite the impact on fans with his music. A major example of this is his song "The Angels Came Down," which has touched many military family members of those lost in the Chinook / Seals crash on August 11. He will appear at Fort Knox on April 14 in a special ceremony honoring those that were lost.
"We suffered a terrible tragedy with a couple of helicopters that went down, and we lost so many Navy Seals and pilots. The Gold Star Moms and the Gold Star Wives have adopted a song that we wrote that deals with the passing of a soldier and that moment when they lose their life. We couldn't be more proud."
Hearing how the lyrics to 'Angels' has affected the families left behind means more to Costner than any award he has ever won. "I've had some pretty extraordinary things happen to me. I'm conscious and aware of the luck that I've had, and the notoriety that goes along with it. But, in terms of honors, this goes right on those ten fingers of what is something I will be very proud of - that this song could bring a measure of comfort to people that are experiencing the most terrible loss you could ever experience."
The band will be hitting the road this spring on a limited run - including Nashville's Exit / In on April 14. "We will be on tour - about fifteen dates," he says. "I don't go out as much as people who do about 200-300 nights a year. I just don't have that life, but it's always fun. We've played a lot in Europe, and sometimes trying to explain our purely American songs - something gets a little bit lost in translation. Playing the songs that we do in America is a lot of fun."
When asked about the differences between acting and music, Costner says playing on stage is "live and it's dramatic. You don't know what's going to happen. Stuff goes wrong. Stuff goes right. There are no do-overs. There's a level of drama that I like that you don't get when you do movies."
Speaking of the big screen, what's next for Costner? "I would like to direct some more," he admits. "I'm always going to dabble with the American western. I like it. I haven't gotten myself cornered in to that being the only thing that I do. I'm going to play Superman's dad in "Man Of Steel," which will come out next summer, but my plans are really to direct more, and keep doing music, and watch the kids grow up."
On March 28, "The Bodyguard" will be re-released to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the romantic classic that paired him with the late Whitney Houston. "People will have a chance to revisit that movie. A lot of people made out to it on their first couple dates. I have my own personal history with Whitney. It will be interesting to see how that is received. It has been an interesting past couple of months," he reflects.