Dennis Quaid dishes on his rock band, Dennis Quaid and The Sharks. (June 7)
Dennis Quaid is best known for his acting career, which began 40 years ago and has included roles in “The Big Easy,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Frequency” and “I Can Only Imagine.”
However, he’s been writing songs for more than half a century. He began at the age of 12, when, shortly after he started playing guitar, he realized he’d “never be able to shred” and traded his pick for a pen.
On Nov. 30, he and his band the Sharks will release their debut studio album, “Out of the Box,” on Omnivore Records. “We’re going to be the oldest guys to make it in rock ‘n’ roll,” Quaid, 64, laughed before last week’s CMA Awards, where he was one of the presenters.
The Sharks played their first gig in 2000, but the band didn’t get serious about making an album until a couple years ago, after Quaid and super producer T Bone Burnett — the two have known each other since 1975, when Burnett helped his brother, Randy, audition for “The Buddy Holly Story” — went golfing.
“I was talking about how I wanted to really make a record, something I’d never done,” Quaid remembered. “T Bone set us up over at Village Recording in LA, loaned us his engineer, Mike Piersante, and we just began. Put down 25 tracks, which we’ve whittled down to the Sharks’ first record.”
“Out of the Box” features several original songs as well as a few of the band’s favorite covers, including Van Morrison’s “Gloria” and The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” and “Riders on the Storm.”
Quaid has written and performed music in a few of his films, and when playing Jerry Lee Lewis in “Great Balls of Fire,” he got piano lessons from the rock ‘n’ roll legend, as well as some tough love: “Jerry was on the set every day when we were doing the music stuff, and he’d be behind me, going, ‘You’re gettin’ it wrong, son!’ ”
There are, Quaid said, a few similarities between his two careers: “Writing songs is kind of like working on a character in a movie. You do a lot of pondering and thinking. Once you actually get the musical theme of what you’re doing, it becomes like putting the pieces of a character together.”
The Sharks have played approximately 50 dates in the last year and plan to tour more in 2019. For Quaid, balancing music and movies is easier than it used to be when he first started playing with the band.
“I’m at that point in my film career where I’m not playing the lead roles anymore,” he said. “I’m the guy that comes in for two weeks, really hits it hard, and then I’m out of there…I’m loving acting more than ever, because I don’t have to have everything on my shoulders there. I have the freedom and the ability to be able to pick and choose and do things that I want.”
Quaid knows “Out of the Box” might be derided as a celebrity vanity project, but he’s having too much fun making music to worry about it. “Come and see the movie star, and hopefully you’ll stay for the music,” he said. “We’re there to entertain…We just want everybody to have a good time.”
Laughing, he added, “We have a money back guarantee.”
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