Interview with Jeff Daniels

Photo by Luke Pline

First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel

More than an award-winning actor, Jeff Daniels is also a talented musician who tours the country on the regular and is on his 6th album. Now on stage with his son Ben, Jeff took a few minutes with us (!) to catch us up on his life as a musician. See him in real life on November 3rd at the New Vic Theatre. Prepared to be impressed.

Have you been able to enjoy Santa Barbara and if so what are your favorite places to visit in town?

Not, um, let’s see…I’ve been to Ojai a lot, which doesn’t count, does it?

Um, “ish”, but not really.

Yeah, I can’t say that I’ve…no.

Ok, moving on. When did you know you wanted to be a music artist?

I did a lot of choir and musicals in high school and a little bit in college. When I went to New York, I got it in my head that I wanted to play the acoustic guitar. Even then I knew that I’d be sitting in my one bedroom apartment – for weeks at a time – looking at the phone, waiting for it to ring (for acting jobs). I felt I should do something creative and thought, “Why don’t I learn how to play the guitar and write songs? Yeah, let’s do that.”

What does your audience like to hear the most?

I enjoy switching it up on them. First of all, when an actor walks out on stage, it could easily be a train wreck. And anyone who buys a ticket to see an actor with a guitar is taking a huge risk with their money. I mean, we know that going in. So I play into that. If you expect three cords and two hours of me sing into my navel, you’re going to be greatly disappointed. Because we come right out and it’s a show.

What advice would you give your younger self?

It ain’t gonna happen till your sixty.

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