Katey Sagal isn’t just the actress from sitcom Married with Children and more recently FX’s highest- rated original show Sons Of Anarchy, which wraps up its sixth season Tuesday night (Dec. 10).
The 59-year-old Los Angeleno, who is married to Sons creator Kurt Sutter, had an early show business career in music, notably as a backup singer for Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Tanya Tucker, Gene Simmons and Etta James in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
So it should come as no surprise that Sagal has just released her third solo album - and her first in nine years - Covered (on Nov. 11), a collection of cover tunes including songs by two Canadians - Joni Mitchell (For Free) and Ron Sexsmith (Secret Heart).
We caught up with Sagal from L.A. recently.
Q. You’re married to the show creator so do you have a say on the music used on Sons?
A. The guy that is our music supervisor and my longtime friend and producer - he produced my last record - his name is Bob Thiele. And every season him and my husband choose a song for me to sing in the soundrack. So what we do on Sons is we take pretty well known music and re-arrange it and mostly because we’re a cable show and can’t afford the original. But it’s turned into this really creative way to interpret these songs.
Q. So did that naturally lead to Covered?
A. When I decided that I wanted to make another record right now I was trying to write for it, not coming up with anything I felt worthy of recording so I decided to interpet songs.
Q. Did any of the songs you had recorded for Sons end up on Covered?
A. It also correlated with my contribution to season six. So I recorded this Jackson Browne song For A Dancer, put it on my record, and then it happens to be the song they put on the show. So that was a nice little happy accident.
Q. And Browne appears on Covered singing on the Steve Earle tune Goodbye. Is he a longtime friend?
A. I know him sort of socially. He’s also from L.A. I’ve known him for a long time and not really well. But while I was recording the record, I kept running into him. We decided to make (Goodbye) a duet. And my producer said, ‘Go ask Jackson if he’ll sing on it.’ And I did. And he said yes.
Q. Canada is well-represented by Mitchell and Sexsmith obviously.
A. You Canadians have quite the artistic pool. And I’ve been carrying that (Sexsmith) tune Secret Heart around with me, his version. I’ve known about Ron Sexsmith for a long time. But I don’t think a lot of people do.
Q. Given your work schedule on Sons, was recording an album hard to do?
A. I’m on the 13 episode a year model. I get about four or five months off from the TV show and this year, I did a little indie movie (There’s Always Woodstock), which took about a month. So in between, I just have time.
Q. Which artist did you learn the most from as a backup singer?
A. I sang with Etta James for a couple of years and that was certainly musically probably the most expansive situation, it was just great to sing with her. And then Bette was like an all around performer and taught me how to really work hard. She has amazing work ethic and she is so well rounded. I learned a lot from her about that and performance from her.
Q. You were essentially discovered by Simmons?
A. I had a young band and I met him. I was a waitress and I met Gene and he came to my band practise and he ended up getting me a record deal on Casablanca Records.
Q. This was when you were working at the Great American Food & Beverage Company?
A. It was this little restaurant in Los Angeles. And to get a job there you had to have a special talent. It was kind of cool actually. I was a singing waitress. I was waiting on (KISS). They had come from one of their first gigs ever and I was their waitress. And so I was singing for him and he was curious about what else I did. Really it happened very quickly.
Q. Can you tour in support of Covered?
A. Short little in and out kind of gigs is what I’m looking to do. If I could do a week playing across Canada that would be (good). I’ve made movies there. I’ve worked in Toronto. I’ve worked in Vancouver. I love Canada. I think it’s a great place.
Q. Did you talk with your Sons of Anarchy co-star Charlie Hunnam about getting cast in Fifty Shades of Grey and then deciding to pull out of the movie?
A. Not too much really. We weren’t working on those same days. You know Charlie’s a very thoughful guy. He probably thought long and hard about all his decisions. Ultimately, he would want to do the best job possible whatever he’s doing. And he probably felt he didn’t have time. I’m sure that’s what happened.