Fully Commit — you never know when your last performance is. Not only that, but you never know who in your audience might be experiencing their last show. Always give your everything.
As a part of our series about creating a successful career in theatre, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kevin Sucher of the Docksiders.
Three-time Grammy nominee Kevin Sucher is the band leader and producer of Yacht Rock band, The Docksiders — who honor and express tribute to some of the best soft rock hits of the 70s and 80s.
As a producer, engineer, mixer, and manager, Kevin Sucher has worked with big names in entertainment, including Tony Orlando, David Foster, Olivia Newton John, Eric Benet, Train, and Fifth Harmony, to name a few. Since launching The Docksiders in 2018, Sucher has had the amazing opportunity to step out from his work behind-the-scenes and take the stage again with national tours, building a dedicated fan-base across the US, ultimately launching a Las Vegas residency. Kevin moved his family and the band to Las Vegas last summer to pursue his dream of having a Las Vegas residency. The Docksiders, Las Vegas’ favorite yacht rock band, are opening at Notoriety in Downtown Las Vegas on May 4. The Docksiders will bring a ‘Yacht Rock Experience’ to Fremont Street each Thursday night at 7pm — a show packed full of live music, themed cocktails, and yacht rock flare.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a very supportive home, both creatively and emotionally. My parents are still my biggest fans to date. They travel the world to watch me perform. They should be awarded medals for the best way parents can support their child. Back in the day, they drove me to gigs in bars and sat in the back of the room when I was 15 years old because I was underage.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Knowing what I know now, as celestial as it may sound, I was destined to be here. The stage was always my home. I started performing when I was 10 years old in a Summer Stock musical theater company. I have returned to musical theater at times as an adult, but writing, producing, and performing music has always been in my DNA. There was no other choice for me.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
You can’t get “there” on your own — that’s the truth. Tony Orlando is that person for me that I will forever be grateful for. Tony became my family in a very short handful of years. Tony believes in my talent and skill — and has done everything in his power to help me be seen and heard. His heart means the world to me.
You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was playing a gig in London in 1999 and it was my first time in the UK. I bought a ticket to a concert called NetAid at Wembley Stadium because some of my favorite artists were playing. I was dressed like a “rock star” and worked my way backstage. I wound up meeting The Eurythmics, David Bowie, Robbie Williams and more. I watched George Michael’s set from the side of the stage. After his set I worked up the nerve to speak with him and told him how I patterned my career after his being a writer, producer and singer. After we spoke, he introduced me to Mick Jagger. It was beyond surreal.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Many moons ago, when I was trying to get connected with record labels and wasn’t having any success, I impersonated a record executive to get the founder of Sire Records — Seymour Stein — on the phone. It WORKED! When he picked up the phone, I came clean and told him who I really was. He was silent and listened to me ramble on for a minute. When I finished rambling, I asked him if I could come to his office and play him my music — that he was sure to be impressed if he granted a meeting. He screamed “NO” at me and hung up. Many years later I got to know the executive I was impersonating and told him this story — he thought it was hilarious. The lesson I learned was to never give up!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am super excited to share that I am making my first album of original material in 21 years. It has been a very therapeutic process and I’m having a blast. Also, my band The Docksiders — America’s Favorite Yacht Rock Band™ — is opening a new residency in Las Vegas and touring the US this year.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of rejection, lack of support, or failure?
I literally have 6 words: Stay the path, NEVER *@(#*&$ QUIT! Dig deep and process all of the rejection — the rejection actually becomes easier because it happens all the time.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the live performance industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Finding the balance between feeding our art and knowing when to take a break has been the trickiest part for me. When we’re not working, we’re not eating. When we work too much, we run the risk of losing ourselves. Ultimately, I’ve learned to listen to my gut. When I feel I need a break, I take it. I’ve taken a break from writing music for myself for 21 years! Its only now, after “cleaning out the basement,” that I am ready to share this piece of who I am again!
Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in Broadway, Theater or Live Performances” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Be a team player — Greatness isn’t built alone. I can’t be a bigger advocate of collaboration.
- Be open to change — we are always evolving — so is everything else so be flexible.
- Always be prepared — Create your own luck. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
- Under promise and over deliver — never promise more than you can deliver. My career has benefited hugely by delivering more than promised in the right situations.
- Fully Commit — you never know when your last performance is. Not only that, but you never know who in your audience might be experiencing their last show. Always give your everything.
For the benefit of our readers, could you describe how the skill-sets you need in a theater performance are different than the skill-sets you need for TV or Film?
Working in the entertainment industry for as long as I have, I have seen so much crossover between live performance and TV/Film. Confidence is key!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As a creative community we should learn how to help each other out more. Need a connection? I have it for you. Need advice? I have it for you. I will support your career. I will buy tickets to your show. I will show up for YOU!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The good you put out in the world will come back tenfold.” It may take time, but it always does, in one way, shape, or form. Tony Orlando is that for me.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I have had the pleasure to meet so many incredible names in entertainment, but if given the opportunity, I would love to sit down with Paul McCartney.
How can our readers continue to follow your work online?
The Docksiders Website: www.thedocksiders.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!