International jazz star Kyle Eastwood returns to Birmingham next week. Graham Young talks to Clint's son about his early years and how his famous dad shaped his aspirations.
The last time Kyle Eastwood played in Birmingham it was at the Hare and Hounds pub in Kings Heath.
It was May, 2008 and tickets were priced at just... £6.
This summer, Madonna is coming to town with a £175 per ticket bounty on her head.
Now aged 43, Kyle laughs out loud at the disparity.
“Yes, £6 does seem to be a little bit low,” says the bass-playing band leader with modest understatement.
“All power to Madonna if she can get it, but I’m just happy to play whether it’s to an audience of 100 or up to nine or 10,000 which we’ve also done.”
Before I can even wonder if he’s being bankrolled by his father Clint Eastwood, Kyle is quick to point that he’s playing on his own terms.
“We’re making a living,” he says. “You can’t play every gig for that fee, £6. But, as a band, we’re doing pretty well.
“The last time we played Ronnie Scott’s (in London), we sold out for four nights in a row.”
With regular tours in Japan, the US and Europe now becoming a permanent feature of his life, Kyle has two bands – one for international dates, the other for North America.
When he arrives direct from California via London to play Birmingham’s Glee Club on Hurst Street on the first day of their Jazz FM UK tour next Tuesday night, he won’t have seen his European pals for a month. But after a couple of soundcheck numbers, Kyle says they’ll be good to go, particularly as they co-wrote a lot of tunes on his most recent album, Songs from the Chateau.
“Sometimes you benefit from having a break so that you can freshen up,” says Kyle.
How come the Chateau album had a couple of bonus tracks for the Japan market? “One was a live track recorded there, the other was an extra track which we recorded at the chateau and which we thought we’d just give to them,” says Kyle.
“If anyone is disappointed in Europe, I guess they can get it from iTunes!
The internet is a reminder of how the world has changed greatly in some ways.
Just like my late father introduced me to the movies by sitting down with me to watch Spaghetti westerns, so Clint used to put films on to share with Kyle, a practise I’m now carrying on with my own son, 11.
Crucially, Clint also took Kyle to Ronnie Scott’s in London where his star status meant nobody batted an eyelid when he arrived with the then 11-year-old by his side.
The eldest of two children by his father’s first wife, Maggie Johnson, he was born in 1968, the year when Clint was making Where Eagles Dare with Richard Burton and launching his own production company, Malpaso, too.
Although Kyle later went to film school, the real lesson he learned there was that music was his real passion.
“It doesn’t matter who your father is, you can’t practise bass for four, five or six hours per day without having a real love for your instrument.
“My dad was always supportive of what I wanted to do,” says Kyle.
“He told me: ‘Whatever you want to do, just work hard at it and stick to it. Follow your heart and your dream’.”