Though David Duchovny is most known for his portrayal of iconic characters such as Fox Mulder of the the sci-fi horror series “X-Files” and his Golden Globe-winning performance as Hank Moody in the comedy-drama television series “Californication,” he’s also been busy composing his own music.
A few years back, before taking on the role of Sam Hodiak in the NBC period crime drama “Aquarius,” Duchovny began to teach himself how to play guitar. He’d look up chords on song sharing apps and learned “Broken Arrow” by Robbie Robertson and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” by Flaming Lips. Every time he learned a new chord, he’d see where it would fit within the progression and he’d write a new song.
In 2015 he released his debut full-length album, “Hell or Highwater,” with critics and fans picking up hints of the musical stylings of Lou Reed, Tom Petty and Paul McCartney, all comparisons Duchovny finds highly flattering. He’ll be performing most of that record while adding in a couple of covers and new music from his forthcoming sophomore album during his 11-date club tour, which comes to the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood on Feb. 14.
“I really can’t think of a better place to be, honestly,” he said of playing on Valentine’s Day in front of a Los Angeles crowd.
Initially, Duchovny said he just wanted to see what his songs would sound like as he recorded them in the garage of his friend Keaton Simons’ L.A. home. At first, he thought he’d just donate a song to a charity album, but his friend Brad Davidson encouraged him to release a full album.
“He said, ‘This is actually good’,” he said recalled with a laugh. “He said, ‘Let’s just say hey, you’re a musician and accept this or don’t but let’s do it for real.’ I was like ‘Oh God, that is scary, but OK.’”
“My biggest fear in my life has been singing in public and that’s not because I’m afraid to do things in public, it’s because I could never really sing,” he continued.
As he went into the studio he found comfort in the fact that there could be multiple takes and tools to help correct things where need be. Basically, he never had any intention of performing this material in a live setting. He has since changed his mind.
“I have worked hard on my voice,” he said. “I do vocal exercises every day, it’s now part of my routine. I spend about 20-25 minutes a day doing vocal warm-ups and I’ve taken it seriously. I’m never going to have a good voice, but I have more confidence in what I’m trying to do or with the sounds I’m trying to make.”
The first time he stepped out on stage in front of an audience, he reminded himself that people weren’t going to spend their hard-earned money and come out to have a bad time and that he always had the safety net of knowing his kids would still be able to eat if he messed this up too badly since he does have other jobs.
“I realized people were coming to hear the songs and to connect,” he said. “They weren’t coming to judge me, well some might have, but in general they just want to have a good time. If I’m up there sweating and fearing, then no one is going to have a good time, so lets just throw caution to the wind, listen to some music and make a connection tonight.”
Last year, he also revived his role as Fox Mulder on the limited run of new “X-Files” episodes alongside co-star Gillian Anderson.
“It was a difficult shoot because it was only six episodes so just when we were starting to feel like we were back in the groove, we were done,” he said. “I think if we were to do it again, we’d do more (episodes) but I’d never do 22 or even 20 again, but eight or 10, I think I would feel pretty good about.”
When he’s not acting or working on music, Duchovny has been cranking out novels. In 2015 he released “Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale” and followed that up last year with “Bucky (Expletive) Dent.” He confirmed that he has completed a new novel that’s with his editor now and it should be out within the next nine months.
“That’s something I can do without anyone else’s help except for my editor,” he said. “You write alone and having spent the bulk of my creative life doing film and television, which is hugely collaborative with hundreds of people working together and music, which is a little smaller version of that but still 10-15 people collaborating at any time, when I write it’s just me and I like that.”