Kurt Sutter, the creator and executive producer of FX's motorcycle-club saga "Sons of Anarchy," was "raised in the soul-numbing, homogenous suburbs of Central New Jersey.''
At least, that's how Sutter's biography, part of the press kit for the gritty cable show "Sons," starts off. When asked if the "soul-numbing" phrase is his wording, Sutter answered, "Absolutely."
But then the 45-year-old Clark native, who also served as a writer and executive producer of FX's ground-breaking police drama "The Shield," eased up on the Garden State."Look, my whole family, everyone is back in New Jersey," he said. "I just needed to get out pretty quick. For me, it wasn't so much New Jersey as much as it was I needed to get out of the restraints of suburban living."
The show's Sept. 8 debut drew 4.29 million viewers, and since then it's been averaging 3.82 million viewers, up 73 percent from its freshman season, according to Nielsen Media Research. And "Sons of Anarchy" has also been beating its basic-cable competition in its time slot.
The gripping drama, filled with sex and violence, is not for the squeamish. It stars Ron Perlman and Sutter's wife, 55-year-old actress Katey Sagal, who has come a long way since her days in "Married With Children." Sutter and Sagal live in Los Angeles with their three children.
Sutter, who has a small acting role in "Sons of Anarchy," may not be like Bruce Springsteen, who wears his love of New Jersey on his sleeve.
But during a phone interview, Sutter was relatively kind about Jersey. And his wry and oft-times self-deprecating sense of humor came into play as he talked about his childhood in the Garden State and his work.
Sutter was raised in Clark, living just two blocks away from the Rahway border and a stone's throw away from Rahway State Prison.
"Yeah, my dad is still out there," Sutter said.
His two sisters are also still in New Jersey, with one living in Hoboken and the other one in Port Murray.
Sutter's father, Albert Sutter Jr., worked for the General Motors plant in Linden, a distribution manager who would locate the cars that dealerships needed shipped to them. GM has since closed that factory.
In his neighborhood in Clark, Sutter said, "Everyone was pretty much blue collar, and that's what I know in terms of work ethic. It definitely informs my sense of family."
He's also a man of his word. Some Hollywood executives cancel and reschedule interviews again and again. But when Sutter's assistant says he will call at 3 p.m., he does exactly that.
As a child Sutter, who attended St. John the Apostle elementary school in Linden, spent a lot of time in front of the TV set. The cartoons he watched turned out to be training for his profession.
"I joke about it, but the truth is I did learn the essentials of storytelling from Hanna Barbera," he said.