David Duchovny's coming to New Zealand, and his visit's got nothing to do with The X-Files. Chris Schulz asks him for the truth.

Wondering how to make David Duchovny laugh these days? Just ask him if he wants to headline Coachella.

TimeOut's question about his musical aspirations makes the 57-year-old cackle down the phone like Mulder standing over the remains of an alien autopsy.

It turns out the star of shows such as The X-Files and Californication doesn't have festival-sized ambitions for his new career, one that recasts him as a budding rock star.

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In fact, he doesn't have any ambitions at all.

"It's already gone way further than I ever thought it would go. The fact that I recorded one song to me is impossible. The fact that I recorded an album is impossible. The fact that I can perform live is ridiculous," he says.

"I don't have any plans for it. I'm just constantly pleasantly surprised."

So far, Duchovny's late-career pivot has resulted in two albums of uber-earnest dad-rock: 2015's Hell or High Water, and last week's Every Third Thought.

He's also on tour, performing at Auckland's Powerstation next Tuesday.

So how did all this happen? Duchovny says he started writing songs "about four years ago", which is around the same time as his split from his wife, Tea Leoni.

Many of those songs were "written in trailers, some just in my apartment".

He says: "They're written all over the place. The great thing about music is I can do it anytime, all the time."

Fans of Duchovny's main gig, as jaded FBI agent Mulder in The X-Files, don't need to panic. He isn't putting his music career first.

He's just wrapped shooting the show's seriously great eleventh season and is weighing up his options for the rest of the year, mentioning directing and producing roles as well as acting.

His upcoming Australasian tour will take just three weeks. It's his first time here. "I've never been. I'm really eager to get there," he says about New Zealand.

"We're working out the kinks so we don't disappoint you all."

Unfortunately, the kinks aren't the problem. Critics have delivered some decidedly average opinions on Duchovny's music, with many taking aim at his lyrics and song composition.

Many criticise his voice. A recent Associated Press review claimed he "croaked like a dying frog". Duchovny tells TimeOut he's been getting lessons and is getting better.

But it begs the question: who's showing up to his shows - curious X-Files fans or genuine music lovers?

Duchovny doesn't care. "It doesn't matter to me," he says. "You're not going to like my songs just because you like my acting, and hopefully you won't dislike my songs because you dislike my acting."

"I just want you to listen to it and then you can make up your own mind."

LOWDOWN
Who: David Duchovny
Where and when: Performing at the Powerstation, Tuesday, February 20
What: New album Every Third Thought, out now
Also: New season of The X-Files, streaming now on TVNZ OnDemand