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Tony Lucca - Interview

  by Lisa Torem

published: 29 / 7 / 2010

Tony Lucca - Interview


Lisa Torem talks to critically acclaimed Michigan-based singer-songwriter Tony Lucca about his recently released sixth album, 'Rendezvous with the Angels'

A no-nonsense, Midwesterner from Pontiac, Michigan, singer-songwriter Tony Lucca managed to avoid the travails that might have challenged another road- weary, touring musician. Lucca used his rare moments of free time, last year, to craft many of the ideas and songs which ended up on his sixth studio album, ‘Rendezvous with the Angels'. The multi-instrumentalist wanted to go beyond “woe-is-me” and “pointing-finger” songs. Consequently, the new album rings with genuine, lyrical warmth and slow-mo passages of instrumental exuberance. Although Lucca has a sonorous voice which can definitely stand alone, he solicited help from former touring mate, Sara Bareilles in the ballad ‘Back to Me’ and wisely asked Lady Antebellum guitarist Jason “Slim” Gambill to add flourishes to ‘Nobody but You'. While influenced greatly by the sounds of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco; Band of Horses, and the classic groups of the 60's; Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell and the Beatles, Lucca continually finds his own voice and is unafraid of that struggle. “There are songs that deal with faith in love and letting go of relationships in hopes that they may return. It’s about the ebb and flow of love,” he discovered, before spreading his creative wings and launching ‘Rendezvous with the Angels'. Physically, looking the part of a wandering minstrel, his working-man’s cap almost covering his dark, spec-covered eyes, with arms that bear rolled-up sleeves screamingly ready to plunge into heady strums, Lucca has a sound that is completely approachable, but illuminating. He began singing at age 3, and by 12, was writing and playing in Detroit. His attraction towards acting drew him towards four seasons on “Mickey Mouse Club” in Orlando, Florida. He shared the stage with Britney Spears, Christine Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, but their road to cookie-cutter success eluded the searching composer. After releasing two indie projects, his debut ‘So Satisfied’ in 1997 and the intense follow-up, ‘Strong Words, Softly Spoken in 1999, Lucca honed the skills needed to go the commercial route which lauded ‘Shotgun’ in 2004, ‘Canyon Songs’ in 2006 and ‘Come Around Again’ in 2008. Becoming a husband and father have been exciting milestones for this artist. Although ‘Always’ was written before his daughter’s birth, ‘Love Light’ underscored the emotional transformation that occurs when one shares innermost feelings and finds them impacting others on a deep level. Tony Lucca discusses how his newly discovered emotional growth has affected his songwriting and why ‘Rendezvous with the Angels’ has been an album which celebrates that all-embracing wisdom. PB: Who is the new Tony and how have you crafted that persona into your recent music? TL: I'd say there's a bit more introspection in the new album. Like maybe the person in these songs might have actually thought long and hard before deciding what to say. Things tend to come across a bit less inflammatory that way, less dramatic and more, I don't know, optimistically, even in the face of something coming to an end like a relationship or a substantial chapter of your life. PB: You wrote ‘Always’ for your young daughter and touched on the concept of unconditional love as being a source of inspiration. The song ‘Love Light’ appears on 'Rendezvous with the Angels' and also embraces this sentiment. Do you think unconditional love really exists in romantic relationships or does it exist only between parents and children? If it does exist in romantic love, how would you best express this? TL: Unconditional love most certainly can exist outside of parenthood. At least I feel it can. When I look back on previous relationships, even though they didn't wind up 'working out,' it doesn't diminish the love that was born between me and those people. I call it true love because it still resides in me, in its very healthy, albeit nostalgic, incarnation. I, however, have several friends that I would easily walk to the ends of the earth for. Even if they pissed me off at breakfast. PB: Producer Todd Beauchamp, out of LA, produced four tracks on the album. Producer Ron Probst, along with his wife, Linda, recorded the other tracks, in North Carolina. Why did you choose to work with two producers in different locations? TL: Ron and I set out to record an album back in September of 2009. A handful of those songs didn't end up making the record, so I decided to write a few more. Those few were written and recorded in LA with Todd. Ron and I, however, kept a very close eye on how those songs were recorded and mixed in our effort to maintain sonic integrity. It was very important to us that they didn't sound like they were recorded by different people in different studios on opposite sides of the country. I think we accomplished that. PB: You have mentioned in other interviews the influence of Billy Joel and memories of listening to ‘The Stranger’ and ‘52nd Street'. Does Billy Joel’s view of urban life correspond to your upbringing in any major way? Is he the kind of guy you might have known when you were younger? TL: My dad is from upstate New York, so there was just something familiar about Billy Joel's tone and delivery that made him sound like someone I had met before. He had a sense of modesty that my folks tried to impart to me. There was kind of a blue collar 'everyman' thing. PB: Ypu have covered Billy Joel's 'Vienna' on 'Rendezvous with the Angels'. Why was ‘Vienna’ a song which fascinated you so much and how did you manage to create a rendition that didn’t simply copy Joel’s formula? TL: ‘Vienna’ was a song that sounded cool to me as a kid, but I didn't really understand its meaning completely. Once I assumed the duties of becoming a parent to my step-son, and I started to see myself in him, somehow the lyric of ‘Vienna’ rang so loud and true. I felt like I had finally grown into it and could connect to it much more personally. PB: How did you learn to play guitar and piano and which is your major instrument? TL: My dad was a pretty good strummer and managed to show me the basics. My mom was, however, the tenth of twelve kids that were all rather musically inclined so I didn't have to go far to have someone show me anything I'd want to know. My grandfather was a celebrated pianist/organist during the radio days in Detroit. He of course imparted a solid reverence for the piano and all things music. I rely on the guitar but find that I express myself a bit more passionately with the piano. PB: You were raised in Michigan, played in Detroit bands as a pre-teen and then moved to Orlando, Florida, where you worked on the 'Mickey Mouse Club'. But in 1995 your life took another turn. Why? TL: The show was cancelled and I decided to take advantage of the connections I had made by moving to LA to pursue a career in "the business." PB: On the album, you’re joined by Lady Antebellum guitarist Jason “Slim” Gambill. How did you and Jason negotiate the rhythm and solo work? TL: My co-producer, Ron Probst, sent the track in its skeleton form over to Slim and basically said, "have at it". Slim and his friend Lee J. Turner spent an afternoon flushing out ideas and what they sent back was what we put on the record. It was a very unusual collaboration for me but one I'm glad I was talked into. PB: ‘Back to Me’ is the only song on 'Rendezvous with the Angels' which you have co-written. Will you keep writing primarily on your own or will you collaborate again? TL: I do collaborate from time to time; I'm just not very disciplined at it. It takes a certain kind of personality, I'd say, to be a proficient co-writer. It's a fine blend of humility and assertiveness to be really able to find the best possible combination of ideas, words and melodies. Those are two qualities I rarely possess in equal measures, much less at the same time. PB: On your current tour of the States, which songs are getting the most positive audience response? TL: People really seem to express their appreciation for the most popular tunes, 'Death of Me', "'retty Things' and 'So Long'. Of the new songs, folks seem to be taking to 'Undertow' and 'Anchored' from 'Rendezvous with the Angels'. PB: What’s your idea of a perfect evening? TL: Plenty of time with my wife and kids (play time, bath time, and bed time) and then an equal amount of time with just my wife (quiet time.) She's my favourite person and I don't get to spend nearly as much time with her as I'd like to. PB: What’s the next step in your career? TL: Very similar to the past several thousand. Only my stride will continue to increase in length and frequency. Things seem to be picking up. The proportions continue to grow. I'll be making another record this fall with my friends, Jay Nash and Matt Duke, followed by a tour together. I've got plans for an acoustic compilation record as well as an invitation to return to Sister Hazel's Rock Boat early next year. PB: Thank you, Tony!

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Tony Lucca - Interview

Tony Lucca - Interview

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Rendezvous with the Angels (2010)
Earthy combination of classic pop and Americana on impressive sixth album from Michigan-based singer-songwriter, Tony Lucca

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