Tony LuccaTony Lucca is Coming 'Round Again
By Jeffrey Schwartz

Photos by Sally Schwartz

Tony Lucca is a man who's been around music his entire life.  He began performing at age 3, writing with his cousin and life-long musical companion Cole Garlak at 8 and, by 15, he had moved from his home in Michigan to become a Mouseketeer and join the cast of the "Mickey Mouse Club."  After four years and the eventual cancellation of the show, Lucca moved to Los Angeles to continue his acting career.  He found work in commercials and on TV, but soon felt the urges to return to his roots, music. 

You may remember this man from countless episodes of the MMC, but you may not know that he has also released a DVD, four EPs and six albums, including his latest, "Come Around Again."  Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Lucca for an interview. With a little bit of laughter and a lot of wisdom, I listened to a musician I look up to talk about his music, the venues, on-the-road hobbies and, of course, his exploits on the "Mickey Mouse Club."

DB:  Tony, thank you again for calling.

TL:  Oh yeah, no problem, man. 

DB:  Howís your day going so far?

TL:  Not so bad. The rain season has begun here in L.A. Itís usually very welcome, though weíre getting a pretty good dumping now. Now, you guys are in Arizona correct? 

DB:  We are-- Gilbert, actually. Itís not so bad here, currently 68 degrees and overcast. I had a couple of questions for you; figured weíd get this on the road.

TL:  Sure, sure. 

DB:  Now the last time we saw you, you were performing at the Paisley Violin with Keaton Simons and Curtis Peoples.  What was it like to spend time on the road with them?

TL:  Those guys are fantastic, man. Curtis is truly remarkable. He is definitely one of the hardest working people out there, and the last couple of years that weíve been touring together has really been because of his diligence. Heís the one who puts most of those interviews together and he asks if I am available and I let him know what days I am available and he glues it all together. I do very little work when it comes to touring, but Curtis is really just a great dude. Heís extremely likable with a great sense of humor. Heís real heads-up, which I respect. Keatonís great as well, you know, heís extremely optimistic, which you canít say enough about on a day-to-day basis when youíre on the road. He makes getting up and going all the easier when everyone is kind of having to do it.

DB:  What are you doing when you have spare time and arenít performing? 

TL:  I really like to wander around the cities weíre in when we tour. You know, check out the museums and that sort of thing. When I am home, oddly enough you spend your free time mapping out your next tour and where you are performing. You spend a lot of time e-mailing and communicating, handling the business side of things. Preferably I would be writing and recording, which I do a great amount of as well when I am not touring or performing. I have to admit I really love cheap hotel rooms-- there is something so inspiring about the really dingy roadside motel room.

DB:  Does it ever get to a point where the road feels more like home than your actual home?

TL:  (laughs) Thatís a great question. I guess the road has grown to be really familiar. There is a great pace to it that I am very comfortable with. You get used to it quickly. Getting four or five hours of sleep a night, two meals a day, and a lot of time in the car is something you learn. I mean after a while you just want to come home and decompress. Itís very easy doing what we do from city to city. Itís not like we are sitting in board rooms, we are socially interacting with people who enjoy music and, specifically, our music. Itís like a paid vacation, it really is.

DB:  It was announced that next February you will be going on tour with Sara Bareilles. Tell me a little about that, are you excited? 

Tony LuccaTL:  I am pretty doggone excited, man. Yeah, I am really excited in that Sara is fantastic and I am really excited for her and all of her recent success. Sheís made some huge strides, so I am interested in tapping into her fan base and introducing myself. Hopefully I will be able to share some fans. Yeah, I am looking forward to that tour,  I get to be in each city for a couple of days which is rare.

DB:  Youíre going to tour around the cities then, I take it? 

TL:  Yeah, exactly. This will be kind of the perfect tour for me. Itís going to be an exciting run. 

DB:  Alright. Now, when I searched your name on Yutube, I found a lot of living room shows with Ernie Halter and a few other talented musicians. How would you compare those living room shows to performing in a venue? 

TL:  The living room shows are great. I really dig the house concert thing. Iíve only done a few of those shows, but itís really cool. It really is the essence of the craft right there in your face. It doesnít get anymore intimate, I mean they can smell when you ate for dinner, you know? To be honest, I actually get more nervous playing for 12 people than I do for a full venue. I think it is much more personal.

DB:  (laughing) Right, right. Now is there a venue that you play that really strikes you as ďhomeĒ?

TL:  Well yea, there is a small list that is growing. Itís a great thing to have a few venues that you feel comfortable. The Hotel Cafť in L.A. is my actual home venue, but it isnít my favorite to play. People come and go and you need to do something fresh in order for anyone to find a reason to stay. Itís more transient. The Bitter End in New York really makes me feel welcome. The owners are just wonderful and even my fans are comfortable there.

DB:  What about San Diego shows? Perhaps Lestatís West.   

TL:  Yeah. That place has recently found itself on the list and that coffee shop has a lot of interesting people too. Lou, the guy who runs it, really gets into his work and it is so great to see someone whoís so passionate about what they do.

DB:  I know that everyone is asking you about the "Mickey Mouse Club," but Iíve got to take my turn at it. How has it affected your career and choices to date?

TL:   Itís funny. Due to the post-Mouse Club success of some of my castmates, they have really tainted the reputation. Basically it was different for me than it was for some of my other popular castmates. It was high school for me, so I was really just coming into my own. I was as fantastic boot camp experience for what the industry could be. I learned a lot and I am really proud of it.

DB:  Musicians in todayís society seem to find their way into acting, but actors donít really get welcomed into music. So now that you are an establish musician, do you think about going back into acting?

TL:    Yeah, I definitely do. I guess it would be more in a smaller scope, perhaps a supporting role or a cameo appearance. I got out of it because I was being typecast a lot and I didnít want to have to fear losing a certain image. I wouldnít act just to sell more records though.

DB:  So which do you like more thanÖ acting or performing?

TL:  There is no question, really. I like acting and the collaborative process involved, but I feel like I got invited to a party and was never asked to leave. I know actors, especially out here in Hollywood, who are as hungry or thirsty for that creative process as I am to get in front of people and play my guitar. I would definitely have to say I prefer performing.

DB:    Tell me a little bit about your latest album "Come Around Again." What are some of your influences that spawned it and what would you hope your listeners take away from it?

Tony LuccaTL:    I listen to a lot of classic rock and soul, Motown is just kind of in the water, so to speak. This record is one that Iíve wanted to make for a long time. Itís much more rock and roll. I would say it has a fat, warm sound and is the kind of record that you listen to once, but still want to go back and revisit time and time again. It has a lot of layers to it.

DB:  Describe the effort for someone who has never heard it.

TL:   Itís like a really heavy duty tool box. Great guitar rhythms and sounds that are very rich and beefy.

DB:  Is there a song in your current repertoire that you would call your favorite?

TL:  Usually it is the song I have written most recent. I just wrote a song the other week called ďLike LoveĒ that is really powerful, emphasizing that there is a painful side of love. Just when you think you know love, something disappoints you or hurts you simply because you love so much.

DB:   How do you feel you have progressed as a musician?

TL:   I feel like I have really grown into what Iíve already known, which is ďless is more.Ē I used to write songs that were no less than four minutes going on forever and I thought every note of which was indispensable. Iíve really become a big fan of the Beatles and I am really learning what they did and how they did it. It is a really fine art to the craft that I feel like I am really coming into.

DB:  Who produced this album?

TL:  Myself and a good friend, Mike Vizcarra.

DB:  Are there any other musicians or song riters who have contributed to this album? 

TL:  Yes, actually quite a bit for the first time. Normally I have one or two, but I had quite a few on this album. Brian Wright, who is a brilliant wordsmith wrote several songs, Joe Firstman, and Mike Vizcarra. 

In 30 short minutes, Lucca left me hungry to hear his new album, with songs like ďMelancholy CollarĒ and ďGiviní It All way.Ē For a complete listing of Tony Lucca's  tour schedule, or other information, visit www.tonylucca.com  http://www.facebook.com/TonyLucca     http://www.myspace.com/tonylucca     Twitter: @Luccadoes

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