Singer/Songwriter Tony Lucca’s Aha! moment came at the ripe old age of seven. At Thanksgiving dinner one year, his cousin picked up a guitar and started playing and singing at the same time. Lucca was in such shock and awe at his cousin’s talent, he knew he needed to get on that, too. Coming from a big musical family, it’s no surprise that the two started playing in a band together when Lucca was seven and his cousin was eight. By twelve, he had his first paying gig, at an Activity Night at his local middle school.
At fifteen, he scored a spot on the Mickey Mouse Club, which Lucca describes as a small kid from a small town winning the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket kind of experience. Fellow alum included Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Keri Russell. He didn’t know then how big of a deal it would become, and, for Lucca, that made the whole experience that much cooler.
After the Mickey Mouse Club ended, Lucca says, “Managers and agents and all these people were courting me and telling me to come out to LA.” The acting thing panned out a little quicker for him, and he landed a role on the series, “Malibu Shores,” alongside Russell.
There was a period, however, when he wasn’t working, and he started to feel beat down by the whole auditioning process. He also knew that he didn’t want to be repeatedly cast as the quarterback jock.
“I’m a musician first and foremost – I know that. Acting for me was like being at a party I wasn’t necessarily invited to,” he says. He believes musicians who decide to try their hand at acting have an easier, more reputable time than if the opposite were true. That stigma that actors can’t cross over and become musicians worried him. He realized he had something to say, and his music was the perfect outlet for that. Six albums later, including recent release Rendezvous with the Angels, Lucca hasn’t looked back. Well, maybe he has at least once.
Last summer, Lucca got a call from a fellow Mouseketeer who needed a favor. Justin Timberlake was directing a series of commercials for his own brand of tequila, 901, and he wanted Lucca to star in one. Timberlake said he wanted to work with someone he had a good shorthand with, and Lucca says, “It was special, and I felt honored that I could do a favor for him. It was cool bouncing ideas off each other.”
Lucca boasts he is absolutely in love with what he’s doing. He aspires to see the proportions grow – always. They’ve already grown exponentially, but he only wants to watch them continue to do so. “Touring the last four or five years has certainly helped with that,” he says, as far as putting himself out there and making a name with promoters and selling a few more records each time he passes through a city, “I’ve grown to be happy and content with each new level as it comes.”
“Ideally, though? The fantasy I have in my head?” he asks, “To be on a tour bus playing with a couple of really good guys and just having a good group of people around me. Have the wife and kids and a nanny and a tutor.”
Family, however, wasn’t always at the forefront, “For a lot of years I thought it would be a hindrance and a distraction, but it turned out to be exactly the opposite.” He finds that they only give him more strength and inspiration, and a sense of greater purpose, “It definitely makes a difference when what you do affects the lives of others.”
Including the influence he has on his son, and Lucca can already see he’s going to be a pretty serious drummer. The two have a little band with an ever-changing name, “Right now, it’s the Bow and Arrows. It was the Fire Lizards and then he took a dark turn and we were the Bloody Souls.” When they play together, Lucca remarks, “I get the same joy locking in with him,” as he does with his musical counterparts a little closer to him in age. And if his son wants to follow in Dad’s footsteps? “It’s exciting to think he may want to do it, too.”
In that regard, Lucca wants to follow in his parents’ footsteps. He remarks that they weren’t the nightmare stage parents you so often hear about, “When I made it clear that this is what I wanted to do, then they enabled me. I can only hope to do the same.”
Lucca is very humble and very aware that he’s living the sweet life, “Living your dream, so to speak, is definitely a cool way to be.” But, he says, it’s a lot of work to strike a balance between family and the touring, and to live that type of life, in general, “It’s not for the faint of heart.” He relays one experience where he didn’t quite get booed offstage, but it came pretty close, and he thought, “Can I go home now? I want to go home now. But you learn. You do eventually identify and get a sense of when people are tuning in and when they’re tuning out, and you figure out how to work to bring them back.”
He muses, “You never forget the bad ones, though. Hopefully, you walk away having learned something. Either come strong or go home, I guess, as the saying goes.”
And what is Tony Lucca listening to these days? “I don’t know what it is they got going in the hotel lobby right now,” he joked and told me he’s been sulking a bit because his hard drive, which had something to the tune of 6000 songs on it, recently crashed, and he didn’t have any of it backed up. A serious music aficionado friend from New York hooked Lucca up with his entire itunes library, and he says he’s been exploring the Genius feature pretty hard to get a handle on the huge scope of his friend’s musical tastes. Lucca’s own favorites include Ray LaMontagne, Jeff Tweedy, Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses, as well as iconic artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash and Billy Joel (he covers “Vienna” on Rendezvous).
Currently, Lucca is in Illinois recording with friends and touring mates Jay Nash and Matt Duke. Their hotel is blocks away from the studio where they have a nice set up and can go in and record any hour of the day that they choose, “We’ve taken every advantage of every second, and we’re making some really inspiring music. It’s such a joy.” He describes working with them as very much dreamlike, and says, “We’re constantly reminding each other of what we have and are able to do for a living and that this is as good as it gets.”
The three will take a break from recording to tour through December, landing in Philadelphia at the Tin Angel on November 20. The Philly show, Lucca says, will be a special one, “We’ll be coming out guns blazing. We’re really excited to get out there and play the new stuff.”