Some artists refuse to be pigeon-holed, and Troy Luccketta is one of those artists. Most know him as the drummer for classic hard rock band Tesla. But he also has his hands in country, classical, and Christian music. Wisconsin Music catches up with this busy entertainer:
WM: What can you tell me about the new Tesla live release?
TL: Well, I can tell you that last year when we were on tour with Def Leppard, towards the end of that run, Phil Collins (Def Leppard’s guitarist) had suggested that we put out a live record of our first album since it’s coming up on the 30th anniversary of its release. So we just jumped right in. From what I remember we only had a had a few weeks of the tour left. What we would do was that we’d open the show with a couple different songs from the first album each night. I haven’t heard it, but Phil tells me it’s great. In the midst of all that, Phil had written and produced a new bonus Tesla song for that record as well.
WM: When you first joined Tesla, did you have any idea how well received this band would be?
TL: Quite honestly, I did. From the time that I joined them, I knew in my heart of hearts that we were going to do what we did. Now, with that being said… that meant that we’re going to make a record, do some tours, and things are going to go well. I never saw that we’d still be here 30 years later! But I really believed with what we were doing that we would get a shot and do what we did.
WM: What’s it’s like having Phil produce your new record? How hands-on is he?
TL: He is 100% hands-on. He’s been the guy to put things in perspective. He’s had a hand in the writing and he works with everybody individually. I went in and recorded all the drums with him and an engineer. He’s like a little junior Mutt Lange! (laughs) He comes from that school. He gets it and knows what’s going on. He makes no bones about what needs to be done and how we need to do it. We’ve let go 100% and we’re trusting him. He’s deserving of it and he’s proven himself with what he’s done so far. It’s working very nicely.
WM: I like that comment about being a Junior Mutt Lange! So his production style is like Mutt, or the way he approaches things?
TL: The way he approaches things. I think he has a bit more organic approach with us because of who we are and how we do things. But nevertheless, it’s the mentality behind it. No wasted parts, no wasted solos, and if you can’t sing it or hum it… don’t bother to play it. All hooks-based, and it’s working. It’s really exciting.
WM: The past few Tesla releases have been on your own label, Tesla Electric Company Recordings. Will the new studio release be on that label as well?
TL: It is. It will be distributed by Mailboat in the US, and probably Frontiers overseas.
WM: Is there a tentative date for this release?
TL: Early 2017, that’s all I know.
WM: That’s awesome, I can’t wait to hear it. Now we’re going to shift gears a little bit. You’re a man of faith, and you make no bones about it. How long have you been a Christian?
TL: Well, probably the late ’80s. If I remember correctly, we were going to film ‘Hang Tough.’ We were on a flight and flying into Los Angeles, and I sat next to a couple on the plane. They were an older Christian couple. We got to talking about God and they had my attention. I never really thought about what it was to be a Christian. I was still doing drugs at the time … I was not sober. But they said if I wanted to accept Christ, to give them a call. They gave me their number, and I called them either that night or the next night. They came to my hotel, and I accepted Christ there in my room.
I’ve got to be honest with you — I could have went out and partied that next day. I don’t know if I took it any further than accepting Christ, it was a very non-proactive road at that time. But when the band broke up in ‘96, I would come to be more involved. This guy that I knew was making these children’s Christian records in my studio. He invited me to his church, and that’s when it really took hold.
I got sober in late ’91. I was sober for a few years and then relapsed, so now my sober date is now the 4th of July ’93. So now I’m 23 years sober. Looking back at how things happened, I’m not sure if it stuck when I accepted Christ that first time with that couple. I probably accepted Christ another 10 times after that! (laughs) So I am a bit of a Jesus Freak today. I love the Lord. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place to be. Especially in a world of chaos. I have a sense of peace today through that relationship in Christ.
WM: Have you kept in contact with that couple?
TL: No. If they reached out to me today, that would be so wonderful to hear from them.
WM: Tell me a little bit about your wife Linda. How did you two meet?
TL: We met through my childhood friend Rick that was married to her sister Debbie. About 4 years ago, Debbie had gotten sick with colon cancer. I was playing a benefit to help out, and her sister Lisa was there. We became friends and have been together since. She was trying to help her sister out and I was trying to help my friend out. Her sister didn’t want to do the chemo or radiation, she was trying to treat it holistically. My friend was trying to put the information together but he couldn’t get the information fast enough or understand where we needed to be. That being said, we started a foundation called A Song 4 Wellness in memory of her sister. It’s an awareness site about pH, alkalinity, nutrition, and how disease cannot survive in an alkaline body. I believe if we would have had that information at the time that she would be alive today. He sacrifice, just like Jesus on the cross, has given us purpose. So my wife works on that website every day … she just finished up a section on proteins. We’ve learned a lot. We are very humbled by everything that we do. So we’re just sharing what we’re learning and whatever we can share to make people aware of what we are doing and give them information to make healthier decisions.
WM: Let’s talk a little bit about some of your side projects, starting with Whitford St. Holmes.
TL: I did the record with them last year and then I went out last November and did about ten shows. Brent Fitz, Slash’s drummer for the last five years, is out on tour with them now. We might be doing another record. That whole first record was really an accident, in my eyes. I did a couple of jams with them and then they asked me to go into the studio with them. I thought it was just some stuff I was putting down for demos, but it turned out to be the record. And it’s all live. Guitars, bass, drums… and then they put vocals and keyboards on it.
WM: You had a project a couple of years ago, Cadillac Drive, that I thought had a lot of potential. I couldn’t believe that some label didn’t snatch that up, those tracks were incredible. It was a great blend of country and rock. Did anything ever happen with that?
TL: I’m so glad you’re asking about that. It’s now changed to Dixie Horsepower, and that record will be done by the end of the year. We realized there’s something really great there, I’m glad you recognize that as we do.
WM: Also a couple of years ago you were the driving force behind a big benefit concert for the Station Family Fund and VH1 recorded and aired it. What was the end results of that concert, and what’s the status of it?
TL: It’s funny you would mention that because I was just with them. I have a dozen friends that are like my second family through that. The fund itself is no longer. They’re all trying move forward and put their lives together. There is a memorial being built on the club property, and I know they’re not too far away from that being finished. The concert did provide a lot of TV and financial support. We raised six hundred and fifty thousand dollars with that event. It just goes to show that, with a little faith, what can happen and how many lives can be changed as a direct result of that.
WM: That was great to see VH1 run with it. That took the awareness to a whole new level.
TL: Yeah, and God bless Dee Snider for that. He brought them on board.
WM: I know you recorded with the Three Fates Project a few years ago with Keith Emerson, whom passed away earlier this year. Were you still in contact with Keith?
TL: Yes, there were eight sold out shows in Japan that I was supposed to go out and play on this year with him. He passed away a week before our rehearsals for that. I was a part of the tribute concert for him in May. It was filmed for a documentary that will be coming out.
WM: There was previously a Tesla box set in the works. What ever happened with that?
TL: Due to some legality, it hasn’t had a chance to come together. But I can tell you that Telsa is now signed with HK Management, they also manage Def Leppard, Aerosmith and a bunch of big bands. We’re very excited to be with them now so that’s providing some new opportunities.
There’s no chance of us slowing down. It’s such a forward momentum with the band. We are somewhat being re-invented. Everything from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, and the music we play. We’re excited about that, so stay tuned!