To multiple generations of emerging and established artists, Nashville is nirvana, a music mecca, a fulcrum for serious songwriters who don’t just make music for a living, but for whom music is life. For years now, Tony Lucca has had the energy and spirit of Music City coursing through his veins, a seemingly life-sustaining flow of inspiration that in part served as the lifeblood for the writing, recording and producing of his current self-titled album, the eighth full-length studio set in his notable canon. “When you go into a writing session, you gotta know who you’re writing for… and then you dig in,” says Lucca, who at this stage in his career has become a seasoned songsmith. “I learned a lot right off the bat, because again, doors were flying open for me that would of otherwise stayed shut.”
For Lucca, who was raised in a very large musical family in yet another American music mecca, Detroit, home to Motown, the constant opening of professional doors started when he was very young. But arguably the most divinatory door that’s opened for him was the one he walked through where his sonic sojourn began. “There was definitely this moment that the dream was born as a kid, where my eyes got real wide,” says Lucca. “Walking into a music shop in Detroit when I was probably seven or eight, and just seeing rows and rows of guitars on the walls, and I was like, holy cow, that is awesome. I want all of them.” Though he didn’t get them all, one would do. By the age of 12, his already well-honed musical talent literally began to pay dividends, after earning his first few bucks for a gig at a junior high school dance.
It’s fair to say Lucca has long since stopped chasing his dream of making music, and for some time now has been living his dream. In 1995, following a four-season run as a cast member on The All New Mickey Mouse Club alongside fellow future hit making heavyweights Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, Lucca relocated to Los Angeles where he dove into doing the Hollywood shuffle/auditioning actor thing before deciding to ditch acting in favor of pursuing his true passion. “I think it was definitely 1996 when I realized I had to make it clear for myself, if no one else, what I was going to do and how I was going to channel my energy; what I was gonna focus on and what I was willing to sacrifice it all for, and that was music,” says Lucca. “I literally walked out of an audition thinking I’ve got to have more to say than this. I went home, grabbed a guitar, wrote a song and I knew right away that it was the caliber of song that if I could stick to it and take it this seriously every time, that I’d be the kind of artist I’ve always dreamed I might end up being at some point.”
Now satisfied with the professional road he was on, Lucca began to put some proverbial musical mud on his tires with his 1997 self-released debut album, So Satisfied, followed later that same year by his sophomore set, Strong Words Softly Spoken. Two EPs and a limited series of live CDs (all released through his website tonylucca.com) set the table for the release of his third full-length, 2004’s Shotgun.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of what many fans and critics concede could be the crown jewel of Lucca’s catalog, the emotive Canyon Songs, a touching 10-track tip of the cap to the legendary Laurel Canyon sound immortalized by master musicians including Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. The album features the standout track “Around the Bend,” which as Lucca recalls was written in a motel room in Nashville. “I went to a liquor store, grabbed a bottle of Tennessee whisky, went back to my motel room, left the door open, grabbed my guitar and just started writing it,” Lucca says. “I remember looking out the door into that southern Tennessee air and just thinking about all the greats that had come through here… and what a pleasure and honor it is to get the opportunity to just grab a bit of that mojo and make it your own, one song at a time.”
So what lies ahead? What is around the bend for Tony Lucca, a man who’s been an actor - making myriad television appearances on popular shows such as Parenthood, The Tonight Show, Last Call with Carson Daly, the Aaron Spelling-produced Malibu Shores, as well as small roles in some independent features? What is the next benchmark for the guy who was tabloid fodder during his years dating actress Keri Russell and a third place finisher on Season 2 of The Voice (which served as a springboard for a series of additional key career milestones, including the signing of a recording contract with Adam Levine’s 222 Records, as well as high profile stints on tour with the likes of Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson and Sara Bareilles, among countless others)? What’s on tap for a man who is now a husband, a father and of course a top tier singer/songwriter? Plenty!
“It’s the 10-year anniversary of Canyon Songs and oddly enough, I’m one of the few artists at my stage of the game who actually owns all of his records; I own the whole catalog,” Lucca says. “Instead of diving back into the next album cycle, I’ve decided to reflect for a minute and promote the larger body of work, to shine more light on Tony Lucca, the songwriter. I’ve got plenty of traveling ahead. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a periodic releasing of deep cuts, B-sides, rarities, and other stuff with the folks at Rock Ridge Music, culminating in a 10-year anniversary vinyl edition of Canyon Songs.”
Tony Lucca has seen more than his fair share of changes in the musical landscape since the release of his 1997 debut, So Satisfied. It would be easy for a far less determined and dedicated artist to be so dissatisfied with, as Pink Floyd dubbed it back in 1975, “the machine,” so as to throw up their hands in defeat. Instead, Lucca has surveyed the landscape and sees a blank canvas, an opportunity to use a wide new palette of colors to paint more musical portraits, while still displaying his past masterpieces in different frames. That is the sign of a true artist.