Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Tony Lucca will be releasing his covers album, Under The Influence, on September 27, 2011, via Rock Ridge Music. A 10-song compilation of tunes (see full track listing below) by artists that influenced Lucca as a musician and songwriter, the album was produced by Mike Vizcarra (Brian Wright, Ladies Gun Club, Truth & Salvage Co.). Under The Influence is the next entry in Lucca's catalogue and follows on the heels of 2010's Rendezvous With The Angels.
Says Lucca of his latest musical undertaking: "Under The Influence was originally going to be called Wish List, consisting of songs I wish I had written. These, of course, would have been songs I've spent the last 20 or so years learning and playing for people. However, when it came time to make the record, I realized that what I could stand to benefit from more would be something a bit less conventional, maybe say, a little less predictable. After some great discussions with my producer Mike Vizcarra and our friend Brian Wright, we decided to dig a little deeper, come up with a set of songs that might pay a greater 'homage,' songs that could possibly reflect a deeper sense of well, influence."
After appearing on the "Mickey Mouse Club" for six years in the early '90s, Lucca went the Internet route and sold his first two independent releases, his debut So Satisfied (1997) and the follow-up Strong Words, Softly Spoken (1999), through his own website. His first commercially distributed album, Shotgun, arrived in 2004. It was succeeded by his Rock Ridge Music debut Canyon Songs (2006), Come Around Again (2008), and the aforementioned Rendezvous With The Angels (2010). His songs have been featured on TV's "Friday Night Lights," "Brothers & Sisters," "Shark," and "Felicity" and in Kevin Costner's feature "Open Range." He has been seen on E! Entertainment Television and A&E, and performed numerous times on NBC's "Last Call With Carson Daly."
Over the course of his career, Lucca has shared stages with *Nsync, Marc Anthony, Macy Gray, Johnny Lang, the late Chris Whitley, Sara Bareilles, and Tyrone Wells. Lucca has also completed several cooperative tours with Jay Nash and Matt Duke (which resulted in TFDI, a collaborative EP recorded at SPACE in Evanston, Illinois, and released by Rykodisc in late 2009, and When I Stop Running, a full-length album by the trio that was released by Rock Ridge Music in the summer of 2011).
Under The Influence Track Listing:
- Find The Cost Of Freedom (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
- State Trooper (Bruce Springsteen)
- Dirty Work (Steely Dan)
- Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers)
- That's The Way (Led Zeppelin)
- You Got Lucky (Tom Petty)
- Baby Driver (Simon & Garfunkel)
- Waiting On A Friend (Rolling Stones)
- Angel (Jimi Hendrix)
- Dirt Floor (Chris Whitley)
Under The Influence Song-By-Song, by Tony Lucca:
"Find The Cost of Freedom" (Crosby, Stills & Nash) - "Find The Cost of Freedom" is one of the most poignant songs ever crafted by one of my earliest influences, Crosby, Stills and Nash. The weight of the lyric, matched only by the strength of their signature harmonic structure, left an indelible mark on my early years of music appreciation/understanding.
"State Trooper" (Bruce Springsteen) - I never knew I was a Bruce Springsteen fan until I heard the record "Nebraska." "State Trooper" hit me from the very first listen and the imagery stayed with me ever since. Again, Bruce might not have been someone I would think to cover but I can say without reservation that my songwriting improved immensely after hearing this song.
"Dirty Work" (Steely Dan) - I'm a huge Steely Dan fan and have always considered Donald Fagan a strong lyrical influence. Trying to find something by them to cover for this project was somewhat of a challenge because most of their work falls outside my personal musical vocabulary. However, "Dirty Work," aside from being the only Steely Dan song NOT sung by Fagan (and ironically their only #1 hit, I believe) had a familiar sense of melancholy to it that I thought might lend itself well to the project. Ultimately, we left no trace of the melancholy on this cover but rather created what I feel to be the stand-out, feel-good track of the record.
"Grandma's Hands" (Bill Withers) - "Grandma's Hands" is not only one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite vocal influences, but it also reflects my love and reverence for one of my greatest influences ever, my Grandma, Eunice Stevenson. She was the mother of 12 music-making children and had a voice every bit as compelling as Sarah Vaughan's. Her spirit has been an inherent element in my career from the very beginning.
"That's The Way" (Led Zeppelin) - "That's The Way" has always been one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. There was always something so contemplative about Robert Plant's tone in that recording that it almost begs you to examine the meaning of the lyric. There are so many layers to it. Of course, it's almost sacrilege to attempt to out-rock Zeppelin, so we were content to tackle something more on the acoustic side of their catalogue.
"You Got Lucky" (Tom Petty) - One of the cooler things about growing up in Generation X was that I can fully recall the advent of MTV. The songs and videos that were introduced to the world at that time were some of the most ground-breaking works in music history, and remain so today. When I saw Mike Campbell reach for that hollow-body Gretsch in Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky" video, I swore someday I would have that very guitar and maybe even be half as cool as Mike Campbell when I played it. I've yet to acquire that guitar but we did take an honest stab at the song from which the dream was born.
"Baby Driver" (Simon & Garfunkel) - I would say that of all the great lyricists of the past four or five decades, no one has had as strong an impact on me as Paul Simon. I knew I wanted to cover something by him (and possibly Art Garfunkel) but was excited to find something a bit more obscure. Brian Wright actually brought "Baby Driver" to the project and I knew we'd have a lot of fun recording it.
"Waiting On A Friend" (Rolling Stones) - "Waiting On A Friend" always struck me as the coolest dude's anthem. Mick Jagger has a great way of painting contrast, and this song really reflects that. Again, this was one of those early-on MTV images that never slipped away from my memory. I love how the video starts off with Mick out on the stoop with Peter Tosh, in front of the same brownstone that was photographed on the cover of Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti." Lotta rock-n-roll trivia in there.
"Angel" (Jimi Hendrix) - "Angel" was the ideal duo for this record: me singing to Mike's raw solo electric accompaniment. I have always been amazed at how vulnerable Jimi allowed himself to be. His lyrics are so vivid and otherwordly, of course to say nothing of his earth-shattering guitar work. Putting a Jimi Handrix cover on the record is an honor I could never take lightly.
"Dirt Floor" (Chris Whitley) - It took me some time to fully appreciate the work of Chris Whitley. However, it took only a couple listens to his Dirt Floor record before I started stealing little things here and there. I've always been a fan of alternate guitar tunings and Chris seemed to have taken this to a whole other level, not to mention his almost crooner-like melodic sense, featured prominently here in this a cappella version of the title track.