Interview with Troy Luccketta (Tesla)

Tesla’s Troy Luccketta chatted to Metal Express Radio about the recently released Real To Reel covers album.

New album Real To Reel is a covers album. How did you come up with the idea/whose idea was it?

I think Tom our manager had a lot to do with it. We were ready to do this thing 15 years ago — we just never did. When he brought it back to our attention, we were going to pass on it. It just seemed like there were so many covers records out that we didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. He just said it’d be fun for us to do and said just get in there and do it!! We had a new introduction to the band, Dave Rude, our new guitar player, and he said “Just go and have some fun,” which is what we did. We were in the studio for 3 weeks and we had 25 songs done.

There’s a real diverse selection of tracks on the album from Purple, Zep, to The Temptations and The Guess Who. How did you select the tracks… did you all chip in and vote?

Initially there were going to be 14 tracks that we were going to record over a couple of weeks. After the first weekend, we had 10 done and our manager started bringing in a bunch of discs and it just opened the floodgates for people to suggest songs. A lot of songs kept popping up and it was literally just capturing the moment; what we were listening to at that time. There are staples of bands that you HAVE to cover. We didn’t even have a Deep Purple track at first or a Zeppelin track. They came later, towards the end of the recording sessions. They weren’t part of the original plan, but things were happening in the studio. The Zep track was an after thought, it was while Frank was listening to it and he said what a great song “Thank You” was. The next thing it was “Troy get on your drums!!” I jumped on my kit and literally 20 minutes later it was done. That’s what’s cool about how a lot of the stuff came together because it was live and we were capturing a vibe and it was working. The reception for this record has been so overwhelming, it’s really cool.

Were there any you really liked and tried that didn’t work out?

There was one song that we tried, “The Wait” by The Band, and it was a song that I was pushing for and I think it didn’t work as there were people with other agendas who wanted to get on to other songs and it was taking too long with the arrangements. We did give it a real fair shot, but the next thing you know, we went onto another track.

Were there any that you wanted to include but were out-voted by the others?

I would probably have picked a Neil Diamond track, but I don’t think the band would have been too happy with that. We were trying to keep a ’70s vibe to it, otherwise I would have looked at a Janis Joplin track or something. There’s just so much we could have done like Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” There’s so many great choices. It’s so difficult to choose what actually makes the album.

How challenging was it for Jeff as a vocalist to sing the parts originally performed by the likes of Robert Plant, Phil Mogg, and Phil Lynott as they are all such different styles?

No, quite honestly he was singing in a vocal range that he was comfortable with. We’ve got him singing Bon Scott stuff for the forthcoming Box Set. He just goes from one extreme to the other. He would just nail this stuff and he was just totally into the moment.

Phil Lynott’s was likely pretty hard to top as he has such a unique voice…

Yeah, he did a good job on that.

As a drummer, how did you approach recording these tracks?

I’ve been playing and studying drums for years. We’d sit and listen to the songs and then I’d go and record so all I really had to do, without being arrogant or anything, was to pay attention and try to capture the vibe of the spirit of the track. Some of me came out, which was fine, if I could capture the signature fills, then fine. Whatever I could capture at the moment, then we’d go with that. We didn’t really have time to sit down and learn it note for note, but a lot of it we knew from over the years as we were fans of those songs.

How do fans get Part 2 of the set?

It’s really part of one package. When you buy the CD you get the liner notes and everything for 25 tracks. There is one disc and it looks like a reel of tape, so when you get the other CD and put it into the box it looks like a tape machine. We were only going to record 14 songs and it turned into 25, but you can get the second disc when you buy a ticket to one of our shows; that CD will be included in the price of the ticket. I think in England, Classic Rock Magazine gave away the second disc when you bought the magazine. It’s really one package, one doesn’t go without the other, but we couldn’t put out two discs at the same time so it became what it is.

Is that included with the cost of a ticket?

Yes it is, but some people have come up to me and said “Hey, you’re not playing my town, how do I get the second disc?” We will be offering to fans in some way so they can get it.

What will be included on that one?

There’s “War Pigs” by Sabbath, Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like You Do.” There’s the Mott track and another 12, 13 songs on that disc and so many varied choices. It could quite easily have been the first disc.

You are also working on a boxed set. What are you planning for this?

We have stuff that we’ve been sitting on for a long time. We have over 100 hours of footage in a documentary style and it’s all the stuff that we did with Tommy. There’s another two records there, one actually is another covers record that we did with Tommy, there’s acoustic performances. We have a full concert, which although wasn’t shot professionally, is something that we should include. We have footage of the first show we did when we got back together after the break-up.

When can fans expect this to be released?

There’s still a lot to do, a lot to think about. We had hoped to get it out by Christmas, but now, I doubt it. It’ll be done when it’s done. We have to take our time, we don’t want to rush it out there. It depends on how busy we are and being over in Europe right now means we haven’t been able to address anything as we’re working.

You’re also planning your first world tour in 15 years. Where will you be playing?

It is around 15 years. We’re coming back and doing a full tour of the UK. We’ll be doing some other European shows too as well as shows in Tokyo and Australia. They’ll be happening in October and November and we’re all very excited about them.

You are generally regarded as the band that came up with the Unplugged format with your classic Five Man Acoustical Jam. How do you feel about getting the credit for that?

I’ve heard that a lot over the years, but to be quite honest it doesn’t really register with me as it wasn’t something we did to start anything, we just happened to play live in a club one night. The only reason we did that was because this girl named Queenie Taylor, who used to work for BGP… she saw us at the Grammy Awards where we played two songs acoustically and she asked us to play acoustically at this club. We went on to play in about 5 cities and we recorded one and it just kind of came out of that. Before you know it, we had MTV Unplugged and all of these cool things and you know, I guess we were instrumental in something that happened, but I’m not too quick to gain credit for something that large. I think it’s flattering to think that we’ve been part of something that’s been as big as the acoustic thing. When Clapton did the Unplugged show, that was just amazing.

Did MTV pay you a royalty for coming up with the idea?

Ha!! Yeah!!

Will you be performing any entirely acoustic shows on your tour, or just a segment in your show?

There’s nothing sorted yet, but we’ll be playing a two hour show and it’s something we’d have to consider. Maybe the fans will help us make some of those decisions as we go through the countries.

What else can fans expect from this tour?

We just keep playing and I don’t know if you’re aware, but we’ve played a different show every night on this tour. There’s so many songs to choose from and it keeps it fresh for us.

This’ll be your first European shows with Dave Rude who replaces Tommy Sceoch on guitar. How has he fit into the band?

He fits right into the band. A lot of people who have seen the band think he’s Tommy… he has the same type of hair you know!! Frank found him on MySpace and we got really lucky. We didn’t have much time to rehearse together — he was literally thrown straight into the fire and we just jumped right out playing dates. Dave has done so well with us.

What will you be doing after the tour?

We haven’t started writing yet as we’ve concentrated on the covers album and then gone straight out onto the road. Once some of the energy runs out on this, then we’ll start thinking about new material. Right now our focus and our energy is what we’re doing out here at the moment, but we could start working on new stuff early next year.

For more on Tesla visit the Tesla website


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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