Troy Lucketta: Tesla strip it back one more time.

Another interview from Ron & Don Higgins. Again, a little late getting online, so apologies again. Troy talks about the just passed tesla acoustic tour and what's next for the band.

Ron: First I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I know you guys are busy with kicking off the new tour so probably the best thing to ask is, you kicked it off last night, right? How did the show go last night?
Troy: I guess it was good. I mean it's hard you know, it's such a different experience than the electric experience, you know, the acoustic thing is obviously a different experience for the Tesla people.

Ron: Was it a pretty big crowd?
I think the place only held about 800 people.

Ron: Oh, OK, so an intimate…
Troy: It was sold out. In a situation…I mean we just decided on this tour that, because when you tour a lot and you play a lot of the same songs, you only have an hour to play, which was our case when we were touring with the Scorpions, and you know, we just, I don't know, personally, speaking for myself I've always kind of got burned out just playing the same tunes you know.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Even with the new record out you know. But when we first…when the record first came out we were playing like 8-9 songs off of the record. We'd go out and play for an hour and a half, an hour and 45 minutes, and it was cool.

Ron: Right.
Troy: But then the last couple of months when we were on with the Scorpions, we ended up with just an hour show.

Ron: OK.
Don: And you had to play all the songs that everyone expected you to play.
Troy: It was the same set every night. It just got kind of old. We were all in the mind-frame, same mind-frame, mind you, of for this tour we have a list of about 30–40 songs. We're changing it every night.

Ron: Oh great.
Troy: Nothing's really that rehearsed (laughs).

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: Which is kind of cool.

Ron: That is cool.
Troy: We're doing 2 hours.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: We're doing a two hour show so it's kind of exciting. So I mean yeah, last night was the first show, you asked me how it went, to answer the question it's kind of like, I think it went well. People I talked to really enjoyed it. For me it's kind of like, you know, we're just kind of getting in the groove. And maybe we'll never get completely in the groove if we constantly keep changing things. I think that would be kind of exciting.

Ron: Yeah that keeps you kind of fresh. I guess in this day and age it's kind of sad when you're getting ready to go to a concert and you go to the internet and find out the exact set list, what order it's going to be played in and it's such a recipe.
Troy: Right.

Ron: It's nice when…
Troy: Unfortunately it is that and with the internet accessibility, you know there's really no surprise. And that's the drag.

Ron: Right, that's true.
Troy: But on the other hand we just decided to, I guess because of that. You know, that's what we had talked about doing all week so tomorrow's the second show. Now I hope there's a lot of different songs tomorrow night.

Ron: Great!
Troy: I'm hoping that will be the case.

Don: So when do you come up… you guys just kind of do it like right when you all get at the show, getting close to show time, you guys go over which songs you're going to throw in that night?
Troy: I left it up to Jeff and Frank, you know, because they put the set list together. Like last night they go, so what do you guys want to play? I said, “Whatever you guys write down I'll play”.

Ron: Right. Sure.
Troy: So I don't know. We'll see. We'll see how it goes, but I think it's a good thing.

Ron: Yeah, well we're talking about the internet and one of the cool things that I saw on your website was that you are using the internet as a way to allow fans to pick a variety of the songs. I think it had 10 or 11 songs on there that basically allowed fans to pick which 5 they wanted to hear.
Troy: I think every song they pick we're playing (laughs).

Ron: Really!
Don: So everyone's happy.
Troy: Yeah because our manager told us about that list so I think we're playing at least 95% of them (laughs).

Ron: Well it's cool because the list was actually some of the more obscure type stuff. I don't know if I want to call it obscure but you know, there were at least 4 songs off of Bust a Nut, which is one of my favorite albums.
Troy: Yeah, we never perform songs off of that record for whatever reason. I don't know but… Yeah like last night, I know we did “Shine Away”.

Ron: Yeah, that's a great song.
Troy: A few other ones. I forget, I don't even remember.

Ron: Well you guys were actually in Cincinnati not that long ago before the Scorpions tour and you were playing at the same place you're coming back to in March, but I was pleasantly shocked when I think the second song of the night, you guys played “Solution” off of Bust a Nut which is probably my favorite Tesla song.
Troy: Right.

Ron: Is that still in your set list? I don't know how it would work acoustically.
Troy: You know what. It didn't make the set list but you know, maybe I'll mention it tomorrow and we might be able to throw it in.

Ron: Yeah, I mean it's a great song, but how it would translate acoustically I'm not sure but…
Troy: You know, some of them are cooler than others, I think the coolest thing about the acoustic set is when you can take it and make it, you know, more obscure. Really change the tunes up but some of the songs we're just playing acoustically and I try to approach things a little differently but sometimes they're just songs in an acoustic setting.
I prefer to get a little more creative with them myself.

Don: That always makes it a little more fun.
Troy: So maybe you would take a song like “Solution” for example, maybe, I know it's a little more up-tempo, because, it kind of seems like we almost need more up-tempo tunes anyway.

Ron: Really?
Troy: So many slow songs. But maybe you find a different way to approach it.

Ron: Well put a note in that Ron from Cincinnati, wants you to include it in your Cincinnati set list, how about that (laughs)?
Troy: I'll try to get it.

Don: That gives you two weeks to get it worked out.
Ron: Yeah, you're only obligated for one show (laughs).
Troy: It's not hard to work out it's like, we'll sit down, we'll go through it at the sound check and it's done.

Ron: Oh wow! That's great!
Troy: We don't really spend a whole lot of time working on anything.

Ron: That keeps it fresh. I guess you can kind of over-rehearse stuff at times.
Troy: Yeah, well absolutely. We're not a band that really rehearses a lot. Our rehearsals come together pretty quickly. Like for this 2-hour set, we had like 3 rehearsals.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: And we never went through the set. Just worked on some of the obscure tunes that we haven't played in a while. You know, go through them a couple of times. Most of the rehearsals it seemed like we were having meetings more than rehearsal.

Don: I think that just comes down to good musicianship.
Troy: Yeah, the band's very capable.

Don: Yeah, you're capable of doing that.
Troy: It's really not rocket science. The stuff's really pretty simple to be quite honest with you.

Ron: Well the thing is too, it is rock and roll and when you're playing the stuff it just sounds great when you're not so rehearsed, when you're just kind of doing things on the fly.
Don: You can change things up a little bit and if you make a mistake here and there, you know what I mean?
Troy: Yeah like last night there were a few for sure.

Don: Why don't we start asking a few of the questions we had written down before we get too far off the mark there.
Ron: Well I was just kind of curious, one of the things was, the show last night, what song did you guys start off with?
Troy: “Into the Now”.

Ron: Oh that's great! I think that's what you kicked off with when you were here before.
Troy: I hope that opening number changes every night.

Ron: Oh really?
Troy: I hope so, you know, I would like to see…I'd like to just see it be a different show every night.

Ron: That'd be cool.
Troy: That's what it's supposed to be so I'm going to call the band on it tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Don: If they don't get it by the second night, you're in trouble (joking). You'll have to start mixing it up right off the bat.
Troy: I mean why?… I don't want to open the show tomorrow with that. We already did that. I mean you figure, there's twenty dates on this tour, there's really no reason why you can't keep changing it.

Don: Right.
Ron: How many days did you say, twenty?
Troy: I think on this leg … this month.

Ron: How long do you see this tour going?
Troy: Well, there's 2 legs of the acoustic tour, we'll go home for a month, then we'll start back up for another month. That will be the 2nd leg, forty dates. There might be a third leg to it, then there's other summer shows that we'll be going back to electric and stuff.

Ron: Oh, OK.
Don: It's very popular for a lot of bands…, the summer tours seem to do pretty well and several bands kind of hook together and play some of the bigger outdoor arenas and that kind of stuff. So we'll definitely keep an eye on if you guys hook up with something like that. Those are always fun. I guess as far as the acoustic tour, one question that I had was, whose idea was it to do this acoustic tour after so many years?
Troy: I think the talk was… Basically we had a record that worked, and a lot of the markets we had just played and we didn't want to go back into them electrically. So it's the 15th year anniversary of the Five Man Acoustical Jam and we never ever toured on that record so that's kind of how it came up.

Don: OK. That makes sense.
Ron: Seems like a good time to do it too.
Troy: Yeah, I mean you know what? We've never toured on it. We're doing it, we'll see if people like it, you know. We'll play, I mean we played for 2 hours and it really went by quickly for me last night. I thought, I could play another 10 songs (laughs).

Ron: Well, I'm sure your fans would have stayed (laughs).
Troy: Yeah.

Ron: Well that's great though, I mean, obviously you guys were having fun.
Troy: Yeah.

Don: Well again, like you said, you didn't tour the last time but you did obviously get a single out there that did pretty well. Any talk or chance of taking a song from this current tour and maybe putting a single out there?
Troy: “What a Shame” came out this week, so we'll see how that does. For this next thing, you know, I imagine we'll record a covers record. There's a few things we're going to do so we're going to be creative and get some stuff out there. I really don't know though, to be specific.

Don: OK.
Ron: You guys are going to do a covers record though?
Troy: I think we are.

Ron: Oh, that's cool. There are a lot of people doing that, in fact I think Def Leppard are…
Troy: We've always wanted to do it and then that got brought up at rehearsal. Frank didn't want to do it because everybody else was doing it. We've always wanted to do it so who cares what everybody else is doing. Everybody else is touring.

Ron: Right. Right. Well the other thing is, you know, in your live shows you guys have always included a lot of cool cover tunes. Some Beetles and Stones and things like that so it kind of makes sense.
Troy: Yeah, we're going to… I don't know. It'll be whatever it'll be. I have no idea what's going to end up on the record.

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: Whatever it is, I hope we record it really quickly. Then it's just kind of done. Don't make a big production out of it.

Ron: Right! Would that be the next…Is that the plans for the next thing that comes… that you guys release? Or are you guys talking about a new studio album?
Troy: Well we're not talking about a studio album as of yet.

Don: Yeah, see how things go.
Troy: There will be a studio album at some point, but when, I don't know.

Ron: Gotcha.
Don: OK.
Ron: Well we're just glad that you guys are back together and releasing new material. You know, Into the Now is as good as anything that you guys have done. I mean, it's great stuff. It's a shame that we're in the sort of musical environment we're in where you've got Ashley Simpson playing every 10 minutes on radio and everywhere and good music is… you know.
Troy: Well, you know, I mean, it's just part of the times. If you look at, you know, over the years, every decade there's always something, some kind of change. Sometimes things come back in cycles, you know. It seems like the rock market is coming back. Look what's happening, I don't know if you're hip to what's happening to Motley Crue right now.

Ron: Oh Yeah, absolutely.
Troy: They're selling… they're kicking ass. That's kind of exciting you know especially… That excites me to know that they're out there doing well and that tour is going to be a complete success.

Don: One big question I really had is, obviously coming up later this month you guys are going to be doing the Wake Up To Love benefit concert for the victims of the fire in Rhode Island and I was just curious how Tesla became associated with that whole thing?
Troy: Well, there's a place called The Strand. There was. I don't know if you're hip to it, a club out there in Providence, we played there last year.

Don: OK.
Troy: And some of the survivors had come down. I know there was a few people…I shook hands with a few people.

Don: Oh Yeah?
Troy: Didn't really get to talk to people at length or anything but there was a package from The Statio… in any rate, it sat on the bus for a few days and so I finally picked it up and looked at it and went through it. And somebody we had lost in the fire, a guy by the name of Jeff Raider who was a personal… he was basically our personal assistant for the band.

Ron: Oh wow.
Troy: Wrong place, wrong time kind of thing.

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: But any rate, so I was just thinking, hmm. I'm going to buy a bunch of guitars and call them up and get them signed and send them to them and see if we can raise some extra money. So I got in touch with them, and Todd King, the vice president called me back. I was so impressed with their organization. Every dollar that they raise goes to exactly what they say it's going to go to.

Ron: Yeah, that's great.
Troy: They pay for their own postage out of their own pockets, I mean their story's really impressive. What they've done. No help from the federal or state. So at any rate, we were talking and they were talking about the second year anniversary coming up, February 20th, and this was six months ago so I don't know. I was talking to Todd, I think what I said was, 'Hey, can I call you back in 20 minutes?' He goes, oh sure. So I hung up, I just called all the band members. I think I called Jeff and said, “hey what do you say we do a concert for these guys, you know? Nobody's done anything.” He just said yes, automatically. I called Brian, it was the same response.

Ron: Wow!
Troy: Same response and that was how we got involved. The Wake Up To Love foundation is just something I started, for hope, you know. I mean we can get involved with things.

Ron: Wow that's great! So you actually created this foundation?
Troy: So we're going to do what we're doing. We're going to do concerts for the Station Family Fund every year.

Ron: That's great!
Troy: I don't mean Tesla, I mean the Wake Up To Love foundation.

Ron: Right.
Troy: It's great because now it's kind of given us some credibility too, because myself and Todd King, you know, we started working with WHJY but we put the show together. And it was very exciting to know that, you know, just from one musician talking to another you can do these kinds of things. And that's all I did. I called Carmine and I think he called Pat Travers. You know I went and saw the Shinedown guys and went and talked to all of them and then we also had WHJY, Scott Ladonie was also working on the Shinedown thing and finally it got confirmed you know.

Ron: Wow.
Troy: And that's how it came together.

Ron: Well that's great!
Troy: It's really exciting to know that that show will be a success. It will be a pretty emotional night for a lot of people you know.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Hopefully you can bring…not only raise some money, but bring healing back to a community that truly needs it, you know.

Ron: Yeah, no kidding.
Troy: Because it's like, you know, it's almost like it just got forgotten about.

Ron: You could say that again.
Troy: That's just kind of what I felt and I heard, so I'm hoping we can continue to make a difference for years to come down the road.

Ron: I think that's great. I'm glad someone's doing it because I've got to tell you, I remember two years ago when I heard about it… you know I go to a lot of bars like that to see bands like yours and Great White and it just… I kept thinking, wow, that just so easily could have been me and I think within a week were the Grammy Awards and not one mention was made. And in Cincinnati we had the Who concert tragedy where, you know, eleven people were killed back in '79 and they still talk about it. You still can't have festival seating in Cincinnati, Ohio. And it was such a big deal but then you think about Rhode Island where a hundred people lost their lives and most of the musical community just kind of ignored it aside from this genre.
Don: It was a very sensational story for a few weeks after it happened.
Troy: Yeah.

Don: People who were into rock music or 80s music, a lot of people probably remember it more so because they've probably been fans of Great White or have been to some smaller clubs like that. But it's good to give a little more exposure and it's good to see the line up you guys got. You guys, Tesla, a big band that's been around for a while, then you've got Shinedown, a newer band and then you throw in Vanilla Fudge, that classic sound. That's just great.
Troy: What I've learned from this is, it's no big deal for us as musicians to say yes. That's all it takes. That's all it took. All I had to do was pick up the phone. Now if I would have went through management, it would have been a different story. But I didn't call our manager. I called the band. I personally have made some phone calls. I sent Kid Rock an email. He had his manager call me back. And I was just disappointed that he didn't pick up the phone and call me himself. I mean, if he's busy or can't make it, that's fine but it seems like when we're all in this together, part of the political situation, and I don't want to knock Kid Rock for the choice that he made. Maybe for whatever reason he didn't want to make the call. But the fact of the matter is, if he had, maybe just by our conversation, maybe he would be playing.

Ron: Right.
Troy: Because maybe there would have been a sense of understanding or just talking, I mean, you know, when you start calling, reaching out, you know, there was a lot of people I called. I had to start calling management people. And when I started doing that I got discouraged. And I just thought, well, I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to stick with calling one musician to another because that's what makes it happen.

Ron: And it looks like it did.
Troy: I know it's a big deal for them. And it's a big deal for us to be a part of it. It's more of an honor to be a part of something like that and to give than obviously to be on the receiving end of that.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Those people have had their lives completely altered.

Don: Yeah.
Troy: You know, the kids that have no parents, that lost both their parents.

Ron: Wow, yeah.
Troy: People like Donovan Williams, Gina Russo who've been so burnt up by the fire and their lives are forever changed.

Don: I think just about everybody in that bar…
Troy: Those are situations, you know, I mean, I'm not dealing with that. I'm sitting in a nice hotel right now, you know. I'm going to play a great show tomorrow, you know. God willing. But you know, I mean, I don't really have any problems. So what's the big deal, of course I can go…I can jump on a plane and fly across the U.S. to help any body that needs help. Period.

Ron: That's great.
Troy: That's just my attitude.

Ron: That's an awesome attitude.
Troy: I don't think we're doing that big a thing, but I know it's a big thing and I'm hoping that it will turn into a big thing once other people become involved. That's my hopes and dreams. I'm not interested in the press that comes from doing something like this. Because I have the Wake Up to Love Foundation, because it gives us some credibility of what we're all about and what it is we want to do.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: But, you know.

Don: Well sometimes it's just the little things that someone does that makes a big difference in someone else's life.
Troy: Like I said, we just have to keep things in proper perspective. But if we can be the first band to say yes and maybe other people jump on board then that's awesome.

Ron: That's great.
Don: Are you still making room for some other people to possibly join up with it? Or are you pretty much set with what you have right now?
Troy: Because the show's Friday…

Don: That's right. This month is going by way too fast!
Troy: The show is definitely set for this week. It's a done deal. But there's next year. I mean I'm going to start working on that right after this week.

Don: That's a great idea.
Ron: So you want to take this foundation and do more similar concerts but for different…
Troy: Yeah, Wake Up to Love Foundation will hopefully be operating in a lot of different avenues/venues. From animals to whatever.

Ron: Oh, that's great.
Troy: Maybe some kid that just needs a transplant of some sort.

Ron OK.
Troy: Whatever, you know?

Ron: Do you guys have a separate web site for that foundation?
Don: Oh yeah.
Ron: I'm sure you…

Ron: That's cool.
Troy: And if you go there, you'll see a picture of … the Wake Up To Love… the gal you talked to was my wife. You'll see a picture of her, myself and Skylar if you click on the About Us. It talks about what we're doing.

Ron: Oh, OK.
Troy: But yeah, that's just something…we've adapted the Station Family Fund so we're going to continue to do those concerts.

Ron: Gotcha. Well that's great and I like that you're doing a great thing but you've got plans to do even more great things. And that's just wonderful.
Troy: I mean really, it's like, I don't know what else to do with my life. You know, I mean I've had a lot of great success, you know, playing. I have my health, you know. I have a family. I have a two-year-old now. If I'm going to come out here and play music, which what we do is very self-serving, and we bring music to people, people enjoy it and that's wonderful. I'm just saying it's a very self-centered lifestyle so to speak.

Ron: Sure.
Troy: Just ask all of the wives that are sitting there.

Ron: Yeah, right (laughing).
Troy: My point being, I have my family with me, my point is to take it and do something with it. My voice is much louder in Tesla than not being in Tesla so if I can use that voice for something, I might as well use it for something positive and try and do something with it. And I enjoy it, you know.

Ron: That is awesome.
Troy: I'm having fun. I mean, I love people, I like doing things. Hopefully we'll make a difference somewhere.

Ron: Well that is fantastic.
Don: I think you definitely will. I think, like you said, the good songs you've put out have made a difference in peoples lives just by giving them joy to hear music, but then to take it one step further and do something like this is… again, you can be touching additional lives and every one you touch, they'll remember that and…
Troy: And it's nice to have people like yourselves call up, and all the support that we get because it's people like you that bring it to the people. You get a story, then you get to share it. You're doing your part and that's cool.

Ron: That's a cool way to look at it. Thanks. So you have a two-year-old, is that what you said?
Troy: Yeah.

Ron: Is that your only one? Just the two-year-old?
Troy: I have a son who's 22. I'm recently remarried and we're traveling as a family together.

Ron: Well that's really neat.
Troy: It's challenging but we do OK.

Ron: Well hopefully your two-year-old didn't wake you up by vomiting on you like my two-year-old did this morning (laughs).
Troy: Not today. Probably tomorrow, man.

Ron: I will never complain about an alarm clock again. I always said, I hate waking up to an alarm clock. Alarm clocks aren't so bad I'm finding out.
Troy: I guess if you woke up to vomit, you truly did wake up to love!

Ron: Yeah, exactly (laughing). That's life with kids, I've got three of them and he's the last one so what are you going to do? They're a blast. They help keep you grounded, that's for sure.
Don: When I called in Troy, I was talking to your wife to get this interview set up, I could hear your two-year-old in the background, you know, being noisy, running around and she was being apologetic, saying, “I'm sorry.” I was like, “No need. I've got a three-year-old and a seven-year-old and you don't have to apologize. I know what it's like!”
Troy: When you have kids, you certainly understand. When you don't have kids, some people can't relate. And I can understand that. It's just kind of annoying or a nuisance to them, you know. When you have kids, it's not that way.

Ron: Yeah, when you go to a restaurant and you kid's acting up, you look around, the people that aren't fazed are the ones that have kids and the people that are offended are the ones that don't. It's kind of funny.
Don: They'll learn. In time.
Ron: That's cool that you're bringing your whole family with you. I mean, I think that's a great thing to hear too.
Troy: You're going to be in Cincinnati you said?

Ron: Yeah.
Troy: We'll see you there, I'm sure.

Ron: Sure, yeah. We'll be there. I think it's in mid-March and it's the same place you guys played back before the tour with the Scorpions so I think there's a pretty good fan base here in Cincinnati. So we look forward to seeing you.

Don: I think you've pretty much answered most of the stuff. We just really wanted to talk a little bit about your upcoming tour, the acoustic tour, how it came about; your plans for the future; and The Wake Up to Love Foundation. So you've pretty much answered the questions that we were hoping for. The only other question I've got, and this is strictly a personal one, as a fan of drummers, I've got a set downstairs, my three-year-old plays it much more than I do, but for you being a drummer, I was just curious if you could tell who some of your influences were as a drummer, or who are some of your contemporary drummers that you really respect and enjoy listening to now?
Troy: Well, over the years I've probably listened to just about everybody. I grew up with a lot of the seventies drummers, you know, Bonham, Ian Pace from Deep Purple. And as I would go through…Simon Kirk from Bad Company, and then times would change. There was a guy names Mark Crane who I listened to a lot with a record called “Brother to Brother” by Gino Vanelli. You've probably never heard of that. And then there's Steve Smith.

Ron: Journey, yeah.
Troy: And then David Derabomby from Power Powers, Steve Gat, Jeff Porcaro.

Don: He's good. From Toto.
Ron: That's cool.
Don: Like I said, it was a little off the topic from everything else, but like I said, I sometimes like to get a musician on the phone and it's fun to hear a little bit about their influences, you know, … to relate it to the music that you created over the years. Sort of a selfish question on my part but thanks for answering.
Troy: OK man. I look forward to seeing you guys in Cincinnati.

Don: We'll let you get off the phone here and we appreciate you talking with us. It was a lot of fun and we will get some stuff together and get it on the website so we can send it out to the world.
Troy: Thank you man.

Ron: You take care, have a good show tomorrow and we'll see you in Cincinnati. Take care Troy.