Tesla Drummer Talks Partying, Process January 30, 2017
Published January 30, 2017
Tesla has done all the things rock bands are supposed to do since forming in 1984 under its original name, City Kidd. The band has played sold-out stadiums, partied hard backstage and even broke up for a time.
The hard rock band reformed around 2000 and since then, it has continued to release albums and hit the road on tours. Tesla will perform at FireKeepers Casino Hotel, 11177 E. MIchigan Ave., at 8 p.m. Feb. 17.
Tesla drummer Troy Luccketta talked to the Enquirer Monday about the band’s longevity, working with other hard rock bands and who’s the best drummer out there.
The Enquirer: This question comes from Dweezil Zappa: “What are your thoughts on the current state of music production, with everyone having access to all the same plug-ins and technology? All the same tools are available to everyone, so how do you make your own music stand out?”
Luccketta: “First of all, awesome question. I have lots of thoughts on that, actually. It’s a double-edged sword when it comes to technology and what’s available to us because you don’t really have to be a great musician to tap into a lot of that stuff and make everything sound great. You just have to be a good editor.
“The flip side of that is, it’s great technology because you can do so much with the technology that we couldn’t do before. I like the fact that we as Tesla, we’ve not ever relied on the technology. We are a band that plays music first. We write our songs, perform our songs, and that’s what we do and that’s why we have sustained a career, I believe, to this day.
“In the analog world we were able to capture performance and capture where you were at that time so if you were doing something on the keyboard or experimenting with the technologies, like theremins, and Echoplex and all these things that they had used, we don’t see much of that anymore.”
Where is Tesla today versus when you started playing together? What’s kept you guys going?
“In the ’80s, when we came out, it was just about the music. That’s all it’s ever been about for us. Somehow that got recognized over the years. People threw us in the hair metal category, which was fine because we were a band from the ’80s, but it’s just been about the music. It’s never been about anything other than that. We still have the same philosophy today putting our music together.
“It’s a pretty simple rock and roll show. Back in the day, if you look at our music videos, we never exploited any sex. There was no women in any of the videos. Those were things we stayed clear from. It’s just like music and politics. We don’t do it. We’re just here to have a good time, play the music and hopefully people have fun.”
You’ll be playing with Def Leppard and Poison on an upcoming tour; you go way back with those guys, right? You just worked with Phil Collen of Def Leppard on an album.
“We toured with Def Leppard for 15 months on the ‘Hysteria’ tour in ’87, ’88, all through Europe, Canada and the U.S. We also did a headlining tour with Poison when they were at the height of their thing with sold-out arenas. We’ve got a history with those bands and long relationships.
“What’s different is that we were younger. There was a lot of partying going on. That won’t be taking place. There’s not been any alcohol or drugs on a Tesla tour in 15 years. Not even a beer backstage. So there’s a lot of juicing going on.
“Having a relationship with Phil and having him produce this album that’s coming out next year, and his commitment to that, has been phenomenal.”
What’s the process for coming up with a set list for Tesla? How do you balance doing old stuff versus new stuff?
“New stuff is always very limited, and we might play a song off the record because you got to play all the staples and the history. You’ve got this catalog that you’ve got to pull from. So you look at everything. We just try to spread it out the best that we can and have the staples in there.”
I’m going to put you on the spot and ask you to name the top three drummers who influenced you.
“That’s real simple for me, personally. John Bonham (of Led Zeppelin), Jeff Porcaro (of Toto) and (session drummer) Steve Gadd.
“There’s a laundry list of great, great, great drummers out there. ‘Why didn’t you mention Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich?’ Well, of course we already know what they were and they are those guys.
“It’s really not fair to do that it that way, but if I had to pick one guy, thinking back of all these years and I had to put him on top, I’d probably put Steve Gadd on top of the list. I just watched him play such great music over the years. He’s diverse in his playing, stylistically. He’s just coming from another place that I hope to continue to tap into.”
What should I ask the next musician I interview?
“How do you balance social media in your music and your journey? There’s a balancing act in all of that. What becomes too much and what is not enough?”
Original Post at Battle Creek Enquirer