7. Rocco DeLuca || Five (or More) Questions With Tommy Black
Monday, May 7th, 2018
“…the Viper Room’s rock and roll for sure…” – Rocco DeLuca
A conversation with Rocco about motorcycles, Kiefer Sutherland, Slash, and Daniel Lanois. Rocco plays the Tommy & Luke present Black and White Night at The Viper Room, Wednesday, May 9th 2018.
Tommy: Five (or More) Questions with Tommy Black, I’ve got Rocco Deluca here. Hi, Rocco.
Rocco: How ya doin’, Tommy?
Tommy: Very good.
Rocco: Thanks for the call, man.
Tommy: Yeah, we’re excited to have you, you play the club on Wednesday. When, when’s the last time you played the Viper Room? Do you think?
Rocco: (exhales) You know there was a little, I think there was a show for Dice Magazine, um, a little motorcycle mag in town. And…there was… man, that must have been a couple years ago now.
Tommy: Yeah, Dice, Dice I think has done a couple a – I’ve seen – they’ve done a couple a cool events there.
Tommy: Do you have – you have a motorcycle obviously, right?
Rocco: Yeeaah, workin’ on a… on a panhead. I had to sell some music gear. I had to move a couple of old guitars to get this old motor…
Rocco: …and then…
Tommy: Trading one love for another.
Rocco: That’s kinda what’s goin’ on right now.
(they both laugh)
Tommy: I… I have a Triumph. I love- love- bikes. I ride a Triumph-
Rocco: Oh yeah?!
Rocco: What- what year is your Triumph?
Tommy: It’s just a 2006, it’s not an old one. But I’ve had it, I bought it-
Rocco: Oh yes, so it works (laughs)
Tommy: I’m attached to it, and it works.
Rocco: Yeah (laughing)
Tommy: So I haven’t changed vehicles. You have a few of ‘em, or you have just…?
Rocco: I have two bikes right now, one’s just a Dyna from ’96…
Rocco: …that while I’m workin’ on my Chopper, that’s the one that gets me where I need to go. (laughs)
Rocco: While I’m wrenchin’ on the other one.
Tommy: And you have a group of guys you ride around with too, right? Or-
Rocco: A bunch of friends from… I’m on the Echo Park side of things…
Rocco: …and a bunch of friends from this neighborhood and the surrounding areas, that all ride, build…
Rocco: …and yeah, plan little trips.
Tommy: Awesome. Awesome. Have them come to the club, it’s definitely motorcycle friendly as you know.
Rocco: Yeah, Viper Room’s rock and roll for sure.
Tommy: (laughs) What’s- what do you think of when you hear the name Viper Room?
Rocco: That’s what I think of. I mean, I remember going there with some friends who were- who were wild boys, you know?
Tommy: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm
Rocco: …and they showed me a good time down there. (Tommy laughs) I remember just, I even remember bein’ a kid, you know, in the late ‘90’s and cruisin’ – cruisin’ through there, and I remember thinkin’, “Man, I love the little stage and how tight it is.” And I remember thinkin’, “This is… this is a proper rock and roll room.”
Rocco: Like, it really felt proper.
Tommy: Yeah. It is. (laughs)
Tommy: You’ve done some stuff, I mean I’ve been there 16 years actually. I remember-
Tommy: Yeah… my parents are proud.
Rocco: (laughing) That’s awesome. (laughing)
Tommy: I remember you being there, and Kiefer had signed you, Kiefer Sutherland had signed you to-
Tommy: -the label. And he was there. And I remember you playing there a few times with that. Can you tell me a little of the story behind that?
Rocco: Yeah, I signed to Ironworks Music, back then…
Rocco: …and that was kind of a whirlwind. We were just goin’ full steam. And we popped into The Viper Room quite a bit. I was with Kiefer and Dark Mark for a lot of those adventures at The Viper Room.
Tommy: Yes, I know Dark Mark too, yes. (laughs)
Rocco: Yeah… and he was the one that actually brought me over to that label.
Tommy: Wow wow. He’s a good old friend.
Tommy: Yeah. He’s a good guy.
Rocco: Yeah… he was always kinda… hunted for talent, or you know, something weird.
Rocco: He would bring Kiefer things every now and then. …But I remember, gosh, I think… man, I remember those guys just getting, ya know, havin’ a really good time, (Tommy laughs) and jumpin’ on the stage. They stage dived a few times off that stage. (laughs)
Tommy: Yeah, I saw the stage antics. (both laugh) That’s cool though.
Rocco: And I, and I was just thinking, “How do I get home?”
Tommy: So, so he signed you and then was he your tour manager or something? I know you did the documentary, I watched a little part of it, but was he your tour manager – which was really cool by the way – but was he-
Rocco: Yeah, (they both laugh) yeah, he was our tour manager if, if you can believe it.
Tommy: How, how was it having Kiefer Sutherland as a tour manager?
Rocco: Well he was, I don’t know, man, I couldn’t keep up with him. He’s just on 10. You know?
Tommy: Yeah, yeah.
Rocco: He’s got that, he’s got some serious…
Rocco: I remember thinkin’, “Man. I’ll never, never be able to keep up with this guy.” He’s too rock and roll for me for sure. (laughs)
Tommy: Well, he gets a lot done, though. (Rocco laughs) He gets a lot done, so good for him. (both laugh) And let’s see, then with that, with that label… what sort of bands did you tour with, or open for, or play with?
Rocco: It was really across the board, I mean, I remember playing from all across the board, Robert Randolf…
Rocco: …um I remember… Keane, John Mayer even when we were doing the bigger stadiums and stuff. I remember… all kinds of great bands that- it must have have been a hundred bands I toured with-
Rocco: Nonstop, at that time.
Tommy: And you, let’s see, I saw you were on the Slash, one of the Slash records too that’s cool. That’s awesome.
Rocco: Yeah, yeah…
Tommy: Is that the one where he got all the different singers?
Rocco: That’s right, that’s right.
Rocco: He did a collaboration with…
Tommy: Ozzy and stuff-
Rocco: All his favorite singers. (Tommy laughs a “yeah”) It was a real honor to get a call from him and… and play a little with Slash. And we did a few, a couple shows. One in Vegas, that was a blast.
Tommy: He’s great. He was in the other night and snaked a t-shirt. When he was here. (laughing)
Rocco: No waaay. He did?
Tommy: No (laughing) no…
Rocco: That’s so cool.
Tommy: He admitted it.
Tommy: Nah, he’s a good guy.
Rocco: Yeah, he’s the best, he’s the best.
Tommy: Totally. That led to… explain the Daniel Lanois thing. I’ve always been a big Daniel Lanois fan of his-
Rocco: Yeah, I’ve been a fan since I was a kid really. I mean I was always into the Brian Eno…
Rocco: …and Lanois projects. No matter what they worked on. I was always really interested because I felt they were bringing a kind of energy to commercial music that I was interested in.
Tommy: That it needed. Yeah.
Rocco: Yes! (Tommy laughs) And I think when Time Out of Mind came out, that really- that really knocked my socks off.
Tommy: Agreed! The Dylan one.
Rocco: I thought… (realizing what Tommy said) Yeeaaah. I couldn’t believe the sounds and the… lyric coming from Bob- I, I was just blown away at the curation of that record. And… I was in Canada, I think I met Dan… over a decade ago in Canada when he was receiving an award. And he played a little bit with Brian Blade, and that was… that was VERY magical. I was completely floored. And then years, a couple years later I came home from a tour, and I was doing a little set down at The Satellite, back when it was The Satellite, here in Silver Lake. And he came to the show, and sat right in the front and just sang harmonies with me through the whole set.
Rocco: And we just became fast friends after that.
Tommy: That’s cool. That’s so cool. Yeah. The sounds he adds, the… the work he’s done, it’s just… legendary.
Rocco: Yeah, it was a- I mean I ended up, just kind of… workin’ on a lot of projects with him. And just studying his process ‘cause it’s a… he’s a great player as you know, but when he gets behind the console a whole ‘nother thing starts happening. He’s a kind of a performance mixer, ya know?
Tommy: Yeah, yeah.
Rocco: And, it was really a treat to see how, how fun and rock and roll that process can be. …’Cause most people, you know, they run out of the room after the session’s over, and… but he stays in there, and does even a performance on a performance. So it’s a really, a really special thing to see.
Tommy: Wow. Wow. What are you workin’ on right now?
Rocco: Well, I finished a project with Dan that we released last year, called Goodbye to Language.
Rocco: And what it is… is Dan went out on tour, and he took me to play in his ensemble, and then I was also supporting, but then that turned into one long show. Because they would come up when I played-
Rocco: -and then we never, we never… nobody ever left the stage. We were having a lot of fun. (Tommy laughs) So, the two steel guitars, he was on a Sho-Bud 10 string…
Rocco: …steel guitar. And I was fortunate enough to have a custom crafted baritone lap steel, that was kind of a dream instrument for me-
Tommy: Wooow, yeah.
Rocco: -and we started to get really interesting sonics and experimentations at these, at these shows.
Rocco: Especially in Europe.
Rocco: And I was just begging him to… let’s, let’s put this down, these two guitars, and he was hot on it. So we got home we started just tuning up, the instruments, together. Like playing chords for a very long time, and we were getting the most interesting harmonic information from the two steels. So it’s kind of a classical record with two steel guitars.
Tommy: Wow. That’s… that’s amazing. And that’s, that’s… will you be performing stuff from that at this next gig or-
Rocco: Yes, there’s always elements of that feeling in my playing.
Rocco: I feel like we kind of… that’s what we’ve come to in a lot of ways in our playing. And… yeah, I’m gonna show up with a foot, (Tommy laughs) a steel guitar, and a microphone. And try to get as a big of a sound as possible.
Tommy: That’s cool, that’s cool.
Tommy: Perfect. That’s all ya need.
Rocco: Yeah. (laughs)
Tommy: Yeah, your sound is a cool, a very, very cool sound.
Rocco: Aww, Bless, man.
Tommy: Yeah, it’s really good. …Um, are you doin’ what you wanna do right now?
Rocco: You know the thing is I’ve, I’ve really… been interested in you know… getting very lean and mean and minimal with this music.
Rocco: And I feel like I’m just now wrappin’ my head around it, so. …You know it’s a, it’s like a process, you know or a practice.
Rocco: And every time I go at it, I just learn so much. So right now, I’m really excited about where that’s all at.
Tommy: Yeah, yeah where it’s going to.
Rocco: That’s, that’s a lot of fun right now.
Tommy: Cool, that’s awesome.
Rocco: Playin’ music is fun right now, yeah.
Tommy: Yeah. And what do you think about when you’re up there playing, that stuff?
Rocco: Man, I just, I’ve… I’m usually… just so…
Tommy: In the moment?
Rocco: …thankful and happy. And yeah, in it, that… I just, I wait for like these nice moments to share, ya know? And I feel like, those are really special times for me… just to sit and try to lay it down, you know? That’s, that’s what really gets me excited.
Tommy: Well we’re, we’re really excited to have you, at the club-
Tommy: -on Wednesday, I mean…
Rocco: Thanks for the invite, man. That’s great.
Tommy: Yeah, yeah, can’t wait. Well nice, nice chatting with you, and take it easy.
Rocco: Thanks, Tommy. Talk to ya soon, man.
Tommy: See ya, Rocco. Alright, bye.
Five (or More) Questions with Tommy Black is produced by Joshua Chévere Cohen & Prickly Pear Marketing