Tesla’s Hair Metal Sound Still Resonates

Tesla (courtesy of the artist)

During the heyday of glam metal, when bands like  Motley Crüe, Poison, Cinderella, and many others always performed decked out in makeup, there was one band whom mostly opted to keep things simple, choosing flannels and jeans, over spandex and puffed up hair. Aside from this, the band Tesla also strayed away from the overdramatic and hedonistic subject matter, instead writing albums and songs about science, technology, and the human spirit. Musically,  the Sacramento-bred five-piece was a hard rock band, but distinguishing the band from its peers was a sound more based in bluesy hard and metal, than in ballads and love songs, though they had those too. For Tesla, which formed in 1985, the music came first, and fans always have appreciated this authenticity since day one.  With seven full-length albums,  numerous live and acoustic albums and a new record due in 2019 produced by Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, the band show no signs of slowing down. With They have stayed true to their art, and always made music the first priority. After more than three decades together, Tesla currently features vocalist/lyricist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude, bassist and keyboard player Brian Wheat, and drummer, Troy Luccketta.  In the middle of a current US Club tour, Luccketta took time to speak with the Weekly about the band’s new album, current tour and youthful spirit. 

 OC Weekly (Alex Distefano) : Tell us about the live album, of Mechanical Resonance, and what the experience was like for the band?

 Troy Luccketta: First off, It wasn’t a live album we did from start to finish there is a bit of a misunderstanding there.  Phil Collen, who produced the new record,  wanted us to document the 30th anniversary of this record, and we agreed to do it. So on that tour’s last 4 or 5 shows, we shot some songs we played from that album every night we would record them live for the album. It was part of our concert, so of course, we did them all in one take. We had fun with it, it was what it was but it was taken from different shows on that tour. We are glad our fans liked it.

Do you ever get offended or upset about being lumped into the glam and hair metal genre of the ’80s?

Not at all because back then it was a big thing, we were proud to be part of such a fun time and energetic scene. It was a special era and time in music. We had a lot of fun and a lot of those bands were our friends, and still are after all these years. Last year we just toured with Poison. And we started out with Poison back in the day playing arenas with them. On this recent tour, we just did with them, we were actually more dressed up then Poison!  Bobby had on like a flannel, the rest of the guys had no flashy makeup on for their set each night, hey just came out rocked the stage and killed it. For us it was cool to realize how many great songs those dudes had, they still play good and sound great. 

But glam is not a bad thing we aren’t ashamed,  I mean look at artists like David Bowie.  It was a great time great, exciting time for music we had a lot of fun in that era.

Do you find that you are reaching younger fans with Tesla these days?

Actually, yes, we have seen a trend over the past few years, younger people are getting more into our music, and it’s not just the older crowd who are our age now. It’s totally cool and exciting we love our older fanbase, and I love it how we had our heyday with our fans but now we can reach a younger audience as well, it’s something special.

Do you prefer the bigger shows vs smaller clubs with Tesla? This current tour is smaller to medium size venues, not stadiums or arenas.  But we have seen it all from the tiny bars to the huge stadiums. I like them both for different reasons. Last night we played at The Canyon Club in LA,  and it’s the smallest show we have done so far. But, it was amazing the intimacy and crowd connection was just off the charts. I love shows like that. While the arenas and stadiums are cool, because you get more exposure due to the sheer volume, nothing beats the smaller venues where we are up close to the fans.

What are your thoughts on bands like Black Sabbath, Slayer and now KISS officially retiring? Does Tesla ever look that far into the future for the band?

Oh we are not anywhere near there, at all. We have so much left in us. Some of these bands,  I think about and then I  remember the ages of the band members, and I’m like whoa these dudes are old! Ha ha! 

 Now I am up there in age too, but I don’t feel it. When we were in South America last year on tour, I thought about how old I am,  and my son was on social media posting about how his dad is still rocking in his old age, so go figure. For me, being in this band,  making music really makes me realize that age thing really is just a number. We are very youthful, and people always tell us we look young, we are all in pretty good shape, and it’s because we have a passion for playing together,  the music gives us energy and keeps us young, for that I am thankful.

What are Tesla’s future plans after this tour?

Well after this tour is done, we are taking a little time off, then get ready for winter, because there will be another touring cycle for us. We have a new record coming out in early 2019, and we are going to be touring a lot, working a ton next year on the road in 2019 trying to promote the new album. It’s going to be busy, but fun. We hope to see all our fans on the road.

Tesla will perform a Sold-Out show Wednesday, September 26, at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. 

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