|Date:||May 19th, 2011|
|Place:||The Bean (Coffeeshop)
49 1/2 1st Avenue, New York
|Length:||One hour, fifteen minutes|
At around eleven on May 19th, 2011, the day after his show at the Rockwood Music Hall, I sat down with Tony Lucca at The Bean coffee shop to talk about his life and career for over an hour. This interview covers his early childhood days as an actor on the Mickey Mouse Club to the release of his first CD in 1997.
Evan Amos: Hi, I just wanted to go over some simple questions and get those out of the way. Your full name is Anthony James Lucca, is that correct?
- Tony Lucca: Yes.
- Lucca: January 23, 1976.
Amos: So you were born in Pontiac, Michigan?
- Lucca: That's correct.
Amos: Did you grow up there as well?
- Lucca: No, it was Waterford, which was just outside of Pontiac.
Amos: Who are your parents and what did they do when you were growing up?
- Lucca: My mother's name is Sally, and she worked in the service industry for a number of years, then got out of that and into the wallpaper and paint business. My dad's name was Tony and he was an executive at General Motors.
- Lucca: Italian, Welsh, French and English.
Amos: You did things with your cousin when you were younger, and your mom had a lot of siblings, did you have a lot of extended family around growing up?
- Lucca: Yeah, a lot of cousins, a lot of uncles that worked professionally in music. A really big extended family.
Amos: Was a lot of the music stuff that you were doing when you were growing up, was that mostly involving your family?
- Lucca: We had a couple of different bands that we played in before we started to take it seriously, but it was [my cousin] and I that were a team. My mom was the tenth of twelve of kids, so there was always a lot of family around.
Amos: Does that mean that you have to go up to Michigan every other year for weddings and graduations?
- Lucca: [laughs] For a while there, yeah. A lot of her siblings live very spread out, from Maryland to Arizona, Alabama. You never know where you're going to go for a wedding.
Amos: So you had the band stuff that you were doing when you were pretty young, but how long did it take you to get interested in the commercial work like modeling that lead up to you wanting to audition to “Newsies?”
- Lucca: There was a local modeling contest, like a runway modeling contest, that I won. The very beginning of it was doing runway modeling, which lead toward getting more work commercially in Michigan, that lead to auditioning for Disney.
Amos: What is runway modeling at 13?
- Lucca: It's fucking weird man, I was even younger, like 9 or 10. If there was ever a fall fashion show or a wedding fashion show, where you're wearing the ring-bearer boy junior tux. The whole environment was kinda bizarre for me at the time. I grew up in the Midwest, a normal town and household, so being backstage at some of these events and seeing a more culturally diverse crowd. Men and women changing in front of each other, without any inhibitions, it was like “Whoa!” [laughs]
Amos: I've seen that sort of thing on backstage videos, where you have dancers or performers and they're doing a big show with multiple costumes, and they're just getting naked or changing with all of these set hands just standing around them.
- Lucca: I was understanding what that was all about, but at the time I was like, “Man, I just want to play baseball.”
Amos: So would you be backstage at these events by yourself? Would your mom be back there with you, like a stage mom?
- Lucca: She was not a stage mom. When I was auditioning for the Mickey Mouse Club, I didn't have so much as a headshot. We had a polaroid I think. She wasn't like, “Go on and do your thing,” she was always close, but she never meddled in it. She was never dressing me. Fully supportive, but at a distance.
Amos: What was your interest to do something like that? Was it for money? Was the act of dressing up and walking down the runway fun?
- Lucca: There was a “ham” sort of thing. A young kid who could dance and get up on the runway, that was about it. Once I started getting paid, it was like, “Oh shit, I can make money at this.” I'd buy records.
Amos: Would a lot of these things be in Detroit?
- Lucca: Yeah, southeast Michigan. Detroit-area malls.
Amos: So it seems that there wasn't really anything involving acting up until the point of the Newsies audition, what made you think to yourself to go and do something where you'd be singing and acting and dancing?
- Lucca: Like I said, after shying away from the modeling world, I just went back to playing sports. I was fourteen. But the idea of being able to be in a movie, with singing and dancing. I had been singing my whole life, dancing I would just figure out. I was always in school plays in elementary school. I wasn't coming out of it cold. I went to go audition for [Newsies] and ending up on the call sheet for the Mickey Mouse Club, which I didn't know what it was at all. I didn't know what it entailed.
Amos: Yeah, because at that point I don't think that the Mickey Mouse Club was even a show, it had spurts of coming back on and off.
- Lucca: They did a little revamp in the '70s, but I don't think that it was very successful. In the '80s they brought it back exclusively for the Disney Channel, we didn't have the Disney Channel, so I had no idea what it was. A large part of my audition was the casting director explaining to me what it would be. “Does that sound interesting to you?” “Sure.”
Amos: Do you remember anything specifically about the Newsies audition that made you seek it out? Was it just something in the paper you saw? How often would these type of things come to the Detroit area?
- Lucca: It wasn't often. There was a company that had helped me with some of the modeling stuff. After I stopped modeling, we stopped working with them, but they were very cool about it. They let me know when things came up.
Amos: I read the account that you arrive to the Newsies audition and you get upset that it was actually for the Mickey Mouse Club, and you didn't want to do it, but you sister talked you into it.
- Lucca: That's true. I was really bummed out, that it wasn't Newsies so I just wanted to go home. It was in Detroit and we lived an hour outside of Detroit. When she saw that I was on the roster for that, she was like, “Don't be a jerk.” So I went in. Most of the kids were going in and coming right back out. I went in, and I was in there for like forty minutes.
Amos: What kind of things do you remember having to do? Did you have to dance? Did you have to sing songs? Were you singing your own songs when they asked you to sing?
- Lucca: I didn't have my own songs. You had to come with a karaoke tape, something to sing along to. I sang, “She's Got A Way” by Billy Joel, and I think a Bobby Brown song, “Every Little Step.” I sang for a little bit, and they see charisma or no charisma. Then they give you some scenes from a skit, a script, “Go back out and spend some time with this, and I'll bring you back in to read from it.”
Amos: Were you basically the kid from Detroit that was picked from that audition?
- Lucca: There was another girl in Detroit, named Sutton Foster, who became a Tony-award winning actress. Super talented. We both flew out to Los Angeles at the same time for the show. She didn't get it, I did, so in essence, yeah, I was the “kid from Detroit.” The casting director, Matt Costello, he knew what he was looking for and considering the number of people that he found on that show that went on to have major success, he really knew what he was looking for, and I guess I was that.
Amos: I was able to watch the first half of the E! True Hollywood Story about the Mickey Mouse Club, where it was more of the typical Disney model that they went out to Midwest towns and weren't looking for that “starry, stage kid” they were looking for natural little kids who could do stuff.
- Lucca: They were also looking for a quality of character.
Amos: Were you a wholesome 14-year old?
- Lucca: I had people convinced that I was. I was responsible. But, you know, I did my share of sneaking out, teenage drinking, all of the things that you don't want your kids to do before they're of age.
Amos: How long did it take for you to go out to Los Angeles after you were picked in Detroit? Were you flown out immediately?
- Lucca: I think I auditioned in fall, September or October, and then flew out to L.A. in January. The show went into production that season in April.
Amos: When you went to L.A., do you remember it being a much different experience that Detroit? They [the L.A. kids] were basically a bunch of kids like you at that point. Were you in a large group? Did they just whittle you down to the ten or so that they picked for the show?
- Lucca: Yeah, it was very different, in that L.A. was... I was so green, of the whole process. I didn't understand what was going on. It wasn't sold to me as a screen test. It was sold to me as a camp, a boot camp, for what we would be doing in Florida. That's how it was expressed to me, because the casting director was so sure I was going to be on the show. So when I got out to L.A., I was just having fun, working in this camp, training with them, vocal coach, dance coach, choreographer.
- Then I started talking to some of the other kids and they were very nervous, hoping that they would get this. “What are you talking about? No dude, this is a screen test.” They interviewed our parents, it was a large part of it, it was like Willy Wonka, the whole picture. Once I realized that, it was, “Oh shit, I better get with it. I better bring my A game.”
Amos: So was it just like in Detroit but longer? Did you have to do several screen tests, then more dancing, more singing?
- Lucca: No, Detroit was two days. I went one day, came back the next day on a callback. I think that they gave me a different skit that had some different scenes, more dancing, or sing another song, but it was just two days worth of auditioning. That was it. They sent over the contracts before we went to L.A.. When you screen test for something, your deal has to be in place, before you even audition. They sent over this huge, it looked like a script, like a feature film script, a phone book of a contract.
Amos: Did your mom read that? Did you not read it?
- Lucca: My folks did. We had someone at our church that was a lawyer and he came over to our house. He had spent some time with a copy of it, then came over to our house and sat down with our family, talked through what this means, what I'd be getting into.
Amos: After Los Angeles, did you have a feeling that you were being picked, or did you get a call like two months later?
- Lucca: I had a feeling, but that's because the casting director was really dead set on having me on the show. I came to find later that he had single-handedly made sure that some of the cast members were selected. He fought for a lot of the kids. He fought really hard for Britney [Spears], he fought really hard for Ryan Gosling, he fought really hard for Keri Russell even though she refused to sing on her audition tape.
Amos: Did you see Keri at the L.A. audition?
- Lucca: No. They did the first camp with us, and picked 8 from that camp. They felt like they still needed a couple more, so they did another camp, a smaller camp, and she was at that camp.
Amos: When you went down to Florida, the deal's finalized, you're basically quitting school and all of that, did you move to Florida by yourself? Did your family come with you?
- Lucca: My mom came with me. Fortunately, she was in a position with her wallpaper and paint business that she could set it aside and made the sacrifice to come down. We got an apartment, and my dad and my sister stayed in Detroit. We traveled back and forth as much as our production schedule permitted. They would come down and vacation in Florida all of the time obviously, as well. It was about every three weeks that we managed to make it work. In the fall, my mom and I would move back to Michigan.
Amos: Did that upset you at the time? It's almost like your family was getting divorced. Half your family is in Michigan, half in Florida.
- Lucca: Part of the whole thing was that we, as a family, decided that we could do this, knowing what it would entail. Knowing the sacrifice that it would entail. We made sure everyone was like, “Yeah, I'm willing to do that.” My sister as well, she was like, “You can't not do this. We can make this work.” I've got a wonderful family. My parents are happily married after 37 years, without that, who knows. We're very close, so no, it wasn't emotionally disturbing at all. My family's got my back. My mom and I made really great roommates.
Amos: For the other people on the show, was it a similar situation? Would their parents come, too, and be living in an apartment complex owned by Disney and you all were neighbors?
- Lucca: Yes. Some families would say, “Let's go all in” and the whole family would relocate to Orlando and started fresh, put all their eggs in that basket. My folks weren't able to do that, nor did it make sense. We would shoot spring into the fall, and then go back home.
Amos: So was it like camp in your mind?
- Lucca: It was much more like camp, yeah. As my time on the show went on, the production schedule got longer and longer. We were doing more pre-season production. We made a record and toured to promote this record. They just got as much mileage out of us as they could, while they had us under contract.
Amos: At the time, what was the contract like? Was money a big incentive, was this a lot of money for you to be earning at the time?
- Lucca: It was a lot of money for me. It was a lot of money for these kids from small towns. But the longer that we were on the show, the more that we started to catch wind of what kind of money was in this business. What kids in L.A. were getting paid for children's TV shows. We were scale plus ten percent, I think, was what Disney paid, which was a shit ton of money for me. I was fifteen and had a bank account and my own ATM card. I paid my own rent in Florida.
Amos: They charged you rent in Florida? I'm surprised they wouldn't set you up.
- Lucca: They should have, but, you know, I paid my own rent. My mom and I ate out all of the time. It was cool. I was shopping. I made more money than I could spend at that age, or try to spend. But as it went on, the demands and the way that Disney was revealing kinda... how... I don't know, how dictatorial they are.
Amos: Do you think that they made an effort to keep you ignorant about it? Like, the idea of how much kids make. “Oh, this is great!”
- Lucca: Yeah, they did a lot of things that were very controlling. Little things like, you know, pre-screening fan mail and then giving us all pre-read fan mail, in equal amounts.
Amos: So someone wouldn't get too big-headed in the group. Wait, you got silk boxers in the pre-read fan mail? “Tony will love this!”
- Lucca: No, the silk boxers were aside from... because everyone said, “You're gonna have to change your phone number and make sure you're not listed in the phone book.” We found out very quickly after the show started airing that we had to change our number, but it was out there. Initially, people knew where I lived and they knew my phone number. That was new to me, like fans calling.
Amos: Would you have fun with that? In the beginning I imagine it would be fun, then “Ugh, bye.”
- Lucca: No it was fun. My cousin Cole would be over and I'd be like, “Hey, do you want to talk to this girl? Talk to her!” You have fun with it for a while, then it just gets to... you don't know who's out there.
Amos: I imagine that your fanbase would have been mostly teenage girls and then middle-age men. When you said that you had gotten underwear in the mail I was thinking that some 37-year old guy, alone in an apartment, sent that to him.
- Lucca: No, it was a groupie fan from Colorado. The fanbase was interesting, more so in hindsight as I get older and started my music career, coming out to the support of these people, who were still following me. You get a really good sense of what that Disney fanbase was all about.
Amos: Were you living with your mom the entire time that you were on the show?
- Lucca: Legally my mom was required to be there; you needed a guardian or parent, legally. After a while my mom didn't feel terribly needed once we started driving ourselves to work.
Amos: So she'd be stuck in the apartment a lot while you were out doing stuff?
- Lucca: Yeah, she was constantly bringing people around. It got to the point where we had to get a three bedroom apartment to accommodate all of the guests that she'd have come down to Florida to visit, to keep herself busy, to bide her time until the season was over. She didn't want to be there anymore. I didn't really want her there anymore, I was 17. Toward the end of the third year, it was less and less.
- The fourth year I was 18, and I didn't need a parent or guardian, and two other castmates were 18 so we got our own place. We got our own apartment, away from Disney, over by Universal. We started our adult life as emancipated, free adults.
Amos: Most people don't really live in the environment that they work in. Was that weird, living at Disney, living at the park almost. Always there.
- Lucca: Yeah, and we were an attraction on the backlot tour.
Amos: People could walk through and see you doing your show.
- Lucca: We were always on. It always had to be minding our behavior.
Amos: Would you have to smoke in the backrooms secretly?
- Lucca: There wasn't much smoking going on until the final season, and they knew they just lost all hope of corralling us any longer. I think that's a large part of why the show was canceled. We were 18, had our own parties, starting experimenting. There was very little they could do about it.
Amos: The groups that they had on the show, there was the original group, would they bring in new kids every year? Or was it just that second group, like Britney and Justin [Timberlake], that subsequent new group?
- Lucca: It was weird, there was no rhythmic in and out. It was a case-by-base basis. I think parents played a large roll. If they didn't want to deal with your parents, they didn't want to deal with you. Some kids got let go because their parents tried a little too hard.
Amos: So you would lose people and gain people incrementally?
- Lucca: When I came on, there was 10 new cast members. The show had just lost 5. They brought us in, and now the cast was...
Amos: I thought that you were a part of the original group, you had come on when the show had already started?
- Lucca: Yeah, the show had been running for three seasons, I came in for season four. Seasons four, five, six and seven. 1989 was when they did the pilot, and it was 1991 when I got on the show.
Amos: Was the show on the air when you went to the audition?
- Lucca: Yeah, I had just never seen it. Once they said I was going to L.A., then we got the Disney Channel and we started to watch the show.
- So they brought 10 new cast members on in '91, and then two seasons went by, season four and season five, then they dropped 6 more kids and replaced them with Justin, Britney, Christina [Aguilera]...
Amos: Did people want to leave? Or was it like Menudo, where people would get forced out when they started getting older.
- Lucca: I think if the girls got too curvy, if... They let Keri Russell go because her contract had a different time frame/time line to it. When they hired her, she just got cast in the show, but then got cast on Honey, I Blew Up The Kid. So, it's if it were that movie was a season of the show, or something. By doing the movie, she exhausted a year of her contract before the rest of ours, and they let her go.
Amos: When the show ended, you were part of the thing where everyone was got fired, and you all were let loose?
- Lucca: Yeah, they canceled the show, terminated everyone's contract. I think there was a house-cleaning at the Disney Channel, from being the most expensive premium cable to standard cable. When they did that, all of the show runners, everybody inside, they got the boot.
Amos: Do you think that it was an issue of expense or that they enjoyed the product of the show?
- Lucca: As I understood it, it was the most expensive daytime children's television show ever. It was upwards of a million dollars an episode, five days a week, fifty some episodes a year. That's a lot of money.
Amos: Was it because the production was so large and varied? You were doing skits, musical numbers, all of these people in the cast...
- Lucca: Yeah, it was huge. A really big production. So, you know, the budget was probably going to go away, they probably weren't going to be able to afford the show, that was it. They reran some episodes for about a year, and that was it.
Amos: It didn't seem like they kept it in syndication, did they?
- Lucca: No, it didn't go to syndication. I think they ran a marathon a year after it was canceled, that was it.
Amos: At least if it was in syndication I'm sure you would have gotten residuals and stuff, over the years.
- Lucca: Right, that was in the contract, but because it was cable, it would have been fractions.
Amos: Before it happened, did it feel like the writing was on the wall, or were you all blindsided by the news?
- Lucca: We really were. Odd enough some of us were really happy about it, happy to get out of there and go to L.A., make some real money. What surprised us the most, that they had us all under contract, Disney Film, Disney Television, Hollywood and Disney Records, they had us all under contract, for at least three more years, with options. All they had to do was hire someone to work internally at Disney and just plug us into their productions, you know? Like Christina, Britney, they could have made records for them, for pennies, and they let everyone go. That surprised me, it really surprised me.
Amos: When a contract is terminated like that, do they have to pay you out for the rest of the contract? Do they just say, “You're done?”
- Lucca: No, no. Not unless you have a pay or play deal negotiated with them, none of us had that.
Amos: From what you heard later in the industry, out in L.A., was it a bad contract? Because I think of the American Idol experience, how they have to sign away a lot of rights and are basically, “We'll give you this little bit of money.”
- Lucca: Like I said... for example, the last season me and two of my friends rewrote the theme song, it was a rap at the end of the show, we rewrote that. We didn't want to get paid, we knew that we weren't going to get paid, for having rewritten it, but we wanted a closing credit at the end of the show. Just something that said “Rap written by” and we put in a request with the executive producer and the supervising producer. He was all, “Yeah man, I'll all about giving credit where credit is due, I understand where you're coming from, I'll talk to the channel and see.”
- Next thing I know, they're calling us in with our parents into a meeting, issuing a supplemental contract, that said in no uncertain terms would there be any credit given. Everything that we do here is work for hire, period. End of story.
Amos: So you didn't even get credit?
- Lucca: We didn't get credit. They couldn't give us credit without paying us per the unions. You write something you get credit for it, you're getting paid for it. If that had gone into syndication people would have been responsible to pay us.
Amos: When you were all let go, did you decide to go with a group of other people from the show to California?
- Lucca: We did all decide that we were going to go to L.A.. It was me, JC Chasez, Dale Godboldo, Marc Worden, these are all other Mouseketeers, but we all went out to L.A. and started auditioning at the same time. Pounding the pavement.
- We didn't all move out there together, or live out there together and stay super close, but we all did go out there around the same time.
Amos: Did you have an apartment by yourself out in Los Angeles?
- Lucca: I lived with Keri Russell, we lived together for a lot of years.
Amos: How long after moving out to Los Angeles did you start to find jobs or work? I know that you did “Malibu Shores,” but did you fall into it or did it take a while?
- Lucca: In hindsight, it took no time at all and I worked a lot the first two years, but going from working everyday for four years straight, to try and to fall into the auditioning actor grind, I felt like I wasn't working enough. “This is impossible.” But yeah, I got a couple of commercials, sorta right away.
Amos: You had one for Levi's, what was the Levi's commercial?
- Lucca: It was rad. The campaign was “Be Your Own Reason” [501 Reasons] and David Fincher made, like, three or four spots. I was in one of them. The reason was, “They're even better broken in.” It was this dude running down an alley, from who knows what, and all of a sudden there's doberman's on my tail and I'm running and jumping over garbage cans, I run into an alley and a garbage truck goes by and I jump up and grab the chains on the side of this garbage truck. It drags me through the alley and against the walls, I go flying off of that. It was hectic, I did a lot of stunt work. I remember that [Fincher] had just come off of wrapping the movie Se7en.
Amos: The way that these sometimes work out, were you able to make more off of that commercial than you did over a period on the show?
- Lucca: No, but it was a good chunk of change. It was network and cable and it ran for a while. I did a Blockbuster commercial, a J.C. Penney commercial, the two independent movies off of the heels of Malibu Shores. All of that was in the first two years, but then I was just auditioning, and, eh.
Amos: When you would go to audition, I know that they cast very much by type, what would the character description be for parts you were going for?
- Lucca: Exactly, I was very much getting typecast as “the guy,” “the quarterback,” “the lead dude.” When I was cast to play the guy from the wrong side of the tracks on Malibu Shores that was about as far away from type as I was gonna get. I say that, but one of the independent movies I played a crystal meth addict, squatter, gang leader. I shaved my head, shaved my chest, had scars and tattoos on me, wore a Sid Vicious chain.
Amos: Would you have to shave your chest a lot? In the youth market, they can go for a certain look.
- Lucca: I wasn't that hairy then, so no. They did make me shave any and all facial hair, sideburns.
Amos: I noticed that for the tequila commercial and the Parenthood spot they were both full shave.
- Lucca: The tequila commercial was Justin saying he wanted just the right level of growth. The Parenthood thing was my call. [Cell phone break]
- I remember being in a casting office and there was six other Tony Luccas. We were all the same guy.
Amos: In the sense of same height, hair color, etc?
- Lucca: Yeah, same build, same thing. “What are you going to do differently than what I'm going to do? I don't like this.” I've got to have something more original to contribute. That's when I started to write songs.
Amos: Were you ever really close to some roles? The Hollywood thing can be a lot like the music business, where it's a lot of rejection, and you hear, “No, no, no.” Was there anything like that that was beating you down at that point?
- Lucca: Yeah, the rejection is pretty hard core. You get down to the wire on some things, test for a couple of things, you start spending the money in your head, and nothing happens.
Amos: Would they be very brutal, the cast directors? “You're not _____ enough, you're not this.”
- Lucca: Not to your face. They call your manager or your agent follows up, you get feedback from the casting director or the producers. If you're lucky, then they're honest. If not, you start to realize how it works. That they have... you hear about the “A List.” The “A List” are your actors that they're in talks with these people, they're trying to negotiate a deal with these people, they're trying to get this person attached, they're finalizing a deal with Leonardo DiCaprio, they're trying to make this work. In the meantime, per the union rules and regulations, they have to see a certain number of actors, to be fair.
Amos: So you'd be in situations where they were just seeing you to be able to write it off?
- Lucca: Yeah, it was cast. You'd go in and go through the motions, having been seen.
Amos: Were you ever auditioning for roles that were potentially big? Getting close on being "that" character in that movie?
- Lucca: Yeah, I read for John Woo for Face Off. I was going to play Nicholas Cage's younger brother who's in prison, but I think I was too young.
Amos: Were you like, “Have you seen Her Last Chance? I can play this.”
- Lucca: [laughs] Exactly. But so you go see these movies and say, “Yeah, I wouldn't have been better.” I'm trying to think if there were some other close calls.
- Lucca: No, no pilots, other than the Malibu Shores, which got picked up.
Amos: Were you turned off from TV after Mickey Mouse Club and Malibu Shores at that point?
- Lucca: I got rid of my TV after Malibu Shores, dropped out, grew my hair out, just got away from all of that. There's a sense of vanity... that...
Amos: To keep yourself in that auditioning phase.
- Lucca: You're constantly making sure to keep yourself presentable and wearing the right clothes. It gets old.
Amos: You were dating Keri Russell at the time. You were dating her for a long time. Were you both in the trenches as far as this auditioning phase? She got Felicity in '98, '99, but was she having trouble before then? Were you both doing a lot of things?
- Lucca: Yeah, after Malibu Shores she worked a lot more frequently, steadily than I did. She did a movie of the week. She did a pilot with... what's his name... played the Joker?
Amos: Heath Ledger?
- Lucca: Heath Ledger, yeah. Called Roar. It was shot in Australia and was this small, short series on Fox about Celtic chivalry, she played a princess in the pilot. Then she started working more and more. We got back together, we were together for a couple of years, took a couple of years off, and then got back together before Felicity, we were together for a couple more years and that was it.
Amos: Did her getting Felicity lead to the permanent break-up? Because she went on to a show and you left to go to New York around that time?
- Lucca: Suddenly she had become the “it” girl, and it was me working with and for her, to help her through that. I had my aspirations for making records and having my music career. I just made my first two records while I was with her. I hadn't really started touring yet, I hadn't done anything, but I set all of that aside for a while, to help her through the Felicity thing. It presents an imbalance.
Amos: It's common, you hear about how one partner becomes more famous and it's hard, because you feel like you're in their limelight and you want to be doing your own thing. You can resent that after a while and it leads to tension.
- Lucca: You start off with good intentions, you're supportive and still very loving, but it's why creative couples rarely ever works, especially actors. Actors are weird.
Amos: After you had quit acting, how long did it take you to record your first album?
- Lucca: Not long. We worked on the first album for a few months, but tracked for three days with a band in the studio. We did weeks of overdubs. It was well-rehearsed, we went into the studio, knowing pretty much what we wanted to do. It didn't take long.
Amos: Was your musician career always on the back burner? Had you abandoned it for a few years and then came back to it?
- Lucca: Initially that was my thing. I got on the Mickey Mouse Club because I was a singer, a musician. I moved out to L.A. to pursue both. The onscreen thing had much more momentum and so, the music thing became strumming the guitar around the house. I bought a piano, started writing songs with some friends. But it wasn't a full time thing until after Malibu Shores. It was something that I came back to.
Amos: Who was the producer on your first album?
- Lucca: I produced with a guy named John Rangel, a piano player from New York back in the day. He was looking to start producing records and I had a bunch of songs and needed a producer. We kinda went at it together. I've co-produced all of my records to date; I've never handed over the reigns over completely to anyone. Partially, because I love producing. I really like being hands-on.
- The other part is that I never got that major label deal where they said, “Hey, Rick Rubin is going to produce your record today.” “Okay!”
Amos: Do you think if you had the opportunity to pick a producer you would? Or would you always want to be able to hold the reigns?
- Lucca: Oh no, I would. I definitely would. Actually, I say that, but I'm working on a record right now where I am consciously, you know, still contributing all of my ideas, but I'm not making any executive calls on it. Consciously having other people producing. You guys decide, I'm just going to throw everything out there, that being said, it's a covers record. It's not my shit.
- Lucca: No, that's a different thing altogether.
Amos: What kind of covers are they?
- Lucca: They are influential artists. Artists that inspired me growing up. A lot of classic rock, mostly classic rock artists: Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Bill Withers, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Amos: So you had your first album that you released, did you try and support it?
- Lucca: I did, but I didn't know what that entailed. I still had my TV money, and I had a trust fund while I was on Mickey Mouse Club, it was 35% of everything we earned while on the show, it had to go into a trust fund until we were 18. Once I turned 18 I didn't spend it right away, but I did live off of it for a bit in L.A., because it was very expensive and wasn't working. I had money, I was comfortable.
- I had the TV things as well, the Malibu Shores thing, put some money away, but when it came time to make the record, I just assumed that it took a lot of money to make records and spared no expense, I dropped $15,000 on the record.
Amos: Is that just studio time?
- Lucca: Studio time, sessions, musicians. I started supporting it, but that was just booking shows in Los Angeles with a band. I had a big band, it was seven people on stage and they were all super hot jazz players. I was paying them really well. In hindsight, I was paying them really well, because I could. But, my god, no wonder I went broke with that approach.
- This was before I had aspirations of traveling, touring, didn't know what that was going to entail. After the first record I got online and found out who was out there, who was still looking where I ended up, fan-wise.
Amos: Did you have anyone that was able to serve as a mentor for you during that time?
- Lucca: No.
Amos: So it was blinders on, I'm just going to make music?
- Lucca: I had a sense of entitlement at that time, thinking that because all of my contemporaries in the mouse club, were getting all of this attention, that it'd be a matter of time before someone saw my thing, that there'd be a bidding war or something. That I would get some big deal, because I was the more adult contemporary artist.
- I didn't realize what went into the business. I knew that I needed a website, and in 1998 I started my own website. I had a girl make the website for me, and I sold records through my website.
Amos: When you made your first album, did you ever have in mind at the time that it would be something that you would take around and possibly showcase for a label?
- Lucca: I didn't really have the management and I didn't really have anyone in the business ready to help me out. I needed that. I needed someone, while I was making the record, to step in and say, “Let's edit this down. Let's shape this.” I was so confident and idealistic at the time. The people that were close to me... no one got in my way. Everyone was very enabling.
Amos: Were you in a culture of musicians that you could ask?
- Lucca: No, there really wasn't. I was kinda going it alone for a little while. There wasn't much of a community at the time, at least one that I was a part of. There was a couple of artists in L.A. that I was inspired by, that I'd go see a lot. It wasn't long after the first album that I made my way here and played New York for the first time. It was like, “I've got fans out here, via the internet.”
- On my website, I had an order form that you could download, before Paypal. You would print out that order form, from my website, fill it out, write a check, mail it to my PO Box. I would go down to my PO Box every couple of days, get the orders, go back to my house, put the CDs in the envelope, all by hand.
Amos: Did you have a real commercial printing for the first CD?
- Lucca: Yeah, I had 1,000 copies pressed up, a UPC code, but we didn't do anything with it. We just sold those through the internet and the shows, sold out of the 1,000 copies, pressed up another 1,000, that was it.
Amos: Well, we're out of time, so we'll go ahead and stop now. Hopefully we'll be able to get the rest of the interview in the future. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me.