Downtown Conspiracy with Rob De Luca of UFO
Downtown Conspiracy with Rob De Luca of UFO
The legendary UFO continues to rage on the road touring in support of their dynamic 21st studio album A Conspiracy Of Stars. On this current cross country adventure, UFO brought along the mighty Saxon, making for an absolutely devastating evening of hard rock and roll devastation. Prior to the main event at The Belasco Theater in Downtown LA, we caught up with UFO bassist Rob De Luca backstage to discuss his time with the iconic band, his various other projects including Sebastian Bach, Spread Eagle and Of Earth, stepping in with Helmet while on a major tour with Sebastian Bach (and suddenly in two support acts opening for the almighty Guns N’ Roses), and other conspiring topics of intrigue. Read on…
How is this current tour with Saxon been going, what have been some of the highlights?
We just started about a week ago. So we still have a ways to go. But we have already had I believe 2 sold out shows. Tonight is going to be real close. I think Anaheim is going to be sold out. So that is certainly a highlight, sold out is always nice. I guess a highlight is also getting to know the guys in Saxon for the first time and realizing how cool and nice they are, and how compatible a bill this is for the fans and for the musicians too. It’s really great. UFO don’t do this much. We usually have smaller bands play with us or local openers. And this is the first time we’ve taken out like a real name band, and it’s really amazing. I’m enjoying it quite a bit.
The last time I saw UFO was at The Whisky. It was tiny and packed!
It was too small. I played there once in a punk band. I knew it was really small for us. But you know it’s a legendary place and we kicked ass.
How difficult was it to replace a well known member of UFO and do you remember what your first performance with UFO was like and where it was at?
Yes, first off it wasn’t difficult. Pete Way is an absolute legend. I just didn’t think of it like that. I just thought well I’m a solid bass player and this is what I do. I’m just going to go in there and play well and very solid and it’s going to be fine. And it did and it turned out fine. So I didn’t look at it that way, if you start looking at it that way it will fuck your head up. So then it becomes difficult. So that was okay. My first show, well I met them all at the first rehearsal in Delaware, we had a day or two of rehearsals on that first tour in 2008. So I met them and they were all really cool to me, then we played in Baltimore. It was the first show in April 2008.
What was going through your head at that first show?
Just remembering the parts. I know the songs. I saw them as a kid. UFO as a band, that was definitely important to me growing up. But I had just learned the songs, my focus was playing the parts correctly. And I remember after the first show, Andy was saying you can move around more. Which I didn’t know, I didn’t know what they wanted me to do, I had just met them. So that was good clue of what they were looking for. I was definitely looking for any kind of guidance, and he said you can move around more.
The first album you were on is the current one, A Conspiracy of Stars. What was that experience like, especially participating in the songwriting process?
It was really great to be asked to do all that. I really appreciated it and still appreciate it. Basically we all just sent ideas to Phil and he figured which ones would inspire him to write good lyrics and melodies and just took it from there. So we all would just send him our ideas. Since we recorded another album that should be out in 2017 and it’s an album of covers of our songs. We recorded that this summer in Germany.
When you look back on your work in the band Spread Eagle, and especially that time when they released their first few albums, what do you think of it now?
I think a lot of bands might look back on that era and cringe a little bit. It got a little ridiculous. But I look back on Spread Eagle with great fondness. I thought we were genuine and very musical and we are still together and I’m still proud to be in that band.
Will Spread Eagle be touring any time soon with dates on the west coast maybe?
We’re hoping. Right now we have England and Europe and two shows in New York booked. But we want to get out there and do the whole world again. Or not again, we hadn’t even done it before. But we want to do the whole country again.
Would UFO and Spread Eagle ever tour together? Do a show together or has it already happened?
It hasn’t happened, but it’s so much work to do one show well. I don’t expect it to happen. To focus on one thing and to give it an A level performance is already a lot of work for one day. So, to do that twice is hard. I’ve done it before and it’s difficult.
Of Earth, is that still going?
Yes it is. But it’s just I’ve been incredibly busy with Sebastian Bach and UFO and Spread Eagle. We’re working on the third record right now. We’ve recorded a handful of songs for it already.
What was the experience to suddenly have to learn all these Helmet songs and step in on short notice while you were on the road with Sebastian Bach, opening for Guns N Roses?
It happened so quickly. I didn’t have time to get nervous or anything like that because I really had no time for any emotions other than learning the songs. I didn’t have time for anything else. So, maybe that was a blessing because I knew I couldn’t dwell on it or get nervous about it, or overthink it. I just had to get right in there, get the songs from people who are on the tour – whoever had all the different MP3s and start learning them. I barely could do that in time for the show. So it was pretty crazy, but after a couple of nights, it was really fun doing two sets because those were big shows. In Canada, the way it is for arenas, it’s not like America where east coast you’ll have an arena in New York, Philly and Connecticut. Boston, which are relatively close. In Canada people drive for maybe 100 miles to the big arena from all the towns around it. There’s only, I would guess like, 8 or so big hockey arenas that bands play in in Canada. I could be wrong about that, but that’s what Guns N’ Roses were doing. There’s really far distance between so they were big shows, like 25k people. It was a treat.
On your credits it says you worked with Joan Jett. What was that like?
It was brief. I was just an interim guy. It was pretty early on in my career of playing with other artists. At the time I was basically just playing with bands that I was a principal member of. I know Tommy Price and I knew the bass tech at the time, who is no longer with them. So they needed someone, so I came in and did a handful of shows. It was fun.
How do you do time management in various bands, is it difficult?
I don’t do a lot of stuff that gets me in trouble or keeps me from moving forward in life. Speaking of that, when I’m on the road I just built a vintage bass website called Vintage Bass World dot com. It’s 10,000 detailed pictures of vintage basses and 400 web pages. So it’s massive. It’s the biggest vintage instrument site in the world. That’s what I do when I’m on a tour bus and can’t play my bass.
What is your weapon of choice while on the road?
With UFO it’s a 1979 Gibson Thunderbird. With Bach and Spread it’s a 1966 Fender Precision.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects that we haven’t heard about or discussed?
Nothing, no not yet but I’m looking. [laughs] Always looking.
What’s up next for you after this UFO tour is over?
Bach is going to Japan in May. Then do the US in June / July and maybe go to Australia and New Zealand sometime later in the year with Bach. UFO has festivals in August and September. Spread Eagle has shows in Europe and UK in August and September. The late fall, winter I’m sure will get filled up but I’m not sure with what yet.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)