With nearly four decades on the road and a new studio album set for release in the first quarter of 2018, American rock band TESLA still wows crowds, and still rocks harder than most with an unmistakable 80s California vibe, but one that also breaks stereotypes.
“We were never a hair band or glam band,” said 57-year-old Troy Luccketta, drummer for TESLA since 1985. “We were growing up in the 80s and hit our stride at the same time as Ratt, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue,” he said, “but we were, and still are, just a jeans and tee-shirt band, writing the best songs we can.”
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TESLA will return to the House of Blues stage in North Myrtle Beach Aug 11. General Admission tickets through Live Nation online are $30, and are also available at the House of Blues Box Office.
After adopting the name “TESLA,” for Nikola Tesla, a futurist and an electric engineering genius who died in near obscurity, despite huge contributions to the world in the late 1800s, the band began to garner serious attention. After signing with Geffen Records the band toured with Poison, David Lee Roth and Def Leppard early on, and again in nostalgic tours that paired big acts of the 80s including another recent round of shows with REO Speedwagon and again with Def Leppard.
The band formed in Sacramento, California, in 1981 (Luccketta joined in 1985) and in 1986 had its first major success with “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Little Suzi” from the album “Mechanical Resonance.” By 1989 TESLA had secured its place in the lexicon of American-made hard rock superstardom with additional hits from the album “The Great Radio Controversy.” “Love Song,” “The Way it Is,” and “Hang Tough,” all enjoyed rock radio airplay and helped the band sell 14 million albums to date.
“We’re grateful for that ’14-million number,” said Luccketta, who was relaxing in a Michigan hotel prior to a show last week. “I don’t even know how new bands sell any records these days. We’re working a lot,” he said, “and touring comes with the territory. It’s a lot easier since we’re sober,” he laughed. “No drugs, no booze and we eat organic fruits and vegetables.”
The band, like nearly all bands, has had its off and ons and personnel changes over the years, but the after a multi-year hiatus in the late 1990s, the band reformed for one show in 2000. The magic was there, the chemistry still working, and TESLA was back in business, and they’ve worked steadily ever since.
Luccketta will be joined on stage with original lead vocalist Jeff Keith, co-founding original bassist Brian Wheat, original guitarist Frank Hannon and, newcomer as of 2006, guitarist Dave Rude. Luccketta lives with his family in Nashville, TN, and has a 34-year-old son who also plays drums.
“We started out playing covers in our earliest days,” recalls Luccketta, but it was the original tunes penned by TESLA that brought them fame. After 36 years as “TESLA” the band still makes new converts to its music in part thanks to video game soundtracks, new material released as singles on iTunes, and heavy touring. TESLA released “Mechanical Resonance Live” in 2016, which features live versions of all the originals from their biggest release to date, plus a bonus track. “I’m proud of our longevity,” says Luccketta. He says that fans can expect to hear favorites dating back to the band’s first album, and some “deep cuts, too.”
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years,” he said. “What to do, what not to do. We’ve been firing on all cylinders, and gettin’ while the gettin’ is good.”
Tesla is coming to the House of Blues Myrtle Beach. Concert starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 11. For tickets, click here.