Sound of Speed by Spread Eagle.
Rob De Luca is a busy man these days and for a good reason: not only is he touring right now with Sebastian Bach and has upcoming shows with UFO in 2022, which seems to be the final tour for these English Hard Rock legends, but he is also working on material for the next album of his own band, Spread Eagle, which had a cult following in the early 90s due to their first two records, 1990’s self-titled debut and 1993’s Open to the Public, and their third album, which was their comeback, 2019’s Subway to the Stars, was also pretty damn good.
So we are talking about a bassist that keeps himself very busy and still made time in his day off to answer a couple of questions of mine about his multiple projects, his creative process and a lot more. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it because Rob is definitely one of the cool guys of the industry and quite an underrated bassist, songwriter and lyricist.
It’s great to have you here, Rob. How are things going with you right now?
Great! Enjoying a well-deserved day off on the Sebastian Bach Slave To The Grind 30th anniversary tour.
I’m sure you have been asked this in the past, but how were you dealing with the pandemic in the last year or so?
It was rough. I didn’t work a single day in 16 months. I wrote a bunch of cool songs for the next Spread Eagle record though.
You’re currently on tour with Sebastian Bach. How are the gigs going?
Really great. Baz is singing his ass off. Crowds are LOUD and we’re all getting along and having fun.
Sebastian Bach and Rob De Luca on tour.
After such a long time without shows, how does it feel to go back to the stage?
Super. It took about 5-7 shows for me to feel 100% again. Until then, it was odd.
Any particular highlight of the tour so far?
LOTS of killer gigs: Boston, Cincy, Detroit, Jersey, Denver, CT…
You obviously have been doing shows for decades now, but the interesting part is that you have done it in multiple bands with different music styles. What would you say are the differences between playing live with Bach and, say, the likes of Helmet, Spread Eagle or U.F.O.?
I basically do what I do. Yes, I need to alter it slightly depending on the band, but every band needs solidity. That’s what I bring, a strong foundation without unnecessary distractions or noodling.
Focusing on the current tour, you guys are covering Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind album for its 30th anniversary. I’m curious to know what you thought about the album when it came out and if your thoughts on the record have changed throughout the years.
Back in the day Spread Eagle thought Skid Row and Sebastian were great. I knew a lot of their music from hearing it on MTV, Z-Rock and WSOU. However, I didn’t know the songs that weren’t being played on those outlets. I was simply too busy at that time with Spread Eagle to focus on most other bands in the genre. That’s not saying those other bands weren’t great. We simply had our eyes on the prize, and that was to get Spread into that same class.
From a bassist’s point of view, how would you describe the Slave to the Grind album from a technical perspective?
I love playing Rachel’s basslines and the songs are TOP notch, especially the ballads.
Any particular track that you like to play from the Bach catalogue, whether it’s from Slave to the Grind or any other album, and why?
The Threat, Monkey Biz, Sweet Little Sister, the three ballads on STTG.
Music video for Spread Eagle’s Scratch like a Cat from their 1990 self-titled debut.
Focusing on Spread Eagle, what can you tell us about the band at this particular moment?
We have a bunch of strong songs written and partially demo’d for album #4, which we’ll commence on when I get home in December. Our fans will love them!
How would you describe writing with Spread Eagle when compared to the bands you have been a part of?
Again, I do what I do. I just riff out until I get into a zone and things start flowing. Then we add melodies and lyrics.
Would you say that Spread Eagle is more of your band than the other projects you’re in?
Yes. It’s the band that I learned “how” to be in a band with. I’m involved in writing, image, message, decisions, production and message.
I’m actually curious to ask you this: you have mentioned in a couple of interviews that you usually write the lyrics for the Spread Eagle albums and in most of the bands you have been a part of. What is your process to write lyrics?
I never wrote lyrics for UFO or Bach. For Spread I try to match the lyrical content with the mood of the music. So that they strengthen each other dynamically.
Rob De Luca with UFO back in 2019.
What are you looking for when writing lyrics?
Rhymes, haha! Seriously, wittiness, setting, message, a bit of wisdom, originality, coolness, band attitude.
Of course, I have to ask you about U.F.O. What is the current state of the band right now?
From what I’m hearing they are finally calling it quits in 2022. So far we have EU tours in June and October, which include the summer festivals.
I know you have been a fan of the band since you were younger. Do you think there’s any particular challenge in playing in a band you were a fan of?
I didn’t have time to focus on things like that. The job needed to be done at a certain level and I was up to the challenge. Beyond that, I don’t focus on things that are out of my control.
The Killing Kind by UFO.
What are your favorite U.F.O. songs?
Love To Love, Pushed To The Limit, Only You Can Rock Me, Profession Of Violence, Belladonna, Baby Blue, Rock Bottom, Can’t Buy A Thrill…
2015’s A Conspiracy Of Stars was a highly-regarded record by U.F.O. when it came out and it was your first with the band. How that album came to be and what was your input in the songwriting process?
We were supposed to tour Ukraine, Russia and Belarus but there was a conflict at the Ukraine-Russia border. So we scrapped those shows and went to Germany for preproduction, then to England to record. I co-wrote three songs: The Killing Kind, King Of The Hill and One and Only.
Six years later, what are your thoughts about the album?
I absolutely love it!
2017’s The Salentino Cuts was a covers album. How were the songs chosen for that record?
On tour we would write up a song list every night after the gig, but it would be in the trash by the morning. Then we’d start over on an entirely different list. Eventually we finalized it. Phil had the most work to make songs “his own”, so he made final decisions.
UFO’s cover of The Yardbirds’ Heartful of Soul.
Besides Spread Eagle, U.F.O. and Bach, are you working on something else?
Sleep… Oh, I built the largest vintage instrument website in the world: http://vintagebassworld.com
Any tips for a bassist starting out?
Practice to a metronome to develop natural groove.
Believe in yourself.
Be patient but consistent.
If you want to be a star or become rich, switch to a different career.
DON’T USE BACKING TRACKS LIVE. It’ll hurt you in the long run.
Credit for the photo: Christine Paige.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Rob. It was a pleasure. Any last words for our readers. Where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you, I’ll see you on tour!! Here’s a good place to find me.
Switchblade Serenade by Spread Eagle.