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Dish first met up with Rocco DeLuca three years ago when he was on the road promoting his documentary I Trust You to Kill Me and his debut album of the same name, with his friend and co-star Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland acted as DeLuca's tour manager on a European tour, and the actor used his fame and fan base to secure the young musician's future in the alternative rock scene.

Recently Dish once again met up with DeLuca and his Dobro (a kind of resonator guitar), this time just before he performed at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Nashville. The posh hotel venue must have been a change of scenery for DeLuca, whose wailing high notes, soulful slide guitar, and heartbreaking lyrics evince a life of personal tragedy that might seem more fitting in small, dark bars in Memphis or New Orleans.

Despite the sometimes somber, sometimes raging tones of his music, DeLuca is not without a sense of humor. Even though he said the “Artist in the Spotlight” series has been about giving him a sweet hotel room in Nashville, he also acknowledged that it's aimed at giving aspiring musicians the chance to promote their work. Combine “Artist in the Spotlight” with Kiefer Sutherland's outspoken promotional efforts, and you have a talented young musician who is closing in on success. We had the chance to talk with him about his fabulous new album, Mercy, and what else he's been doing in the three years since we saw him last.

Dish: Has all this success been nerve-racking?

DeLuca: Yeah, mostly because I was always playing in the shadows before I made the record [I Trust You to Kill Me], and at that point, it was constant documentation for the film. For someone who doesn't even have any pictures of himself as a child, it was awkward. So I've been adjusting to it.

Dish: Do you go back and review that first album or do you put it away and never look at it again?

DeLuca: I don't want to see it again. I'm too self aware. I'd pick it apart.

Dish: What would you say was your big break?

DeLuca: My big break, gosh—I think just the day when I decided to make my first record. Until then I had just been geared to document.

Dish: “Colorful,” now that was a smash hit and such a huge success. How did you write that?

DeLuca: “Colorful” was a very simple, almost childlike folk song that I had written. We went in to record it, and Jude Cole produced that, and we kind of molded that into a song that you might hear on a record. It just kind of took off on its own. It was kind of a wild surprise. You write a lot of material, and you know, and you’re—like, everyday I’m writing, and all of a sudden, something that you had written gets attention, it’s like, “Oh, okay.” It’s just one of the many things you’re working on, so it’s just nice. It’s a nice surprise that people enjoyed that.

Dish: What inspired the new project?

DeLuca: The new project was inspired by things that I have seen traveling over the last few years. Friends that have come and gone, family that have come and gone, relationships that have come and gone. There's been an emotional upheaval that has happened in the last few years for me and a few friends. And I just started to document it. I just started to write words about it and think about things that were appropriate to the subject and take that and everything I'd learned over the past few years of playing music live and recording it. I feel like this record is a culmination of all those things.

Dish: You haven’t been doing much work since your last album, or have you?

DeLuca: I’ve been doing a lot, but I’ve been keeping it out of, you know, everyone’s eyes, really. When I was home, we made a lot of music, and I got a chance to play with a lot of different friends, and had the opportunity to stay in one place for a little while and make sure it got developed properly.

Dish: Can you tell us what specifically you have been working on?

DeLuca: This record was the main thing. We recorded this record, and I played little folk shows and kind of wood shedded the material while I was home. So I’ve got a lot of things to share, and I haven’t had the opportunity to share them all yet, but this record was just a piece of that.

Dish: How is this new record different from or maybe similar to your old one?

DeLuca: The new record is different. You know, it’s a very pure process. It’s the purest of intentions. We wanted to make something that had relevance and try to squeeze as much beauty and truth as we could into it. Everyone who was a part of this album was so genuine that this record is special just based on the pure passion and energy that went into making it.

Dish: And how about Kiefer Sutherland? You’ve been working with him, haven’t you?

DeLuca: Not so much on this project. He’s been very busy, and I was just kind of in the studio just working away while he was working on his thing. He pops in every once in a while just to make sure I was recording music, and not just having parties at his studio [laughs].

Dish: What have you done with him?

DeLuca: We've done a lot together. We’ve traveled together. We’ve gotten into trouble together. Anything that good friends do together, I guess.

Dish: On Mercy, are there any breakaway hits, any one single you’re especially proud of?

DeLuca: I’m proud of all the tracks. I just hope Gus Van Sant takes one of them and uses it for his film.

Dish: You have such a cool, bluesy rock thing going. Can you tell me about your inspirations?

DeLuca: Yeah, I believe that American music is one of the great art forms that the world still has. Early recordings and documentations of these, like the Alan Lomax recordings and all the folk recordings from the Appalachians and the Delta, have a profound influence on everything that I do because I believe that’s probably the most honest art that I’ve witnessed in my life.

Dish: Do you ever get to do anything fun when you're in Nashville?

DeLuca: I never do, which is a shame. I'd like to, actually. I mean, I love the city. Whenever I do get time, I usually just grab my camera, go out, and take some photos.

For more on Rocco DeLuca go to RoccoDeLuca.com. To see the exclusive Hotel Indigo performance, go to HotelIndigo.com/podcast where you can also see some of his music videos.
 
Check it out!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 102 - September 2018
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