ROCCO DELUCA: Drugs ‘N Hymns, and Life

Using the song titles of his current album Drugs ‘N Hymns (released March 2012), I ask Rocco Deluca about luck, prayer and life.

1. Lucky 
2. My My
3. Sibylle
4. Amen
5. Pray On
6. Windows
7. They Stride Like Gods
8.  Snake Oil Salesman
9. Gorky
10.  Drugs ‘N Hymns 


[By Monica Harris]

Q. From your new album you have a song called Lucky. My question is: do you believe in luck?

Rocco: I guess that’s what I’m asking, you know, in the song. I’m questioning luck a little bit. But I think I would say yes. Even despite all the things that can happen to you over the course of a short or long lifetime, you still at one point have to surrender to the idea of luck and the absurdities of things. And everyone, even at your lowest moment, and people are always pretty sharp to remind you that, and at the time it sounds like the worst possible pep talk ever, but there might be some truth to it nonetheless. So maybe “yes.”

Q. Can you think of a time when luck saved you?

Rocco: Yeah, when I was a kid I rolled out of a car, a Cadillac, that was making a left onto a busy intersection, and I rolled out into the street. All the cars managed to just barely stop. That’s kind of lucky. And when I think about all the things that we don’t really know about, you know? Small little kind of like, hidden gems of luck, that we’re not even aware of. I’m always considering those things as well.

Q.  A few of your songs are related to prayer. Amen, Pray On, and even My My have to do with prayer. What is your biggest prayer right now in the world?

Rocco: Some of those songs were based more on the colloquialism than on the actual religious or metaphysical definition. Like when you say something, it’s the same as “that’s the truth” — I was using it in that fashion. But having said that too, the irony is that they are quite powerful things I think. And I think the biggest prayer for me right now is being thankful everyday. Just very thankful. Gratitude is a pretty powerful thing. So that might be my biggest prayer for sure.


Q. Awesome. Okay. You have a song called Sibylle. Who is Sibylle?

Rocco: She is my total obsession. There’s a record called The Color Green. She’s a folk artist that was from Berlin, a single mother who made home recordings in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. Her son put together this record she had made, just recently, over the last couple years, and I got my hands on it because this girl in London turned me onto it. And it was like such a score because I’ve been obsessed with her beauty and the quality of these recordings. They are like recorded on an old four track tape machine and she was quite brave and beautiful. Her lyric is very — she’s kind of like a female Leonard Cohen of some sort. I don’t know, its just quite beautiful stuff. I’ve been mildly obsessed with it.

Q. I know you’ve traveled all over the world. Where would you say has been the most Colorful place that you’ve been so far?

Rocco: Well, if we’re speaking in literal terms, probably Jamaica. Being in that nice, tropic environment, its really beautiful. If we’re speaking metaphorically, maybe Texas. It seems pretty cool right now. I’ve been spending a lot of time there lately.

Q. I know you recently did some work with Slash. What was that like?

Rocco: It was cool. He’s great. Not only is he such an icon, but he’s also a really amazing person. He treats people like gold. At least that’s been my experience. I was really happy to get a chance to write with him and be a part of his record. I think he’s quite exceptional. He’s really great.

Q. The name of your current album is Drugs ‘N Hymns. What is your favorite drug and what is your favorite hymn?

Rocco: [Laughs.] My favorite drug for sure is — are we actually talking substances here?

Q. You can take it however you want.

Rocco: Should I take the high road? I’ll take the high road. I’ll say “quality” is my favorite drug. I like things that are done well, and I like people who care about their work, and I love craftsmanship and skill. So I think quality would be my drug. I will occasionally roll up a bomber, too, but I’m a child of the Pacific, so there’s no shame in that for me here.
And then my favorite hymn would be possibly Amazing Grace, that’s one of my favorite melodies. I think its just a big and beautiful piece of American music. That’s one of my favorite pieces.

Q. I finally got to see you perform live at Hotel Café and when you’re on stage, you kind of are in another world. Where do you go when you’re on stage? Where do you go in your mind?

Rocco: I just go away from everybody else. I don’t like being too aware of what’s happening around me. So what I do is I kind of try to be in a place where I can feel free to express myself without worrying about the reaction. So that might be the place. And I’m just listening, you know? I think a good artist is like an antenna; they’re trying to pick up whatever is around them and use it. I’m trying to listen and I’m also trying to be un-involved with the activity around me on some level, or not caught up in the activity around me.

Q. I would imagine that it takes a lot of focus to not be distracted by everybody.

Rocco: It takes years of doing it, I think. You know, every time I go and play, I get a little stronger, where a few years ago something would have broken me, now doesn’t even phase me, you know what I mean? So its kind of fun to watch that evolution. Then you hit a tipping point to where you’re so unfazed by what’s going on around you, at one point it tips a bit much the other way.  [Laughs]. Sometimes I’m completely oblivious to what’s happening around me and I had a great night.

Q. One of your songs is called Windows. if you look out your window right now, what is the view out your window?

Rocco: I’m at home in the side room. Out the window there’s a stucco wall with cracks, and coming up from it is wood beams and then some kind of proper bamboo behind the fence. That’s all I can see from my window.

Q. My final question: do you think life is awesome?

Rocco: Yes, of course I do. And being from California I’m allowed to say “awesome.” [Laughs.]

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