The competition is escalating on season three of NBC's The Voice, but winning the show might not be everything. Since coming in third behind winner Jermaine Paul and Juliet Simms in season two, former Mickey Mouse Club member and longtime coffeehouse singer-songwriter Tony Lucca found himself with a promising consolation prize.
Lucca has embarked on a national tour and begun working on his new album with Adam Levine’s record label, 222 Records. The singer noted that because Levine was his coach, he didn’t need to win the competition.
“Adam says, day one: ‘Don’t invest too much in winning. You’ve all won, you’re here, you’re on TV, you’re getting exposure -- this is just the beginning of your careers now,' ” Lucca said before performing at Highline Ballroom in New York. “The fact that he went on to sign me is a testament.”
Due to conflicting schedules, Lucca and his former coach haven’t hashed out album details yet, but he can foresee how the musical relationship will resume later this year.
“We’ve both voiced interest in sitting down to write together, and he certainly knows the value of a good duet or a featured-vocalist track,” he explained. “It’s his competitive nature that I’m excited about harnessing. Then, of course, when it’s time to unleash the marketing strategy, that’s where he’ll really kick in. He’s gonna be shameless about it.”
Following the creative arc he explored while on The Voice, Lucca envisions his new music as “The Black Keys meets a male Adele,” staying away from Top 40 sounds and closer to adult alternative tastes. One song might feature fellow Mickey Mouse Club alum Justin Timberlake.
“After I signed with Adam, I hit [Timberlake] up right away,” Lucca said. “We’re different genres stylistically as artists, but as musicians and as a producer, he’s done just about every kind of thing out there. It would definitely have his Midas touch on it; he’s not afraid to take risks either. Anyone who can declare they’re bringing sexy back is about as ballsy as someone who can profess to the world that he has the moves like Jagger.”
While touring, Lucca popped into studios in Los Angeles and Nashville to record demos of freshly written songs that follow his new sound. Two tracks, which Lucca hopes will make the upcoming record, are introduced to audiences on the national tour: “Need Your Love” is a bass-driven ballad, and “What I Ever Done” is an upbeat rocker.
Just before performing the latter, the singer mentions that his feud with Christina Aguilera -- another former Mickey Mouse Club member -- was the lyrical inspiration and dedicates the song to “Team Xtina” with a wink and a smile.
“It’s a new track that’s kind of tongue-in-cheek,” Lucca’s longtime drummer Mic Capdevielle told The Hollywood Reporter about performing the song on tour. “There are some people out there, they go for it -- they spit out some, 'beep Christina!' And we’re like, whoa! But it’s fun, though, because the song itself has quite a bit of energy.”
Added Lucca’s bass player and tour manager Steve Bentz: “If you didn’t know anything about [the feud], it would just be a song. It’s not direct.”
Throughout season two, the tension between Lucca and Aguilera was palpable onscreen, and months after his last contact with her on the show, Lucca still doesn’t know what to make of it.
Although no official amends have been made, he harbors no hard feelings toward her. Instead, he feels badly for unintentionally seizing the media spotlight.
“I’ve been in it long enough to know that coverage is coverage; bad news is good news if you spin it right, he said. "It was unfortunate because it wasn’t a strictly positive experience. But certainly, I think the takeaway from season two was … the second runner-up overshadowed the winner through most of it, just through the media coverage alone. They didn’t spend as much time talking to Jermaine, Chris [Mann] and Juliet; everyone was interested in this petty argument.
“Even at the end, I personally apologized for having a role in that," he continued. "I just happened to be the guy caught in that little feud there. At the same time, that’s the nature of the beast, and I had to deal with it.”
Lucca's Chapter 2 tour, which wraps this week, also features covers from his arc on The Voice, including Ray LaMontagne’s "Trouble." His set also opens with The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now?” with an intentional hint of irony, and closes with Hugo's country version of Jay-Z's “99 Problems,” which hit No. 4 on iTunes.
The big crowd-pleaser is Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time,” which Levine persuaded him to cover. “That’s become the one song people wait to see. And sometimes the crowd even thins out after that -- it’s fine.” Lucca now mixes in a few measures of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” a creative tangent discovered while jamming in Detroit.
Throughout the tour, Lucca features fellow management company Rock Ridge Music artists Todd Carey, Sarah Miles, Riley Etheridge Jr., Bracher Brown, Daniel Kirkpatrick and Matt Duke, and also reunited with some Voice alumni onstage: Justin Hopkins of Cee Lo Green’s team, Jordis Unga and Brian Fuente of Blake Shelton’s team and his Levine teammate Chris Cauley.
Although Lucca and Cauley duked it out during the Battle Round, there's no hostility between them.
“That should be weird, [but it] was not weird at all,” said Lucca of performing The Beatles’ “Yesterday” with Cauley in Atlanta. “It was beautiful; it was a great opportunity to extend the tip of the hat and my respect for him.”