Rob De Luca Interview
March 11, 2017
The Alamo City Music Hall
San Antonio, Texas
Rob De Luca is a busy guy!
The extraordinary bassist of the iconic band UFO is on a spring 2017 tour with Saxon. Since joining the band in 2008, he has toured constantly. Whether with UFO or his other bands OF EARTH, Spread Eagle and Sebastian Bach, his style and command on stage is bar none.
I had the chance to sit down with him before their show in San Antonio, Texas.
Hailing from Delaware, Rob grew up playing the bass guitar. When asked about his training, Rob said “I decided to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.” I asked him how life was like at that famed school of music. “It was interesting, I had musicians playing all the other styles of music, jazz, classical, blues. And I was there to learn rock and roll.” That commitment to his craft was the determining factor on going pro.
As I am from Baltimore, Maryland, I asked him if he remembers the famed nightclub Hammerjacks. “Of course! I grew up in Delaware, Hammerjacks was a great place.” I mentioned it was reopening in the coming year.
Touring with the likes of Sebastian Bach, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and his own projects, OF EARTH and Spread Eagle, he has had the opportunity to play most everywhere. Looking at the concert dates, Rob said that on this tour they are having the chance to play for a couple cities “Denver Colorado and Jim Thorpe, PA.” Ah yes, the bustling metropolis of Jim Thorpe, PA. After playing two nights in NYC this venue will be a nice respite. The drive up the mountain to Penns Peak is a sweet ride.
When asked where else he would want to play, Eastern Europe? Asia? Rob responded, “Russia would be incredible. We have played in several eastern European countries. Estonia and Poland among others. Poland, especially, has an incredible metal fan base.”
As he sat on the couch practicing on his Gibson Thunderbird, Rob and I talked about life on the stage. Watching him in Houston and then in Dallas, I wondered if the larger Gas Monkey Live in Dallas was easier to perform on. “You know, it’s not necessarily. When you are playing on a smaller stage, the timing is different.” As in moving around the stage? “Yes. There is a bigger area to cover.” He chuckles.
Since joining the band, UFO has released one album Conspiracy of Stars on which Rob helped write several of the tracks. I am always curious as to what comes first, the music or the lyrics. “I mainly work on the music and Phil writes most of the lyrics. It becomes a blending of both.”
Keeping with the discussion on music, we talked about the influence of blues music on the band in the early years, and if he contributes to that style currently. “I play rock and roll, so my influence is more driven along that style.”
With all the touring and writing, I wondered what hobbies Rob had. “I have a website dedicated to vintage bass guitars” He has been building it few many years now with the help of several industry friends. This is the most detailed site I have seen. Down to details on the each bass, you can have access to the technical information like this for the 1964 Gibson Thunderbird:
Gibson first shipped the Thunderbird IV reverse body Bass in 1964. It featured a neck through body design and a two pickup configuration. During the year the two screws truss rod cover changed to three fastening screws. Another evolution was the white/black/white pickguard’s bird logo changed from red to black … other 1964 reverse body Thunderbird IV characteristics: Two tone painted headstock, Gibson logo on black plastic truss rod cover, Kluson no-name riveted clover reverse tuners with slot head screws, serial number on headstock back, unbound Brazilian rosewood 20 fret board with pearloid dot fret markers, two nickel pickups each with two phillips head height adjustment screws, nickel pickup cover with plastic shim, curved ebony thumb rest under G string, three silver top/gold hat shaped knobs including numbers and metal position pointers, string mutes, four saddle adjustable bridge, nickel bridge cover with plastic shims, three phillips head screw tailpiece, CTS potentiometers, round orange capacitor, input jack on body front, strapholder on body back, four screw plastic controls access cover on body back, Honduras mahogany body and neck, standard sunburst finish, rectangular black tolex case with yellow interior … Gibson records show a total of 235 reverse body Thunderbird IV’s were shipped in 1964. For 1964 serial numbers see the “Gibson Serial Number Chart”. For more precise dating cross reference the serial number with the instrument’s potentiometer codes.
I closed out the interview asking Rob what he wanted to add. “If I may plug my projects?” Of course!
As the band makes its way around the country, make sure you take the time out to go see both Saxon and UFO, the double bill of the year. It will be worth it!