INTERVIEW WITH SPREAD EAGLE, SEBASTIAN BACH AND UFO BASSIST ROB DE LUCA
Date: December 23, 2019
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (first and fourth photos), Kraler Photography (second and fifth photos)
SPREAD EAGLE CONSISTING OF ORIGINAL MEMBERS ROB DE LUCA (BASS) AND RAY WEST (LEAD VOCALS) ALONG WITH ZIV SHALEV (GUITAR) AND RICK DE LUCA (DRUMS) RELEASED THEIR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED THIRD STUDIO ALBUM ‘SUBWAY TO THE STARS’ VIA FRONTIERS MUSIC SRL BACK ON AUGUST 9, 2019. THIS WAS THE FIRST RECORD FROM THE BAND IN MORE THAN A QUARTER CENTURY AND FOLLOWS THE ALBUMS ‘SPREAD EAGLE’ (1990) AND ‘OPEN TO THE PUBLIC’ (1993). SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH ROB DE LUCA WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO HAVE BEEN PLAYING BASS FOR OVER A DECADE NOW FOR BOTH UFO AND FORMER SKID ROW FRONTMAN SEBASTIAN BACH.
Sleaze Roxx: So Spread Eagle are back. You were just mentioning off the record that it’s not as easy as it sounds so tell me why?
Rob De Luca: Well, you know, when you go away for a period of years, and you try to come back, it makes it a little harder. And there’s basically, everyone’s a little older and they have financial obligations. So you’re trying to get people to prioritize the band but luckily, we made a strong record — ‘Subway To The Stars’ — which is getting really great reviews so that helps a lot. We’ve got First Row Talent as our booking agent and they are doing some good things for us. So we just got to keep pushing through. I think that the hardest part is starting at the beginning again and then it gets a little easier.
Sleaze Roxx: So obviously, you guys have recorded a really good new album, you have some tour dates announced but you also had a couple of other starts in the last two decades. How come those didn’t pan out the way that this one is where you actually have an album out and stuff?
Rob De Luca: Explain what you mean.
Sleaze Roxx: Well, you’ve reformed the band a couple of times and played some shows in the past but you never recorded a new album until now. It seems that there’s more momentum this time with the reformation of Spread Eagle.
Rob De Luca: Yeah. I think it’s a combination of two things. One, Ziv Shalev, the guitarist, who is just fantastic! Getting him in really made it sound like Spread Eagle again, and then still, it took us a little while. So, I think that the second factor was we really had a high level of morale after the European tour [in 2017], and Frontiers asked us, and we really felt confident. We were having so much fun. There was so much camaraderie. I think it’s a combination of Ziv, the European tour and Frontiers, which made it different than the previous times. We didn’t have any songs. We weren’t writing. We didn’t have a single song that we had written with Ziv. It just felt different. We knew that we could do it. At least, I felt that we could do it and the guys agreed.
Sleaze Roxx: How long did it take to write the entire album?
Rob De Luca: Well, we started in November of 2017 when we got back and we wrote until the spring , in March or April.
Sleaze Roxx: What about the recording [of the album]? How long did it take for you to do that?
Rob De Luca: We started that in the summer  and we didn’t spend that much time recording. I can’t really remember but I am going to say a month, but we took a while mixing it and didn’t deliver it until February .
Sleaze Roxx: Which songs are your favourites from the new album, and why?
Rob De Luca: I like the title track “Subway To The Stars.” It really says a lot of what I thought we needed to say in a song. Schematically and musically, I really like it. It’s got a cool vibe to it and was among the first… I think it was the first song written for the album. I like “Cut Through” which is the second song written for the album. I like “More Wolf Than Lamb” which I think is just a cool and unique song. I like “Dead Air.” I like a lot of them [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] It sounds like you like all of them!
Rob De Luca: Yeah. I might. Its interesting you know putting out records. You look back and sometimes… You definitely don’t see it as clearly as when you’re doing it. No matter who says that, I would question it because you’re so close to it. It doesn’t mean that you don’t see it well but you just don’t see it objectively. At least, I don’t and I would be surprised if people do. So you kind of do your best to put it together and you charge forward and get it done. And then kind of after a couple of months after the fact, when the dust settles, you kind of see what you have. And looking back on the record a few months after it’s been released, I really still, I love it. I absolutely love it. I’m proud of it. The guys are so proud of it. No one has any substantial critiques. So I think that we really did a good job.
Spread Eagle‘s “Cut Through” song (from Subway To The Stars album):
Subscribe To Our Channel: http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | Shop our U.S. & EU webstores: http://radi.al/FrontiersMusic | From the album SUBWAY TO THE STAR…
Sleaze Roxx: How would you compare ‘Subway To The Stars’ to Spread Eagle’s first two albums that were released a couple of decades before?
Rob De Luca: I definitely think that it’s in the same quality level. Fans of the band are going to pick their favourites. I think that I’ll always love the first one the most because of the time and because everything was new and fresh, and you know, getting on MTV and things like that. But this one to me is right up there with it.
Sleaze Roxx: Some Sleaze Roxx readers might not be familiar with Spread Eagle. If you had to give a Cole’s notes version of the band, how it started and what unfolded, what would you say?
Rob De Luca: In our Bio on the internet, how we came together, it’s really true. It was a crazy situation where we moved down from Boston [Massachusetts, USA]. We got Ray as a singer. We wrote about four songs, maybe three. Probably four and we booked some shows in upstate New York or out of the city because we didn’t want to play in the city yet. Our manager knew some people in the record industry so we booked some rehearsals and he invited some people down to see us. We started getting interest from labels. We hadn’t done our first gig yet which was crazy. However, me and Paul [DiBartolo] and Tommy [Gallo] — Paul the guitar player and Tommy the drummer, the original guitar player and drummer — we’d played together for four years already. So we were really tight musically and personally. So we started doing some rehearsals and inviting people down… Our manager was inviting people just for their opinions. We never ever thought that we would get signed before our first gig because me, Tommy and Paul had been trying for years [laughs] to get a record deal.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Rob De Luca: You know, we had done everything! Flying down for a New York showcase. Flying people to our showcase to these big shows in Boston. So we were just eager to get some advice. Are we on the right track or not? And everybody was interested. Every single person that came down. On the second or third day, MCA came down and they said right on the spot, “We want to sign you guys. Right now. Like tomorrow.” So that’s how we got together. We cancelled the shows that we booked ’cause we still had some shows. We cancelled them and we went right into the Record Plant Studio for the recording. We didn’t even have enough songs for the record. We had maybe at this point, maybe five songs. Six, four, something like that. But they were good ones. They were ones like “Scratch Like A Cat,” probably “Switchblade Serenade,” probably the song “Spread Eagle.” So we cancelled the shows, we went into the studio, we recorded a record and it came out. We didn’t do any shows until after our record was recorded. So that’s how it came together. And for people who don’t know us, we were like an East coast version of street metal. We were the East coast sound of whatever was happening at the time being Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, etc. And with some ’70s influence.
Spread Eagle‘s “Switchblade Serenade” (from Spread Eagle album):
Music video by Spread Eagle performing Switchblade Serenade. (C) 1990 Geffen Records
Sleaze Roxx: Do you blame the grunge era for the demise of Spread Eagle?
Rob De Luca: Well, I like all kinds of music. There’s a ton of grunge music that I love so I don’t blame good music for anything. I do blame the cultural reaction to grunge, which I felt was ridiculous. It made people act like, if you’re not in a grunge band, you suck or if you’re not in a grunge band, you’re not cool. And I thought that was insane actually. I just couldn’t — I still cannot wrap my head around that kind of close-mindedness where style is more important than quality. And I think that history happens and you look back, may it be music history, cultural history, style history, political history — you look back at all the mistakes and you try not to make them again. I think that was a huge mistake and it would be horrible if it were to happen again. Not to me but to anyone. If you’re making great music, you should be seen for what it is and not if you’re not dressed like this guy, it doesn’t mean that you’re not cool. That’s what freaked me out and yeah, that kind of reaction hurt Spread Eagle bad. It absolutely hurt us really bad. It wasn’t the only thing but it was a factor in a perfect storm that pretty much took us out of commission.
Sleaze Roxx: I am surprised that you were able to come up with some tour dates for Spread Eagle because you’re so busy with UFO and Sebastian [Bach]. How hard is it coming up with tour dates when you’re so busy and Ray [West] is probably busy as well?
Rob De Luca: It’s hard. It’s hard. I’m not going to lie. Its difficult and that’s kind of what I was saying at the beginning. Everyone has to work. Music for me is a lot of things. It’s artistic. It’s fun. It’s creative. And it’s also employment you know. I have to look at it that way along with everybody else in the band. So it’s difficult but luckily, I am getting my schedules and itineraries pretty early on so I can make plans so thanks to management for UFO and Bach. So as long as I get good advance notice, I can book stuff and I can keep booking stuff.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of UFO, it kind of feels that your time is going to come to an end [with the band] because obviously, you guys are doing your farewell tour right now with [UFO frontman] Phil [Mogg] kind of retiring. What are your thoughts on UFO possibly coming to an end?
Rob De Luca: Well, it’s definitely very bittersweet. I’ve been there for 12 years and the band means a lot to me. That band meant a lot to me as a kid and it means even more to me now. You know, it definitely sucks but it is what it is. At least, we’re booking… At least, the farewell tour is getting pretty extensive because I think that the plan was to do this short little run but the fans all wanted to get a chance to see it so we’ve been booking some other stuff. We have the spring in the USA and we have Rock Legends Cruise, and then we have some shows in South America. We have a festival in Spain this summer. So at least we are doing all the territories, all the markets. But it’s very bittersweet. Yeah. It really is. I hope that Phil gets bored when he gets home on his couch.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Rob De Luca: I hope that he gets really bored. It might take a little while for that to happen but I hope it happens.
UFO performing “Lights Out” live at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on October 11, 2019:
Live at the House of Blues – Las Vegas, NVFriday, October 11th, 2019w/ Armored Saint
Sleaze Roxx: Now, one very interesting gig for you is playing with Sebastian [Bach] because he would love to reform with the other Skid Row guys but obviously, they don’t seem to be into it. So your gig keeps going with Sebastian but it must be in the back of your mind that it could end if Sebastian patches things up with the Skid Row guys.
Rob De Luca: Yeah. You know what? I think that it would be awesome if he did that because I know what it’s like. Your first band where you first learn everything about the music industry and about being in a band — your first success. I feel that with Spread [Eagle] on a smaller level than Skid Row of course. I know how important that band is to him. That’s basically his legacy and I would like to see it honestly but I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. But having said that, because I would like to see it, whatever happens, I’m OK with. I’ve been with him — it must be going on 15 years now. So you know, nothing lasts forever. If that happens, I’d be really happy for him. I really would and i would be happy for the fans because man, that would be a big deal.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh for sure! And as a guy that’s been with Sebastian for about 15 years, I know that the Skid Row guys have sort of painted him into a corner with his past behaviour and how he dealt with things two decades ago but you’ve been with him for 15 years now, how is he as a person and things like that?
Rob De Luca: Well, first off, he is one of the best frontmen out there and he’s such a pro when it comes to how professional he is. I can see him in a really bad mood or having a bad day, or something has gone really wrong, and he hits that stage, and no one would ever know it. And really, it’s a lesson to watch how he just turns it on and shows everyone such a good time. So you know, in some ways, dealing with what the guys in Skid — I don’t know the guys in Skid Row. I’ve only met Rob Affuso. He’s really nice. Those other guys, I don’t know them. I can’t really speak for them but I think that sometimes, Baz is just really misunderstood. That might be the case. He’s so into it that it’s hard to slow him down some of his energy and enthusiasm. I think that sometimes, people misunderstand that. And also, he doesn’t hide anything hold back. You know where you stand with him. I think that a combination of those things, people might not see a lot of people like that because everyone is so politically correct, calculated. So it might confuse some people. But at least with him, you know what you’re getting and he’s honest about it.
Sleaze Roxx: I agree. He’s one of the great frontmen in rock.
Rob De Luca: Oh my God! Even those shows with Guns N’ Roses, he gets on that stage and he thinks that it’s his arena.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Rob De Luca: And no one can tell him otherwise. That’s why it’s as good as it is.
Sleaze Roxx: How has it been doing the tour celebrating Skid Row’s first album? It sounds like the tour is going super well so far.
Rob De Luca: Yeah. He just announced 30 more dates including Canada, North America and the USA. It’s been really fun. I was so busy with Spread Eagle when their debut album came out. I only knew the videos. The only songs I knew were the videos to be honest because I was just trying so hard to get my own thing off the ground. That was even before the band. We were finishing the old band. So they came out. What year did the Skid Row [album] come out?
Sleaze Roxx: In ’89.
Rob De Luca: ’89. So I was putting Spread Eagle together at that point. I was just so focused on what I was doing. So to learn the album and play the album, it was interesting because I’m hearing all these songs that I had heard in the past but I didn’t know them at all. In fact, back then, I didn’t know the album or anything. So it as really interesting. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it but I really had a lot of fun playing those songs and doing that tour. I think that it’s a really fun album to play and I think that Baz sung better on this tour than any other tour that I’ve been with him in the 15 years because we were doing that album. He just owns those songs so well. Because every other tour, we’d be skipping around pretty much. We’d be doing ‘Slave To The Grind‘ songs. We’d be doing solo songs. We’d be doing songs from the first album. There was even a tour when — what was it called? We did a song called “Blade” off an album that he did with some guitar player. I think the guitar player was Canadian too. I could be wrong. Anyway, so we’ve done all kinds of stuff. I think that it’s the best that I’ve ever heard him sing and I don’t expect any less from this tour.
Sebastian Bach‘s entire set at Jergel’s in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, USA on September 29, 2019:
30th Anniversary Tour 1989 – 2019Jergel’s Rhythm Grille – Warrendale, Pa.TornadoForever Big GunsSweet Little Sister Can’t Stand the Heartache Piece of Me 18 …
Sleaze Roxx: Now you guys have also played ‘Slave To The Grind’ in its entirety at least for one show. Is there a possibility that there will be a tour for the anniversary of that album?
Rob De Luca: I don’t know anything about that but it does make sense. What year did that album come out?
Sleaze Roxx: I believe in ’91.
Rob De Luca: ’91. Yeah, the year after. So you know, why not? Let’s do it [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Rob De Luca: You got my vote.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] That’s cool. So is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Rob De Luca: No. I just want to say thanks to Sleaze Roxx for supporting Spread Eagle and supporting ‘Subway to The Stars.’ If everyone wants to check it out on Spotify for free, it’s a really great record. We really stand behind it. we’re very proud of it and now, we’re going to get out there and tour. We” definitely playing some songs off all three albums.
Spread Eagle‘s “Sound of Speed” video (from Subway To The Stars album):
Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album SUBWAY TO THE STARS. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/SubwayToTheStars …