Tony Lucca never comes right out and says it, but you have to imagine he thanks God often for the Mickey Mouse Club. He starred on the show from 1991-95 alongside the likes of Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, and it introduced him to the rigors of acting and singing in Hollywood. But when he appeared on season 2 of NBC's The Voice, the Mickey Mouse Club came into play again as another former pop princess and Mickey Mouse Clubber — Britney what's-her-name — came to his aid.
"I would definitely say that the turning point and the song that saved me was my version of Britney Spears' 'Baby One More Time,'" Lucca says with a laugh. "That was just the right song at the right time, and it really seemed to change the game for us."
Though Aguilera did not remember Lucca at first — and was not always impressed during some episodes —another of The Voice's stars, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, liked what he saw. He got Lucca to join his team, and the musician soon flourished under Levine's tutelage.
"I went on the show hoping to get some additional exposure," Lucca says. "But with Adam's help, I was able to tap into something more exciting and reinvent myself a bit, stylistically. We worked on bridging the gap between me being a coffeehouse singer-songwriter and turning me into a mainstream modern rock guy."
Earlier this year, Levine signed Lucca to his label, 222 Records. A new album is in the planning stages and is set for release sometime next year, and yes, it will be more like what he performed on The Voice than what he did in the past.
"I think we would be remiss," he says, "if we didn't continue the trajectory of where we went creatively on the show."
The experience has also impacted Lucca's live shows. Previously he wrote and performed his own material and was never really interested in doing covers. Now he's out on the road — as he puts it, "rocking the power trio" — and integrating his Voice performances into set lists. In fact, his Colorado show will feature fellow Voice contestant Justin Hopkins as Lucca's opening act.
"Having come off of a show where pretty much all I did was cover songs, it's been fun to kind of take a load off and just have fun entertaining the crowd."
Lucca's wave of popularity is well-timed, coming at a point where there's not a whole lot of drama in his personal life. "I'm married with kids, so that doesn't make for the most controversial material," he says.
But while Lucca has lightened up his onstage presence, he remains profoundly aware of the importance of music in his life.
"I think music is its own element, like wind and water and fire," he says. "You see all these bands that want to do these farewell retirement tours. But they never stay retired, because it's too deeply ingrained in them. It's what they're meant to do, and they're kidding themselves, and anyone else who buys into it, if they try to pretend like they can stop doing it at any time. When you do what you love, there's really no other option or choice, so that's why I continue to make music."