The San Francisco-based band Luce posted this message on its Web site: “Love isn’t pretty, love is complex, love is deep, love is open-heart surgery.”
Wrapping up a five-week tour before their Sept. 22-23 gig at the Great Basin Brewing Company, singer-songwriter Tom Luce reflects on same-day desire and other powerful flames.
“You have to research, dig into a really sensitive part of yourself, just to move forward in a relationship,” Tom explains. “That parallels with music. To really grow as a writer and musician, you have to learn new things about yourself [and] the world. Oftentimes, music is a mirror to my relationship, and my relationship is a mirror to my music.”
As a sensitive troubadour, Tom Luce was destined to grow up and be a prolific lyricist. By 9, he was asserting his natural talent—and status as annoying little brother.
“My older brother was in a band. They’d record music, but they didn’t have a singer. He’d bring back cassettes, and I’d go into his room and steal his tapes. I’d sing to my brother’s music, and the first song I wrote had lyrics like, ‘Baby please don’t leave me tonight just because of one little fight,” he says, laughing. Tom got called on the carpet by his parents, with big brother riding shotgun.
“I thought I was in trouble. They sat me down and said, ‘This is good for someone your age, who we didn’t know was into this at all.’ That stuck with me.”
At 16, Tom wrote for the proverbial girl next door, whom he admits he “had a crush on.” Now, at 34, citing influences like Lennon and McCartney, David Wilcox, the Fray, Duncan Sheik and Cat Stevens—to whom his mother listened—Tom says love is the common thread of Luce’s second CD, Never Ending.
“I try to be passionate about the relationship I’m in or the relationship I’m not in because, from a songwriting standpoint, it’s all about getting in touch with strong feelings and communicating them to yourself, then through music,” he says. “Hopefully, people tap into that.”
Luce can consider itself tapped. Following the success of “Good Day,” a single that first received airplay on the Bay Area’s KFOG before being featured in the films 13 Going on 30 and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and television shows Alias and The O.C., Luce’s popularity on Reno radio has garnered them a local fan base.
“Luce was an extreme anomaly for us,” observes Beej, program director at Alice 96.5. “It’s harder to take chances on indie bands when you’re a pop station. With Luce, I liked what I heard, gave ’em a shot, and [listeners] responded. There’s just something about that band and our audience, so we don’t fight it.”
Surrender is another force Luce felt this year, when the band’s van and instruments were stolen on tour, and a fire destroyed much of Tom’s home and threatened his unreleased music.
“My computer is where I keep all my new writing ideas,” he says. “I had it backed up but on a drive that was in the house. I was prepared for a crash, [not] a fire. It just doesn’t cross your mind.”
Tom credits bandmates Adam Rossi (keyboards), Larry Riggs (bass), Steve Bowman (drums, formerly of Counting Crows) and Dylan Brock (guitars) with maintaining his focus on songs yet unsung—and on perpetual, open-heart surgery. Collaborating with former Train player Charlie Colin, Tom says his third effort will be “eclectic, acoustic and moody. I want to experiment and take a few more chances.”
Sounds just like love.