Daniel Lanois finds new musical gold with Rocco DeLuca

Rocco DeLuca. (WENN)

Rocco DeLuca. (WENN)

, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

What better way to fine-tune your musical craft than to stand on the shoulders of a Canadian music giant?

For California singer-songwriter Rocco DeLuca, that's exactly what he's done once again with Daniel Lanois – who happens to be one of the best ears in the business – for his self-titled fourth studio album.

The seven-time Grammy-winning producer, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter seems like the natural fit to be at the controls for the 38-yeard-old. DeLuca’s ethereal voice seems to fit in perfectly with Lanois' sonic landscapes. Just don't try to tell Lanois – the highly sought after technical genius – that it’s just his studio fingerprints that bring out the best in any of the artists he works with.

"I don't go through any work day thinking, 'Wait until I put my little touch on this person's work,'" Lanois says, his voice raising a slight octave."That's very far away from what's in my head. I'm just trying to help people the best I can... I don't think that I have some kind of sonic blanket that I'm throwing on people's lives. I'm just the guy laying tile."

The building blocks of their partnership trace back to 2009 when Lanois was invited to see the ponytailed troubadour at a small club in Silver Lake, Calif., an artistically robust community east of Los Angeles, where both have residences near each other. Lanois was captivated by his artistry and stage presence, and immediately after being introduced, they struck up a friendship (mostly consisting of riding motorcycles and listening to old blues records) and began working on what became DeLuca's second effort, Mercy.

Fast forward to 2014, and the two joined forces again, exchanging ideas across the pond from each other, with DeLuca rushing over on his bike to Lanois' home studio (which he dubs his "laboratory") whenever he felt he had a great melody for his mentor to listen to. What emanated from the sessions was a very organic, stripped down album that has the personalities of both perfectly intertwined.

"Dan taught me to build little stations around my own studio, so if I was ever in the spirit of playing, I would capture that moment because I'd always have the record button on for a spontaneous performance," DeLuca explains. "I never forced a song. If I recorded a track and thought it was worthy, I'd bring it over to Dan's and see if he'd mix it."

And what better way to put the protege on the spot with his trusted adviser beside him than to ask him what Lanois project inspired him the most musically. After a small pause, DeLuca rifles off 1996's Sling Blade soundtrack and Bob Dylan's 1997 masterpiece Time Out of Mind. He then goes back to 2005 to when he witnessed Lanois being inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto and his stirring ceremonial performance with drummer Brian Blade.

"I knew I was seeing something very special and I felt very lucky to bear witness to 'The Real Thing,'" DeLuca states with a huge grin on his face. "I knew right then and there that this guy goes to deep places and I always wanted to be around those feelings and energy."

As far as the rest of the year, DeLuca will spend it on the road in support of the new album, with two stops north of the border at Montreal's Le Divan Orange on Sept. 9 and Toronto's Rivoli on Sept. 10.

Meanwhile, Lanois – who is not involved with U2’s long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s No Line on the Horizon – has just finished work on his sixth studio record, Flesh and Machine, which he says has his "most adventurous sonics to date." It is scheduled for release this fall.

Asked about the U2 record, Lanois promises that fans will love what they hear – when it eventually drops.

"Bono played me the new record a year ago, and I heard some amazing things then," Lanois said. "I can only imagine what they've done between then and now. I can't wait to hear it myself.

"I'm glad I didn't do the record this time around because I don't think I would have survived," he laughed. "And they might not have survived either."

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DANIEL LANOIS MUST-HAVES

Here are the top 5 albums that Daniel Lanois has produced that we think you should have in your collection:

Peter Gabriel, So (1986)

Gabriel's high-water sales mark, going 5-times Platinum. And that catchy guitar work on mega-hit Sledgehammer? Yes, that's Lanois.

U2, The Joshua Tree (1987)

The album that turned the Irish rockers into the biggest band on the planet. Listen closely and you'll hear Lanois' backing vocals on I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

Wrecking Ball, Emmylou Harris (1995)

The Grammy-winning album, with included two tracks written by Lanois, saw Harris shift in an experimental direction and the record ended up on most critics' best-of lists of the decade.

Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind (1997)

After struggling artistically for a good chunk of the '80s, this record is hailed by fans and critics as Dylan's comeback.

Neil Young, Le Noise (2010)

The Canadian giants teamed up for the first time and scored a Grammy Award as well as a Polaris longlist nod for their efforts.


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