Rockabilly and bass-driven electronic music might not be two sounds you’d envision coming together, but one look at Luca Venezia’s slicked back coif, leather everything and glinting gold tooth and you know he’s about to show you EXACTLY how they come together. Also known as Drop The Lime, Venezia’s made a name for himself within the niche as DJ and producer under New York’s Trouble and Bass collective but has recently made a foray into transitioning those same sounds into a band. Merging live instruments with automation and introducing elements like backup dancers, the experience is intense, dance-driven and, well, rockabilly. I was able to sit down with the entire group of Luca, DQ, Kaicee and Kate before they performed at Chicago’s Empty Bottle to talk about making the band.
Dani: I know you have some band background and you’ve been a DJ for quite some time – when did you decide to merge the two together?
Luca: I started playing more rockabilly edits that I made myself with my club music and then eventually I got tired of sampling things so I started playing the riffs of the different artists I was sampling and then eventually started making originals and then started wanting to make a live band because you miss playing with other people…you get inspired and different songs pop up…it’s a different energy.
Dani: So with songs like “Hot As Hell” were you thinking at the time about how it would operate in a live band setup?
Luca: Yeah, definitely. When we shot the video, we played it with a live band in London with these guys The Spiders.
Dani: So when did your interest in Rockabilly first start?
Luca: Since I was born. My mom was obsessed with Gene Vincent and Roy Orbison and of course Elvis and then country like Johnny Cash. I heard this music being played in my house as a child and when I was around seven years old I started wanting to play guitar.
Kaicee: When I grew up we weren’t allowed to change the channel ever…we still aren’t. It was always the oldies, a little bit of country here and there. I grew up going to the old man car shows and when I found out there was a lifestyle with people who liked rockabilly that were more my age, it was eye opening.
Kate: My father was a traveling trumpet player so I was always forced to play the piano, listen to classical trumpet and oldies. Me and Casey actually met before the band, we traveled across the country to do pin up modeling for charity events, hot rod shows, whatever that culture brings.
DQ: I just have a crazy love for any type of music.
Dani: How did you know that this was the right combination of people?
Luca: That’s kinda crazy. It’s all a very long story so I’ll try and sum it up. Prince Terrence from Hussle Club introduced me to DQ, Kate was in my music video for “Sex Sax” and then I met Casey through Patrick – The Captain who’s in Trouble and Bass.
Dani: How many cities have you done so far?
Luca: So far we’ve done Los Angeles and San Francisco…New York…Montreal. The reception’s awesome. We’re getting different fans coming out. We’re getting a lot of people who come to my DJ gigs and we’re also getting new people who are a little bit more into rock and roll and starting to experiment with listening to dance music. It’s a great vibe.
Dani: Did you find any difficulty in transitioning some of your songs from a pure electronic standpoint to this live band?
Luca: If anything I don’t think that it was difficult but people were more surprised, like “Whoa, guitar? That’s crazy! Live drums and backup dancers, what?” It’s a surprise for people in a positive way. Also, people weren’t too shocked because when I DJ I sing and it was always kind of a performance.
Dani: So where do you go from here? Do you approach your production for a live band or DJing…or both?
Luca: I absolutely love DJing. It’s so much fun and it gives me a chance to play other people’s songs…mix it with whatever songs I want. My album already was me playing a lot of riffs and bringing live instruments with electronic music. That’s dropping in January on Ultra. So yeah I think we just continue it and for the second album we incorporate the band a little bit more with songwriting and production.
Dani: Any good stories from being on the road so far?
Kate: Fake roaches!
Luca: We play so many pranks on each other. We went to a Halloween store in San Francisco and we have these little rubber roaches and we just constantly get each other.
Kate: We never learn our lesson. Last night I hid it under the ice and they went to scoop the ice and they found it…or we’ll put it in the shower.
Dani: I have to ask, what’s with the gold tooth?
Luca: There’s a long story behind that. When I was eighteen, I used to skateboard, and I wasn’t the best…I wasn’t very good. We were filming each other and I did the stupidest thing ever; I was skateboarding and looking through the viewfinder. At the time…maybe you won’t believe it…but I used to wear very, very wide leg jeans when I was sixteen, seventeen. I tripped on my face, busted my whole face up and then when I was eighteen the whole tooth just died. I bit into an apple and half of it snapped off. So I had to get it fixed and I went to my dentist, and my dentist was kind of a rock star dentist. He would be like, “Hey man, you want laughing gas? Whatever!” I’m a teenager, it’s not cool, it’s weird. But anyway, he made a joke and said, “You should get it gold” and I thought, yeah, fuck yeah, I’ll get it gold, let’s do it.
Dani: Tell me one thing most people don’t know about you. Do you have any hidden talents?
Luca: Cooking, I love cooking.
Dani: What’s your favorite thing to make?
Luca: I’d say pasta alla amatriciana.
Dani: Ok, so you legitimately grew up in an Italian household.
Luca: Yes, with an Italian father, who was the cook of the household.
Dani: Do you have a family sauce recipe?
Luca: Yes, but I’ll never tell you.
Dani: Do you remember the first time you got drunk?
Luca: Yeah, I really remember the first time. It was kalimotxo, which is a Spanish combination of Coca Cola and red wine. Disgusting, it’s horrible, but it’s a tradition over there. Old men drink it. I was in Italy with my friend Dom. We used to see each other a lot in the Summer because my parents were friends with his and I used to go to Italy in the Summer. Our parents were out of town so we went to this place with five of our other friends and we played quarters with kalimotxo. So we’re playing quarters and we’re eleven…twelve years old…wasted. We were spinning around in circles thinking “Oh this is amazing!” Now two hours into the spinning in circles listening to Andy C and DJ Hype records I puked everywhere.
Kaicee: Mine wasn’t as interesting. I think it was with Beast beer…just forget I said it. It was that and wine. Red faced and drunk, that was about it.
DQ: I cut school and got a bottle of wine from my cousin and didn’t really keep track of time. Mom came home and we were all bleeeeeeh. It wasn’t good.
Kate: I don’t drink we’re just gonna leave it at that. Everyone thinks I’m drunk already.
Luca: That’s crazy it’s all wine.
Dani: Let’s go left field. If you were going to die in 24 hours, what three things would you do?
Kaicee: I’d play this show.
Luca: True. I’d play the show as well. I’d play the show, go skydiving and go to the moon.
DQ: I don’t know about the skydiving thing. I’ll stay on the ground. I take risks, just not that high up. I’ll take low ground risks.
Kaicee: Call me old fashioned but I’m thinking right here, right now.
Dani: Ninjas or pirates?
Luca: That’s tough. See, as a kid I drew so many pictures of ninjas. I was obsessed with ninja stars and nunchucks.
DQ: His little kid pictures are the best in the world. They should be in a fucking gallery.
Kaicee: They’re telling of his character. They’re all exactly how he is now.
DQ: Yeah, he’s the same person from when he was five years old.
Luca: But you know what I love pirates though. Pirates are badass, and you’re a vagabond and traveling. Pirates. You get that travel.
Kate: Ninjas are badass but they don’t show it. Peace out.
Dani: You got hit by a ninja but don’t even know it.