Based on artist bios and big screen biopics, pop musicians travel a sensible trajectory toward professional success. Each has its nuances, but most usually include a linear path of practice, road-tested patience and popular discovery before the artists’ ages enter their fourth decade.
But not for Anthony Casuccio and Lana Marie, a Buffalo-area duo whose road to recording success has been anything but conventional -- or even expected.
A producer for more than 25 years — with mastering work of both Johnny Cash and Buffalo’s Aqueous on his resume — Casuccio was crafting commercial jingles when he connected with Marie, a 20-year vet of the local music scene as the voice of the versatile Black Widow. After joining to cut the now signature ad for The Vinyl Outlet (“Let us transform your home!”), the two teamed for something a little more suitable to their rock-steered music tastes.
One EP (“Just for Fun”) and three songs on the Euro Indie Music Chart’s Top 20 later, the 40-something pair’s hook-laden, relatable barroom rockers have earned them stardom as far away as the Netherlands, and now brings them back to Buffalo for their first local headlining gig at 7 p.m. April 13 inside Mohawk Place.
Casuccio recently took some time before he and Marie’s Mohawk gig to discuss unexpected European success, the benefits of production experience, and how two performers can go from hawking fences to earning international airplay.
Question: So how does a music duo in their forties go from singing about The Vinyl Outlet to cracking Euro music charts?
Answer: It’s a crazy story. Because of our jingle work together, I asked Lana to sing on this song that I wrote called “Get Me a Drink.” We recorded it and we released it with no expectations. We got Jim Beam to sponsor our video [for the song], and things took off from there.
Q: Was your eventual success in the European market a surprise and, if so, how did you react to the news?
A: Yes, we were surprised when our song “Hot Mess” started to move up the charts. “Singing My Life” away took its time moving up due to radio stations slowly adding the song. We held our breath and watched it climb, and it kept going. It debuted at No. 89, and ten weeks later, hit No. 11 for two weeks. We were thrilled with that — and then climbed to No. 3. That was a great feeling.
Q: How has your work as a producer influenced your current output?
A: The biggest benefit is that A&L has no production cost. I am recording, mixing and mastering everything. I have worked on so many projects over the past 25 years, and it’s given me a lot of ideas to pull from. There’s a guitar lick on “Hot Mess” that is based off a Rush song.
Q: Speaking of which, "Hot Mess" sounds like it was conceived inside a Buffalo barroom. Why do you think this and A&L's other songs have translated so well with European audiences?
A: Our songs have good hooks and harmonies. We have found that Europe has a strong pop/rock market. Here in the U.S., most Top 40 songs don’t have guitar in them. Plus, we feel that our songs’ subject manner centers on topics most people can relate too or laugh with.
Q: Your gig at Mohawk is your first local headlining gig as A&L. After your current breakthrough, does the show feel like a triumphant homecoming, just rewards for years on the grind, or the beginning of something bigger?
A: It’s the beginning of something bigger. We finally have a killer band with Rich Smith on drums and Matt Sunick on bass. We have a great set, and would love to eventually open for some bigger acts.
A&L, with French Quarter Hounds and the Toy Box Brigade
When: 7 p.m. April 13
Where: Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.)