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INTERVIEW: STEVE LUKATHER from TOTO – FEBRUARY 2021

| 21 January 2021 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Steve Lukather and The Players Club / Mascot Label Group present the title track “I Found The Sun Again,” the third and final instant gratification release from Luke’s upcoming new studio album out February 26. The accompanying video presents Luke and his girlfriend Amber, whom is the inspiration for the composition.  In reference to “I Found The Sun Again,” Luke offers, “This was the first solo record I have done in many years. I felt free to try a do it old school, like we used to do it – live in the studio. I am very proud of it, and the players I used really brought their very best.”  Luke, and Toto singer Joseph Williams will both release solo albums simultaneously on February 26, 2021.  Both artists made significant contributions to the other’s album.  Steve Lukather’s solo album was co-produced by Ken Freeman, who also both engineered and mixed the new collection of repertoire.  The players feature many dignitaries that have been in Luke’s life for decades. Amongst those are drummer Gregg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, and bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce. Life-long friend and Toto band-mate David Paich performs piano and organ across the album, while Joseph Williams sang on multiple tracks alongside writing string and horn arrangements and tracking keys on the aforementioned “Run To Me.”  Both Paich and Williams co-wrote that specific composition, while friend and band leader of the All-Starrs, Ringo Starr makes a special appearance on the recording and in the video.  Other co-writers include Stan Lynch, Jeff Babko, and of course Joseph Williams.” Checking off another bucket list moment, we were able to grab some phone time with Luke to discuss new music and so much more…

Photo credit: Alex Solca Photography

Toddstar: Luke, I really appreciate you taking time out. I’ve been a fan forever and there’s so much exciting shit going on in the coming weeks and months for you that I’m just enthralled with talking to you right now, man.

Luke: It’s not that big of a deal bro.

Toddstar: It really is. Let’s start with the good stuff. A killer new album coming out. What can you tell us about the album I Found the Sun Again, that your fans might or might not grab the first or second time they will listen through all the tracks in one piece?

Luke: I made the record in eight days as a testament to see if I could do it first. No rehearsals, no click tracks, just charts and hiring the right people, casting the right people to play the parts in which I did. My idea was to make a record that would have been recorded in 1971, but with 2020 technology and just get everybody out in the room, playing together like we used to do when we were making records in the old days, and improvise within the context of songs over. Not over produce it so you can hear everybody’s personality coming in and out of it.

Toddstar: At eight days, that’s a day a song.

Luke: That’s it, I did all the tracking, and the solos were all cut live, and I overdubbed the vocals the same day, ready to mix next song. And then we mixed it for eight days and tweaked out what we liked, and I did overdub a couple of things. I produced a couple of tunes, but it was all done within the context of the same day. So I may have stayed later and put a few more things on. Joseph Williams took it home and did a few background vocals on it, but otherwise it was live, everything.

Toddstar: How different was it doing this as opposed to some of your other studio efforts?

Luke: I spent nine months on an album, I mean it’s a big difference.

Toddstar: One of my favorites of all time is All’s Well That Ends Well.

Luke: Well thanks man I mean I haven’t listened to my own stuff in a while. I haven’t done a solo record in 10 years. More than that. So yeah, I’ve been so busy with Toto and Ringo. And then when the band when the 2019 version of Toto died and the pandemic hit and we were all forced to take a year off, Joseph is one of my closest friends, lives down the street, is alone. He has a two-month-old grandson. He gets tested all the time. We get tested every week. I have a very small nuclear family and Ringo’s 80 and he’s one of my close friends, and I see him once in a great while. My youngest son being autistic, he can’t get this shit. If he has to go to the hospital, it’s over for him. So I’ve been a prisoner in my own home; when I go out, I go out to the doctor. Today, I have to go to the ear doctor because I have a sinus infection. And these are the things that happened. The old man shit happens, you know what I mean? My hearing aid has to get fixed and shit. [LAUGHS] And you know, I would have taken better care of myself had I known.

Toddstar: Well, and you made a lot of references to that in your book.

Luke: When you’re young and stupid they give you a bunch of money and you’re supposed to act like an idiot, and you do. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Everybody else was doing it. So I was a victim of peer pressure and then I got into it and then we were working so much. But the fact of the matter is if you look at like our discographies and all the work we were doing, plus being in a band, I mean, how high could we have been? I couldn’t have been whacked out of my mind and pulled off all those sessions where I had to read music and be there on time and have it together, and come up and be creative and still get called back time and time again. So the rumors about our insane parties are a little bit blown out of proportion. We were no worse than anybody else from the 70’s, I can tell you that.

Toddstar: And it’s always part of the legend…

Luke: But you grow up and then all of a sudden your body goes, “Hey, remember those nights you had in the 70’s well, hey, now it’s time to pay mother fucker.” So things start breaking down and stuff and you go “Oh God, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

Toddstar: Fortunately for all of us, it hasn’t affected you sonically to listen to yourself now.

Luke: Well it did for a minute but then that was a years ago. I haven’t had a drink in 12 years. I mean, I don’t do stuff like that. Don’t impair myself from being able to play. And plus I had a bus accident it fucked up both rotator cuffs, so I had to really change my approach to the instrument. So like less is more. I can still step on it; I just can’t step on it all the time. It hurts.

Toddstar: I was lucky enough to see one of your last shows if not the last show in Michigan, before 2020 put us all on the shitter when you guys played Soaring Casino over in Mt Pleasant. The band was great, but you were on fire that night. You didn’t miss a lick. I was listening hard, and every note was there, every ping and every squeal. It seems so flawless. How is that possible at this point?

Luke: I just, I’ve been playing my whole life man, I don’t know how to do else.

Toddstar: Would you really want to do anything else though?

Luke: No, but I mean, it’s the only thing that was ever good at that I could do and make a career out of it. But got lucky and 45 years later, I’m still lucky. I mean, I’ve worked hard at it. I got up at five in the morning, I was practicing this morning. I like to be up before the sun’s up now. I used to hate it. I used to go to bed at that time and now I’m the opposite end. I have a beautiful woman that cooks for me and looks after me, loves me, and I’m peaceful in my house with my dog, and I see my kids. I’ve been able to garden now, which is why my hands are dirty all the time because I’m always out in the garden. I’m really getting into it. She’s got me outside again. I’m enjoying turning our house into a little paradise and stuff like that and turning lemons into lemonade. I turned off the TV, I stopped listening to the news except for the headline news. And I get it from my oldest daughter, who’s all into it. And I get all the dirt in the morning and I go, “Okay, all right, enough already.” And then I retired to in my office and do my work as a manager or as an artist, or I just hang out and garden and enjoy myself and relax and sleep in my own bed and eat really normal healthy food. Like my woman’s a 10-star chef, I lost 20 pounds, but I eat like a king every day. It’s all real food. It’s not like chemicals and all this shit. So I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and I feel great. So I’m just chomping at the bit. I got everything locked and loaded. The band’s ready, the gigs are booked, the records are coming out. Both Joe and I are proud of our records. And we’re both working with each other to ensure each other’s success. And we’re going to be working together forever. We’re going to play our solo stuff live along with the Toto stuff, so we don’t have to tour as solo artists and play clubs and shit like that, you know? And we can do it both ways. Play the hits, play the deep cuts, and here’s some of our solo stuff. And no, it’s not Toto 1978, nor could it be. It’s not Toto 2000, it’s not Toto 2018, it’s new. Guys retired, guys quit, guys died. I can’t do anything about that. I miss them. It’s not the same, but I just get great guys and I can’t afford to pay some of the old studio guys that were getting a lot of money because I have to pay a settlement. That’s all I can say.

Toddstar: You guys have said it in interviews. You talk about the last man standing. So is this really a way for you guys to knock the dust off? Like you said, you’re rehearsing, but to knock the dust off some of those deeper cuts and pull some of that stuff out?

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Luke: We dug out “You Are the Flower” as a dedication to Bobby Kimball, who I am in contact with and I am friends with contrary to popular belief. The guy’s got dementia and I’m trying to hang on with them, and we made our peace a long time ago. The press just keeps it alive. I mean, he’s got hearing problems, he’s got brain problems, he’s got all kinds of problems. He should have stopped, but he didn’t. I’m not going to not forgive the cat for trying to go out there and do what he loves doing, but he knows now where it’s at. But I never hated Bobby Kimball. I hated some of the stupid things he did. And I said some really nasty shit I wish I didn’t say, because I was angry. And that perpetuated this media driven feud that we supposedly had that like never really existed. I listened to the Byron tracks for the first time the other day. When you have this time off, you find people sending you things, “Have you checked this out?” It’s like going into a time machine, looking at myself at 20, 30 years old, it’s a trip.

Toddstar: Oh God, I can only imagine what it’s like looking back at your life through your eyes 40 years on.

Luke: Yeah and being in the third person without being a critic of myself and going, “Oh, I fucked that note.” Because I basically hate everything I do. I put myself down. I’ve been very negative to myself, which consequently just made me beat myself up more, that much more instead of just going “Well that was the best I could do at the time. Hey, this is not bad really.”

Toddstar: Anybody’s smart enough to pick up your book, The Gospel According to Luke, realizes that you are your hardest critic.

Luke: Yeah. I can look back and go sure some those lyrics are cheesy and shit. We were 19 years old making records, dude, how many people were doing that? What the fuck you want from me? Of course I don’t know what about the politics of the world. If our band was out there holding the banner up like Bono does, or like the Springsteen or like people that really have always been… their music is about the politics of the world. My music is not about that, and for me to come out like that now would just be cheesy and like “Toto jumps on the bandwagon, how lame.” I have my own very strong, personal beliefs and I’m very involved in higher up than you possibly could imagine. I just keep my mouth shut, man, because I don’t think anybody wants to hear about the politics of the day when they come see a show. They want to see a show, they want to forget about that shit for an hour, two hours. They don’t need me to say, “Trump this” or “Biden that.” I need to do that. Shut up and play the guitar man, that’s what we paid you to do, my job. I’m a peace and love guy. I know I’m an independent, I register independent, so I don’t get into trouble with anybody. I’m not on anybody’s team. I’m on the team of what’s right. It’s up to you to figure out what’s right.

Toddstar: I love the politics of rock and roll.

Luke: That’s another sickness all its own.

Toddstar: The last 50 years I’ve lived and thrived on rock and roll. It’s always been there for me when I needed it. And you’ve always been part of that soundtrack.

Luke: Well, I mean I don’t know, rock and roll is such a vague term now. It’s a real broad stroke. There are so many sub-genres. What kind of rock and roll are you into? Rock and roll when it came out, it was just like Elvis and the Beatles, Chuck Berry, The Stones, and then it became heavy rock or art rock or progressive rock or then death metal and the metal, and then sub genres of death metal and death to false metal. I mean I can listen to Slipknot, Herbie Hancock, and The Carpenters and the same day and go, “Yeah it’s all great music, man.” I can listen to somebody play acoustic guitar like John Gomm, I’d go “I wish I could play like that.” Watch this guy do genius shit with his tuning, he’s got perfect pitch. It’s just people do astounding things with instruments now. There hasn’t been a guitar hero since Eddie Van Halen, God bless his soul. I miss my brother so much. It hurts every day, every day. He was my friend. He was my friend for 40 some odd years. He wasn’t just a guitar buddy. He was my real friend. My brother, we’d confide in each other about personal shit. We lived down the street, he’d pop over all the time. I knew the codes to the gates and shit.

Photo credit: Alex Solca Photography

Toddstar: You mentioned so much about rock and roll, but the one constant is you’ve always had what I call the quintessential rock vibe.

Luke: That’s what I brought to the band. Everybody else was like funk. They liked rock music, but not heavy music. I brought the heavier sound, the crunchy guitars and all that. I was a youthful spirit if you will.

Toddstar: Right. You passed it along though to Trev’s new bands.

Luke: Oh man killer. They’re the new thing to me. They’re the melodic rock anthems. Steve Perry’s singing on it and shit, it’s like fuck. It’s killer stuff man. I mean he really writes big epic big productions just like I always loved. Very melodic anthem shit that aren’t out there now from young kids.

Toddstar: Hell no it’s not out there from guys my age and your age.

Luke: You’re right. Basically, I made my album for myself. I did this one for me. It might be my last one, full album. I don’t know, let’s see how this one does. If people can get back into listening to an album again, that was the idea that it’s not just a track.

Toddstar: I just like the ebb and flow. From the opening “Along for the Ride,” which has that Pink Floyd-ish solo in the middle…

Luke: Yeah, I gave nods to all my heroes. I gave credit to them all on the record too.

Toddstar: Yeah. But you’re going to “Run To Me” and that’s got that sing songy feel.

Luke: Well that was written for Ringo’s birthday. That was like an oddball song, but I added to the record. It was so cool and Ringo played on it and it was a great pop song, and as a part of my aspect, but then most of it is if you’ve heard the records, which I hope you have.

Toddstar: I have.

Luke: Then you know what it’s all about.

Toddstar: Well, I would say my two favorite songs are not opposite ends of the spectrum, but in different places. I love “Welcome to the Club.” There’s just that groove…

Luke: That’s Joe Walsh’s.  He is one of my all-time heroes.

Toddstar: That’s just to me is just, there’s just a vibe in there. And then the title track to me, that’s probably the most emotionally charged the vocals I’ve ever heard out of you.

Luke: Yeah. Well my girlfriend inspired that. I found the sun again. I mean, I was living on my couch for 10 years, as an urchin just work, work, kids, work, kids, work, kids, no life, redundancy. I was existing, I wasn’t living. Now this woman came into my world and just brightened up everything.

Toddstar: Funny how they do that.

Luke: She’s just got her shit together. She’s got her head in the right place. She calmed me down, man. I was wound up so tight I was going to burst and now I’m not, I’m unwound, I’m awake and I feel good. I let go of the past and the negative aspects of it and go look, how many great summers do I have left? Let’s make the most of it. I love all the aspects of the band. I love everybody who’s been in and out of the band, I don’t hate anybody. Contrary to what the media likes to put everybody against everybody. Yeah, there was some rub there wasn’t very bad juju. There was a very bad lawsuit shit, but it’s over, it’s done, I lost okay. I lost, I got to pay people. I don’t want to get into it, my opinions on it because it just gets me in trouble, and I don’t need any more lawsuits in my life. I only took over the manager gig cause we kept giving it to these big-time guys who kept fucking it up. I don’t lose money on my tours. Why are we losing money on this? Then I got in there and looked at what was being spent and I found out that these guys don’t even look at the fucking shit. And I saved us all this money, made everybody more money, and got us a better streaming deal because they didn’t know what that was at the time. I’m looking for a pat on the back; I do this seven days a week because I love it, and it’s been my whole life, my whole fucking life. I care about it. I mean, we’re out there headlining 50,000 seat festivals in Europe. We’re playing the same venues as McCartney and all these other people overseas, broke the Budokan sales record the last time we were there. So I mean, we’re not like a dead has been bad. We’d just been through the changes and people discard us, because they don’t understand what it is we do, because we don’t do just straight rock or just straight funk or just straight pop or just straight fusion or just straight prog. We do it all. And we have different singers and that’s confuses people and different players have come and gone and left their little spices with us. But in the end, it always sounds like Toto. And then when I play this shit with other people, it doesn’t. So I can’t explain to you the magic of it or the science of it, but there’s something there. We worked our whole careers for it, so why not use it.

Toddstar: When it comes to the Dogz of Oz tour, how quickly are you guys looking to get out there and do this thing once the world starts opening up?

Luke: We’re locked and loaded. We’re locked and loaded. We got a band, we got a crew, we got a tour booked. We got everything going as if it’s going to happen mid-July, end of July, summer. July, August in Europe is what we’re hoping for. And I have dates with Ringo before that. I’m hoping, but I don’t know. It’s not rolling out fast enough. I don’t think we’re going to make the May cut. July could happen.

Toddstar: Sure. I’d say you definitely have a great band together. John Pierce on bass.

Luke: He’s my oldest friend in the world, man. He was in the high school band. I mean, we keep the family side, we got “Sput” [Robert Searight] on drums, through Xavier. He’s used to play with Prince and Ghost-Note; the young up-and-coming killer musicians.

Toddstar: Xavier man, he killed it with you guys on that 2019 tour.

Luke: Yeah. Yeah. He’s a keeper. The band has morphed. It’s me and Joe playing the music of Toto, you know what I mean, the best we can with the best players we got like we always have. I mean, if you look at every incarnation of Toto, it’s different. It always changes. The drum chair has changed like five times, the singing chair has changed forget it, background singers come and go, you know what I mean, bass players come and go since Mike, shit happens. We’re just moving into another groove.

Toddstar: Well, and if you didn’t do that, the sound would get stagnant and you guys seem to be reinventing as you go.

Luke: Yeah, it’s brought a lot of new energy and a lot of new flavor to it, which keeps the music alive in me. I’ve been playing “Hold the Line” since I was 19. You know what I mean? People still want to hear it, and they love to hear the song. We love to play it live, but I mean, I would never sit around my house and play it. Same with “Africa” and all the rest of it.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: Well that said Steve and I everybody always wants a musician to pick their favorite kid. But my question is to you, if you could retire one song from the live repertoire, what would it be?

Luke: I don’t want to say. I can’t say. I mean people the people that gave us the hits want to hear the hits; how can I not give that to them? They gave me my life. I will always have to smile and play the hits man. We played live and everybody sings along; it’s magic. But, when I sit around the house or I hear it on the radio, I don’t keep the channel on. I laugh and I go “Uh it never ends.”

Toddstar: Again, I got to see you guys on October of 2019 and it was truly a magic moment for me to be able to finally say I’ve seen Toto, and to be able to move up front for a couple tracks and take some photos was a bucket list moment.  Luke, I truly appreciate the time, you definitely did not disappoint [Luke made reference to hoping he didn’t disappoint during our chat before the interview kicked off], and I cannot wait until the end of February. They have asked me to hold these reviews of both yours and Joseph’s albums. I can’t wait to share what I think of these. Let’s just say this is 100% Rock and these albums both 100% rock.

Luke: No problem. Thank you.

Toddstar: These albums are amazing. I can’t wait until the world experiences them, and I can’t wait until you guys get out there and do the Dogz of Oz the way it should be.

Luke: Thanks a lot pal, appreciate that.

Toddstar: All right, Luke, we’ll talk to you soon, man.

Luke: Definitely, thanks for your time, it was a good one.

TOTO LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

STEVE LUKATHER LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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