Toto (Steve Lukather)
In collaboration with Toto Italian Fan Club, GGM Studios, Spaziorock had a chat with the guitarist and vocalist of Toto. The legendary Steve Lukather answered -with his usual frankness- our questions about the new album "Toto XIV" and about the future of his band.
Article by Valerio Cesarini - Publish on: 08/04/15

First of all congratulation for the exquisite work with "XIV", for the good results, and thank you for the interview! How does it feel to be finally back on track, and stronger than ever, since that's the first album after The Seventh One (1988) to be featured on US/UK charts? Do you feel you've finally had your well deserved payback?

 

Thank you. We are very grateful for all the good vibe coming to us about this new record.
In many cases the best chart positions of our entire career.. certainly the best reviews.
We are in shock but very happy. We have hing in for 38 years.. all the god and bad.. this one is for Mikey. I miss him..

 

This album doesn't just testify what Toto have been, are, and will be, but showcase a lot of individual talent and variety. From you four guys, along with Keith Carlock, David Hungate, CJ Vanston and a lot of stellar guests, everyone's job is clear and brilliant, especially given the circumstances this album is born within. How do you feel about this?

 

Everyone shines. That was important to me and to all of us. A real ' band' record.

 

Let's talk about the music: as always XIV is a melting pot of genres, and songs come from different sources, from the brand-new masterpieces like Burn to some old inspirations like Chinatown. Now it may be odd to ask this for an album whose title is pretty clear, but what do you think is the main direction of XIV, musically speaking? Can we talk about "modern era Toto"?

 

We just wrote what we were feeling at the time. The only old song was Chinatown from pre Toto days. A song we tried a few times but just never captured it.. till now. The rest was written specifically for this record. We worked hard on this one! We are what we are.. there will always be someone who misses the old Toto.. I cant help that and I get it.. but we are what we are in 2015 and it is a great year for us and we cant wait to get this not he road. We will be out for 2 years all over the world. There will be more in 2016 but we have a full plate this year.

 

 

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Your guitar bombastically opens the record with the modal lick in "Running Out Of Time", and it's pretty present in the whole album. The tone is organic, shiny and open: what has your evolution as a guitarist been, and what aspects of your musicianship are the most involved in the recording of XIV?

 

Hahaha.. well thank. that was the point. I was involved in all of it but I am gonna give CJ Vanston MVP award on this one for being there for every moment and getting the best out of us and for putting up with our insane process of recording.. we had a great time but sometimes it was difficult but in the end we all hugged and laughed and got thru it all. I am very proud of what we did.

 

Since the reunion in 2008, Joseph Williams has risen as the new, irreplaceable, powerful voice of Toto. His performance in the album is unbelievable: from soaring highs in Burn or Great Expectations to soothing passages like his signature song Fortune. Can you share with us some "little things" (pun totally intended) about his growth and performance?

 

Joe has made such a huge difference I cant really put it into words.. not just as a singer, which he killed.. but as a writer and co producer and just all around great vibe to have around. He added so much and was so into it.. I am so happy he is back!

 

Modern music is, in a lot of aspects, "not what it used to be": that's topical, but sadly true. Loudness war, over-digitalization: what do you think about the production and the sound of XIV, and what has your direction been in this sense?

 

Oh God . this one gets me pissed off. There are quite a few BAD versions of our record out there that some people are saying is the real record and or not liking the mastering. MOST people dont even know what mastering IS. We did not add compression at all.. ask Pete Doell our mastering engineer.. it has a huge dynamic range 30 cycles to 20khz.. very 70's low end.. it IS a different sound for us. How can it not be without Mike and Jeff and or Simon? We did not crank the drums and guitars 80's style. Some of these tracks have 150-200 tracks on info on them and we went for a big over all sound.. but you cant judge the mastering on mp3 0itunes-youtube downloads cause they aRE MP3 quality. It gets frustrating but it is always something.. MY copy is pristine. I opened a commercial rec co CD and its sounds great on 3 systems.. I know what we have and I wont argue with people. IF someone has a bad ripped copy and says shit what can I do about this. And some.. it is a matter of taste. C'est la vie.

 

Chinatown results, as expected, as the most "old style" typical Toto song in the album, while there's sophisticated pop tracks as Orphan, or tasty extravaganzas like Great Expectations or Fortune that set yet another standard. Even if they're all amazing and it's unfair to ask a mother which son she prefers, are there any tracks you're more keen on, and if so, why?

 

I love them all for different reasons. I can listen top to bottom and see the whole journey musically.

 

totoitw03Some days ago it was Jeff Porcaro's birthday. His brother Mike joined him in Heaven during the distribution of XIV, and Steve Porcaro's songs in the album are clearly also directed to Mike's situation. What has been and is the role of the Porcaro family inside Toto, and how do you feel their legacy will influence music, through you but even in the future?

 

We are all crushed right now being honest. 2 brothers from the same family? That is not right...
They will always be on stage or in the studio with us.. although i do not see another studio album any time soon. haha but having said that i guess you dont ask a mother if she is gonna have more children right after the new baby is born

 

I sometimes speak with Michael Sherwood, who co-wrote a bunch of songs on this album, and he always talks about how much fun he had and still has in the studio and even in his life with Toto. You guys seem to really have got the point of being a musician: can you share with us some funny experiences or moments during the recording of XIV?

 

Mike is a great talent and a funny talented man. He added a great touch to Dave and Steve P'S music I have always ben a fan of his.

 

You, David Paich and the guys are all artists with a HUGE experience in the market. Yet, senseless critics and haters are always there for anyone who puts out anything in the world. This has hurt Toto in the past and still manages to put down youngsters, but you overcame it brilliantly every time. XIV has had an incredibly good outcome, but what are your sincere thoughts about who spends his (precious) time hating and bashing without a reason?

 

We have taken our punches and proved ourselves. Some of the OLD critique may have been warranted.. but we survived, Not many of us left with almost 40 years or more in. we arena a small club and happy to be there.  We are never going to change the opinion of punk rock journos. Success is always the best revenge. We do thank all the people that have stuck by us thru the good and bad times.

 

You are about to fly for a world tour, again. How do you think that will be, and can we have a sneek peek about which tracks by XIV will be featured, and how much "candy" will there be for the die-hard fans?

 

i am not telling haha I am looking at potential set lists for the tour right now. Plenty of old stuff in there. NOT the same old set list. Sure some songs we MUST do.. I mean we cant NOT play Africa ya know.. BUT we have deep cuts and about 1/2 the new record in there too. 20 songs or so from all the records..

 

The interview is almost over, but before finishing I feel like I'm obliged to ask this question; whatever the answer will be. What is in Toto and, ultimately, in Steve Lukather's future?

 

Touring for 2 years with Toto, I have Ringos's new record out this week I co wrote 2 songs in and played.. more with him in the Fall and more Toto touring all thru 2016 as well. Perhaps a solo record in a few years but something totally different. I finished the 3 record style cycle of my last 3 solo records so a new one will be totally different. But.. ask me when that happen in 2017. Thanks to you all and see ya this summer.




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