Conversations with Steve Lukather and Joe Williams of Toto

Few bands in rock history can boast of the success that Toto has achieved.  As a band and as individuals, the members of Toto are responsible for some of the most iconic songs in rock history.  The band is about to embark on its next chapter which will consist of a new lineup, a live stream concert, and solo records from core members Steve Lukather and Joe Williams.  Both men recently took the time to share their perspectives on the past and future of Toto as well as their respective solo records.

First up is guitarist Steve Lukather, please press the PLAY icon below, you won't want to miss this unique Conversation with Luke:

On David Paich's involvement - We were rehearsing the new band now for this live stream on November 21st, Dave was it down being Musical Director, playing with us, and really working the new guys in. It was fantastic, man. So it's me, Joe, and Dave standing on one side and the haters on the other side. 1:15

On dealing with the past year - The thumbnail of the last year is that we've all been out of work for a year.  Our last show was in October last year, I haven't worked since then. The band Toto has not generated any new money. Like I said it to Steve if we don't use the name is worthless. We'll get our past royalty. Sure. Thank God. We have close to three billion streams and the records have sold, box sets. And we haven't even really started to get paid on that. We're just starting to now because everything is always 2-3 years back, and you got to audit, it's a big pain in the ass really.  But, in fact, I'll be honest, I save money, so I mean, I'm okay with that, but I want to play.  Joseph (Williams) and I made solo records on the same label. We both worked on each other's records, Paich is all over mine. Paich worked a little bit on (Joe's) and we wrote songs together. We do duets together and Joseph's one of my best friends since we were 14 years old. He worked on multi-platinum records and hits with us. So he's a legit Toto guy. Maybe not an original from the very, very beginning. But Steve was out of the band for 25 years and came back, you know? And so I mean, there's been 15 incarnations of the band. Now I said it was over and I said when I said it was over that this incarnation is over became too expensive and had a toxic backstage vibe for a lot of it. There were just guys that hated each other, and I had to get in the middle of shit. There was backstabbing towards me because I was the manager and, like, you know, people, even though they were making a lot of money more than ever,  they resented me for it and started shit-talking me. As successful as it was, and as well as we played on stage because we never brought that shit on stage, we avoided each other like the plague, and it was a toxic environment I just no longer water to be a part of.  I never said I wanted I was never going to play the music again. But then we lost the lawsuit. And now we have to give a percentage of the gross to the two widows that are remarried to two very wealthy men, and they sit in their country clubs and drink martinis and laugh at us because they hate me so much, even though they should hate themselves. But that's just a personal thing.  I don't really wish to dwell on that. Have to be careful, because if you say anything wrong, I'll get a lawsuit, because that's when you don't have a life and no fun in life you pick on other people. 1:43
"Run To Me"
On his reasons for putting together a new lineup of Toto - I just don't want to retire like this. I don't want that to have been the last go. Which is why we're doing this live show. I put together a bunch of bands, some younger, ridiculous cats that are inspiring. And then some of my oldest friends as well. So you know, if I go out, I'm going out with my friends, and it's gonna be fun and I can afford to do it now. I mean, the other guys are, some of those guys are fantastic. But famous studio guys command a certain level of compensation that I just can't afford anymore. So, I mean, by the grace of God I was turned on to some younger cats who I can afford it was just amazing. I had to cut a couple of slots. I had to do this. I have to do this because whereas 5% of the gross doesn't seem like much, the gross is where we get our profit from...The hard costs take away most of your money from a night. So in order for me to make a living doing this, and Joe and the other guys, Dave will come out and play once in a while when he can, but he can't switch time zones due to his medications,  it'll really fuck him up and I'd rather have Dave around then go road and become ill. And he's down everywhere, giving everybody the right parts changing sounds. And it is really a big help to have someone like Dave be able to sit in the other room and listen to it on the mixing speakers go, "Okay, this is what you got to work on. This is great. This is not,  just need to change." And so he was very much a part of this. So people who think that Dave is not a part of the band anymore. That's not true. 5:00

On making I Found The Sun Again - I made it in eight days, soup-to-nuts. And then we mix it in eight days and it was done. The fastest record I've ever done, it's all live,  no click tracks, no rehearsals. Just great guys in the studio who could interpret what I wrote down. We did a couple of covers. They're very obscure, it sounds like a 1972 record with 2020 sounds. Everybody took live solos and everything like that. It wasn't overproduced.  It was something I want to do now. Joe's record was really produced, but he did all the work and he got some great players on there. I worked on some of it, Dave worked, Mike Landau's all over it. He played brilliant shit and I sang a duet with him and he's my best friend. We're gonna tour together, and, we got legs. We want to go out and do it. 7:07

On using the name Toto again - I didn't want to use the name Toto again to prove a point because I let my ego get involved. But then I was told by the promoters and my agents and all these people, "Look, dude, you paid for it, what you gonna do.  Why did you pay for it if you were going to use it?"  I've spent a ridiculous amount of money, we're in a ridiculous amount of debt to lawyers right now because of all this. For that woman, it was like buying a fucking Chunky bar. That's her fucking finances, for me it kicked my ass because I've been through life two divorces, four kids, been off for a year. Even though I save money, it's like, well, what if I have to be off for four more years because of God forbid. Judging by my age, what? I'm going to be 67 years old going on the road again? I mean, is this time to packet in if this thing goes south?... Never been healthier. Sleeping in my bed, going to bed early, eating right, swimming with my kid every day, getting sun. So I'm about as healthy as I can get. As long as I don't go out and tongue kiss somebody at a Trump rally. 8:00
"Jake To The Bone"
I had a change of heart, human beings can change their mind. Yeah, I said, "Oh, well, there's gotta be at least a Porcaro or a Paich in it". I didn't really lie because Paich with us, but on the other hand, what am I supposed to do? What should I start over again just to please some haters on the Internet? Fuck, I'm not gonna do that. I'm gonna do what I wanna do. I'm an old, eccentric guy. I changed my mind. Okay? Shoot me. I want to go back out and play. I miss it.  I joined the circus, and I didn't want it to end.  We were back to we were headlining and making money, doing great in the States again, and then they pulled the rug out from under us. This fucking lawsuit just destroyed us and it was wilful and on purpose. There was no "Can't we work this out?" 9:32

On recording the new record and picking the cover songs - I felt like, "Okay, I'm gonna pick some obscure (covers) that'll be great live jams in the studio". I gave everybody freedom to do what they wanted to do, and they all play the right shit. It was amazing. I never felt so happy. And so when I come and listen to take I go, "Well, aside from the vocals, it's done". I mean, I might have doubled one little riff guitar part or maybe a keyboard for one extra part. But beyond that, there was no like,  "Okay, let's overdone for two months". It was like I had to vote the same night and made myself do this. And then Joseph did take it home and add some background vocals to it. And I produced up two songs, but I still did at the same time period. I just work fast. I didn't have anybody telling me I can't do this or "No we got to have this hooked up or I won't be able to do my stuff because it's not on the grid." I wanted to do a record without click tracks and dynamics where we slow, down speed up,  slow, fast and we don't know what we're doing. I pointed to guys, "Solo now while the tape's rolling". It was a gas!  Everybody was so world class and brought this great shit to it. I had to laugh at the end of it, we spent way too much time and money making records, man. We used to spend eight-nine months on an album that we could have made in a month if we weren't such fucking idiots back then.14:28

On why Toto isn't in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - Because they hate our guts and have 1978. Now, the interesting part about that is that for the first time in 43 years, I was just calling to do an interview for Rolling Stone. And I asked my PR people, "Is this a setup?" Because they shit on me in the Ringo band, I'm in Ringo's band and they shit on me. And then some other ass clown wrote some horrible shit about "Africa", a song that was written in 1981 by the way. Okay.1981 and it's still fucking everywhere. It's like herpes,  it comes back when you least expect it, but at the same time, it's a golden nugget. But that's the golden nugget that the Satan person has, and they hold it over our heads now. And it's like they think we're only worth one song because they own it. And it's like, "Dude, we got a lot of material." 17:49

Please press the PLAY icon below for my Conversation with Joe Williams - 
On his perspective of the last year - What we did know for sure was that that version was gonna stop. That we that much we did know. Luke and I always knew that we wanted to continue to work. The two of us were always the ones that never really wanted to quit. We've got lots of road left in us, so to speak. We never really had any plans at that point. We always knew, I guess the thing that we knew between us was that, well, actually, what we always said was that the band was going to,  I guess the announcement was is that we were gonna take a year off, but that the band in that configuration was never gonna come back. So that's kind of what happened.  Luke and I kept talking out throughout the year. We were making our solo albums, and we just kind of got the itch. We just tired of sitting around and just got excited about the idea of getting out there and working. 1:15

On assembling the new lineup - It wasn't intentional to not include people from the past. That's not it at all. As a matter of fact, we have a couple of people that carried over from the last incarnation,  Dominic Xavior playing keyboards. He kind of took over  Dave's position at least on the road, because Dave can't tour quite as much as he'd like to. And Warren Hamm has been with us and with Luke on Ringo's tour forever. So those guys are back. It's basically just a different rhythm section and the new, uh, singer slash keyboard player who's incredible. So that's really the difference. We were looking for something fresh with a little bit of clarity and maybe a bit more rock, which is maybe just less guys and just a little bit more clarity in the sound. But there's no there was no real intentional thinking about not using this guy or that guy, that kind of thing. We don't really think like that. It's more about just getting the right musician for the incarnation here. 2:46
"Never Saw You Coming"
On the mindset of recording a solo record versus a Toto record - It's completely different. I mean, for me, it's completely different. On this project, I have complete freedom to make all of the choices and all of the decisions. In a band situation, especially Toto, it's a group full of producers. It really is, not only musicians but every man in the band is a producer and a good one. So everybody speaks up and everybody has a voice. And so you have a sound that's a mixture of everybody's thoughts and ideas. With the solo album, I  only have myself to answer to. So it's a lot more, I guess it's a lot more fun in that sense and I guess rewarding because it comes out exactly the way you want it.  5:21

On whether any of the Denizen Tenanant material written with Luke and Paich was intended to be for Toto - No. None of it was meant for Toto at any time. I started working on this, my solo album, back in 2016. I started noodling around songs and it was always intended to be Mike Landau on this record, and a group of musicians that were that showed up more often on early solo albums of mine rather than than than Toto, musicians from Toto. Obviously, on most of my (solo) records, the guys in Toto have shown up regularly. I've always used them. So that's also the situation here. But these songs on this album were not at all intended for Toto. 6:30

On his daughter Hannah contributing vocals to "Don't Give Up" - It was incredible. I mean first of all, just doing that song was just a joy. It's one of my favorite songs.  I just got the idea of making it a sort of a father-daughter kind of thing, because the lyric and the original version seemingly is almost it's like a husband-wife kind of thing. But in a father-daughter situation that works equally as well and Hannah's voice is just so angelic and to tell you the truth, she's like a professional singer. She came in and did that very quickly she's really, really good in the studio. And what's funny is that she studies psychology. She's not really a musician, but she's a fabulous singer and she has been most of her life, and it's just such a great joy to have her on the record, and she's excited about it, and I think it came out great. So I'm thrilled. And my other daughter, Emma Rae, is also all over the record back on backgrounds and stuff. You can hear very well on some other things, too.7:36
"Africa 2020"
On why it's been so long since his last solo record - It's probably more about the mindset, I think than anything else for me. And also it takes me a while to really collect songs. The kind of songs that I really want to do for a solo album. The difference between the last one is this one I really wanted to do right and do well and take my time and get the right songs and cover some songs if need be. I just wanted it to be good. I wanted it to be better than the last one. So I took my time.  And I started like I said in 2016 and didn't rush it. We were on the road at that time for quite a bit. So I just didn't rush it and took my time. And since we weren't working in 2020 that was when I really put my nose to the grindstone and finished it and finished songs and wrote lyrics and got into it. But I had probably about a quarter of the material from 2016, '17 and '18, and '19. ready to work on in 2020. So there's a huge difference from the last one last record of this one. 8:59

On the Champlin-Willams-Friestedt records - Those records are funny. I have so very, very little to do with them. Those records are really Peter Friestedt's records and the last one is really Bill (Champlin) and Peter's record. I think I did a couple of sessions, like, I don't know five years ago or something on that on that record and those are Peter's babies, really. It's his material. And I'm really just sort of a featured vocalist more than anything on those projects.  It's fun. I adore Peter. I'm not sure we're gonna do anymore of those. To be honest with you, I might do some stuff with Peter down the line, but like I said, those are really Peter's babies. 12:10

On the tour Toto is planning for when Covid restrictions lift - We're planning on the the the whole deal. We're planning on multiple years and a break, and then start up again with a new cycle, and do multiple years. And so on and so forth. I mean, Luke and I want to keep going until we drop. I mean, we've got lots of touring left in us.  And the way we think of it is that from a continuity standpoint, with Luke there and me there from the audience standpoint, it's not gonna sound much different than what people have been hearing in the last 10 years. So continuity wise, I think the fans are gonna be happy. I hope so. 13:20

On preparing for the November 21 live stream - Well, it's weird, you know? I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. I mean, making them is no problem.  Doing a show in front of, like, 12 people, as opposed to your full crowd is a little strange. I don't mind. I can ham it up for nobody. I am really, honestly itching to get back out there in the world and play. We're waiting for word that we can go out of this country into the areas where we really do business, you know? So as soon as we can get out of here,  we'll start touring again.  Yeah, I really want to get out there and play. 14:27

On plans if the pandemic goes on longer - If I'm stuck home, I'm gonna keep recording and I'm gonna keep making videos. That's the other thing that I've been doing. We did the Covid "Africa 2020" thing,  I made Luke's single video, the "Run to Me" thing. And I'm working on a little video now for my lead track, which is called "Never Saw You Coming".  So I've been getting into video stuff and having fun with that. I got a YOUTUBE channel to feed with content. So there's lots of stuff to do if we're stuck home, so there's no problem there.  I have hope that we're gonna be able to get out there in '21. 16:19

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