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21. Wywiad z TOTO - styczeń 2006r.The recording sessions are over, the masters are off to the label, and it's a brand new year for Toto. How does it feel to finally be "done?"
David: Like I've given birth to sextuplets! It was long but rewarding.
Simon: I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be finally done with this album. It just seemed to go on and on - something else that needed doing. But I am so glad that we didn't give up and that I didn't let certain things go that I wasn't happy with. Some last minutes fixes really made the difference. Especially with the artwork!!
Luke: It's kinda like taking a shit for the first time in a year! I feel really fresh and clear. I have to tell you, I can't believe it's actually done, and it's going to be out soon and and is getting such positive reactions, more so than anything we've done in a long, long time. I'm very excited about it! Right now I've been enjoying a few weeks off relaxing with my family because I know it's going to be a REALLY busy year. It's looking like we'll be booked through December.
Greg: It feels GREAT -- like the end of any project. I really enjoyed the process, but I guess in some guys' minds it went a little long, but hey -- we serve no wine till it's time. I'm just happy to be part of it.
Mike: It feels great to be done. Now we can concentrate on the live show. Get ready, here we come!
Bobby: Only slightly better now, as the rehearsals are in full swing, as of a couple of weeks ago. This band is, and has always been, an ever-changing, constant work-in-progress. I’m very proud of the new CD and it couldn’t happen to a better band. Some of the arrangements will take us all a while to let them sink in totally. I would put this band up against anyone in rock ‘n roll right now. Each day brings more surprises, and we’re working on new arrangements of some of the older material. I think everyone will enjoy some of these treatments.
After putting so much time and effort into what will undoubtedly be one of the best additions to Toto's discography, how do you feel about the record over all?
Bobby: I tend to agree with you about that opinion. Especially now, since we’ve been playing them live. It has a very special shine that could only be Toto at it’s best. We put in the time to make it all our very best, so now, at tour-time, we’re all a bit excited to get in front of an audience.
David: I am very proud of this one. It has something that's been lacking in our albums for a while - consistency and fire. The lyrics are the key to this one, also. I believe it was a milestone as a result of the collective effort. We haven't written "group created lyrics" since KINGDOM OF DESIRE.
Simon: Well - I have to say I haven't heard it for a couple of weeks - needed the break. But generally it's about this time that I hate everything about any new CD I do. I don't have that feeling with this one. I am very proud of it and think it is certainly the best one since I have been in the band.
Mike: I’m very pleased with the result. A true band album! Everybody came to play. The record happened so naturally, with parts falling into place seamlessly and very few, if any, roadblocks. We enjoyed each other’s company and I think it shows on this CD.
Greg: If we don't feel good about it, we can't really expect anyone else to. Personally, I love it. It's important that we love it of course, but what's more important is that everyone else does too. But having said that, the love has to first come from the artist. But, we definitely put our hearts into it. Hopefully a couple million more will feel that way too.
Well so far, the buzz on the internet has been very positive.
Greg: That's great. But the next step is to get it out there for other people, and see how they react to it.
Luke, how do you feel about it?
Luke: You know, I haven't listened to it in a while, either. I had to put it away. We'd been working on it so hard and for so long and we were so under the microscope.... I just needed to get away from it. I haven't even picked up a guitar in a week! Such as it is -- intense labor! But it really feels great reading on the net bits and pieces of such positive stuff. And speaking of intense labor, I have to throw this on you, the new website is absolutely steller. Killer!
Thanks Luke, we must say, it WAS a labor of love.
Luke: Well I'm sure it was a lot of labor! But thank you very much. It's very strong, very striking. Well thank you, we appreciate that. Which tracks have been your favorite to work on?
David: Basically the ones where I was in the control room while the band was cutting with Greg (ha ha) !
Simon: I would say "Bottom Of Your Soul" was my favourite one to work on - it was so effortless. A strange thing about it was one morning I went in with a load of percussion instruments and started to build the loop - one instrument at a time. When I came to the Djembe parts I didn't like the tuning of the drum so I tightened it up a bit. I was only playing to a click - no music - to build the loop. When I edited the final loop to make up the different parts of the song I realized that the Djembe was perfectly in tune with the track! When Lenny castro played congas on the choruses his high conga was also in tune - and he hadn't even heard the track yet. Amazing!
Bobby: Falling In Between, Dying on My Feet, Hooked, Taint Your World, No End In Sight,……just put the CD in and press “PLAY”, I love all of them.
Mike: They are all my favorites and each one was a blast to record.
Greg: I don't like to do that, really. Though, I really do like "Hooked" and absolutely LOVE "Simple Life" even though I had nothing to do with that. I didn't work on "King of the World" either but I love that, and the title track.
Luke: Oh man.... You ask a question like that, and for me it's almost impossible to answer. They're ALL like our children. Aside from Dave's tune, I wrote on every single one of them. So, you know, I haven't listened to it in a while, and it depends on what kind of mood I'm in. There's a lot of different styles on the record. I don't really have a favorite, I guess. Of course I have a tendency to dig the harder-edged stuff for the obvious reasons. "Dying On My Feet" is a pretty interesting piece of music. It's got so many different sections, and just so many different vibes, and great vocals. It's hard for me to say, for sure.
Do you have any funny memories from the recording sessions that you'd care to share with us?
Simon: I'll leave that one to Luke to answer!
Bobby: Not more than the normal insanity that goes on behind the scenes. I assume you’ve seen our DVD, so you don’t have to look much farther than the “Extra Footage” to get an idea of what’s going on.
David: Greg and vocally doing "battling JERRY'S" ALSO, Joseph doing "Africa" Sinatra style. I'm still laughing from that one.
Joseph: Humor of this sort is essential for me when I’m working. If there’s no fun, then it’s no fun. The reality is that from my first days working with TOTO it has always been my mission to make Dave laugh. Luke too! We share a similar sense of humor and three quarters of all the time I’ve spent with these guys has been a laugh fest. My memories of my time as a band member are mostly of the laughs and the humor we shared. How we got on to Sinatra doing Africa? I don’t even remember how it started. I just remember that I was out on the microphone and it was time to make Dave laugh!
So that was one of your favorite moments as well?
Joseph: Well, the whole day was filled with laughter and humor. Obviously when I’m at the microphone I’m trying to crack the guys up (between takes of course) doing funny voices, imitating Sinatra, or whatever. Talking about the old days when we misbehaved on the road and such. But I think the memory from that day that I’ll carry with me is when Bobby gave me a kind of “Thumbs Up” after I did the chorus on ”Bottom Of Your Soul.” Just that he acknowledged and approved of my singing on his record! It was a validation from a legendary vocalist! Not many people get to experience that in their lifetime. But I did. It’s one of those moments that confirm that you’re doing what you were meant to do in this life! It felt great!
What about the rest of you? I'm sure there's a lot to go around.
Greg: Oh man.... Sure. It's really, though, just how during the recording process there was a lot of scrutiny when I was working my stuff. And it just seemed like the other guys were just breezing by, and Luke and Paich were breathing down my neck. I just said, "You know what, I'm doing my stuff on my own, and you need to leave me the hell alone!" I wasn't doing that to them when they were doing their stuff. It was just typical, brotherly stuff though. You know, it was a lot of fun. It was fun placing bets on how late Paich would be to the sessions. But I probably shouldn't tell you that.
Trust me when I tell you that's NOTHING that we haven't already heard before.
Luke: (laughs) Every DAY is a funny memory! That's the thing. But I'd have to say, the greatest thing that goes down is the sparring between Paich and me. The verbal sparring. We just, you know, try to top each other. The sarcasm when we work together. He'll say, "Well, why don't you try this?" and I'll say, "Well, why don't you kiss my ass?" and we'll just go from there. And then it gets deep and dark. It's great, because you can say shit like that to someone you've known for 30 years. And everyone in the band understands that's how we communicate together. And then we laugh! It's a great part of the creative process, and we do really enjoy working with each other. Every day is a blast! It's NOT work. It becomes work when there are deadlines, etc, but basically, it's a pretty cool job if you can get it!
The appearance of Joseph and the extensive work of Steve Porcaro on the record have created quite a buzz in the internet community, and there are rumors of a possible short 30th Anniversary Tour with these two. Is this too far away to really discuss, or could we possibly see a full roster with all of you and Steve and Joe at some point?
Bobby: That would be fantastic. Joseph is one of my favorite singers, and also a good friend. Steve has always been a mind-blower. It would be like Heaven to get everyone together. I’m sure at some point we’ll do exactly that, as it would be far too memorable a moment to let pass. 30 years,……………….we weren’t even that old when we started the band. What a journey this has been. It’s hard to believe it’s gotten better over the years. With the addition of Greg Phillinganes, no way could the CD be anything but extraordinary. Look for some musical-fireworks on this tour.
David: You're not saying anything we haven't thought of. Dreams do come true.
Simon: Haven't even thought about the idea - we have to get through this tour first.
Mike: We have no plans to bring Joe and Steve out with us at the moment. I think it would be great to do a tour with them. I’ve been rousting brother Steve P. for years to join us… to no avail. Hopefully he’ll catch the buzz on this new record and change his mind!
Luke: I'll tell you what -- the idea came up because Joe and I have been really hanging out a lot. We've really reconfirmed our friendship, which I really dig. I really missed him. He's a fucking character, one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life as well as being incredibly talented. But we've really enjoyed working together, and the same thing with Steve. I'd LOVE to drag these fools out for the 30th Anniversary. It was my idea in the first place. We need to do something special. It's really early to say, it's just in the rave stages. But you never really know what can happen. I think the guys would be up for it, though! I've tested the waters with all the cats. It would of course have to be an extravaganza with everyone. Paich would have to come back, everybody's out.
That would be quite a DVD!
Luke: Well, and that would be the point of doing it, and really digging back into the catalogue with all the various members to do some tunes that we've never really done live. But of course, we're promoting something that isn't going to happen for two years, so anything could happen between now and then. I'd like to bring Jeff back, but he's unfortunately not available. He's already booked!
Well, we all would love to bring him back. But, we know that he's there already.
Luke: Very much so. Everyday of my life.
What about you, Joe? Steve? In 1998, you joined the band for the TOTO XX Release Parties. Would you consider doing the same thing again to celebrate the 30th Anniversary?
Joseph: TOTO is a part of my history, my artistry, my career and a high point in my time on this earth (so far). If I can be of service to them and to the fans in any way I would be at their disposal in a heartbeat. I had a fantastic time in 1997/98 doing gigs in Europe for the XX album. The best thing was performing out there WITH Bobby! He is my hero. He’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a singer in the first place. So reuniting with the guys back then was incredible and sharing the stage with Bobby made it doubly so! As far as any actual plans for the 30th anniversary tour? We’ll see!
Steve: Absolutely! I’d be very willing to. My priority in my life now is my film work and my family, but I’ve warned my wife if they ask, I might be going out with Toto for a bit in ’07. You know, I think it would be a lot of fun. I’d love to help the band celebrate 30 years.
Steve, how would you describe the "process" of what you did on this record? Were you ever physically in the studio working with the band at any time?
Steve: For the most part I was on my own. On a few tunes David came over, sometimes it was David and Greg, and one time it was just myself and Greg, I think it was on Greg’s tune “Let It Go.” But usually, it was just me by myself. They would drop off CDs or DVDs with Pro Tools files on them, and I would load them in to my computers and “do my thing.” This time, it was a lot like it used to be. The last couple of albums I worked on I was hired more in the capacity of a synth programmer, like when I used to get hired in the old days to show up for David Foster or David Paich or whoever the Producer/keyboard player was, and they would just ask for a string sound or some kind of pad sound or a sequencer sound, and I would get it for them. The last few Toto albums were more like that. But, this time they wanted me to do what I used to do when I was actually in the band. It was a lot of fun!
Luke: Yeah, for Steve, he likes to work alone. Right, Paich and Greg popped over briefly here and there, but, you just have to let Steve do what Steve does. I said to him, "Do your thing man! Go for it, over the top!" I wanted to hear how outrageous he could be. And he certainly did NOT disappoint.
Greg: Yeah, we went over a few times. It was pretty simple. We'd send him the tracks that he could add a great effect on, and he did his magic. I had some ideas for "No End In Sight" that I went to his place and worked on with him. It was great to have his involvement, and it kind of bridged the gap between different eras.
So it seems, Steve, you weren't given any specific direction. The guys basically just said, "Do your thing, and we'll love it!"
Steve: Yes! They would just say, “Listen to this and do what you hear.” Sometimes I would wonder whether it would be the type of thing they would like or not, but then they would hear it and they’d say, “You know, now we got another one here for you” and they’d send me another one. I was never “hired” to work on the album. It was more on a song-by-song basis and they fed me one tune at a time.
Luke: Yeah, we didn't want to stranglehold him. Which is how he used to feel when he was in the band 20 years ago. And I can really see his point of view. I feel bad that he felt we never gave him enough rope, but I can't really disagree with him.
We also noticed that Steve has some writing credits on the record as well, particularly on King of The World…
Steve: The guys were very generous to give me a writing credit. All I did, was take away the sections of the song that bothered me, that I thought were too much. And, you know, I think everyone in the band felt that way too. I put it together how I felt the song should go, which I was able to do so easily because of Pro Tools. Really all I did was remove some extra sections and made it a tighter song. And the guys wound up loving it.
Luke: There was no way we couldn't give him a credit on "King of the World." He basically redid the whole song. It was a throw-away song. It almost didn't make the record. We didn't feel it was strong enough. We gave it to Steve, and he cut it to shreds, and basically rewrote the song.
It would have been a real shame if that one didn't make the record, because it's really a great tune.
Luke: It was 2 seconds away from NOT making the record. And then it became a lot of people's favorite tune as well.
Are there other tracks like this one that didn't quite make it, that are "in the can" so to speak?
Luke: I think there might have been one that was a throw away. Sounded too dated, and didn't really gel with the rest of the stuff. The rest was all specifically written for the record.
Joe, how long did your sessions take? Were you there for a few days, or was it just a few hours?
Joseph: I worked for about 4 or 5 hours. All in one day! I would have come back had they needed more from me, but we accomplished a lot in that one day. Once I started singing, we never really took a break. We were on a roll. I think I may have even stacked up more than they used because the intent was to add Bobby, Luke, Dave, Greg, the whole band to the end vamp to create what Luke and Dave called a “Vocal Collage.”
Luke: In a couple of hours it was done. We had the song written - Dave, Si, and myself - and we had it all together. And Joe came in and did his thing. He's so great at layering his vocals and stuff like that. We kind of let him go - we gave him some direction - but that was pretty much, we wanted to feature Joe. That was the point of it, which I think we accomplished. And he never sounded better, and worked really fast. He was like, better than I ever heard him sing, ever. He was ON it, man. And we laughed the whole time. And that was one of the most fun days cutting the record. So much humor, so many memories, we'd start telling stories because everyone remembers different stories. We just sat and laughed our balls off all day long. I look forward to doing it again.
So you only gave him a little bit of direction, and he was essentially allowed to "create" his vocals there.
Luke: Aside from just playing the song and the melody, we just said, "What do you hear?" And then he gave us his suggestions. We jumped in and gave our input, but essentially we let him run with the ball, and he came up with some amazing parts. And it turned out great. We let Joe be Joe. He's a great musician, we're not going to tell him what to do. What's really cool is that other people who dig the band are really excited that Steve and Joe are back. But, I don't really see us reuniting with Byron anytime soon.
Well THAT's going to disappoint EVERYONE!
Luke: (laughs) Actually, I heard Byron put a voodoo curse on us.
Yeah, you were telling me about that. How are you handling that?
Luke: Well, my penis is a LOT bigger than it used to be. But maybe he wished for that all along, who knows? By the way, feel free to print all this.
Oh, we will. Don't worry. Joe, how would you describe the process?
Joseph: They were very specific about what they wanted, but they also allowed me to contribute a few thoughts of my own. The guys had a well-crafted track (obviously) and a clear vision for the lyrics and the main melodies. Dave arrived with some amended lyrics, and after he and Luke finalized the chorus, they played the track for me. Dave sang me the melody with the phrasing he wanted, Luke showed me how his (verse) lead vocal ramped into the chorus and how it took over at the end of the chorus, and then I got out on the microphone. I instantly felt at home. After performing the basis of the chorus I offered a few ideas for harmonies, layering and the basic vocal arrangement for the end vamp. Luke, Dave, Bobby, Mike and Simon (who engineered the session) were incredibly open and accepting of my ideas. In the end vamp they really allowed me to just record everything that came into my head. It was a creative “give and take," a free for all and at the same time extremely focused and professional. Truly one of the most fun vocal sessions I’ve ever been involved with. On any project!
Bobby, as the resident vocalist, did you and Joe work together a bit more closely in defining the vocal melody for "Bottom of Your Soul?"
Bobby: OK,…listen closely. When Joseph showed up to sing, I left the studio so that he would be absolutely comfortable. I’ve sung beside Joseph many times, but this was a personal moment with the band & Joseph. I can respect that, as sometimes when there’s a singer I really respect in the house, it changes things,……….maybe only slightly, but not as comfortable as being left to do things without having to bother with thinking about another presence. He did a great vocal with Luke, and I added some parts when he was done. I love working with Joseph, but I digress.
Joe, it's been almost 20 years since you last recorded in the studio with the guys. What was it like going back into the studio with them after all that time?
Joseph: Well, first of all it was great to see all the guys in one room. There was a very warm and welcoming vibe. It was like no time had passed, except that all the pressure and stress was missing! I have kept in touch with the guys over the years, even worked with a few of them along the way (two acappella records with Bobby, my solo stuff with Luke and Mike, etc.) so the “Bottom Of Your Soul” session was very relaxed. More like hanging with my high school buddies or family than work.
How would you say the dynamics of this band in the studio have changed since you last recorded with them, not including the obvious line up changes since the late 80s?
Joseph: The sense I got was that this was a real team. With real focus and a clear goal. I attribute a lot of this focus to Luke but also Simon. He seems to have brought maturity and a regimented work ethic to the mix. He’s an excellent engineer/producer as well as an outstanding drummer. A strong creative force and a joy to work with. I felt like he keeps things on track. He and Luke really seem to work well at promoting the band’s forward momentum. I think the quality of the songs, the arrangements, the sonics, the production on this album truly reflect what I’m saying. It seems to me that all of them, Dave. Bobby, Luke, Mike, Greg and Simon truly love their jobs...Love their place in the world. They are unified. They’re happy and stronger than ever before and it shows!
What about you, Steve? Although you've essentially been recording with the band on every record since Fahrenheit, how would you say the in-studio dynamics of the band have changed since you left, especially with the addition of Greg Phillinganes?
Steve: It’s hard to say, because I wasn’t in the studio with the band very much at all. Ever since Fahrenheit, I was just brought in to work with David when he was doing keyboards, and I’d help him out. The in-studio dynamic with Greg now… Everyone, really, really respects him, so I think it went pretty smooth. Very smooth, from what I saw. Again, I wasn’t really in there with all the guys when they were writing and hammering the songs together in the studio; I was brought in after the fact. I definitely went down a couple of times to say hello, but I was really in and out of there. I did my work at my place, in my studio.
"Bottom of Your Soul" is a clear stand out track on Falling In Between, and of course, the first single. Luke has referred to it as "Africa 2" a few times. Joe, when you were in the studio recording, did you think that this song would get the attention that it is?
Joseph: From the moment I heard the track I was overwhelmed. Then as I learned the melodies, the lyrics and started to get an overall sense of the song, I actually felt a bit territorial about it. The groove and the form felt familiar. It was as though I knew exactly how to approach it. It reminded me of Jeff, and the last time he played on one of my tunes. In a weird way I kind of felt like he was there. It’s kind of corny to say but it’s the truth. As far as how exposed and featured “Bottom Of Your Soul” has become in the release of the album, well that just came as a wonderful surprise to me. I knew it was going to come out great but what means the most to me is that the guy’s think so highly of it! For me it’s just such an honor to be a part of their work!
The vocal trade offs on this new record really bring a lot of diversity while at the same time seem to be a nod to a lot of your past hits, such as "Rosanna" and "Home of the Brave." What sort of process went into deciding who would sing what on the duets -- or even trios?
Bobby: This is the desired affect we tried to accomplish on “Falling In Between.” This is an emotional piece of each one of us, and we tried to “put whatever should go there” in it’s place. There were some things I would have loved to sing, but when Luke, David, or Greg sang the part, it was starkly apparent that they were the right ones to do the song. This is how you have to enter a project when it’s a “band-written CD.” I got a whole different viewpoint, for instance, when Greg sang “Let It Go.” I thought I would be singing on that one, but I fell in love with his vocal. It was meant to be.
David: The trade offs were done spontaneously by whomever felt like singing the certain part. There were many possible combinations on "Spiritual Man." KING OF THE WORLD, (which was originally "SMOKE AND MIRRORS" and then became "DEN OF THIEVES") was conceived from the "get go" as you hear it now.
Simon: Well - this is a trademark of Toto's anyway and really it comes naturally. The song dictates who sings - not the other way round. We didn't consciously think "let's write a song that Dave, Luke and Bobby can all sing." It's just the way the music evolves.
Mike: I think it was more a process of utilizing the fact that we had the voices available for us to bring more interest to the delivery of the song’s lyric. I think it worked very effectively for us.
Luke: It takes a lot of the burden off of any one person. And stylistically, it really sets us apart from other bands. There aren't a lot of other bands out there who use three different vocalists on one song -- without it being the Village People! As far as who sang what, we didn't really think about it. A lot of times, it would be "who wants to try this out?" We read all of the critiques on the site, like bring back more Dave vocals, or more keyboards, and we tried to do that. I really let the keyboards have this one. This is not a full fledged guitar record. I have some cool riffs and stuff that I wrote, but there aren't any flashy solos. I just tried to play melodically. There were a few times where the guys told me to stop playing guitar for my guitar player friends, play the fucking song! I'd play flashy and really fast, and they'd say, "Yeah, that's great for the guitar freaks, but how about the song here?" So I'm sure this time around it will be, "Wah, Lukather didn't play any solos this time around." Well last time around, it was "Too much Lukather, we need more keyboards!" There's no way to please everybody I guess. But this time around with 3 keyboarders, 4 if you include me, there should be plenty of that for everyone!
When the songs were written, was it like, "Oh this is a clear Paich vocal," or "Bobby should do this one" or was it more off the cuff sort of thing in the studio?
Luke: Well the thing is, we wrote most of the songs IN the studio, except for my tune and Paich's tune. You know, we'd walk in in the morning with nothing, and at the end of the day, we'd have at least a rough demo of what we would cut the next day. We'd write it, rewrite it, fuck around with it in editing, sing melodies to each other and try to come up with a title, and then the next day we'd try and come in and cut it for real. A couple of them were actually the demos, and they were cut live with everybody in the room. Dave and Greg playing together, and Mike, me, and Si as well. Bobby would be singing rough melodies in the background and stuff. We would layer it afterwards with overdub vocals and stuff, but the basic tracks were all cut live.
Greg: It really wasn't that deep. It wasn't like we had an intense board meeting and Donald Trump walked in and told us, "Okay, you're going to sing this." With my involvement in the band, we had a lot luxury with the vocals, so we just tried new things. There were a lot of things that were obvious, like Paich and Luke on their own stuff, and Bobby on the majority. It really just sorted itself out. There was no deep process. Though they did want to make sure that I had a pretty major part in the vocals. When it came time for "Let It Go" for instance, I cam up with that hook in the chorus.
"Let It Go" is fast becoming a fan favorite. I've managed to get copies of both your solo, records, and -"
Greg: Yeah, I got those e-mails. Oh my God. You really have a LOT of time on your hands.
Yeah, I know, I'm kind of sad like that. But, anyway, it seems like there's kind of a connective tissue between "Let It Go" and some of the stuff on your solo records. Had you kind of had that tune stewing in the back of your head, or...?
Greg: Again, it's really not that deep! I know you're trying to make it sound all mythical (laughs) but it really ain't that deep! First of all, they had the track already, and they were looking for a melody, and I took the first crack at it. The melody was very defined, but it wasn't quite right. It wasn't getting the vibe they were trying to achieve. I think it was Bobby that came up with the newer melody, and I just kind of used that as the foundation and gave a bit of my own input. It wasn't anything based on my stuff. And those records are older than you!
(laughs) Well, yes, almost.
Greg: Yeah, so, you know, my solo stuff was the last thing on my mind.
You know, for "Pulse" I actually obtained a copy of the vinyl and had to have it converted to CD to be able to listen.
Greg: Well, that's some amazing committment there.
Since the Tour is beginning in a month, the fans have been asking a lot of questions regarding setlists, production, merchandise, and guest musicians. Can you tell us what preliminary ideas -- if any -- you've had so far?
David: That would be a question for the producers, merchandisers and guest musicians to answer.
Simon: We have been asking the same thing! With Christmas and having worked on the record for so long we all needed a short break from Toto. It will revolve around which of the FIB songs we perform, which older songs we have to perform, and then which older songs we want to perform. It gets more difficult each time because there is so much music to choose from.
Mike: Andy Doig, our lighting director for the upcoming tour has been working on some new sets for our live show. We’ve been looking at some preliminary ideas and trading thoughts. Merchandise choices are also being made for T shirts and the like.
Bobby: I could tell you the set list now, but I would have to kill ya (Just kidding!). It’s not really ready to be released just yet. We want it to be a surprise to the first audience, and even more of a surprise after everyone knows. We’ve got a brand new stage this time, and a great crew to go with it. We’ve been one lucky band to work with some of the best “crew-guys” in the business. No one can tell when anything goes wrong (of course except the band). Our crew makes it all look so easy from the front of the stage, but we’re always aware of how great they really are. The merchandise is still being looked into now. I’m sure by weeks-end, everything will be printed, etched, and painted. Can’t really give that away either. We’re going out with just Tony Spinner this time. I’m sure on the occasional concert, Ian Anderson may show up, or someone unexpected. It’s a party onstage with us, and anyone that can “handle the pressure” is welcome.
Luke: No idea! I'm on vacation now! I've just been hanging with the family.
We see that Trevor has a background vocal credit on "Hooked."
Luke: Yeah, he and his really buddy James Torme, Mel Torme's son. That kid is a real big talent! Trev's working on a new record with his new band with some really great singers. He's got his shit going strong.
When do you all start rehearsals
Luke: We start this month. That's when we'll ascertain a game plan. You know, we'll obviously do 5 or 6 tunes off of the new record and then dig back through the catalogue. I mean, we HAVE to play the hits, come on. People pay money to hear that shit. But we'll try and re-arrange those in a new way. And then we'll come with some cool stuff and try and play what people want to hear, but it's hard to meet everyone's needs. I mean, we have 18 records now, so it's a bit difficult. It will be what works comfortably for us as well!
Like we do every year, we have our Setlist Poll on the website. We close the poll today, and the top three songs -- by a huge margin -- are "Home of the Brave," "I Will Remember," and "Caught In the Balance."
Luke: Really! I guess we should do them then. "Caught in the Balance" -- I'd really love to play that again. I'm really excited to sit down with everybody and figure it out. I'd kind of like to do a short acoustic set again, maybe do some of the old ballad hits, but in a different way so that people can sing along. I don't want to do weird cuts from the records so that everyone can just stare at us while we play.
Since Greg joined the band on the road, he's been using David's rig. This time around, what, if any, changes are being implemented for Greg to have his own signature stuff? Come to think of it, with regards to the entire band, will you be making any changes to your rigs?
David: Yes, definitely, maybe, and I think so!
Mike: I know Greg is having a new rig designed for the tour. The rest of us haven’t made any significant changes that I can think of.
Simon: I am still undecided whether I will make any changes. I usually make my decisions late in the day - rather infuriating to our tour manager!
Luke: Definitely! Greg is redesigning the whole scene. It will definitely be "Greg's Rig" now. As for me, I'm always implementing new stuff -- new guitars with different tunings and stuff. I add new things here and there, but I'm always changing my sound.
Greg: It's still really in process, and that's all I should say.
Great! I know that Peter G (US Touring Crew Stage Manager) was racking his brains out when I saw him last about how he was going to do what you wanted to do, so I have a feeling it's going to be something to see.
Greg: Of course it's going to be cool, because it's going to be mine! I think Peter's still commited to working on it.
What about a new keyboard tech to replace Steve Lu?
Luke: Yes, we have a really cool cat named Kenny Moran, a singer/songwriter to back Greg up on the tour. A great player!
Several of the songs on this record, including the first single "Bottom of Your Soul," are very reminiscent of the "big" almost over-produced Toto sound of the 80s. How will this affect your approach to the live renditions of these songs?
David: With outstanding musicianship, clever arrangements, and lots of MAKEUP!
Mike: We’ll try to pull these off as best we can. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!
Simon: We will try to re-create the sound of the record as faithfully as possible. Jon Ostrin will be our soundman this time around - he has been with band for longer than I have so he knows best how it should sound.
Bobby: The same way we handle the “big Toto Sound” on Africa or Rosanna. We play it like we own it. I agree, it’s pretty fantastic to be standing in the middle of all that when it’s happening, but “there’s no place like home” when it comes to Toto.
Luke: "Bottom" is going to be a REALLY hard one to pull off, because there's so much Joe in it. We're gonna do it for sure, but we're going to have to go in and record some loops, feature Tony on some of the parts and even Bobby, who didn't even sing on that track. It will sound different live, but, it should. A record's a record. But when Joe comes back out at some point, we'll have him sing his part.
The record does seem to have the bigger production sound of the early 80s. Where Tambu was more organic, this is a very BIG sound.
Luke: Well, we went for it, because NOBODY else does it anymore.
Well I think there's no question that you nailed it!
Luke: And I'm sure we'll be raked over the coals for it by the press, too. They've been WAITING for it, "Oooh, ooooh! Another Toto record to RAKE through the coals!"
Greg: I understand what you mean by the big sound of the 80s, but our inspiration was more the progressive rock of the 70s. We were going after the major kind of progressive song like something from Led Zeppelin. That's what I remember was in mind for the title track. And how dare you say over produced!
(laughs) Well, that's a term of art more than anything else I think. Certainly not meant in a negative context, as that's really the sound of Toto that a lot of people are drawn to.
Greg: Over produced! I can PLAY you over produced! But as far as playing that live -- you'll just have to stick around and see. I can't give up everything. If I answer every question in detail, there's no point in showing up. There would be no incentive. If people are that interested -- come and find out. They will NOT be disappointed.
Joe, what have you been up to in recent years? We've seen quite an extensive filmography on the internet attached to your name!
Joseph: I am in my 13th year as a film and television composer. (Mostly T.V.) To date, I have scored 26 films. Films produced primarily for cable T.V. hear in the states. Independent (Film Festival) movies and a few theatrical releases. I’ve written cues for some high profile movies as well. Mostly for my father (“Star Wars Episodes I and II” “A.I.” “Minority Report”) but also for other “A” list composers who need a extra set of hands now and then. I have worked in one capacity or another on over 18 Television series. Several as the primary (credited) composer, ‘Roswell”, “Early Edition”, “Felicity”, and a new series debuting in March called “Windfall”. Several made for Television Movies “Category 6”, Category 7” etc., and as a co-composer with W.G. Snuffy Walden, Bennett Salvey and Steve Porcaro on various shows. It’s work that I love but it is WORK! Singing is still my first love. I still sing on commercials from time to time and record solo albums when the opportunities arise. Oh, and I have been raising my daughters with my wife of 14 years, Amy!
In addition to TV and Movies, do you think you'll go back into the studio and do another solo record?
Joseph: The solo projects are the hardest thing to pull together for me. With out a Record Company to back me up (Keep my family fed) it’s hard to devote the kind of time to do an album I would feel good about! Writing and collecting songs takes time. Producing them with the quality I would require takes lots of time and money...Unfortunately I don’t own a cash cow, or a money tree! I have to work (or hunt for work) constantly to support my family. As I said, when an opportunity or production situation (like the "Vertigo" Projects) comes around, and I can find the time, I always jump on it!
What about you Steve? Looks like you've been busy on the Film/TV front as well! Is that your primary focus these days?
Steve: For the most part. I still try to write songs every now and then, but my focus has been my film and TV work. I’ve done a few things I’m rather embarrassed of, but it’s work! And I really love the process of working with film. I love not having to worry about lyrics, I love being apart of a creative team. I love the pressure, everything about writing to film. It’s really satisfying to me.
I know David has mentioned that he was working with James Newton Howard on the “Batman Begins” score. Have you had an opportunity to work alongside David and James? And of course, you've worked with Joe!
Steve: Oh yeah. I collaborate with James here and there. We’ve remained pals, and I tend to help him out in a number of small ways. I worked a bit on King Kong doing random percussion sessions. I would come up with the rhythm on some of the scenes, things like that. We’ve collaborated on a couple of smaller films. And Joseph, you know, just helped me out on a series called North Shore last year. He ended up writing a big chunk of it with me and also by himself. Yeah, we all stay close.
How about that "Porcaro Brothers" Project? Is there still any life in that?
Steve: How about that Porcaro Brothers project!? Seriously, it’s something I really do think about. I’ve actually been thinking about it more lately than ever, to tell you the truth. It’s seems like it’s hard for me to be disciplined when I don’t have a deadline, when I don’t have a gun to my head. I’ve found that’s something I need. And also I wonder, you know, how many people would even give a shit? I know there’s some hardcore fans out there, but… I know I’ve probably taken it way too seriously, but I want it to be really, really good. But it’s been hard for me to have the discipline to have the time to put it together. I have the studio; I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of as far as the facilities to be able to do something like that. I just let myself get distracted. Many times when I’ve gotten very close to getting into it, Mike will all of a sudden go on the road with Toto. And then when he comes back, and both our heads will get into it, and all of a sudden I get a TV series where I’m just completely swamped with some work that I can’t turn down for a long period time. Believe me, if I was a lead singer, if I had the voice, I would have had 4 Steve Porcaro and/or Porcaro Brothers out now! It’s something I take seriously, and I hope to do some day. Some day soon!
I wouldn’t slight yourself on your singing voice. Tunes like Takin’ It Back and all of the tunes on the older records are still some fan favorites.
Steve: That was a LONG time ago! I was much younger then.
Well I wasn’t even around back then, so what can I say!
Steve: Fuck off!
[laughs] What can you all tell us about a possible United States release? Is there any chance that the bonus track "The Reeferman" will be included for the US a la "Spanish Steps" on Mindfields, or are you still in negotiations?
David: That is good question, which I will run by my superiors.(oops there are none!)
Simon: No specific news as yet.
Mike: We are still settling our US release. I don’t believe there will be a bonus track on the US release.
Bobby: The USA deal is still being worked on at this time, but we were thinking that it may be out by March. These kind of deadlines are no longer important, as anyone with a computer can buy the CD from anywhere in the world where it’s released. This is one of the pluses about the internet,…..then again, there’s the piracy-thing that none of us, who have put their hearts into making the CD, like to see. We spend a lot of our money and time to make the CD as “bullet-proof” as possible on the quality side, but people who steal the music are eventually preventing the future release of great CDs. Until they come out with a new format that can’t be stolen, this is always going to be a problem. I’m not sure what the song lineup will be, but I’m fairly certain it will be the same as the European release.
Greg: Ever since being involved with the band, it was my personal desire to rebuild our US audience, especially reminding black people about Toto. There are a LOT of people who love Toto -- they just didn't realize it. For the last few years, I'd tell my friends what I was doing, and they'd say, "Aw, I love Toto!" There's a huge audience of black people that haven't seen the cats in a long time. There IS a soulful element to Toto, whether Luke wants to admit it or not.
Absolutely. Luke himself has a very soulful voice, I think.
Greg: Oh I think so! He's certainly more black than anything else! You know, he's my "honky white soul brother." So, that's my hope for the US.
Luke: As far as "The Reeferman," here's the deal. It's really jive, and that's why "The Reeferman" is what it is. It's a short, little bebop tune that really doesn't fit on the record. That's why it is what it is. It's a cool track standing by itself, but it's a really short piece of music. And we have a contractual obligation to give Japan a piece of music that no one else in the whole world has. So we fulfilled that obligation with something oddball so that people around the world won't feel like they got ripped off, like it's some really incredible song for a bonus cut. It's nothing but a live jam in the studio.
There are currently 12 labels bidding on the record, and we want it to come out as soon as possible. You know, the US is never going to be our biggest market, and we just have to resign ourselves to that. We're gonna get beat up here, but we'll try to work here. We have new agents, and they're putting some stuff together for us later in the year, probably in the summer. At this point, the US Schedule is completely unconfirmed. Too early to say what we'll do exactly or to what capacity. We used to think it would be cool to go on a package tour with a band that we mix well with, but nobody wants to play with us. Either we don't want to open, or we're not strong enough to be the closer, or there's not enough money involved. So we have to find the gigs that make sense for us to do. It's frustrating, I won't lie. Really frustrating. But there's nothing we can do about it. Take a band like Journey or Styx, and they can't do anything in Europe. But they do great in the States. I've had conversations with my buddy Neal Schon, and he's like, "Man you guys rock overseas. We do great in the States but we can't do shit over there." I hear they're going to try and go out this summer and do some festivals, and they're a GREAT band, everyone should hear them. But you know, you gotta go where you're the strongest so that it's financially viable. We're not teenagers sitting in the back of a van anymore. We're middle-aged guys, we have to make a living!
I never understood why Toto and Journey never played off each other. Like, you tour with them in the States and they tour with you guys overseas.
Luke: I will tell you exactly why! We can't pay them any money to open for us. And they can't pay us any money to open for them. It's a financial thing, not an ego thing. It just doesn't make sense. They don't need us here, and we don't need them there. Whatever they would get paid would come out of MY pocket.
You know, it's a strange situation how bands like Journey, or Survivor, or REO Speedwagon, or whomever, are still so big in the States but aren't overseas. No one listens to them in Europe. And you guys are huge in Europe, but not in the US.
Luke: It's exactly the truth. But you know, we're all still lucky to be doing this after all these years. I'm happy that we're all still making a living after doing this for almost 30 years like all the bands you just mentioned. Most of these guys are my friends!
There's still a pretty major buzz going around about the Toto Network. Have you come to a point where you can tell us a bit more about it, or is it still too early on in development?
Mike: There is so much involved with getting a project of this size ready. Some delays are inevitable in the process. Hopefully we’ll be up and running in the next month or so.
Greg: It's very difficult to describe. I can only say that it's going to revolutionize the way audiences relate with an artist. It will be the begining of a whole paradigm shift in that way. It's very exciting and we've had several meetings about it.
David: It will be innovative and Fan Friendly to an earth shattering degree. It is what TOTO has been waiting for (not to mention our fans.)
Simon: No Comment!
Bobby: The guys were in the rehearsals today, and I think they’ll be shooting some footage of the live rehearsals tomorrow. Soon (I think about mid-April) they’ll release the software so that anyone who wants to jump in, can do just that. These guys have come up with one of the most unique internet marketing device I’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to work it from a cell phone or computer, and that will be a direct connection to the band and almost everything we do. It will be updated on a daily basis, and we can put things like “Guitar School with Luke”, Keyboards with Greg P. , and so on. Also, I have a nice catalogue of cassettes from back when we all entered the same room for the first time. We played some of the songs like “Hold The Line”, “Goodbye Girl”, and a few others that were not really songs at that time. You’ll be able to see the genesis of how Toto came about. I also have a lot of rehearsal tapes and sound-check tapes from the first tour, along with more from later tours. All of this will be converted to digital and put on the Toto Network. I'm pretty excited about being able to do this for the first time ever. It’s been something like 27 years I’ve clung to these tapes, so it’s about time to air them out. The Toto Network is going to be a lot like the fans want it to be. They will have part of the decision process, as whatever they request, we’ll take a serious look at, and maybe even make it happen. “Want to play drums with Simon Phillips?” I think it will be possible on the Network. If you want to remix a song “past OR present” you can do this on the Network. It will be “everything-Toto fantasyland”. We’re hoping the fans will like it as much as we do.
Luke: I'm out of the loop on that for the Holidays. Mike's our front man on that! I'm just hoping that the record company is doing their job and promoting us right!
Well, it seems like they most-certainly are. A German radio station who has never cared for or played Toto in the past has contacted us to do a full feature on the record. So the word is getting out, and people are doing their jobs!
Luke: That's nice to hear for a change. I know they're trying to do it across the world. I know we've already done 25,000 preorders in Japan already, and jeez, I think that maybe more than all of what "Through the Looking Glass" sold! So I think we're going to do REALLY well. We'll be a lot more visible and of course we'll be in the market for another few years
Well, this is the record for this kind of promotion, as it's one of your best. It deserves it.
Luke: I can't wait to read all the negative shit. (laughs) The people that hate us REALLY hate us. I'm at the point now where I just have to laugh at it. It gives me pleasure how much we annoy the fuck out of these people.
Well it seems they hate you for all the wrong reasons.
Luke: Well, they hate us because they're supposed to. They don't even know why. They're just supposed to. I don't think the name helps easy! It's really easy to make fun of a band called Toto. I've always hated that fucking name. 30 years later I'm stuck with it. I can't even do anything outside of the band without being associated with it. But what the hell, it's been very good to me and to all of us so I guess we should look at the bright side!
Special thanks to Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams
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