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  • Steve Lukather (2013)

    Posted January, 2013

    Photo by Rob Shanahan

    Since the launch of Boomerocity over three years ago, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing lots of phenomenal, historic and iconic talent.  Whether chatting it up with Grand Funk Railroad (and former KISS) guitarist, Bruce Kulick, Billy Joel’s sax man, Mark Rivera, or guitar virtuoso, Andy Timmons, to a man each and every one of them mentioned Steve Lukather.

    Luke (as his friends call him) is best known as a founding member/lead guitarist/songwriter/vocalist of Toto. However, he has also been involved with some of the hottest songs and albums in the history of popular music. From Michael Jackson’s  Beat It (and all of the Thriller album) to Olivia Newton-John’s Physical,  to working with such huge talent as Lionel Richie, The Tubes, Donna Summer, Chicago, Richard Marx, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and, currently, Ringo Starr, Lukather seems to find himself associated with the best of the best.  And those members of the upper echelon of musicians have great things to say about him.

    Bruce Kulick (KISS and Grand Funk Railroad) says of Lukather, "Steve is one of the few ‘monster’ guitar players in the music business. I am always in awe of his amazing feel and melodic ability on the guitar. This is why he's admired around the world. Luke = Guitar Legend!"  Andy Timmons also speaks highly of his good friend.  “Steve has been a huge influence on my playing for many years! I think I learned more from him than any other player. Like Stevie Ray, he puts so much passion and conviction into every note. Couple that with his complete control of time feel (where a note is placed in the musical phrase) and you have an amazing musician. PLUS he's beautiful and loving human being. I'm proud to call him a friend.”

    As I began my chat with Luke, I wanted to verify that I had it correct that his new CD, Transition, was his seventh studio solo project.

    “Yeah, I suppose so. If you count the Carlton stuff and my Christmas record then it would something like ten. But, there’s some of my side projects like Los Lobotomys and things like that. So, yeah, as far as official ‘Here I am,’ I suppose it’s seven – lucky seven, as they say!”

    In listening to Transition, I sense that the album has a positive “lessons learned/I’m still standing” kind of vibe to it, for the most part. I asked Steve if I was interpreting that correctly.

    “Well, you know, the last five or six years of my life I’ve had the ‘lost years’. I went through a really, really bad time. And, unfortunately, when you go through a bad time in the public eye you have to do it in front of people. I was dealing with some people I didn’t want to be dealing with. There was some business things going on. My mother died. My marriage died. I had a kid during the divorce. I quit drinking and smoking and got really healthy. I had to go through all of the psychological stuff, digging up the bodies in my backyard, metaphorically speaking – emotionally – just to clean up myself and find my muse and find my voice as a guitar player and as an artist again.

    “On the last album, I was going through all of it so it was a little darker. On this one, this is a little bit more the transition, hence, the title, coming from the darkness into the light again, as it were; dealing with all of the haters and things that I’ve just stuffed for so many years – some stuff that I really don’t want to get into but a lot of deep stuff in my personal life that was causing me to drown myself in a sea of alcohol which affected my playing, my personality, my muse, my reason for everything.

    “So, I just woke up one day and quit smoking and quit drinking and said, ‘I’ve want to be me again!’ Thirty-six years on the road can make anybody crazy.  I just caught myself. I looked around me and a lot of my friends are sick, dying or dead. I’m going, ‘Wait a second.’  When you’re twenty years old it’s party till you drop and then you realize that thirty-five years went by. Like I said, I went through a bad time and I’m not in a bad time now. I’m in a great place. For years, now, I’ve been clean and finding myself. I work out. I practice. I wake up at five in the morning and play the guitar. I’m a good dad. Even my ex-wives love me! I’m a happily divorced guy! What can I say?”

    Then, being a little more serious, Luke adds, “I’m on the road nine months out of the year. It’s hard for a woman to deal with that. I didn’t do anything awful. It just fell apart, you know? So, I had to re-calibrate my life – every aspect of it – and own up to the fact that I screwed up and played sloppy. You play how you feel. So, if you feel like crap, what do you think is going to happen? I was angry and I was just playing crap and I hated it.

    “From 2004 through 2009 were bad times for me in my whole life. It affected every aspect of it – playing, I looked like crap, I felt like crap and I was just trying to get through it

    Photo by Rob Shanahan

    in a negative way. Now, I feel good again. I feel free from it!  I have to let go of resentments and the past. If I’ve said or did something stupid, I’m really sorry, you know?  But I can’t change people’s minds if there’s that negativity but I think people have warmed up to the fact that I admitted my sins. What can I say? Everybody loses their way sometimes – at one point or another. It’s  just hard when you have to do it in public.

    “I’ve lived an extraordinary and insane life – not even a realistic one. It’s a bizzaro life. It’s fun. I mean, it has great rewards but I don’t get paid for the gig. I get paid for the twenty-two hours that I’m not playing, you know what I mean? A lot of guys will tell you that – it’s a cliché but it really stands true.

    “But I feel great! I feel better than ever. I’m working with Ringo who’s seventy-two years old and looks like he’s forty. He’s a constant source of inspiration as a human being as well as being Ringo!”

    In concluding his answer, he said, “I don’t want to dwell on anything negative. I’m just saying that this is where I’ve been, that’s what it was, this is what I’ve gone through and this is where I am now. I feel great – better than ever!  Ready to hit it!  I’ve had a really great year and I appreciate that more than I ever did ever in my whole life. I appreciate my career more than I ever did in my whole life.”

    I asked if that was the biggest lesson learned from that whole experience.

    “Yes! I think it’s great to still be here after thirty-six years of doing this and be booked up. I’m solid until 2015, pretty much. I couldn’t be happier doing all the different kind of cool things that I get to do. I’m just not a guy that’s in a band, makes a record and goes on the road. I did five different tours this year.”

    In setting up my next question, I mentioned that it was reported that Lukather had a hand in over 1,500 albums.  Before I could segue to the core question, he interrupted me.

    “These numbers get volleyed around. Sometimes it’s a thousand. Sometimes it’s 2,500.  Sometimes it’s a million. Sometimes it’s 50. I don’t know.   I like to refer to as that I’ve done a lot of records.  I really don’t know what the count is. But I’ve stopped doing sessions twenty-some-odd years ago. I’ll do a guest one or two a  year or something like that here and there. But as far as being a session guy, I’ve never really done that since 1992 or something like that.”

    I asked him how working on Transition differed from all of the other albums – especially the first albums he ever worked on.

     “Well, the technology’s changed, obviously. I just kinda flow. Listen, when my first record came out on eight-track. That’s how long I’ve been doing this. So, really, for me, we did it differently in the sense that, from the moment my fingers touched the guitar strings and we played the first chord or riff – which, ironically, was Judgment Day – the songs were written almost in sequence as they appear on the record. C.J. Vanston and myself co-wrote and co-produced and played on the record with me.

    “From the moment we started, everything that I played became a master recording and we just sort of went about it in a different way. Usually, I cut live tracks with live players. This time we did it different. I started adding people as the songs and record took shape – adding bass and drums later – after I’d done vocals and guitars and master keyboard. Then, we kind of cast it like a movie. Like, ‘Who would be great on this?’ I used my live band, obviously. They’re great musicians. Steve Weingart, Renee Jones and Eric Valentine. But I also had the pick of a lot of friends – a lot of people I had run into on the street by accident. I live in L.A., you know. We’re all friends. Everybody on the record is my friend. Some really old friends and some newer friends. All are really great musicians. We would say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have so-and-so on this track?’ and they came and played!  That’s how we did it. It was a different way of doing it for me and it was a lot of fun.”

    When I asked Steve how long Transition took to make, he said, “On and off – I started last December and I would work on it for a few weeks, go on the road, do a tour, come back, work on it for three weeks, go back on another tour and I did that all year until I finished in October.”

    Going into further detail as to how the album was made, Steve shared that, “We worked hard on it. I certainly didn’t phone it in, you know? Having the luxury of time, I would go, ‘I want to redo that vocal. I can do better.’ Or, ‘that lyric sucks. Let me fix that.’ That was a luxury I haven’t had in I can’t remember when. Not being under pressure. Not worry about it being a hit single or whatever. I made a record that I liked. C.J. worked hard on the music. My son (Trevor) co-wrote a track . . . but most of it was me and C.J. I just kind of wrote how I felt and that’s how it is from a guitar playing standpoint. I dug a little deep and try to refine it rather than trying to be super flashy. Other guys do it so much better. I went to my strongest point which is my melodic phrasing and play different stuff than a normal rock guy would play.”

    As I’ve said in other interviews, I long ago quit asking artists what their favorite song is on an album. However, what I have asked, and did ask Luke, was if he was to point to just one song from Transition for someone to listen to in order to determine if they would want to buy the whole album, which song would that be?

    “It kind of changes. Like, in the middle of making the record, you have your favorites but that changes as they get finished. At the end of it, I look at the record as one whole piece – the whole record. Not just one song. I’m proud of the (whole) record. I think the first couple of tracks kind of definite it. Judgment Day and Creep Motel kind of have the overall feel for the record. From a guitar playing, songwriting and signing standpoint, check that out. And, if you like that, keep on!”

    Knowing that Lukather is going back on the road with Ringo Starr beginning February 2nd, I asked him if there are any tour plans to support Transition after that tour.

    “Oh, yeah!  I’m rehearsing my band in January and then we’re going out in March and April in Europe for the solo stuff. Then I come back and gear up for Toto’s 35 year anniversary tour which will go on for the summer. We only work through the summer – May through September - because everybody else has stuff going on. We’ll do that for the next few summers all over the world. I’ll be back and then we go back out with Ringo in the fall, so I hear. Rumors. That puts me to this time next year and then I jump back out solo. I’ll do some dates in the states with my own band. We’re talking about doing a co-bill with somebody else just to get my feet wet as a solo artist in the U.S. but Toto is going to be working in the U.S., as well. I’ve got a full dance card and it feels good, man!”

    As noted earlier, Luke has worked on a boatload of albums in his nearly 40 year career.  I was curious as to what he saw as the most positive and negative changes he’s seen in the music business in that time and, if he were named music czar, what would he do, if anything, to fix the music business.

    Answering the second part of the questions first, Luke said, “The first thing I would do is unplug ProTools and ask, ‘Can you sing and play?’  That would be the first thing. That would eliminate about ninety percent of the people. I’d want to level the playing field. For those of us who started out playing and thinking that you had to be really good to make it in the music business, we were all of a sudden thrown off the horse by going, ‘Nah! You don’t have to be that good, really.’ The whole image/MTV years and then it became the technological years where people are up for Grammy’s who couldn’t sing Happy Birthday in tune at gunpoint.

    “I think the whole game has changed and the worst part is no one cares – or, I should say not that many people care. Nobody’s perfect. The thing is, now, records are made so perfect that they’re unrealistic. And, to perform live, if someone sings just a little bit off or doesn’t bend a note just perfect, people think you’re crap. Go back and look at The Stones and The Beatles, there’s imperfections in the blues players we all loved. Hendrix wasn’t perfect. Nobody’s perfect. It’s an unrealistic perfection. Everyone wants this utopian perfection that is unrealistic. Let’s bring back a little grit and funk, man! We live in a fast-food mentality. Everybody wants everything now and everybody has a two second attention span. I don’t believe that’s across the board but that’s what the media plays to – the lowest common denominator. I don’t want to start ragging on people and naming names but anybody that uses the word ‘beats’ to describe music should be beat-en with a baseball bat!”

    Up on a well-deserved musical soapbox, he continued, “I watched the 12/12/12 concert on TV and there were some brilliant performances, you know?  And the one, blatant WTF moment was rather obvious, need I say it?  And instead of me being a grumpy old man, I turned on Twitter and watched the comments come. And my twenty-five year old son – a great guitar player and the generation that that plays to – I look at him and I go, ‘Dude!’ and he goes, ‘Dad, it sucks, I know!’ And I go, ‘Okay, so it’s not just me?’ I wanted to love it!  I do want to love it but I can’t. I just can’t! Then, the attitude that goes with it! It’s the whole Star Magazine/Enquirer mentality of ‘let’s dumb it all down.’ To me, ‘yuh!’ is not a lyric, you know?  Just unplug the box and waddaya got? Unplug the auto-tune and put the kid up there with a band and let’s see what he’s got! Nothing. Nothing! Nothing but a bad attitude and a lot of money! I don’t want to say the name but there’s just this whole genre of people, they’re bragging about how rich they are and, really, it just makes them look how stupid they are. The arrogance of it all.”

    Photo by Rob Shanahan

    Winding done, Luke concluded, “The bottom-line: You really want to change the music business?  Can-you-play? It’s like they want to learn all of the tricks before they learn how to get there. Those of us who started out in the sixties playing the guitar like I did because of The Beatles, learned how to play folk guitar and learned how to play rhythm guitar. Can you play with other people or are you the guy that just sits on the edge of your bed and plays as fast as you possibly can in one key because you don’t know how to play in B Flat?  Be a well-rounded guy! There are some amazing musicians out there that need to be heard! The problem is how do you monetize it? How do you make a career as a musician? It’s really hard.

    “My son. Twenty-five. He just signed with a major management company but, generally, if he was to have signed his record deal twenty-five years ago, he would’ve had his record deal at twenty! It’s a different world and there’s a lot of incredible musicians struggling just to get heard. They say, ‘Give the records away for free and then go out and play live and make money.’ Well, how many venues, really, are there and how much money are people are gonna spend? If you have one song on the radio do you think people will pay fifty bucks to come see you?  Can you sustain an audience for an hour and a half with one song? Because that’s what they’re telling you, ‘We only need one song.’ Well, if you make only one song, who’s going to pay to come see you live? And you better be good because everyone does it on ProTools and you can make anybody sound good on there. But can you pull it off live?”

    As our time to chat was quickly coming to a close, I asked the legendary guitarist about working with Ringo Starr on his current tour.

    “It was the best summer vacation of my life! He’s the greatest! He’s one of the most sweetest, the most soulful, smart, funny – everything you could ever want and imagine him to be, he’s that and more. Very wise. If you listen to him speak, you’re drawn into somebody that is very, very special on planet earth and I’m honored to call him a friend. I wake up and I get a text from Ringo!  It’s surreal. He announces me (and slides into a pretty good Ringo imitation), ‘This is my very last, real best friend and I’m not having any more!’ and he announces me. I mean, really, he took a shine to me and I to him, obviously. The band is so great: Todd (Rundgren) and Richard (Page) and Biss (Gregg Bissonette) and Mark Rivera and Gregg Rolie – what a joy to wake up and make music with these guys! Everybody is so good and so much fun. It’s so relaxed. We’re hanging out with Ringo! How awesome is that? It doesn’t get much better than that!”

    Winding up that portion of his comments, he added, “What’s wrong with my life?  Nothing, really. I’m grooving. I’m thankful. I really, really am! I know how lucky I am. There’s a million guys that are better than me. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to enjoy what I get to do!”

    My final question for Steve Lukather involved how he wants to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy is after he’s gone to that great gig in the sky. His answer started with a slight chuckle.

    “Well, I’d like to think that people will say, ‘Good player, man! Funny guy! Good guy!’ All I know is that I’m trying to be the best ‘me’ I can be right now. I’ve had an extraordinary, wonderful career that spans thirty-six years and it seems to going to keep going for a while. I’m very thankful for that. I think that maybe in a hundred years somebody will poke my name in some little computer box and, hopefully, a whole bunch of information will come out and they’ll say, ‘Who the heck is this guy?’ I’d like for them to say ‘He was a funny guy. Played pretty good for a white guy.’ What can I say? I’d like to be remembered in some positive light. I can’t make a quote about myself!”

    Well, as I started this piece with quotes from other great musicians, Steve can be assured that there are many, many more members on the short list of musical greats who are saying great things about him.  And, to paraphrase a great saying about music: If words fail, then his music will speak for him.

  • Steve Lukather (2014)


     Photo by Darek Kawka

    Posted June, 2014

    The sign of a great, vibrant classic rock band is when they continue to draw loyal crowds and crank out albums and DVDs.  One such band is Toto.  Still alive and well, the boys in the band recently released a live CD and concert DVD entitled, “Toto 35th Anniversary Tour: Live In Poland”. With a reported 35 million albums already sold, this double-barreled offering is sure to substantially add to those numbers.

    When word went out that the anniversary set was going to come out, Boomerocity had the opportunity to interview the band’s guitarist and founding member, Steve Lukather. I last interviewed Luke in January of last year. Since that chat, he has toured heavily to support his solo album, “Transition”, toured with Ringo Starr and, of course, was neck deep in Toto’s 35th anniversary tour.

    What does he do with all that spare time?

    Anyway, I caught up with Luke by phone at his California home one recent morning. After chatting about his frenetic schedule over the past sixteen months, I asked him what he’s up to these days.



    “Well, I’m pretty much doing exactly all of that – just more of the same. I begin with Ringo June 1st and I’m back in the studio finishing a new Toto album that will be out in March of next year.  Toto and Michael McDonald are going on the road in August and September.”

    I asked Steve what the response to the set has been so far.

    “It’s number one around the world – number two in the UK. We haven’t charted in the UK in thirty years!  Number one all over Europe and it’s just come out in the U.S. We’re getting the best reviews of our career and there was no hype to it. We’re all, like, shaking heads and going, ‘What the . . .?’ in a very positive way.

    “We’re getting these numbers from our new manager and it’s like all of a sudden out of nowhere – a gift from God! For real! The thing is waling! When you see that we’re knocking Metallica, Bob Dylan and Springsteen off the charts – even that little Justin Beiber – we’re, like, ‘Where did this come from, man?’, because we didn’t do any pre-hype. As a matter of fact, we rather underplayed it. We were just going to see how it goes. 

    “Everybody – Eagle Rock, our DVD company – everybody’s going, ‘You can’t buy this kind of response!”. The reviews are five star reviews – for us, collectively, the most hated band in rock music? We’re kind of all laughing. Henley was right. He told me in 1980, ‘If you hang in there long enough, they’ll change their minds.’ Eagles and Led Zeppelin, they survived – not to compare us to them or anything. I only mean in terms of longevity. We’re looking at almost 40 years”.

    I commented to Luke that I was struck by how tight the band is during their jams on the DVD.  He said, “We wanted to leave some of the jam bits in. We showed the other side of what we really are. Obviously, the hits are in there for obvious reasons but we wanted to show a little bit more of what we’re really all about – at least the 2014 version, anyway, and we were able to do that and to show that we have a large audience around the world. A lot of people in the U.S. think that we died in 1985 because we had a record company who didn’t release our record for ten years. We had management get us out of that deal but, to the fans, it’s almost like we’re starting over again and here we are in our thirty-eighth year since the first album was recorded and now all of a sudden we’re number one around the world. It’s crazy! I’m on my knees, looking up at the sky and going, ‘Thank you, Lord, for this blessing!’ And because we’re not a band who is on that summer circuit as the same eight bands who put themselves together and go on the road, we’re kind of fresh meat, you know?”

    Lukather then adds, “We’re really aiming at the U.S.A. market again. With our new management and our new agents, our new DVD and the band being where it’s at right now, mentally and physically, I think we can do it. Now there’s this real, organic buzz! It couldn’t be better!”

    Of all the places around the globe that Toto could choose to record a concert, I asked Steve what drove the decision to record live in Poland.

    “Well, we were going to do it in France but we had already done it in France. Then we were going to do it in Amsterdam but we’d already done it in Amsterdam. So we said, ‘Let’s do it some place where the crowds are going to be wild but we haven’t recorded there yet’ We felt recording live in Poland was a fresh thing – Eastern European, you know? Also, the venues are friendly from a technical aspect. It all organically fell into place.”

    When I asked Steve how the crowds in Poland are today compared to when Toto first toured there, he replied, “They keep getting bigger!  That’s the thing: now we’re getting second and third generation people and families coming to the shows. Now we sell four tickets instead of one.  We’re a classic rock band. I embrace that title. There’s not that many of us left. I know that’s a broad stroke – a broad term. We are what we are. We’re just in that era, you know what I mean? And we’re a lot more rock than people think we are. I think the DVD shows that side and certainly when you come see us live we show that side.

    “But, we can play ballads. We can play funk. We can play fusion and world music. We can play it. We’re good musicians. People don’t show up to see what outfit I’m wearing. They want to hear good playing.”


    When I asked Luke how is touring, in general, different for him now than in the beginning, he replied with a laugh, “Yeah, man, we travel well. We’re not twenty

    Photo by Darek Kawka

    years old anymore. We spend our money on comfort rather than partying, you know what I mean?  And I’ve been spoiled when I go on the Ringo tours – it’s a whole ‘nother level. Private jets and all that stuff. I love that!”

    Then, coming back down to the relatively normal touring world, Steve adds, “We have nice buses and we have a great bunch of crew members that are our friends. A lot of bands never even speak to their crew. Our crew are our friends. We all hang together. It’s a real family environment. And even though we fight once in a while about BS - like brothers do – over nothing, and then we end up laughing and hugging each other two seconds later. I mean, we’ve been brothers since 1974. We’ve been through everything together. Life. Death. Divorce. Kids. Drugs. Booze. Insanity. Loss of fortune. Gain of fortune. Great career. Bad career. Whatever. Hits and misses. Disease. Disaster. Wonderful. Joyous. We’ve been through everything together and we’ve always been there for each other. I look around and go, ‘These are my bros, man! They know me better than anybody.’”

    Then, becoming humorously more reflective, he adds, “Our personalities are what they are and we accept each other for our personality flaws and we all have them, including me – especially me. I’m the loud mouth mother and it gets me in trouble all the time. I speak my mind. Now I’m an old guy. I’ve got the experience and if you ask my opinion, I’m going to give it whether they like it or not. There it is. I just laid it out for you.”

    Steve Lukather is a touring maniac, always on the road with Toto, Ringo, as well as supporting his own solo work and the like. It’s surprising that he’s not absolutely sick of it.  I asked him how he keeps it all from getting to him.

    “I rest. I rest a lot. And I practice. I have hobbies and stuff I’m interested in reading about. I’m fascinated with antiquity. I love all that alien stuff. I’m like, “Hmmm, what’s out there?’ I just have fun with it all, you know? I like to exercise. Some nights I like to sit out by the pool and chill. I read voraciously and by the time you think about it, you’re off to the gig!”

    Comparing tours of early years, Lukather adds, “It’s not like I’m in the back of a van, drinking beer and eating bologna sandwiches, like a kid. We’re all health freaks now. It’s a whole different ballgame than it was in the seventies.”

    The band has undergone some personnel changes that have been kind of hard to stay on top of so I asked Steve what the band line-up is looking like at the moment.

    With his infectious laugh that I’ve now become familiar with, Lukather gave the current band line up.

    “The line-up for the band at this point is myself, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams. Then we have Keith Carlock who has joined the band on drums. He played with Steely Dan, Clapton, John Mayer and Sting. He’s one of the baddest guys out there. When we asked him to join the band, he was already committed to do this last Steely Dan tour which coincides with our U.S. tour in August and September of this  year. He’s played on the whole album and he’s going to be back with us next year.

    “The bass chair is always just filling in for Mike (Porcaro) even though Mike will never come back because of his ALS illness. It’s not good, Bro. He’s confined to a bed. It’s just not good. He’s taken care of by family and it’s part of the reason why we got back together to do this. So, the bass chair is kind of a roving bass chair. Nathan filled it for years but he had to go back to Foreplay and he’s got his album out and he’s out with Clapton. Schedules just didn’t swing. It’s an honor to have him and we love Nate but David Hungate – our original bass player – is coming back to do the summer. He hasn’t played with us in thirty-four years! There’s more original guys on the stage than there has been in twenty-five years!

    “And, then, we have Shannon Forrest playing drums, who is like the number one Nashville guy who was very close to getting the gig, himself. He’s an old friend, as well.  So, that’s going to work out for the summer. Next year? Keith comes back and we’ll see about everybody else – we’ll see who’s going to be playing bass. That’s pretty much where we’re at right now.”

    I had read where Steve and the band are doing a lot to heighten awareness about ALS because of Mike Porcaro.  I asked if he could share shed some light on their efforts in that area.

    “The sad news is that there’s no happy ending to this for anyone – whoever gets it. I think the awareness is how you get this and how you treat it and maybe slow it down. In time, maybe you don’t want it to slow down, you know? It’s really the worst prison confinement you can know – to be trapped in your own body. That’s really, truthfully, an awful way to go.

    “Mike can still talk but he can’t really move, you know? Can’t move at all! So you see the struggle. The breathing gets harder and, obviously, all the rest that goes with it. You want to find a cure for something like this. Will there ever be a cure? That’s what we’re striving for people to be aware of. So many neurological diseases have hit the world. I’ve asked my doctor and the doctor goes, ‘It’s environmental, man’ which means all the **** we’ve been ingesting and all the chemicals that companies try out on all of us decades ago while we’re having children and our children are getting all this weird stuff. Older people are getting MS, ALS, Lupus – all of these neurological, weird diseases from poisoning ourselves and our kids get it . . . it’s a brutal disease!

    “I didn’t know people with ALS when I was a kid. It’s kinda prevalent (now), you know? Autism. My youngest son is autistic. But, you know what? He’s not that bad. There’s a lot of spectrums. He’s easy on the spectrum but there’s a few ticks, you know?

    “Fortunately, he loves, he laughs and he digs his old man and he’s three years old so he’ll learn out of a lot of this. Some kids never speak and hit their head against the wall. There’s different levels of this. But as I said, neurological diseases . . . these are causes that have affected us as human beings and our families. When it hits home it really opens your eyes a bit.”

    After discussing such a heavy subject, I shifted gears in my questioning by asking Steve some questions submitted by some of your readers.  The first question centered on a guitar Luke is seen playing on the Toto’s new concert DVD, “Toto 35th Anniversary: Live In Poland”. At a glance, the guitar looks like it has caricatures of the famous “Rat Pack” painted on it and one of you readers wanted to know what the story was on it. Before I could even finish my question, Luke started laughing that laugh of his.

    “I’m a Sammy fanatic! There are a handful of us who are really into Sammy. Stan Lynch from The Heartbreakers, myself and a bunch of rock n’ roller guys – we love Sammy! It was a gift from a guy at Music Man Guitars. It’s really one of my guitars with a different paint job on it. They call it “The Sammy”. It’s a one-off. It’s a classic. I laughed so hard and it’s a great guitar! People ask about it all the time. My face is on there. Sterling Ball, the owner of Music Man, his face is on there. He’s the bald guy on it and Sammy’s on it.

    “I got into all that. George Clooney – a friend of mine – when he went and did “Ocean’s Eleven” and all of that – twenty-five years ago we’d drink booze and talk about doing something like that and he actually did it. I knew him before he was famous.”


    Another question from Boomerocity readers asked what the wrist-band he wears onstage represents.

    “Oh, it’s a gift from Ringo!  It says, ‘Peace and Love’.”

    Another reader asked Luke: With the great catalog of Toto music, is there a favorite song or period in time when he felt like, "Yeah. This how I want it to be..."?

    “You know, I think each era – it’s like looking at a scrapbook of your life. I mean, some of the stuff has held up well and some of it is like, ‘Ooo, that lyric is really bad’ or that production is really dated. But all of it warms my heart. It’s like looking at old pictures. ‘Oh, look at that silly outfit I was wearing. What was I thinking?’

    Photo by Darek Kawka

    “I think the music’s good. I think the band played well. I think there was some weirder stuff that we experimented with. But like any band with a long history, there’s always a few interesting ‘WTF’ moments. But, overall, I think I’m pretty proud of the work that we put out.”

    Up and coming artist, Ned Evett, asked, "Through a time rift you bump into yourself at 17, demoing a Strat at Guitar Center. What advice do you give yourself?"

    “Oh! Don’t ever do drugs! Not that I was ever a junkie or anything like that but there was a lot of wasted time and effort during that whole late seventies/early eighties period where everybody thought that they had to bury themselves into a pile of powder to get things done. That was a big lie.

    “Also, it would be, like, ‘Don’t trust your accountant!’ I got burned really bad as a kid. You get new money. They see you coming – a teenager with all this bread and you’re just stupidly spending it. So, I would’ve said, ‘Watch the bread! Stay away from the powder!’ would have been my advice. Stay healthy!

    “In the eighties, everybody got high on blow and did stupid things. As a teenager in the studios you’re going, ‘What’s that? I’m really tired. I need to get some coffee.’ And they said, ‘Go ahead, kid, it’s better than coffee and not addictive’ so I naively bought that for a while . . . we all did! I never got that deep in. Booze was my poison and I stopped many years ago along with smoking and any toxic shit.”

    Bringing the subject even closer to home, Luke said, “My older children, they managed to avoid all the pitfalls of all that, thankfully. And my other kids, the jury’s out. God know what they’re going to have to deal with. There’s really awful stuff out there now. It’s really pretty scary. Because I don’t smoke or drink or take anything at all anymore, I will be able to say to my children, ‘Look, you really don’t need to do that, do you? Look around. It never ends well unless you get out of it.’”

    As our time drew to a close, I asked Steve about the new Toto studio album he mentioned in passing earlier in our chat.

    “That will be out in March, 2015 with a world tour to follow. We’re really excited about the record. It’s really good. We’re really diggin’ it! We’re not trying to be trendy. We’re trying to be the best us that we can be and it’s coming out really good, if I may say so myself. We haven’t made an album in ten years so we wanted to make it a good one.”

    And a good one it will be, no doubt.

  • Steve Lukather Talks About TOTO XIV

    March, 2015

    Photo by Heather Porcaro

         

    If you’re a music aficionado at all, you’ve heard of Toto and are familiar with their mega huge hits like “Africa,” Rosanna,” “99,” “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “I’ll Be Over You,” and many other hits.

    What you may not be aware of are these absolutely amazing statistics:

    •They have recently celebrated their 35th anniversary as a band

    •Have sold over 35 million albums

    •Band members were South Park characters, while Family Guy did an entire episode on the band’s hit “Africa.” 

    •Collectively, the members of the band of made their mark on over 5,000 different albums that total a half billion units in record sales

    •It’s been estimated that 95% of the world’s population has heard a performance by a band member of TOTO

    The band is releasing their first studio album of new material in ten years entitled, “TOTO XIV.”  I recently chatted with founding member, guitarist and vocalist, Steve Lukather (“Luke”), about the album. I contacted him at his hotel room in Birmingham, Alabama, while he was on the road performing with Ringo Starr (yeah, THE Ringo Starr).

    Luke accounts for much of the previously mentioned statistics. He’s contributed to approximately 2,000 albums for artists such as Michael Jackson (including much of the “Thriller” album), Rod Stewart, Miles Davis, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Roger Waters, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Larry Carlton and countless others. 

    Before discussing the new album, I asked Luke what he’s been up to.

    “Well, I’m out with Ringo right now, and I just started. This is, like, day three or something like that. It’s going great! I’ve been working on promoting the album, and I’m kinda managing the band and getting the tour together. It’s like juggling a chainsaw, razorblade, and a toothpick at the same time. But I’m doing ok.”

    When asked about TOTO XIV, he said:

    “I never thought we’d do another record, actually. When we got back together in 2010, it was to help our brother, Mike Porcaro, with some of his medical bills. He’s been tragically hit with ALS, and sadly, he’s really not doing well right now. It’s eight years into it, and it’s a tragic, horrible, insidious, cruel disease. That was hard. 

    “We decided to help him in 2010. We put the band back together with the high school brothers- Joseph Williams, Steve Porcaro, myself, and David Paich. We did a tour, and it was really a lot of fun. It was like the band had been reincarnated, and Joseph came back so strong as a singer. He didn’t go on the road and burn his voice out. He was doing television and film for twenty years as a composer along with a few solo albums here and there. But when he came back to the stage, his voice was incredibly strong, and it just kept getting stronger. We did a couple summer tours to help Mike, and we all have bills to pay so everybody wins. 

    “When we decided to do the 35th anniversary DVD, we found out that one of our ex-managers had signed something saying if we ever do anything, we have to deliver a studio album. At first, we sort of fought that, but our lawyers said ‘Look, you should make the freakin’ record.’ 

    “So we all looked at each other and said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we gotta do a really good one. We can’t just phone it in and make this a fulfillment of an obligation.’ 

    “We figured we owed it to the people who have been supporting us for forty years, so we need to come up with something really good. It’s been ten years since we sat down to write a record, so we dug deep. We decided if we were going to do this, we were going to go for it, really go for it. We wanted to dispel the myth that the album is dead, and old guys can’t write music. We said, ‘f*** that- we’re gonna go for it.’ 

    “We spent ten months in the studio making this record. What you hear is the result of blood, sweat, soul, tears, laughter, pain, screaming, arguing, hugging, and working. To me, I figure it’s the best version of the band to be in 2015. We have a lot of old friends back- Lenny Castro, a percussionist and workaholic. David Hungate is back after 33 years, and he’s going to tour with us. It’s an exciting time for us. The DVD went #1 all over the world, and that was a big surprise. 

    “The world is looking at us differently. We’re the classic rock band that hasn’t done every summer in eight configurations. The band is playing better than they ever have, so we are sort of a surprise wild card at this point. There are a lot of great bands out there making the circuit, but it’s the same eight guys in various configurations. We kinda came out of nowhere last year in the U.S.”

    Then, as a little tease, Luke said, “There’s a big surprise which I can’t tell you about yet- I’d like to, but I can’t. We’re going to be touring with somebody really cool, and

         

    Photo by Heather Porcaro

    it’s not anybody obvious at all. The U.S. tour starts in August/September, but we’re doing two months in Europe. Those gigs are selling out- 10,000 seaters are selling out months in advance without getting the record out yet! The UK is going clean, and it was really a surprise to hear Holland with 10,000 seats gone already. We’re co-headlining Sweden Rock with Def Leppard and a bunch of people. We’re doing a bunch of other gigs and headlining other festivals with 35,000 people, so it’s a very exciting time for us right now when a lot of people had maybe written us off. We’re back strong. Everyone is super healthy and focused, and we’re going to prove everybody wrong about the idea that these old guys have nothing new to give. I don’t believe in that, you know?”

    I was a guest of Luke’s at the band’s Atlanta show last year that included Michael McDonald. I mentioned that the pairing of McDonald with TOTO was a masterful pairing.

    “Well, Michael’s part of our family. We go way back. Michael was in Steely Dan with Jeff when I was still in high school. At one point, Michael was actually considered to be the lead singer of Toto, but he had just joined The Doobie Brothers. I worked on his first solo album, played on ‘I Keep Forgettin’’ and all that stuff. He sang on ‘I’ll Be Over You’, so we’ve always been friends. At that time we had the same manager, so that didn’t work out. But Michael and all of us have stayed dear friends and always will. That was a great, special tour for us, and it opened up a lot of doors that were closed for a long time. 

    “Now we’re doing something even wilder and bigger. The U.S. is starting to catch up, and that’s always been an Achilles heel to us. Now the doors are opening that were closed for so long, because we just had poor management and a poor view of us. Our record company wasn’t behind us. It was an uphill battle which all of the sudden seems to have been broken down after persistence and a lot of years… a lot of not taking no for an answer. Like, ‘F*** you, I don’t believe that this is no!’ Now we’re sitting in the situation to be able to do what we’ve always wanted to do in front of the people of our own country as well as the rest of the world.”

    I asked Luke what made this album different for him as compared with the previous thirteen.

    “First off, it’s been ten years since we’ve made any new music. I’m back with Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams- we haven’t made a record since 1987. And yet, we came to this with a fresh attitude, like ‘We’re going to try to nail this.’ I’m back with my high school friends again, and everybody’s inspired and healthy. It’s a lot of fun, and I think we did something good. Now it’s up to God and the world to see how this all turns out. So far, so good.”

    What surprises on the album can Toto fans expect?

    “Is anything a surprise anymore? We live in this world where people are filming your every move with an iPhone camera. Their opinions are on the internet whether good or bad. 

    “Anyways, we’ve got a couple hundred songs we can grab to play outside of hits with all these records we’ve made. David Hungate’s back. Lenny Castro’s back on the road with us along with Steve, me, Dave, and Joe. We’ve got a killer band to bring on the road, and we’re going to perform this new stuff. We’re going to play a lot of the old stuff we haven’t been able to play. It’s just a really exciting time for us.”

    As for which song from “XIV” he would point to as the “calling card” for the whole album, Luke said:

    “I think my favorite track that we have ever recorded is a song called ‘Great Expectations’ which is written by Dave, Joe, and I. It’s an epic little piece. It’s really what I always imagined the band to sound like. Obviously, the hits have been really good. I can’t deny any of that, and we’ll play them for you- I promise! But this one has a little bit more depth to it. It hearkens back to our love for Seventies prog stuff like Yes and Pink Floyd with an odd twist to it. There’s three lead singers on it- Dave, me, and Joe. Everybody gets to shine on it. It’s a great calling card for where we are in 2015.”

    Is there a story behind the album cover?

    “Heather Porcaro, Steve’s oldest daughter, and her team put the whole art package together. We wanted to bring back the four in a different way. The XIV is interesting, because it’s a Roman numeral. It’s also a multiple of seven which is a reference to Joseph and The Seventh One album. It also has four from the Toto IV album. 

    “We were sitting around throwing ideas out, and Heather and her team came up with this great thing. We thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool!’ The last thing we wanted to do was put hearts, skulls, angels, typical artwork. It’s so cliché. They came up with something darker and more mature. It’s new, but it’s old. Is this in China? Is this in LA? Where is this photo, this place? We ended up loving what she did with that, and it keeps it in the family as well. I’m really proud of her. We’ve been getting a lot of love on that.

    “She did this little video piece, too. We didn’t want to do a video. We’re not going to do MTV videos- there’s no budget for that. So we asked, ‘Can you put something together for this?’ She was out on the road with us filming stuff, and she just threw that together in an afternoon. She’s a very creative person, and I love keeping stuff in the family. I like to use the people around us. They care, and they’ve grown up with it and been a part of it. It means something to them. It’s not just hiring an art guy and saying, ‘Here, make something for us.’”

    Luke also shared some info about the guitar gear he used in the making of the album.

    “My big guitar is my Music Man, my L3. I do use a couple of the other versions. I use the Bogner amp, but I also use the Kemper Profiling amp which some of the weird, clean sounds came from that.  C.J. Vanston , our co-producer, really had a lot to do with putting this whole thing together. I gotta give him some love. C.J. worked real hard on this. Sometimes he’d just grab my guitar chord and plug it into his box that goes into the computer, and we’d just kinda scroll through to find some weird sound that worked. I kept an open mind and said, ‘I’ll try anything you guys want!’ Sometimes the sound inspired a different idea, a different part. 

    “It was like putting five bulls in a pen with one cow. We’re all very strong personalities, so we needed somebody to referee that. CJ Vanston was that guy. In the end, we all kept an open mind to try new and interesting things, and that’s what came out. I use Yamaha acoustic guitars, which are great.”

    What’s up after the Toto tour?

    “I can’t predict where I’m going to be in two years. I hope I’m still talking to you on the phone, healthy and happy and raving about the great success we have. That’s where I’m focused right now. In a couple years, who knows? Maybe I’ll do a solo record. Maybe I’ll take a vacation. I’ve got little kids I’d like to spend a little time with. This is what I do for a living. I’ve been doing it for forty years of my life. I don’t see anything changing other than just creating new music. 

    “I’m loving being on the Ringo tour. I just did this thing with Larry Carlton, and there will be a DVD out on that. That happened literally two weeks ago. That’s a different side of things, and I might do a couple live gigs with him if we can squeeze it in somewhere. I’m always trying to reinvent the wheel and doing fresh things.”

    Photo by Heather Porcaro

         

    Wrapping up our chat, I asked Luke how he would summarize his life right now.

    “I’ve had an interesting life, man. The dream came true. What can I say? 

    When I was a little kid, I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. And here I stand, in a hotel room working with Ringo. Last year, I did the 50th anniversary Beatles show with Paul and Ringo. I’m standing there right before we go on stage looking at them. They played ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and there was a certain realization I had. When I was a little kid, if you told me that fifty years later I’d be standing here with these guys… and all these things that have happened in my career… just the records and the success that we’ve had. All the sessions and all the great artists I’ve had the chance to work with. I’ve got four great kids. I’ve had a couple great wives. I’ve met a lot of beautiful girls in my life. I’ve had a million laughs. Partied like a f***ing rock star, but I don’t do that anymore. I’ve had a very interesting life. 

    “There are a few things I’d go back and change. I never wanted to hurt anybody’s feelings. I should have never done any drugs of any kind, but ask anybody who’s been through that, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It was a weird, wacky time we all went through. I would save my money a little differently. But I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’ve lived the dream. I’m very grateful to the people who’ve supported me and the band through the years. I’m sorry for a few things that went wrong, and I lost my way there for a minute. But when you’ve lived the life I have, it’s not uncommon. 

    “I’ve been given a great gift, and I’m very, very grateful for it - probably more so now than I’ve ever been. Thank you for life. It’s like that movie, ‘Defending Your Life’, where you have to sit and watch all the rough spots. I hope God has a great sense of humor.”

    Catch the latest on all things TOTO here and read the Boomerocity review of TOTO XIV here.

  • Toto and Michael McDonald In Atlanta 2014

    Toto and Michael McDonald In Concert
    Show Date: August 22, 2014
    Venue: Fox Theater – Atlanta, Georgia

    Photo by Randy Patterson

    If you ever want to insure that you will have a night of total musical bliss, then you must jump on the opportunity to catch Toto and Michael McDonald in concert. The legendary artists are amazing as standalone concerts. But, to have BOTH on the same stage? Son, you’re in for a real treat that you’ll never forget.

    Toto took the stage first (they and McDonald alternate headlining on rotating nights) and blew the crowd away from the git go.  Lukather’s guitar work was flawless (as always) and reminded the sold out crowd of nearly 4,700 fans exactly why he is considered one of the best guitarists on the planet. Fluid, fast and phenomenal, the crowd showered him throughout the night with praises of “Luke” (sounding like they were booing but everyone knows better).

    Luke was joined by Toto’s original bassist, David Hungate, who walked the big strings steadily and flawlessly throughout the entire set. It’s great to see him with Toto again.  On keyboards were the always amazing David Paich and Steve Porcaro, who are as fun to watch as they are to listen to.  Joseph Williams’ vocal work was as strong as ever and it his notes with characteristic perfection. Replacing the departed Simon Phillips on drums was Shannon Forrest (playing on his birthday), who did an incredible job. Rounding out the vocals in superb fashion were the duo of Miss Jenny Douglas-Foote and Mabvuto Carpenter.

    Together, they delivered all the top Toto hits from over the years, bringing the crowd to their feet and singing loudly and dancing enthusiastically to each one.  The sound was great as was the venue. There’s nothing more ornate, beautiful and meticulously restored Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. If you’ve never seen it, I encourage you to take one of their tours or to catch a show – any show – there. It’s incredible!

    Two parts of the Toto set I want to highlight are: During the performance of “I’ll Be Over You”, Michael McDonald walked out on stage and joined Lukather on the vocals. That performance was worth the price of admission by itself. At the end of the Toto set, McDonald joined Toto again, this time for the Ice Bucket Challenge (see my rough video of it, below) to raise money for ALS. This horrid disease has hit pretty close to home to the band with their original bandmate, Mike Porcaro, currently battling it. This has led Toto to aggressively help raise money to help find a cure.

    After the Ice Bucket Challenge, a brief intermission ensued to allow for McDonald to change and the crew to get his band set up for what would wind being a jam-packed approximately forty-five minute set.

    And what a set it was!

    From his Doobie Brothers days to his solo work as well as some of the stuff McDonald wrote and co-wrote for others, the prolific songwriter had the crowd on their feet and singing along the entire time. And Michael’s band? Boy howdy!  Top-flippin’-notch, of course!  Bernie Chiaravalle (McDonald’s long time guitarist) was nothing short of incredible, playing masterfully throughout the set. Michael’s long-time producer, Tommy Sims, played smoothly on bass and performed the monster hit he wrote for Eric Clapton, “Save The World”. Pat Coil backed up on keys and synth, with Mark Douthit knocking it out of the park on the sax. Dan Needham kept things steady on drums and the lovely Drea Rhenee’ provided beautiful and soulful backup vocals.

    It wasn’t lost on me how gracious and edifying McDonald was while introducing each and every member of his group. Though clearly a legendary super star, he took the time to speak glowingly about each member of his band and how indebted he is to each of them.  This kindness and graciousness extended to a handful of lucky fans who managed to catch McDonald at the stage door and asked for autographs and to stand for photos. The man didn’t leave for his tour bus until each and every one was taken care of.
    Now THAT is class.

    The end of McDonald’s set was marked by most of the members of Toto joining him on stage for several tunes together. Especially cool was Steve Lukather playing a moving instrumental version of “Amazing Grace”.

    Yeah, really.

    Needless to say, I loved both acts and would gladly see either or both of them any time – and as many times – in the future as I’m able to.

    Yeah, they’re that darn good!

     

    Rough Video of the Ice Bucket Challenge In Atlanta - Video by Randy Patterson

  • TOTO XIV

         

    TOTO XIV
    TOTO
    Label: Frontiers Music
    Release Date: March 24, 2015
    Review Date: March 22, 2015

     It’s been nine long years since TOTO has been in the studio to record new material. The wait has ended with TOTO XIV and fans will know from the opening strains of “Running Out Of Time” that it has been well worth the wait.

    Well crafted lyrics. Intricate compositions. Amazing musicianship. Strong vocals. All of this and more make TOTO XIV an album that will command the attention of fans and naysayers, alike.

    The aforementioned “Running Out Of Time” sets the tone for this magnificent album. It grabs you by the throat (okay, ears) and doesn’t let go until the ending sounds of “Great Expectations.”

    Lukather’s guitar work is as amazing and inspiring as ever. Joseph Williams’ voice is as strong and commanding like it’s never been before.  David Paich? All you can say is “WOW!” when hearing his work. Original bassist, David Hungate, is back on bass (with some help from Tal Wilkenfeld, Lee Sklar and Tim Lefebvre). Keith Carlock (Steely Dan and Sting) is masterful on the drums as is Lenny Castro on percussion.

    Few ensembles in the history of recorded music have individually or collectively had a larger imprint on pop culture than the members of Toto. As individuals, the band members can be heard on an astonishing 5000 albums that together amass a sales history of a HALF A BILLION albums. Amongst these recordings, NARAS applauded the performances with more than 200 Grammy nominations.

    With over 38 years together and thousands of credits and accolades to their names, Toto remains one of the top selling tour and recording acts in the world. They are the benchmark by which many artists base their sound and production, and they continue to transcend the standards set by the entire music community, being simply synonymous with musical credibility.

    Paich recently shared, "The repertoire is coming together so naturally it is as though we never took a break from creating as Toto in the studio. For the fans who have been waiting patiently and continually showing the band support and love over the last decade or so, this one's for you”.

    The band is not afraid to take their chances and stretch their songwriting abilities. Certainly this is an amazing album which encompasses flawlessly Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Progressive. 

    In 2015, Toto will embark on a massive world tour where they will unveil some songs from their new album, share some deep tracks from past Toto albums, and perform all the hits their fans have come to love and expect.

    Deluxe edition comes in ecolbook format, including an expanded booklet featuring a 3,000 words essay with exclusive interviews, exclusive pictures and a bonus DVD including a documentary “Making of” the album.

    Box set edition includes deluxe edition cd/dvd, exclusive t-shirt (L size only), 2LP, poster and lithograph.

     

  • Transition

    transitioncoverTransition
    Steve Lukather
    Label: Mascot Label Group
    Released: January 22, 2013
    Reviewed: January 20, 2013

    Steve Lukather is a musician’s musician. In many an interview I’ve conducted, “Luke” is mentioned as being there at some point or another in many artists’ career. His mark has been left on work by artists from Ringo Starr to Michael Jackson and is over and above his memorable work with Toto and Los Lobotomys and seven solo albums.

    Well, until now. Transition marks Luke’s eighth strictly solo effort and what an incredible body of work it is! Since the release of his last solo album, All's Well That Ends Well, Luke has been enjoying current tenure in Ringo Starr's touring band, appearances across the globe in G3 with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and bringing Toto back to arenas overseas. The new album finds Lukather delivering that perfect balance of style, power, and imagination as he takes risks and challenges himself as he has for nearly four decades, as his career has gone from the studios of Los Angeles to the world’s biggest concert halls.

    Lukather shares, "I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, and now is a perfect time for me to take stock of that, which is part of what Transition is about." Over the previous decade, a series of trials including divorce, the death of his mother and business hassles had dampened his joy in music making — a passion that drove Lukather to excel since seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan as a seven-year-old growing up in San Fernando Valley. But today the guitar guru is happy, healthy and strongly reconnected to his muse, and the lushly expressive Transition, his second Mascot album, finds him at a creative pinnacle. Lukather offers, "I equate recordings to paintings and I wanted to make Transition a big, beautiful album with lots of fine details and shadings and colors. That’s what I do and what my favorite albums — Sgt. Pepper’s, Dark Side of the Moon, Electric Ladyland, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — are all about. So if it’s a sin to make massive sounding records with huge production values, then I’m going to Hell.”

    Transition’s heavenly sonic architecture — erected with the help of such A-list musical friends as Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, superstar bassists Lee Sklar, Nathan East, John Pierce, and Tal Wilkenfeld, live band members Steve Weingart, Renee Jones, and Eric Valentine, along with mega-drummers Gregg Bissonette, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tos Panos, and Lukather’s longtime keyboard foil and co-writer / co-producer C.J. Vanston — actually weaves a tale of redemption. Beginning with the snarling rhythmic heartbeat of the cutting Judgment Day and the evil kiss-off blues Creep Motel, the album builds to the pivotal title track. Lukather reveals, "Transition is a turning point for the album and a turning point for me. As we were writing the songs, I was thinking about everything I’ve seen — all the people I’ve lost in my life, the great and the difficult experiences I’ve had, and how ultimately it was time to get it together and embrace things for what they are, because we’ve only got one life to live and we’ve got to make the most of it.”

    Transition finds Lukather singing better than he ever has. He shares, "I’ve been working really hard on my vocals. For me, these days it’s all about the song and the performance. I’m not interested in being the fastest gun in the West. I want to make beautiful music that means something." Transition was recorded over a 10-month period during breaks in Lukather’s juggernaut 2012 touring schedule, which included dates with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, the reunited Toto, the guitar-riffic G3 tour with Satriani and Vai, and Ringo Starr.

    He reflects, "Honestly, playing with Ringo and Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and my high school friends in Toto helped make this the best year of my life. Getting the call from Ringo was a childhood fantasy realized. I play music because of the Beatles, and to be standing on stage playing a Beatles song while I look back at the drum kit and see Ringo… unbelievable! He’s such a wise, funny and gracious man.” Lukather has also worked with George Harrison and Paul McCartney — just part of a historic resume that began when he was in his teens, playing recording sessions in LA and learning about life on the road with Boz Scaggs after Scaggs’ landmark album Silk Degrees.

    A five-time Grammy Winner and member of the Musicians Hall of Fame, Lukather has worked with an A-list of fellow guitar giants: Eddie Van Halen, Robben Ford, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Joe Bonamassa among them. He’s also co-led Toto with fellow founder David Paich through every twist of the band’s platinum lined history while playing on albums by Michael Jackson, Warren Zevon, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, Miles Davis, Roger Waters, Cheap Trick and other rock and pop royalty. And he’s done all that while writing hits for the Tubes and George Benson, plus maintaining a parallel solo career of his own that began with his 1988 solo debut Lukather.

    Seven solo albums later, Lukather reflects: “I’d like to say this is the best album I’ve ever made, but that’s a cliché. But I do think I’ve realized my goal of moving forward, so let me say that Transition is possibly the best reflection of who I am in 2012.”

    Written by Randy Patterson
    All rights reserved.

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

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