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After the show in Frankfurt on 25 June 1997 we talked to Luke about his new album, his current tour and his future plans.
When you decided to make this album, did you already know then what musical direction it was gonna take?
I knew that it was gonna be different. I didn't wanna make one of those shredder guitar records 'cause that would be pointless, there's guys that do a lot better. I knew I wanted to write songs about how I felt, now that I'm getting older. I hate to say that, but I am. I deal with it very well. Been through a lot of stuff... I wanted to write songs rather than just play guitar. [Playing] Live I can stretch out and play all this crazy stuff and it works better that way. I didn't want to make a Toto kind of record, I didn't want to make a Lobotomys kind of record cause that's different things. It was hard for me to go "Jeez, what am I gonna do", so I just sort of came up with the idea of letting my musical influences of my childhood come through on it and be a real guitar heavy record, no synths... I got my own studio now and I was able to just sit there and just experiment and try some things. I knew which band I wanted to use. I mean I wanted Gregg to play on the whole record, Bissonette, he's awesome. And my neighbour Phil is my friend, one of my best friends, we wanted to work together, he brought something very different to it. Some of my other buddies, John Pierce, my oldest childhood pal, and I pretty much played most of the stuff myself and kept it pretty simple.
So before you started to write the songs you already knew what you were gonna do, or did you write some songs and then came up with the idea of going back to the roots?
I just really wanted to write the stuff on an acoustic guitar, acoustic piano. I wrote some stuff at Eliott Scheiner's house, on vacation... Last summer I was on vacation and I had brought my acoustic guitar and just a little tape recorder and then I just kind of sent some stuff to different lyricists, friends of mine who know me. I had ideas for the stuff but to have guys help me finish it... cause lyrics are hard for me, lyrics are very hard to write, and the guys that know me... all the guys I wrote with are my friends, they know what I went through the last few years. I wanna write about life. Kind of reflecting on my whole life. It's about that.
All the childhood influences you grew up listening to...
Yeah, Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin...
Did the lyricists know about your idea to use this kind of music for your songs?
I write most of the music myself, Phil and I wrote a lot, the songs that we wrote together we wrote really pretty much together, the other things were like written by me musically and melodically and then I had lyrical ideas and they would send me back lyrics and I added the works. I just sent little cassettes with just acoustic guitar and "lalala" and hooks, this is what the song will be about. Due to computers and faxes and cassettes and stuff you can write songs with anybody around the world, it's pretty cool, it's not the old days where you got to sit in a room.

Likeike "Open your heart" was an old song that I wrote with Randy Goodrum. In my mind, and that's not what I wanted it to become, a kind of like a Peter Gabriel kind of a song. But then I turned it into a Tom Petty kind of a song. Just different. I had that song for my own for a couple of years. And then "Bluebird" was the Stephen Stills song. One of my favorite songs when I was a kid. I always recorded one song, childhood favorite, on every record that I've done. The rest of it was like written for the album in a fairly quick period of time.
You mentioned John Pierce before, he used to be in Rural Still Life with you...
Yeah, how do you know? He's one of my oldest friends, our parents were pregnant at the same time, we live in the same neighbourhood, so we've known each other since we were born, before we were born... we were fetuses together...
So you purposely brought him in on the album?
I brought all my friends in. Different guys than I would have textly picked to play like so-and-so, fabulous player from here, superstar names...
But had it something to do with the idea of going back to your early influences?
I guess, subconsciously, I didn't really think about it that much...
On "Tears of my own shame" you can hear an organ, but it's not listed in the liner notes...
It's not? They screwed up? That was Jim Cox.
We were already debating about who it was, you know, was it David or was it you...
You know David played "Open your heart"...

He played Wurlitzer on "Open your heart"... and he played organ on "Always be there for me". It says that I played it, which is like a crack up, David is like one of my greatest keyboard teachers, you know. But you know the liner notes get kind of screwed up at the end. Everything happens so fast... "Dave, I'm sorry, man! That is definitely you and it can only be you." He's my favorite organ player. "The cheque's in the mail, man, I promise".
Steve Lukather
You've done so many musical styles over the years, do you have any favorite style?
I love all kinds of music. And I'm so lucky to be able to do this, I'm a very lucky guy. I just love to go out and play in front of the audience and just play, and people show up, and I played mostly new material, so to get everybody's attention for that long, playing mostly new songs, and have them dig it, means a lot to me. So my heartfelt thanks to you guys for being patient with my new stuff.
How do you pick the songs you're playing live?
You know, it's a drag as I never really thought of myself as being like a solo artist, I never realize I have three albums with the stuff and basically I wanna play the new album cause we didn't have a lot of time to rehearse it. I think if we do another leg of the tour next year we'll be able to spend some time rehearsing, I'll be able to play three or four songs of each album. I never realized that people cared that much so... Everytime I think it's like my first album and then while I play an old song and the crowd knows all the words and they sing along... Wow! I never had any hit songs out of those records, so I guess it's people that actually really love the music that show up to the gigs anyway, so next time I promise I'll play some old songs.
I wondered why you didn't play certain songs from the album...
We didn't have time. I mean the guys that came on the road basically are the guys that played on the album, so we made it like "OK, we only got a couple of days" and then Brett had the hardest job of all because he had to learn all my overdub parts that I played and the vocals and he was doing Fleetwood Mac's album at the same time and we didn't have hardly any rehearsal at all. And I was really nervous and the guys... First gig in Helsinki we came out and we played and it was just kinda like "Thank the Lord".
We got some great reviews from fans in Scandinavia, people who were really enthusiastic about the show...
Well, we were nervous, cause we didn't know, new crew, new everything, I was like "What are we doing here?"... new gear... we went out and played, and played new songs and everyone responded so great, so it was just really a wonderful feeling. Made me feel "OK, we can do this", you know, it gave me the confidence back.
Steve Lukather
You have a new guitar model. What did you change and why?
It's the same guitar... I took off the Floyd Rose thing because it changes the sound of the guitar. I hated everything about this locking up thing, it was just horrible. They made me one that works great cause I use it a lot. I'm very influenced and inspired by my mentor, my hero Jeff Beck. I'm producing his new album and I've been sitting there next to him watching how he does all the stuff you know, getting guitar lessons again from the master. I figured out, well, he can do... we don't need all that crap and Dudley Gimpell at Music Man and Sterling Ball, they were trying to get me off from the crap for a while and I put the tone control back on, got EMG to make me some new pickups based upon the ones that I like, and I changed the color of it, made it a little simpler guitar, more accessable to people that don't wanna deal with all that stuff. But really it was made for me. If anyone wants to buy it that's great, it's a great honor, but it's really about what I wanted.
Is this non-locking system sort of a revolution?
No, Fender really started it, you know, it feels like a Fender but it's no tricks, I mean Dudley did a great job in design, Dudley and Sterling did a great job in design. I go out "This is what I want" and they came back to me with the stuff that I wanted like first time. It's an awesome company, I mean I really owe so much to them, they're just great. It's family, they're my friends, not just like business guys "Nice to meet you". These guys are like I keep in constant contact with, my brothers.
So they custom made everything you wanted...
Yeah, I mean, Jeez, it's so weird to have a guitar that says LUKE on it, like when I'm dead and gone it's gonna be there, you know. And now the old ones will be like, you now, retired and put away, they'll be like sort of vintage...
Is there any reason why you change your guitar after almost every song? Are they differently tuned?
They have different tunings and stuff, that's why. They are all the same color and we're joking around [with] my guitar tech Ric Britton, and going "Bring me the blue one", like they're all the same... some were tuned down, some have drop D, some have drop C... I don't like to tune, I hate tuning... I do, but...
Do you still have your old guitars? I remember this one from 1990 with those pictures on the guitar, those skeletons...
I have all that stuff!
I really loved this one...
I have all my old guitars, all my Les Pauls... they're worth so much, you know, like I couldn't take them on the road for fear of having them stolen, like some of my old Les Pauls and stuff, like you could buy a house with this stuff. I thought it was expensive when I bought them but it's gone a hundred times more, so I just keep it. I use some of the stuff on my new record along with the Music Man stuff and some old Fender stuff... different sounds mixed together.
You're just doing a small club tour now...
It's a promo tour for the new album...
But you're gonna return in January?
I hope so, late January or early February, I hope so, I hope it all works out.
And this will be a "real" tour, you know, no promotion stuff?
This was in lieu of doing a video that no one would ever see. I take the same amount of money that it would take to do a video and then I said like the only way to get people's attention is to do anything, I'm a musician, I play. I'm not making any money on this tour, I'm losing it. But I'm gaining it on the other end of it, I'm investing in a career later on down the line. I have Toto... Toto's been very good to me and we got a lot of plans ahead with the band. Lot of cool things happening with the band, we're gonna do some old stuff, some new stuff, but I mean I write songs all the time, I love to tour. Some of the other guys don't love to tour as much as I do, I love to get out and play, I love to make records, I got my own place to do, man, so I do it. But I make time for everything, cause I mean, I'm very fortunate enough to have that opportunity.
Steve Lukather
So do you already know what you're gonna do after this album?    
I gotta finish Jeff Beck's album. I'm producing Jeff Beck's album which is one of the greatest honors in my whole life, he's my hero, my mentor, my teacher, my friend. And we've already started work on that, got about ten things cut, we'll cut about 5 more, I'm gonna finish it in London, we're gonna work at Dave Gilmour's studio who's also another of my heroes, so I'm just sitting there and go like "I can't believe this is happening"... like one of the greatest guitar players that influenced me in my whole life. And it's a great responsibility, so I'm really thinking about that as well as all the other things I have. I'm very fortunate to have all these outlets for all my musical dreams.
So how was working with Jeff Beck? Do you just produce him or also play on his album?
I've written some things. He doesn't need me to play guitar on his record. Nobody needs a second guitar player for Jeff. I played a couple of little teeny rhythm parts and stuff like that, but I keep trying to get into overdubbing, you know, he doesn't need me. I'm just there as sort of a fearless leader, you know, I keep everything honest and try to keep him away from some of the things he's done in the past, trying to make it a little different, more guitar heavy, less synths heavy. But, you know, we're still open to the concept of working with Jan Hammer and working with Tony Hymas, at least as writers and stuff... I wrote my stuff with them and I'll really write some more stuff... hopefully David Gilmour will write some stuff with us. So we're sitting in a room with Jeff Beck and Dave Gilmour "OK let's write a song" and then I woke up... It's a dream...
It might come true...
Maybe, it's getting closer to it...
Is it true that you're going to produce the next Def Leppard album?
You know... Well... We can talk about it...
If you don't wanna talk about it...
No, it's OK... Rick Allen is like an old, old friend of mine, he used to be my next door neighbour. Him and Phil came down and saw the studio and we talked about working together. My schedule's such, their schedule's such. We talked about actually doing something together, whether that happens or not I have no idea. At this point it's sort of like up in the air. But I love those guys and they're friends and I'm a big fan of theirs... and maybe down the line... that would be great, but right now there's no definite plans.
Do you have any other producing projects waiting?
Yeah... There's all kinds of all stuff, but I hesitate to say anything right now, cause...
So you can't talk about it but you have plans?
Yes, there's a lot of offers right now...
So you're gonna stick with producing, not just being an artist?
I like to be a producer, I mean I like to help people get songs together and arrange and make it happen for them without me being musically influencing them with my stuff. I like to hire other players, other guitar players. I don't know, man, so much is happening right now. I'm trying to take it all and do more...
You recorded the album in your own studio, the Steakhouse. Are you going to record the next Toto or Lobotomys album there too?
The Toto album will be probably recorded somewhere else, cause we need to be in a neutral area. Not Dave's studio, not my studio. You know, we need to be somewhere where it's not my place, not David's. It's not an ego thing, it's just... it's a matter of comfort, everybody feeling comfortable and not threatened. Nobody's making money off the other guys and stuff, you know.
But you have other artists recording in your studio?
Yeah, I got a band called the "Gizz Rivets" which are a very heavy like "Rage against the Machine" kind of band. But with a guy that sings more than screams. I love "Rage against the Machine", don't get me wrong here, they're one of my favorite bands, but... got that and I got some R&B things happening... I hesitate to say anything about that now, cause things are in the works.
Parts of Joe William's album were recorded in your studio...
No, just... I did a solo for him.
So you just recorded your solo in your studio?
Yeah, that's all, he brought a tape recorder. It took me five minutes to do it and it was done. It was over and done so fast. Just a guitar solo, "See you later", "Thank you very much", you know. Joe's a great guy, I like Joe, man, I'm friends with Joe, I don't see him that much, but... Then I got the record and I saw like everybody that's ever been in Toto playing on that record, and I was like "Ah... OK... Well", I guess that's why he wanted me to play on the record.
You're playing so many concerts yourself, are you going to concerts sometimes?
Not a lot. Most of the times when I go home I don't wanna hear music at all. I wanna hear the wind, sit by the pool, hear my kids laughing... just get away from music... But I love music. My kids turn me on to music, they hear all the new music, so...
So your kids are playing themselves?    
Yeah... my son plays drums, he's great. He's really got a natural feeling, he used to work on chops, but, you know. My daughter plays piano and bass, sings her ass off... Everything I show her she plays back to me. And I don't teach her the simple chords, I teach her weird ones. And so she feels it naturally. I mean, it's pretty cool. I'm not trying to force it on them, if it feels good to them, great, but... I mean this is what I know... I don't know math, I can't do math, I'm sorry about that but... I can do music with them... They have my sense of humour which is very scary!
Steve Lukather
Thanks to:
Mary Oxborrow, Ines + Gerhard Seitz and Michael Riesenbeck for suggesting questions
© www.toto99.com 1997