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TOTO 2003

During the Night of the Proms tour in Antwerpen, we talked to TOTO about the tour with the classical orchestra and their future plans
You played the Night of the Proms in 1994 already. So what is the main difference this time compared to 1994?
David: Well, technically, the sound has improved about 1000%. How the Orchestra goes with all the microphones, the earphones and everything. The classic music is still classic but I think everyone is just getting better.

Mike: It's also increased quite a bit. We've got from like a 9 day show to 55 shows or however many there are, it's unbelievable. So obviously the popularity of the event has increased quite a bit.
Is the atmosphere still the same or has it changed a lot since then?
Luke: Well, we are playing with different artists this time, John Miles is an old dear friend, a major talent, and the INXS guys which are our new best friends now on the planet. We really love each and everyone of these guys, just like brothers. It's funny that we didn't know each other before. And then En Vogue which are wonderful girls... great staff of people in general. John's been great and we certainly wish Si a very speedy recovery.
Is there a difference in the audience, or have they always been so enthusiastic?
Luke: It's just amazing, it's packed every night, 23 nights in Belgium sold out with 15,500 people every night. And then we are two weeks in Rotterdam in the Ahoy - 14 shows.

Bobby: And no days off.

Luke: People are buying the tickets without even knowing who is on the bill. It's like a family tradition and they know it's gonna be good and it's fun for us to not to move round for such a long time. The touring aspect usually mellows the fun but not this time.

Mike: We've actually been able to unpack for the first time in 20 years!
Bobby, this is your first experience at Night of the Proms. You said that it's almost as exhausting to play these 30 minutes here than to play 2 hour shows on your regular tours.
Bobby: Well, actually, you have to hit the stage, you only have 4 or 5 songs to get your energy out. It's really more difficult to do that than to go the 2 hours. Of course you coudn't do the 2 hour shows every night, but jumping on stage and hitting it with all your energy you have for 5 songs... you have to prepare the same amount for that. So in these terms it is more difficult.
What's it like finally being able to be on tour and stay in one place? Is it, like Mike said yesterday, a luxury?
Luke: I am really digging it this time. We have these fantastic restaurants here with fantastic food, great shopping places here. I just got some clothes for maybe a third of the price I would have payed at home. My wife's here most of the time, our wives and girlfriends are coming and going etc. We just started to write some stuff for the new album and playing around with ideas. We brought our gear with us, guitars, keyboards, recording equipment and everything. We are getting into all that.
How did you decide on the set list for the Night of the Proms? Did the promoters ask you to play certain songs?
Luke: Yeah, 100%. They tell you what to play. Well, they are paying us, we listen.


Luke: Of course we will do that!

David: Mutual agreement on the set list.

Luke: Well, it's a hits-driven show. So the people are coming to see us but they know our music from the radio over all the years.

David: Believe it or not but even on this short set list it was a creative process as far as picking the songs and the little intro that they made for us which is a kind of an overture of a lot of songs.

Luke: Probably most of the people don't know that it's our music that is played before we are coming on the stage. It's not the familiar stuff, it's Dune, Carmen and Home of the brave, etc.

David: There are some hidden themes in there which I am still discovering myself every night.
How did you work on adapting the songs for the orchestra and the choir? Were you able to rehearse with them? Did you have to re-arrange any of the music?
Luke: They rehearsed without us.

Mike: Well, we stay pretty strict to the record so that the arrangements would be there for them to rehearse the songs.

David: We had some of the orchestra parts from back when we first played here and then for this time here, they added even more sections. So it's kind of a work in process.
Why didn't you rehearse with them?
Luke: Well, they are professional musicians, and they are very good and they have a great conductor, Robert Groslot. He's a really nice cat. We didn't really need to.
It's almost Christmas when the tour ends, and the New Year is right around the corner. Do you have any specific plans for next year?
Luke: Writing and recording. And we have a few gigs mixed in there to keep the wallet full.
So it will be another TOTO year?
Luke: Yes
Or do any of you have plans for any solo records?
Luke: Well, my Christmas record has just been released so... but now we are starting to write songs for the new album and everyone is inspired by the orchestral thing so that might have an influence on the new album. It's really too early to tell anything yet, we are playing around with little ideas.
Is there anything you could tell us about it? Do you already have a basic concept for the record?
Bobby: I think it's gonna be a concept album. We have to bring the songs together and then we will figure out where to go from there.

David: That's the best and most fun of the creative process, we don't even know ourselves. We know it will be an album on which we all do our personal best.

Luke: We are not gonna try to concentrate on 4 minute pop songs to get on the radio. We are gonna try to take the best of what everyone has always love about the band. Maybe make some longer pieces of music, a little more experimental maybe. But still with all the harmonies and percussion. And maybe some orchestra.

David: We are doing 30 minute pop songs on the new album.


Luke: The working title of the album will be "Stairway to hell". It's really to early to tell any details.

David: We don't even have Christmas yet.

Luke: And we are gonna take our time with it.

David: We are doing our albums for ourselves.

Luke: It might take a long period of time. We don't know yet. And we don't have any record company forcing us to release it at a certain time.
So you just started writing here. Will you continue next year when you are back home?
Luke: Oh it's gonna take a long time. We might have a couple of weeks of after this tour and then we will do some touring in places where we haven't been yet to get some money in our pocket and then we will be working on the album at home.

David: Our tours are to finance our hobby which is making records.


Bobby: Well, the only thing which is sure is that we are trying to go off the beaten path with this one.

Luke: Yes, we are trying to rise to our personal best with this record and show where TOTO is now.
So do you already have a personal time frame when you want to have it finished or start recording?
David: No we don't, that's the beauty and the freedom that we have right now not being tied to a record company.

Luke:It might take year or a year and a half before it comes out. I wouldn't surprise me if it took that long.

David: Maybe we are making an 8 year album.

Luke: It will not come out before we don't know that it will blow people's mind with it. We want them to put on the CD and think "wow - this is great stuff!". Right on. And the whole record has to be that cool. Recording wise, production wise, songwriting wise. Arrangements, Artwork, everything. Lyrics!

David: Technology makes it easier, you can do a lot more and much quicker than in the past. Normally it would take a four or five year process which people can do in 6 months now. Technically everyone has their own studio these days and this helps not being a slave to the record company when it comes to recording and studios etc.

Will Simon be producing and mixing this one as well?
Luke: Well, we will all produce it ourselves. All of us. But, Simon is great on these things.

Mike: It's been working out great for us with Si, it's really been working out very well.

Luke: That aspect is pretty solved. We will keep that under our control.

Mike: I mean we could always get the best engineers or producers out so we could always get back to that. But right now this seems to be working out for us.

Luke: There's not so many producers out there who could come in and blow our minds. I mean we have worked with all of them already. There's enough of us that have different opinions, throwing in ideas and everything so we don't need another guy telling us what do to. Usually we work with engineering producers.

Bobby: It would be a tough chair for everyone.

David: I think we will call Phil Spector for the next album.


© 2003