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David Paich

Finally, here it is! The long-awaited interview with David Paich whom we met during the first European leg of TOTO's 25th anniversary world tour.
Your new tour has started, and a new album has just been released. What expectations do you have for the upcoming months, and what do you expect for the US release?
What's happened so far has really surpassed my expectations. We're pleasantly surprised. We have loyal fans out there, we have a large fanbase, also because of our website. We know they stick with us. And they go with us. So we're allowed to take some risks every once in a while and challenge ourselves. We don't always have to come up with the smash single or the smash album. We just wanna make good music for our fans. So far the rest of the world is going good so we hope that inspires the United States to promote the album cause that's what makes the difference, when people promote us it sells, when they don't it doesn't. We're having fun playing a live show here. We put 4 or 5 songs of the new album in there, usually we play like 1 or 2 of the new album. But these are standards, classic songs. But a lot of people don't know the stuff. When we finished the album we played it for some people and they listened to "Bodhisattva" and some of these songs and they never heard of them so they were like "Wow, that's a different kind of song." This isn't a cover album to everybody. It's really not. In "Through the Looking Glass" we're taking a look back to our beginnings, kind of full circle. These are the people that we've met and worked with and influenced us.
Do you have plans for US tourdates in 2003?
We're talking about doing some things this summer. Everything's a surprise right now. We finish Europe in February and nothing's really booked yet. There's some talk about touring this summer and doing some stuff.
It depends on the success of this tour and the album?
Yes, and it takes time and who you play with in combination. Maybe opening for a bigger act. You know Pink is huge in the United States but she opened for Lenny Kravitz. Which was a good bill, they both benefited from each other. So that's what we need to try to do. Instead of trying to headline in the United States trying to get on a bill with somebody.
If you look back on these 25 years, how would you compare the band from 1977 to 2002. Besides of the fact that you are older now and you guys have families...
Well, the personnel changes are significant; a lot of bands change personnel, look at Genesis with Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. It's a different band, when you change a band it's always a different band. It was already a different band when we did Isolation. You change one person, you change the lead singer, you change any component of the original chemistry, and you really got a brand new band. Like Led Zeppelin when the drummer was gone, how can you fill that place? It's hard to do. Same thing with Jeff Porcaro and David Hungate; that was the original band and that was the significant sound. So Mike came in, with whom we played a lot. What we should have done on the Isolation album was have Bobby sing it. I think it would have been a better album with Bobby singing it; I think we wouldn't have done such a left turn.
There were rumors that Bobby actually sang that record...
He sang about a third of the record. And then there was a change.
There are always fans asking if you had plans to re-release Isolation with Bobby singing it...
We may go back in there and put his voice on the album but he hadn't sung all the songs. But we may do that because I would love to hear how this album would sound with him. It would be a totally different album, it would be closer to a TOTO thing. We should have changed the name of the band on Isolation because it's so much different. But we take risks; that's what TOTO want to do. Maybe we could release an EP with Bobby's tracks.
Is there a special reason why you very rarely have Isolation songs in the setlist for the tours?
First of all it's a different singer and secondly that album didn't sell a whole lot. And the fact that we had't heard it in a long time, we just listened to it the other day and I think it's one of our best albums. But we thought the fans didn't like it.
Oh no, Isolation is one of the favorite albums among the fans...
Really? Knowing that now, we'll stick more from Isolation in the set. We stuck Lion in there this time, but we didn't have time for more. In the future, we will put more Isolation stuff in there.
A lot of fans wish that you would do as much lead vocals on the TOTO albums as you did in the early days of TOTO. Is there a special reason why this has changed, do you consider yourself nowadays more as a keyboarder than a singer in the band?
I guess it's just myself when I cast people. I always like to hear other people sing. I have a certain kind of voice within a certain range for certain songs like "Africa", like "Spanish Steps of Rome" and stuff like that. To me I always wanted the majority of the albums to be like with Bobby and Luke. Balanced out. You know I may start singing more but I have to find the right songs for me to do. To me Luke and Bobby are the real singers and every once in a while if I come up with one or two things I'm satisfied. I may put out a solo album of my stuff that's more like "Spanish Steps of Rome." Strictly my stuff right there. You never know. I thought about it.
That would be a great idea because a lot of fans request that you sing more...
That's good to know. That inspires me and motivates me!
Do you have any specific plans for a solo record?
I always said I consider TOTO my solo records. It's pretty much what Mutt Lange does with Def Leppard and all the groups he works with. That's his solo records. He's just not singing on them, he writes them and plays all the parts. The songs I write the band always thought they don't really fit in, like "Stranger in town" and "Africa". "Africa" could have been the beginning of a solo project because it was so different and I thought I'd save it for a solo record because it really doesn't sound like TOTO. World Music wasn't around then. "Spanish Steps of Rome," when I first sang that down low, people were looking at me like I was crazy. I'm a big fan of Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. I like his lyrics, I like that kind of singing. When I started singing down low I was inspired to write that song, I wrote the lyrics in one night. Very different approach for me but I really like it. I was in Rome, I wrote the lyrics in one night, and I put the music to it and it just came out like that. And it's one of my favorite songs that I've ever done. When the guys listened to that they said "Why don't you sing up higher, why do you sing so low?" I had a lot of different influences, I was in Neil Diamond's band. I like Neil Diamond, Leonard Cohen, Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan.
A lof of fans especially like "Spanish Steps of Rome," so your songs are very popular, the more obscure stuff that is not so typical...
I like to do something that really has a meaning. We're trying to work hard on that to always put out music that has meaning.
So you're trying to put these songs into TOTO as your special input.
Yeah, I think that's one way of looking at it.
In the late 70īs and early 80īs the majority of the songs have been written by you. Later, the other band members started writing more.... Was this done on purpose, or did it just happen?
No, we always planned that from the beginning. Beatles and Fleetwood Mac were my kind of blueprints for that. Just to have two or three singers and everybody writes in all combinations. I don't care who it is. I get tired if I hear one person and they write all that stuff. So I encouraged people to write. Bobby wrote, Steve Porcaro wrote a little bit, and I encouraged all of them to write so you didn't always just get my perspective of the sound. Cause what we hear with TOTO is a combination of writers and it makes things more interesting.
Did the song writing process change over the years?
It's always been done multiple ways. There are really no set rules. Sometimes I'm in the shower and I hear a piece of a song and Luke finishes it. Or Jeff Porcaro finished the lyrics. Or sometimes, like with "Jake to the Bone," we're all in a room and we write that together as band song. Sometimes I have a whole finished song and I bring it in or Lukather has a whole finished song. Or sometimes two or three of the guys work on a song like "Dave's Gone Skiing," I wasn't there and I came back, so there's really no rule when it comes to combinations.
Last year you produced the last Boz Scaggs album "Dig." How was working with Boz Scaggs on this record again?
That was great, one of the best experiences that I've ever had. After all this time, we wanted actually do it again. It's hard because corporate people think we make a product like McDonalds Hamburgers or Kellogg's Cornflakes. They wanted us to put another "Silk Degrees" album out. And you can't really do that. Boz went into a different direction and I formed TOTO. After all the time evolved we wanted to get back together and it was really fun working with him because we had no rules whatsoever. With Boz Scaggs and Danny Kortchmar we played all instruments, I played bass on the whole album, except for "Just Go" which Nathan East played bass on. I played most of the keyboards, Kortchmar did most of the drum things. We're not into the musician's kind of thing like you have to have real musicians on it. The fact that we're playing the stuff makes it real musicians. So it was very fun. Boz outdid himself with the lyrics. He really spent a lot of time on the lyrics. We did it on Pro-Tools and worked with Steve MacMillan and John Jessel on this record and Elliot Scheiner. I just can't say enough how fun it was. I learned a lot working on the album working with Danny Kortchmar. It was just three people working on this album, myself, Boz and Danny Kortchmar, making the whole album. We became a small band of ourselves creating the whole album. So we're very proud of that. I really love the album.
But it was not like going back to the Seventies but creating something new...
Well we started out like that, I grabbed some of Boz' stuff, you gotta hear the original versions of this stuff, it doesn't sound anything like this, like "Desire" sounded totally different. I was thinking, if I would do "Silk Degrees" right now, what would I do? And so "Desire" is a case of that. All the songs we hear have an urban sound. We kind of updated a lot of the tracks. That's what I added to Boz Scaggs's "Silk Degrees". He was very Texas pop/blues, and I came in and we added the urban thing to it.
So it was kind of modernizing all that...
Yeah, taking out the old school and make it like "what would the record sound now." We tried to keep it current, keep it musical.
So would you like to work more as a producer for other people in the future, or was it just a single project for a friend?
Yeah, it was kind of a special thing for him, but if I found the right project, the right person, I'd like doing it. Producing albums is hard because you have to have a love of labour. Unless you have a situation like Glenn Ballard. When Glenn Ballard was with Dave Matthews, they wrote the album in 6 weeks because they were both writers and they're very fast, and they sat another month or two and recorded the entire album. If you can find someone like that, a real other artist that you're working with... Sometimes when you produce the producer becomes the artists a nd has to do everything. The artist hardly does anything. The artist comes in and sings on it. That's about it. But producing is fun when I get to deal with someone else like Danny Kortchmar.
Do you have any real plans to do it again or are you just waiting for the right project to come?
Whatever happens. Boz and I were talking about doing some more stuff. I'm mainly getting ready to do some film scoring.
Like Steve Porcaro?
Yeah, like Steve Porcaro but more on a level like Randy Newman, writing songs. I may start by writing songs for some movies and then use that as a gateway to scoring for movies. I've been doing projects without putting my name on them. When Steve and I get hired it's something that's called "ghost" for someone. We do the work and some else gets the credit. I just did "XXX" with Steve, we did the last 20 minutes of the movie. We wrote the music. All the music you hear there is me and Steve. It says Randy Edelman, but we did most of the music.
So did you ever consider doing another project like this again with the whole band scoring a movie, like with "Dune?"
Yeah, but that was mainly me with Dune, when we did it, I ended up doing most of the work. But we were hired as "TOTO" to do the thing. But I would consider doing something like that again if it's the right project.
So it was a good experience...
It was good, though very unusual working with David Lynch. He is different. I don't think it could get any tougher than that.
But it's very interesting listening to that music and a lot of fans request songs like "Desert Theme" or "Take My Hand" and they would like to hear that in concert...
You might hear a little bit of Dune in the show. That's what we were trying to do on this tour, add those little quirky things.
So you have some new equipment on tour this year.
Yeah, I'm very happy. You get attached to a keyboard rig and I was doing fine and I was using a lot of the same piano stuff for the last ten years. But technology has changed a whole lot in the last ten years. With synthesizers I was afraid to jump to the next level but Korg has set new standards with the Triton. I did 90% of Boz Scagg's record with the Triton. And Yamaha came up with a thing called Motif 8, which is the new self-contained synthesizer. And that's all I'm using. I have the Motif 8 and the Triton. It has all the Hammond, string sounds, and everything you can think of can be played with these two synthesizers. That's really very cool. The sounds are great and the touch is great.
There was a lot of talk about the so called "box-set" some years ago. Whatīs the "status" of this project, is this "on hold," do you have this still in mind?
That's a documentary work in progress. The first of the box set that didn't go into the box set was TOTO XX. That's what you have to do when you do a TOTO box set, we have to go back to our archives and we have thousands of tapes. And you have to pull them out and bake them. For each one you have to listen to them and transfer them and listen to the parts. So we're going through all of our tapes, and listening to find what little parts and jams we did, what we could put on a feature record. And also I don't only want to make an audio thing, I wanna make it special, I want to have a DVD in there, a combination of documentary and records in there. We haven't shot a lot of live footage and we did that intentionally to keep us off TV so people have to come to our concerts to see us. It takes a lot of time doing it the way we want to do it because we want to do it, we don't want to turn it over to somebody. So the fans have to be very patient with us.
Do you have detailed plans for a new album with original material after this tour?
It's the next obvious move! There're no plans. However with Toto, everything is a surprise. We may do part 2 of this record here and then hang on to it and then write an original album. We don't know until we get in there.

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