TOTO - Official Website - Questions and Answers

Mike Porcaro

If you have any question regarding Mike, please read this page first to check if the answer is already printed here before writing in. The Q&A will be updated time after time.
bassman: I was wonderin' what are your influences as a bass player and who taught you to play bass?
Mike: Oh my goodness, I have a lot of influences. Mostly jazz influences because I grew up surrounded by jazz music when I was young. But every good bassline I hear is an influence on me. So I won't pick out specifics but Gerald Jemats, Chuck Rainey, James Jamerson were heavy influences on me.

I took string bass lessons starting at about fourteen or fifteen years old. I think I took about seven or eight basses with a bass player in town called Morty Corb who worked with Dave's dad and my dad. He was a local guy that was in the neighborhood so it was really convenient for me, I left my bass over there...
bassman: I'm also curious about what kind of music do you listen when you're not touring with Toto.
Mike: Everything. The house is filled with music now. In fact, it's unbelievable, most of it is Toto music, my children have discovered the band and they're crazy for all the old albums. I gotta leave the house to kind of get away from it. I listen to classical, a lot of jazz, I always have, I still keep the same listening habits and driving around I keep up with what's on the radio.
Tina: I've noticed on backstage meetings that you use your left hand for writing. But you play the bass right-handed. Have you ever played it with your left hand (like Paul McCartney for instance)?
Mike: No, I haven't. I probably should, I'd probably be a fairly decent bass player. I'm working against my brain here. Jeff and I, we were playing drums as young kids, of course that's what was in the house. We both decided at the advent of the Beatles to take up guitar one summer. One of the guys my Dad worked with used to come to the house to give us lessons and he played right-handed. I had never picked up a guitar before my first lesson so I naturally picked it up left-handed but since he taught right-handed he just thought it would be best if I just learned that way. And since I hadn't developed any habits one way or the other, I mean I learned from scratch, so that's why. My teacher was right-handed and so I learned right-handed.
Ronald: What was the best bass you ever had? You switched a couple of times.
Mike: I think my favorite bass is F-Bass. It's out of Ontario, Canada. Makes custom guitars and basses, I think his basses are my favorites. I don't bring them out because I don't like to risk anything but I use them on most of our records.
=========== End of last update January 13th, 2004 ==============
Scarp: What did you think of John Entwistle and his Bass Playing? Were you a Fan of his growing up?
Mike: I must confess that although I listened to the Who's albums and appreciated them for one of the greatest bands of the era, I never really tuned in to Entwistle's style. I was enamored with the Detroit sound, and spent most of my time listening to that. I do realize that John had great technique and a unique style that has influenced many players and brought delight to millions of listeners.
=========== End of last update August 27th, 2003 ==============
The Crow: I was wondering which bass guitar(s) you are using on the current 25th anniversary tour.
Mike: I'm using a Peavey Cirrus 5 String Bass Guitars. I've been using them for about 4 or 5 years now. It's a lighter instrument, with a great sound. It's really because it's so light that I switched to it because I recently started to have shoulder problems. It's got a great sound and I'm very happy with it.
Elias the Cellorocker: Do you still play cello? If so, how much? And do you have an electric cello? In what age did you started playing cello? What were your most favourite tunes or memories of cello playing? Did you study professional cello playing before joining Toto?
Mike: Man, I never played the cello. My brother Steve used to take cello lessons back when we were in grade school, so we always had this cello lying around which ended up at Dave's studio during the Toto IV days. I doubled some 8th notes that Luke was playing. Having played the string base, I had some bow technique with a French bow. I just applied that knowledge to the cello, found the notes, and just hung onto them to dub the parts. It's all the magic of recording.
Totus: It's almost a year ago when I was in Koblenz at the Jeffrey Tribute. It was a great happening to me and a friend of mine. Till now we mentioned that weekend a lot and it's still fresh in our memory. It was very touchy and the music that evening was more than great.
I've heard that this concert was recorded, is it possible that there will be an album of this live concert?
Mike: I don't think there will be. It was one or two shows. It was pretty loose, and I know there was some tape rolled on it. I'm shortly going to talk to the person in possession of those tapes. I haven't listened to any of the recordings. I'll sit down with Dave Garfield this summer and listen to them, and if we think there's anything worth while, I know that enough people have been asking about it. However, I really don't think we've got what it would take to put an album together.
DanielSwe: Due to personal issues, I quit playing bass in 1998 after 15 years of playing. I was badly depressed for some years, reasons to hard to mention. The only music I endured listen to was Toto. I played "Pamela" and "Stop loving you"on my blaster over and over again. Your playing had a profound impact on me and the year 2000 I picked up the bass again, getting the joy in music back again. The recovery as a human being came from many sources but your playing did work miracles to me as a bass player. Thank you Mike.

The track "How Many Times" off the "Kingdom Of Desire" cd is a personal favourite. The riff is fat and the lyrics make me wonder if they are written from any personal experience. Was the bass played with a pick? The bass sound is mighty!
Mike: Thanks for the kind words. No I didn't play that track with a pick. That was with my fingers. I did do some pick on that record though.
Toto4evr: Is there any chance of you writing more or at least co-writing more on the next toto "new" cd late this year??
Mike: I plan to write the entire new album. Hah! No, you know, it depends. Some records we make from scratch. Some we made from guys who bring in tunes demoed up, and then we go to work. It's really amongst us how we get this next one going.
Toto4evr: I know ur probably sick of being asked about it since 1994 i luv joe williams and ur brothers n u had a very unique chemistry with him (as well as luke n dave) I'm really wondering if the "porcaro bros. cd is still going to happen and is joe still going to be on it??
Mike: No. It's something out there to be done, but I'm not a song writer. I'm a street bass player. Steve writes tunes; he's got a ton of tunes. If the Porcaro Brothers gives it enough "umph" to do something with him, but between what we're doing and Steve always working on a project, we just haven't had time to hook up and finish it. I know I've been talking about it. For now, it's a work in progress. I'd love to do it, and I think it could be a great album for Steve's stuff.
Bassman: There's a Peavey Cirrus 6 Strings in your Equipment's List at Do you use it sometimes? Maybe for some studio recordings?
Mike: I never use it at all, actually. Every once in a while just to play with it at home. I've never had a six string fretted or otherwise until they threw it at me. It's a beautiful instrument, but it's exactly like my 5 String only with the 6th String. I don't think I'm the kind of player that necessarily needs a 6th string. It's too wide for my size hands.
Bassman: Did you record a little part of the song "Better World" (before the guitar solo) with a fretless bass?
Mike: Yes, one section was overdubbed in fret.
Bassman: I've heard that one of the reasons you weren't TOTO's original bass player is you thought the guys were crazy to give up their studio careers. If this is true I for one am glad you changed your mind! If it's not true, what's the real story?
Mike: I don't know where that came from. I never said such a thing. David Hungate was always the logical choice. Jeff, David, and Hungate always had that click - that rhythm section going and made a ton of great records and made a name for themselves. That was Hungate's gig. At the time, I had a great studio career going, I was doing TV shows, so to me it wasn't illogical and it didn't affect me in anyway
David: If Mike hadn't been a year behind us in high school, he would have come with us and been the original bass player with Sonny and Cher.
=========== End of last update April 30th, 2003 ==============