TOTO - Official Website - TOTO Speaks

Phil Soussan
On January 29, 2006, musician/producer Phil Soussan, who assisted in the engineering and mixing of Falling In Between, joined us for a live interview event to discuss his experience with Toto in the studio, his first solo release, "Vibrate," and his plans for the future.
 
Moderator
Hello everyone, and welcome to Toto99.com! Today we welcome musician/producer Phil Soussan for our 4th Official Live Event. Please submit all of your questions to the queue, and we will get to them if we can! Please do not submit your questions more than once! Thanks for appearing Phil!
 
Phil_Soussan
Thanks for having me.
 
Moderator
Can you tell us how you got to know the guys in Toto and Steve Lukather in particular?
 
Phil_Soussan
I met Steve in a night club in Tokyo called "The Lexington Queen." It's a place where all non-japanese people go in Tokyo. It's a central place to do a show in Tokyo and you can meet a whole bunch of people you haven't seen in years. It was in '85 or '86 I think. We completely hit it off, and I was a big fan of his. I was playing with Ozzy, and he was a big fan of the band. It started off a friendship with resulted in us being very close friends 20 years later.
 
Moderator
And what about the rest of the members of Toto?
 
Phil_Soussan
I met the other guys through Luke as well. Simon of course was not in Toto at that time, so I did have the pleasure of meeting Jeff a few times, although I never really got to know him that well.
 
Moderator
What exactly was your "job" on Falling In Between? Can you describe what you did, what sort of process was involved, etc?
 
Phil_Soussan
Actually it was a lot less than I wanted it to be! Originally, last August I went into the studio with the whole band and cut a track for them for a Japanese project. I technically produced it, but Toto... they produce themselves. You cannot produce a band like Toto. These are outstanding musicians. So, I basically recorded, engineered, and then mixed this track. Definitely with some help from Simon. Simon was of course very active in the studio, and we had a lot of fun together. The name of the track was a japanese track for a japanese band. We recorded and mixed it, and we took it into my studio and mixed it, and it turned out very well. Simon said they were getting ready to record their own new album, and asked me if I would be willing to help out. We then went into Simon's new studio - Phantom Recordings -- and I also helped him set up that studio as well. They were originally going to start writing in that Studio. As is often the case however, the actual writing process started to "become" the album.
 
Phil_Soussan
This is how the business has changed. It used to be we'd writing a song, do a demo, and then record. Nowadays, as you're writing, the demo tends to become the finished product! So gradually, they were working, it was going down. Simon was going to be out of town for a few days, so I went in and helped out with some overdubs while he wasn't there. This was for a bunch of songs, Hooked, one of the ballads, some background vocals, and things like this. Bits and pieces throughout the whole record. I cut some guitar solos with Steve, some crazy parts of Falling In Between. It was a ton of fun. But like I said, not as much as I wanted! I would have loved to have worked more on it. It's a very extensive album that they recorded. It would be unfair of me to say that I played a huge part of it. I just came in and helped out, I didn't engineer the entire record or anything.
 
Moderator
You've been "in the music biz" for years, yet you've only just now released your first solo album. Why the long wait?
 
Phil_Soussan
I've been working on everyone else's thing! I've always been working. I've been working on other people's careers, unfortunately. I was touring with John Waite and recently with Richie Kotzen. You know, last year as well, I proced 3 EPs as well for Trevor Lukather. So when you're working on these things, you're always working, writing, recording, playing, or touring, and your own stuff gets pushed off -- your creativity comes out in other projects. It was actually everyone around me -- the Steve's and the Simons -- who were encouraging me to do a record, and they really motivated me to come to that decision. Steve Lukather particularly. He's always been very very supportive of what I do.
 
Moderator
Do you have any plans to tour or play shows to promote your new album?
 
Phil_Soussan
Yes, I think so. There's only so much that I can do to get the word out through the press, media, and through the internet. Ultimately, I feel that the reason the traditional record industry has shot itself -- failed -- is because they overlooked the importance of live shows. What it comes down to is live entertainment. A record is supposed to give everyone something to take home -- allow them to take the experience home with them. The live aspect is very, very important. What I will do is start working on a way to do live shows and gigs as well. That's really what I need to do. But this probably won't happen until the summer.
 
Moderator
Your album really sounds great, and it's getting some very positive feedback. Are you planning on doing a second solo album at anytime? Do you even have any songs "in the can" for it that didn't make Vibrate?
 
Phil_Soussan
Thank you! I started in February of last year. I produced, engineered, and mixed -- everything on this record! One of the problems is I became a bit too close to the project and had trouble being objective about it. So the positive feedback is extremely encouraging! I'm very proud of what I've done. Of course, absolutely, I will try to do an album every 12 to 18 months. Vibrate was picked from about 20 songs. Actually, 8 or 9 songs were picked from those 20, and then I wrote 2 more at the 11th hour. I really don't think that I'm going to revisit the songs that didn't make it to Vibrate. I prefer to keep it fresh. I got so excited at the end of the record, that I wrote "Human Race" and "Elderberry Trees", and those were the last two songs that I wrote going into the recording process.
 
Moderator
You have a lot of production credits to your name, in addition to being an excellent musician. Which do you prefer -- the production or the musician-aspect of everything you do, and why?
 
Phil_Soussan
Well, I call it being on both sides of the glass. It's kind of a balance between these two things. You have to remember that both aspects are essential in the creative process, and I don't usually break it up as two separate jobs. It's two aspects of one job. I honestly don't prefer one over the other.
 
Moderator
What plans do you have for the future?
 
Phil_Soussan
Right now I'm just trying to do everything I can to promote Vibrate in terms of Press and getting the word out -- letting people know about the record. Many people know some of the work I've been involved with -- some very high profile projects! --, but few people know what I'm currently doing, and I've got to let everyone know what I'm doing. TD>Phil_Soussan So those are the plans for the moment. Then hopefully some touring plans for the summer -- very small scale of course, unless something really explodes. And I'm probably going to start wiring very soon again for the second album! It takes quite a while to write songs, especially when you're doing it as your own rather than a band. You have to start thinking of a theme, and a total concept all on your own.
 
Moderator
Okay, we'll open it up to all of YOUR questions now!
 
MARK_w
Who would be your dream band/artist to produce or work with?
 
Phil_Soussan
Wow! I have no idea! Tough question. I've worked with a lot of super-talented people. I LOVE working with the guys in Toto, above and beyond almost anyone. On any level -- working with Steve, Simon -- just GREAT people to be around. Super nice, super talented. People I'd like to work with.... Peter Gabriel. Robbie Robertson. \There are literally a ton of people. Seal. And I had an opportunity to do some work with him last year. I'd love to go out and play live with Seal.
 
Fred
Where do you draw your ideas for writing?
 
Phil_Soussan
I draw them from my own experiences. Things that happen in your life and you think about them. You think them through, and in my life, it's almost like a form of therapy! By the time you've written a song, you've pretty well thought it through. So the songs are really like sentiments.
 
MARK_w
Are there any pieces of work you have done for another artist that you are so proud of,so that all of a sudden you say to yourself "I should have saved that for my solo project?
 
Phil_Soussan
Yes, but I don't want to sound arrogant when I answer this question!
 
Dave's_Surfing
Phil, which piece of work are you most proud of: the LUKE album or producing the new Toto record?
 
Phil_Soussan
Well, I didn't produce the new Toto record! I only did a little engineering a bit. I wouldn't want it to get out of context. As far as the LUKE record.... It's a great record. That's the most fun I've had working on an album. It was an absolute highlight in my career. But I didn't produce that either by the way!
 
Stephan
Luke's album "Luke" is one of my all time favourites. Can you tell us something about the recording of this album? How have you been involved in this, which song on that album is most close to your music?
 
Phil_Soussan
The album was recorded very quickly and intuitively. I think I wrote on 5 songs on that record. My favorite on there is either Love the Things You Hate and Broken Machine. The songs that I wrote with Steve, we wrote very fast. When Steve and I write, we usually get together for 30 to 40 minutes. We just have a chemistry that is unbelievable. We always come up with something. It's really remarkable. Once the song is written, the work goes into the development. There was a lot of work to be done on Lyrics. After You've Gone -- on Mindfields -- we wrote that so fast! And it doens't sound like it!
 
Fred
I have played bass on and off for years. I am getting a 5 string bass. Where can I learn about the difference in playing one. Scales and so forth.
 
Phil_Soussan
Well, it's not that there's a difference. It's that there is another string! The B string is a fourth below the E string and therefore, shares all of the scale patterns. 5 String 101!
 
vegarsheirik
Hi Phil! Do you have any funny stories from the recording period of FiB?
 
Phil_Soussan
Oh yes, absolutely! I haven't even heard the record yet, but... On Taint Your World, Luke at the end saying "That's what I call a nice fucking boogie." That is my line! The song just ended, and they asked me what I thought. And I said, "That's what I call a great fucking boogie" with my English accent -- which they always make fun of. In fact, I have a little video clip of Steve recording that line. As soon as I said it, Luke said, "I've gotta add to the record!" So yeah, that's Luke doing a bad English accent. It almost sounds like they did a soundcheck in a big empty hall, and some stage hand yelled out from the right.
 
Dave's_Surfing
What's your favourite track off "Falling in Between"?
 
Phil_Soussan
Well, I actually haven't really sat here and given the album a whole bunch of listens. I love "Falling In Between" the track, and I love "Bottom of Your Soul." There's so much spirit in that song. When all is said and done, and you listen to the song and it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck..... You never know how to make that happen. It's just one of those things that happen. If I knew how, I'd never need to work again! But no body has that answers. Bottom of Your Soul makes the hairs on my neck stand up -- it speaks to me. Yout can't engineer that. You can't MAKE that happen.
 
pjlm
Is it difficult for another producer to work with you on your own record since you know all the tricks?
 
Phil_Soussan
Oh I really wanted someone else to produce my record! It is too hard to be objective about your own record. I asked Steve to do it, but he was busy with Toto. We were both kind of working on our albums at the same time.
 
Stephan
Phil, as we ALL know Luke... what was Luke's first reaction on your album title?
 
Phil_Soussan
He tried to bust it open and see where the battery was! He wanted to know where to PUT the battery!
 
Dave's_Surfing
What's your favourite song you've written?
 
Phil_Soussan
Prior to Vibrate -- I would have to say "Broken Machine" with Luke. I felt I really nailed the lyric on that. That song really makes a lot of sense to me.
 
Fred
When you write what comes first? Music or Lyrics
 
Phil_Soussan
This question comes up in just about every interview. Sometimes lyrics, sometimes music, sometimes both. The inspiration dictates what comes first.
 
Craigred
Years ago i read an article with you and T.M. Steven's, do you keep in touch with him or was that a one off thing???
 
Phil_Soussan
No, we stay in touch. I Love TM! My brother from another mother! We actually got together last week at the NAMM show!
 
Dave's_Surfing
What did you grow up listening to?
 
Phil_Soussan
On the one hand, the Beatles. On the other hand, I listened to bands like Led Zeppelin. For a musical background I listened to Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. And lots of old music -- blues. Elvis! I was to young to know Elvis, so I sort of rediscovered the music of that era. I also listen to a lot of Phil Carlo!!
 
andyjeens
Which is more fun? studio or live work?!!
 
Phil_Soussan
Well like I already said... They're both a lot of fun, but Live is very repetitive. But there's the excitement of the audience. Studio... very creative, but you feel isolated somewhat. I'd say there's a balance.
 
bassman
I saw you have an account on myspace: I think it's a great way to promote music. Do you listen to some of the young bands that put their songs on that site?
 
Phil_Soussan
Absolutely! Most definitely. The future of music, I think, right now is in the hands of musicians and artists, and we need to be very forward and respectful about what we do. We need to have time for each other. The labels never had time for anyone.
 
andyjeens
after leaving ozzy, yourself and jake e lee received negative comments from ozzy in the press. how did that feel, after all you had input into that band?
 
Phil_Soussan
It felt like going out for dinner and having a great time with a bunch of people, and then hearing about someone talking about what a lousy time they had. They do a lot of that kind of badmouthing, and I just don't pay attention to it. We had a lot of success, and that's what's important. Going into it, this was supposed to be Ozzy's last record. And as a result of "Shot In the Dark" Ozzy's career spring-boarded. No one can take that away!
 
bassman
what's your equipment?
 
Phil_Soussan
Now, what would Steve answer to that....? I'll be glad to share that, and after that we can talk about my guitars! Seriously, MusicMan basses. Dean Markley strings. I'm about to switch amplifier companies, so I'll hold off on that for now. It's called Markbass.
 
MARK w
If you could pick the musicians, anyone to play on your solo album..Who would they be?
 
Phil_Soussan
I did that already, and they did!
 
Moderator
Okay, 3 more questions. Get them in while you still can!
 
Fred
When you record or play what makes you decide oneither a 4, 5, or 6 string bass
 
Phil_Soussan
Good question! I don't have a 6 string bass. If it's going to be a real signature bass part, then it will be on a four string. If it's complex part, it will probably be on a five string. Sometimes I play on 5 string Fretless. For example, "Elderberry"
 
tromploy
how vulnerable, financially, do you feel re: recordings available via P2P file sharing programs?
 
Phil_Soussan
A very long answer to that! Let's just say in the short run, it hurts. But in the long run, it's part of a new evolution of the music industry which is for the better. It probably causes more harm to traditional record companies than it does to us, the musicians. I don't think it's a bad thing. You know to add to that, it's about putting something of value in someone's hands. If they hear it and they like it, they'll go out and buy the record themselves. It's just like copying cassettes or CDs like we used to do.
 
vegarsheirik
If Toto asked you to step in on the 30th anniversary tour doing background vocals ++), would you?
 
Phil_Soussan
I'd pack my bags! I'd love to do something like that. I'd be very flattered, honestly.
 
Moderator
Last Question:
 
pjlm
What are your memories on "the Odd couple tour"?
 
Phil_Soussan
Very few! ! [laughs] A ton of inside jokes -- the Texas Tilt! You can certainly talk to Steve about that anytime you want. Being on the bus, listening to Jazz at 5 in the morning with Luke and Shawn, his wife, who is a dear, good friend of mine. Doing a really bad gig in Holland -- we'd been drinking since the morning and could barely stand! We played so bad, we were all yelling at each other! You wake up the next morning, and it all starts coming back, and we were like, "What happened?" It was a private party, however! A GREAT time, a really fun tour.
 
Moderator
Great! Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions, Phil. We hope to do it again sometime. Best of luck to you with "Vibrate!"
 
Phil_Soussan
A huge thank you to everyone, for the warm reception I get from the Toto Community. I'm very privileged and honored and humbled by that. It's a terrific family of people, and that's a very rare kind of thing. So thank you!






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