What's your personal view on the new album?
Well, it's a song record, not a flashy guitar record. It's very autobiographical, lyrically. If you start with the first song and you go up to the last one, it's pretty much how I ‘ve been feeling in the last years.
Do you have a favorite track?
I don't know. It's hard to say. They all say something different. It's all about stuff through my childhood. So everything's got a real different vibe to it. I had fun doing it, because I've been doing it in my own studio with different musicians. Not the obvious sort off thing. I really did try some different things.
Did you work with Phil Soussan, Brett Tuggle and John Pierce before?
With Brett, no, but John I know since our parents were pregnant together, since we were little teeny babies. Phil is my neighbour and has been a friend of mine since 1986. We jammed together, but never did anything in the studio. And Gregg, I just wanted to do a record with Gregg. We've known each other for a long, long time. He's a great musician.
Will you work with them in the future and do some more records?
Yeah, well you know me, I’m always doing my crap, you know. Los Lobotomvs is not a real band, so I didn't want to do an album like that. And with TOTO we'll be back next year. And I'm working on Jeff Beck's record and I got some French artist I'm gonna produce.
And how about Def Leppard? We read in the TOTO Legend Magazine you might he doing a record with those guys.
It's a little too soon for that. We got together with Phil (Collen) and Rick (Allan - DefLeppard). I'm basically booked for the next 2 1\2 - 3 years. It's getting hard to fit stuff in. And they're friends. It should be fun to work together.
The Luke album indeed shows a clear tendency towards a lot more lyrics than on your previous ones. Why is that? Is this the real Luke showing himself/his deepest feelings through lyrics instead of music?
I'm older and I've been through more crap. I just broke up with my girlfriend and it's real painful, I still love her with all my heart, you know. It's like a love story tragedy. She's a wonderful chick. And I got my crap together. Lost a lot of weight. I didn't do that when I was still with her. Who knows what the future might bring. There's a little bit of hope and there's a lot of love still there and love is hard to find. And the album is like about all those feelings and I think a 101 people can relate to that. The tracks are not like corny love songs. The people that have been co-writing are some of my closest friends. They knew what I have been going through and I edited it and all at the end of it.
Will you be back in the fall to continue this tour or will this be all.
We'll be back next year, probably February. This tour is the promo tour for mostly 90% of the new album. When I come back next time, I think I'll do songs off all 3 records. This time we only had 6 days to rehearse. Brett was working with Fleetwood Mac and Gregg was on the road with Andy Summers (ex-Police) It was just hard to get everybody to do it. The second leg of the tour is gonna be stuff off all the albums.
Will the Luke album be released in the U.S. and will you guys be touring over there?
It will be out, but a tour. Jesus. I don't know. I'd like to, it's so expensive to tour.
Let's talk about Los Lobotomys. Will you be doing another album with those guys?
Yeah, but the problem is that all of them are signed up 10 different labels. It has to do with legal stuff. The Luke album happens to be a proper solo album. It's about me, that's what my friends call me: LUKE.
I think your new album sounds so much different on stage. It's so powerful, whereas at first I kinda had to get used to its style. I thought a lot of times: where is the guitar?
I didn't want to do a shred record, I'd been working on Jeff Beck's record at the same time and I wanted to do something completely different. There's guitars on the album, but not a lot of soloing. There's still Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai and Jeff Beck to do that kind of thing, you know?
Sure, but there’s only ONE Steve Lukather. Any plans for a new TOTO-album?
Yeah. Next year there's gonna be a new studio album. There's also gonna be this rarities album, our 20th anniversary. It contains a bunch of songs that are really good, like old style. We got lots of stuff. We could do a volume 1, 2 and 3, you know.
Are you still doing sessions for other people?
No, I don’t have time. And I don't really want to do that. I'd do a solo for somebody or I'll play when I got a free moment.
Can you name your most memorable session? One that really sticks to mind.
I played on about 600/700 records, I don't really remember all that stuff. But obviously, working with my heroes, you know, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ellon John, Quincy Jones.
And how about the Van Halen brothers? Would you do something with them?
Well, Eddie and I have been talking about starting a band for 20 years. Maybe some day. I played live with them. I did a benefit for this kid Jason Becker. It was me, Eddie, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey (Mr. Big).
What kind of things do inspire you when you're writing songs apart from your personal feelings? Under which circumstances do you write the most brilliant songs?
I just write, you know. I'm writing music every day. But lyrics take longer. And that's where I need the most collaboration. I've gotten down to writing a lot of words myself. I've been through a lot of stuff so it's easier for me to sit and do it. When I write songs I just sit down and play and it comes. I just keep one of these tape recorders, like the one you're using for this interview and I'm working withth an acoustic guitar or a piano.
Maybe you think it's a weird question, but we'd like to know whether your hands or other parts of your body' are insured?
Yeah, my hands are insured. And as to sports, I play basketball with my son in the backyard. But I wouldn't play a game where I have to get rough with my hands, 'cause if I jam my finger I'm fucked, you know. And I'm too old to be like that, but why take the risk. I love playing guitar more than doing sports so.
Did you notice right from the start that you had such a talent for guitar playing or did it just come naturally?
Nobody of my family is musical, but my kids are. My son Trevor sometimes jams with us. He played in a band with me and Mike and Steve Porcaro and David Garfield at their school function in April. He's a drummer. Neither of my kids play guitar. My daughter Cristina plays a little guitar, she plays piano.
Why do you always co-write and hardly ever write songs on your own? Does writing with somebody else give you more inspiration?
They make me finish the song, lf it's left to my own devices, I'd destroy' it and throw it in the trash, you know. Everything I write sucks, not musically speaking, but lyrically. I've just grown really critical. Especially now. Before I used to write songs with a guitar solo and something to sing. Now it actually means something that I'm proud of. No more stupid pop songs, I'm not in the mood for that, Right now, I could sit and read the lyrics loud to people and not feel like all idiot. It's not like: "Oh baby. I love you so much, I wish you'd touch my balls" or like: "The moon in June is falling too soon". Give me a break, you know. So that's why I write with the help of my friends. I have lyrical ideas. And I'm a good editor too. When I see somebody else writing something, I go through it and rewrite the crap.
Is there a big difference in writing with Fee Waybill or Phill Soussan for instance?
Yeah, they're different guys. They have emotions coming through as well and they also know me real well and what I was going through, so they were able to write about what they knew I was going through.
How do you start writing? Is it music first or lyrics or some kind of a combination?
Music first, always.
If you had the chance to play' in an all-star band, who would be in it? And how about your own band?
Well, l can 't answer that one. I played in lots of all-star bands, I got to work with everybody, so crap, I mean. I'm in everybody's band so I'm lucky. I'd rather take a small group of guys that had lots of bands. The more bands they’ve been in, the better, 'cause I don't get to do like this is on the road, I mean, we're a band. Maybe I'm a singer and I’m doing all the front stuff but we're still in a band, Those guys are my friends. I don't treat them any different than I treat myself. I just happen to be friends with some of the greatest musicians in the world, you know. We like to work together. Like with Los Lobotomys, with this band and with TOTO. And Jeff Beck. he's my hero. mv mentor, my guy, the ultimate guitar player and also a very close friend. I'm working with him. But it's his album, I'm not really playing much on it. But I helped him write it. And I get lessons of him every night.
I bet you would have loved to jam with Jimi if he was still alive.
Oh, that would be a dream! I got to work with Eddie Kramer (technician Jimi Hendrix), that's as close as I'm gonna get. And I jammed with Mitch Mitchell before. And with Buddy Miles. So I've come close, but I'll never get to the real thing.
That has to happen some time in Heaven!
Yeah, definitely and we'll kiss the sky!
You must have hundreds of guitars by now. Are you planning to organize an exhibition of old memorabilia some day? Do you still play on most of them?
No, an exhibition of pictures of me naked (just kidding)! . . . . But with my old guitars. I use them on my records. And I also use my MusicMan because it sounds great. It's very versatile, I've changed the new one. I got rid of the Floyd Rose thing and the tone control. And there's a change of color. And a little bit of pick ups and stuff.
Let's talk about your crew now. You've got a new guitar tech. What happened with Jerry Sabatino?
He's on the road with Queensryche. I wanted him to come, but it was like 8 months work instead of 2 months with me. He turned me on to my new tech Rick (previous technician Richie Sambora), He's a great guy and also a great guitar player while Jerry is more of a technician, He knows how to play enough chords, but Rick, he's been playing guitar for 20 years and he loves it so...
And you also have Brett (Tuggle) to help you out?
Yeah, he’s doing the overdub parts. He's a real pro and also a real funny guy. I got some really funny guys on the road with me. We're just having a great time, I really enjoy playing music, It's the greatest mental orgasm a man can have. You have people scream and they appreciate what you’re doing. I make records and produce them and I also come out on the road and play it in front of an audience, and the audience is the ultimate.
So you'II always gonna be out on the road?
Yeah, sure, until I drop. Maybe at a certain point the touring will be less frequent, but I’ll still do it. Maybe not as long, but I'd still fuckin' be out there and play guitar.
Touring is really tiring, isn't it?
I haven't been off for 26 days and my days of it's been travelling and doing press all day long, so. And I have to watch my voice, 'cause I've been talking like non-stop. And l'm working hard on my voice. I'm not drinking more than a couple of beers after the show. Not like they have to carry me back to my room because of all the Jägermeister. No drugs, nothing.
No wild babes anymore?
Well, I'm single, I mean, I’m still alone. But I'm older now and my values and my whole thing in life have changed. I'm gonna be 40 in October. So it's like shit. My life's half fuckin' over. I'm an old soul. But I've got a young spirit. And I'm very in touch with my spiritual side. I meditate and I thank God every day for my blessings. I don't necessarily go to church, 'cause I don't believe in that money thing, but God is a very important part of my life. It's a bit catholic for me, but it's still a symbol of God, because if it wasn't for God I'd have nothing: my children, my friends, my talent! And there's people going on about all that devil shit and it really cracks me up. It's playing with fire. There is good and evil. Whether you believe in heaven and hell, whatever. It’s a personal thing, but you play with evil and evil will come back to you. In one way or the other.
I believe in God, I believe in miracles. In destiny and fate and all that stuff and it's a God given thing, I meditate and I'm in touch with my inner voice which is God's bliss. I pray and I think you know I'm a different person than I was a year ago.
Was that also when you lost Jeff? He was such a big influence?
I last too many people in the last 6 years. I’ve been to too many fucking funerals. I lost 4 people in the last 2 months. Young cats who died of a heart attack. One got drowned trying to save some woman. Dying in their sleep or just had a car accident. It’s like fuck man. And you start to enjoy things and to cherish the relationships, cherish the good things in a while.
I apologize for the negative things I’ve said about anybody. Like with the ex-members in my band. I’m sorry Bobby, and all the rest of the cats. I forgive myself. I forgive them. Anybody else.
But you're not gonna turn into a Saint, are you?
No, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Saint Luke. They weren’t talking about me when they sainted that poor man! I’m a good person, not an evil vindictive person!
What's your opinion on the Jeff Porcaro tribute album?
I only heard it once and there' s some interesting stuff on it. I think Creatchy is a very talented guy and his heart was in the right place. There's some great players on it. Its a bit all over the place, but I think that was the point. Jeff was the kind of musician who was influenced by so many people.
If you see the booklet of the CD, you just get quiet. It's got such an impact on your heart. And I didn't even know Jeff so I really wonder what it’s been doing to you guys.
Yeah, I think that was the intention. And it’s hard. It's been over 5 years now since he died. I always have Jeffrey in my heart...
Dutch Toto & Los Lobotomys fanclub, july 1997