Reggie: "You've toured Europe & America on the "Ever Changing Times tour", so tell us about that and what else you've been up to.
Luke: "Man, we've done a lot of shows in a very short period of time. We just came off of a month's break. It was very much needed. I was down on the Jersey Shore relaxing. Then I went to Romania with this crazy guy, Damian! It was with some gypsy musicians, Nathan East (b) and Greg Bissonette (d) for five days. We did a live show and came back and took a few days off. Then I played with Rascal Flatts in Philly. It was really great! Those guys are my fuckin' new best friends in the World! We bonded. They're my kinda cats, man. They like to hang, they're young and full of fire! They talked me into doing a couple of Toto songs. I did one of their songs. The crowd, 25,000 people, were loving it. They invited me out in mid-November to Nashville to do some writing and recording. Dan Huff (producer) called me on the phone and was like 'Dude, you gotta come out! We love you.'
He went over the top about the old days in L.A. He's a really sweet guy. Just prior to going out to Nashville I'm doing the Les Paul Tribute in Cleveland at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame with Slash, Richie Sambora and myself. I've heard rumors of other cats but I don't want to say too much. I'm definitely going to do that. And then we start up again in late February 2009, pretty much for the rest of the year in Europe."
Reggie: It sounds like you're really busy!
Luke: "Ya, I'm really happily busy. Things are moving along. We're making a lot of progress. I've learned a lot. The U.S. is tough. It's hard to make any money. We made a lot of friends and we did really well. Playing with Ian (Anderson of Jethro Tull) was really awesome. He came out and played with us and I came out and played with them. It was a dream come true. Then I got sick and had to cancel some shows. But it was incredible in New York. In the East Coast we were fine. It's kinda like I expected. Great reviews all across the board. That kinda upped the ante. One of the high points was playing with Z.Z. Top in Europe. Billy Gibbons was there waiting for me when I got there. So we spent the whole day together. We're going to do some shows together next summer in France. And then hanging out with Carlos Santana, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) at the Bospop festival in Holland. We got the best review of the day! That's really a trip because I'm used to getting beat up!
It's a really nice feeling that I'm making some progress. Slowly but surely without resting on the Toto credits to get me through the set. I'm really going out there and trying something new and it's being accepted. That's not to say that I won't make friends with some of my (Toto) songs that I have written. We do a couple of obscure Toto songs in the set right now. As things grow and move forward I may start adding a few. If they're songs I wrote and sung then what the fuck! I wrote and sung them! I view Toto as a special thing. I'm very careful on how I wanted to present myself. I'm working with David Paich. We're working on songs for George Benson. He's doing a new album and all the songs are going to be songs written by people who've already written hits for him. So George asked David and I to write something. David, Steve Porcaro and I are doing an instrumental project together. More like movie soundtrack "ish". So I'm really tight with the original members of Toto. I haven't spoken to Simon or Greg since the last show. So I guess that's where it's at. I'm fine with that. I don't have any hard feelings at all. It's time to move on. It just makes it that much more obvious that it's the right decision to make."
Reggie: You are playing a couple of shows close to home. Your son Trevor is opening both shows. Talk to us about that.
Luke: "He's been growing a lot as a musician. When you're at the ages of 16-20 your growth period as a writer, musician and a singer takes massive leaps. He's been really wood shedding. He's got a killer band. He's writing great tunes and he's ready. He's got songs cut by other artists like Howard Benson the guy that produces Daughtry. He's got a song for another artist that's coming out really soon. He wrote a couple of songs with me on my record. He's been doing some sessions. He can handle himself really well in the studio. He's got the band he's been rehearsing really hard. And they're ready. He said 'Pops, can I open for you?' And I said ya, come on! And he's gonna go out there and kick it. There's finally gonna be some beautiful girls in the audience besides my wife and my daughter! It's usually a sea of Marshall T-shirts! As my wife likes to say 'it's a helmet fest' or a sausage fest! But he's bringing out the young girls. That's cracking me up. He sold 2,000 units on i-Tunes last month without a record company. He's doing it the new way. You gotta do it yourself. I'm old school, he's new school. He learns from me. I learn from him. It works out great. He's 21 years old and he's my best friend. It's a great support system. He's gonna come out with me and play a couple of songs we wrote together and at the end a little surprise. I'm excited about this it's gonna be fun. A lot of people are coming to see it. A lot of people are coming in from all over the world to see it. I'm trippin' out on this. Both shows are gonna be packed and I'm really happy and then we're going to Japan."
Reggie: I saw your new songs in the studio & tour rehearsals. Tell us about the development of your set list.
Luke: "We're basically doing the same set. But after you've done like 70 shows we get to jam some stuff and the band is really becoming a band. In rehearsal we were just learning the parts and Ricky Z (g) came in at the last minute. NOW it's really a band and everybody gets a chance to shine and there's a lot of jam band aspect to it which will be surprising to some. The great thing is nobody's been yelling out "Hold the Line" or "Africa" during the set. I was especially worried about that in the U.S. I didn't get any hate mail either. There may have been one or two people that were bummed because I didn't play the hits, especially the first year out. It's been really positive and I've learned a lot. I've grown a lot here moving forward. My next tour the guarantee's are better everything's better. Next summer is going to be great! I'm moving ahead which is exactly what I expected to do. I didn't expect it to be handed to me. Like here it is. I had to earn it. I had to put my money where my mouth is. And I put my time where that is. I wasn't going to go out there and be Toto Jr. That would be an insult to the legacy. I still work with David, the Porcaros' and Joseph Williams. The guys I went to school with. With some of the other cats I lost touch. I wish everybody well. I have nothing but love and good vibes to everybody. I hope everybody's doing well."
Reggie: So anything you wanted to add?.
Luke: "No, I'm just still happy to be working. I just had a month off to spend with my daughter who just turned one year old. She's a trip! Life does begin at 50!"
Reggie: Life's starting all over again for you!
Luke: "Ya, you're right! Somebody just shook up the fuckin' Etch a Sketch! You get a do over!"
Reggie: Well, you did alright the first time.
Luke: "Well I have a few regrets."
Reggie: We all have regrets.
Luke: "I never hurt anybody. I never meant to. I'm trying to make amends with the second half of my life."
Reggie: I've seen you around Trevor and your family so I think your doing a pretty good job. Thanks once again for your time.
Reggie: How have things gone so far on the Tour?
Steve W.: "It's been great. Every time I see a review it is a good one. I'm real proud of the guys for that. Everybody came together. We really got tight on the road."
Reggie: How about the highlights of the Tour?
Steve W.: "There were so many highlights. Every gig we played was fantastic. Some were better than others. But they were ALL good! There was a high level of expectation too. I think we're getting our feet wet. Everything's going really well."
Reggie: During tour rehearsals things were going great. Now 40 shows later, it's hard to believe but things are running even smoother. Tell us about that.
Steve W.: "Wow! Is it that many? Time flies when you're having a good time. It's just one of those things that happens when people hang out musically together and our off time together. The only time we have away from each other is when we were in our own hotel room. We spend time together on the stage and on tour busses. You tend to get tight with people spending that much time together."
Reggie: Did you guys get out much? Eric (Valentine) was telling me excitedly that he'd never been to Europe before.
Steve W.: "I'd been to Europe with other bands before. And we actually went to a lot of places that I've been to before. We went to a few new places. Sometimes you just don't get the chance to get out as much as you want. I remember getting out a little bit in Switzerland and Norway. Not too often though. We were always traveling."
Reggie: You were in the studio with Luke for the recording of "Ever Changing Times", tour rehearsals and now in front of a live audience with those songs. Tell us about that.
Steve W.: "By the time I got to the studio the vocals were already done. The basic vibes of the tracks were already there. Jeff Babko had already played keyboards on a lot of the tracks. I just came in there and did a few things. Some little things here. A couple of solos. I think "Ice Bound" was one of them. So by the time I got there most of the songs were done."
Reggie: You just kinda added the "Weingart Touch".
Steve W.: (Laughing) "Ya! Hearing the magic that came out of that was really happening. And then we took the music to another place doing it live. It was just a few things that we changed arrangement wise. Doing it in the studio and doing it live are like night and day. You're trying to achieve two different things."
Reggie: You guys really are a band now. Tell us about that.
Steve W.: "It's pretty cool. I took it really seriously to get good guys. I've known Carlitos practically ever since he emigrated from Cuba. Eric and I worked together in other bands. I had my eye on these guys because we got along so well. I knew Luke from years ago in El Grupo. I had kinda hoped things would gel as they did."
Reggie: How does this project differ from El Grupo?
Steve W.: "Mostly the selection of the music. There's a couple of things that we do in Luke's shows that vary from night to night. A couple of songs that open up at the end and we do a jam thing. Which is what I think El Grupo is more about initially. This band is more about playing songs. It's about Luke's great writing. It's about playing the stuff and getting it across to the people. There's some jam band stuff that's kinda similar. But it's almost a different genre. You can sing along to this stuff. Everybody in this band sings. In El Grupo it wasn't like that. It was mostly all instrumental. This is all singing."
Reggie: Did you care to add anything?.
Steve W.: "We're doing this trip to Japan in a couple of weeks. We're looking forward to doing that. I went earlier this year. So this will be my second chance. I just did a performance with Simon Phillips at the Modern Drummer Festival. That's what I was doing earlier in Japan. It's funny. I did Simon's gig and I went on the road with Luke for a long time.
Reggie: You guys seem to run in the same circles as far as playing gigs with each other.
Steve W.: "I tell you I'm a lucky cat. I get to work with these guys. I can't ask for much more!"
Reggie: What about solo stuff?
Steve W.: "I'm working on a CD with our drummer Eric (Valentine) and my wife Renee Jones. She plays bass. And we're all gonna contribute vocals to it. That's coming along slowly but surely. You know I gotta stay home when I can! The times we're having on the road, I wouldn't trade them for ANYTHING!"
Carlitos del Puerto
Reggie: Talk to me about the "No Jazz" Tour.
Carlitos: "The Tour was 2 1/2 months of non-stop fun. The crowds were super receptive. Europe was fantastic. The U.S. was great too. People responded so well to our music."
Reggie: I saw your tour rehearsals and now you're 40 shows into this band. Talk to me about this situation being a band now.
Carlitos: "At that time when you saw us we were working on the music. Now that we've played so much we have the intuition now. We have more freedom to create a little bit more. When we go out on stage everybody's giving 200%. Nobody's faking it."
Reggie: Were there any favorite moments from the Tour?
Carlitos: "We had a great time in Bospop. It's a big festival in Holland. There were like 30,000 people there!. It was pretty cool. It was also pretty cool playing at Red Rocks with Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull."
Reggie: What's it like playing with Luke?
Carlitos: "Luke, with as much stature and musical history as he has is just the same as a great human being. He's a fantastic guy. Super down to earth. Super easy to work with. I'm just really enjoying the time I've worked with him. It's been great."
Reggie: I don't think people realize how important is it to like the people you play with. Especially on the long European trips.
Carlitos: "It's a very important part of the gig. It's probably 50% of the gig. But you know what man? Everybody's easy to get along with. It's been real easy. It's been a joy to be on the road with these cats. There were never any conflicts or anything. We all enjoy each others company. It's been a great experience."
Reggie: Anything else that you wanted to add or talk about?
Carlitos: "I'm kind of a hired gun. I do a lot of things in town. I've been doing a lot of commercial work. I was called to do a lot of stuff with Toninho Horta a Brazilian guitar player. I've had some great jazz experiences with Kenny Garret and Herbie Hancock!"
Reggie: You've played with Herbie Hancock and Steve Lukather. How cool is that?
Carlitos: "You're so right! And they're from such opposite worlds,but it's the same musicianship! Herbie Hancock is incredible! Luke is incredible! I've been blessed that I've been able to cross over and keep working."
Reggie: Herbie Hancock won the Grammy for Album of the year in 2008!
Carlitos: "I think a lot of your readers have seen the commercial I did with him for Bose Systems. They used to play it on T.V. all the time. I remember when we did that session. He had this incredible Italian piano. He sat at the piano and played one chord. One chord! It felt like it was a whole Symphony Orchestra! His touch was incredible man! I just hope this gig keeps going on forever! The music is incredible! The people are incredible! I hope people keep supporting this kind of music. This is so fresh for me. I am known as a "Jazzer". So it's like learning music all over again. It's so new for me it's so much fun!"
Reggie: The last time I talked to you. You said you'd never been to Europe. How was the Tour and how was Europe itself?
Eric: "We did a little sight seeing. But it was a lot of work. We had a lot of shows back to back. A lot of traveling. So I didn't get to really hang out like I wanted to because the first priority was work, resting and being prepared to give 100% to every audience. And for me I play the whole show. It's a 2 1/2 hour show. So I had to make sure I was drinking enough water and staying healthy. Europe was great man. It was a great experience. I'm looking forward to going back."
Reggie: Anything in particular stand out?
Eric: "To be honest, every place had something unique. I couldn't say one stood out that much more than the other. Every night the audience was always ready to embrace us. I just met a lot of great people."
Reggie: You told me at tour rehearsal that you were not only looking forward to the gigs but to the hang. How was the hang?
Eric: "The hang was great man. Everybody is family. This is one of the best situations as far as the hangs. Everybody was cool regardless of what was thrown in front of us. Whatever the situation was we worked it out and we just had a good time."
Reggie: Steve Weingart helped put this band together knowing the work ethic and personalities of the band. How important is it to get along with the people you are working with and really living with especially when you go to Europe?
Eric: "It's really important. As far as the music you do your preparation and you work on your craft to be able to pull that off. But to have great personalities and the people skills goes a longer way. You can have a disagreement or argument on the bus or at the hotel or not be considerate to another person and that can carry over to the stage. I can honestly say that at every show everybody was always cool. We didn't have any situations like that. Everybody was cool and willing to work with each other. It's very important."
Reggie: When I first met you guys you were some pretty good musicians hand picked for this gig. Now you're a band. Can you elaborate on that?
Eric: "Ya I would agree. We're definitely a band. We've had some ups and downs. More ups than downs. There is definitely a gel and a bond. That's the difference from when we first went out on the road."
Reggie: What was it like playing at Red Rocks with Jethro Tull?
Eric: "I needed an oxygen tank! We flew in the day of the show. So in my experience from doing other gigs in that area I did a few things that I thought would help me. But still man. It is what it is. We started out with "Crooked Road" and the little man inside my head was like 'you need to hold back a little here'. It was cool. We got through it! But, dude it was GREAT! It was a great experience. The people embraced us. The venue was so beautiful. You had to focus on playing because you were like, wow this is so beautiful!"
Reggie: Anything else you wanted to add?
Eric: "We are going to have a very busy year. I'm working on a few projects. One with (Steve) Weingart. We're trying to finish a record that we're working on. I'm working on a couple of records and promoting my current record and just playing!"
Reggie: People who come to these shows may now think of you as "Luke's drummer" but you have your fingers in all kinds of projects.
Eric: "Oh ya! You gotta keep it going! You gotta keep the irons in the fire."
Reggie: How can people find out more about you?
Eric: "They can get me at ericvalentine.net . I try to do my best to respond to everyone. But sometimes it gets really crazy! Thanks to everyone for checking out my sites."
stevelukather.com, October 10th 2008