Part one (Feb 3rd)
Reggie: Tell me about the new record. You're using your touring band Steve Weingart (k), Eric Valentine (d) & Carlitos del Puerto (b) on this project.
Luke: "We've got 8 incredible tracks. I've actually got a 9th one, but it doesn't have a rhythm section yet. It may be a little more intimate setting. We're going to finish these and then live with them. Then we're going to see what's missing and then come back and write and record the last two bits when I come back from the Asian Tour with Soulbop. We've got the tracks, bass, drum and keyboards. Some of the guitar stuff I'm keeping. But I like to spend all of my time fucking around with all of these little amps and really get some amazing sounds. That's what Steve "Mac" MacMillan and I really spend some time on."
Reggie: I've been around you for 6 or 7 years now. You seem more excited about this project than I've seen you in some time. Can you talk about that?
Luke: "There's a cliché to that. Every time somebody has a new record they say 'this is my best shit ever, blah, blah, blah.' I'm in a better head space than I've been in for a long time. I'm feeling good. I'm feeling healthy, motivated. I'm practicing a lot! I'm working on myself, my playing and my music. I'm really focused on what I'm doing. I'm clean headed during the process. That part has really been positive."
Reggie: Can we talk about some of the writing partners you have on this project. C.J Vanston, Steve Weingart, Randy Goodrum and Fee Waybill.
Luke: "And the band too! You've got to have one of those. We wrote an instrumental freak out last night! We just sat in a room and had nothing at the end of the day. So we came up with this one! It's called "Son of Jake". It's reminiscent or a nod to my past if you know what I mean. That was fun. We wanted to get the guys in there on that. To have something representative of the band. Something we can jam live on. C.J. Vanston's been a friend of mine for a while. We just kinda clicked. The song's we were writing came together real quick. They came out so well that I used some of the demo stuff and recorded right on top of it. I figured how am I going to do that again? He's a great keyboard player, a great atmospheric guy, a great song writer. We've developed a great rapport. We've got four or five things already. I'll probably do one more with him hopefully. I'm just taking the last record one step further. I'm not going completely left field and doing an all fusion record or something like that. I had spoken about doing an instrumental record. Maybe some day I will but not right now. I've made a lot of headway. I don't want to change up in the middle of the stream. Since Toto is no longer, I'm really focused on building the solo thing. I've got a new record label. I want to build on what we've developed on the road over the last couple of years. I just want to keep moving in that direction."
Reggie: What about your trip to Nashville? You wrote with Randy Goodrum and hung out with former Toto bass player David Hungate.
Luke: "I got to see David Hungate indeed. It was nice to see him. I didn't get to see him a lot. We had a quick bite. I worked with Randy for two or three days. We got a couple of great tunes out of it. One we already cut and another we're going to do a special treatment on."
Reggie: Is there any different mind set in writing for the new album now that your touring band is playing on the album?
Luke: "There are no rules. The best stuff makes the record. That's the bottom line. I'm open to whatever. Steve Weingart and I wrote a couple of songs together. I wrote a couple with Fee Waybill. I brought him in for ol' times sakes. His biting lyrics are real funny."
Reggie: Is it easier writing with Randy and Fee since you've written with them before and been successful at it?.
Luke: "We have an unspoken rapport. There's something to be said about that. Also working with "Mac" again. I don't have to say anything. It's such a joy. He just knows. We work really fast. Particularly now that I'm incredibly clear headed. I'm really impatient. I want to move quickly. I don't like sitting around. I make decisions really fast. I'm not the type of guy where I sit in the studio and go let's try it a 100,000 different ways and go back to one. That works for some people. But just not for me. I like to have a life. I have my baby, my family. My schedule is going to be absolutely insane this year. I'm going to be busier than I've EVER been in my life! It's a good time for me to be in good shape to handle it all. There's a lot of exciting stuff in the wind."
Reggie: I just saw something the other day. The Baked Potato 40th Anniversary Celebration at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater May 22 & 23, 2010. The names I saw were Michael Landau, Jeff Babko, Gary Novak, Alan Holdsworth, Jimmy Haslip and yourself. A ton of friends and cool cats.
Luke: "All those guys are playing. Justin (Randi) called me and told me I've got you for one night. So I told him to put me on there as Steve Lukather and Friends. To be honest with you, I don't know what that is yet. I have to do something weirder than just my band. I'm just not sure what's that going to be. I might do a version of what we do in Asia over here. Get a couple of horn players and do something different. I'll probably do something more instrumentalesque. Maybe sing one or two things. Not like doing the set that we did the last time. That would be pointless. I want to do something very special for that gig.
Reggie: A real true nod to the Baked Potato.
Luke: "Ya, right. It's got to be a little more jammish. Maybe hopefully have a few guests come out and jam. I think everybody's of that mind set. Everybody's going to bring their best game. There's a shitload of hot guitar players. So man ,what can I say?"
Reggie:You are also writing a book?
Luke: "I am writing a book! This is true! We've done a couple of sample chapters. I'm having a phone meeting with those guys. It's a big deal. It's going to be a Worldwide deal. I am trying to get it to coincide with the album release. In and around the same time. It's probably going to come out right after the album release. In order to get it done I'm juggling so many things. I've got some guitar clinic stuff that's come in from France and Italy. Spike Edney's SAS Queen band with Roger Taylor, and I heard Joe Walsh might do it, Roger Daltrey and there's talk about a whole lotta interesting cats! I can't tell you for sure because it was moved from earlier in the year to a September groove. We may have something this summer too!"
Reggie: Is there room for anything else?
Luke: "I mean dude! I don't have ANY free time. I'm juggling so many things that I have to go on the road to get some rest!"
Reggie: How was the Mark and Brian KLOS Christmas All Star Show that included Lee Sklar?
Luke: "That was fun playing with Lee again! I love playing with Lee. That was just a loose, fun thing. You know Slash is a dear, dear friend of mine. It was an All Star band with Slash, Jason Bonham (Foreigner, Black Country, Led Zeppelin) and Keith Emerson (ELP). It was very eclectic you know. It was pretty loose on the night. We didn't have much time to rehearse. The sound was all over the place. There were so many people playing, but in the spirit of things.
We live in this youtube world. People put everything under a microscope. It was never meant to be that way. There's a lot of shit on there. And let me go on the record that I wish wasn't there. There's some weaker moments of stuff that was never meant for public consumption that's on there with 200,000 hits. They were raking me through the coals because I had a rough night the night before. In a certain way it kind of gave me a wake up call. Hey I look a little sloppy there. It was a come to Jesus moment. There's some really good stuff on there too. The bad stuff seems to rise to the top. People love to hide behind their screen names and rake people through the coals. No one gets away unscathed! Name ANYONE and someone will hate you. The haters are the haters. That's one of the scary things about the Internet.
On the other hand it's a positive place. But it woke me up. There's nothing like seeing yourself through the eyes of other people. I could see my weaknesses. I have to admit I'm working as hard as I possibly can. I'm practicing two to four hours a day. I'm working out. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I'm as healthy as I've EVER been in my life. Maybe I'm going through a bizarre version of a mid life crisis. I've been doing this for 35 plus years. Making records, being in the business. I was beating myself up. I don't have an addictive personality so to throw away everything was very easy for me. Especially cigarettes and stuff like that where people say they crave it. I have not craved a cigarette or a drink since I threw it away. If I wanted it I'd do it. I don't belong to A.A. I don't belong to any clubs. I didn't get arrested. I didn't get caught doing anything wrong. I just looked in the mirror and decided on my own, on my Birthday, I said fuck this. It was a wake up call. All of a sudden overnight I lost my taste for anything toxic. It's weird. People think it's crazy. I have a destructive personality, self loathing is all there. So that is where my problem lies. It wasn't like I'm addicted and I can't stop."
Reggie: It's tough in this business. It's all around you. I was just at the NAMM Show and that's just CRAZY there!
Luke: "Dude! I've been carried out of the NAMM Show! That's another thing. We go to the NAMM Show this time and I really saw it through different eyes. I understand why you drink because people are in your face. Everybody gets drunk at the NAMM Show. It's interesting when drunk people are in your face when you're not drunk! It's like wow dude! I was in my room by 11:30 at night. I can't make the hang. I just watched The Family Guy on TV. I got up at 6 in the morning to drive home and be there when my baby woke up. It was a far cry from the 35 other years I woke up and felt like shit. I know that there are bartenders around the World that are grieving because I won't be there. I'll still pony up and buy shots for everybody and drive them home. I don't give a shit about it. It doesn't bother me to be around it. And I'm not saying that I'll NEVER ever do it again. I can't do that. I want to preface that in case anybody ever sees me and goes HA! He fell off, poor guy! I'm doing this for me. And right now this is working for me. I need to be the best me. I'm 52 fucking years old! I really gotta bring my best game. I wasn't happy and I know I can do better. I'm really trying to bring my personal best to the top. I'm feeling so good about it. The more time I'm away from the party quote unquote the less attractive it sounds to me. I am playing a lot better. I'm a better daddy. I want to be a great daddy to my little girl. I'm an older father. I don't feel old but let's look at it from chronological years. By the time she starts dating I'll be close to 70. Now that's a scary thing to take in. There's a big responsibility to that. Everybody says I look a lot better and that my patience is a lot better. Although I still have an edge to my scene. But when I'm working I'm very intense. I don't fuck around. I've ALWAYS taken work in the studio very seriously. But on the road I let the hang get the best of me. Most nights were fine but there were a couple of nights I know I wasn't in top form. People who pay money deserve to see me at my very best. So I have a big responsibility there."
Reggie: We were talking about the NAMM Show earlier. I saw you there with Neal Schon (Journey), Steve Vai (Whitesnake, David Lee Roth), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Lee Sklar (Phil Collins, Toto) and David Pack (Ambrosia). That's got to be a cool hang.
Luke: "Ya, it was great. I just finished this record with Lee Rittenour. Neal Schon, Slash and I are all on the same tune. And I did one with Andy McKee an absolute genius acoustic guitar player and a sweetheart of a cat. And there's going to be a whole lot of real cool people on that record. I think it's going to be huge especially for the guitar people. It has every style of guitarist on it. I think Vince Gill is going to do a track. From B.B. King, Keb Mo, Guthrie Govan is on it. The rhythm section is Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck) and Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck), Jimmy Johnson, Will Kennedy, Larry Goldings, John Beardsley, all the cats are on it man. I wrote a couple of pieces. I co-produced three things. I'm going to see Rit tonight as a matter of fact. That was exciting. I think that it's going to get a lot of attention. Everything seems to be working for me right now. A lot of things are going my way so I'm just going to take the ride."
Reggie: What about going to Asia with Robben Ford and Company?
Luke:"It's going to be great to work with Robben Ford. We've been friends for a long time. We've played on the same record but we've never had the chance to jam in a live situation. It's going to be wild because we have no rehearsal. I got sent music and I sent music. I'm going to do one of my tunes. We're doing some Brecker Brothers stuff. We're doing some wacky jam band fusiony funk stuff, blues. It's an All Star band. Half New York and half L.A. Weingart is coming with me, Robben Ford, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans, Randy Holmes from New York. Randy doesn't come in until the day of the gig. We'll do a quick rhythm section sound check. Then we're off to the races. It's going to be a blast. I know it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm digging deep though man. Some of this stuff is hard to play."
Reggie: Talk to me a little bit about Twitter. It's kind of a cool, quick way to update your fans immediately.
Luke: "My son (Trevor) got me very involved in all the social networking. As it turns out it was a very good decision. You've got your Twiiter, Face Book, fan recognition on Face Book, on My Space I've got over 200,000 people, my web site has over 2,000,000 hits. That's how you're going to get to people. This is the new music store. The people who know me or are interested in me can find out about me. And then you'll be able to get my music directly if you hit on me. I've got some tweaking to do, I've got to fix some Wikipedia.org stuff. There's some stuff on there that's not relevant. I don't want anything negative in my life at all. I don't have anything bad to say about anybody. I apologize for my past actions. There's things I've said I wish I hadn't. I apologize. I'm sorry. PLEASE print that! What can I say? Everybody goes through their asshole phase. You know what I mean? I didn't maliciously go after people. I know what it's like to be the recipient of things. It's a new year. A new decade. I'm leaving everything behind me. The past is the past. It took me a few months to get my sea legs again. It was weird being in the moment without being helped by my friend Mr. Beer or Mr. Shots. It's all good fun. but your body changes as you get older and it doesn't metabolize it as it used to. I could feel myself not being able to handle the hang like I used to. But the funny thing is because I was Mr. Party that people were like Luke, Luke come on let's do some shots! People were pissed off at me when I said no. It's like guys, party on! Please do! I'm not preaching. I'm not doing anything. I need to get some time to really be me. To fix the broken parts. I think that's really, really important. Some of the lyrics will show themselves. I'm a little pissed off at the World. I think everybody is at this point. I make fun of certain people and certain things. I don't believe in putting a political stance in music because if you do you immediately lose half of your audience. But I still have an opinion. If I have an opinion I try to put it in a somewhat humorous way so people will laugh at it. I'm really A-political. I'm not a Democrat or Republican. I find both sides to be completely repulsive. I'm more of a Libertarian than anything. Fiscally right and socially left. But even that's a joke at this point. What does it all mean? It's really ashamed to see the division as wide as it is. I'm just as disappointed as how things are going as anybody. I have children. I have a little baby. I have older kids. I really believe we are in a transition right now."
Reggie: Is there anything else that I've left out that you want to talk about?
Luke: "I'm really positive. I'm really excited about this record and about this year and how I feel about my life. My band is great. Everybody is happy and healthy. My family is cool. My kids are cool. My little baby daughter is a gas to be around! She's talking. She's 2 1/2 going on 30! It's a trip. The passage of time!"
Part 2 (Feb 19th)
Reggie: Even though you're actually only in the studio for a few weeks for this new CD there's a lot more work and time spent on this than people may not realize.
Luke: "Honestly the song writing aspect with C. J. Vanston, we had a tune at the end of every day. We didn't have the lyrics done but we had the melodies, to the point where I even used some of the music on the record. The 'demo stuff' on Pro Tools now days is so hi-fi that I just overdubbed my guys over the top of it. Everybody's still playing on it but some of the sounds that C.J. got you could NEVER replicate! So I just used it! The other stuff was cut live. But like I said it was one or two songs a day, cutting wise. And then the overdubs. I spent a long time getting guitar sounds, layering guitars. That's the most fun for me. Experimenting with different amps. That part of it is a groove. And having guys like Lenny (Castro) is always a kick! I've NEVER done a record without Lenny in 33 years! He is one of the most consistent people in my life."
Reggie: How about picking the songs to use,the songs to eliminate and the direction of the C.D.?
Luke: "I still have a couple of songs that I haven't cut yet. I am questioning as this record takes shape now to shy away from the more obviously pop things. It's still very melodic, as you've heard. But some of the sweeter, ballady things I'm shying away from. I have a couple of things in the can that I can bring to the table. We have eight songs cut, that I really love! NONE of those songs do I want to can. So it's a matter of picking the next three. I've got to finish the vocals on a couple of those tunes. I've got a couple of (guitar) solos done, three actually. I need a couple of burnin' ones! And that requires time! I'm digging deep to try and make this right. I'm not just playing to fill up space. I'm also not trying to impress all of my guitar player friends by playing flashy stuff. I'm trying to play interesting melodic stuff. But at the same time there is some responsibility to burn on some stuff. I really haven't done that yet, step on the gas a little bit! I may save some of that for when I come back from roasting two sets a night with Robben (Ford) and the beautiful cats! My chops will be way up when I get back! I'll probably play all kinds of weird alien music! 'Mac' will be 'what the fuck'? Can you play in somewhat of the right key of the song?'
Reggie: You're on a new Record Label Mascot. Can you tell us about that?.
Luke: "Ya, Mascot-Provogue Records. They're two different labels. Mascot is one and Provogue is the other. Provogue is the one that my bro Joe Bonamassa is on. What they've done for Joe has just been extraordinary! Ed, the President is just a genius. I really like his demeanor as opposed to the harsh demeanor that I've had to deal with in the past. Let's just leave that at that. We live in a day and age where if you don't kiss somebody's ass, they attack you! And you can print that! Some people don't understand my sense of humor. And they pretend to know me when they've never met me or met me when I was in an altered state, which I don't do anymore. But I have to own some of that. I have been an asshole before and I apologize for that. I already have. I don't find anything wrong at all from using profanity. What does that mean? Profanity to me is watching somebody get their head blown off. You can watch that on T. V. and people don't even fuckin' yawn! I say a word and everybody get's in a tizzy. The severity that Middle America puts on certain words is funny. The more it offends people the more I want to use it! I don't mean anything by it. I use that word in front of my wife, she doesn't care. It's like saying 'that guy's a Mother Fucker' and you mean it in a really nice way. Like that's a Mother Fucker guitar player. Or he's a Mother Fucker, great guy. But if you say he's a Mother Fucker, it's all in the way you say it! Like fuck is one of the great words in life. It's a noun, a verb an adjective. It's all how you use it. So guys lighten up! What's the worst part of being an atheist? You have nobody to talk to when you're getting a blow job! And you can print that! There are tremendous horrors in the world I don't think I am one of them. Hope not anyway."
Reggie: I've been in the studio with you for a few days now and see how much work goes on. How did you manage to work on this and the "Six String Theory" record at the same time?
Luke: "Well I picked a good time not to be partying anymore. That and chasing a baby and learning all the material I had to learn to woodshed in the morning at 6 a.m. practicing. I'm more focused than I've ever been. Probably since I've been 15 years old. Motivated, sober of mind and spirit. I have a lot to prove to myself and everybody else. I'm not skating on my past anymore. A new year a new decade and a new me. I'm going to try and be the best me that I can. I'm not going to be Jimi Hendrix, I wish I was, but I'm not. I'm working very hard at my craft. This record is crucial to me. I've never done two solo records back to back. I'm very serious about all of this. There are so many things going my way. I'm very excited. I'm very positive about it all. I'm just hoping for positive results. I've got a new label. A new vibe. It's fantastic!"
Reggie: From what I've heard so far the record sounds great.
Luke: "Thanks, man. Tell your friends! I really appreciate that."
Reggie: You hit me up for my friend Vince Gills' phone number. Would you possibly do something with him musically?
Luke: "I'd love to hang with Vince. We've had the same managers (Larry Fitzgerald/Mark Hartley) for years. We always give each other hugs. He's a tremendous man. He's always said nice things about me. We've never played together. I've always wanted to play with him. Do something. Sit in on a tune, live."
Reggie: You've been going to Nashville a lot, maybe you could hook up with him there?
Luke: "That's the thing. That's where he lives. It's like I don't play in L.A. all the time either. I'd have to be something by accident. Or something set up in advance. But he's supposed to be on this "Six String Theory" record. Lee Rittenour is going to go back to Nashville work on the record there. We'll see what happens. I've always wanted to do something with Vince. I admire him as a full on musician. As a guitar player, a great singer."
stevelukather.com, February 419h and 19th 2010