Reggie: This new CD of Steve Lukather is a lot more of a band project than the last CD.
Steve Weingart: "That comes with the pure amount of time spent on the road together. It's been about two years now with these guys in the band. I've known Luke for many more years. When we go into the studio with the cats from the road it brings a whole new feel to it. It's the whole family, a brotherhood. The whole thing comes together. It expresses itself in the music. You're definitely going to hear that it's 'this band'. When you first get into a band you're kind of feeling each other out. Kind of trying to get to know everyone. Now that part is gone. We don't have to worry about that anymore. If something's not right then we just tell each other. It's easier for us now to tell each other 'this isn't working or that isn't working'. Everyone in this band is so respectful of each other. So if anyone is saying something we know it's not coming from a weird place. We all have only one goal. That goal is to do the best job we can for Luke. To help Luke musically get the vision that he wants to achieve. The audible goal. He's real strong about his vision. He knows exactly what he wants. He produces us when we're playing our songs."
Reggie: He's been around for 35 years doing this. That's how he knows what he wants.
Steve W: "Exactly! And he's cool about asking for it too. A lot of guys I've worked with in the past may say 'just do it, just do it'. It's like dude, what are you talking about? Luke says 'this is what I want. But you go ahead and play it.' There's a difference between being a robot and being a person playing it. Luke allows us to be people."
Reggie: How about your relationship with Luke and the fact that you guys have written a couple of songs together for this CD and played on these last two projects.
Steve W.: "Luke and I have known each other for years. Now it all started before El Grupo. There was a band that was thrown together with Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), that ended up being El Grupo. We went to Japan. I had hit it off with Luke before that. I mean who doesn't? If you can't hit it off with Luke then you've got to be a real jerk! There MUST be something wrong with you. We've always just been real compatible. Musically there's just a chemistry there. I think Luke and (David) Paich are an even stronger version of that. When Luke and I do these intros it's like that. We did it for the Michael Landau song 'I'm Buzzed' and we've been doing it for the last couple of years on 'A Song For Jeff'. There's no pulse to the music when were doing those free flowing intros. There's just a magic point in time when Luke plays a note and I play a chord and it's exactly together. We don't plan it. It's just chemistry. I believe that kind of thing is a special relationship. It's hard to explain or describe."
Reggie: I just talked to Luke about that last week. It's the same thing with 'Mac' (Engineer Steve MacMillan) and him. It's like a Magic Johnson/Kareem Abdul Jabbar connection. It's unspoken.
Steve W.: "Yes, exactly. They just both know it. 'Mac' will say 'I think this is what Luke wants' and 9.9 times out of 10 Luke loves it! I've seen it happen countless times. That's just my experience being in the studio with those cats." But to get back to the compositional thing about the song that we co-wrote I have to refer to that relationship, that musical compatibility that we have with each other. We got together one day and had lunch at this Thai restaurant in Toluca Lake to just catch up with each other. At that point Luke was real busy. He had just gone to Nashville for the Musicians Hall of Fame induction. He always has something going on. Sometimes when we're back in L.A. we catch up. That's what was happening. He came over and got his guitar out. I have a little Fender amp that my wife Renee practices bass on. He just played into that. I played my Rhodes. I have this little receiver that I use that attaches to my system. I just set it up and put it on top of my piano. Luke said 'I've got this idea and I need to put a different section on this and what do you think?' We then went back and forth. The song was written in about a half an hour. It just flew together like that. We spent more time putting the arrangement together and then we made ourselves a demo. The whole thing wasn't even two hours. And from my understanding he brought Fee (Waybill) in on the lyrics. Honestly when Luke has an idea it just comes in with Luke's built in attitude, musically. When he plays it has a presence and an attitude. It doesn't make a difference if he's playing through a practice amp or a Bob Bradshaw fully blown rig. There's a touch that comes from him and it's real inspiring to play with a cat like that. He's just one of those guys where all the stars are lined right. It was real easy to work with a guy like him because we have a great relationship personally and musically. So it was just boom there it is!"
Reggie: This has been a pretty good deal for you. You've helped put this band together, have a side project with drummer Eric Valentine and are the Musical Director for Luke. Could you tell us about that.
Steve W.: "I've learned so much. I've learned so much from being in that chair. In the beginning I took the responsibility from this well known, amazing musician to put a band together and make it work. So if you know anything about Luke the first thing that comes to mind is diversity. We can start off with 'Drive a Crooked Road', Rock 'n' Roll, serious attitude and then we flip over to 'Never Walk Alone'. Bluesy kind of a slow vibe. So we're talking like two different ends of a spectrum. I looked at cats that could handle both ends of that really well. The drummer especially. I had been working with Eric in other Jazz and Adult Contemporary Jazz, Smooth Jazz whatever those titles are. I had been working with him with some other artists. We hit it off real well. We got along personally and it just kept developing and developing. Luke was still on the road with Toto and he said we need to get some cats together. There were some other names in the pot for this situation. But I didn't know some of the people so I said if he's calling on me to do this then I want him to hear the cats that I've got to suggest. So all I did was just say I think these guys are going to be really good. Actually I did a La Ve Lee gig with the sole purpose of that gig was to hear Eric and Carlitos (Del Puerto) together because they didn't know one another. They didn't know about it at the time. I said I'm just keeping this to myself. But I'm just going to see how it goes with these two guys. They're great musicians individually. Let's see how it works together. Obviously the gig went well. I knew I had the cats for this thing and I knew Luke was going to be really happy. I had confidence in it! He trusts me so I wanted to do nothing but the best by him. These guys earned their positions in their careers. I just said wow! I like this guy. I like that guy on many levels. On social levels. And as you know that's important. When times are tough and the bus breaks down and it's below zero outside and we're twenty minutes away from Innsbruck, Austria our destination. The last thing you need is someone to be a real pant load, to use a Luke term. That's the last thing we need. The bus broke down. It's not the bus drivers fault. He can't do anything about the situation. What are you going to do? Turn against each other? I really had confidence in these guys that they wouldn't do anything silly like that."
Reggie: My friend Vince Gills' Tour bus got struck by lightning. So those things do happen!
Steve W.: "I had an experience in my past where somebody just lost it! In a situation not too far from that. It's like dude, you really have just got to shut your mouth! Nobody's at fault here, except for the bus. So if you want to go scream at an intimate object then go knock yourself out! Don't yell at anybody else!"
Reggie: I've found in those situations if somebody says you're a good hang then that's really important to have those kind of people around.
Steve W.: "Yes,exactly. That's a very eloquent way of saying that. Eloquent in that I take that to %100 meaning! But still when it's time to take care of business you still have to be on. I've got to tell you none of these guys have failed me. They've made my job of MD (Musical Director) pretty easy. Because they can come to the table and I can speak to them bluntly and they can take it in the manner that I intend. I never have to be mean to anybody. That's not my method. I think it's silly to be mean to someone. I don't like being treated that way and I don't like treating anyone that way. So I don't. If that's the situation then you're not part of this hang."
Reggie: It's the same with any work situation but magnified that much more when you're 10,000 miles from home sleeping three feet away from someone on a Tour Bus for six months.
Steve W.: "Yes, that's pretty intense. I've been on gigs where I'm away from home on Tour like that and I can't do anything but put my headphones on and put my head down. It's not fun man. It's not funny. I'd rather be at home working in the garage. I'd rather get a degree in auto mechanics than do that."
Reggie: What's it going to be like playing the jam song that you guys wrote for the record as a band live on the road?
Steve W.: "I think it's going to be really cool. The way we put the song together went down so quickly and easily. We just kind of said what just happened? It went down so well and so quick. We just threw some ideas together and it was really great. I think it's going to be an extension of that when we take it on the road and play it live. With all the music we do of Luke's we start with respect for the composition. If we do go ahead and grow with that piece of music and each person does their own thing we still police each other. We tell each other this works or this isn't working. But I do think that in another year after have been playing it, it will sound completely different!"
Reggie: Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Steve W.: "The biggest thing with me is I've been working on my new CD. The next two or three months for me are going to be a real intense time. It's been an intense time. I've been in the studio with Luke. We've got a lot of music. We did a lot of work. I think the new CD sounds great! I'm real happy with the way things are sounding. Every time I go to the studio I'm surprised. With a lot of the stuff when your 're doing it you don't really realize it until you hear it. Then when you hear it back you go wow that's pretty cool!
Right now I'm getting ready to go out with Luke, Robben Ford, Bill Evans, Randy Brecker, Daryl Jones and Rodney Holmes. It's a special edition of SoulBop. A tour of Japan and Asian countries. About a three week run. That's going to be great. Some of these musicians in that band are the cats I grew up listening to. So that's a real honor for me to be involved with. I'm really grateful to be a part of that. And as soon as I get home I'm going into the studio to record my next CD. Luke is going to be on my CD on a couple of cuts as a special guest, Simon Phillips and have a couple of guys in the bass chair to be guest soloists. My wife Renee is going to be playing bass on the whole album.She's come a long way. She's playing great. I'm going to turn 44 somewhere in Asia. Somewhere between Bangcock and Seoul. I don't know what city we'll be in. Last year it was Monte Carlo."
Reggie: I was talking to Luke about the Soulbop shows and he was saying your not going to get much if any rehearsal time.
Steve W.: "No, you're right! I got an e-mail from Bill Evans saying we're going to do a show the day that we get in! I had to read it twice to make sure that I was reading it right. We're actually going to have a sound check/rehearsal for what it's worth and then we just go ahead and do a show. And I think Randy Brecker Isn't getting there until show time! But with a thing like this we've had the music up front. We're doing some classic Brecker tunes, Bill Evans' tunes, a Luke tune a couple of Robben tunes. Everybody knows what music we're playing. I have an MP 3 of all the songs and I have charts. Everybody's all on the same page. It should come together like we've been playing for awhile. They're all class musicians.Bill and Randy have played with Rodney so the trumpet, sax and drummer have all played together with this music. A good part of the equation is handled already."
stevelukather.com, February 19th 2010