Weingart explained to me that he didn't get much sleep the night before as he had been recording for this project with bass player Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Wooten Brothers) until 4 a.m. that morning! Weingart told me that the recording was being done via Skype. He said "Victor was at his home in Nashville and I was here at home (Los Angeles area)!" About the recording Weingart said "Once you get into it you can't stop! I had recorded some music with Simon here and we just left some space for Victor to be filled in later. It was basically like we were in the same room.
I was watching him work things out. He runs Pro Tools like an expert. The only thing that reminded me that we were in two different places was that I had lap top speakers." I asked Weingart if he was learning this new recording process as he was going along. He told me "It's just like being in a session. There wasn't really anything new about it. Just the fact that he was in Nashville and I was at home blew me away! We got into a long discussion after we were done about the recording process. I recorded with him for about four hours so we got done at about 4 a.m." It was now 11 a.m. that same morning and Weingart was ready to go! Phillips' Studio was a beautiful, comfortable place where I was made to feel at home right away.
The day began with Simon, the drummer, recording engineer, mixing engineer, and co-produce working on the bass parts for "Busy Day". That was one of the two tracks that Luke was going to play guitar on. Renee played bass on this number among many others on this project. After a short time Luke came into the studio and instantly boosted the energy level. Luke immediately said (knowing Renee played bass on the track blaring over the studio speakers) "who's the bass player? It's great! She's really part of the band now! You sound great!" Simon added: "We had a great time recording that! She is great!"
As Luke looked around the studio he realized that he hadn't been to Simons' place in quite awhile. He then reminisced about past sessions. Luke then asked Weingart "How far along are you on this project?" Weingart told him "we are going to finish everything today except for the vocals." Luke joked back "I better be quick then." Luke then joked with Simon "Did you miss me?" Simon shot back without hesitation "Not at all!" Luke was very persistent about wanting to listen to "Busy Day", the first track he was going to play on. "I want to get the right vibe for the track" he said. Luke started his day by adding his electric guitar parts to "Busy Day". He brought even more life to an already vibrant number. As Luke played on Weingarts' smile grew and grew as Luke kept coming up with cool and even cooler sounds. As Luke added another cool sound Weingart & Simon simultaneously added "that's really great" and "that's nice." When Luke plays it's not about Luke, it's about what's best for the song. Luke said "it's such a cool melody that I don't want to step on it." I then realized that Luke had the same integrity regarding someone else's project that he had for his own. He didn't move on to the next song until it was just right.
There was a short break to grab something to eat and then it was solo time. Weingart told Luke regarding his solo "put your personality into it!" Luke whipped out a blazing solo. Everyone in the room loved it except for Luke. Luke didn't seem nearly as excited as everyone else. As Simon played the solo back over the studio speakers a couple of more times Luke seemed to slowly but surely embrace it more each time it was played. Luke seemed to fully come around when he said "I might take this up for a living someday!" Weingart joked "could you double that solo?" Luke came back with "Ya, if you give me a couple of months!" After some thought bounced around the room about Luke adding some more magic to the song Luke said, once again not wanting to be the focus of the track, "I think I said what I wanted to say."
There was a short break before the next number. Today was also a treat for me to see Simon Phillips work up close. He is very intense and completely focused at all times. He's also not afraid to say what's on his mind. If something doesn't sound right he's not afraid to say so. He's also just as quick to pat you on the back if something works well. Everything he says or does is for the overall betterment of the project. There is no wasted time with him as he thinks things through from beginning to end. Even in the short time I spent with him in his immaculate studio I saw how much of an asset he would be to any project.
The next number up was "Dialogue". This song was 180 degrees different than "Busy Day". This number was a very beautiful, mellow song. Once again Luke listened to the song and jammed along with the parts that had already been recorded. Everyone in the room had a word or two to say about the track. But it was mostly up to Luke as he had free reign to do as he wished. After listening to the song it was decided to go with just an acoustic guitar. After a few listens Luke said "a beautiful fuckin' tune!" Jokingly Luke added "I really like this song I wrote!" Luke continued the joke as he threw in his comical vocals. Renee joked back "now you've ruined the song forever!" Weingart told Luke "just slow and easy on this one." Luke said "I'll dumb it down for you. You called the right guy for that!" As the recording process rolled along Luke said "I don't want to be jive. This is an awesome song. Feel free to lay me back."
When an amazing piece was played by Weingart on keyboards, Luke felt his part was overshadowing it. He immediately said "just take me out! Let him have it! Don't let me ruin it! He's the maestro. The maestro!" The smiles were even bigger by Weingart on this number as Luke continued to lay his magic touch to the song. Weingart told me "Luke did just as I suspected. He came in and brought it! He didn't really even have to try hard because that's how he naturally is."
Luke told me about working with his Musical Director and friend Weingart: "I had the great honor of working on a few tracks for this wonderful, adventurous and soulful record. Both Steve and Renee are in my band and when I heard the music THEY were recording I was blown away. Needless to say I am a big fan as well as a close friend but I am not biased in saying I think this is a brilliant record with many surprises in playing and composition from the family das Weingart and an array of amazing musicians and a great sound and production as well. This is music at its finest.
Working with my world class bro Steve Weingart is always a joy and a lesson. The big surprise was how great his wife Renee was on bass, vocals and she co-wrote the tunes. We had a great hang and this record smokes! I am honored to be a small part of it. I am also honored I get to work with Steve on so many different things. He is my go to cat and he swings like a bulls ball sac! Luke laughed as he said "Sorry Renee."
I then asked Simon to tell me a little background on his studio and working with Weingart. Simon told me "I took over lease of the studio from Sheila E who had leased it for about 3 years. The studio was originally built by Johnny Clegg producer Hilton Rosenthal who came to Los Angeles from Johannesburg, South-Africa, to be able to produce black South African artists that he couldn't there because of apartheid.
I did a complete overhaul and re-wire of the studio and actually did all the wiring work myself. Studios are a hobby to me as well as a profession. This is the 4th studio I have put together but the most professional in that it is a commercial room.
I am a huge fan of Steve Weingart and love his compositions so this was a project I really wanted to be involved in."
I asked Weingart what he thought after his CD was completed. "I'm really proud of the way this one evolved. From the writing process, including with Renee, to contacting the musicians, to the rehearsals in the studio, the recording days, and the mixing sessions, it was just a great experience. Since I've gotten to know Luke, Simon and a few other key people, the hang and friendship experience has become more important to me than before, and I think that is present when you hear this music.
This was Renee's first time recording a whole album, so that was a new experience for her. The musicians had no idea she could play like that, so it was fun to see her come out of her shell. It was also a cool experience to see these established musicians see a new player come on the scene!
There are a few songs where she and I sing which is a new experience for me. We added our voices in some places as a choir effect, and as a lead 'instrument' in some cases.
I'm really glad that I was able to include Luke and Victor Wooten on a couple of guest spots on the CD. I could really imagine their sound and playing on those songs as they were composed, and having them record with Renee and I was really a special thing!
The CD is available now in digital download form. It's at iTunes and Amazon.com. It is going to be available at about every digital download store imaginable soon.
We are discussing the subject of releasing a physical CD now, so hopefully, we'll get to share all of the artwork on the CD cover with everyone soon. I'll definitely post updates as more info becomes available!"
I asked Steve W. how about Lukes' work on the CD? "I can't say enough great things about my friendship with Luke, and of course, what an incredible musician he is. We asked him to play electric on "Busy Day", and acoustic guitar on the title cut, "Dialogue". He pretty much nailed everything in the first take, then did a couple more passes just to have choices. I'm pretty sure we ended up using the first take. He contributed everything I could imagine, plus a whole lot more! He is one of those great musicians that 'gets it' right away. He just knew what to do. It was really fun being in the studio, as it always is with him. The humor was on fire, and it really puts things in perspective when you realize that we are doing something joyous! Sharing the experience of creating music ought to be a fun experience!
Luke and I have worked a lot together in the studio on many projects, not just Toto projects, so it is a well oiled machine when we get together. Of course he plays amazingly and intuitively.
I could go on and talk about the technical aspects, but I think it's better to listen and enjoy the music... I'm really grateful to my friends also including Mike Miller (Bette Midler, Chick Corea, Gino Vanelli) on guitar and Katisse Buckingham playing sax and flute for contributing their voices and personalities to this project."
I also asked Steve W. are there any plans for live gigs to support this project? "Yes! We are currently brainstorming the logistics of performing this music live internationally. In this day and age, there are a lot more options available to try to make touring work. Unfortunately, it is in some ways also a tougher task to tackle. It has always been my ambition to compose, write and perform music. I always wanted to get in the schedule of producing an album every year to year and a half, then tour in support of that album. Now, Renee and I share this dream and ambition, so we are going to talk to everyone we can and explore all the possibilities of working toward these goals!"
Stevelukather.com, July 2011