TOTO - Official Website - TOTO Interviews


During their stay in Cologne for the XX Release Party on 2 June 1998, we talked to TOTO, Joe, Bobby and Steve Porcaro about the current album and their future plans.
How many songs did you listen to before you decided on the final tracklist for TOTO XX?
David: 800, 900... 9000?


Luke: It was rather a daunting task cause if you saw how many tapes were in that library, it was like "Oh fuck". Where do we start? We just remembered titles. Some of the more familiar titles we pulled out and had them go through the technical process of baking all the tapes and carefully transferring them to digital so they wouldn't be ruined.
So you didn't actually listen to all of the unreleased stuff?
Luke: Hell no!

Mike: It would take a year to listen to all that stuff.

Steve: I think a lot of titles have stuck in everyone's head. We've always thought it would kinda be great to find some way to pull it out sometimes and this was a great opportunity.

Luke: And there's more!
And how did you decide on the songs? Was everybody allowed to name their favorites?
Luke: No!

Mike: Well, I think it's kinda like Steve said, there were a lot of tunes that we knew existed and that we knew were finished. And because of the time involved trying to put it together we had to do special processing to the tapes and we went with things that we knew were finished, were ready to go and were strong tunes.

Luke: There's tons of half finished things that need lyrics, or need a vocal or need some more overdubs. They're great tracks, great tunes. But we really didn't wanna get into all that, trying to keep this as authentic as possible. There's a couple of songs that we did a few overdubs on.
Did any of you have special favorites that you said "This gotta be on the record!"?
Mike: Oh yeah, I think "Goin' Home" was a prime example of one of those that was really done and was ready to be put on a record, we knew it was a strong Toto song.

Luke: Some of it we hadn't heard in a long time and forgot about it. They were much better than I remembered them being when we did them at that time. A little time passes, you don't start picking it apart as much.
So you did some overdubbing on some of the tapes?
Luke: Yeah...
Which were they?
Luke: "Tale of a man", a little bit... We manipulated Bobby's vocals...

Bobby: Which is the one I'm happiest that they put on the record!

Steve: Me too...

Luke: That was pretty much us live in the studio. I mean all of us playing at the same time. It was during the "Hydra" sessions.
Did you overdub some vocals for this as well?
Bobby: No.

Luke: Dave and I did... and I did a solo.

David: We finished what was undone. Kinda finished the backgrounds, Steve [L.] did a solo but that was about it, very minimum.

Luke: We didn't wanna start changing the original vibe of it too much.
You didn't do any new vocals at all?
Joe: We did background vocals on "Last Night".

Luke: Yeah.
So that wasn't completely finished?
Luke: Yeah, but most if it was intact, really.

Joe: I love the fact that you put "In a Word" on it, it was one of my favorite tunes.
Joe, did you have any influence on what has been on the album?
Joe: No, it was a complete surprise to me, I found out about all of this sort of after the fact. I got a call from the Fitzgerald/Hartley management company. They told me what was going on, let me in on the idea the guys had in mind about releasing this record.

Luke: Sent you a cheque for your silence...


David: We were trying to keep it a secret from the ex members as long as possible.


Joe: It was a complete surprise and I was thoroughly delighted that I had been included in this thing. It was actually about a month later that I found out what songs were actually on there and I was delighted.
Same with Bobby, I guess?
Bobby: I think I found out a little before you because I called Joey Carbone and he told me that we're gonna do this.

David: How about when you opened the album and saw your pictures in the album?

Bobby: Oops!


Joe: Actually we didn't get to see the cover until we got here.

Luke: Really?

Joe: Yeah.
Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams
How did you come up with the idea of turning "E Minor Shuffle" into a hard rock song with lyrics?
Steve: That's what I wanna know!

Mike: Excellent question.

David: I guess I'm the one to blame for that one. It always has just been a fun riff to play.

Luke: It was Jeff who really wanted to do that. He said write a verse and a chorus, so we did, and Fee Waybill wrote the words.
But it never ended up on "Kingdom Of Desire"?
Luke: We tried to cut it, but we just didn't get a take we liked and so we discarded it... it happens sometimes.

David: It's one of those tunes that feels better live for some reason than in the studio.
So you have a tape but you never used it?
David: We have a tape but we never used it, exactly.
Why did you cut out the drum solo on "Dave's Gone Skiing" in the South African version?
Simon: I personally think it makes no sense having a drum solo on a record.
Simon: Yeah...

Luke: I think it's not a drum solo period.

Simon: In the seventies it was cool, it was a different thing. Everybody has done double albums and triple albums. I just find it's a live thing. To me, it doesn't make any sense in context of a record. Even on my solo albums I don't have a drum solo. It doesn't make sense.

David: Plus, we did it in honor of Jeff, have to put drum solos on our record.


David: And there's only so much you can get on a 12 inch vinyl record these days.

[pause, followed by laughter]

David: Waiting to see if my band was picking up on that.

Luke: Is everybody awake?

The liner notes for the album are a little confusing sometimes, there are some comments that are not explained in the European version...
David: Subtle innuendos.

Luke: If you don't understand English the sarcasm, the little jokes that we make maybe don't translate well.
The thing is that it's apparently explained in the Japanese version while in the European version the stuff is missing...
Luke: We figured you guys were a lot smarter.


David: Yes, we didn't have to explain too much.

One thing that a lot of people have asked about is this Spiral Staircase comment from Jeff on "Last Night"...

Luke: It was a joke Dave and I had. Jeff, he actually said that. He said it sounds like the fucking Spiral Staircase.

David: There was a group called the Spiral Staircase back in the seventies and in the bridge and in the b sections, it sounds a little too much like it.

[Luke sings]


Steve: In which song?

Everyone: Last Night!

[Dave hums]

[Mike sings]

Joe: One of the happiest moments of my life was singing that b section.


[Luke sings]

Luke: It would be great in Vegas!

David: Have you met our lead singer Vic Damone?

Luke: Believe me we laugh at ourselves before everybody else can.
How did you feel when you completed the album, it must have been sort of strange looking back at 20 years?
Luke: It was probably the coolest thing we could have done, it brought us all back together again. Remember the good times and forget about the bad ones. That was then, this is now. We all live in the present, you know.

David: It was fun for us, it was kinda like looking at an old photo album. Amusing and entertaining.
Will there be a second single from the album?
Luke: I'm sure there will be, I have no idea what it should be. What do you think?
"Last Night"
David: I heard a lot of people call in for "Last Night".

Luke: As we just shredded this song!

[All sing]

David: That's a sure sign of being a hit single, let's shred it!


Luke: Number one across the world. We're doomed to play it for the rest of our lives!

[Luke sings]

David: Come on guys, it's not that bad!

Luke: You wrote it!
I think it might be a hit!
Luke: I have no idea.

David: It's kinda catchy, it's got a beat to it.
Is it up to you to decide which song is the second single?
David: It's a collaborative effort. We like to get input from our fans, from the record company, from the band, kinda like we all agree on it. And then I make the decision.

Steve Lukather
Are there any chances that there might be a part 2 of this?
David: No.

Luke: No, I don't think so. We're gonna make some new music. 1999, March we start.
This is like sort of a recap of the old things and then go on?
David: Yeah.

Luke: Did you say "rehab" or "recap"?


David: "Mishap".

Luke: This is an anniversary party. We're coming out playing together all again. I don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow.
So it was like sort of a longe-range plan to do something like that for the 20th anniversary?
Luke: No.

Steve: Short-range.

Luke: It was like "You wanna do this?"

Steve: Very spur of the moment.

Luke: And everybody was available.

David: I'll be lucky if I have everybody's phone number in 20 years.


Luke: 20 minutes...

Are there any chances that you'll be still be doing this box set one day?
Luke: Yeah. Down the line... I think so.
Mike told us several years ago...
Mike: We were talking about box sets back when. And then we found that box sets really don't sell a lot of units.
Luke: They're very expensive, it's 100 dollars.

Mike: Because they're so expensive. You get a nice case, and it's got the booklet in it and several disks or whatever. They don't really bring back a lot.

Luke: When the band breaks up, we'll probably do it.

Mike: There's a time and a place for it but we just didn't feel like it was the time now to do something like that. I think what we just did is more appropriate.

Joe: It's not a lucrative endeavor.

Luke: Can be. Can be huge. Figure if it's $100 a record and the whole royalty rate changes and then you sell 50,000 of those fuckers and you're going pretty fat.
So now's the time to do something completely new again?
Simon: Completely.

David: We're trying to be original here again.
How far have you gone with the new album?
Luke: We haven't started yet.

David: These are pre-rehearsals for it right now.

Mike: We're just getting started and just talking about it when we get back home and get together.
Mike Porcaro, Steve Lukather, David Paich
So you don't have any idea how it might sound?
Luke: I think it's gonna be polka like this time. We've tried all the other styles. We haven't examined that one.


David: Country and Rap, C n R.

Steve: Eastern European...

Bobby: Polka, schlager...

Luke: Schlager music, I think we're doing a schlager album.

[Luke sings]
That's very popular in Germany... It would sell a lot of copies.
Luke: Dave is doing the accordion.

David: There's a little rap over the top.

Bobby: Polka, hip hop.

Luke: I have no idea.

David: Rap and Polka. ROP...

Joe: Another good one.


Luke: It's been awhile since we were all doing this together...

David: Laughing?

Luke: No, just interviewing...
Have you been thinking about how you will share the singing responsibilities? Will Dave sing more on the new album?
David: We were just talking about that. I'm gonna sing most of the album this time, I think.

Steve: Right on!

David: No, we were just talking about that last night. Until we get in there and we hear the casting, it's hard.

Luke: We have an open mind.

David: The script's not written yet, so we don't know who the actors are gonna be.

Luke: I think we may not even play on the record, we'll just hire cats.


David: Rich session players.

Luke: Pull a Steely Dan and just kinda hang out.

Steve: Saying "No, do another one!"

Luke: Do another one!

David: Great session players. Me and three other guys.


Simon: Stunt men!

Luke: Stop man!


Luke: At least there'll be three good players in the room.

Simon Phillips, Mike Porcaro, Steve Lukather, David Paich
So you only think about this when you have some songs written?
David: Yes, it's a little premature.
When will you start getting together?
Luke: Immediately.

Mike: Pretty quick.

Luke: Take a week off, see you there.
Is there already a date for the release of the new album?
Mike: January, that's the goal.
So you have to work hard...
Luke: Yes. Very.

David: Yes, probably going to be the fastest album we've ever done.
David: But we're up for the task.

Luke: I think we're definitely up for it. It's the writing that takes the most time, not making the record.
But you're writing on your own and then getting together...
Luke: Every combination.

David: No, every combination. Individually, collectively, different subgroups.
What was it like when you met for the first time after so many years?
Joe: Easy.

David: Pretty funny, lots of laughs.

Luke: It was like we never left.

Bobby: It was kinda... "Now, where were we?"

Steve: We met at Dave's house for a rehearsal before we left. It was a lot of fun.
So you had only this one rehearsal?
Steve: Yes.

Luke: It was great to hear Bobby and Joe sing together in this one room. It was like, you know, how well they got on. The vibe was just great. We all gave each other a hug and plugged in and played. "Good to see you again".
That's great, you're all friends again...
Luke: Yeah. That's the happiest thing for me. If there was any bad vibe ever, it's not there anymore. It's gone, it's over.

[Luke "cries"]


Luke: I love you guys.

David: Give him a day, he'll get back into the old spirit.


Luke: Everyone's on their best behavior right now.
How was it when you met at Dave's house, when you started rehearsing? Was it like you had never been away from each other?
David: Yeah, it was.

Steve: It was very easy.

Luke: Was it "Tale of a man", some old song, you just start laughing, looking around...

David: It was a lot like time had passed very quickly and we were back into music.

Steve: Bobby and Joseph had been doing some work together, so it wasn't strange for them to work together.

Joe: [to Bobby] Nice to meet you.

Bobby: [to Joe] What was your name again?


Steve: We played well together, so it was easy.
What have you three guys been doing all the years?
Bobby: Joseph and I have done a couple of acappella CDs. I did a couple of embarassing CDs in Germany.

Luke: Yes, you did.

Bobby: Yes, I did.


Joe: I've done a couple of solo things specifically for the Japanese market that are also imports over here. As Bobby said, we did two acappella records.

Bobby: Yeah, and I worked on your solo stuff.

Joe: Yeah, he worked on one of my solo records on which I actually did "Goin' Home". I did a version from scratch. And I had Bobby sing on it and I had Fergie sing on it. I sent him a tape and he sent back a lick.

Luke: A lick? Just one lick???

Joe: Yeah, just one thing.
Was it sort of a coincidence that you both used "Goin' Home"?
Joe: It was totally coincidence. I had no idea that they were even interested in maybe resurrecting it. So I did a version of it because I liked the song. It was a song that I was a co-writer on, so I thought I would do it on my own. And like Steve, I have been writing music for television and for film, for small budget films, Steve has been doing some bigger films.

Luke: I thought I saw one of them on an exotic erotic channel last night... Music by Joseph Williams...


[Luke "performs"]

Bobby: A version of "Blowin' Home".


David: I knew he'd wave the standard flag sooner or later.

Joe: I knew it had an audience.

Luke: Yes. Small budget film.

David: Your demographics are right here in this room.

Now that you're obviously having so much fun on this short promo tour, are there any plans do to some more touring behind this album?
David: Not really. Not really like we have a pretty full palette here right now. As soon as we go home we're starting to write for this album and then we'll record this album and then we'll tour behind this album. There's not really time to promo tour. This is the megatour for this album.

Bobby: It's a minitour.
So it's actually a time problem?
Luke: Yeah, I think we'll all work together again at some point in whatever combination. We're all buds. Write tunes together, hang out, maybe do some gigs, who knows. Don't wanna say yet.
What's the story that Toto will be quitting after the next album?
David: We say that after every album.

Luke: Yeah, we'll be done, and when we're done with it, we'll quit. Who knows what the future may bring. I love to say things like this to wind people up.

David: We're trying to get a few more fans so I've been spreading rumors that it's our farewell tour and our farewell album cause usually when groups break up, they get a lot more fans and sell a lot more records. A marketing tool.
That's good, to break up after every album and then get back together...
David: Get back together.

Luke: Elton John's been doing it, The Who's done it.
David, how was it for you to play "Africa" in Africa for the first time?
David: About as hard as it always is...

Was it special in any way?
David: It was, because having the South African musicians on stage made it fun. And we just did the arrangement that day so it was a brandnew thing, it was heads up everybody. It was kind of challenging to get through it on the day we did it because we had so many new faces on stage. And at that time it was kind of a dream come true to finally be in South Africa and play our music. It was kinda like connecting two continents with music.
What do you think about the current music scene? People using sample from old songs. Would you allow that for your songs?
David: They have. They did it with my songs.

Luke: I got one out, it's a great one, by this chick, Lil' Kim... she sold like three millions records with a sample of "Turn your love around", that song I wrote. Only it's the filthiest, most I-wanna-lick-your-pussy, wanna-suck-my-dick lyrics you've ever heard in your life.

David: Where's the filthy part?

Mike: I think it was very apt.

Luke: It was perfect for me.

Mike: Can't argue with three million sold.


Luke: I'm cracking up. Graydon is the one that found out about that.

[imitates Graydon]

"Hey, man they're gonna have to pay me."


David: I like your lyric change, Graydon. That goes on a lot, and we're into it, we have no problem with that. It's fun. It's flattering.

Luke: It's not what we wanna do.
Mike Porcaro, Steve Lukather
What do you think of the current music in general, that's topping the charts?
Luke: Some of it is great, some of it sucks, that's a personal thing. Obviously millions of people are buying something, so it must strike some sort of a nerve.
But it's kind of hard times for you?
Luke: Not really.

Joe: I find myself listening to a lot of talk radio.

What are your favorite groups or artists at the moment?
Luke: I liked Radiohead a lot, I think that's a brilliant record. I love the sound, sonically it's really interesting. Wallflowers I like...

Steve: I like Garbage.

David: Dave Matthews Band.

Joe: I like the Alanis Morissette record a lot.

Steve: There's some good stuff out there, there's also a lot of stuff I can't relate to at all. A lot of stuff I just don't get. It's easy to say it all sucks and it's all horrible now because it's a lot different than it used to be. But there's still a lot of real interesting stuff out there. A good power ballad still gets up on the charts, still does real well, I can relate to that. A good R n B ballad, you still hear, we can all relate to that. And just a good pop song with a good hook. It maybe have a different production, but if it's real strong it gets played. I can relate to a lot of that stuff. There is also a whole lot that I don't relate to at all, that I just don't get.

Luke: I'm just really glad to find out that there's a space for me possibly in the Spice Girls now that Ginger Spice left. I'm auditioning...


David: Nasty Spice.

Everybody: Nasty Spice!

Luke: Nasty Spice, that will be me.
So we can reveal here exclusively that you'll be the new member?
Luke: I didn't wanna tell you cats, but... I'm going where the real money is!
So you're leaving Toto to join the Spice Girls...
Luke: I'm leaving Toto to join the Spice Girls...

David: We'll give him a leave of absence.

Joe: I applied for that job too as Bong Spice.

Everybody: Bong Spice!


Simon: Here's the real scoop... Ginger is joining us!
Maybe you should rename your band into Spice Boys...
David: Someone said Old Spice the other day...


[Everybody whistles Old Spice jingle]

Mike: Sell a few records, man, come on.
Do you have any idea what you're gonna do after the tour next year?
Everybody: Take a long rest...

Mike: When we tour we're on and we're off and on and off, that will be about a year and a half, probably be into 2000, well into 2000. Like summer 2000 before we slow down.
What about Simon's solo projects? Anything planned for after the Toto tour?
Simon: Luke and I have been doing solo projects since the end of the last Toto tour. But I think we're pretty much through with that. Now we concentrate on Toto.
So Bobby and Joe, what are your future plans?
Bobby: We do a thing in Japan with the acappella project and I've been playing as part of the official PGA tour band, that's the pro golfer's asscociation. With seven other singers...

Joe: And I'm a pro golfer, so...

Bobby: We'll get you on the tour! No, it's just really fun, it's the Starship band with Mickey Thomas and Jimi Jamison and Peter Rivera from Rare Earth and the lead singer from Pablo Cruz... so it's a really fun project.
Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams
Steve, what are you gonna do?
Steve: Continue on with my film and TV career and work on this Porcaro Brothers project, trying to get this off the ground, get it going, get it finished. Some day...

David: Work in progress...

Steve: It's a work in progress. We've been working on for a long time.
Another few years I guess...
Steve: Alright, alright... We know, we know. We're gonna keep working on it. You know, Mike's distracted, Mike's very busy with Toto doing tours and albums and I've been getting film projects for the last few years or so every now and then. There's a lot of distractions. I was working on it right before I left, I was finishing up something right before we came out here. So it's still alive in MY mind anyway.
A lot of people keep asking about it so we hope it will see the light of day some time...
David: It will get done.

Steve: I plan to work very hard on it actually.

© 1998