Steve Lukather is a multi Grammy award winning guitarist and producer best known for his work with Toto. Outside of Toto, Steve has worked with Michael Jackson, been a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band and also released several solo albums with the most recent one “Transition” being released in January of this year. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Steve recently about his latest release as well as the Toto 30th Anniversary tour.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your most recent solo work titled “Transition”?
Steve Lukather: I have been doing solo albums since 1989. My first solo release was more of a vanity project. I had all of my friends come help me get my sea legs and we had a lot of fun. Each one of these solo albums that I put out has gotten a little more serious. The last three in particular are where I think I found my voice as a solo artist. I really enjoy making over the top records from a production stand point. I am not trying to write the next hit single that will play after Rihanna or Jay-Z. No offense to what those people do as they are great but that’s not my audience. I am making songs that I like and that I think fans of my previous work will like. I love melody with a few twist and turns.
AL: “Transition” is a much darker album than in the past. Was it hard revisiting some of those feelings or places?
SL: It’s a very personal album as I write about what I live. I am the type of guy who writes journals not poetry or something like that. I am trying to write about things that I have lived or seen. I have gone through losing people close to me, drugs, divorce and alcohol. I try and retell those experiences in my own way and learn from those experiences.
AL: You just had signature guitar pickups released from Dimarzio baring the “Transition”
name. Can you tell us about that partnership?
SL: I just fell in love with these pickups. When it was time to come up with a name I figured we could use the album name. It also is like a transition from my old sound to my new sound. Transition is a great world that can mean a lot of different things. I started working with Dimarzio about a year ago and the combination of those pickups and my signature guitar is just great. I have really changed my view on everything from performing live to life in general.
AL: Can you tell us about the upcoming Toto 35th anniversary tour?
SL: I am looking forward to being back with most of my high school friends to help out another friend and former band mate Mike Porcaro who has ALS. That was the reasoning behind the band initially getting back together. We wanted help him and his family by raising money for his medical expenses. We had such a great time doing it that we decided to do something for the bands anniversary. I’m now back with my high school brothers having a blast. I think the band is sound better than ever. Most of the dates right now are overseas but U.S. dates have begun trickling in. Between those I will also be doing some solo shows as well as some shows with Peter Frampton and then heading back out with Ringo Starr.
AL: What do you enjoy most about being back out on the road with Toto?
SL: Our band’s songs are the soundtrack to people’s lives. Being recognized on shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park” has exposed our music to a whole new generation of fans. We are a classic rock band and that’s a title I will gladly accept. I love that. Even some disgruntled hipster rock critic who gets drunk at a party and know all the lyrics to “Africa” (Laughs)
AL: Are there plans to record any of the shows from the reunion tour?
SL: That is something we are trying to get together. We have to find the right venue to shoot in and we also have to get some litigation out of the way with a few ex-managers. We are just about through that and once we are we would be foolish not to document this. There have been a number of tries in the past all of which have had dramatic stops put to them. One film was in a car accident where the film burnt up, and then there was a nasty law suit over another.
AL: Having played with a number of amazing artists is there one that sticks out as a personal favorite?
SL: Playing with Ringo Starr has been a highlight of my career. I am looking forward to doing that again. I am honored to have Ringo as a friend. I have a really cool life. I have started writing a book and just looking back on my career has been amazing. The book is still a ways from being completed however over my 35/36 year career I am just amazed at what I have accomplished. It has been a great run and I am currently booked up till 2015 without even trying. I am truly blessed. “This is a new world and there is no time to sit around with a thumb up your ass” (Laughs)