Interviewed by David Felix
Date: Steve - June 8, 2006 & Bobby - June 14, 2006
Hi and welcome to ROCKEYEZ! It’s an absolute pleasure speaking with you
both. The new album is absolutely amazing and was actually my first 5 out of 5 star
STEVE: Really?!? Wow… that’s fantastic! Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
I don’t know what to say… I’m very humbled. When it comes to reviews, I usually wince like a dog that’s been beaten for thirty years, (Laughs) you know what I mean? Seriously, the press hasn’t always been that kind to us. Then all of a sudden, this album’s getting all these amazing reviews. We just got another great one in Billboard Magazine and I’m like, “What happened? All of a sudden everybody loves us!” I guess if you hang in there long enough it turns around, ya know? (Laughs)
BOBBY: Oh man, it’s no problem! I don’t know if there are any perfect albums out there but this is as close as we’ve ever gotten! We had so much fun making it, I can’t tell ya. The whole band was involved and it was just a great concerted effort for everyone to just shuffle the deck and throw every ace they had in there.
Well, it’s well deserved…
STEVE: Thank you very much... you really made my day. I’ll be sure to go check it
out a little later.
So lets start by talking about the new album, “Falling In Between.” This is the
band’s first studio album since 1999’s “Mindfields”… other than 2002’s “Through The Looking Glass” which was actually a covers album. Although the band has kept
busy through out that time, why such the long hiatus between albums?
STEVE: Well, we were touring! It usually takes about two years to tour behind every album and then we did the live DVD for our 25th anniversary and toured behind that
as well. We were just really motivated with this one. I think after we put the last covers
record out it was misinterpreted. People were like, “What’s the matter? You can’t write your own songs anymore?” When, in fact, we just did it to have something out there for the 25th anniversary and wanted to do a quick little tour… we thought it would be kinda fun! But, I think, people didn’t really get it. But that’s irrelevant at this point because after that, we were like, “If we’re going to do another record, it’s gotta be a great, great record. So, we’re gonna take our time, start from scratch, write the whole album as a band and really go over the top with it and pull out all the stops.” We brought back a bunch of our old friends like Steve Porcaro, Joseph Williams, Lenny Castro and all of the other guests we’ve got on the record and we just went for it! Then Phillinganes joined the band so we had the three-keyboard set up of Paich, Phillinganes and Steve Porcaro. I mean, people we always saying, “What happened to all the big keyboard shit?” We actually read the websites and the forums and take the constructive criticism. If someone’s like, “Fuck you! You suck!,” there’s really no point arguing with that but we basically said, “What do you want from us? How do you hear it?” No one really said anything specific, but we read between the lines and had to come up with the goods! We wanted to prove it to ourselves as well! That we still had some great, new, original fresh-sounding music in us that still sounded like the band… but maybe toughened up a little bit. A lot of people think we’re just that “Rosanna/ Africa” band… but there’s a lot more to us than that. The people who don’t like the band or have never gotten past that think that that’s all that we do. So, it’s nice to know that all our hard work has finally started to pay off and be appreciated. It’s a really, really great feeling and I’m real proud of it.
BOBBY: You have to realize that after we put out a CD, we go out and tour, there’s a lot of promotion for the CD and whatever that it’s like our hiatus is out there on the road trying to get back in the studio. (Laughs) It’s just a normal procedure. We would love to be in the studio all the time and record but you have to promote and you have to get out there, play, do interviews and all these things and there’s only so many hours in a day, ya know? The tour plan is a really big, important part of the whole picture. The “Through The Looking Glass” CD or covers CD was one that we decided, “Why should we rush out another studio release and write all these songs when we need to get something out on the streets right now for the 25th anniversary?” So that’s basically where that came from. We just picked songs that influenced us to become the musicians that we are and pay tribute to the artists that we loved and who we listened to along the way. We’d love to do a studio album every year if we were able to, but time just doesn’t allow it.
So what was it like going back into the studio again with your old band mates and newcomer Greg Phillinganes?
STEVE: Greg was great because he added a fresh energy to it. I’ve known him since I was 18. He was in Stevie Wonder’s band and I was in Boz Scaggs’ band. We were both teenagers but we had worked together on the Quincy Jones and Michael (Jackson) stuff
over the years as well as a bunch of other sessions, but he was one of those cats who, whenever I’d walk into the studio, would just start playing TOTO songs! (Laughs) And I’d be like, “STOP!” And he’d always say, “I gotta be in your band, man!” So, ironically enough, when Dave (Paich) retired from touring due to health reasons, even he said, “You should get Greg!” And, of course, Greg was very excited and said he’d love to do it so when it came time to make the album, the band was like, “We gotta make him a member. Let’s do this right.” So we did and he brought that fresh spark and kept us on our toes. It was great to watch him and Paich work together because they were always trying to “one-up” each other. And it wasn’t hard for him to fit in or anything because we had all known each other for 25 years or more.
BOBBY: Our lineup now is just about as good as it gets. We had everyone involved and threw everything we had into this album. But the addition of Greg Phillinganes and, of course, the inclusion of Steve Porcaro really ignited a spark we never experienced before. Greg is one of the premier players when you come down to it. He can play rock, funk, jazz… you name it! But to have Steve Porcaro, David Paich and Greg Phillinganes back to back to back is just unimaginable! We feel like the luckiest band in the world.
“Falling In Between” is a lot more progressive than the past releases of TOTO. How
did the band approach this progressive and more aggressive style?
BOBBY: (Laughs) Well, we didn’t start writing! (Laughs) And that’s exactly the point. We went into the studio with absolutely nothing written. I don’t know of many bands that could go into the studio with that kind of “cocky” attitude (and it was REALLY cocky!), zero songs written and just start jamming but know that we would come out with something great. But we would go in every day and just jam for like six hours. We recorded everything and everything was on a separate track. With “Pro-Tools” you can do this and what we did was cut out the parts of songs that we thought were good verses and matched it up with what we thought was a good chorus or a bridge or whatever it was. Then we’d put it together with Pro-Tools just to see how it laid. Then we’d go back in and record it in a conventional manner. But I’m really proud of these guys and for being able to be a part of it because it really takes a special group of people who can capture the kind of magic you get when you’re just jamming and THEN be able to capture it again playing by yourself… that’s almost unheard of! It’s just such a wonderful and amazing thing that they can take such a difficult task and make it seem like child’s play. So we would put the music together this way. Then either Paich, “Luke” (referring to Steve Lukather) or myself would take the unpolished tracks home and start writing the melody and lyrics. A lot of times, I would spend a couple of days and hours and hours and hours writing a particular track and it would take them about two minutes to rip it apart and be like, “Nahh! That’s not it!” (Laughs) Oh my god, it would just rip my heart out because I really labored over these lyrics but in the end, everybody had some input on where the lyrics were going to be and what this album was going to say.
What was the first song written for the album?
STEVE: Well, “Falling In Between” was actually the first song. Simon (Phillips) and I were the first ones into the studio and I came up with the riff and then Simon just started playing along on drums and then Phillinganes came in, heard what we were playing and came up with the B-section. Then Paich came in and added some more to it and it was almost like each guy came in one at a time and kept adding a piece to it. So that was really cool and I wanted to come out with something a little more progressive and tougher. We didn’t want to just make hit singles. We wanted to make an artistic statement as a whole but still retain what it is that people like about us. We didn’t want to make a complete “left-turn!” We’re not a metal band, but we’re not a pussy pop-band like most people think either. If you’ve ever seen our live show, it’s a two and a half hour set and we go through the complete gammit. We’ve got 18 albums of material to pick from so, once again, we put a poll on the website and were like, “Ok, aside from the hit songs we HAVE to play, what else would you like to hear from the other records we’ve done?” So we took the top twelve and play them all! Like I said, it’s a two and a half hour set so we do some new arrangements of old songs, some acoustic stuff and it’s really a killer set!
BOBBY: The first thing we recorded was “Falling In Between” but it was somewhere in the middle of recording the album that we came up with the lyric for it. I had the verses. The verses really weren’t that much of a problem but the timing structure was really difficult to nail. Then when we got to the chorus part, I couldn’t figure out a melody until Greg was just sitting there one day and I was like, “Damn! I just can’t come up with a melody!” So Greg just sang it! (Laughs) And I was just so astonished I said, “I hate you! I hate you for being able to do that!” So I took his melody, walked into the next room and from there it only took me about ten minutes to complete the lyrics. That’s all I needed was the melody! (Laughs)
Now, obviously, as well as being the CD title, “Falling In Between” is also the first track
on the release. What made you decide on that as the CD title and does the title have
any particular meaning?
STEVE: Yeah, the title “Falling In Between” is exactly what this band is! We’ve always fallen in between the cracks as far as being labeled into any particular genre because we can play rock stuff, jazz, world, funk, pop… the whole thing! And because of that, it’s confused people. People are like, “Well who are these guys? What kind of music do they really play?” Then, we also fall in between being really young or really old!
BOBBY: At first it didn’t. I mean it was like our name, TOTO. At first we thought, “Ack… the little “Wizard of Oz” dog!” but it turns out that after touring the world, we found there were actually seventeen different connotations of it! Anyway, when “Falling In Between” became the album title, we started plugging in things that were pertinent about it. WE ARE falling in between in a lot of ways because first off, we don’t fit into your typical, generic rock categories. We don’t fit into a rock band, a jazz band, a pop band… we just fall in between all of them! Here in the States, we’re almost like a new band because we haven’t really toured here in almost 15 years. So this time, we’re really going to stick our necks out and get out there and play as much as we can and try to get the attention of the fans again here in the U.S. This is going to be fun for us.
With such a group of talented musicians and singers, how do you decide who sings
on what songs and/or what part of a song?
STEVE: Sometimes everybody gives it a go and other times it’s just really obvious who should be singing. Like if I bring in a ballady kind of thing and start singing it, they say, “Well you’ve gotta sing that one.” And then the more rockin’ stuff is, obviously, Bobby but since we’ve got the new voice with Greg in there as well, we try different things. It’s just experimenting… trial and error, really.
BOBBY: It’s just as simple as we’ll put a track on in the studio and then even if we just have a partial lyric or whatnot, each one of us gives it a shot and whoever sounds the best sings it. It becomes real apparent very quickly who sounds best on what. Like I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the band singing the first part of “Falling In Between.” That part was meant for me… but then again I wrote it and knew how difficult it was going to be. That’s a tough song. (Laughs)
How was the writing and recording process of the CD as oppose to your past releases
STEVE: The main difference this time is that we wrote everything as a band except for two songs, one of mine and one of Dave’s. But that was the point! We wanted to do everything together. We went in there really motivated. The first album we did when Bobby came back was “Mindfields” and we were still signed to a major label who were still telling us what kind of stuff we should write. I mean some of it’s all right, some of it’s a little too “poppy” for me so this time, we didn’t have the constraints we did with them. We paid for the album ourselves, we wrote the album ourselves, we produced the album ourselves and when it was done, it went to the highest bidder as a license deal. The people we signed with REALLY wanted the record and we wanted to retain control and own it. I mean, we were slaves to Sony for like 25 years and they were still paying us a 1977 royalty rate when records were like $7.00! Then they pulled all sorts of stunts on us. They kept putting out “greatest hits” record like every eight months with shitty album covers, poor production… it was just a drag! We lost that relationship a long time ago and it really hurt us in the United States especially because they wouldn’t release our albums over here. Where our following in Europe, Asia and all over the world is huge… we’re still playing arenas on our own! But in the States, the old record company president Donny Ienner didn’t like us and was like, “Fuck you guys! I’m not letting you out of your contract and I’m not releasing your records!” That went on for over ten years and it really sucked. I’m so happy that we actually, FINALLY got fired! The guy was just an asshole! And he didn’t just do it to us! If you disagreed with him or didn’t want to play his games, that’s what would happen to you and he did it to a bunch of artists. JOURNEY, us, Michael Bolton, ya know? He buried EVERYBODY! Unless he signed you personally, you were fucked! So we were part of the corporate nightmare and getting the shit royalty rate. Do you remember when CD’s first came out and were like $18.00 or $20.00 each? Well they didn’t bump up anybody’s royalty rate. So the record company was making like $12.00 a disc and we had to pay back all the charges. We were making like $1.25 a record... which in 1977 was a great deal because records cost $7.00 or $8.00.
And that was fair at the time, but they were raping us and making hundreds of millions of dollars off of artists like us! And then to get fucked like that to boot and just be buried was a drag. They owned the music so they could do whatever they wanted with it. Repackage it, reconfigure it and put it out with any shitty compilation without any artistic integrity... they’re just making a buck! Then when we did put out something new, they’d just put out another compilation to compete with it... they did that this time too! So... what can I say? We’re in charge now, we’re enjoying it... we’re an “indie” band now so people are kinder to us. Maybe because we’re not a “corporate rock” band anymore.
So how’s your new label (Frontiers) been treating you so far?
STEVE: Well, we entered in the top 20 or better all over Europe and Asia! We were #4 in Japan, #2 in Finland... we were wailing! I mean, we were right up there with all the records that are happening now! In the U.S., we have to start from ground zero, basically, and we haven’t toured here in a while. This is the first time we’re going out on the road in the U.S. in ten or twelve years. So I’m very humbled by that and very happy. We do spend a lot of time outside the country and we make a lot of bread so that’s not the issue... we just wanna play for our people! A lot of people think we broke up! (Laughs) So thanks to people like yourself and all the people just giving us all these great reviews, we’re able to take a second look.
Do you have a favorite song off the new album?
STEVE: Ya know, I haven’t listened to the whole album for a while because we’ve been on the road touring but I dig ‘em all! I guess it depends on what mood I’m in that particular day. You’re favorite changes depending on how it develops. So it’s really hard to say... it’s almost like saying, “Who’s your favorite kid?” if you have kids, ya know? You love ‘em all in different ways and for different reasons.
BOBBY: I’d have to say “Falling In Between” because it is the most difficult, it is one of the first songs written and it’s our opener! It’s how we come out of the box.
When you guys get together and start writing for a new album, what do you feel is the most difficult part to overcome?
STEVE: Lyrics. We always try and write good lyrics and not cheese. When we first started out, we got our asses kicked because everyone felt the lyrics were weak... and they were! But Hell, we were just teenagers! What the Hell do you write about when you’re a teenager? You haven’t even experienced life yet... you’re still trying to find out what your dick is for! So as you live life, you want to get better. The music always came fairly easy because we were all pretty accomplished musicians but as songwriters, we needed some work. Lyrics are just as important. You want to say something without it sounding preachy or cheesy, you know what I mean? So you write about what you know and what you really feel. I think that takes the most time... that and the mixing. We spent all this time laying down like a million over-dubs and everything and then Steve MacMillan (who does all the Trevor Horn stuff) actually mixed the record. We gave him all the stuff and told him, “Do with it what you will and then call us and we’ll come in and let you know what we think about it.” So he would spend three or four days on a mix… PER SONG! It’s like you have all the parts to a puzzle, but you gotta put it all together and make it sound cohesive. You can’t get married to anything too heavily because when you’re mixing, it just gets ripped apart. Even though you may have worked a long time on a particular part, it just may not fit at the end of the day. So that took a long time as well… just sitting back and listening to it critically and no one’s a harsher critic on us than we are.
BOBBY: Ummm… trying to decide what to remove! So much information gets put into recording a CD that it’s very hard to decide sometimes what stays and what goes. We have extra tracks that were written, tons and tons of lyrics… I’ve got triple stacks of lyrics written for just this album which were rejected but are still very good lyrics. We have to surgically remove things from the release and that’s the really hard part. It’s like having a baby and saying, “I don’t like this arm, lets get rid of it!” (Laughs) You really get attached to things sometimes. The songs are, bar none, some of the best we’ve ever done and we had to limit the amount of music we put on the CD. And also, getting the right feel from the right label to push the CD. That’s a process that’s mostly done by our management but we are heavily involved in that process as well. I mean it’s our heads on the chopping block and as Steve said, well… you know the whole story about Sony! (Laughs) It’s a terrible thing and it’s caused a lot of really good artists to fall flat on their face but luckily, we have had the talent to just keep standing back up! This is way too fun to stop and we have too many loyal fans all over the world that we don’t want to disappoint. It’s worth it for us to get up in the morning and do what we do.
Lets go way back for just a moment to the year 1982 and your critically acclaimed “IV” release. Amongst the many great tracks on the release, the song “Africa”
has just about become an all-time classic and can still be heard on radio all over
the world to this day. When you wrote and recorded the song, did you realize
you had recorded a masterpiece which would literally withstand the test of time?
STEVE: I thought it was the worst song on the album. It didn’t fit, the lyrics made no sense and I swore that if it was a hit record, I’d run naked down Hollywood Boulevard!
That’s how good I am at picking singles! (Laughs) I mean I love the song now but, to be honest with you, at the time I thought it was really the odd ball song on the album. It almost didn’t make the record and it was a #1 worldwide single and still gets played everywhere today. No matter where I go in the world, people know that song… it’s bizarre! For a song that Dave and I wrote in his living room, people know it in Indonesia!
But it’s been a great ride for both the band and the song. Here we are thirty years later and we’re still playing it, hearing it and we still all really do like each other and respect each other. Laughter is the best medicine and is always the thing to take the tension away ‘cause lets face it, we’re like any other married couple. We get along MORE than most married couples, as a matter of fact, and we spend more time together than with our own families. So you gotta get along. Sure, we argue… someone may be in a bad mood or may be over tired but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love each other. We don’t have to! This is really a labor of love because any one of us could get gigs with just about anybody, anywhere and have been offered! We all do our side projects or whatnot but something just keeps calling us back.
BOBBY: (Laughs) I have to tell ya honestly, that’s one of the songs we had considered not even putting on the CD! We had NO idea. David had a lot of faith in it, of course, but it was so off-color from the rest of the songs on the release that we seriously considering not putting it on there at all. I think it was a guy named Al Keller, who was over at CBS at the time, who really loved the song finally convinced us to put it on there. Afterwards when people started giving us their live feedback about the song, we were just amazed at their reactions to it. But to answer your question, it almost ended up the odd song out! (Laughs)
How does it make you feel when you hear that song still being played today over
24 years later?
STEVE: I smile! It makes me laugh a bit… in a good way. I’m always like, “God, I can’t believe this! The song that I liked least is the biggest song we’ve ever had.”
BOBBY: I never get tired of hearing it. I still don’t exactly know what the song is about! (Laughs) Dave gives us some clues every now and then but he was reading all this stuff about Africa at the time and he’s just one of those guys who can turn what he reads into wonderful melodies and lyrics and we’re really, really happy that he can do that. He wrote a classic! And it’s super fun to get to a song like that in your set because you just see the fans’ faces light up because they know every word by heart, start singing along and just really bond with you in a way that not many other songs can. It’s a highlight of every show we do.
Bobby, in 1984, you left the band. Pursued some various solo projects through out the years but remained a bit out of the spotlight in the 90’s…
BOBBY: Is that what they told ya? (Laughs) They told you I left? I got fired, man! (Laughs)
(Laughing) Well, what was it like rejoining your old band mates again and what were you doing all the years in between?
BOBBY: Actually I had moved over to Europe. I had to get away from some “nasty habits” I had gotten myself into. (Laughs) But anyway, I went over and lived there for about five years, recorded about four or five CD’s over there but I was always in search of a band like TOTO again. Once you play with a group of musicians like these guys and you leave that position, you’re always going to be in search of that home base again and it’s almost impossible to find. I’ve gone and sat in with some of the best bands on the planet and there was still something missing. I think these guys I’m with now are pound for pound and man for man some of the best music that’s ever been played. On stage, they’re absolutely in tune with each other mentally in a way that is very hard to replicate. We never play anything the same way every night. Every night is a little bit different and these things happen because there’s a mental connection between the guys. Luke will take is in one direction, Simon will take us in another and what they consider to be a mistake all of a sudden becomes a new arrangement… It’s amazing.
Steve, other than TOTO, your resume of artists you’ve performed, written or recorded
with reads almost like a “who’s who?” of music. From CHICAGO to ASIA to
legends like Elton John, Joe Cocker and Quincy Jones… just to name a few.
Of all of the projects you’ve been involved with, is it even possible for you to put a finger on a favorite?
STEVE: Ya know what? It really is impossible simply because there’re so many different styles of music. I can say this, though… I’ve had the chance to work with just about every single one of my hero’s that I’ve ever wanted to in every style of music. So that’s pretty cool and I’m really humbled about that. I’ve been a part of some big records and had the chance to do a lot of stuff. People keep telling me I should write a book about it but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet. But you never know, stranger things have happened. It’s been a wild ride! I’ve done over a thousand records so it’s really hard to remember them all. There’re high points for sure, but I can’t pick just one, man.
Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with through out the years that you
would like to?
STEVE: Peter Gabriel. I know him, I mean I’ve met him and we’ve hung out but I was always a HUGE GENESIS fan when I was a kid. So Phil (Collins) and Peter were always a couple of my idols and we got to do some shows with MIKE + THE MECHANICS a while back so I met Mike (Rutherford) too and he was very, very cool. I still listen to that music, though… you should see what’s on my iPod! I really have eclectic taste.
BOBBY: Stevie Wonder. I’ve met Stevie a few times but I’ve never worked with him and I absolutely adore him, his voice and his songs. I also listen a lot to Donny Hathaway and I’m sure he was one of Stevie’s mentors because they have a lot of similarities. I love them both but if I had the choice, I would love to work with Stevie.
With everything else you’ve got going on, do you ever find it difficult to find
time for TOTO?
STEVE: No… never! I’ve always made TOTO a priority because it’s been very good to me. We plan it out properly. We know six months in advance what we’re going to be doing. So I just work around it.
This one’s again for you, Bobby… You’re voice is still absolutely amazing even after all these years. Is there anything you do to help maintain it?
BOBBY: You bet! I can’t exactly change the strings or tune the heads or anything (Laughs), so what I have to do is work on my whole body. My instrument is my body… the way my voice sounds is the way I feel. I try to maintain really good health. I eat right, I try to exercise every day and I do my best to stay away from things that might be harmful to my voice. I studied this. I try to make it easier instead of harder. I don’t go out drinking… even though I do love to have a beer every now and then. For the most part, I get off stage and go to bed. It took a long time for me to learn this. In the beginning, after a concert I’d put on the party hat! (Laughs) I’d come off stage and be ready to party… Yee Hah! (Laughs) But that’s not really the way things work. Welcome to “real life!” Now I come off the stage and immediately try to get in bed and get some sleep because I know I have to do it again the next night. That was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn… no partying, no drinking and keep myself mentally aware that tomorrow night is going to be just as hard as the night before.
What are you most proud of?
STEVE: Still being here after thirty years. Toughing it out through the good times and the bad times. Enduring the loss of Jeff (Porcaro) and all our other brothers along the way and going through the “drug” thing fairly unscathed and still caring about music and having a really good attitude. I’m really thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve had.
I realize that it’s so very rare that someone gets the opportunities that I’ve had. I cherish it. I take all the punches that anyone has for me but I can still laugh it off because I have had the opportunity to make all my dreams become reality. My dream as a child came true and the fact that we’re still doing it and still can do it is just amazing. I mean what’s the life expectancy of a band these days? Three years? Five years? We’ve been here for thirty! They’ll have to kill us to get rid of us.
BOBBY: I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve come this far and matured as oppose to becoming a group of people who hate each other and can’t get along and communicate. I’ve seen so many bands out there that have maybe come this far, but they’re not even talking anymore! I still love all the guys in our band and we can actually still all sit down in the same room and have fun together. The joke quality in this band is unfathomable! (Laughs) It’s truly funny when we go out on the road. But I’ve experienced a lot of bands and I have some very close friends who are in bands like ours that HAVE come this far but just aren’t communicating anymore. They’re just going through the motions and trying to make the money. They’re resting on their laurels and not really advancing. I’m very proud that TOTO is a band that still has their gloves on. We’re still in the boxing match and still “duking” it out and advancing our careers. We’re trying to make better and better records, we’re doing our very best to increase our crowd levels and our territorial areas that we can play in. It’s really quite an accomplishment! The race is not over for us. We’re not sitting back and resting on our laurels at all and I still love being in the fight.
Now here’s a real hard one… lets take music out of the equation entirely. Had
you not discovered your talent, what do you think you would be doing today?
STEVE: You want fries with that? (Laughs) that’s pretty much it, dude… I’m tellin’ ya!
BOBBY: I know EXACTLY what I’d be doing! I was studying pre-med in college and was working as a lab technician where I found I really loved working with people. But I came to a crossroads after about five years of pre-med which was either go full time with the music thing or continue on and go to med school and become a doctor. Hopefully I made the right choice! (Laughs) I am a doctor, though… just an “emotional” doctor! (Laughs) I’m a music doctor and I’m doing my very best to make people feel good that way. So that’s what I’d be doing… I’d have continued on with that. I found that it’s very fun to work with people and it’s very gratifying to be able to help people who need you.
I still get that same feeling when I go out on stage. I see people’s faces and they look like they have an emotional need and we’re there to cure it!
You guys have been on the road since early February in support of the release, how’s everything been going so far?
STEVE: Unbelievable, man! We’ve been selling out shows, getting great reviews, the record’s doing real well… especially for guys like us. Everything’s been real positive!
We just got back from Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia and we’re heading out in the U.S. shortly and then back to Europe again for the summer. Then we’ll probably take a little break.
You’ll be returning to the States shortly for your first North American tour in
many years. How excited are you about that?
STEVE: We’re going to be workin’ it in bits and pieces probably till the end of next year.
We’re doing three weeks now, then heading over to Europe and after the break; we’ll be back again. Then it’s back to Europe again and South America because we’re still really popular in those areas and we can use the income to subsidize our income when we come back to the States again! (Laughs) Or at least until we get our legs back here but we’re all really excited and happy to be back in our home country.
BOBBY: Very! As a matter of fact, when you just called me, I was looking at the tour schedule and it’s been a long time since we’ve had over, like, three dates in a row in the United States. This is going to be quite an awakening for us and hopefully for our audience here because, for the most part, we’ve had people travel from Florida all the way up to Washington in the past just to see us because we only had like one or two concerts in the United States. We played in New York a couple of years back and people had come from France and Holland just to see us. It’s really incredible. But now we’re trying to really swing that door open so that people won’t have to travel so far to see us. I feel like we’re one of the luckiest bands in the world for people to actually do something like that.
What kind of set list can people expect to hear?
STEVE: We do a ton of the old stuff, man. We do about four or five new songs but it’s a two and a half hour set so we do a lot of the old stuff. We do all the hits that everybody wants to hear. Maybe a few new arrangements of the old songs but it depends on the market that we’re in. It’s been getting rave reviews but what’s really interesting is how young the audience has become. It’s almost cult-like. I mean we’re not main stream but people must just discover it, get into it and come out to the shows. We’re just having a blast, man! Let me tell ya, it doesn’t suck to get paid for playing the guitar! I love it.
BOBBY: We’re mixing it up. We play about five songs off the new CD but then we reach way back into some of the really early TOTO stuff. Of course, we’d have out heads chopped off for not doing the hits! (Laughs) You WILL hear “Africa,” “Rosanna” and “Hold The Line.” Even though on “Rosanna” it’s just a slightly different arrangement… so get ready for that! But I’m doing some things from CD’s I didn’t sing on when I was out of the band. We have medleys that we’ve put together encompassing a wide range of CD’s so, the crowd’s going to get a little bit of everything from TOTO… old and new! This is one of the best sets we’ve ever done. Are you going to get a chance to catch one of the shows?
Absolutely… on the 24th at Irving Plaza in New York City!
BOBBY: Very cool, man! You make sure you get back there so I can shake your hand!
I will… that is unless you jump into bed first!
BOBBY: (Laughs) No, no, no… I take a little bit of time to do that! Forgive me if I don’t stay up all night to party! (Laughs)
Does your set change from night to night or do you pretty much stick with a
set select group of songs?
STEVE: Sometimes depending on how much time we have but we get into a groove because it’s a very technical show. The timing, the lights and all that have to be in sync but we have a lot of room for improv during the show itself so things happen differently every night.
BOBBY: It does change… actually it depends on the amount of time we’re allotted. Every place is different. Our normal set in Europe is about two and a half hours so, once again, surgical removal is always the toughest part because, what do you take out? I feel like we have a perfect set over in Europe so removing some of these songs can be very, very difficult.
Well, the show’s being billed as “A Night with TOTO” here so; I can’t imagine them cutting the set.
BOBBY: We’re really excited about playing New York, which, of course, is one of our favorite places in the world. We LOVE our fans and it’s such an honor to be there and see them all in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Do you have a favorite song you like to perform live and why?
STEVE: Well, the new stuff is always fun because it’s new and fresh but we also did some very new, updated arrangements of the new hits which has been very surprising to people but they’ve been getting a great reaction. I just think that getting out and seeing the crowd getting into it, singing along with all the songs and seeing how excited they are about being there kinda makes you lose yourself in all that energy.
BOBBY: Once again, I’d have to say its “Falling In Between.” It’s got that raw energy that really gets us pumping and it’s right there at the very beginning. You’ll see what I mean when you catch the show.
What is the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you while performing in
a TOTO show?
STEVE: The Shart!
The what? Shart?
STEVE: Yeah… that’s when you fart and end up shitting your pants at the same time! (Laughs) I mean sometimes you get a touch of food poisoning on the road or whatnot so… Ya know, Lionel Richie actually told me the best story about that because when he was in the COMMODORES, he had to wear one of those white, double-knit suits and it happened to him on stage in the white suit! The “exploding asshole!” He ended up having to back off stage and everyone was like, “What happened to Richie?” He comes back out a few seconds later wearing jeans! (Laughs) It’s funny… that’s happened to a lot of people I know and you just gotta try and laugh it off and wait for the drum solo to come.
How about you, Bobby?
BOBBY: 1983 we were in Nashville, Tennessee and we were playing our last encore song. I came out and, being my crazy self, jumped off a speaker and the speaker rolled out from underneath me and I ended up breaking my leg!
BOBBY: Yeah… weird enough? I spent the next three days in the hospital and hooked up with the band in Binghamton, New York and never missed a concert.
What would you most like to accomplish this time around and in the future?
STEVE: I think we’re on a creative up-swing and also a critical up-swing. I’d just like to keep forging straight ahead. Try to rebuild in the U.S. and really do a great follow up record to this when it comes time.
BOBBY: This time around, we really want to try and capture a great U.S. audience because I’m tired of showing my passport to make a living! (Laughs) I really would like to play the States and have a lot of fun with the U.S. fans because they’ll actually get our jokes! (Laughs) We were just in Indonesia and Luke is REALLY crazy on stage… he’s a funny guy, but anyway, he cracked one of his jokes and you could almost hear a pin drop! Meanwhile the band is laughing their asses off! (Laughs) So, it’d be fun to thrive in a country that speaks our native tongue!
Thanks again guys and I am really looking forward to seeing you on the 24th at Irving Plaza in New York City.
STEVE: All right my brother, make sure you come back and see us. Thanks again for the great vibe, I really appreciate it.
BOBBY: All right, buddy… I appreciate the call and I’ll see ya on the 24th! Hang in there, tough guy and thank you so much!