Steve Lukather and David Paich Chat Toto And New Projects On Apple Music Hits ‘80’s Radio With Huey Lewis

Steve Lukather and David Paich sat down for a chat with Huey Lewis on the latest episode of “‘80s Radio with Huey Lewis” on Apple Music Hits. The Toto veterans discussed their early playing years, hitting it big with “Hold The Line,” playing sessions in the ‘70s and ‘80s, drum machines and their latest projects.

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Lukather recently released a single “Run to Me” over the summer and plans to release a new solo album entitled I Found the Sun Again on February 21. The record features Ringo Starr, Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson, new Toto bassist John Pierce, drummer Gregg Bissonette and more. Toto singer Joe Williams will also release an album, Denizen Tenant, on the same day. Lukather and Williams also announced a livestream concert for Toto under their new project name Dogs of Oz, scheduled for November 21.

Listen free on Apple Music Hits here:

Some of the highlights from the ‘80s Radio with Huey Lewis episode:

David Paich recalls meeting Steve Lukather and drummer Jeff Porcaro as a teenager:

Paich: “I was 14 years old, and my dad just became the musical director for the Glen Campbell Show. I got to sit down in the pit and play with all these professionals like Paul Humphreys, Louie Shelton, Chuck Berghofer. Well, my dad wanted to replace the percussionist because he didn’t like the way he played tambourine, wasn’t gospel enough. So he auditioned tambourine players. Joe Porcaro (Jeff’s father) came in the room and started playing like Clara Ward, a gospel tambourine player. My dad hired him.”

“Then Joe heard me playing, jamming with the Glen Campbell rhythm section. He said that his son’s a keyboard player, and they just won the Battle of the Bands. They were looking for a keyboard player. Joe hooked me up, and Jeff came down to where Glen Campbell was, and we started playing together. Then I joined Jeff’s band, and we started playing high school gigs, which eventually, our band, Rural Still Life, became Steve Lukather’s Band and Steve Porcaro’s band. That’s how I met Luke.”

Paich and Lukather reminisce on playing and recording with Boz Scaggs on his breakthrough Silk Degrees record:

Paich: “I graduated in ’72, where me and Jeff went out in the road with Sonny and Cher and met David Hungate. Then Jeff was working with Les Dudek, who Boz Scaggs was producing, and Boz wanted to do another album and co-write it with somebody. Jeff tossed him my name, and we sat down and wrote the Silk Degrees album. Steve Lukather came on board and joined Boz Scaggs.”

Lukather: “I did that tour right out of school. Then I was on the road with Jeff, and we played on some demos for you in that early January, before I went on the road, that summer with Boz, I guess, even though I really wanted to be in the band with Jeff and Dave. Yeah, I worked real hard toward that.”

Lewis asks Paich and Lukather about the format for producing hit records in the ‘80s:

Lewis: “I want to know about producers because you guys know all about producers. You played on a million records, and there’s no one way to produce a record, right? The ’80s was about hits. it was CHR radio. That was the whole deal. There was only one avenue to success, and that was a hit single. Producers made hit singles.”

Lukather: “You got to have a great song before you can produce it. That makes it easier. It’s harder … You need more production on a bad song.”

“All my favorite records have massive production. You know what I mean? Sergeant Pepper’s, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon. We all grew up listening to that stuff. But then we also loved our R&B and our hits singles, too. I was thinking, ‘How do we mix this all up and still be a rock band?’”

Paich: “Yeah. Also, it helps when you have a great lead singer, a great artist that’s doing it, and you (Lewis) were one of the great singers of all time in the ’80s. You know what I mean?”

On the first drum machines and drummer Jeff Porcaro:

Lewis: “When’s the first time you heard of a drum machine?”

Paich: “I was in the room with Jeff Porcaro and Steve Porcaro and Roger Linn (drum machine inventor), when he had alligator cables laying out on the table and soldering iron. He goes, “Watch this.” He played the first Linn drum, high hat snare, kick. Jeff stood up and he goes, ‘We have to destroy this now. It’s going to ruin everything!’”

Lewis: “Well, I remember we heard that somehow, somebody had got Jeff Porcaro’s drums in a box. I said, ‘Wow, wow. Whoa.’ They got his drums in the box and it’s a drum machine. It’s a click track, but it plays Jeff Porcaro’s drums.”

Paich: “It was originally Leon Russell’s idea, who Roger Linn was working for, to come up with a programmable Rhythm Ace. Remember Rhythm Ace, we used to cut to those. Then Steve Porcaro came up with the idea, ‘Well, it’d be great if you could have real sounds.’ Roger says, ‘Let me think about it.’ Then when I came over to Roger’s house, he had his dog demonstrate it. He picked up the paws and says, ‘Watch this. This is called auto-correct.’ He just put a click track here and took the paws and played a stupid little beat. It corrected it. It was pretty life-changing to say, especially for songwriters, because you could make demos finally.”

Paich and Lukather on how they’ve maintained a long working relationship together:

Paich: “I think it’s because we played all this rock and roll stuff together when we were in high school. Toto, when I used to hear the guys playing on people’s sessions, it would be one level. But then when we’d get together by ourselves, it was like we had a nitrous switch in a car, in a dragster and it gets flipped on. There’s this whole other gear.”

Lukather: “We grew up together. That’s the whole thing. We’ve taken every punch together. We’ve taken every wonderful and horrible thing together. We’ve been in and out of each other’s last for like 45 years. You know what I mean? Through the good, bad, the ugly and the insane, and the wonderful. So That’s really what it is.”

On continuing into 2021 with new members and a new band name, after the original band’s 2019 farewell tour:

Lukather: “Well, Joseph (Williams) and I on the same label and we both have records out on February 21st, both solo albums, we’ve decided we want to work together. Dave worked on the records with us, and this is still Dave’s band. I’m just holding the keys to the car. You know what I mean? We wanted to work, and we were going to work anyway.”

“We put together some new cats, because some cats didn’t want to tour anymore or semiretired or really retired or aren’t with us anymore. I needed to start fresh. This whole pandemic thing went down and made everybody rethink everything.”

“I’ve tried to use a different name and it’s like the promoters and everybody like, “Look, you paid for the name. Why don’t you use the name?” I really thought, “Wait a minute. That would be stupid of me not to try to use the name and make some money back for it. I don’t care if I have to pay them for the rest of my life. I put my whole life into this.” I’ve been in all 15, count them, 15 incarnations of Toto.”

Paich: “Tell us the name of the new band, Steve.”

Lukather: “Well, the Dogs of Oz, but it’s still Toto. Yeah, Joseph and Steve there, Joseph Williams Toto present the the Dogs of Oz tour in ’21, ’22. God, help please. I hope I can tour. We’re going to go out and work because I love to do this. Am I allowed to say that? I love to do this. That’s why. It’s about just leaving it on a high note instead of a sad note, as it did before. I don’t want to live … How many great summers do I have left? I want to be happy. That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.”

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