"I just lost one of my closest friends in our longtime tour manager and Al Schmitt, the legendary engineer who worked with us on 'Toto IV', has also passed on. Sorry, that brings me down." With these words, Steve Lukather apologises for his tardiness. Quickly, however, he switches gears. Because the actual reason for the conversation is quite a positive one, after all, with "With A Little Help From My Friends" the first sample of the new Toto line-up is released
eclipsed: Why did you do a streaming event? There is not necessarily a concert atmosphere.
Steve Lukather: To introduce the new band. It's kind of a dress rehearsal. A calling card where you can see what to expect. 99% love this new band. And the other 1% are purists for whom the band was over when Jeff Porcaro died. But the whole thing has taken on a life of its own. I can't get Mike and Jeff back, and Steve Porcaro doesn't like to tour anymore. He doesn't even like me anymore. Some unpleasant things happened behind the scenes that made me question whether or not we should be doing this. But then we got together. Like when Jeff died and we said, "If we don't do something, we're not going to bring him back with this". And even now, yes, there's the demand, there's the offers. Look, it's always like this: every time there was a personnel change, the whiners would arrive. And then? They moved on. I don't want to play "Mr.Toto." I just want to keep the music alive.
eclipsed: Were there auditions for the new line-up?
Lukather: No. John Pierce on bass, for example: Him I've known all my life, we played in bands as kids and in high school. Then he became a session musician and played with Huey Lewis for 30 years. Someone like that doesn't need an audition (laughs). Sput, the drummer, was in a band with our keyboard player Xavier, who's been with us for the last couple of years. He said, "I have the right guy for you guys." So we looked at him. And with Sput, it felt better than ever, apart from the original band. Everybody else is great, too.
eclipsed: And Warren Ham was once a candidate for the singer's job. But then Joseph Williams got the job.
Lukather: We listened to a lot of people back then: Richard Page, Jason Scheff, Max Gronenthal or Max Carl, as he calls himself, who is now with Grand Funk Railroad. A lot of familiar names were there. He didn't get the job back then, as far as I can remember, because Joseph came in with some demos that he had written. Some of which ended up as songs on the album. On top of that, I've known Joseph since I was 14 years old