Posted October 2019
Anyone who has read Boomerocity or any of the publications who have ran abridged versions of our interviews know that Toto’s Steve Lukather is one of our favorite guys to hang and/or chat with. We’ve interviewed him five times and have met him in person three times.
When you chat with him, he’s a blowtorch of unvarnished truth and can string words together in a way that will have your sides hurting from laughing almost non-stop. Whenever we get a chance to chat with him, we jump at the chance. One such chance arose with the band’s release of their CD/DVD, Forty Trips Around the Sun – a video chronicle of Toto’s 40th anniversary tour a couple of years ago. I also want to talk with him about Toto’s current tour that stops at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on October 8th.
Reached at his home in Southern California, Luke and I chatted with some catch-up talk wherein he shared about the rigors of life on the road. He was humorous and philosophical about it.
"Well, I'm hanging out in my office. I was just about to grab the guitar to start practicing. Then, I went, 'Oh, I gotta interview!' And, then, you rang the phone. I was chasing my puppy out, torturing my old dog, just doing normal human shit like everybody else. As soon as I dump my kids - I got a little kid now, too. I have my grown kids. I have my little kids, too. So, I dumped them off at school. And then I come home, and I got the place to myself for a while. That's what I do, man.
"I'm a creature of habit. I go to bed early. I get up early. I really enjoy my life as an elder gentleman, now, you know. I had my time in the sun, you know. I had the lost years where I was, like, 'Oh, Jesus! What was I thinking?' But you come out of the fog on the other end and go, 'Well, okay. I guess they needed to do that.' I don't know why, but I, you know, poor decisions. Yes, I've made a few.”
Luke then segued into the subjects of women and loneliness.
"I'm gotta say that I had great times with all the women I've ever been with in my life, and I still enjoy the company of a great woman, believe me. I'm not dead. But, you know, relationships scare me at this point. I don't mind being alone. I'm alone so much anyway, on the road. I've gotten used to sleeping alone. I've gotten use to looking after myself. Sure, there's the loneliness of it. It's a give and take situation being that, you don't have anybody nagging at you, either. Ha! Ha!
“But, you know, hey, whatever. You know? I chose this life and a lot of people don't realize that it is an incredibly lonely life. People think, 'How could you be lonely, man, playing in front of f***ing tens of thousands of people every night and whatever?' It's very easy, actually, when you go from the highest highs to the lowest lows in the period of an hour. Very strange to go from the stage - that's the rush. That's what we all live for. We don't get paid for that. That's the fun part. We get paid for the other 20 hours of the day that we sit in a room. Yeah. I mean, I've been to all these cities and countries, you know, for three or four years or whatever the hell it is. So, you know, I've been to the Eiffel Tower. I've seen Washington, D.C. I just kind of keep to myself. It's a weird. When I was young, I was out and about in the clubs and going, 'Where are we, man?' Look, after doing it for most of my human life, I just kind of hang in the room. Read. Try to find myself before the dirt nap hits.”
When we last spoke, Lukather had just released his autobiography, The Gospel According to Luke. I asked him how the book did and is doing.
"Yeah, man! That thing has had a life of its own. I had no idea! The most random people tell me they've read the book or they're reading the book. I get a message from somebody. It's still going, man. They're after me to do number a two, now - Continue the story. Talk a lot more about my session life and certain records that I did in more detail. I got a million stories, Bro. I mean, I had 400 pages hit the floor. So, I'm going to have to have the New Testament, right? Have the New Testament. It will be! That'll be the last chapter on the next book. That's where I get to stand in heaven and burn all those who burned me. We all have them. There must be some form of satisfaction that God would give us after a lifetime of crazy. Although, there might be a few people who want to burn my ass up, but that's a whole par for the course. Yeah, that's true. But you know, I know when I went through my crazy years, you know, it wasn't always pleasant. You know, I took it over 10 years. I'm fine. You know, I mean it over the hump. I could never go back to that, EVER. I just look back on it. I cringe. And then go, ‘What the f*** was I thinking? Oh, my God!’ You know, you have everything. And everyone was just consumed with this one lifestyle. And it was. And we all look back on it and go, ‘What the f*** was that, you know? Are you serious? We did that?’ Yeah. Well, they spent money on doing that, but wasting time of my life doing that?’”
Then Luke wound up his spiel by waxing a tad philosophical, again.
“I guess, you know, if all roads lead to today's I need to take the whole experience, addiction and craziness in this life, so could leave it behind me more than I like to rationalize it by saying. I have no idea if I'm totally pushed shit or not. It makes a nice hallmark card, right?”
When I posited that his experiences may be intended to help others, he replied:
“Yeah, pay it forward. Contributions when I see brothers in fame - you gotta hang out with ever so many people that are in AA, I might as well be. My whole gene pool of friends. A lot of those people do.”
When I laughed and said that I can always count on him being a hilarious blowtorch whenever we chat. To which he replied:
I'm sorry but catch me first thing in the morning after three of cups of coffee, I have already painted the house. No problem, brother. I know it's better than, 'Yeah.' 'No.' 'Maybe.' 'I don't remember. Ha Ha Ha'. That's the interview."
Our chat took place on September 11th, so I asked Luke about his thoughts about the horrible attacks and where we are today.
“I think we were all affected by that. I mean, whether it be by blood or by soul. Yes. You know, you look at today and we kind of breeze past it because it’s like driving on the freeway and there's a dead body in the middle of the freeway. You know it's there. It's hard to look at it. And I’d like to say that we're in a better place because of it, but I don't see it. I see things really - we're living in a toxic environment in every aspect -whether it be morally, socially, politically or physically. During a time when I got eight-year-old kid, Twelve-year-old daughter. My older kids are 32.”
We then shifted gears to talk about the “40 Trips” CD/DVD.
“Boy, what an excursion that has been in terms of - we've been through a . . . real bad time for us - all but destroyed everything. And you know, that's a tough pill to swallow and that's why it's taken so long to get this f***ing DVD out, because we were held by hostage by somebody who's evil and we had to live through that. And now, like it was out overseas and people here going, 'What the f***'s wrong?' Making it seem like we don't know how to do business or just a bunch of f***-ups that don't know how to release shit, right? Well, the rules of copyrights and whatnot are way different around the world than they are in the United States and North America.
“So, we had no choice. We didn't mean to do that, but we got held up at the last minute. As per someone who hates you that much, likes to plan that way. And then for reasons unknown and we don't even know what the it was all about. You spent so much f***ing money. I wish I had the money we spent. But that's the whole of the story. It's been a whole betrayal and the family. It just got tough. But I don't want to get into that too heavily because it's just another reason to sue me - because I breathe. Sue me because I breathe.
“Anyway, that's that. So that's why I was such a pain in the ass because we actually recorded it and filmed it a year and a half, two years ago when we started this 40 trips tour. We were already 43 trips, almost. Actually, it is 43 trips we're about to embark on our last leg of the tour ever. And the U.S. tour, I mean, this band will be dead at the end of this, at least in its current situation.”
“Legal killed us, man. Percentages and lots of money burned in the backyard. They could put 10 kids through college. Wow, just as a ‘f*** you’ from a woman who inherited a billion dollars. But that's a whole 'nother story.”
So, Toto will be no more after this tour?
“Well, Toto as it stands right now is over, yeah.”
“Well, you know what, it is, what it is. And the people that destroyed it know who they are. You know? I mean, I can't tell you what's going to happen in years to come in terms of what I may do with any other members of the band or not. At this point, we all have a lot of stuff we want to do, and we have to get back and take a look at this. A lot of debt to pay off. Sad that it ended. Real sad. That's going to be like this. You know, when things were going so great. Things were going so great.”
When I suggested that Toto could go the route that the guys in Creedence Clearwater Revival took, Luke replied:
“I don't know, man. All I know is that I need to get away from this for a while. Business needs to be subtle and people need to chill out. A lot of accusations and false ones have gone around. It's like a cancer. But you know, what can I say? We're going to go out. I mean, everything's cool between us, you know. We're just going to go out and play our asses off.”
Here's what fans can expect from the CD/DVD:
“It's a great snapshot of, you know, living for four years. I'm glad Paige is in it because Dave's not - you know, his health is not great. He's sixty-five and he's is pretty much is done touring, you know?
“Bob Clearmountain mixed it. so, you know, it sounds great. And we only have one take, too. Nigel Dick, the director, had to fake a few things in there because some of the cameras didn't work the night of, you know? We only got one shot. One shot. So, you know, other than that, I mean, I think it came out really well. People really seem to be digging it.”
Because Luke hit me with the heavy bombshell of the current configuration of Toto ending, I asked him what fans can expect from the shows of this tour.
“We're going to give it the best we've got, you know? We're fine. We're just gonna - we just want to get through this and have a great time doing it. We've had an incredible run of this. I mean, the band's going to go out on top of the world. You know, we've had the best year of our life in terms of playing concerts and from a financial level and everything like that. And it hurts to have it torn from me at this point. But, you know, things have a way - I don't know. I can't predict the future. I can predict being me in the future. Ha! Ha! I can't predict the long-term future.”
I didn’t want our chat to end on the sad and negative, so I asked Luke about his work on the new Ringo Starr album, “What’s My Name”.
“Yeah, I played a lot on it! I think I plan on like five or six tracks. I wrote one with him. The last time I wrote two tracks with him and Paul McCartney played bass. It was, like, total full circle, I-can-die-now moment. And for me, I was like, ‘Okay, I can die now.’ It doesn’t matter if it sold one copy or a billion, it has the same effect on me and I consider that one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given by another human being, aside from my children.
“But you know, in terms of getting to work with him, I'm seeing him tonight for dinner. We hang. He's my friend - a dear friend of mine after almost eight years, I'm going to be coming back next year to work with him. I told him he'd have to kill me to get rid of me now. We've become great pals. If his name was Billy Jones, he would still be my friend. He's just the coolest guy ever, eve. Ever. Ever. Everything you wanted to get to a billion times. He's just a joy.
“I mean, talk about growing old gracefully. This guy is going to be seventy-nine years old and looks 50. Every bit as Hard Day's Night funny as he's ever been. He plays his ass off and loves music, loves musicians, and has a great wife and a great life and wonderful kids and grandkids. I mean, this guy’s got everything you could ever want in the whole wide world and he's still the warmest, most beautiful soul I've ever known. He's the coolest. What can I say?”
I sensed that Steve Lukather was feeling a bit beat up, so I felt compelled to tell him that my experiences with him have always been positive and that I found him to be kind and generous. To prove my point, I told him the story of how he made it possible for me to meet Ringo before a show in Greeneville, SC, and that will always stand out as one of the highlights of my life. I even have pictures to prove it. I told him that I know that he has to take a lot of crap from people, but I find him to be an all-around great guy. He replied:
“Well, I do take a lot of crap but how do you know that? Yeah, I get a lot of shit from people that have never met me. I'm not surprised by all this shit. I've read some things about me and I'm going, 'Well, not only is that not true, but, wow, why would somebody do that? Why would somebody say that? But I have done some crazy shit in my life. And you know, I do remember a lot of it when I'm coaxed.”
As for what’s on the guitarmeister’s radar for the next year or so, Steve said:
“We're working all the way through the end of October. The day before my birthday is the last gig, ironically. I've got a solo record to do, which I'm kind of going to do with one of my fusion bands. Not fusion record. I'm doing Cruise to the Edge with that same band. I'm going to do Ringo. You know, I'm going to do some Lee Rittenour. I've got my New York Toxic Monkey band. I've got some other stuff to do. I got the second book. There's a documentary in the wind. I got a lot of stuff going. I want to be home a little bit more. I've been on the road some crazy - like 230 days a year for the last nine years.
“You know, whatever. I'm just burnt. I want to stay home a little bit. Watch my kids grow up a little bit - the little one, you know? I'll be back out working. There's a whole bunch of stuff in the wind that I can't tell you about that I'll be doing. So, it's not like I'm sitting around doing nothing. Trust me on that.
Next year's filling up quite crazy right now. Doing some charity stuff. I got this other band - I play in a bunch of different all-star kind of bands, you know, which is fun to do because there's no pressure, I show up, get paid, and leave. It's old school like the old days. You show up, you play the gig, you get paid at the end of it. ‘Oh, great! Thanks!’ It's not like you have to wait for months after everybody puts their paws all over it and takes all the profit. 'Oh, it's over and this costs more than this.' Yeah. People don’t really know this life. It's a rather bizarre one.”
Wrapping up our chat, I asked Luke how his shoulder is doing that he injured over three years ago.
“Oh, you know, it's much better. I haven't done anything to it because I was told not to, and everything they said came true. I've got movement up above - almost to my shoulder, without it hurting. And, you know, I've been working it out, but it's been almost four years and the pain has subsided. The body just sort of took it over. And whatever it did do, it's OK. I have no strength in it. I can't lift much, which is a drag because I've got a little boy that likes to be thrown around in the pool. I get my older boy to come over and play with him because I can't lift him up no more. He's nine years old - like a brick shit house, this kid’s in such good shape. I had to spend all this money on fencing – eight-foot fencing - to keep him in the yard. He's jumping up on the roof and doing crazy shit. I'm getting too old to chase the kid off the roof. I break way too easily.”
He may feel that he breaks easily but it’s obvious that Steve “Luke” Lukather is tough – both physically and emotionally. Try to keep up with all that Luke is involved with by watching these websites: SteveLukather.com TotoOfficial.com RingoStarr.com