Steve Lukather Preps New Solo Album: Exclusive Interview
Toto fans will get double the music in February with the simultaneous release of new solo albums by guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Joseph Williams. Put the two together on shuffle and you’ll have something that comes close to a new Toto album.
But it's not.
As Lukather explains to UCR, “It’s not a Toto record, but it’s all the same guys, with a few more great musicians." The lineup includes founding Toto keyboardist David Paich, who suffered a seizure in 2018 while the band was on tour.
I Found the Sun Again, Lukather's eighth solo record, arrives on Feb. 26 with a mix of three cover songs and five new original compositions. The album is tied together by a shared nod to artists who've occupied important slots in Lukather’s record collection. From his earliest days as a music fan, it was those recorded moments, etched in black vinyl, that helped light a spark that led to his own path as a musician.
“We listened to music," he says. "The only thing that mattered to us was hanging with who had the coolest black-light room and the stereo to match it. We just listened to music and dreamed about maybe someday getting to do what those guys do. And learning from it and studying it. All of the music that we loved.”
He notes that I Found the Sun Again is based on late-‘60s and early ‘70s music and mostly cut live. "I did a song a day," he explains. "Eight days it was done and eight days it was mixed. We got some great performances. ... It was really old-school, just to see if I could do it. ... They used to say that Toto was slick. We were like a fucking punk band compared to the records I hear now.”
A sprawling 10-minute version of Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" shows up early in the record, underlining the loose and jam spirit that links the material; "Welcome to the Club" led off Joe Walsh’s 1974 So What album. Decades later, Lukather saw it as an opportunity to pay tribute to his longtime friend. “The lyric pertains to my life exactly," he says.
Watch Steve Lukather's 'Run to Me' Video
In addition to longtime bandmates Paich and Williams, Lukather welcomed plenty of other friends to help put the album and songs together, including Ringo Starr, Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson, newly minted Toto bassist John Pierce, fellow All-Starr Band member Gregg Bissonette and others.
He also reached out to former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch for some lyrical assistance on two songs, including the album opener, "Along for the Ride," which finds the guitarist giving notice that “You’ve been riding on my bloody coattails for far, far too long.”
Lynch tells UCR he was excited to work with Lukather again. “When my tenure with the Heartbreakers went down, Luke called and immediately shoved my self-pity in the dumpster,” the drummer recalls. “[He] put my ass to work on [Toto's 1995 album] Tambu. Stretched me. Tested me. Helped usher in my second act.”
Both Lukather and Williams will offer a small sampling of material from their respective new albums during an upcoming livestream on Nov. 21 that will also usher in a new Toto lineup.
"We put 90 minutes together and let everybody play a little bit, so you can hear how good the musicianship is,” Lukather says. “We’ll play a few Toto classics to prove that we can and what this band sounds like doing it, so the naysayers will shut up. But you’ve got to understand, I’ve been through 15 versions of this band. ... Some people have passed away, some people have retired. Some people hate the road, some people hate me. ... Joe and I want to go work, so we put together a band ... that’s great and fun and wants to be there. It adds a whole new energy to it."
He's also pleased with the initial reception to his new music and has no shortage of praise for Williams’ Denizen Tenant, which will be released the same day as Lukather's album.
“He spent a long time and was meticulous,” Lukather says. “He lives alone, and he likes to be alone late at night and fuck around with this shit by himself. So he’ll do weird five-part harmonies. To me, this is his greatest musical statement."