This interview has been published with kind permission obtained from Marc Tyley and Chris Pratt and it is the “uncut” version of an edition that was broadcast exclusively on Marc Tyley’s Classic Rock Show, 11 March 2006.
The interview took place in the bar at the Royal Garden Hotel, London, a couple of days after the opening night of the Falling In Between tour. It was very informal and more of a chat than an “interview” as per all the one-liners, jokes and laughter that was bantering around in the background from the other band members while everything was going on. As Chris says at the end, it would have been great if this had been a TV interview then you would have been able to experience the relaxed atmosphere first-hand. As it is, I’m going to try and capture that feeling through punctuation… nothing like a challenge, right??!!
Chris began by bringing up the subject of the age of some of the fans.
Steve: Maybe we’re getting some younger fans that are kinda baffled by it and we’re happy to have them… maybe it’s because we’ve become a sort of “cult” underground band now… it’s almost hip to like us, because it’s not popular to like us like a pop star would be, you know what I mean… God bless them man! Thanks to their mum or dad, their older brother or their uncle, their aunt or wherever it all came from… I mean they don’t just know the hits… they actually know the album cuts and stuff… and we’re seeing this result in us entering the charts, in the top 15 or better… first week out for us we’re competing with all the teenage bands and all the MTV type people… we just kinda snuck in there on our Indie label, who’s been killin’ for us, so I think this is the happiest we’ve been at the start of any tour. Greg’s in the band now… you know that fresh energy… he’s kickin’ all of our asses and you know, we’re all feelin’ good… obviously we had a few opening night jitters… a few technical faux pas… monitor goes out… my guitar didn’t work on a tune… Bob was singing a little out of tune because of his monitor… but overall, it was great… we would have loved to have had a couple of shows done but, we opened in London! I was so pissed off with Martin like, “Dude, give us a couple of shows to get the words out…!”- you know what I mean? It was the first time we actually ran the set full production… in front of the people! So I mean… considering what could have gone wrong, it went pretty well.
Chris: We were talking just a moment ago about sort of first night nerves and a bit of trepidation about coming out there… Mike you’ve been doing this for 30 years, how come you still got the nerves?
Mike: Well, you know, in this instance, I think it was more of the fact like Steve just said, that we were really just bringing it to the table, the whole complete package, and we didn’t really have a whole lot of production rehearsals to get ready so… yeah and it’s London… and you want to perform well… and you want to get a great reaction in this town and so, yeah… my nerves were goin’, but in general… I wouldn’t call it “stage-fright”, but it’s a good nervousness… you should be feeling up and just before a show… it shows that you’re into it, that you care… that you’re concerned about doing your best…
(Greg’s voice chimes in from behind defining what Mike just said as “stage-concern” triggering off a round of good-humoured banter between the guys.)
Steve: You know, we live in an Internet world now, so last night, Mike and I were cruisin’ online looking at our Website and a couple of other Websites… I mean our Website is real friendly and the fans are forgiving but we wanted to see what people were saying and man… there was some honest criticism… most of it was they loved the set list, they dug the vibe… there wasn’t anything like “you sucked, or this was horrible” or anything like that. Oh no… there was one cat that was pissed off and he must have been a “metal head” ‘cos he said, “What happened to these guys? They turned into the Carpenters!” (background laughter) He said something like we’ve “…been reduced from a rock band into being the Carpenters/Carpenters cover band…” or something like that… and that’s so bad it’s funny! Maybe it’s because he didn’t dig the R&B or jazzier stuff or that, but if you listened to the whole show, we tried to do a little bit of everything… we play a lot tougher live… there was enough power in there I thought… we threw in a couple of “muso moments” in there but I just love being compared to the Carpenters… and by the way, they made some great records… Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote some great tunes for these guys, so what can I say…?
Chris: Falling In Between was the opening number for you Saturday night, now that’s going to test you… that’s one hell of a tune to start with…
Steve: We’re real proud of that… that was the first tune we put on the record, that we wrote together… we wanted to set a standard… we wanted to come out swingin’… we knew we weren’t going to make a mellow record… although, Greg Phillinganes found out yesterday for the first time that he is on the front cover of a metal magazine (laughter and cheers from behind) he never really thought that was going to happen (more laughter)…!
Greg: A milestone, I gotta tell you… not too many black guys on the cover of metal magazines, German or otherwise, that was pretty impressive! (the magazine in question is “Rock It!”)
Chris: How does it compare working with these guys from what you’ve done before?
Greg: It doesn’t compare at all. Because, in past experiences, even though they were great, playing with Eric Clapton or Phil Collins or Lionel or Michael… the fact is you are in a band playing behind the star… in this situation, the band is the star… (cue for some good-humoured background banter about Greg thinking “he” is the star and him jokingly agreeing!) …in this situation they kinda let me do my own thang in that area but no… I absolutely love being in this band and it is, in every sense of the word, a band… and they have warmly embraced me from day one. You know when David asked me back in ’03 to sub for him and I have never… yeah almost 3 years already, 3 years ago this summer is when I was first asked by David and the guys… and I have never felt more love and acceptance in a musical situation, or in any situation pretty much outside of my wife (Greg laughs prompting quips from behind asking if they are still speaking!) But yes, this has been absolutely fantastic for me.
Chris: Is this a little bit different… you’ve been with them since ’03 playing classic Toto songs with them for a number of years and now you’re playing new stuff making your own mark on Toto songs?
Greg: Yeah… another level of goal for me… I think for all of us you know, because the new songs are new for all of us and it‘s been a joy playing the songs that I’ve been familiar with as a fan, because I was a fan before I was a friend… but you know I became friends with them very early on in their career… I’ve known them for at least 25 years now… longer because I’ve been a pro for like 30/31 years so I’ve known them for like 26 or 27 of those years and so yes, this is just another level for all of us…it’s great, great fun… great to be involved in the making of the record… I did a bit of writing… for the most part it was a community effort but I did do some specific writing, in the title track included.
Chris (speaking to Mike and Steve): For you two guys, you’ve been the constant in the band as original members… how different is it for you having these new guys around you… is it any different from 25 years ago or is it much better?
Mike: Well, you know… ever since Simon joined us when my brother Jeff passed… and you know, there’s always a little adjustment period in there, and there is with the fans too, it takes them some to time to get used to some new faces… but it all works out in the end and once we get a little bit of time and a few shows done and under our belt, their influence is also thrust upon us, and it becomes a band again and it’s that constant adjustment… it’s fantastic, it feels like home… it truly does… it’s Toto 2006 and that’s the way I feel about it, it’s great.
Greg: The fans have been amazingly accepting of me… you know pretty much from day one it’s been easily 90% favourable…
Steve: I would venture a guess that it’s been more than that… Greg comes from the same pedigree as we do… I mean, we knew each other from when we were teenagers… starting out… doing sessions… we’d worked together…so it wasn’t like we found this guy named “Greg Phillinganes” and brought him to the band… he’s as world-class as you can get… I mean his discography is incredibly impressive, as all of ours are, but we did a lot of the same stuff together and we’ve known each other so, bringing in a friend isn’t like auditioning someone, a stranger, into the band it was a very smooth thing… when we did the record, it was David and Greg… David Paich really helped me to make that transition a lot easier and we got the band used to the idea that we were going to make a change because David has retired from touring… but from day one it felt right… Greg brings fresh energy, he’s always kicking us in the booty and we need that… it makes us fresh… and in the song-writing area… and it’s nice to have a keyboard player that actually shows up on time(everyone laughs)… knows all his parts… sings his ass off (more laughter)… Dave you did us a solid bro! Dave’s still in the band but he’s in the band like an executive producer would be… he’s always looking out for us… he sends us e-mails and of course we delete them immediately (more laughter…!!)
Chris: Talking about old friends, on the album you’ve brought Joseph back in for this one…
Steve: Joey man you know… like I said, we’re all friends and we all went through some rough spots at one point or another… Bobby is back and Joey… hey we ran into him and said the fans said they would just love to hear Joe singing with the band again so we brought him in, brought Steve Porcaro back in… do the whole full Toto thing… there’s a little bit of brand new style, a little bit of touching upon the classic eras, and Joe’s voice… he’s singing better than ever… he’s groovin’… it was the right thing to do and it was very cool.
Chris (to Mike): Was it good to have your brother back working with the band?
Mike: It’s great… you know Steve… every record he’s usually there in some way… helping Dave out… but we really threw some songs at him on this one… kinda left him to his own devices and I think the fans appreciate it… it brings that element in… Toto was always about heavy synthesiser… as a band too, there was always that element that was strong about it and this record we brought that back with Steve coming back and helping us out… I’m thrilled… man I’ve been trying to talk him into coming out and doing a run with us on the road here… you know, getting away… but he’s got a couple of young kids right now and he’s way into his film scoring career but we’ve been talking about it and hopefully at some point in the future he’ll come out and do a second keyboard and do all his synth runs for us… he’s a great guy to watch visually live too so I would just love to see him out here with me… I’d love that… I’d love the company.
Steve: The funny thing is, when we gave Steve the record to look at the tracks, and Dave and Greg were cutting live keyboard parts and we just gave Steve the drive and said, “Do your thing”… and man, there’s amazing out-there stuff that only he can come up with… he doesn’t think normal! (more laughter) And I mean that in the most loving, creative way… you know what I mean? He doesn’t approach anything in a standard sort of way… sound-wise he made all of his own sounds from scratch… he wasn’t just scrolling through… he’s always taken a great deal of pride in not using pre-sets… and we left him to his own devices and he came up with all this out-there stuff and, we loved it… and he thought that we weren’t gonna dig it and at the end of the record he said, “You know, I would never have left the band if you guys had let me do what I did on this record!” (more laughter!!) I think he felt a little stifled way back in the day and that’s why he decided “Hey I love you guys, but I want to do my own thing…” But hey, you go through life… and that was a very funny statement I thought… he’s more on this record than he was when he was actually in the band! So I always consider him to be still in the band in a peripheral sense.
Chris: Now, on the new album, there are bits of your first five albums in it all the way through, was that a thing you were looking to regain, or did it just happen?
Mike: No… it’s great to hear you say that… you know we weren’t looking to put elements purposely from the last albums into this record… it’s an entirely new record… but obviously the influences, and the way we write, and the way we approach things, there’s some recognition there from the past through to the current record… but it wasn’t an intentional thing, that’s the “Toto sound” and that ‘s what you get when you put this group of guys together… and Greg coming in, he just got sucked right into the “Toto Sound” man, he’s now part of the “Toto Sound” and that’s the way we do it.
Chris (to Greg): Now the guys know what the “Toto Sound” is, how do you quantify it?
Steve: No, actually we don’t! (more laughter!)
Greg: Well, to me it’s a beautiful hybrid you know… a beautiful combination of several strong elements… several strong genres… obviously the rock element… and no matter how Luke tries to down play the R&B/pop element is there…
Steve: No I don’t play down that part… I love that part… that’s what makes us different from other rock bands… I just play louder! (laughs!)
Greg: Yeah… it’s part of the combination you know… there’s classical on it, especially from Paich’s part you know… I could cite several examples you know… jazz… not many bands of any genre can say that Miles Davis played on their album, willingly, for free… Miles Davis showed up at David Paich’s studio, sorry Jeff’s studio, and came on in and did a cover of Human Nature which Stevie P wrote so yeah… and this works perfectly with me… you know, having started out with Stevie Wonder, that was the first artist I started with… the artist of my dreams… that’s like going to a university itself you know, because he could go in any genre and make it totally believable at any given second and you have to be right there with him so… (voice in the background asks about Stevie Wonder’s country work!) Hey you know what?? He did a country/disco song that I have on cassette… (more background banter and laughter!) …but yeah, he can go into any genre and that was a great learning experience for the almost four years that I was working with him… so I’m very comfortable in adapting to this combination of styles.
Chris: You mentioned earlier on about motivation for the band… it’s back there, you want to go but you’ve got your solo projects that you fit in between does that help or hinder what you are doing with Toto?
Steve: Well, I’m just one these guys that likes the road a lot… I like to go out and play different stuff so when the band isn’t working, I’ll do something… but the band is a priority… some guys want to take time off and do other projects… some guys want to chill with their family… I mean, I spend enough time at home with my family and stuff like that but I like to go out and do different things… I’m always doing something or another… but I think it can only help… I mean, every time you go out and have a great musical experience you bring back new vocabulary or new life experiences just to write about, whatever… but everybody does other projects.
Chris: One of the things I think brings in a new audience as well was Roger Sanchez… he must have done an amazing amount for Toto inadvertently?
Steve: Actually he did nothing for us because he never credited us.
Chris: None at all?
Steve: On the record it just said “Roger Sanchez” with my voice and my tune… he dolled it up with his techno version of it… I mean there is no mention of “Toto” anywhere on it… it was a No. 1 record in the UK and nobody ever mentions the fact that we had anything to do with it unless they read the credits and see it was my song writing… but other than that, I thank him for buying me a nice new house! But like I said, we had nothing to do with that… but maybe some kids found out about it, I don’t really know if they read credits and stuff…
Chris: I think in the UK it was common knowledge…
Steve: I want to thank him, “Thank you Roger!”
Chris: What about you Mike, you’ve got so many years behind you with the band… what do you see as the medium to long term future for you?
Mike: You know, things are going so strong just now I see this as the medium to long-term future right now with the success of the new record… it’s doing really well and it virtually guarantees we’re gonna do another record and another tour after the next record… it bought us a good five years of strong biz here and we’re really pleased about that… I’m looking forward to it.
Chris: I’ve spoken to you a few times before Steve, and one time you were pretty frustrated at your old record label not giving you the credit you thought the whole band deserved…
Mike: Doesn’t this record prove that? This record kinda proves that fact… we were with Sony all these years and you know… you’re signed by the President of the company at the time and you’re a new band so you become his “baby” and become the company’s new “baby”… and you know, we saw four or five presidents come and go with Sony in our time with them and each new guy wants to ignore what the previous guy did and all he wants is to focus on his new stars and what he is bringing out…… so we started to get buried as each year went on… we got buried more and more in their roster of artists and we just felt we weren’t getting the attention we deserved as artists especially with the success we had brought to the company from day one… and it was a matter of respect you know… so finally we part ways after 25 or 26 years to an Independent label and things start happening for us… so it just goes to show that it wasn’t necessarily us… record companies, it’s a partnership, they’re our advocates… and they weren’t advocating us… and now we’re with a label that’s advocating us and look at the difference when something like that happens.
Chris: Does that come through when you are putting the record together?
Steve: Well actually, we funded the record ourselves… we made the record we wanted to make without any outside influences… we weren’t trying to write the proverbial “hit single” we just let the music flow so therefore it’s a very honest record, maybe that honesty touches people… we’re just happy to still be in the game… there’s not too many bands that are still around after almost 30 years in the game… we’ll definitely go way past our 30th Anniversary… as long as there is an audience out there, we’ll be there.
Chris: Now Toto IV is what most people remember you for, it’s a bit of an icon if you’re a Toto fan to listen to that album… it’s always been a bit of something “round your necks” to try to live up to that because a lot of the fans would expect you to reproduce that…
Steve: Look at someone like Paul McCartney or so… he was nominated for Album of the Year this year… in reality everyone was going, “So where’s the new Sgt. Pepper’s…” you know? Jeezus… these things come along once in a life you don’t know… we didn’t know when we were doing it it would be that successful… we liked it, we worked hard on it, but it’s one of these things… the record company really got behind it, radio accepted us we had world-wide hits… we had 3 or 4 hits off that record and it sold a ship load of copies and those songs get played on the radio every day around the world… they become classics… at the time we were just trying to write good songs and that’s what we’ve always done since then. Now, whether you hit the nerve, or whether the public all comes in at the same time… the music business is different now, it’s much more corporate now we’re an “Indie” band… we’re getting’ “Indie cred” something I’m sure they never thought we would have in 1982!
Chris: That must be pretty cool for your kids though…
Steve: Oh man… our kids love this music… they’re into it even more than we are… it’s lovely, really lovely… my son sang background on one of the tunes on the new record.
Chris: Do you find because of that they are more critical than your normal fans?
Steve: They can be tough!
Mike: Oh yeah!
Steve: They have no problem saying “That song sucks… I don’t dig that one at all…” and I’m goin’, “Thanks for telling me!” (background laughter)
Chris: The set you’ve put together for this tour, which we all saw on Saturday night, great set, hard set, powerful set, no gaps for you to catch your breath… no support band in London, just yourselves… are you going to be able to keep that up for the whole tour?
Mike: Yeah I think so… you know we’ve always done at least a two-hour show, we always bring over a two/two-and-a-half hours show… previous shows we had a few more breaks and I used to be able to get off stage once or twice in the course of that two/two-and-a-half hours show… but this tour, everybody is on stage from the get-go through the end… but you know, we’re not tired by this show… the time seems to really fly… I was really surprised the other night when the show was coming to an end and I was looking down at the set list, and we’re down to our last couple of songs and I was like, still feeling fresh as a daisy… of course your energy level is up but no, we don’t have problems… we don’t get tired of this… we don’t get worn-out out there… the crowd’s response and energy keeps your energy level going.
Greg: It wouldn’t actually be too smart if we said we got tired… (laughter from behind) … it kinda wouldn’t be the smartest thing on a radio interview to say “Hey we get tired!”
Steve: Wheel chairs lined up at the side of the stage! This is our aerobic work-out you know, it keeps us young and healthy… running around as hard as you can sweating your ass off is great exercise… and you get all these people giving you the love back and that is the greatest rush in the world… we have a great job… it’s a really cool gig if you can get it.
Chris: Bobby’s just joined us!
Bobby: Sorry about that… I was guarding my pillow!! (laughter)
Chris: Are you OK to ask a couple of questions?
Bobby: No man… I just came to watch!!
Chris: We were just talking about the set… it’s a hard, really tight set and you’ve just started the tour… what are your thoughts on it?
Bobby: It is! Actually we worked really hard on it for a couple of weeks in LA and then we came over and did production rehearsals… not quite enough production rehearsals apparently… because things will eke out when they can… Murphy’s Law exists on stage more so than ever… but all of the feedback we’ve gotten so far by e-mail, on our Website, through the media, it looks really good… everyone enjoyed the songs that we chose, everyone enjoyed the way they were put together… the energy in the band was really great… you know, we couldn’t have asked for much more.
Chris: We were talking also about the two guys here (Steve and Mike) who have been with the band all the way through from the beginning… you took a bit of an extended holiday but you’re back, and very much back in the band now, how does it feel for you?
Bobby: I had a case of the vapours (laughter)… oh gosh… indeed!! Yes, I did… how was it for me?? It’s terrible waking up every day watching the guys that you really know and love, and the band that you’ve felt like a part of all the time go out and have such fun, because I know they had a great time without me… that’s the part that hurt the most… and you know, I really love these guys and always have…
Chris: So to be involved in the making of this new album is quite a boost for you?
Bobby: It’s one of the greatest experiences of our career… to me, we all got a chance to really put our thumb-prints on this one and I hope the police aren’t listening but I have my thumb-prints everywhere! (hilarious laughter and jokes from behind)
Chris: Can we just run through these tracks we’re going to play? We’ll talk about each one…
Steve (without missing a beat): I’m really enjoying Greg’s new solo album playing in the background… (more laughter to the sound of a grand piano playing in the background!!)
Greg: It sounds good!
Chris: Falling In Between… title track of the new album doing really well, selling loads where did that come from?
Steve: That was Day 1… we walked in the studio, determined to make a record that was going to kick-ass and so we wanted to come out swingin’ and punch hard… maybe touch upon a little prog-rock thing… bring a little toughness… a little edge that we haven’t had in a while… and that was the first song we wrote… we were all sitting in the room and all it just fell together… I wish I could tell you there was some big story behind it… but I started playing some riff tune down a little bit you know… then the keyboard riffs came in… the lyrical ideas came in… and the next thing we knew we had a tune… it sort of set the pace for the record and then we said “OK”… and then we started to go through the different variations of style, which a lot of our fans really dig, and which some critics are confused and baffled by, which is why we might get slagged-off about it sometimes because they can’t really put their finger on what it is we do, because we can do it all.
Mike: I have to say, this record we cut ten tracks for Europe and the US and a bonus track for Japan… these were the first 11 songs that we wrote for the album… it’s not like we wrote 25 and whittled it down to 10 or 11… there was nothing that was left over… well there was one, but everything was just flowin’ so well and coming so naturally… and fitting together, it was destined to come together the way it did.
Chris: What about you Bobby, is it easy to input your thoughts on the style into the music rather than just the vocals?
Bobby: Well actually, I didn’t have anything to do with the music part of it, it was mostly the lyrics and the melodies… and also I want to tell you that the Falling In Between track was Luke (Steve Lukather) walking in one day, with his guitar, with dirt all over his hands… he was feelin’ nasty! And it was really fantastic when he started playing, and everyone started folding in, and that track fell out of all of them and I took it home, wrote some lyrics to it… couldn’t figure out a chorus until we got to the studio… and I had the verses down and I couldn’t figure out a melody for the chorus… and then Greg sang a melody for the chorus and I walked into the next room and in about 10 minutes came walking back in with the lyrics for it… it just wrote itself… it’s really fantastic.
Chris: It’s one hell of a track to start a show with though because you have to be right “there” within a few bars of the song starting…
Bobby: Correct! Actually before our show, you should be there before we start because that’s the fantastic moment and then it builds from there.
Chris (to Greg): What about you with this song, did you have a lot of input… was this really the first song that you were getting to grips with Toto on this album?
Greg: Yes, I would say so… this song in particular was pretty much equal input and we just kind of worked in the areas that we found to be easiest for us individually… and like Bobby said, the chorus melody came pretty easy for me, so I just put that in and everybody else apparently dug it so we went on from there.
Chris: How long does it take to put a song like this together… is it just open-ended and when you are happy with it that’s it?
Steve: We cut the tracks and wrote and cut a song in the same day… if we were writing and it was a difficult thing, we would rehearse it and come in fresh the next day and cut it live… where we spent all the time was the melodies, the lyrics and the production and the overdubs and the experimental… like finding occasionally a really cool guest that was really perfect for the tune or a horn arrangement by Jimmy Pankow of Chicago… Ian Anderson stepped in on a tune… and these things just popped out at us and we were able to get our dream guests for the particular track we thought they would be perfect for… we’ve always done that through the years… we don’t take advantage of it to the point where we can’t recreate it live but it’s nice to get some extra spice and flavour in there… we always like to keep our fans and musical friends guessing what we’re going to do next.
Chris: King of the World… another great track from the album, where did that one come from?
Mike: Oh, I don’t know… “King of the World”… Bobby… why don’t you talk about that one man?
Bobby: Wow… you know actually, I went up to Dave’s and he had a little thing started on it, like the chorus… and we started whittling some lyrics to that and I ended up singing that day… and then the song just got kinda put to the side… and I kept going “Why are we doing this… why aren’t we finishing this song up?”… you know, because the track was pretty much done… and you know, Dave being “Dave” said, “We’ll get round to it when we get a chance…” So finally, one day he comes in with a song and Mike and I are sat down with the lyrics that Dave had kinda whittled out, and we clarified the lyric, and worked on the melody a little bit… but the band pretty much wrote the whole song.
Chris: On Hooked… the track called Hooked… who had that idea?
Mike: That’s a Dave thing!
Steve: Mike came up with the opening riff… you had that bass idea (Steve sings line to Mike) at least, that was the original permutation… Dave and I changed the one little bit where the chord changes…
Bobby: That was a duet with Trevor Lukather! (more laughter)
Steve: Yeah… my son and his friend came down and helped us… but that song was really a band effort… Mikey started it out, and it grew from there… and then we wanted to bring back the elements of the more prog section… that song has a lot of different sections so we stretched out a little there… there’s a great message… great lyrics.. a killer… a classic… if you really read them, it’s got a sense of humour… but it’s also got a sense of reality… whoa… people’s addictions to whatever it is they are addicted to… whether it’s TV or junk, you know what I mean? Whatever it is… food… it’s all about excesses in every arena and every area of one’s life.
Bobby: It’s kinda like if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing kinda thing… but Dave had a great idea on that song… we all threw a little bit in on it… it was really a fun song… a real arena-pleaser when we do it… you know, people seem to start moving with the motion on that song.
Steve: And I gotta say, Stevie P brought some really interesting sounds to that, Steve Porcaro… when we got it back, it had just such a different flavour and it was almost like Trevor Horn meets a metal band and meets Bootsy Collins groove… whatever… it’s one of my favourite tracks on the record.
Chris: Who decides which track gets released as a single because you’ve already released a single… is it collective or is it the Indie label?
Mike: It’s pretty collective… when we’re done with the record we usually agree most times on what the first single would be… I don’t know if the label had any input on this… it just came from us… it felt good and the right one to throw out first.
Steve: You gotta understand… radio won’t play really hard-edged stuff in general, as far as top 40 stuff like a radio station that would play a single… not a rock radio station private programme… they can play whatever they want… but something that would get all the way across Europe and Asia… it would be accepted on their radio stations, “Bottom Of Your Soul” just popped out… plus, having Joseph Williams’ familiar voice we had hits with, along with everyone else’s involvement… it’s a beautiful melody and that one just seemed to have first gunner… the second one is going to be a tougher decision than the first one.
Chris: Taint Your World… (an eruption of mirth interrupts the question!) …why are you laughing?
Greg: It’s a little interesting play on the words there… it’s a special location…
Mike: It’s a very British title…
Steve: “Taint” means lots of different things…
Mike: Maybe you’d better explain Steve…
Steve: Well, you know where “taint” is, don’t you?
Chris: No, it’s passed me by this one…
Steve: It’s the area between…
Enter Murphy stage left!
At precisely the same moment as Steve was explaining the ambiguity to Chris in a man-to-man sort of way, the microphone – seemingly for no apparent reason – did a backward-flip, landed on the floor and took the rest of the enlightenment with it! A little imagination will therefore be necessary here in order to complete the picture as it were!
Steve: Originally this was called Ain’t your World and Mikey, I believe, put the “t” on it on the chart! And “taint” can also mean like “to poison”… it has a lot of different meanings…
Greg: Remember you did ask!
Mike: “Taint” comes from “It ain’t” and when you say it fast, it becomes “Taint” but we had a little personal fun with that… but it’s a legitimate title.
Steve: I’m goin’ with my idea first…!
(Sorry Steve, but it looks like this will have to remain your secret!)
Bobby: The lyric is about alien abduction… it’s got some really funny lyrics “…didn’t anybody get the cipher from the flying rat machine, gnarly, little, scrunched up, tiny fingers, and its disposition mean…”
Greg: Too many science fiction books…!
Chris: Where does that stuff pop into your head from?
Bobby: Don’t ask! It’s from personal experience!
Mike: Only a shrink knows for sure…!
Chris: OK, onto Spiritual Man… now for me personally, this is the nicest track on the album I just think it’s got a lovely feel to it and…
Steve: It’s Paich’s baby and we implemented it in our own way.
Mike: I couldn’t stand that song when it was first brought in I must say because it was just four “church changes” and I was like well, what the heck are we gonna do with this… what can this turn into… you know it was just the simplest tune repeated over and over… the same chords over and over and over again… and I was kinda like, after the other stuff we had written, it kinda took me back for a second… but as the lyric, and as it started getting produced, the music started coming out of it… boy what a strong song that turned out to be… so I can understand why it is some people’s favourite.
Chris: I’ve read some notes about the song where David intended it to be about one religion to start with and then, as the song developed, it turned out to be about a lot more religions?
Mike: Yeah, well I was kind of like a late arrival to the concept of that tune, but the whole man-walking-in-the-desert-came-upon-the-Archangel-Gabriel, is that Mohammed, or what? I mean that’s Mohammed, right? So it did evolve into this kind of religious theme but it wasn’t just a “Christ” kind of figure… Bobby brought into the lyric the Mohammed kind of figure… then we end up with a guy in Harlem playing saxophone!
Chris: It’s a great mix, not just the tune or the melody, but you’ve got three good voices complimenting each other…
Bobby: It’s one of the great things about the song… it’s Toto at its best and it always has been when we use all of the voices possible you know… and this time, with the exception of Steve, Steve’s on the choruses… but when we mix up the voices it’s such a multi-layered feeling and people really love that… I fell in love with Chicago for the same reason, you know… and I always thought it would be so cool to be in a band that had multiple singers and we could layer the vocals like that.
Steve: The whole thing about that song is also that it’s about 3 different people with their own points of view… we didn’t want to alienate anybody, or become too religious to the point where we were pointing the finger at anybody being better than anybody else… which is kinda like the point of it – “I want to be a spiritual man”… everybody, anywhere… we just want peace and love… it’s a positive message and it’s funky and it’s like three different guys saying this is how I feel today about where I’m at and specifically where I’m at in the world… country by country through from Harlem to the sands of the desert you know what I mean?… and everything in between…
Chris: The song kind of takes you on a minor spiritual journey until it gets to you (Greg) and then it takes a twist into Harlem and talks about a musician…
Greg: Ah, yeah! You’re right (laughs!) it’s just how it kinda turned out… I was thrilled to have that part in the song… it just happened that was the decision that was made and so I went for it.
Bobby: There’s a little controversy… I was reading on the web last night about the lyric on that, especially on the second verse where he talks about “it looks like an outlaw talking to his lover” and you know, someone really got ticked-off about that… yeah on the Webpage… and Steve came back with a very interesting concept… “it looks like an outlaw talking to his lover”… you know, how women love an “outlaw”… it’s just the picture of that kind of attraction.
Mike: Let’s face it, if you’re relating that to let’s say, let’s take “Christ” as the subject of that verse, I mean he was looked upon as an outlaw by society as a whole…
Bobby: So he was an outlaw at that time but…
Chris: The final part of the song gets you singing Greg; it’s you doing the vocals there… that’s completely different to anything I’ve heard on a Toto track at any other time…
Greg: Well, that was the risk they took in hiring me so there you go… (much laughter) I’ve nothing else to say about it… I tried to warn them (still laughing) but they said no, go ahead…
Mike: That verse… his vocal on that represents to me one of the great additions to Toto’s arsenal that we didn’t have before… when you hear this guy singing the last verse and it’s like “Oh my gosh, where have they been hiding him?” – you know what I mean? Fantastic!
Chris: Do you find you get emotional when you are singing some songs even though you are doing it all the time… can it still flick a switch?
Steve: It depends on what kind of a mood you’re in… sometimes you get a real strong presence of Jeff Porcaro hanging out in the room, or something like that… or the audience gets emotional and you become emotional with them… sometimes it’s not the same time in the same song… it depends on the evening the group mood is… of the entire building and the rapport of the audience… there have been times when I’ve teared-up a little bit on stage thinking about things… the crowd just gives you this love… it’s an amazing feeling and hard to describe in a simple adjective really…
Chris: Now none of us are getting any younger… it’s a tough job being out on the road… how do you keep yourselves fit, how do you keep motivated and how do you keep going?
Steve: Drink and smoke heavily… (everybody laughs)… to each his own!
Mike: It’s difficult to do, needless to say with our schedule, if we’re not travelling, or heading to the hall or doing interviews with the press there are so many things to do it’s really a 24-hour job… you get your 8 hours of sleep and that’s about all you can really guarantee yourself… I try to get out every day and walk a couple of miles and things like that… thankfully we’re able to eat pretty good because on a tour such as this we carry our own cooking staff with us so if we have a special diet, or there’s certain things you need to watch and stuff like that, it’s easier to do that when you’re carrying your own cook with you… so that helps a lot and you kinda just take it as you can get it… and I was doing push-ups before I came down here (laughter) on the floor of the room… just trying to stay active you know…
Greg: You know the fact is, with age comes wisdom… and knowing that you’re older you can’t do the kind of things you might have done when you were younger… so you pace yourself… and this is a fairly civilized tour you know for a bunch of old rockers such as ourselves… but you know, but we do have the conveniences like the chef and good lodging… and travel isn’t too bad… we travel to pace that, so we’re able to go on… it’s not like they have to have the oxygen tanks on stand-by with the wheelchairs (laughter breaks out) I mean we’re…
Steve: …in pretty good shape for guys our age! I went to my 30th High School Reunion… I felt like it was my 80th High School Reunion (laughter) so I started to feel pretty good about myself at that point! And I’ve lived hard (still laughing)!
Bobby: In a word, “mentalfloss”… we use a lot of mentalfloss… it’s really a mental sort of situation out here… you got to keep your self “up”… you got to keep yourself pumped and you got to keep thinking about what’s going on here… this is not the kind of situation where you come out and forget where you are…
Greg: We have a responsibility.
Bobby: That’s right… we have a responsibility to the people, which therefore means we have a responsibility to the band and to ourselves basically, so we do take care of ourselves really well… you know it costs a little extra to stay in nicer hotels… we eat very well and we think about what we’re doing…
Chris: Well guys you’re all looking good on it and I just wish this was a TV interview… thanks very much for your time… it’s the best album that I personally have heard from the band and I’m not just saying that having been a fan for many years… this is a really good album… I just hope it gets the success it deserves and we can look forward to another one.
Steve: We really appreciate it, God Bless!
Mike: God Bless, thanks!
Bobby: Thanks, God Bless.
Greg: Yes, thank you very, very much.
Steve: We’d just like to say “God Bless” to all our brothers out in the armed forces, stay safe, stay the course, we love and respect you very much and, get home.
Chris: Thanks very much, that’s very kind.
Chris Pratt spoke to: Steve Lukather, Mike Pocaro, Greg Phillinganes and Bobby Kimball.