Wednesday, July 25, 2012

''GUITAR GODS: Steve Lukather''

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
originally published at Tinfoil Music
Date: Tuesday, April 13 2004 @ 16:44:05 BST

It is no exaggeration to say that Steve Lukather is a living legend. From 1977 with the first TOTO album to now with the Grammy winning 2003 CD (the 7th Grammy of his career!) with Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather has demonstrated more staying power than any living guitar god. Session man, band leader, instructor, producer...Steve Lukather is a legend in the music world!

"Hold the Line" was the first big hit, followed by "I'll supply the Love", and TOTO got their first Grammy nomination. Following that, they pulled down countless awards, platinum albums, and successful world tours. They won a slew of Grammy's in 1983, wrote a song for the Olympic Games in 1984, scored much of the music for David Lynch's film, "Dune".

Since then, Steve has worked with the biggest names in music: Edgar Winter, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Stevens, Vinnie Colaiuta, Will Lee, Simon Phillips, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Neal Schon, Slash, Mike Landau, Gregg Bissonette, Larry Carlton, and more. He has performed on literally hundreds of albums as a top session player, released instructional videos & concert video, 7 solo albums (not to mention 22 with TOTO!), produced......

But his accomplishments are not all in the distant past. TOTO exploded into the turn of the century with a 2000 Grammy nomination and world tour, and Steve hit the road in Japan on a solo tour. In 2002, TOTO released the CD "Through the Looking Glass" to rave reviews, followed by a live DVD in 2003, "Live in Amsterdam", and Steve (with Larry Carlton) received 2 Grammy nominations (and a win) for the 2002 release "No Substitutions", followed by his new "Santamental" (2003 - Favored Nations).

You can keep up with Steve at his web-site (and at TOTO's web-site), where you can get tons of info and music.

I had a chance to speak to Steve recently (who is on tour in South America with TOTO) - check it out!


1) What are your current projects?

Well I am pretty much on tour with Toto right now. We have been touring behind our last record "Thru the Looking Glass" and our "Live in Amsterdam" DVD, and its going on 28th year of Toto. It's been awesome and we have done unbelievable business out there. We were #7 biggest grossing tour in the world last year according to Billboard magazine's Christmas issue. 600,000 tickets sold in 3 months. We were headlining and INXS and En Vogue, Huey Lewis and with John Miles and an 80 piece orchestra. It was blast! The best time ever for me. I have also done a few sessions - this week I did Backround vocals on one of the new Van Halen songs (these guys are my soul bruthas) and I did a few solos for Joe Cockers new CD, that's way cool. Hhmmm, I did a solo Christmas CD called "Santamental" last Christmas that will be re-released and there is a plan to work with Larry Carlton again next year as well and some more solo stuff. I am busy and happy!

2) How does this differ from your past work?

It's new work? Hahahaha! Hey, its all good to me. I know some of the stuff we did in the 70's sounds a bit dated sonically AND lyrically...hell, we were kids. I was 19 when our first record was made. I am always trying to get better, the key word IS trying. Hahaha!

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist?

Well, it's all subjective... I think a lot of the Toto stuff thru the years has held up well. The "Rosanna" solos come up alot; don't know why but people dig it. I like the stuff I did on Derek Sherinian's last 2 records, "Maiden Voyage" on "Thru the Looking Glass"; "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley..hell, I think I suck anyway. hahaha! Really I do.

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio)?

Well, it's the same stuff I have been using for years. I just got the new Dunlop rack mounted wah wah which is cool and the Radial Tone Bone is the best fuzz type unit I have ever heard and that's cool.
My studio "The Steakhouse" ( has the old desk from EMI London where they made "Dark Side of the Moon", to name ONE classic, and it's an awesome room to record in. My fave place ever!!!

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?

Same as everyone my age, Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Cream and Clapton, Dave Gilmour then all the progressive 60's-70's fusion and Prog rock... and all the rock-pop hits of the time.

New players? Tom Morello is the most recent guy who has brought new vocabulary to the guitar. Not a lot of great players I can think of from late 90's-2000's. A lot have great ideas and NO skill. My son's band HYDRA is bringing back the guitar solo. His guitar and other guitar player Mike has skill and my son Trevor has the voice and the guitar riffs and the tunes. Check out the new guitar player magazine with Clapton on the cover and there a photo of me and Trev playing for Guitar Player magazine NAMM event. It was awesome, I got to jam with Satch as well. It was a blast!

Hell, you guys tell ME who to look out for and listen to???!! (editor note: see the "Guitar Gods Index")
I watch all the late night TV shows and see all the new young bands play, and man, it's bleek. NO time, NO chops, and redundant style wise. Maybe I am just getting old, but man, it's like watching a car accident for the most part. I DO dig Maroon 5, Coldplay, Radiohead, Black Label Society...I can't think of them all but there IS greatness out there, it's just harder to find!

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players?

Yeah - learn HOW to be a musician, not a "rock star"!! Hell, ANY idiot can be a rock star in this day and age. If your LUCKY that will last a year or 2...then what?? You don't play well enough to get a REAL gig as a player. Dream over! Think about it.

7) What are your future plans?

Rule the world! Hahaha! Nah, man, I am just groovin' playing on the road and writing some new music and practicing my guitar. You never wake up and say, "Hey - I know everything you can on the guitar". I don't think anyone ever will. I am the luckiest motherfucker on the planet and I thank God EVERY day for this life!!!

8) Thanx for talking to us, Steve!

You're very welcome. Peace and thanks for the support!