Steve Lukather aka “Luke” and Toto singer Joseph Williams both released individual solo albums on February 26, 2021 via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group. Both artists have made significant contributions to the other’s album.
Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips caught up with Luke via zoom to chat about his solo album ‘I Found The Sun Again’, gear, Toto and more.
About Steve Lukather: Over the course of five decades Steve Lukather has placed an indelible stamp on pop culture. Alongside his tenure as the only member of Toto to never take a hiatus from the band, he has performed on thousands of albums as a session musician. Amongst these musical contributions are some of the most successful, influential and enduring records of all-time including Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Additionally, he released a memoir titled The Gospel According To Luke which was a global best-seller. He continues to be Toto’s band leader, a member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, and a solo artist performing with multiple ensembles which include Nerve Bundle and Toxic Monkey.
Toto has enjoyed a celebrated resurgence over the last several years tied to the band’s 40th Anniversary, wherein over a thirty-month period they performed for millions of fans across North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia. The band’s repertoire has been streamed over a billion times, while album sales exceed 40 million copies. Simply, Toto is one of the few 70’s bands that have endured the changing trends and styles, and 45 years in to a career enjoy a multi-generational fan base.
About the albums: Luke shares, “Never had so much fun recording in my life. Painless, fun and easy – and it just flowed.” The repertoire features five new original compositions, and three covers personally selected by Luke. Those are Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” Joe Walsh’s “Welcome To The Club,” and Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs.” Lukather offers in the liner notes, “ALL these tracks were cut LIVE – no clix – no fix – No rehearsal – one run thru – and record and the whole record was take 2. I did double a few guitar parts and ‘produced up’ a few tunes that are obvious but in the same time frame. I recorded the lead vocal right after we got the take same day. One song a day. Joe took it home and did some BG vocals but that’s it. I wanted to make as honest a record as I could in 2020 with 1970’s inspiration, and recording values, and techniques with a modern sound. Ken did that!” A portion of the proceeds from this album will be directed to The Ed Asner Family Center for Autism. For more information please visit https://www.edasnerfamilycenter.org/.
Williams shares, “’Never Saw You Coming’ is my first opportunity in ages to show my true sound. Although my album is an eclectic collection of songs, this one tells you what you need to know to get a real sense of the whole. You can see where I’m going vocally for sure. It all starts with ‘Never Saw You Coming,’ plus I thought it was time we had a cool sexy song about death! Enjoy…”
Steve Lukather’s solo album titled I Found The Sun Again was co-produced by Ken Freeman, who also both engineered and mixed the new collection of repertoire. The players feature many dignitaries that have been in Luke’s life for decades. Amongst those are drummer Gregg Bissonette, keyboardist Jeff Babko, and bassists Jorgen Carlsson and John Pierce. Life-long friend and Toto band-mate David Paich performs piano and organ across the album, while Joseph Williams sang on multiple tracks alongside writing string and horn arrangements and tracking keys on the aforementioned “Run To Me.” Both Paich and Williams co-wrote that specific composition, while friend and band leader of the All-Starrs, Ringo Starr makes a special appearance on the recording and in the video. Other co-writers include Stan Lynch, Jeff Babko, and of course Joseph Williams.
Joseph Williams’ Denizen Tenant was self-produced outside of the compositions “Black Dahlia” and “No Lessons” which were arranged and produced by Jay Gruska and mixed by Dave Way. The musicians and singers who made contributions in the studio reads like a who’s who of players that have been in the artist’s life over the past four decades. Amongst these contributors are band-mates from Toto David Paich and Steve Lukather. Simon Phillips, Leland Sklar, Lenny Castro, Nathan East, all of whom enjoyed tenures in Toto are also featured players on the album. Additional contributions include performances by Oscar Bugarin, Jay Gruska, Mike Landau, Barbara Gruska, Steve Overton, Dylan Ronan, Hannah Ruick, Steve Tavaloni, Weston Wilson, Ray Williams, and Mark T. Williams. The album was produced and mixed at Digbyroad Studios, Sherman Oaks, CA.
Denizen Tenant features a dozen new recordings. Amongst these are a cover of The Beatles “If I Fell,” which Williams cites as the one specific song that taught him about the power of harmonies and vocal arrangements. On Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” a very special guest performance is featured in his daughter Hannah laying down a vocal track. Across the recorded repertoire, there is a consistent presence of performances by guitarists Steve Lukather and Mike Landau alongside percussionist Lenny Castro. Williams reflects, “Mike Landau has been playing on my music since I was a teenager and he just knows what to do. His parts always inspire me. They help move me to the next step in the writing process. Steve Lukather is like this as well.” In reference to Lenny, he offers, “He knows exactly what is needed and he will give me so many choices. I always get what I want. Like Mike Landau I’ve been working with Lenny since I was a kid.” The record is a part of the continual, on-going collaboration of the triumvirate of Lukather/Paich/Williams. Williams co-wrote “Liberty Man” with Paich, while the keyboardist performed Hammond B3 on “Black Dahlia,” and shares, “I love writing with Dave. On this tune, like many others, we spent hours talking about history, religion, music, literature, movies etc. Always leading us like excited kids to a subject or concept for the song. Then we start throwing out phrases, collecting and discarding ideas. Shaping and reshaping melodies along the way.” There are so many contributors with deep connections and history with the artist, all of whom have a significant footprint on Denizen Tenant. For a complete overview, click here: https://joeswill.com/liner-notes/.
The recordings are available individually on both CD and LP, alongside on all streaming services globally. A limited-edition deluxe edition is available with the two titles bundled together. Luke and Williams hope these albums present an enjoyable experience when listened to on shuffle.
For a complete discography, and more information click here: http://www.stevelukather.com/