60 Seconds with... STeve LukATheR
A minute’s all it takes to see what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he jumped in his limo for the airport we nabbed a quick chat with Toto’s superlative guitarist, .
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without? SL: I play small teardrop jazz picksheavy. Dunlop makes them for me. GT: If you had to give up all your pedals but three, what would they be? SL: A nice stereo delay, volume pedal and perhaps a distortion box. GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band? And have you ever done it? SL: Keyboards and bass, and I have done on TOTO records as well as other sessions. I played bass on Beat It for Michael Jackson as well as all the guitars except for Eddie’s solo. GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it? SL: Yes, unless it was like a classic two-part invention. My reading chops are a tad down now. I can read and I am glad I do. It helps. I used to be better at it. It is like another language. When you use it every day you speak it fluently. GT: Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours? SL: In the studio, yes. Live, not so much. I have tried them all. Monster makes great stuff. GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of? SL: Everyone, Haha! Well Jeff Beck on one side. Perhaps Satch, Vai or Guthrie Govan and all the great jazz players. Like I said, everyone. GT: Your house/studio is burning down; which of your guitars do you salvage? SL: I would save my kids first and a few pieces of irreplaceable memorabilia. I don’t keep my vintage stuff at my house. That is in a fireproof locker hidden away. GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it? SL: Right now it is a Bogner Ecstacy three-channel with clean, dirty and “look out it’s f***ing loud!” Hahaha. GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars? SL: Pretty low. I don’t believe in killing myself. You can get f***ed-up fingertips and or tendonitis trying to be a tough guy. Billy Gibbons uses .007s. It’s in the hands, heart and ideas that the music flows, not your string gauges and or height. GT: What strings do you use? SL: Ernie Ball because they are simply the best! GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar? SL: George Harrison! I Saw Her Standing There opened my soul! GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after? SL: A Les Paul. GT: What was the best live gig you ever did? SL: Wow, So many great ones. There was a great gig on the last tour we did before Jeff Porcaro died. Rock N Ring in Germany 1991. 50,000 people shouting our songs back to us. Magic as I remember. GT: And your worst playing nightmare? SL: The drunk years. I am very ashamed of them and played poorly. I wish I could take that shit all back. I am terribly sorry. I got strung out for a bit. I was sick. I have been well for many years now, thankfully. GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt? SL: Less is more. Sometimes we forget in the heat of it live. It is fun to play fast and all, but much of it is bullshit in the end. GT: Do you still practise? SL: Almost every day unless travelling, or the day I come home after a tour. I love to play and my quest to get better will never die. GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine? SL: Not any one, but I do warm up on my Yamaha acoustic 12-string a lot. Like swinging a bat with weights like baseball players do. GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)? SL: Man, I have done it many times. But there are so many players I would love to play with and learn from. There’s too many to write. Haha! GT: Present company accepted, who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived? SL: Well, it’s not me?! It is an impossible question to answer. What style do you mean? There is no such thing, any more than you can say, “Who is the most beautiful woman?” Art is subjective. GT: Is there a solo you really wish you had played? SL: Kid Charlemagne on Steely Dan’s Royal Scam record. Larry Carlton. Wow! GT: What’s the solo/song of your own that you’re most proud of? SL: I am proud of the solo on TOTO’s new album TOTO XIV, 21st Century Blues - It is everything I have been trying to be. But there’s always room for improvement. GT: What would you most like to be remembered for? SL: Being a great father, a great friend, funny, and an okay musician.
Less is more. Sometimes we forget in the heat of it live. It’s fun to play fast but much of that is bullshit in the end!
TOTO XIV is out soon. The band’s world tour starts May 21 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, followed by dates at Manchester O2 Apollo (May 25) and London Eventim Hammersmith Apollo (May 26). More info: www.totoofficial.com
Steve Lukather: Toto’s axeman and session ace