A respected guitarist, Toto’s Steve Lukather focused on singing now: ‘Just doing what I dig doing’

Steve Lukather ends his terrific new solo album Transition with the one-take instrumental “Smile,” and he recently appeared on the G3 tour with players who regularly put out entire albums of improvisational music.

The Toto-co-founder says he won’t be pursuing instrumental work on a broader basis, though.

“I always felt that there were guys who do it better,” Steve Lukather tells La Chaine Guitare. “You have (G3 stalwarts) Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and people like Jeff Beck and Mike Landau, Wayne Krantz — guys who make these brilliant instrumental records. I could just go on listing and listing. They really can keep your interest for an entire album. I’m just doing what I dig doing. I have a lot to say … and I’ve been working really hard on my singing. That’s what I have that those guys don’t necessarily have.”

Landau has played with Michael Jackson, Seal and Joni Mitchell, among others, while Krantz’s best-known sessions include Steely Dan, Billy Cobham and Michael Brecker. Lukather, meanwhile, took his first signature vocal with Toto on “Georgy Porgy” from the band’s debut, then was featured on the hits “99,” “I Won’t Hold You Back” and “I’ll Be Over You” before becoming lead vocalist for the group into the ’90s.

Lukather adds that “Smile,” a wounded-but-ultimately-hopeful exploration that has appeared recently as his concert finale, was presented on Transition with no overdubs.

“It may be rough at times, but that was the point,” he says. “I think the emotional thing was much more important to me than any perfection that might be lacking. … I thought that was a really nice way to wind the album down. It’s an emotion we all feel: We all have pain in our lives, and we try to smile through it.”

Lukather’s on-going solo tour continues into Austria, Hungary, Germany, Russia and France through June. For more information on dates and venues, go here: http://www.stevelukather.com/tour.aspx.

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