Toto’s Steve Lukather on departure of drummer Simon Phillips: ‘Sometimes change is good’

A standard news release announcing Toto’s long-awaited new studio project, as well as a forthcoming tour, had a shocking piece of news embedded inside: Drummer Simon Phillips is departing. Now Steve Lukather is commenting.

Phillips took over for Toto’s late founding drummer Jeff Porcaro, and has worked with them since 1992 — a period that includes four albums and countless tours. But this flurry of new activity for Toto apparently comes as Phillips has other plans.

The drummer, who has also recently worked with Joe Satriani, Derek Sherinian, Michael Schenker, Hiromi and others, is striking out on his own with a new solo group.

“It is all cool; we love Si,” Lukather says. “He needed to do other stuff and schedules conflicted. There is zero bad vibe, and that’s all there is to it. He was a huge asset to Toto and we will miss him. His time with us is very precious to me — and we will remain great friends. I have huge admiration and respect for Simon. Look for new music and touring from him; he has a killer band. I look forward to seeing him again. There is no ugly back story or some awful fight or anything. Simon Phillips is one of the finest musicians I have ever shared the stage or studio with. I stand by that.”

Phillips’ announced replacement is Keith Carlock, who has worked recently with Steely Dan. Carlock has also collaborated in the past with Sting, James Taylor and John Mayer, among others.

“He is world-class, amazing player,” Lukather adds. “Keith is also on our new record, as well. He is a beast and will bring a new vibe. Sometimes change is good.”

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  • Grilles

    Carlock is a tremendous drummer. You don’t get the Steely Dan call if you’re not.