‘Never thought this was going to happen': Toto begins tour ahead of concert release, long-awaited new album

A completely rejuvenated Toto begins its 2014 tour in Japan this week, even as a new concert film is set for release. They’re continuing work on a studio project too, the band’s first since 2006.

“Very exciting times for us,” Toto’s Steve Lukather admits. “Never thought this was going to happen. But, it did.”

Toto opens in Nagoya on April 23, 2014, followed by dates in Osaka, Sendai, Sopporo and Tokyo. The new DVD/Blu-ray 35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland follows on April 29, 2014. Filmed last June in Lodz, the concert includes a number of intriguing deep cuts as well as familiar Toto favorites like “Africa,” “I’ll Be Over You,” “Rosanna” and “Pamela,” which originally featured current frontman Joseph Williams. Shows in the states are set for August and September, as the group co-headlines with Michael McDonald.

Williams, who appeared on both 1986’s Fahrenheit and 1988’s The Seventh One, joins stalwarts Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro on an as-yet-untitled new album set for release in 2015, as well. The sessions saw Keith Carlock take over for Simon Phillips (who joined in 1992 when founder Jeff Porcaro passed), and then the exit of Nathan East (a member since 2010), both for their own solo projects. And yet, Lukather described a series of amazingly productive sessions, just ahead of a huge tour.

“There have been changes; it’s been very tumultuous, to be honest,” Lukather concedes, in an exclusive SER Sitdown. “But we’re like the band that won’t die. People even have died, but I’ve known these guys for 40 years. Steve Porcaro, David Paich, myself and Joe have known each other for 40-plus years. But we said, if we’re going to do this — we’re going to make the most of this. We’re going to make a really fucking good record. We’re going to give it our all.”

Lukather is thrilled with Carlock’s contributions to the sessions, as well: “An amazing shot in the arm, energy wise — and a different kind of wicked-ass groove. He’s another world-class drummer. We’ve only worked with three — and we started out with Jeff Porcaro. That’s your standard. Then we go to Simon Phillips. I’m used to the best drummers in the world. If you don’t have a great drummer, then the band ain’t swinging. The drums set the pace for the energy and the groove and the feel.”

David Hungate, a founding member of Toto who hasn’t been with the band since 1982 and the IV era, is returning for the U.S. summer dates. Carlock, who was already committed to a tour with Steely Dan this year, will be temporarily replaced by Shannon Forrest, a McDonald sideman.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.