‘It invigorates the whole band': Toto’s Steve Lukather praises Joseph Williams ahead of big U.S. tour

Steve Lukather enthuses about the career resurgence of frontman Joseph Williams, as Toto completes its first days of rehearsal in advance of a fall American tour alongside Michael McDonald.

“I tell you what, he’s bringing it every night,” Lukather says, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “Strong, perfectly in tune. I just look around and I’m like: That’s what you are supposed to have standing next to you. It invigorates the whole band.”

Williams was featured on both 1986’s Fahrenheit and 1988’s The Seventh One albums — a stint that included the charting songs like “Stop Loving You” and “Pamela,” as well as the should’ve-been-a-hit “Goin’ Home” — before splitting with the group to deal with some personal issues. He remained close with individual members of Toto, however, as they continued to collaborate on Williams’ solo work. Williams also appeared as a guest on “Bottom of Your Soul” from Toto’s most recent studio effort, 2006’s Falling in Between.

By 2010, Williams had been reinstalled as frontman, and is now at work with core Toto members David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Lukather on a long-awaited new album. Before that, however, Toto is slated for one of its most comprehensive slate of U.S. dates in memory — and Williams, Lukather adds, has never sounded better.

It seems the time away did Williams good. “He was scoring TV and films, and stuff like that. He was sitting behind a desk instead of out there beating the pavement,” Lukather says. “So he came back, and then he really got into studying voice. He’s got this voice teacher that obviously, as you can hear, taught him the right stuff. It’s hard, when you have to go out and be that high tenor every night and nail those notes. We’re doing stuff in the original key, for the most part — I think one tune is down a half step. Otherwise, it’s all original key.”

A series of earlier European shows yielded 35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland, a hit concert recording that offers a preview of a group that hasn’t been this tightly knit in decades.

“We’re knocked out,” Lukather tells us. “It has a different vibe to it. When I look at the front line now, it’s Steve, Joe and Dave and I — and it’s like going home. Joe was one of us. We’ve known each other since we were kids.”

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.