For a band that looked like it might be finished in 2008, Toto has planned a pretty busy 2014.
The group, which reunited for a series of live dates in 2010 after a two-year break in order to help raise funds for bassist Mike Porcaro’s medical care following his ALS diagnosis, has regained its artistic footing with a lineup that now includes founding members Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro, as well as former singer Joseph Williams, whose first stint with the band lasted from 1986-88.
“One day Dave called and said, ‘We’ve gotta do something — Mikey’s doing bad and his family needs some bread,’” Lukather told Ultimate Classic Rock in a 2013 interview. “So I said, ‘Look, I’ll do this again. But Joseph’s gotta come back and Steve Porcaro’s gotta come back, and then you’ve got me.’ It was all for the right reasons, and it was happy — it was like, ‘Hey, my buddies are back!’”
Now the band is not only prepping the release of a CD/DVD package collecting performances from 2013′s 35th anniversary tour, they’re back in the studio working on a new album — and getting ready to hit the road for a series of co-headlining dates with Michael McDonald later this year. “The repertoire is coming together so naturally, it is as though we never took a break from creating as Toto in the studio,” Paich enthused in a press release. “For the fans who have been waiting patiently and continually showing the band support and love over the last decade or so, this one’s for you. Collectively we can’t wait to share these recordings with the world.”
The new activity comes with another lineup change for the frequently turnover-afflicted band, which is bidding farewell to drummer Simon Phillips after a tenure of more than 20 years. Phillips yields the drum kit to prolific session player Keith Carlock, who’s worked with Steely Dan and Sting, among others.
“It is all cool, we love Si,” Lukather’s quoted as saying. “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.”
Although specific dates for the live package and McDonald tour have yet to be announced, the group will warm up with a brief Japanese tour in the spring, starting April 23 in Nagoya and concluding May 2 in Sapporo. The new album will serve as Toto’s first studio release since 2006′s ‘Falling in Between.’
Describing himself as “so excited about the future” of the band, Lukather echoed Paich’s sentiments in the press release, adding, “So many things we have been trying to do have now all come true. A real USA tour, a new album of some killer new material, a new live DVD and a world tour to follow over the next two years. These are exciting times for myself and the band.”
Toto Japanese Tour Dates
4/23 – Nagoya
4/24 – Osaka
4/26 – Tokyo
4/27 – Tokyo
4/28 – Tokyo
4/30 – Sendai
5/02 – Sapporo