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Guys like Steve Lukather know the deal: You walk in the studio, hear a track once, plug in your guitar and blow the place away. You make something from nothing. Don’t overthink it. After a while, you get pretty good at it.
Which is basically how the Toto guitarist and session star began recording his new solo album, Transition. “It was total clean-slate time,” Lukather says with a laugh. “I got together with [co-producer] CJ [Vanston] in December of 2011, and I didn’t have lick one. So we just wrote and recorded. The whole thing just rolled.”
The first song Lukather and Vanston tracked, Judgment Day, kicks off the album, and the manner in which other numbers were written and cut is how they appear on the record. “It felt very natural to do it that way,” Lukather says. “It’s like I’m telling a story from beginning to end.”
There was no mucking around with endless takes and punches, either – every performance is a single master from front to back. “We didn’t want to go back and redo things,” Lukather says. “We overdubbed the drums and bass and all that, but everything I did with CJ, we laid it down and kept it.”
Being that he’s played on something like a bazillion records, Luke has made a few friends over the years, and he called on pals both new and old to guest on Transition – in the bass department alone he’s got fellow session aces Lee Sklar and Nathan East, along with Jeff Beck’s go-to girl from Down Under, Tal Wilkenfeld. “The whole approach was to write a song and cast it like a director making a movie,” Lukather says. "‘This song sounds like Sklar… This part is Nathan.' We imagined the person in the tune.”
Transition is Lukather’s eighth solo album, and he sees it as the end of a trilogy that began with 2008’s Ever Changing Times and continued on 2010’s All’s Well That Ends Well. “Stylistically and lyrically, I think I began a thread and saw it through,” he says. “I’ve maintained a certain direction – I didn’t go out and do a country album or a blues album or a metal album. I think I’ve found my voice.”
Transition will be released on 21 January. In Europe, you can pre-order the album here, and in North American and the rest of the world, order it here. On the following pages, Steve Lukather walks us through the disc track-by-track.