Kenneth, Luke, Sune

Steve Lukather Interview – 16 November 2005 – Train/Aarhus – Denmark

By Sune Schack & Kenneth Bremer.

Welcome to Denmark, Luke!

Thanks, man!

A lot of our readers at bluedesert.dk have been really interested in this tour. We’ve been promoting El Grupo on the front page for about 3 weeks now …

Oh, really – wow, thank you! Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.

A lot of things happening right now, right?

Yeah, I’ve been so busy …

You seem like a new Luke in many ways. A new band, new wife 😉 new energy… is that correct?

Yeah, man – like I said, it’s been a really busy year, and we done a lot of amazing things. We been working on the TOTO album for 10 months – I tell you, ain’t no fucking around with this one, man … did you get to hear any of it?

No, unfortunately not – do you have it? Can we hear/get some of it?

I don’t have it here, and you know, it’s like we only have 4 songs – it’s only because we’re not done yet … But I can certainly let you hear a couple of things – so you’ll get an idea of what is goin’ on. It’s a much different record than we’ve ever made.

Steve, as regards this new TOTO record – a lot of people/fans have been waiting/looking very much forward to hearing it – cause it’s been a while, right? And now it’s kind of your OWN record (not being buttfucked by SONY anymore) – and this time, your own money ‘on the line’, am I correct?

Yeah, it’s been a while since we did a real studio record, I know … You know, they made us a really great deal. They doubled everybody’s deal, and gave us everything we wanted + we own it at the end of 5 years.

The Italian label – Frontiers – did, right?

Yes! Exactly…

The good thing about this label is that they’re used to handling west coast/AOR and that kind of music. Their into it with their heart – and not only interested in money, right?

Yeh, like you said, we made SONY 200 million $ and we got treated like shit from a lot of them. NOT in Denmark, actually! But in a lot of the other countries. I met a lot of good friends in the record companies, but you know, the ‘higher ups’ – they were just like, oh yeah TOTO, they’ll sell what we don’t really care about …

Unfortunately, yes – the record companies don’t have much music taste, nerve and style anymore … And the most awful thing is all the lousy TOTO compilations that SONY put out every fucking year!

You guys are soooo right! Tell me about it … We don’t have any control of that – and the covers they make are ridiculous and pathetic! They look so fucking cheap, man! You know what I mean. And we get paid like a half royalty rate, and shit… I mean they fucked us! You know, we were good to them, and they fucked us! The real problem is that a lot of these young bands they sign, they don’t have a catalogue … and 50% of major label’s money is catalogue! So if you have like 2 records you can’t exactly put of a great compilation, now can you? And a lot of the artist that had been on the label for almost 30 years, like we had… You know, they just keep rehashing and rehashing! And it’s really amazing … people buy it. And we get like only the half royalty … so it’s like ‘farrago money’ for me, man, really. Ever since you’re on an independent label, you know, no one wants to be on a major label anymore. Independence, man!

And you like that, right?

Well, yeah – let me put it to you this way. The new label wanted us so bad that not only did they double everybody’s deal – and we had a whole bunch of deals on the table – they also signed us without hearing one note of music, ‘cause they knew this was gonna be a great record – and they wanted us no matter what. In fact, now that we’re recording even the president of the label says that this is the most amazing shit he has ever heard. That’s fantastic, it’s our first album with them. So, yeah, like you said – new energy, indeed! And we’re working really fucking hard on this thing, you know – we don’t wanted to get buried. And we have a world tour booked …

It could be kind of a new (kick) start for you guys, right?

Yeah, actually! I mean, if you blindfolded test some people here, they’re gonna go: “Who is this?” Only the hard core fans will know, actually – and only by hearing Bobby’s voice. Musically, it’s much more progressive and heavier, even ‘world’ in some places and longer pieces of music. You know 8 min.’s pieces with 5 different sections … and we got some really cool guests on it. Ian Andersson is playing flute, and The Chicago Horns are on it. We’ve got Jason Scheff (Chicago), L. Shankar (from Peter Gabriel Band), legendary Lenny Castro, Tom Scott and Roy Hargrove. And Joseph Williams came back to do a duet with us. Steve Porcaro is ALL over the record, it’s like he´s in the band – lots of keyboard this time, since Greg Philinganes is a fulltime member now also… You know, him, Steve and Dave worked together, so it’s like 3 keyboard players …

Hehe! that’s an amazing keyboard setup, actually … and you’ll need 3 keyboard players to overplay Lukather’s guitar?

Haha, yeah! Actually, there are 4 keyboard players ‘against me’, because I play some keyboard tracks too. You know, it’s really exciting, man. I’m very excited about this record.

Luke, the title of the record ‘Falling in Between’ – surely a lot of fans/people are probably having their own interpretations as regards this title. Would you please tell us what your thoughts are – why you ended up with this, and what lies behind this title?

Oh, I always felt that TOTO is falling in between – stylistically … We’re not really young, and we’re not really old, right? Kind of in the middle. We just don’t really fit in anywhere! Like they keep trying to budge us together with all the bands like ‘Journey’ and all these guys … you know these guys are all my friends – and I love their stuff, but we’re really not like them. You know, musically speaking – you know what I mean. Just because we came from the same area, we don’t sound like Styx or REO Speedwagon, and our music has a lot more complexities/suddleties to it – so you know, that’s just another reason for ‘Falling in Between + we thought it sounded cool …

Definitely, and also the cover work is awesome…

Oh, yeah, I really love the cover. We really spent a lot of time and effort on it, you know – we’ve got this girl who did the photos for the album, Pamela Springsteen – Bruce’s sister – and she did a great job making us look like, you know ‘old jazz cats’ as opposed to ‘rock’n’roll stars with skulls on it, and shit like that. I mean, I’m 48 years old, man – and I’m the youngest guy in the band, haha! You know, there’s nothing more ridiculous than seeing 55-year-old guys, still dressed up like with chains/skulls and that kind of rock shit, it’s like “come on, man!”

Are the photos kind of like the jazzy thing on the ‘Tambu’ cover?

No, not really – that was a bit stylistic, these new ones a more jazzy – you know, black and white pictures, more like old Miles Davis … we’re not like styled like stars on these pictures, we’re just wearing a regular shirt, you know what I mean … trying to act our age, I mean not act our age, but you know – you gotta grow old gracefully… My son is 18, and he’s making a record – you know, he looks like a rock star, so let him do that.

I saw you perform 2 years ago at the NAMM show together with your son …

Oh, you did – haha – really, that’s cool. He’s come a long way since then, really. You know, at that point in time in your life, it’s kind of amazing – I mean you have to surgically remove the guitar from his hands, man. Haha! You know, I’ve got guitars in every room of my house, so in between the two of us – haha … He’s really good.

Did you ever teach him?

You know … some, couple of things here and there, but he really picked it up all by himself, his own style and that – he plays some really wacky chords and stuff, probably doesn’t even know what he’s doing, he just hears it, if you know what I mean. He’s on school. He went that route. He didn’t wanna go to music school. He’s like: “Dad, I don’t wanna be like you, man, I gotta be like me!” – and that’s cool! We have done some sessions together, though. Which is really a trip for me, sitting in a room, working with somebody else. He goes up there, puts down a bunch of rhythm tracks – you know like the modern rock shit … He’s got a great ear, a great sense … I think he’s gonna go far, man – you guys will be talking to him one day, that’s for sure.

In a couple of years, maybe?

Oh, yeah – maybe even next year – you never know … It’s music business! ;o) He’s making a record with Bob Marlette, you know the producer who did Evanescence – and he has taken Trevor under his wing …

Do you think Trev’ will have you on the record?

Haha – yeah, I’ll probably jam on some of the tracks, and eventually he’ll probably get me to come in and play a solo or something. But it’s his thing, man. And I told him – don’t even use the last name, man – just be Trevor! You know, Trev’! He´s quite a character, actually. Kind of the lady’s man ;-)…

Haha – yes, he has it in him, I remember seeing you onstage with Trevor, and Steve Vai was there …

That’s right, and I played with Satriani as well.

Exactly, and after the show, the girls were all around – Trevor …

Haha – yes, they’re not around us anymore, they’re hanging around Trev’, that’s cool.

Fantastic! But Steve, we’ll be there for you, no worries ;o) You know, I’ve been waiting like 20 years to meet you – and here we are. Finally! And I’m not even a guitar player, I’m a keyboard player …

Oh, really, thanks man! Thanks a lot. And you’ll really dig the cat I’m working with too – Steve Weingart. He’s ridiculously awesome …

Absolutely, I saw him before – and I met and talked with him once with Straitjacket, actually.

Cool! You know, we’ve got a fun little band here (El Grupo) – this is just a fun side project, you know.

A side project … but do you think it will continue?

Oh, I think down the line … you know, we’ve enjoyed each other so much that I could definitely see us actually doing a real record – you know what I mean? This is just a jam band – you can hear the microphones falling down and stuff – and Weingart’s mistakes all over the thing – it’s kind of an official bootleg … it’s not really buffed out – I didn’t even have much to do with it.

The CD that you’re bringing on this El Grupo tour – the limited edition thingie. Have you thought about all the fans out there that can’t get hold of a copy?

It’s really kind of interesting – you know, if we had made 20,000 of them we’d be sitting with a lot of copies left, and now – because we only made a 1,000 of them – every body wants one! They’ll sell out immediately!

So it’s really on purpose – kind of a great gimmick thing?

Yeah, totally on purpose! You know, we sell 50 CD’s a show – and they can’t get it anywhere else, unless they get it at the show.

Yeah, we know – at bluedesert.dk we’ve had 50 or 60 people mailing us – ‘where can we buy the CD’, ‘can you get one for me’, etc.

Well, the thing is. To me it’s pretty loose. So that’s why I said – well OK … this is just for people that really dig what we’re doing. I believe my standards are way up compared to this, so for me it was just catching somebody jamming in a club, you know what I mean? Like I said: there are mistakes on it, and there’s some silly shit, I missed something, but that’s all right, really.

Definitely, people don’t care – they want it … What you can’t get, you want, right! But the real ‘nerve’ is on it – we got it and heard it, and it’s awesome!

Thanks, man! I have a tendency to get the microscope out a little too hard sometimes, so maybe if I let it go for six months and I listen to it again, I’d go: ‘Oh, it wasn’t so bad – that was all right!’ And maybe most people won’t listen to it like I would listen to it?

Oh, I think so! Really!

Hmm, maybe you’re right. You know, we bootlegged/filmed a couple of shows – and what we might do is like put a package together – that has the bootleg DVD and then a regular CD – and then put it out, if there’s so much demand for it? You know, some of these songs are like 20 minutes long – it’s just not for everybody, right?

People don’t care – they want it.

Haha! Your wife won’t dig it, man! hahah!

No, but we will … and a lot of other fans will!

Yeah, I know!

You know what Steve, I tried one morning – when I was feelin’ a little bit dizzy to put on ‘Dismemberment’, and my wife – she’s now my ex-wife – I might add …

haha – that’s the coolest shit, man!

… thought I was fucking crazy. You know, nice wakeup CD …

That’s so cool, man! Thanks! You know, I used to have a band with Simon Phillips, and all we did was like Mahavishnu covers and stuff like that – and you know my wife would come out and she goes: “This music really makes me nervous – it sounds like you’re all playing all the wrong notes all together – at the same time” … haha!

Talking about CD’s, Steve… wanna ask you about bootleg CD’s – what’s your opinion? I mean, releasing a limited edition El Grupo CD … then you’re bootlegged before you even know it …

You know, once you sell the first one, it’s out there … I tell you what – I’m absolutely sure it’s already bootlegged all over the place! And you know what? There’s nothing you can do about it. I can’t even be pissed of about it – because that’s just the way it is. You know, I don’t really give a shit. I don’t really care.

But still CD sales show that people still want the originals …

Yeah, most people that would buy bootleg, buy your regular stuff anyway. Earlier I was kind of pissed about it, but now I really don’t care. If it gets people to come see our shows and things like that, it’s OK. There’s nothing no one can do about it anyway. You know, this kind of a project is not a big bunny maker – no matter what we did, we wouldn’t be making a lot of money of stuff like that. But we don’t really care about that.

TOTO bootlegs are also around – a lot of them, actually! There’s this really good one from Sweden – ‘Tambu Tour 1996’, which the Swedish Radio broadcasted, I believe – and after that it’s all over the place – small fuckers copying it again and again, making ridiculous covers and selling it for quite a lot of money – what do you think about that?

You know, like I said – earlier I would freak, but there’s nothing to do about it. It sucks, but there’s NOTHING no one can do about it. So really, now I can’t be bugged about it anymore. So if people dig the band, come to see our shows and all that, I just gotta live with it. You know, these CD’s – they’re like with mistakes on them, we sing a little out of tune – stuff like that. Nobody’s perfect, man! If it sounds too perfect, there’s probably something’s going on backstage, you know what I mean? People are only human, you spend all the time in the studio, punching in… fixing… the vocals, stuff like that. The live is the moment, really!

Like we said earlier – it seems like you have a lot of ‘new energy’ … Do you get that from having several new things going on (new TOTO record, El Grupo + your own stuff)?

Yeah, I think so – also my X-mas record is out again (Santamental), Steve Vai re-released it in the United States. Hehe, you can only sell that record for 2 months every year – if you know what I mean. It’s NOT relevant in February ;o) haha!

But you can re-pack it every year …

Yeah – and those holiday records, you can just keep re-releasing them every year. People will buy them every year – for the next 10 years or whatever. I won’t get rich from this record, but I really like it. It was a fun record to do. We did the whole album in 6 days.

7 days!

Haha, OK, 7 days! You’re right. It was like a week-long project. I got everybody to do it, you know all my buddies came to the party. Kind of as a gift, playing on my record – because I could never actually afford them all. So I owe them. That’s how we do it – we ‘borrow/bargain’ – which is pretty cool. Landau and I go back and forth, Slash … I owe Slash a favor … But he’s a good mate of mine. But the cats really came out for me – and I appreciate it a lot, you know we ‘trade’. It’s cool.

And it’s a great way for the fans to have a lot of great cats on the same record!

Yes, that’s the thing. And also, this is the only way possible, really. Otherwise all the record labels are involved and the managers – which is really just a pain in the ass …

So we’ll have more solo Luke projects in the future? With all your friends on …?

I hope so! Right now, what I really like to do is develop this band, El Grupo. You know, TOTO has got a great thing – that whole history with 30 years of music, and most of us have been playing together since high school. But with El Grupo it’s more like ‘a free form project’, we really dig deep into the improvisation stuff, and these guys are such great players and great guys. And we never actually rehearsed. When we started this thing last year, Nuno Bettencourt was in the band too – and we went on this tour in Japan – Blue Note, jazz clubs, you know. They really like to put together interesting combinations of people in Japan – and also that’s how we actually did the thing with Larry Carlton too. You know, Larry and I have been friends for many, many years … and we won a Grammy for that record! That was a wonderful experience for me to work with Larry, because he’s one of my all-time heroes, and we’ve been friends since I was 17 years old. I just turned 48 a month ago, so that’s more than 30 years. So it was kind of for us to come full circle, we never actually worked together, I think we played together once at the NAMM show. But Larry called me, and said: “Hey look, they put up this idea of me and you playing together”… And from there, you know the rest. It was fantastic. And we worked really well together. There’s a new DVD that just came out – Live in Paris – which I think was really good. A great snapshot of the Larry Carlton/Steve Lukather stuff that we were doing a few years back. So I’ve been really busy!

You were here in Europe (Denmark) in spring, and now you’re back again – and the response it pretty great …

Oh, yeah … I’m trying to work it. I wanna be taken seriously as a musician. I’ve never really been a pop star …

No, you’re a rock star …

Haha, thanks. Maybe. But you know, we had to make these ridiculous videos – that I absolutely cannot watch. They’re sooo bad that they’re fun! I mean, the hair, the clothes – like what were we doing, or rather what was the record label doing. Hilarious, man!

Oh, yes – we have some pictures for you!

Oh, then you know exactly what I’m talking about … haha! They made us look – the clothing and stuff – like fucking transvestites, man – haha! [Showing Luke the photos]

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These are copies for you – don’t think no one’s ever seen them before …

Ohhhh, man – thanks! Ohhhh, look at the hair – oh my god, 1988. And Lenny and Mike… woooooooh, and Jeffrey, my man – god bless him! I miss that guy so much. I’m telling you. I think about him every day.

Speaking of Jeffrey, a lot of people call Joey – Joey Heredia – ‘the Latin Jeff Porcaro’, do you know that?

Aaah! No, I didn’t know – but that’s sweet, man – Jeff loved Joey. I mean, Jeff laid down a different groove – and Joey kind of both plays drums and percussion at the same time. He’s ridiculous, man! He’s got a wicked backbeat. And together with Oscar, he’s a great groove player too. Oh, these are great shots, man.

Yes, Carsten Weide, our friend here, took them!

Yes, I know this guy – we’ve known each other for many years.

Haha! Hang on here comes the best one … It’s that from ‘Fahrenheit’?

Woooooooooooh!

Must be 1986 or 1987?

I think it’s 1987, must be. I just remember that look. That jacket. Oh, that’s so great. That hair is killing me, man … haha!

They’re all for you to keep – there’s a CD ROM too with all pictures on …

Oh, really – thanks a lot, man. That’s fucking fantastic. I really appreciate that! Thanks!

And these are from TOTO 25th Anniversary Tour …

You know, the problem with these pictures of me live … when I’m playing, I hold my breath – and I breath in between phrases – so it looks like I’m purple in the face, my god… Looks like I’m trying to take a shit, man – haha! And it’s uncontrollable, I can’t help it. That’s just the way it is.

You know, Steve – for us – it’s gold to be able to promote this kind of music. We, of course, have been fans for many years – but this is not just fan stuff … For us at Blue Desert it’s about really promoting to keep this music alive!

You know, what’s interesting about it … There are no young cats, coming along playing this kind of music. I mean, there are some great young bands who I really dig – like Radiohead and Coldplay. Very interesting, great players, unique sounding – good melodies. But there’s soo much of it – and so many bands sound so much the same, and it’s so Pro Tool’ed. And you know, they used to say that TOTO were slick and soul less and all that stuff – but at least we sat in the fucking room and played together …

Oh, yeah – and you could play … play your ass off, actually.

Yes, they can’t anymore … These people, man – I own a recording studio, commercial studio – and a lot of these young bands that are really famous use the studio, and the cats that work at the studio go: “Woh!”… the only guy that can play on these sessions is the Pro Tools guy. And it’s just cookie cutted, everything’s really sounds the same – you know, all these bands with ‘numbers’ in them… I mean how many bands sound like Greenday. Jesus fucking Christ, I really like Greenday – but we only need one of them, right? But it’s in their looks, sounds and all the rap shit, man – I just don’t get all that, I mean, I dig Eminem and all that. I think he’s really interesting, and he’s got a lot to say – but a lot of this other pop/rap commercial shit on the market is just really BAD or laughable… I don’t know – maybe I’m old anyways, but where are all the young bands coming up that have got the all the chops, man! I mean, my son is tryin’ to get there, but it’s hard work, man.

Oh, yes – first of all, the problem today is all the record labels, MTV and all the bad $ shit music around. Good quality music doesn’t sell in their world! So they’re not really interested …

That’s so true, unfortunately …

But hey, tonight will be different – we’ve got El Grupo here …

Haha – thanks… yes! I think you’ll dig it. Make sure you come backstage afterwards and we’ll have a beer. You know, I’m pretty lucky in that way – I get to work with pretty much the best guys there are – or I have worked with them.

But you know why you’ve worked with them, right?

Aha?

Maybe you underestimate yourself quite a bit now …?

Haha – well, thanks. There are a lot of great guitar players out there, but thanks!

You are right, many great players … but you’ve got ‘NERVE’ and a very special feeling – I think a lot of fans/people will agree on that. That’s really your force – the Lukather feeling …

Gee, thanks man! I really appreciate it. You know, I’m trying just to do my own thing!

Another great thing about the Lukather sound/feeling would also be – in any given song, on any album – old or new – you do the RIGHT thing, you’re in – making the solo – it’s a short one but you can hear/recognize it – and it’s out again – and many people dig the solo right away … and everybody will know who did it – very melodic, very Luke style!

Well, I’m very flattered! Thank you so much – really nice to hear such great things/words.

You know, that’s when you’ve achieved something in today’s show biz – when you’ve got feelin’, nerve and a signature sound that people/fans would always recognize. You have it, and Jeff had it.

You’re right …

Speaking of signature sound … I was driving in my car a couple of weeks ago – and I have hundreds of CD’s with you and Jeff, besides TOTO – and then I heard Madonna, “Like a virgin” on the radio – never had the track before, never actually heard it all the way through, but that day, I heard the bass drum – the double/triple-stroke bass drum. The Jeff thingie, and I went home to check – and found out – Jeffrey was on it! Woh! I never knew that – I could just hear it, right away.

You know, Simon is a great drummer, Joey is a brilliant drummer, but I tell you what there ain’t never ever gonna be another Jeff Porcaro, man. He had the amazing chops, and he’d never fucking play a drum solo. There can be only ONE – Jeffrey … and … it’s so hard to believe that it’s been 13 years since he passed away. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about him – he was a legend. Now, he really is a legend, but he’s always been that. Jeff Porcaro was THE cat. My mentor, brother and friend. He had the baddest groove in this business. And I don’t think we’ll ever have somebody like him again. God bless, Jeffrey and his family! I miss him so much, man!

We know. We do too. Many fans miss him a lot. All the old stuff. I remember 1987/1988, TOTO in Copenhagen – Jeffrey was really ill that night but he played the whole gig.

Oh, yes – he was always like that. A fantastic person.

… and you’ve played while you were pretty ill too, Steve. The 25th Anniversary Tour DVD from Amsterdam, right?

Yes! Oh, man, I was really ill – not well at all! I tried to cover it – but I was feeling so bad … You’re right!

Steve, do you remember … you were going to play at Midtfyns Festivallen last year, but the management or the festival went bankrupt, so TOTO played a very unusual performance, kind of a very small gig at Kulturbolaget (KB) in Malmö. That was awesome – 450 people in a small club. First time, and probably last time, we’ve ever seen TOTO play in a bar/club ;o)

Yeah, I remember that. And I really like to do both. I love to play the areas, you know, obviously they’re a lot of fun, big show, big production and all that shit – but also I dig being able to just come out and play the smaller venues. You know, this is what I’m wearing on stage. [Steve looks at his clothes] … I like that. Just another day, you know what I mean? This tour is so much fun, really. I have like the stadium crew guys, you know the front & house guys are with Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Lenny Kravitz and all that – these are my crew guys on the club tour … Also, Bob Bradshaw is out with me – that’s so cool, he really doesn’t go out with everybody – and he came out with me because it’s only a couple of weeks.

He does all the lovely custom things of yours, right?

Haha – yeaah, I stole them. You know, he does everybody’s shit. And he’s been a dear friend of mine since 1983/1984, so I get him to come out with me once in a while on these short little tours, and he has a good time. We all travel together – band and crew together, you know – a small-scaled tour.

Haha – yes, and probably the crew guys like you more today, compared to the 80’s, Steve – where you had tons of racks in your guitar stack…

You’re right. That was that era. Today, I have a couple of smaller things only – that’s it, really.

And you have the Luke guitar … I know a couple of guys playing your ‘Luke’ Music Man guitar!

Really, that’s cool, man!

They don’t sound like you ;o) but it’s a very nice guitar …

Oh, yeah. Sterling Ball is one of my very best friends. He was ‘after me’ for a very long time.

How was it, Steve … You’ve had many different guitars – Yamaha, Ibanez and the custom ones (Valley Arts) …

You know, the Ibanez was kind of a joke … They just put my name on some guitar they made, and it wasn’t really a very good guitar. But they pay me a bunch of money, and I didn’t really think much about it – and I ended up using my Les Paul, and then the Valley Arts stuff – I was with them for a long time … but they were bought up by some Korean people … And Sterling (Ernie Ball/Music Man) was like: ‘I want you!’ – because you know, he only has like 6 guys. He had Eddie (Van Halen) – but they had a big falling out – personal reasons. But now they got Petrucci (Dream Theater) in his place, so now it’s just me, Steve Morse, Albert Lee, Vinnie Moore, John Petrucci – and there’s a couple of younger cats too. And we all play together, like once a year, we all get together and play at the NAMM show or we do a special event for Ernie Ball. Those guys are a kick in the ass, man. You know, great musicians!

And a very good cooperation between you and Ernie Ball, right? Because they understand the artists, the whole stuff is not only about money – but a lot about quality and pride, right?

Yeah, and the thing is – it’s a family-owned business. You know, they don’t do the whole stuff in China – they sit there and make them in San Luis Obispo and Palm Springs. They care, man! The quality control is all run by the family – Sterling and his sons. I know it. I’ve walked into music stores, and picked something off the rack – and it’s set up exactly the same way – I could do a gig with them anytime. That says a lot to me about the quality control. And I get a piece of the action on my guitars, and I’ve made a lot of money on that – he’s been very good to me. Now they’re putting out a low-end version of it for people that don’t wanna start out spending 2,000 $ on a guitar – so it’s like a ’lower level Luke’ – but still really a neat guitar. Fender guitars are really like ’hit & miss’, Gibson guitars are ’hit & miss’ – you know, you’ll be thinking: ’What is wrong with this thing?’ I don’t know why, but that’s just how it is.

And you use your Luke Music Man guitar – and ONLY that one.

Yes, it’s the only guitar I use. I mean I have all my old Les Paul’s and all that shit, but some of them are like 500,000 $ – and they don’t sound as good as my Luke, so I’m not gonna take them on the road. That’s kind of crazy, right?

You sold your ’Robot’ (Valley Arts Guitar) on eBay, didn’t you?

No, I didn’t. I still have it. I put it up there, just to see what I could get. But it didn’t come close to what I expected, really.

But you know, the rumor was that a rich Japanese guy bought it …

Yes, there was a very rich Japanese guy that bought some of my other stuff. Stuff I wasn’t using anymore. You know, no need for paying insurance for a guitar that I haven’t played for 20 years. I got rid of a ’60 Les Paul, I got rid of a Gold Top – and I got rid of some crappy guitars I had and some of my old Fender amps that I didn’t want anymore, just taking up space – they didn’t sound good to me, so they were not usable.

So – let’s bury all rumors – because there’ll be a lot of e-mails from Japanese people/fans after this interview … Luke still has his ’Robot’ Valley Arts guitar – end of story!

Haha! Yes! Yeah, there is a rich Japanese guy that bought a bunch of my other shit – that I was getting rid of. A nice cat, and he’s gonna enjoy it, and play it – and that’s fine. You know, it wasn’t doing me any good – and guitars really need to be played. I still got my ’51 Esquier, I still got the Les Paul, you know the ’Rosanna one’ – AND I got the Valley Arts ’Robot’!

You’re into sound check now, Steve … Thanks a lot for the interview! Very nice meeting you. Take care and keep on groovin’, OK?

I will. And thanks a lot, you guys for coming out and helping me out. I really appreciate that! Thanks, man!

Many thanks to Martin Cole (Luke’s Tour Manager), Will Minting and Stefan Polzer, Atenzia Records AB (Sweden) for helping us out setting up this interview!