Toto - The 2006 Interviews
Part 3 - Greg Phillinganes
Keyboardist, composer and session man Greg Philinganes goes way back with the Toto guys and has a resume to match any one of them. He is a perfect fit for the band and as you can read, he feels right at home.
Hi Greg, thanks for answering just a few questions.
Right off the bat it seems like you are very comfortable in Toto. Did the touring before hand get you used to the personalities within the band and where you fit into all that?
I've known most of the guys for at least 25 years and I've worked on several different projects over those years with Dave, Luke, Simon and Jeff. When I started touring with them, our relationship intensified as we were able to spend more time together but there was no big adjustment. It was an instant fit.
I think your contributions to the album are immediately felt and very valuable. How did coming from a R&B background compare to the more rock field?
Since I started my career playing in Stevie Wonder's band, I became accustomed to playing many different styles. So, it was no big leap for me, as I've also spent many years in Eric Clapton's band, where I infused a lot of my R&B roots as well.
I think that question is answered on Let It Go. That's possibly the funkiest track I have heard from Toto!
Thanks but I don't think it's the funkiest. Don't forget "Waiting For Your Love." There might be one or two more.
Your R&B stamp is firmly planted there at least. Was it fun to slip into a real groove for that track?
Of course it was! But I also think "Bottom Of Your Soul," "Spiritual Man" and "Hooked" have strong grooves, too.
Can you briefly outline your musical history for those that might not know? In fact - is that possible??? Your bio is almost as long as Lukather's!
In addition to having started with Stevie, over the last 31 years I have recorded, toured with or played live with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Phil Collins, George Harrison, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, The Bee Gees, Christina Aguilera, Luciano Pavarotti, Earth/Wind/Fire, Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger...you get the picture! I was also the music director for the debut solo tours of Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson.
Toto is known as the ultimate group of session musicians - so you must feel right at home...
Indeed! I am very proud to be in this band and I consider them all as brothers.
Did you have any hesitation taking on lead vocals where you have? I have commented to both Steve and Bobby that this is a very vocally complex record.
No hesitation at all! The guys were happy to have another option for vocals.
Favourite track on Falling In Between?
That's like asking who's your favourite child. I'm proud of the album and I like all the cuts for different reasons.
The album sounds absolutely sonically amazing - produced by the band no less. How did you achieve this amazing sound and how did you finance the recording, being that no label was involved at that stage?
We have the luxury of having a resident engineer in Simon, whose studio we used. One of the best mixing engineers out there, Steve MacMillan, mixed it. We were all committed to making the best sounding record possible of course and we financed it on our own, which was quite liberating to operate without some bonehead label guy breathing down our necks.
Now you guys are all incredible musicians and big personalities - who controlled you all in the studio??!!!
Believe it or not, we're all quite mature adults! It was a totally democratic process from start to finish. Remember, its music, not brain surgery!
Do you enjoy stepping in for David's lead vocal parts on tour? I heard you on the German TV show...great vocal...
Absolutely! It's a joy nightly to sing "Africa." Definitely something I never thought I'd be getting paid for!
How did you enjoying working with Steve Porcaro? How did his 'sound design' influence the album and your playing on it?
I really enjoyed working with Stevie P very much-we have a great relationship. His wealth of ideas and exuberance definitely expanded the scope of the songs he worked on. I particularly enjoyed working with him no "No End In Sight."
And what places are you most looking forward to playing?
A lot more of the US, Thailand, Indonesia and Greece as it will be my first time to those countries and of course, the beautiful land of Oz!
And what songs will be the greatest challenge to play live this tour?
The title track was kind of interesting but I think we have it down now. "Let It Go" was another one but for me there are new challenges with some of the older stuff just because of my new set up, which affects the way I play certain things.
I was looking at the specs of what you guys cart around with you. That's an impressive list of gear mate!
Would you expect anything less from a band of this caliber? What's even more impressive is our stellar crew that looks after us and our gear. They are the best in the world.
Do you have anything else on your plate Greg? Aside from one long ass tour and continuing to promote the record?
Along with playing with my new baby daughter, I have an entertainment company that produces events of various kinds.
Do you imagine you would spend as long on a record again next time around?
We will never serve any wine before its time! It's far more important that we know we've done our absolute best in putting out the kind of quality music that our fans deserve, which will hopefully attract new ones as well. It may take longer, it may take shorter. The music determines the time involved.
Cheers for taking time out of what is a very busy schedule to talk to me!