Interview with Toto keyboardist and vocalist – David Paich, in Dublin on May 2015

Toto I would have to be honest would not find a place in my extensive music collection. Known solely for a couple of eighties monster hit singles would be...


Toto group


Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine


Toto I would have to be honest would not find a place in my extensive music collection. Known solely for a couple of eighties monster hit singles would be the sum total of my musical knowledge of the band. Until now… With the recent release of the excellent   album “XIV” I became converted. A varied album in terms of song styles and genres, it is 1 that has rooted itself to my cd player since I first heard it.When the band announced their first Uk-Ireland Tour in many years it was truly a no-brainer about attending. The international contact system of Myglobalmind certainly came up trumps on this one. Securing both a show ticket and also an interview with original band member David Paich. I also realised that we were indeed fortunate as it was the only interview that Toto did on the show day of their Dublin gig. Following the bands VIP meet and greet/sound check I sat down with David Paich to chat about all things music/Toto even Elton John and Michael Jackson were referenced. David Paich is quite the musical legend being the holder of one Emmy Award and several Grammys… so I was truly amongst musical royalty with this interview.

MGM: ”Good afternoon David, thanks for chatting to me pre-show as I understand that the band don’t usually do interviews on a show day. Have you ever played in Ireland before? I tried to explore the mental cobwebs but didn’t think so…”

DP: “We did I think it was back in 1992 we played one time. Funny, I had been working with Bryan Adams and we came over here, so I went to see Bryan Adams play in Dublin. I met Brad Pitt he was working on a movie. It was called The Devil’s Own or something like that. It was interesting. We had a great crowd, and we loved it. I think we played at a bar or something like that and the crowds are the best here.”

MGM: “How’s the tour been going so far?”

DP: “It’s been going good we just played Glasgow. We had never been there and the tour is almost sold out and again we have been looking forward to playing England and Glasgow and Dublin. My wife is Irish and her father’s Irish so… I know that everybody likes to make a lot of noise and sing a lot and its great.”

MGM: “With so many songwriters in the band is it hard to – how do you go about getting an album together? Do you write collectively or separately?”

DP: “It’s a collaborative effort you know, I always tried to pattern ourselves after the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. I always thought it was great to not just have one artist because I get bored a little bit when I’m paired with one artist and in writing all the songs. So I thought it would be better to have more talent and more songwriters. But again it comes down to we have to be objective with the material and pick the best songs and really kind of cast who is writing it to the side and really ask “is this a good song or is this not a good song and is this right for the album you know? I learned a lot from Quincy Jones during the making of Thriller on that you know what I mean he says “A song is a song it’s either got to be a good song or not a great song and you have to go with the best material”.   Fortunately I have a very creative gifted writers in the band that are able to contribute and we were able to collaborate. The most fun part is the collaborative effort when we all write together, you know what I mean? Or our individual songs like Steve Porcaro would bring one or Luke will bring an “I won’t hold you back” and occasionally I’ll have a song in there but I think it’s a collaborative effort.”Joe WilliamsMGM: “So when you are performing live do you always sing your own songs?”

DP: “No like Steve Lukather is singing “It’s not the same without your love” tonight, a song that I wrote. You know what I mean, and another song (what’s the song that he sings?).There is a couple that he sings. He sings another song and does a great job on that. A lot of people have a tough time singing other peoples songs. But normally everybody is singing their own songs but in this case, and another Joseph sings a couple of songs that I do. You know, it’s a luxury and something unique about this band, you know, where someone else will be able to play or wrap their arms around another person’s song and make it their own you know.”

MGM: “On of my favourite tracks on the album is Burn. Is that track one of your compositions?”

DP: “Well it’s a song that Joseph and I started and Ill be very honest you know, I am a big Adele fan. And I heard a bunch of things that she did and I said, “that really makes me feel a certain way” and said that I wanted to write something to feel like when I hear her voice and hear that song like you know there was a song called “Set Fire to the Rain” and I just thought that it was an awesome song. It was the only song I was listening to for a long time – just that song over and over. So I got this kind of tribal thing in my head and Joe came in with another song and he played me the whole song and then he played the ending of the song or there was a little bridge in it and it was the riff for “Burn”. And I said “I really love that” and he said, “Oh so you like that song?” and I said “No I don’t like that song at all but I like that little riff”. And we took that riff and we moulded that and we kept playing it over and over. We made a song out of it and that’s one of my favourite songs on the record.”

MGM: “You played on Thriller.”

DP: “Yes.”

MGM: “Was that one of your career highlights. You have Grammys you’ve also won an Emmy but would playing on Thriller be one of the top ones?”

DP: “I would say so. Just because first of all, obviously the notoriety that it’s gotten obviously brings such light to it but that’s not the reason, it’s because there was so much talent. Michael first of all is probably one of the most talented persons who ever lived. Out of everybody I have ever seen. He could dance, sing – do it all and write. And then you put Quincy Jones with him and you have a magical team – like to me that’s the equivalent to George Martin working with a Paul McCartney. And I ended up working with Paul McCartney on it because I was co-arranger on “The Girl Is Mine” as an arrangement with the rest of our band. So we had Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Jeff Immrick – all these people and it was a unique project you know. Rod Temperton the guy who wrote Thriller and a lot of the songs is meeting me in London and we’re going to get together and stuff and he’s coming to our show, It was a magical album and so much talent on there and its fun the way Quincy makes records you know because he hires all the best musicians and gets them in a room together. Its not like one guy would play here, one guy here – there was a team of guys sitting at a piano and on the bench its like baseball we call it the bullpen – the pitchers – its like “Ok get the next guy its time for you to go in” man its fun.”David PaichMGM: “The new album marks the return of several old Toto hands coming back on board again. What was it like first of all recording and now performing live with those guys again?”

DP: “It’s just like a reunion you know what I mean? Its like seeing your family that you haven’t seen or have been away for 20 years and you come back and see family members again you know. And it feels good. It feels like a hammock you know, a warm blanket you know.”

MGM: “You feel a rejuvenation of the band?”

DP: “It does it does. Because when you see, when I go on stage first of all both my mates that I went to high school with and then you bring out these guys. Its like all of a sudden like you are teleported back in time and I keep thinking it’s just like it feels like our first or second tour like in the 1980s. Its like it becomes timeless. Now I know why the Stones and the people that go on doing this because when you get on stage, you’re looking across and you are still playing – they are playing “Satisfaction “and “Start Me Up “and we’re still playing Hold The Line and Africa that we did and I see the same faces and you put a great crowd in front of it and it really rejuvenates you.”

Luke guitarMGM: “The band has been hit by personal tragedy several times over your career. Recently the sad demise of your bassist Mike. I just wanted to know if you had any memories that you can share about Mike?”
DP: “Actually yeah, Mike was so wonderful because Mike was really the timekeeper of the band even when we were with Jeff and everything. Mike was a great drummer also. So we always looked to Mike – he would always walk around and he would let people know where the attention should be on stage. He was such a unique talent and I guess the best looking guy in the band too. So we always wanted to make him the poster boy. Mike was kind, he had a big heart and a very smart guy. He also used to introduce us, and also he was the best MC. He would give us the most creative introductions so, we miss Mike on a lot of levels.”

MGM: “How do you define the enduring appeal and the longevity of the band?”

DP: “I think the fact that we have been persistent, been committed to it. And I think that we try and make the quality of our records, I think we try to make them as good as we can here. We aren’t just trying to throw stuff out there, take the money and run. A lot of people do. We are vocational musicians. Just like you have athletes and doctors and stuff. When all of us were young we all wanted to be musicians. We’d be doing this if we were not touring big places, we would be working clubs because that’s how we got started. We love music and I think people are attracted to the fact that we are technically proficient at what we do because we take it seriously its not just kind of a hobby kind of thing here.”

MGM:  “So you’re still very focused and driven?”

DP: “Yeah and on a professional level when we bring that level to our show and our records and stuff and I think that it is infectious when you commune with an audience live and they actually hear, “God those guys are playing live and they actually sound like this” and with all the technical stuff that goes on these days. I like to do what the Stones do which is an occasionally come into a smaller venue or building like this because it makes you tighten up and it makes you lose all the big production and you lose all the stuff and you’ve got close to your crowd. Here you can hear the crowd and they are going to tell you what works and what doesn’t because they will let you know.”

Luke guitar 2

MGM: “Do you still have artistic goals?”

DP: “Sure. Id like to be, you know, I’ve always wanted to be a film composer. I always wanted to be a Jazz pianist and I will keep working at those in my spare time, playing Jazz at home and I’m constantly working with other composers and stuff helping them do movies and trying to get the songs in movies but. I love soundtracks. I like music like John Williams is my favourite and we have Joe in our band and we love orchestral music and symphonic music. Yeah that’s right I did Dune the movie, Dune – a lot of the music for that with my band but I got a chance to do my movie and get it out of my system but – I like working with orchestras My father was was an orchestra leader and conductor arranger so its been in my heart – and playing in a small jazz club piano is always in my heart too.”

MGM: “With the new album and when you went to record? Was there any pressure that you had to

deliver something classic here or was it just we’re going to do what we’re going to do?”

DP: “You know it’s so funny because we thought in our minds we really didn’t want to do this last – another new album until we got into it and we found once we get into it Toto just rolls up its sleeves and yeah this is going to be our greatest album. So we started working on it and once the first three or four songs got – we said – Boy we just can’t do it to fulfil a commitment, we’re going to have to put all of our 110% effort into it which is the way that Toto always does it. That’s when it becomes fun and you seeing. This is really truly one of my favourite albums if not my favourite album that Toto has done. I think our level of playing and our song writing is getting better as far as lyrically where it’s becoming story driven more.”

MGM: “What would you say would be your greatest regret?”

DP: “I don’t have too many regrets. I wish we had toured the United States more when we were younger. We just thought we would just keep touring the world because the world. We had to do the kind of live show like Genesis was doing and Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd we wanted to be little mini pig in the show because we weren’t the kind of musicians that were dancing around on stage and doing all this entertaining. So we thought we would storm the world and then come back and our country would really appreciate it but it became hard to knock on the door again once we got back to the United States. We did tour with other people ya know in the United States and we toured a little bit. But we spent more time in all these other countries and stuff. So maybe touring in the US was one of the things I would have changed.”

MGM: “Outside of music do you have any interests and hobbies?”

DP: “I do! I scuba dive believe it or not. And I’m not really comfortable in water but I do but I scuba dive. My wife and I joined a dive club and I have a friend who is an ex Navy Seal who I would never dive without because you know, when a shark comes or something he is a good man to have pull you out.
I like to ride bikes and you know, do things like that, bike riding, walking and scuba diving you know.”

MGM: “What would you say would be the secret of success?”

DP: “Hmm, I think not letting it go to your head. Keeping a sense of humour and just trying to do yourLuke best all the time. Try to do good work. You just try to do good work you know. And hang in there keep at it don’t give up. You know a lot of times we could have given up. You know its easy to just do that and I thought our chapter was over in 2008 and then we put it all back together to help our brother Mike out and stuff. And we found out that we still had this love, this passion for music and here we are now, still playing still making a living making records.”

MGM: “When you are playing the hits all the time (Africa, Hold the Line) – how do you keep them fresh?”

DP: “That is the challenge. That’s a very good question. Steve Lukather goes out with Ringo and plays them with the All Stars. And so he is just, I go “God you must be sick of playing all the ones I wrote when I was like eighteen. He said “that’s the challenge every night” and the audience helps with that because its new to the audience to hear us play so the part of being professional is being able to say hey I’m going to find some new way to make it interesting to “Meet me tonight” to play that song to that audience so its like the first time I ever did it and you just get in this mind set where you are saying “boy this is just “ I just imagine that we just recorded this song and were playing it for the first time. And the audience helps with that adrenaline.”

MGM: “One last question. You have worked with many great and famous musicians. Which one would you like to sit down and interview?”

DP: “I would love to interview Elton John who has been one of my heroes for years. And of course Paul McCartney – I’d love more time with him. I’ve worked with both of them and brushed elbows but never had a chance to really sit down and like – Id love to ask the questions too you know what I mean? And then there is a great pianist like like Chick Corea and stuff like that but I talked to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea before but Elton’s just – he’s just an amazing guy to me you know what I mean and some of those people you just off the Richter scale to be able to do what he does – When he sits and plays a three hour show by himself or with Ray Cooper I don’t understand how he does it without having a band there for a little bit. I can do it for a little while but to sit on the piano and entertain and to be able to sing that long and be able to play is superhuman to me.”

Mgm: “David, thanks very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me, have a great show and please bring Toto back soon.”




Upcoming Tour Dates

28 May 2015, Zenith, Paris, France

29 May 2015, Rochal Club, Luxembourg

30 May 2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Netherlands

2 June 2015, Molleparken Frilutscenen, Sonderborg

3 June 2015, Falkoner Theater, Copenhagen, Denmark

6 June 2015, Bergenhus Festning, Bergen, Norway

7 June 2015, Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway

8 June 2015, Arena Larvik, Larvik

10 June 2015, Stadhalle Bremerhaven, Germany

11 June 2015, Tempodrom, Berlin, Germany

About Author



Photo Credit: Myglobalmind

Imminence - The Black

The Cult’s Legacy Continues with 8424 Tour: A Celebration of Four Decades in Music

OU II: Frailty Review

Honeymoon Suite – Alive Review

Sonata Arctica – Clear Cold Beyond Review