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April 2001 Interview

In this interview Bobby talks about his return to TOTO, their future plans and a possible new solo CD


Bobby, for 3 years, since the release of TOTO XX, you've been back in TOTO, did a new studio record, a live album and a very long world tour. You've been very busy with TOTO during that time. If you look back at these 3 years,what kind of feelings do you have, what kind of emotions?

What comes to mind most is, that all of us became friends again, which is always what I wanted to happen. I was with the band for it's first 7 years, and leaving the band was like losing an arm or leg. I just didn't feel like a whole person without my friends, who, all together became a single unit force to be reckoned with in the industry. Being asked to come back, record, and participate in the "Reunion Tour" was a great honor and I'll remember that the rest of my days. The band seems to be better than ever now and it will always be a pleasure to sing with a "one of a kind band" like Toto.


How was it joining TOTO again after such a long time? Was it like a dream come true? Did you always believe that you'd be back with the band one day or did it hit you right out of the blue?

On the first day of rehearsal for the 5 date European promo tour for the Toto XX CD, it was almost like no time had passed. It had that feeling of familiarity that you can only get from knowing that all the pieces were in place at last and, even though Jeff was no longer there, Simon was so "on his game," that it felt like Jeff was in the room with us. It was just the band doing what we do the very best, getting together and making the best music we can possibly make. Playing the older songs like Hold The Line, Girl Goodbye, Rosanna, Africa, Georgy Porgy, ............, etc., were a special pleasure because the realization of the actual "real sound of Toto" was alive in the room.

As far as how surprised I was when I got the call to come and do the Toto XX tour, I had made a promise to myself, many years ago, that I would be the best I could be if that day arrived. I made some adjustments in my life that really helped me handle being able to fill that position again. I started getting myself stronger mentally and physically {singing with Toto is the hardest job I've ever had, due to the high vocal parts and the energy and precise timing projected by the songs}. I began working out in the gym so that I could handle singing very hard and high every night if need be. Our set was almost 3 hours long, and there were times when we went 8 straight days by bus (often traveling 10 hours several times during the course of the 8 days) to the various concerts. You have to keep yourself fit and be ready to give your all every night. There was no chance for me to let myself party or ignore responsibility during the whole tour, because there is always a chance that a cold or virus might get the upper hand and make the band have to cancel several concerts. I kept myself in good condition and was constantly aware of not getting sick or doing anything that would compromise the tour. It's the price you have to pay if you want to do your best.


TOTO always was and still is a very special band, very different from all other kinds of groups with very special fans also. What makes this band so extraordinary for you? Is it the quality of the musicians and the high professionalism of each member or what makes this band different from all others in your eyes?

Toto is, and always will be a special band. I think the one element that separates Toto from all other groups is that when we get together, "second best" is NOT a choice. Everything that ends up on a track must be the very best it can be. It's the quality control and scrutiny we hold ourselves to that make the band unique. The other thing that makes Toto unique is the fact that we can do all of the things that go onto the CD live,.........sometimes even better than the CD. We always have that in mind when we record a CD. I think it's as important an issue to be able to pull it off live as it is to get it on the track in the first place.

The other special thing about the band is that there is a genuine respect for each other's talent. There is no feeling in the world like going out onstage with those you consider to be paramount on their instruments, and know that even though there may be slight mistakes, there will also be incredible recoveries from those mistakes. Some of the recoveries become parts of the new arrangements as a tour goes along. I've always felt that some of the best "mistake recoveries" made by Toto were amongst their finest moments. It's like an artist turning a paint smudge into a focal point of his painting. I have many of the early live concert tapes from 1978-1984. The tapes don't lie, they were some of the finest moments of the band, even to this very day. I saved a lot of the board tapes from the sound-checks when the band was jamming (becoming a band), and there is a wealth of material that could someday be turned into fantastic songs. I'm sure the band would fall right back into the groove after listening to the tapes. These were the most special times to me, when the band was playing impromptu.


Of course, all the fans are interested in TOTO's future. Can you already tell us something about it?

Does the band have a schedule for the next 2-3 years, e.g., that the next year is a period in which everyone's doing solo stuff and then come back together for a new record or haven't you talked about it at all so far?

At this time, Luke is doing a tour in Japan/Korea with Larry Carlton, David is finishing the Boz CD, I'm working with some friends of mine called "The Voices", Mike is working on "the Porcaro Brother's" CD, and Simon never stops recording or touring on his jazz projects. We're all very active in the business and that keep us all honed to a fine edge musically. It's such a rare treat and pleasure when we do get around to doing Toto.

We will be meeting together to plan out the next year (CD, Tour,.....etc), and at that time I'll be able to more intelligently answer your question. Until then, the mystery will have to suffice. I will say that each of us is ready to write and record a new CD, provided that the industry is ready to make the right offer. I've been working on several new songs for either a solo CD or a Toto CD. I spoke to several of the guys and we're all ready to make the music all of you are waiting for.


You've released a solo record last year, what is the current status of your solo projects now. Is there another release planned and do you have plans to do a solo tour in the near future?

At the moment, I'm working on several projects at the same time. That's the fun part of being a musician. I guess you could say that being with Toto like being part of the "Cream of the crop", so to speak. However, the other projects we're all involved with make getting together with the band even more fun.

I have plans to release a solo CD in the very near future. I've gotten several tracks recorded and I'm just trying to sort out what to put together to make a CD that is makes sense. It's always a toss up on what to put on a CD. I feel like it's important to strike a balance of songs that have a full range of moods on a CD, rather than just throw anything on tape and hope for the best. I plan to someday make a CD with all moody ballads or blues songs. I haven't really displayed that side of my writing yet, although it's one of my stronger elements writing-wise. However, that time is coming fast and I can't wait to get into it. My real roots are in "The Blues" and I enjoy it a lot. I grew up listening to Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway....., etc., and I'm deeply interested in doing a blues project.

I've just finished singing on a tribute CD to Aerosmith. The song I did was "What It Takes", and it came out really fine. It gave me a lot more respect for Steven's vocal work with Aerosmith. He's an amazing singer. I'm working on a song for a car-racing theme at this time as well. The project will be complete this week and I'm considering putting that song on my solo CD. It's quite a departure from everything I've done before. Whether it's a new Toto CD, a solo CD, or just a project CD, I'll be busy for a long time to come. As for the Toto fans, you can expect that when the next Toto CD comes out, it will be a very memorable one and probably one of the best efforts of the band to date. We're all highly excited to get busy on it,.........just need to work out the details.

I hope I haven't rambled on too much, but there's so much to say when the subject is "Toto". I think I speak for all the guys in saying that you are some of the most loyal fans ever, and that it's always a pleasure to give you what makes you a fan in the first place...............great music!


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