Ask Steve Porcaro a Question

Ask Steve Porcaro a Question

Ask Steve Porcaro a Question

“I look forward to your questions.”


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    • TROY
      March 29, 2014

      Steve, it is an honor to connect with you, your one of the most talented and gifted innovators the world has ever known. The question I had was with regard to your time supporting Gary Wright during his tours in 1977 and beyond. For “My Love is Alive”, the moog bass lines you are playing are so incredible funky, your making that moog talk! Back then you didn’t have a lot of the technology that we have today to stabilize and control the physics of sound. Did you maintain those moogs and do all the programming of patches yourself for those tunes or did Gary?

      • Steve
        March 30, 2014

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m suddenly feeling humbled.
        Yeah, Gary days . . . The Moog I used for the bass part on “Love Is Alive” is the first synth I ever owned. My brother Mike loaned me the money when I got the gig with Gary to pay for it along with an Oberheim DS-2 Sequencer, and an Oberheim SEM.
        What was tough about the older analog stuff wasn’t just keeping them in tune. Each oscillator had an offset and scale adjustment that was incredibly sensitive and unstable back then. Basically, it was this tweak that scaled the oscillators to be in tune up and down the keyboard at a different octaves. I did do some of those tweaks myself, but would always try not to. . . As much as it was a pain, these flaws did contribute to it’s amazing sound. The patches, or programming of the sounds was all me as far as the live stuff went. There was no way to save anything on the Mini Moog. I was trying to copy the cool sounds that were on the record. I remember the friend I bought the Moog from, Jay Chernik was teaching me where to set the knobs to come close to the sound on the record. I marked them down with tape. Some knobs like “attack” and “decay” are obvious, but “amount of contour”??? Take care

    • Christian
      March 28, 2014

      Hey Steve. He is playing bass on your new album now that Nathan East has left? I know Tal Wilkenfeld has played on it but just wondering who else is?

      • Steve
        March 28, 2014

        Hi Christian,
        Yes, Tal has played on a couple things. To tell you the truth though, between you and me . . . . I think they’re making it up as they go along.

    • Dimitar
      March 28, 2014

      Are you planing to have a concert in the Balkan region? And if you are when?

      • Steve
        March 28, 2014

        Unfortunately no, I know of no plans for the time being to have a concert in the Balkan region but I wish we would. I hear from a lot fans from there. Hopefully very soon.

    • Mario
      March 27, 2014

      Hi steve,i’m big fan of you and also fan of Toto.I’m listening toto since i was 5,now im 15.Bless you all guys!
      And i wanted to ask you if you are coming with Toto in serbia,macedonia or bulgaria this summer….
      Thanks for your reply.

      • Steve
        March 27, 2014

        Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no plans for Serbia, Macedonia, or Bulgaria this summer, but hopefully in the near future. Take care

    • Johan E
      March 27, 2014

      Hi Steve!
      I have some questions about the touring members of Toto through history. In the beginning you always had an extra percussionist. Then you added various guys on saxophone and other wind instruments. Nowadays you “just” have extra backup singers.
      What factors did you consider back then and now when you chose what kind of touring members you wanted? Is saxophone for example too much associated with the 80′s sound to be considered today? Or is it just a qustion of a limited budget?
      If you could choose freely with no limits whatsoever how does your dream touring lineup look regarding players and/or instruments?

      Regards Johan from Sweden

      • Steve
        March 27, 2014


        Good question. On Toto albums, we’ve used anything and everything to try to make the best possible record, including the London Symphony, Tom Scott and Jerry Hey horn arrangements, you name it. Especially in the earlier days.
        We always try to pull off the record as close as possible and would love to bring an orchestra everywhere we go but . . .

    • Sune Schack
      March 26, 2014

      Hey Steve,

      It’s Sune – from Denmark/Copenhagen – and Porcaro & Paich Fan Club.

      I was VERY happy to see the answer you wrote to Christy: you @ vocals at the upcoming TOTO album. ‘The little things’… Can you say what kind of style? Or secret? ;)

      Also wanna ask you how the solo album is going? Any dates? We’re SO many fans that hope for several Steve P vocal tracks @ that one. I know how you feel with own voice. But…. You promised me/us a ‘Takin’ it back 2014′ LOL. And that requieres YOU (and Hungate & Shannon F) ;)

      I’d gladly help listening – like you said earlier, if u need any help. Would be an honor…. My mail is:

      Thanks again for + 35 y of endless inspiration. All you Porcaros are my biggest heroes & influence. Even Jeff as much as you and Mike ;)

      See ya in Denmark @ tour – cannot wait!



      • Steve
        March 27, 2014

        It’s typical me. Mid tempo ballad. What else were you expecting? With my Justified responsibilities, Toto’s new album, and preparing for the upcoming Japanese tour hasn’t left me with much time for my solo project. Scoring Justified pretty much eats up my week while I work on it. It’s very important to me and I work on it every chance I get. You and I will talk soon. Take care, sp

    • Mark
      March 25, 2014

      Can you tell us about the keyboards you will be using in the live shows?

      • Steve
        March 27, 2014

        Hi Mark,
        The keys will be the same as the last couple tours. Yamaha Motif XF-8 on the bottom and Yamaha Motif XF-7. I’m also running Mainstage on a Mac laptop that holds the majority of my sounds. Ciao

    • Rob
      March 24, 2014

      Hi Steve,

      I saw you several times live in The Netherlands with Toto the last few years, and It seemed to me that you really enjoyed beeing back on stage playing with this amazing band. With you, the real Toto sound is back!

      Are you already involved in the new Toto record, did you already record some keys, and is there any chance for a Steve Porcaro song on the new album?

      Many thanks for taking time for a reply! So glad you’re back with Toto, studio and live.


      • Steve
        March 24, 2014

        Your very perceptive. I am having fun playing with the guys again. It’s like “Hot Tub Time Machine” for me. I’ve been able to re-live 1983 for the past 5 summers. I am working with the guys on the new Toto album as well as working on my own project. There should be a lot coming your way. Thanks for your interest and your kind words.

    • Fulvio
      March 24, 2014

      Hi Steve,
      This website is such amazing thing!
      I wanted to ask you, since i’m studying to being a composer (i’m guitar player) in your composing/production phase from which part do you start ?
      Harmony then Melody,
      Melody then Armony,
      Rhythm and Bass line.

      Thanks for you reply.
      hugs from Italy

      • Steve
        March 24, 2014

        Welcome to Musinq!! I love your kind of question. I wish I had a better answer. The truth is, it’s always different depending on the situation, but there are definitely go-to starting places I’ve acquired over the years. Writing to film can be very different than writing songs, but for me, whether it’s a song, or a cue, I try to establish an atmosphere that is distinct. With film, my intention is to always serve the picture no matter what. With songs, I have more freedom.
        Sometimes it starts with a tempo I get in my head. What’s always been the case but happens now more than ever is with the constant influx of new sounds and sample libraries and the amazing programming going on these days, just a sound can totally be the jumping off point. Often when I’m looking for a sound for something I’m urgently working on , I come across something cool that has nothing to do with what I’m working on but I start jamming with it and writing something I dig and stop everything to record it somehow. It’s often difficult to pick up where I left off. I do have fun though. Sometimes it’s the drums and bass groove that are the starting point. Many times it starts off with just me pounding out chords on the piano and trying to capture a mood whether it’s a cue or a song, while I sing a melody on top. Or I do a lot of finger-picking guitar parts on plucky keyboard sounds. I could go on. I hope some of that helps

        • Fulvio
          March 26, 2014

          Thanks so much for your reply, it has helped me alot.
          Is a pleasure to see this kind of approach from a great musician like you.
          I will be inspired by the moment and will try any sounds, grooves or chords progression i can find , then i’ll come with a nice melody to put in.

          Have a nice work w/ Toto and w/ all your next projects.

          best regards.

    • March 22, 2014

      Hi Steve! I’m a fan and member of the Porcaro/Paich group. I understand you are working on a solo album? Wow!! I think you have such an amazing voice and talent and wish there were more lead vocals of you on the Toto albums. Takin’ it Back and the Human Nature Demo are incredible!!! When can we expect a release date and can you tell us anything about it?

      I was also thrilled to learn a few days ago you are going to be on the new Toto album! I’m anxious for both of these releases.

      • Steve
        March 24, 2014

        Hi Christy,
        Thanks for your kind words. I like my voice too . . . kind of sometimes. It is excruciating for me to do finished vocals. It’s very difficult for me. I’ve never really taken care of my voice and it takes me a loooong time to get a finished vocal. Not only that, but my range is incredibly limited. As a songwriter, I don’t want to limit myself to have to write just what I can sing. I’m personally much more interested in my songwriting than I am in my singing. Having said that, I will have a vocal on the new Toto album. The guys just heard a song a wrote with Alee Willis called “The Little Things” that looks like I might be singing on the next Toto CD.
        In my spare time, which isn’t much these days, I’m working on my own project that will probably have a few lead vocals by myself. Thanks for your interest. There’s cool stuff coming.

    • March 15, 2014

      Hey Steve! Big fan of your playing! You always added such a creative, virtuosic element to the music of Toto. I deeply appreciate what you do, and you’re a smart cat, too! What I wanted to ask: Will you be coming to Toronto anytime soon with Toto? I would be forever grateful if you guys did! I’m 20 and have been into the music of Toto for a few years now.

      Thanks a million,

      Davide Corazza

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey Davide,
        Thanks for the kind words. Not Toronto but sort of close. August 29th we’re in Windsor Ontario. Is that close? Also some upstate New York around then.

    • Jon
      March 15, 2014

      Hey Steve,

      I love the music in Justified. I am a Kentucky native and love what you have done to really enhance the show with your music. I have not been able to find a song though that I would love to purchase and maybe you could help? It is the song in Season 2 episode 9 where Coover snorts a pill off of his bandaged hand and heads towards the party. I cant wait for some of your tunes to be available for purchase!

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey Jon.
        A native Kentukean? (sp?) High praise indeed, thanks. I know exactly which cue you’re talking about because I loved it to. I would love to take credit for it, but that one was written by Marc Bonilla who does all the guitars for me on Justified. He also writes a few cues each week and that was one of them. I thought he really nailed it. There is a Justified Score Soundtrack CD coming out soon, but that cut isn’t on it unfortunately. The fine people here at Musinq are putting together a mailbox that we can send and receive stuff in. When they get that together, send me another note and I’ll sneak you an mp3 of that cue. Don’t tell anybody.

    • March 14, 2014

      Love all your work with Toto and your various session work on the countless songs you have worked on, my question is what are the fundamental things or processes your do when working on a session with an artist?

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey John,
        The main thing is to always serve the song. Sometimes when you start trying different parts and sounds on a record, you can fall into a sound or a part that you think is great, and you start developing it, and it sounds great and it feels great, and you take the next step and expand it and sometimes, after you have fallen in love with your sound and what you played, you realize at a certain point that it took on a life of it’s own and you served that, your wonderful idea, instead of the song. I’ve written a part that steps right on the vocal melody or another part while blindly following my wonderful idea. Point I’m making is you have to keep checking yourself along the way and make sure you’re always serving the song. It starts there. With all the stuff we got, the possibilities are endless as are the processes. Hope this helps.

        • March 17, 2014

          Yes I understand Steve and thank you for your advice you and your brothers are legends in the business so I have been soaking up whatever advice you have been giving to others on here as well as what you have said to my question, so thanks again and look forward to your next solo project,session works or new ToTo material.

    • March 13, 2014

      Hello there Steve,

      Im Santts, 27, from Brazil! Im a singer piano player! Just released my first album!
      Ive influenced a lot fom the soul, R&B, reggae, and Brazilian music, as a young musician and being lucky enough to be in touch with guys like… I was wondering if I could leave a link to one of my videos? its me on the Piano, and my fellow friends, a rock/R&B version!
      Id be thankfull if I could hear ur thoughts on it, I sent one of those links to Natan East(Bass player whos plaied with you guys), a while ago! I heard some good feedback, this is the newest videos, with the best audio and image quality I could show,
      Looking forward to hear from you sir,
      All the best,

      Santts video >

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey Santts,
        I think these guys here at Musinq are going to provide us with a way to send and receive files, but we’re not there yet. Even then I’m afraid I don’t have time to listen to everything I’m sent. Take care and good luck with everything.

        • Santts
          March 17, 2014

          All right Steve,

          I apreciate you answering, hope they do! Id like to someday hear from you!


    • March 5, 2014

      Hey Steve,

      can you give advice to keyboard players on how to learn elaborate arrangements by ear? I mean not the main piano or organ parts, but the parts that are more buried in the mix. The synth “contrapoint” above the unisono in ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ is only one example. Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Toto music is full of those. Also recreating the patch is hard when I have no clue how it was made.

      My other question is how to get new ideas for arrangements. The subtle stuff you’re renowned for :) Especially when the song itself is a work in progress, and it begs for some clever instrumentation to keep it going and developing.

      Thanks for this amazing opportunity here!

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey Márton,
        You must first develop your ear to learn elaborate arrangements by ear. Some people are just born with it. Certainly not me. My ear is not very developed, I’m ashamed to say. It’s difficult for me sometimes to transcribe what I hear on a record. Those “contra point” lines you’re talking about are often improvised while I play the track over and over, until something sticks. Yes recreating the patch is hard when you have no clue how it was made. As you develop your ear and your synth know-how, you’ll get better and better at it.
        I get new ideas for arrangements from the new songs I work on. Also, I like to listen to what’s played on the radio and try to keep my stuff fresh and influenced by what’s new, without chasing after any fashion. I just let it influence me.
        THE most important thing, is for it to serve the song first, but then sound like me and no one else whenever I can.

    • Mike Whittaker
      March 3, 2014

      Hi Steve,

      Long-time fan and follower of your work, and very glad to see you back in the Toto fold.

      Can you share your thoughts on the “Human Nature” compositional process, and second; your process for constructing the synth solo sections on Rosanna, Pamela, and the bridge solo section on Carmen? The synth colors, contrasting/intersecting lines, note choices and expression are pure brilliance!

      Thank you for taking the time to answer questions and particularly for the many years of musical pleasure, inspiration and talents you and your family shared with fans and fellow musicians. Looking forward to hearing more of your work in the future and wish you continued success.

      Mike Whittaker

      • Steve
        March 16, 2014

        Hey Mike,
        Thanks for the kind words.
        The Human Nature compositional process started with pure inspiration; My young daughter having a bad day at school and asking me why people act mean sometimes; I wrote the gist of the song about an hour later on the piano out in the cutting room at Record One, while the rest of the band was in the control room with Greg Ladanyi mixing the song “Africa”; I began demoing it on a 4 track cassette in a hotel rooms on the road with Toto soon after; Quincy Jones at one point asked to see the verse lyrics (the demo was very rough and you can hear what he first heard if you Google “Human Nature Demo”) They were terrible and he asked if a guy named John Bettis could take a stab at the verses. I said sure and John turned my tune into a song.
        On constructing the synth sections, I just try to go for it, use the technology in a musical way and show everybody why I’ve spent the time I have with all of that stuff. (Because of the possibilities!!) Sometimes you reach too far, but since I was never a “player” the way the other guys are, I’ve always have been eager to show what it is I do, do. (no snickering) Using the studio as your ax. Combining the right blend of musical know-how, with really cool synth stuff.
        Thanks again Mike for your kind words and yes, there is more music from me your way.

    • Maxwell McGough
      February 26, 2014

      Hi Steve! I enjoy the show Justified and I know that you do the scores for it. I was wondering if those scores will be available for purchase or listening somewhere. I especially like the one where Raylan looks at his family graves, it also plays when Boyd visits the house he and Ava were going to buy but she was arrested. That score is outstanding and I would to be able to listen to it at any ole time.

      • Steve
        March 3, 2014

        Yes Maxwell, a Justified score album should be coming out soon. They haven’t given me a date yet but it does have the cue you’re referring to. Thanks for your interest and thanks for your kind words.

    • February 26, 2014

      Hi Steve!

      this is Robert,
      thanks for you nice answer.

      I send you on a facebook three photos from concert in Poland.

      Best wishes and health.


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