Toto’s David Paich: “I’m not finished yet”
This week David Paich releases his first solo release on the Mascot Players label. Under the title “Forgotten Toys”, Paich, who most music lovers will know as one of the founders of the American hit machine Toto, is releasing an EP with 7 new tracks. Even before the EP comes out, Maxazine talked to a good-humoured David Paich, who was relaxing in his gold-plated workspace in his home in sunny California, about his first baby, but also Toto and more about music.
“Forgotten Toys” turned out to be a great EP that many in the music world would envy. However, it became an EP rather than a full-length album. And that while there could still be more than enough material on the shelves after all those years of being active in music. ‘Yes, wait a minute, this EP is not a collection of glorified demos or old Toto material that never made it into an album, make no mistake about that. I wrote these seven tracks all during the corona pandemic. I couldn’t do anything else, so I started writing music. When Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams finally came out with their solo albums early last year, Joseph finally convinced me that now was the right time to come out with my own work. Joseph has also contributed a lot to the material as a singer, and arranger but also productionally. I owe a lot to Joseph.”
It’s all the more remarkable to hear that Paich wrote all the tracks recently, especially when you listen to a song like “Spirit of the Moonrise”, for example, which really does have the feel of it being written at the time of the Toto album “Isolation”. . It’s reminiscent of “Angel Don’t Cry” with Fergie Frederiksen on vocals. David gets a big smile on his face and sits down for it. “That’s really an observation from a real Toto freak,” he says, pointing his finger. ‘Now that you mention it, I can imagine it, but I just write as I write, for me, Toto cannot be divided into an “Isolation” period or a “Seventh One” period. It’s all our music and it will get a different ‘touch’ depending on the line-up. You now hear an old Toto hit in a Paich solo number, which proves my point!’
‘What do you think of the EP?’, Paich continues, taking over the initiative. ‘Short, I especially think it’s ‘finished too quick’, I respond, ‘I think it’s a nice collection of very well composed pieces, which in their style show the diversity of where you come from and stand for as a composer. From the classical opening overture to the mighty beautiful jazz closing track “Lucy”, it is made with great craftsmanship and love.’ There is silence on the other side for a moment. ‘Wow’, says Paich. ‘I’m very happy with that, if you managed to get that out then I accomplished my mission, that’s exactly what I wanted to convey.’
‘During my life, I have been fortunate to have grown up in a very musical family and environment. I made this EP with my childhood friends and examples, men who still played with my father like pianist Michael Lang, who played the fantastic piano solo on “Lucy”. I also really enjoyed working with my childhood friend, guitarist Dean Parks, after a long time.’
‘Dean Parks…’, we break into Paich. “You mean you got THE Dean Parks on “Forgotten Toys”? The man from the unforgettable guitar solo on Steely Dan’s “Rose Darling”?’ We burst into uncontrollable laughter together. Paich sits up all the way up and says ‘You’re a nerd! There hasn’t been a music journalist in the last 20 years who would have said this! But hey, Dean grew up with me and together we made some great music, including indeed “Katy Lied”, the beautiful album by Steely Dan, which also features Jeff Porcaro by the way. Another fun pop quiz from that time is that we are on the album together, but we’ve never been in the studio together before!’
Time to take the initiative again about his favourite on the EP and why. Paich only has to think about the question for a few seconds. “My favourite track is ‘Lucy’, it’s dedicated to my late father Marty Paich and to Mel Torme, James’ father who is also on the track. “Lucy” may not be the song that immediately makes people think of me, but it’s the musical idiom I grew up in and really appreciate. It might be fun to tell you that the song is named after Lucy van Pelt from the Peanuts comic. You know with Snoopy from Charles Schulz, my favourite comic.’
Time is running out and of course, I will not let the interview pass without inquiring about the state of affairs with his brainchild Toto. “As you’re sure I won’t be able to tour with my buddies from Toto anymore and believe me that’s a shame because, with the Dogz of Oz tour the band has one of its strongest line-ups ever, I can guarantee that. I’m still involved, call me the musical director if you will. I’m at the rehearsals, determining the set list for the tour and working on the arrangements. It’s just touring that I don’t like anymore, unfortunately. Only in Amsterdam did the legend take the stage for five songs, because he happened to have a day off between his visit to Montreux and his holiday.
Will we ever hear one of the tracks from ‘”Forgotten Toys” live? “Never say never,” Paich concludes the interview. “Maybe the guys want to include some in their live set someday, or maybe I’ll play some of it someday when I’m invited, like this year, to come to Montreux Jazz with Nathan East. I’m far from finished.’