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How David Paich Recorded Toto’s Latest Album

Toto rented out Phantom Sound (Van Nuys, Calif.) for a year to record Falling In Between. “Our drummer, Simon Phillips, runs Phantom,” says David Paich. “We began work on this record in February of 2005, shortly after Simon moved his own [Pro Tools] HD system in there. Phantom Sound feels a lot like Sunset Sound, where we recorded Toto IV, and we were comfortable there.

“We started out by moving our gear into the room,” Paich continues. “I brought over my Baldwin 9-foot grand, the same one that I’ve used on all of the Toto albums, plus my Hammond A100, and [Steve] Lukather brought over a bunch of guitars. Simon has an array of microphones-he really likes the RODE line-and I came with a pair of Schoeps mics that George Massenberg turned me onto. Steve MacMillan mixed the album at Phantom Sound.

“We did this album in two big chunks. We started out writing and tracking at Phantom for about a month and continued on by recording vocals and overdubs. In a second tracking period, we wrote the music to another five songs, wrote lyrics for them and tracked overdubs. I brought Pro Tools files back to my studio and worked here on my keyboard parts.

“Simon did all of the tracking at Phantom, and I use a guy named John Jessel-no, not the old comedian; that’s Georgie Jessel-to track at my place. Steve Porcaro has his own studio, where Mike Ging tracks for him.” Watching Toto’s newest member, Greg Phillinganes, play on a daily basis is one of the side benefits that Paich enjoys the most. “Greg is an amazing keyboardist,” Paich enthuses. “Hearing him play every day is like getting a master class. An example? He came in the studio one day, sat down at a keyboard and played about 13 choruses of the most brilliant solo’ing I’d ever heard on the changes to ‘Giant Steps.’ Most Mix readers know that the harmony changes every two beats throughout that chart; it’s really tough. I asked Greg how he came up with that stuff, and he told me that most of what he’d played he picked up by watching Stevie Wonder rip through the changes when they toured together. First of all, that Stevie thought this stuff up is amazing. That Greg could cop that much difficult material is also amazing. He can also come up with the most understated stuff. Remember his solo on [Donald] Fagen’s version of ‘Ruby,’ from the Night Fly album?”

No longer young kids who thought-correctly-that they could take the world by storm, Toto has little to prove, but more to say, according to Paich. “We’re basically musicians with families. We don’t have planes like the Stones or U2, though, of course, we’re all grateful for the success we’ve had. But we had to get a loan to finance this album, which is being distributed by Frontier Records. It was a labor of love. This is a different time in our lives. We’re no longer interested in trying to invent clever songs. We dealt with everything from mortality to the fall of Enron on Falling In Between. Reaching for a deeper level of lyrical power was an important goal for us, and we think we got it right, though we’re not on the level of Jackson Browne or Steely Dan! We hope that we’re giving our fans music that they will recognize as Toto, and that this album shows a group of individuals who are stretching and growing.”

—Gary Eskow