K9 Magazine couldn't believe our luck when Grammy Award-winning guitarist, singer, songwriter and record producer Steve 'Luke' Lukather agreed to have a chat with us about all things cool and canine. He is best known for his work with the band Toto and has toured all over the world.
In 2009, we managed to catch him just before he embarked on another epic tour and had a quick chat with him about the most rock'n'roll member of his household, his precious Pug, Swink.
Having just bought tickets to see Lukather and Toto perform in London next year on their '40 Trips Around The Sun' tour, take a trip down memory lane with us as we re-share his interview.
Hi Steve! Thanks for your time today. Please tell us about Swink.
Swink is a 4 year old Pug who is really my son's dog, he paid for her out of his own pocket. When he moved out of the house and I said “You know who's going to get the Pug dog? I'm going to get the Pug dog” and she’s been with me ever since. We got her from a pet store, but I was a little worried as you hear so many bad stories about puppy farms supplying these kind of places. She is just the sweetest little thing in the world.
Have you always owned animals?
I've owned dogs for most of my life, apart from when I was solidly on tour. I really I love all animals but unfortunately I'm allergic to cats. When I was just a kid my parents bought me a cat and I had a severe allergic reaction to it and couldn't breathe. They had to take it away from me and it was such a traumatic experience at the time.
Cover Photo: Ash Newell Photography
What does Swink think about touring? Does she go with you?
When I go on tour, I'll go to give her a kiss and she'll not want to speak to me. It's almost like she's giving me a telling off. But she's great when I come home. She starts screaming and making this high-pitched noise and sounds just like a little girl. She loves my little daughter who is 21 months old and I think they keep each other company when I'm away. She does travel with us sometimes, we have a second home that has a doggy house and she loves it there. But mostly there is always somebody at home for her to stay there.
Ah, okay. Got it - does she have her own entourage to keep her company while you're away?
Oh yeah, sure she's got her own entourage and you just can't talk to her today. (Laughs) She's relaxing around the pool and has got a big diamond chain around her neck.
She sounds like our kind of girl. With Swink in mind, would you agree that dogs are the most rock’n’roll animals of them all?
They say some people are for cats and some people are for dogs, but I really love all animals. Although I like dogs probably the best. It's like they know you and when you have had a really bad day and you come home, they give you a welcome that puts a smile on your face and puts you in a different frame of mind. The only unfair thing is that animals don't really live as long as we do. It's always been a difficult part of my life when you have to say goodbye to them, but Swink’s still only young and we've got plenty of time with her yet.
I appreciate you giving up your time to chat with me today, I know you’re about to resume your 'Ever Changing Times' world tour – where are you most looking forward to playing on the next leg of the tour?
I'm off again on the next leg of my tour shortly and then I'm off for a month. I came over to the UK earlier this year in March and I'm making a new record so will be over again next year. I love London and the UK and have spent a lot of time there. I've been all over the world and have visited lots of different countries and love them all. I love being on the road as it's been my life for over 30 years.
A big part of your career has been taken up with Toto which is being put in the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville later this year, do you think that’ll spark any reunion rumours?
The guys are really great players and we have had a really good run for 31 years. We formed at high school but now it's a little bit like staying at a party for too long and it was time for me to move on to do something different. I was only 19 years old when we released 'Hold the Line'.
I still see the guys though and it's a great honour to be invited into the Musicians Hall of Fame with the likes of Jimmy Hendrix and so many others. So I guess that's the next time we will all be reunited, but it's only a one-off and then I guess everyone will get back to doing their own thing. But any decisions I make, I always take them up with the dog first. (Laughs) One bark for yes, two barks for no.
What career path do you think you’d have followed if you hadn’t taken the route you have?
I'd be asking you if you wanted fries with that burger, or chips if I was in the UK (Steve adopts a British accent) “Would you like chips with that?”.
If Swink was a human, do you think she’d have become a musician or what career path would she have taken?
Oh, I don't know. I really can't say. (Laughs) You would have to ask her.
What’s the funniest thing she's ever done or the funniest thing you've ever seen a dog do?
Well because she's a Pug dog, she can only turn her neck so far around and she can't really lick or itch herself. She gets a little frustrated when she can't reach and that's pretty funny. She always looks like she's frowning and it's almost like she's saying, “What's going on here?”.
What is Swink like around the house?
She's a great companion dog and is very protective around my daughter and the house. If anyone comes round the house, whether it be a someone she knows or the FedEx man, she always gives them a good smell to work them out. It's great in case we have burglars, if they get past the alarm, then the dog will definitely stop them and I don’t think you can ask any more of a dog than to let you know if there’s something going on.
Who is Swink most like in your family?
She has her own personality and a huge one at that! I truly believe we were born to have this dog. She really called out to us, as we went by her a couple of times in the pet store before we made the decision. My son was like, “I've got to have her” and that was that.
If you were planning her ideal day, where she’d go anywhere and do anything she wanted, how would her perfect day play out?
She likes to go to the dog park, I think all dogs would. She'd be able to hang around with other dogs but she can sometimes be a little aloof. She likes to hang out a little bit but then likes her own space. I always think it would be great to be a dog. To just be able to go up to somebody, sniff their ass and not have a care in the world.
What is her favourite thing in the world?
She loves bacon, but I know dogs shouldn't have it. We used to give it to her but she got pancreatitis and was really sick. So she's not allowed to eat bacon or any human food anymore, it’s just not worth seeing what she went through, let alone the vet bill.
I’m pretty sure this is a question you’ve never been asked before but here we go – for this question we ask our celebs to match the personality of the following rock stars to a breed of dog based on their personality alone. So what kind of breed of dog would you be?
Jeez, I guess I love Pug dogs so I would be a Pug and hang out with all the other Pug dogs. We'd sit round like in those old paintings where dogs smoke, drink and play cards. Yeah, I'd feel happy sitting back, having a beer and playing poker with all the other dogs.
And how about Alice Cooper? We know his family own dogs (we've spoken with his daughter Calico before).
Well, there's a man I've worked with who is really talented and a great guy. He'd be a Bulldog but he'd have to have the black eye make-up for sure.
In your opinion, what is the best dog related song – Hound Dog (Elvis), I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy Pop), Black Dog (Led Zepplin), Peace Dog (The Cult) or Hair of the Dog (Guns’n’Roses)?
How about 'Hey Bulldog' by the Beatles? That's a great song.
Our editor is a huge rock music fan. He’s made sure there’s a lyric from an Alice Cooper song in every single issue. If you could choose a lyric for us this issue, what would it be?
(Laughs) You guys really like Alice Cooper, don't you? There's a great song that me and Alice Cooper wrote together called 'Serious', so I'd go for a lyric from that.
Got it. 'Serious' is just one of the 1000+ album credits you have to your name, which is a phenominal achievement, but is there any track you’ve heard that you’ve not been involved in and wish you’d been the one who had come up with the riff or that you’d recorded it?
Sure, there has been loads of great music I would have loved to be involved in. Really almost too many for me to mention just one. It's more music from back in the day, when musicians were real musicians and played all their own instruments rather than rely on computers and technology to make music sound great. Although I guess computers and technology have their place sometimes.
I like to listen to a lot of blues music like Ray Charles and Muddy Waters; you know much more acoustic music because most of the day I'm either listening or playing electric music. But a lot of the time, especially when I'm out hiking, I don't listen to music, I just like to think.
Finish the following sentence: My dog is….cool! She's got attitude and a smile. She has a lot of love in her heart. The love from a dog is pure love; it's unconditional. If everyone could love like a dog, I think it would be a better world.
What do you think would be a good trait if people could learn anything from dogs?
I think a dog is a product of its environment and its owner. If you treat a dog well, it will give you unconditional love in return. It's sad when you read about people mistreating dogs and when all they do is love you for being you. They deserve to be loved and cherished for what they bring to our lives.
This is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but….if Swink had the ability to speak and answer one questions and one questions only, what would you ask her?
Oh jeez, that is a tough one. I'd like to ask her; “What are you thinking? What goes through your mind during the day?” I think she would just say...”Hey Luke, what's up?”
Many Thanks Luke!
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