On May 5, 2007, Toto alumnist Fergie Frederiksen joined the band on stage live for the first time in 23 years. We took the opportunity to chat with Fergie for the first - and we hope certainly not the last - time.
Fergie, I think this is the first time any of us here at toto99.com have ever really had a chance to interview you. Speaking on behalf of myself and the rest of the website staff, we're all really excited and we absolutely hope to be able to do this again in the future!
So what started the wheels turning to make your recent appearance at Trocaderos happen? It's been quite a number of years since you and the band had played together! Luke and I had a conversation about a month ago. He sent me an email with his number and we played phone tag for a couple of calls and then we connected. What a cool conversation. Not everything in our past has been smooth to say the least, but I think Father Time has a way of making things better in a lot of ways. I must say that I'm pleased beyond words that we have become friends again. Bobby, Luke, the band were great last Saturday and it was like we have been hanging for years. I had forgotten how much fun Luke and I have on stage. What a freaking great musician. Every one of the guys are the best at what they do and to be invited to sing a few songs I helped write with Toto years before was something I will never forget.
What was it like after all these years getting back on stage with Toto? Was it like you had never left, or was it difficult re-orienting yourself with the band? From the first notes in sound check it was like homecoming. We did "Angle Don't Cry" through the bridge and then I was to do an add-lib into "I'll Supply The Love."
At sound check I really didn't have too much of an idea of what to do but when it came for the show I had something that worked out. That's the one part of the show everyone was crossing their fingers. Well, I made it. I really don't remember what I did but no one said it sucked. Whew!
Then I got to sing with Bobby on "I'll Supply The Love." How cool is that? Fun stuff guys. Then I got to sing "Isolation," once again through the bridge, then the guys took off on a musical ride that was freaking amazing. Then to sing "Africa" with Bobby, unbelievable.
Bobby helped coach me through some other songs with the harmonies so I could stay on stage with the band. Then we did an encore and the night was over. Like I told Bobby I was numb in all the right places.
Simon, Greg, Lee and Tony were great. Bob Bradshaw was there doing guitars for Luke and it was great to see him again. What a monster tech and craftsman. The whole crew are freaking awesome.
My son Koty was there and had a chance to play Simon's kit. His eyes were the size of melons and a smile from ear to ear. He's been playing drums for a couple of years and he finally got to hear the best and hang with him. How cool is that, Mate?
All in all it was very comfortable and fun.
What was it like sharing the stage with Bobby Kimball? Bobby is one of my favorite singers. I have always wanted to share a stage with him, and I got my wish. What a voice. He was making very sure I was feeling welcome. When I first joined Toto, Bobby called me and said, "If there is anything I can do to help, let me know." That's just the type of person Bobby is. The best. And sings his ass off!
What sort of plan, if any, was worked out with Bobby as far as sharing the vocals? As far as vocals, it was sharing verses and choruses of songs. Luke and Bobby just told me when to sing. We shared parts on "Africa” and “I'll Supply The Love." We even doubled the chorus to "Africa" once. I wish I had a tape of that.
What sort of pre-show preparation was involved for you personally? Did you have to dive back into the old lyric books or listen to some of the older records to re-acclimate yourself with the music? What sort of process did you go through? It may sound weird, but I remembered everything. I listened to "Drag Him To The Roof" so I could help out on the chorus, but all the other songs I didn't work on at all, really. I play them from time to time with some friends here in town so they are still fresh in my mind. But I tell ya one thing, the TelePrompTer for "I'll Supply The Love" really helped. When they said I should take the first verse it was cool to have the lyrics. I would have Mush-mouthed my way through that one otherwise. You know like on Saturday Night Live when they get every other word. Thank God for technology.
And what about with you and the band collectively? Did you have a chance to rehearse with the band prior to the gig? Yeah, we did a sound check. "Isolation,” “Angel Don't Cry,” and “I'll Supply the Love."
Just enough to know we were in the ball park and make sure I could still sing. Ya think?
The last time you were with the guys, you were on stage with Paich, Luke, Jeff, Mike, and Steve Porcaro. Now that Toto has such a different line up, how would you compare the two experiences? CAN you compare the two experiences? What can you say? I have been on stage with the best players in the world. Then and Now!
So what have you been up to recently? Are you working on a new solo record or any other projects? I just am finishing up a CD with Tommy Denader. It will be on Frontiers and comes out in June I believe. I'm writing for a solo CD as we speak. I can't wait to write with Luke again. He said he'd throw some juicy ideas my way.
Finally, we’ve gotten enormously positive feedback from the fans at the show. There are unconfirmed rumors around the fan community that you might join the guys for the 30th Anniversary Tour. Would you be open to that idea? Guys, nothing in this world could keep me away from the 30th. I haven't had that much fun in a real long time. Maybe 23 years. I'm glad the reports were favorable. I had a lot of help from old friends.
Like I said I'm still numb and digging the memory.
All my best to you guys and Toto, it's good to be back in the "clan."
By the way, my son Koty will never be the same Luke. You may have set him straight on a few important facts of life. Or maybe not. Love you guys.
Hi Fergie, it's great to finally talk to you. The new album co-operation between you and Tommy Denander was a great reason and opportunity for me to call in at my head-office trying to strike you for an interview. Of course that new album is one of you and Tommy but I have been talking to Tommy for so many times in the past, it's cool to take this chance to talk with you. It's my pleasure Mate. TD does a bunch of things each year doesn't he?
First of all, I like to do a little introduction of you, Fergie Frederiksen, for the Lords Of Metal website. The first and most common question is, what was the music or who were the musicians that got you interested in music at first? I grew up in Michigan and it was a magical time. Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Brownville Station, SRC and the Frost were all in my area all the time. We used to go and see shows at the armouries in the area and get our ears blown off. This is where I could sit front row, on the floor right in front of the monitors and I got hooked. It truly was a magical time. Oh yeh, let's not forget the MC5. They were the loudest band ever. I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Cream, and The Beatles. It was truly a magical time for music in my life.
When did you start your own career and did you teach vocals yourself of did you had some kind of training in it and if yes, who was your teacher? I never taught vocals and didn't take any lessons until the time I joined TOTO. I can't say they really helped me except for learning how to warm up. I am interested in taking some lessons now to increase my falsetto. I don't really have one. Weird. Some guys can go to it so easily and for me it's non-existent.
Do you also play an instrument? I write on piano and love to play drums. I'm good on drums for a song or two but tell you what. I have so much respect for the people who play night after night for two hours and beat the shit out of their kits. It's amazing. Simon and Ansley amaze me with their stamina. Can't touch that.
Can you give our readers a little inside look in your career so far, what were the most memorable bands, projects and musicians you worked with so far? Well of course TOTO. The time I spent with them recording and on tour was the greatest. That goes with out saying. I look forward to the 30th reunion so much. The power that comes from the stage with the worlds best behind your vocals is amazing. The band LeRoux was a blast. When I moved to Baton Rouge in the early 80's and joined the band it was great. They were really big in the South and I was received with open arms. I hadn't experienced a friendship like they had ever. Very good friends that like to make music. Trillion started like that but didn't turn out that way. Don't get me wrong Trillion was a great experience but got a bit weird in my last days. Thankful that I did leave and move to LA.
If I might get in to that question myself a bit, albums you are singing on and that are in my collection are the ones with Le Roux, Mecca, this new one with Tommy and of course the Toto album 'Isolation'. I like to start with Le Roux, how did you get involved with them and how do you look back at that period of your career? Le Roux Rocks. We had a freaking blast. The people and the food, the girls and the parties at that time were rocking. I look back and still get a buzz thinking about how much fun we had. The music was really cool too. We had a studio in Jim Odems parent's barn and worked out of there for weeks at a time writing. Had a band house with five guys and lived it up. Oh to be young again.
Mecca was different. I got involved because Joe Vanna and I had become friends. I also knew Jim Peterik was going to produce it and that was a no brainer for me. As time went on with the project I just kind of kept out of all the business. I have to admit it is a great CD and proud to have participated. The guys from Wasabi Production who funded the project are still close friends.
Isolation was a learning experience for me to say the least. When I got the call in Germany that they were interested in me taking Bobby's place I was shocked. Bobby is and was one of my favourite voices ever. They were the biggest band in the world and it was something I never had imagined would happen. Playing with Jeff, Steve, Luke, David and Mike cannot be explained only felt. They were so tight I had never experienced anything like that before. I spent many hours listening to stories and getting "Schooled" in the studio. I can only say it was the time of my life and will always be the fondest of memories. Oh the stories I can't tell my kids until they are 30+ years old. Fun stuff.
Mecca is one of the other things we can find in your personal discography, Joe Vana is about to release the "II' album under that name, are you involved again with this great songwriter and musician? Joe got a hold of me and asked if I would sing a song. I think I will but we are still in the first stages of getting it worked out.
My biggest interest would be your co-operation with Toto. First of all when did you hook up with these guys and how did you end up on their 'Isolation' album? I was in Germany working on a record with Ricky Phillips, Tim Pierce and Scott Sheets. I received a call from Toto's management asking if I would be interested in auditioning for the band. I thought it was a freaking joke. It took Mark or Larry; I can't remember who called, about five minutes to convince me it wasn't a joke. I thought one of my friends was fucking with me and I didn't believe them. Turns out Ricky had given Jeff a LeRoux video and record. I guess they liked what they saw and heard and after I got back to LA I did a five-song audition and was hired. I was in the band. Something I want to say to some of the younger readers and musicians. Think about my friend Ricky. Here we are in Germany working on a new record and before we left, without letting me know, he gives the LeRoux tapes to Jeff P. What a true friend. How many friends do you have that would do that. In music and in life never stand in the way of a friends chance to improve themselves and put yourself first. Always respect someone else's dicers and abilities and embrace them as if they were your own. It's hard enough out there and a little help will be may be what it takes to do a great thing for a friend. I would have done the same for him.
How did it feel to step into the footsteps of Bobby Kimball, the great voice that was responsible for their first hit 'Hold The Line'? That is something I don't think any one can really do. As you see, Bobby is back for the last few years and the band is better than ever. I was very much "under the gun" to do well and reaching the notes wasn't the hard part. It was knowing that I'm not HIM. Joe Williams did a great job but no one can replace Bobby. I think that's been proven. Look at what happens when someone takes a spot like that. Journey, not working too well now. Styx without Dennis, good but not the same. Foreigner, it took a long time to replace Lou and now their out touring but is it the same? Tough fucking gig manâ€¦
Of course, as being one insider of the Toto camp, I know all about the fight, the bad things in the press between you and Toto, that's history now so we won't get into that, what I like to know is how did it feel to meet them again this year, make piece with each other and even be on stage with these guys again? It was what I wished would happen for years. Luke and I had some issues that to be totally honest I couldn't blame him for. When we hooked up on the phone, my heart and soul felt the weight being lifted after so many years. I can't describe how good that was for me. Then to be on stage with them again it was so cool. It was like I never left and to share the stage with Bobby after so many years it was a dream come true. Greg, Simon, Lee and Luke and Bobby treated me and my son like family and was the night of my life. I can't wait for the reunion. That is going to be a blast.
Can you tell me when and with who of the band you first had contact again after so long? I kept in touch with Steve P from time to time but Luke was the one that got the ball rolling again for us.
What was it like to share the stage with the great Bobby Kimball and with songs did you did on your last show with Toto? Like I said a freaking dream. It was like time was standing still. Bobby is one of the best ever and I was honoured to do it.
How was it playing with Leland Sklar instead of Mike on the Totoshow? Lee is a freaking monster. Luke and Lee gave my son, Koty, a lesson on life backstage. He'll never be the same. Two of the funniest guys you'll ever meet. You had to be there.
Toto will be doing their 30th anniversary tour next year and there will be lots of surprises Luke told me. Any chance I'll be seeing you on that tour? Yes you will, according to my last talk with Luke. I don't know when it is but I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Okay enough Toto for now, for my head-editor will roast me if I try to turn his website into a Toto fan club, like I tried in the past for many times hahaha. Let's focus on your new album, the co-operation with Tommy, and the album that brought me to you in the first place. Since when did the contact with this great Swedish musician exist and when did you finally decide to make this awesome album? As I can remember this idea was already in the making for quit some times. When I went to Sweden to do a promotional gig for Equilibrium Magnus, was working with MTM asked if I would go and meet a great guitar player who wanted me to sing on some tracks that Jeff and the guys had played on. I am glad I did. On my day off I went to TD's studio and met him. I sang two songs for the first Radioactive and we have been friends ever since. We always wanted to do a CD together and finally got it done. I think he's the one of the best and a very good friend.
How did you work on this album with Tommy, did you meet up in one studio or did you do it the new and modern way like sending parts over through the internet or sending tapes/disks? We did both. We were in LA together and I did the vocals in MN. Dennis Ward did a great job on the mixes. That guy is good!
The reviews about the 'Baptism By Fire' album are awesome, do you read them yourself and how does it feel having done an album like this one with Tommy and became all that everyone was expecting of it? I've read them all. Like anyone else, it is very freaking cool to have your work appreciated. I'd like to thank everyone for listening.
Let's assume that plan could be realized, of course Tommy would play the guitars, you will sing who would you like to join you in that live band to play bass, keys and drums? Man a Fantasy Gig. Cool. Jeff would be on drums, Ricky Phillips on bass and vocals. David and Steve on Keys and of course Luke would have to be playing with TD. Oh to dream. What a fucking show.
If you have to point out your favourite song of that album which one would that be and can you describe the lyric of that one, what the song is telling because I don't have a lyric sheet yet with my promo-copy? Baptism By Fire. The lyrics are about my father's life and how I felt when he was failing. I went home to visit and in the matter of five days, I had my mother in one hospital, my dad in another and my sister and I were just worn out. My sister is an angel. She was there for our parents all the time. Getting them to the doctor, getting my Dad in a home when he got too sick to stay at home. Doing all the things a daughter does for their parents. Because I was gone all the time, I didn't have the experience of how that felt. It was life changing to be there and see how much she does first hand and I love her more than one can imagine. After we got Mom home and she was OK and Dad to his rest home and feeling better I felt like a rock had hit me. It truly was Baptism By Fire. I sat down that night and wrote the melody and lyrics for the chorus and pre-chorus. Then I went and visited Jim Peterick and finished the song. Thank you Jim for being a wonderful friend and such a gifted writer. The rest is history.
Do you think this co-operation with Tommy will lead to a second Frederiksen/Denander album in the near future, in other words, did you already talk with Tommy about a follow up and maybe Frontiers Records even already is checking out that chance? We want to do another. I will do a solo CD first then we really want to get another F/D done. Can't wait Mate.
Okay, Fergie we are coming towards the end of our first chat, I like to end with you the same way I end with many other musicians in a kind of word/name game. I hope you can give a little reaction to the following words and names, just the first thing that comes to your mindâ€¦
Music: Can't live without it. I tried but I'm on unhappy MoFo.
Fame: Never really enters into it. You are who you are and if you get fame good. We all put our pants and socks on the same way Bro.
Love: My kids are the most important thing in life.
War: Sometimes it's necessary but it really sucks.
Stage: Live is always better. Even on a bad day.
Studio: Making a painting.
Hepatitis C: (for readers that don't know, Fergie suffered this disease, that's why I bring it up) A terrible disease that is getting worst. Learn all you can because you know someone with it if you know it now or not. Get checked if you have risk factors and there is a cure. I have done it.