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Steve Lukather on shred culture: “I remember Eddie Van Halen telling me once, ‘Man, I didn’t mean to start all this madness’”

“That always cracked me up, as Eddie was the father of shred.”

Steve Lukather and Eddie Van Halen

Image: Getty Images

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Toto guitarist Steve Lukather has spoken about how the explosion of shred culture had come as a surprise to the ‘father of shred’ himself, Eddie Van Halen.

In a new interview with Guitar World, Lukather discusses the creative process behind his “unabashedly” ‘80s-sounding new album Bridges and the way he navigates shifting trends within the guitar community over time.

“I just wasn’t trying to keep up with the insane abilities of the younger players. I’m a big fan and love it all, but my strength was always more melodic playing,” he says. “So I said, ‘Let me stay in that arena. I’ll leave the crazy stuff to the younger players.’”

Asked how he adapts his approach to the guitar across projects, Lukather replies: “First and foremost, I’ve gotta try to keep up. [Laughs] But don’t get me wrong; I’m not some old stiff thinking it’s over.”

“But man, everybody seems to play so much fast bullshit, and I disagree with that entire concept. But there are so many incredible young players out there now, male and female.”

“Some of the best guitar players in the world today are women. And I think that’s great because when I started, there weren’t many. So while I hate even to differentiate between men and women because they’re all great players, the reality is that things have come a long way. So for me, it’s about trying to keep up with all these insane players while still being myself.”

The guitarist also argues that “there was no such thing as ‘shredding’” back in the 70s when he started out.

“We were just trying to make good records,” he says. “But then Eddie Van Halen came along and changed the whole game. I remember him telling me once, ‘Man, I didn’t mean to start all this madness,’ but he really did change the entire game.”

“That always cracked me up, as Eddie was the father of shred. But I never tried to do that, and I still don’t. I’m still the same melodic guy I’ve always been.”

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