Jeff Scott Soto is definitely one of the most prolific vocalists/songwriters in the Hard Rock business. His career spans over 30 years full of highlights! Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Talisman, Takara, W.E.T. and of course a very successful solo career has put Jeff into the pantheon of the Hard Rock legends. Since Jeff will be visiting our country for three very special gigs, Rockoverdose.gr has taken the opportunity to interview him about his solo albums, about the past and of course about what the future holds!
RockOverdose.gr: Hello Jeff! It truly is a great honour having the opportunity to interview you!
A solo career, W.E.T. and numerous other projects. You’re one of the most hard-working vocalists around. Has there ever been a point in your life when you said, now I’ll sit back and enjoy my success? What keeps you going?
Jeff Scott Soto: Honestly, I don’t think I can! Part of it is that old saying ‘strike while the iron is hot’, and the iron has been hot for the past 10 years! I try to finish things with a proper break in mind afterwards but usually something comes up before I am wrapping the project I am working on and I can’t say no so I just plan it all accordingly. This recent time has been the craziest though…I have had tour after tour between my last solo album “Damage Control” to the Danger Angel album to the new WET album and tons of appearances in between. I haven’t had a break in over 3 years and it doesn’t seem as though I will get one now until early 2014…with my luck by the end of 2013, something will fill that time too!
RockOverdose.gr: You’re visiting Greece this year. A country that I’m sure you know that you have many devoted fans from. What are your feelings about this? How did the idea to visit Greece come about?
Jeff Scott Soto: Actually, I insisted we come to Greece against the wishes of my booking agency. I have a great history with the Greek fans but the business people feel its financial suicide to come during the recent unrest and economical stresses you have been going through. I didn’t care, between my furthered relationship with the Danger Angel guys and the loyalty of the fans there, even if I took a loss, I had to come back and share the music again especially now, especially during this time. If I can offer a slight escape from the things you have been dealing with, then it’s worth to take the risk!
RockOverdose.gr: What should we expect set-list wise for the gigs in Greece?
Jeff Scott Soto: I always give a bit of my overall career into my solo setlists but now with 5 solo albums, of course I want to show myself as a solo artist too. There is nice balance to pulling it off but more important is to promote the last album, it was a return to Rock so to speak, and I feel it in my bones, I WANNA ROCK!
RockOverdose.gr: You first came into prominence during your stint with Yngwie Malmsteen. It surely has been quite some time since then, but what are your memories from back then?
Jeff Scott Soto: It was a great time but also one that has a lot of discolored memories as well. I learned more than I expected so soon after joining him, and I mean that in a negative way! The business is ugly already so the people you surround yourself with should be ones who have your back and that you can trust…not any fault to Yngwie but he was pretty much in it for himself we as his backup band were helpless sidemen with no chance for growing or making something of ourselves while we were with him…clearly you can see why I left so soon after starting with him, even at 19 years old, I knew I had so much more to offer as an artist.
RockOverdose.gr: You’ve also joined Journey back in 2006, replacing Steve Augeri. You definitely brought something new to the table for them, yet this never materialized in the form of a new album. How come? Do you think that being the lead singer for this band helped your career out in terms of expanding your already extensive fan base?
Jeff Scott Soto: We never got that far, we were on the road pretty much the entire time I was with them. The plan was for us to record once all the live dates were completed but they fired me before this would happen. Regarding expanding my fan base, I ask you or anyone to go any Journey show, pick any city or country, ask 1000 of their fans who Jeff Scott Soto is…I can assure you maybe 1 or 2 MIGHT know. THIS is how much I extended my fan base! I sang to over 800,000 people during my tenure with them but I am lucky if that impact was felt on my own career by 1%...as you said, without an album or live DVD, I was a ‘fill in’ to most who attended those shows even after they made me a full time member. Most people who go to those shows to hear the hits aren’t hitting their website to see who the ‘new guy’ is or gather background info, hell, some even go to those shows expecting to see Steve Perry still…THAT is the impact on my career, virtually none!
RockOverdose.gr: It’s already been a year since the excellent “Damage Control”. Are you already preparing the follow up album? What other projects are you involved in at the moment?
Jeff Scott Soto: Yes, of course, why rest J I am planning a heavier album than DC, something that will be a true treat and return to my Rock core and fans. W.E.T. now completes the AOR side of what they like about me especially since there is no more Talisman so my solo career should extend who I am with who I am expected to be based on my roots and past…it will be amazing! As well, I am planning to co-write a song or 2 with Gus G who I think is simply amazing, I am also writing and appearing on his upcoming solo album so it’s an exciting time, again!
RockOverdose.gr: How did the W.E.T. project come about? Like the first album, “Rise Up” got some very positive reviews!
Jeff Scott Soto: It’s a long story really but bottom line it was the idea of the owner of Frontiers Records, he wanted to hear what 3 of his favorite writers on the label could come up with together and the 1st album was spawned from this alone. It did better than anyone expected which naturally led to doing a follow up which this time was more of a collaborative effort with all of us involved.
RockOverdose.gr: Tell as a little about the songs on the new W.E.T. album.
Jeff Scott Soto: It sounds more like a band now because we have put the efforts into it actually becoming a band. I feel the songs are stronger actually, the 1st album has a few fillers as far as we’re concerned but this new one is banging from start to finish. The songs truly represent the contribution of us as a band which was the only way we were interested in doing a 2nd album, we’re quite pleased with the results and now, the response from the public!
RockOverdose.gr: Speaking of live appearances and W.E.T., you recently recorded the live performance in Stockholm in order to release a live DVD. Is there a date yet? How is the DVD coming on?
Jeff Scott Soto: Not yet, its up to the label really, we were only gathered to do videos for the album and they asked if we could book a show and film it for a live DVD, we were happy to do it as we want people to see us as a band and not a studio project. The results again were great and I believe will be instrumental in getting us to do more live dates together.
RockOverdose.gr: You are definitely one of the best representatives of the Melodic Hard Rock genre, with one of the most extensive body of works behind. Have you noticed over the years, that the light-hearted feeling of the late 80’s music has turned towards a darker sound/lyrics, heavier guitars and moodier (but crystal-clear) productions. Do you perceive this as a natural progression of the genre?
Jeff Scott Soto: I think its just people realizing they cant do it exactly the same way it was already done, I mean I am not interested in just repeating myself as well, in life, especially as you get older, you live through more than just the happy, fun and carefree lifestyle you do as a teenager or in your 20’s. Naturally experiencing life is a catalyst for the things one writes about or thinks…Pop music in general is for the young as they don’t have the stresses and pressures as their parents or us aging rock stars haha!
RockOverdose.gr: Following the previous question, do you think that the aforementioned change helped bands to reach to a wider audience?
Jeff Scott Soto: Honestly I don’t know. I only know what I am doing as it keeps me so damn busy and my focus has to be somewhat attentive to the many things in my life. I can only hope the awareness continues and people find music of any kind as a chance to escape, dream and live!
RockOverdose.gr: There has been talk on the forums about a possible Talisman reunion. Is this really on the cards? If that was to happen, should we expect a new Talisman album, or even a tour?
Jeff Scott Soto: There is talk of something next year as it’s the 5 year anniversary of Marcel’s passing as well, he would have been 50 years old…I think we MUST celebrate his legacy and the body of work we left behind so yes, there is talk of this. I don’t know if it will be a full on tour or just a few shows or just one but there are talks!
RockOverdose.gr: Anything else you would like to say to your fans in Greece?
Jeff Scott Soto: What else is there to say? I am just a singer with some cool songs but you are a country going through something unimaginable, my little words or thoughts pale in comparison to the importance of what you’ve faced and I only hope you can come hide with me from time to time, get away from this mess and have a laugh, bang your head or just sit with your hands folded and enjoy the music, that to me is the most important thing I can share with you now!