Jeff Scott Soto interview
By Steph Perry
March 26, 2009
Jeff Scott Soto has accomplished a lot in his 25-year career, and yet he says this is only the beginning. With stints as lead vocalist of Journey and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, and many solo and collaborative efforts, Soto has written, recorded, and toured music from a wide variety of styles from pop to metal to funk to rock and more. Soto joined Trans-Siberian Orchestra for the recent holiday season tour and will appear on their next studio release. Jeff somehow finds time to continue work with his other band called Talisman. Soto’s latest solo album, Beautiful Mess, will be released this spring, and is available now on his official website. He’s also booked across Europe in April.
Please tell me about the writing and recording process for your solo album Beautiful Mess. Did you do things differently this time around?
I pretty much do on every album, not 1 solo album sounds like it could be an extension of the last. But the style is certainly the furthest from what most would expect of me. I wanted a more contemporary, Pop sound as well as something that would have a shelf life & wouldn’t sound dated in 10-15 years. This has more Soul but also the songs are more for the singer.
Are you happy with the critical and/or fan response so far?
Happy as well as amazed actually. I expected the other side of the music world to come knocking based on the sound of this album but was pleasantly surprised when the majority of journalists & critics who cover me came with praise & understanding on where I went with Beautiful Mess. I guess we truly are at a musical crossroads, the invention of the iPod/mp3 player gave consumers the chance to store everything from Abba to Zappa without thinking about carrying a load of CD’s of only their personal choices. This can only help keep someone who traditionally listens to rock the open mind of swapping choices & genres….good for an artist like me.
Can you share anything about your recent appearance at the 5th Annual Rock and Pop Masters show? Was that considered a warm-up for your upcoming European dates in April?
It was GREAT!! I met some longtime favorites as well as old friends. Sharing the stage with Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), who incidentally still bangs it out like no one’s business, David Pack (Ambrosia), who I loved growing up, & of course the masters of ceremony, Orleans…what a blast! Then there was Jimi Jamison & Joe Lynn Turner who I’ve known for some time, the whole 2 days was nonstop laughs & the cool hang. It was nowhere near a warmup for my tour, just a stopover to have some fun with people I love & admire!
Are there plans for more shows in 2009 in North America or elsewhere?
So far no, I am waiting for confirmation at this year’s Rocklahoma Festival which if this goes through, I will do some warm up dates leading into it. The US is a hard market for me because my fans as plenty as they are, are quite spread out & doesn’t warrant a full on tour for me. Unless I had financial backing or decent advances, the costs would be more than I could earn to do it properly. Unfortunately I have to wait until I gain more status in my own backyard before I can properly do a tour there, in the meantime, Europe & South America are the hotbeds that allow me to keep my show on the road!
The song Broken Man is bittersweet in its melody and lyrics. What inspired this song?
Unfortunately I didn’t write the lyrics here, the writer who did however, I know is somewhat religious so the undertones certainly have to do with usage of biblical verses as well as someone who has seen the worst of times & lending his example to learn from.
Your song Mountain has an upbeat funky feeling to it. It must be a cool song to do live. Are there particular songs in your vast repertoire that you get really excited about performing live?
Well, I would love to give them all a go at some point but that’s virtually impossible until I earn as much as Prince & can afford to pay my band to learn my entire catalog, haha! Seriously though, I prefer doing songs that I know I will look out into the crowd & you see that little bounce that comes from a certain beat or groove….that’s cool!
What is happening with Talisman?
We’ve discussed joining forces again in August for a new album to be released early next year. So far, so good!
How about Soul SirkUS?
Probably a dead issue…if the band overall had more success to lead from, I would certainly look to the others & continue with it but 1 key member & I certainly wont be working together or even exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts are considered by many to be a Christmas tradition. What did it mean to you to be a touring member of the group this past holiday season?
It was tremendous! I started working with them in the studio last year & got to see it live for the 1st time. I was amped when they asked me to join them later in the year for the tour, I have a feeling this will be yet another long time musical passage for me.
Will you be involved with the upcoming TSO Night Castle release?
Very much indeed.
Are you involved with any charities?
Only the ones within the bands I play with, non directly, not yet.
Where are you emailing from today?
I am in Europe, preparing rehearsals for tour in a couple of days.
What was the first rock concert you attended?
I believe it was the California World Music Festival with Toto, Cheap Trick & Ted Nugent in April 7, 1979. I was all of 13 years old!
Any other info you would like to share?
This is only the beginning, I have 25 years under my belt already but strangely I only feel 25 years old! I plan to be around for a while so get used to seeing me