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Jeff Scott Soto

Interview with Jeff Scott Soto from Jeff Scott Soto
by Eleni at 29 June 2004, 9:45 PM

I've been a Jeff Scott Soto fan for some time now. What always impressed me, apart of his voice's complexion, was the variety of the projects he interferes in. So, when I thought of contacting the manager of promotion of Frontiers Records to arrange an interview with him (the whole thing was over in just 2 working days! Mr Bordi I'm grateful.) I decided not to concentrate on his latest personal release only, but also refer to the past. And JSS gave me some really interesting and obviously direct answers. I wish I could have asked him even more but an e-mail interview is always a little bit restricting.  Enjoy!

A new EP entitled Believe In Me has been released through Frontiers Records. Unfortunately the promo-cd has not arrived in Greece yet. Could you give us some information about it? When will the album be released?

This is something I don’t deal with personally, something I hope the label will address and take care of properly. Once the masters leave my possession, it’s all in their hands…please address Frontiers on this issue.

In 2004 you also formed a supergroup (personally I totally agree with this term) called Soul Sirkus together with Journey guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo and Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, Whitesnake). What are your plans? Do you intend to come up with an album soon?

We have 11 songs done that could be released as a full album tomorrow, but we don’t want to need to rush it. There are many steps necessary in a band like this, things are much more prominent and synchronized than my albums and tours, so, naturally, things are done more meticulously. We hope to have it all done by Christmas, signed, sealed and delivered to get ready for a 2005 release and worldwide tour.

Before searching more about you I meant to ask you whether you have ever thought of dealing with kinds of music other that melodic hard rock, which, as we all know, you have served for 20 years now. But surfing through internet I found out that last November you formed a nu-metal project called Redlist with the participation of rap vocalist Eric and Neil Goldberg (ex-Annihilator) on guitar and Dave Fraser on keys and programming. What has happened since then? Is there also going to be an album? To be frank I was quite surprised. Are you a Linking Park fan?

I was doing another formation of reinventing myself, but completely reinventing myself, with plans of not even using my name. I have been in this business a long time and know that fans and longtime followers do not like when an artist goes too far out of their structure. This angers me because there is so much I do, want to do, listen to, etc, I hate the confines of having to do music just to stay on the same train. So this project was a way for me to do a more contemporary style that I truly enjoyed doing. The result was killer! I hope some day it will see the light of day, but as the months go by, the sound becomes more and more dated so who knows…and yes, I do like Linkin Park.

Now that we have already talked about the present I would like to ask you some things about the past. First of all, I have the impression that you first appeared in the global music scene in Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force. What led to this co-operation back then?

It was by absolute luck. I was 18 and just out of highschool, Yngwie had just left Alcatrazz and was looking for a singer in his solo band. I happened to be at the right place and the right time in getting my demo (of which I was only 16 years old on) to management on time. I was 1 of the final 2 that were chosen to play for Yngwie, one guy was the absolute worst of the bunch and the other was me.

In 1989 you had to use a nickname in order to sing in Deliver Us From Evil. It was Kryst The Conqueror. What was the problem with your contract with Yngwie Malmsteen? Was that a reason why you left Rising Force after Rising Force and Marching The World?

Not at all, that whole band was a project made of aliases, the idea behind it was sort of a comic book, superhero concept, like what was done with Kiss in the 70’s. I was not into that music, for me it was a session I was hired to sing, but the band were hoping I could be persuaded to continue.

Although you were already well known as Malmsteen’s vocalist you often did backing vocals, for example for Stryper, McQueen Street and Lita Ford. Why was that? Were these artists friends of yours?

They became friends along the way; I did many appearances on these albums because they shared the same producer, Tom Werman. After one session with him singing with Stryper, he hired me on virtually every album he did after that to sing backgrounds on…We were reunited in 2001 when he produced the soundtrack for Rock Star and this time we got to work together with me singing lead.

Judging by the foresaid and by the fact that you were also in 3 Axel Rudi Pell albums, I get to think that you don’t feel any need to be a band’s first name. Or did you satisfy this need by singing for Talisman and more temporary projects like Takara and all the others?

Honestly, I did a lot of albums and sessions because as a struggling artist you can make the decision to be loyal to one band with hopes that things will progress for you while keeping your day job wrapping porn videos in a big warehouse, or you can earn a living singing on albums and touring the world with others. I chose to do what I was born to do but yet keep my bills paid, some things are not necessarily my cup of tea where others were lots of fun and I was happy to add that challenge into my life. Talisman was the longest of them all I was involved in, so that shows you that was a band that was truly close to my heart.

In Takara’s first two albums Eternal Faith and ‘Taste Of Heaven you did not only sing but you were also the producer. Why didn’t you continue with this work? I suppose you didn’t have the time, am I wrong?

I was only supposed to help Neal get the thing finished in the 1st place, me singing on it was pure accident. I demoed the songs for/with them as I was a co-writer and we brought in another singer to use for the shopping of the album. I couldn’t get the right feel or soul in what he brought to the band so the demos were ‘secretly’ shopped with me on vocals. When the interest came back, I was told it was there only because I’m on it and if I would give the album a chance to get exposure by remaining on it. I asked that the promotion be made so it didn’t look as though I was a band member, but a guest appearance. Of course, no marketing can be done in a way that it wasn’t completely associated with that being one of my bands. Naturally, the interest remained for the band based on me singing on the albums so again, as a favor to my friends, I remained, but after time, other important career decisions took precedence.

Last year both Talisman and Human Clay new albums were out. Which is your top priority now? Do you ever classify your priorities? What is more, can you explain why you are always into so many things? Does it ever bother you to be called a voice for hire?

Like I said, I have to make a living, we all need to survive and I would rather not get a day job…this is my day job! My only priorities are that I continue to do things now that can only help my career as well as things I am proud of. I now have a lengthy enough background in this industry that I can start officially pushing my career into the limits I’ve only dreamed of.

Through the years you have donated your vocals in movie soundracks and cartoon series themes. In 2001 you sang in Rockstar. Who proposed that to you? Is this process different than working for an album?

Most sessions I get are from references and/or from people I’ve worked with. In doing so much as mentioned above, you meet a lot of people, a lot of people hear your work and opportunities come easier. A guy who worked emptying trash cans in a studio can pop up a few years later owning a music corporation and remember what he’d heard from a singer back in the day…I’ve got many sessions based on those types of incidents.

How did you feel when your band and you presented a set of Queen classics at the UK 2003 Queen Convention?

It was great, I love all and any of my involvement with Queen and their music. Brian and Roger are dear friends now and have given me their stamp of approval singing their music…I would have loved it if it went to the next step, but understandably, they’re in another plateau of their lives. They’re great human beings, beyond the whole rock star thing.

I liked very much the cover you made of Madonna’s Frozen. And in the mid-90’s you made appearances with retro-disco band Boogie Nights. As a listener, do you enjoy pop and disco music?

I love it all, as I mentioned in the earlier, I love, do and am influenced by so much more than I’ve been given a chance to successfully release. Those outlets give me a chance to do so without hurting others’ image of what I’m doing.

I am a little bit confused about something; Alex Papa or Glenn Sobel is your personal band’s current drummer?

Alex started with me, but for his own personal and future decisions, he moved on. Glen was brought in just for the new album’s recording and an old friend of Howie’s from Buffalo, New York (Dave Dzialak) has stepped in for the tour.

In 2003 there was a rumor that you would come to Greece for a live show. Some days ago I heard something like that again. Any chance you will visit us here?

I have been trying to make it happen for some time, it’s always a matter of finances, believe me, I want to do it!!! I’m sure the amount it would cost to make it happen worries any promoter at this stage, whether they will lose money, so the planning must be right. I do hope it will happen during this tour. I was very excited last year when it was so close to happening.

You may close this interview any way you want, maybe with a message for your fans worldwide and our magazine’s readers. I hope I didn’t tire you much and I’m looking forward to attend one of your live performances some time! Thank you very much for your time.

As you probably know, there are so many questions I answer time and time again so you’ll end up seeing it elsewhere anyway, but all I can say is you’ve only witnessed part 1 of what I can do, the next chapter of this career is about to begin….I love you Greece, you are in my soul and I hope to finally sing for you in the next few months!


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