Jeff Scott Soto

Interview date

17 Avril 2013


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Jeff Scott Soto (face to face)

Hi Jeff, how’s the tour going so far?

So far, it’s been great. Except for yesterday, as you might know our tour manager had to go back to England because somebody stole his computer and all his personal stuff… It’s a shame but it’s been the only downfall so far. Everything else has been going great.

So, Jeff, honestly now… Why EIGHT YEARS AND A HALF before returning to France?

(Laughs) Yes man, I know but you can’t imagine how hard I’ve been trying to come back. It’s just that every time I’ve tried, every time I’ve had a new tour or something, people said “No sorry, not interested”. But I’m back now and it’s great to finally be able to play for the French audience again.

Will France be able to see Jeff Scott Soto more often in the years to come or do we have to get used to the idea that eight or nine years might pass before you come back?

(Laughs) Well, as I’ve just told you, I’ve been trying my ass off to get back here. To find out that this venue would have had me years ago is a godsend because now I think I have a home to come back to when I do come back for the next run or another tour. So I think this is a chance to finally add France back into the routing when I’m doing European tours.

So, let’s talk about your activity. A solo album released last year, a new W.E.T. just came out, you’re touring, you’re still with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you’re producing Danger Angel, and I’m probably forgetting stuff… So… aren’t you interested in a family life anymore? :)

(Laughs) Well, I’m very busy, that’s true. I do find a balance to get everything done. I love what I do but I also have to do all that while I can. That’s the way I see it. You know, I’m forty-seven years old, there’s not too much time left on the shelf… I’m trying to do everything I can while it lasts. If one day it has to stop, at least I’ll be able to say: “I did everything I could”.

And there’s also a book about to be released, right? Can you tell us a bit more about it?

It’s released now, it’s on ebook. It basically covers every aspect of everything I’ve ever done, every album, every band that I’ve been in, it has everything from the very first bands I joined in high school all the way to what I’m doing now. My tour manager, Franck, has been working on it for the past seven years. It’s a fan thing, it’s not a book in which I’m uncovering dirty little secrets, say mean things about anybody, it’s just about my entire career as a musician.

Are you already preparing the next studio album?

Yes. I’m going to do a heavier album, even more so than “Damage Control”. “Damage Control” was showing people that I was going back to a more rock direction, now I’m going to remove the AOR sound completely from the next album because I feel I wanna embrace a heavier direction. It’s what I do with my solo career, to me it’s like an open canvas to do whatever I feel or want to do. Anybody who knows my life and my crazy and confusing career know that I’ve got a metal background, hard rock, r’n’b, funk… There’s a lot of variety. And with my solo career, there’s no preconceived set notion of what I’m supposed to do. And now I feel like I wanna rock so it’s gonna get heavier. So, I’m working on that stuff now, I’ve already got three or four songs ready and by the end of the summer, I think the whole album should be ready to be recorded.

I’ve read about a collaboration with Gus G. from Ozzy Osbourne band and Firewind. Tell us a bit more about that. Any other friendly participations you might want to tell us about?

Yeah, Gus is gonna play on one song. I’m also working with Mike Orlando, the guitar player from the band Adrenaline Mob. I’ve got a couple of other surprises that I just don’t want to reveal yet, let’s wait a little more :). And of course, I’m still working with the guys from my band because they know exactly where I wanna go musically and I trust them to contribute as well.

Talking about them, you’re touring with the same band you had on the previous tour (and the DVD). What happened to the other guys (Gary Schutt, Howie Simon…) you used to play with? Will you work with them again in the future?

Absolutely! When we did the “Beautiful Mess” album, which was a complete departure from what I had been doing, I could feel that they did not just really dig into the material the way I hoped they would, because they’re such well-rounded musicians, but it was more like a chore for them to play that stuff. We did a couple of shows and I could see they just weren’t into it. That’s the only reason why I retooled my band, because I want all the colours of the rainbow. When I put a new band together, I knew that these guys could pull off anything I wanted them to pull off. But there’s talk about doing something special next year because it will be the thirtieth year of my career since I started professionally, and I might be doing a special festival show where it will tap into the best of my years… a sort of nostalgic show instead of just going into the solo album that I’ve done. So this is something in the works, something we’re discussing, and Howie might have to enter the picture back again because he’s great with the Yngwie Malmsteen stuff.

Are there more live albums or DVDs to come?

It’s always in the works. But I like to space them a little bit because some bands almost release a DVD every year and it gets to the point where you say “What? No thanks”. I think four or five years between them is good, so let’s see if there’s something worth releasing next year, because it’s been four years since the last live DVD came out. Anyway, there’s a W.E.T. live DVD coming up at the end of the year. We shot it in January, I saw some footage two days ago and it looks great!

The new W.E.T. album came out two months ago; will there be a European tour?

Well aside of the actual timing, if there’s a demand for it, of course, we’d love to tour. I we can get the timing and the band’s schedules together, we’d love to do a proper tour. But it’s a “wait and see” situation at the moment.

I’ve heard a rumour about a Talisman reunion. Is there really something going on? If that is the case, who would be part of it?

Well, we’re discussing doing special next year. Again, I can’t reveal the whole situation right now, it’s a bit early for that. At first, we thought we would do something this year but then we thought it might be better to hold on and do it next year because it’s going to be the fifth year anniversary since Marcel’s passing (Marcel Jacob, the bass player with whom Jeff formed Talisman), he would have been fifty years old, and then you add on the fact that it will be the thirtieth anniversary of my career, I think it all kind of fits together… strangely. We’re in the talks now, we’re trying to organize that and make it so all original members and members of Talisman at one point can step in and do this. It’s gonna be a big event and it’s probably be in one the big festivals next year.

Any other projects you’d like to tell us about?

I’ve got my hands full with my solo career, W.E.T. and Trans-Siberian Orchestra… So I haven’t got any other projects but I’m constantly doing little things here and there, not projects but appearances and sessions.

Have you kept in touch with some artists you used to work with, such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell or others?

Not so much. Yngwie, I run into him every once in a while at the NAMM show or at some festival here and there. And it’s the same with Axel. I got to talk to him years ago at the Rock of Ages festival, we got to hang out and talk for a little while, but it’s not like we email or call each other every once in a while. They’re busy too and I’m not good at staying in touch with people I don’t often see.

Among the incredible quantity of albums you’ve sung on, which are the ones that you’re the most proud of?

Ironically, it’s the more recent ones than the past ones that I like best. Now if you’re gonna go with one of the older ones, I would say that the “Humanimal” album with Talisman is one of my favourites because we went over the expectations created by our first albums and became something more than just another melodic rock band. The first album is a classic to most people but we didn’t continue that path, we found our own path and the way we wanted the band to sound with “Humanimal”. But as far as my other favourites, I would say albums like the one I did with Soul Sirkus, “Damage Control” or the latest W.E.T. album.

And the ones you’re not so proud of after all?

I don’t throw people or albums that I’ve done under the bus. Because I had to do those albums to know that I didn’t want to do them again. There are no regrets. Everything I did is part of a learning experience and it has led me to the point where I can now say “Well, I don’t want to do that again, I’d rather do this”. It’s just that if I name albums I’m not proud of, it puts a negative touch on somebody else’s work and I’d rather not do that.

Looking at your career, it seems you have worked with pretty much everybody in this business. Are there any musicians you admire left to work with?

Yeah, there are always people I would love to work with or that I admire but I’m not chasing that so much anymore. There was a time when I would say ‘Oh man, I would love to work with that person” and I would chase the idea of doing it. Now, I’m on the path where I know what I want and I’ve got enough friends and colleagues in the business that I do want to work with and that want to work with me and don’t have to chase, so I’m not pursuing that anymore. If it happens, it happens… Of couse, I’d always love to work with Eddie Van Halen or Nuno Bettencourt but I’m not gonna chase it. I’d love to work with Prince but I know there’s a fat chance of it happening… so why pursue it?

A question you are tired of being asked :

Well, I’m not tired of hearing them but the most commonly asked questions are: 1. Is Yngwie really an asshole? 2. What really happened with Journey? It seems that I haven’t answered enough because people are still asking.

Good, because I’m not gonna ask these…

Oh but it’s easy to answer you know. Working with Yngwie… everybody knows his reputation, I don’t have to spell it out, I don’t have to add to it… You know enough, you’ve read enough, most people have seen enough to know what his personality is like. Make up your own judgement. And for Journey, it’s always the same answer : I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned, when I was there, everything was great. All of a sudden, they put an end to it, they surely have their reasons for why it happened, so they’re the ones you should ask… I honestly don’t know.

I was not even asking… :)

I’m telling you anyway! (laughs)

And a question you would have appreciated but I didn’t think of?

No man, you thought of it, the one question I wanted you to ask is “What took you so long to get back to fucking France??” and you asked (laughs).

Anything you would like to say to conclude this interview?

Yeah, it’s a common message, I’ve been doing this thing for almost thirty years and I’m humbled by the fact that I can get to do what I’ve always wanted to do and that some people out there, even new young fans, are still interested in what I’m doing. It’s a blessing and I can’t thank the fans for enough for it. It’s great to be back in France.

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