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INTERVIEW – Jeff Scott Soto of W.E.T. – February 2013

| 7 February 2013 | Reply

How often does someone actually get to talk to one of their favorite artists?  Not often, so I was overwhelmed and in awe the whole time I had Jeff Scott Soto on the phone.  We talked about the new disc from W.E.T., his lastest solo disc, and other vanity projects…


ToddStar: How are you, sir?

JSS: Doing great, and yourself?

ToddStar: Great, thank you.

JSS: Oh okay.

ToddStar: We really appreciate you taking time out for us today. It’s always an honour to have any time with someone such as yourself.

JSS: I appreciate that.

ToddStar: I’d like to jump right in to the new release from W.E.T, right away if you don’t mind?

JSS: Not at all.

ToddStar: This thing man, since the first time I heard it, if you get to our website at 100% Rock you’ll see it got 10/10.

JSS: Nice. Next time we’re going to aim for 11.

ToddStar: There you go. I can’t stop listening to this, man.

JSS: That’s awesome.

ToddStar: And I talked to Erik a couple hours ago. What can you tell us about the disc that you might not know about it first run through?

JSS: Well for starters we went into this album knowing that we wanted to do it more as a band effort because it’s turned more into a band this time round. The first time round was more of the idea of getting us together to see what it would sound like. These guys wrote some songs that I sang on and because it came out so well and we had such a great rapport even hanging out, and much less working together was an added bonus, and how we all actually worked together. And that was the only way we were interested in doing another album, doing a second album. So with that being said, I think it can be heard that we’ve got more of our own influences thrown into it, but it, it just sounds a little more like we did it together, as opposed to the paint by numbers of send me the demos, I’ll sing them and send them back to you and I’ll see you next year. We put a lot more personal effort in this time, and I think that is going to be more evident this time around.

ToddStar: You can definitely tell in the sound and the styling of the songs that it seems to be more of a band effort. Is that the way you guys wanted it to feel compared to the last one? Did you guys go into it with that whole mind set of let’s make this an actual band record?

JSS: Yeah, and you know what, most people don’t know what it entails to make that happen. They’ll listen to both albums and compare the two albums and think it sounds like you guys are following the footsteps and formula, but for us, we know the difference. We know how it feels and we know what comes of actually doing it together, as opposed to just doing it individually. And of course, absolutely, we set up for that to happen for us, so when we walked away from it we can actually say; we did this together, as opposed to one person or we just …a couple of individuals did it.


ToddStar: You pointed out that, and some people that listened to it, especially with the first record, I could hear different components of the Eclipse angle, or the Talisman angle in your voice, I mean your voice is very recognisable, and its recognisable on this one, but I got the feel that the guitars weren’t necessarily the star on certain songs this time, and the voice wasn’t necessarily… it was like you guys just kind of gelled, and you let each other take the front for 30 seconds out of every 3.5/4 minutes.

JSS: Well, a lot of that has to do with the production, and I’ll give Erik 100% of that credit, because he lived and breathed these songs a lot more than Robert and I did, because it was done in his studio and he was doing all the production along the way. I mean, I have different versions of a lot of the songs on the album that they ended up so differently in the end, because he kept experimenting and tweaking and trying new things along the way. He was kind of like a mini Tom Scholes in the old Boston interview, when they first did their first album where you just kind of lock him in a room and whatever comes out later, you basically just send up food and water and see what happens later. And that’s kind of what we did with Erik when it came to the production end of things. So therefore I give him full kudos for spending as much time as he did and re-tweaking and re-tweaking again, to make the overall sound of how exactly what you’re talking about come out on this album.

ToddStar: The disc opens with Walk Away, which is just a killer opening track, but it’s solid from front to back. Even once you hit the middle of the disc where some discs will start to slide off a little bit, you’ve got Bad Boy, which is just a take no prisoner kind of track. You’ve got your chugging guitar and the vocals just launch the song, and even the drumming is really stand-out. Then you get On the Run where it’s so much different, I mean these are all just songs that I love. Are there any you’re going back and listening to and saying; damn, that’s a good song!

JSS: You know that’s exactly what we set out to do for this album. We didn’t want any fillers on it. As far as we were concerned, and I’m not going to mention names, I’m not going to mention which ones we thought were, but on the first album there were a couple of fillers, there were a couple of songs we thought oh… wish we hadn’t done that one, or we could have done that one better or come up with something to fill in those places. But on this one we didn’t want to have that feeling walking away from it. We wanted to be able to look at each track and go man, it just feels solid from suit to nuts, and I think we succeeded in that. Again, we did this because we wanted to be proud of it when we walked away from it at the end of the day. And if it sells as well, better, worse than the first one, at least we can walk away saying that we are happy with it.

ToddStar: As far as the songs go were there any that just kind of came together for you guys and kind of wrote themselves?

JSS: That’s more of an Erik question, because the music end comes from him and Robert. More so him, because he comes up with a lot of the ideas, even ideas he finishes with Robert. So musically that’s more of a question for him. He’d send me ideas, the lyrics and some of the melodies; they really just came to me because the music lends itself to so many…it was an open canvas to be able to come up with some great ideas over. When I’m writing I try not to think too much, or over think things. I listen to it and usually, 90% of the time, what comes out of my brain, or whatever I’m humming as I’m listening to it, is what sticks. It’s very rare that I actually go back and replace it with something else, because it’s one of those instinctive things, you hear it and you hear something that goes over it, and you go with it and you see if it works.

ToddStar: Lyrically, how easy was Bad Boy because that was the tune he immediately went to that said it wrote itself while he was driving around in his car?

JSS: That was one I didn’t co-write on the lyrics.  He’s got a partner out there, Erik does, that writes all his lyrics for all the Eclipse stuff, and also writes lyrics for all the stuff he does for other people, they’re kind of like an Elton John Bernie Taupin kind of thing, where one writes the music and the other writes only the lyrics. This is the same guy who wrote all the lyrics on the first album, his name is Michael Pearson, and he’s a great lyricist and he’s Swedish, but he is very strong with the English language, and he can write lyrics and write them in a way that you don’t think that he’s actually Swedish or that he is from another country. They actually work grammatically, they work correctly. So that’s why I didn’t even question a lot of the stuff I was singing on the first album. But this time around I just wanted to be able to sing my own words, and sing my own songs, especially after hearing certain things that threw up certain songs.

ToddStar: Especially with just your track record. You’ve written some of the best melodic rock tracks over the last ten years.

JSS: I appreciate that. I just attest that to living the dream, the fact that I’m here almost 30 years later from the year I started this professionally and still be able to do what I do and there are people out there interested in listening to what I’m doing. I’m humbled by it. It’s all a work in progress, as far as I’m concerned.


ToddStar: Let’s stick with W.E.T for a minute before I go off on to Jeff Scott’s solo tangent; if you had to describe the sound of W.E.T to somebody who hadn’t heard you guys, how would you do that?

JSS: I would just say we are taking a lot of the classic rock elements from the best of the 80s and 90s that I personally felt that I loved and lived through, and we’re putting it together in a more contemporary way. You won’t listen to a W.E.T album or a W.E.T song and say it sounds like its derived directly from that timeframe, you’ll hear the elements of it, but you will also hear that it can actually fit into the modern day of listening to rock music. We try to focus on the elements of making it sound like its fresh and new, without making it sound like it bastardises where it came from, where the original ideas came from. So it’s kind of a contemporary version of classic rock.

ToddStar: That’s a great point. What’s next for the band? Are you guys going to try and put together a tour cycle eventually? I know you’ve got some dates coming up, I know Eclipse has got some dates coming up. Are you guys looking to tour behind this at all?

JSS: It’s one of those things, everything is a work in progress with this band and we want to, first we want to see the generated interest. We want to make sure the interest is as much as on the first album, and if it becomes even more then yeah, we’ve got something here and we’ve got something we have to follow up. We did this live show last week in Sweden that we shot for a DVD that’s going to come out some time this year, and we were all, fingers crossed, it would be a complete bust, and hoping that maybe at least 100-125 people would show up, but over 500 showed up. It was sold out. We could have played a bigger place but we didn’t realise it. So it’s one of those things, we see there is an interest out there and if it continues to expand the way it has been then of course we’re going to put it together and get out there.

ToddStar: On the DVD, did you find that you guys mixed up the material between the two releases? Did you throw some covers in? How did you play a set with…

JSS: I don’t want to give it all away, but I guess the internet kind of already did that, between the set list out there and all the YouTube videos. Yeah, we play a lot off the new album. To be quite honest I didn’t realise it because we’ve known these songs for over a year now, since we started recording them and writing them, and so to us it’s old material, but then when we’re playing them live and I thought hang on a second, there’s another new one, there’s another new one, we’re playing songs that these people have never heard, and hoping they’re reacting, and they actually did. By the end of most of the new songs they’d never heard before, they were singing along, which is kind of a cool thing to have. But of course by the time the DVD comes out these songs will be known and I think it’s a win-win that we were able to put so much newer material on there, because people will want to hear that stuff as much as they want to hear the older stuff. And as well we added some of the elements of where this band is derived from, the Work Of Art, Eclipse, and Talisman thing by doing some of that in the set. Erik sang an Eclipse song, we did a Work of Art song, where the singer of Work of Art joined us on stage, and we did a couple of Talisman songs.

ToddStar: Awesome! Let’s talk about you for a second, if you don’t mind?

JSS: Sure.

ToddStar: What out there musically has got you cranked up? What kind of things are you listening to these days, Jeff?

JSS: I really, honestly, it sounds ignorant, but I really don’t have time to listen to much these days. If I have time to listen to any music, it’s basically what I’m learning for the next track that I’m actually heading out to do. I just got off this long Trans American Orchestra tour, and before that was happening I’d say the later part of fall, early part of winter last year, I was studying a lot of those songs to get ready for that. And while I was actually on that tour I was studying the W.E.T songs getting ready for the next drive. When I’m listening to these songs it’s so different to actually try and remember all the lyrics and sing all the melodies, and remembering all the parts and everything. So I  had to spend all that time just basically listening to only W.E.T, and now I’m actually working on new material for a new solo album, so that’s what I’m diving into now. My brain just can’t process listening to any new music, and just kind of getting away from what I’m supposed to be doing and what’s coming up next. So it’s sad to say I’m not listening to much new stuff.

ToddStar: That’s understandable, you’re one of the busiest guys I ever read about or hear about.

JSS: That’s not on purpose. It’s hard for me to say no. Things come about and I want to do them, and its hard for me to just say no, I’m just going to kick back and check out the new Van Halen album for the next month.


ToddStar: You’re going out on some dates, still promoting Damage Control, which is another phenomenal album that you put your hands on.

JSS: Thank you.

ToddStar: But there’s something I’ve been looking at, and I still have it on my iPod.  Most people look at me like I’m crazing when I mention Redlist.

JSS: Alright!

ToddStar: And I still listen to that, almost religiously.

JSS: I appreciate that. That’s one of my favourite vanity projects. It’s another one of those things that was a day late and a dollar short. We did these recordings during the course of, I’d say, 2000 to 2001, something like that, and it was a good nine or ten months of writing, recording, producing songs, but unfortunately I think the timing was too late, because just when that style and that kind of material was still booming, the labels had already moved on to what was going to be next, so I couldn’t even get it listened to at that point in time. And sadly, you know, it’s just one of those things that I spent a lot of time and energy and focus on, that didn’t get to see the light of day. So we just decided to release it independently, just so it could be heard.

ToddStar: I loved it. And I even thought some of the musical component of it wound up on Beautiful Knots. It got some of the underlying detail and sound was even some of the same.

JSS: Probably. I would have to actually listen to what you’re talking about to compare. Just off the cuff I can’t imagine what could have ended up on there, because they’re so different. Sonically and musically they’re so different, but maybe there are a few things I kind of borrowed from something that never got released properly.

ToddStar: I just thought maybe some of the tribal feel, and some of the underlying rhythm I just thought kind of mirrored it.

JSS: Oh okay.

ToddStar: Because you’re all about the rhythm and everything else, so…

JSS: Absolutely.

ToddStar: Listen, I know you’re a busy man, and I appreciate the time you’ve taken out for us. So I’ve got one more for you, if you don’t mind, before we cut you loose.

JSS: Of course.

ToddStar: What’s the meaning of life, Jeff?

JSS: Music, and it doesn’t get any simpler than that. It’s a no-brainer. I don’t even have to think twice about it. Music is the meaning of life because in so many ways, in so many aspects, it helps, it heals and it soothes, and it excites. It covers all the senses in life. So in life, that’s my answer; music.

ToddStar: Awesome, well again man, thank you so much. Look forward to you maybe bringing some of that beautiful sweet music back around the States. Let’s get you back playing your stuff, not the Queen stuff. Not that that show wasn’t great! But I want to hear some JSS.

JSS: That’s the big goal here, that’s what we’re working on. So hope to see you soon.

ToddStar: Sounds good, thanks a lot for your time, Jeff.

JSS: You got it.

Link to W.E.T. Rise Up Review

Link to Erik Martensson Interview

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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