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How do you turn down the opportunity to speak with one of your favorite vocalists of all time?  Simple – you don’t!! When Jeff Scott Soto announced press days to promote his new band, Soto, I instantly threw my hat in the ring and asked for the opportunity.  Getting Jeff to discuss the new tracks on the disc Inside The Vertigo as well as touring plans and the differences between Soto and Jeff Scott Soto was awesome.  If you ever wondered what it took to create a nine-minute opus like “End Of Days,” read on, because Jeff lets us inside to find out…

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Toddstar: Jeff Scott Soto, how are you?

Jeff: Doing really well, a little tired, but I can hang in there.

Toddstar: Are you on the west coast this morning or east coast?

Jeff: Right here with you on the east coast.

Toddstar: Oh, okay. At least…

Jeff: But I’m on the west coast time zone, so I guess that would make it 6:00 am for me.

Toddstar: Definitely early. Well, that said, we really appreciate you taking time out for us today.

Jeff: Just the same. I appreciate the support and the interest.

Toddstar: When this came across, I told your publicist [thanks again Amy] I had to speak to you. You’re, hands down, my favorite vocalist.

Jeff: Well, I’ll pay you 20 bucks for that comment when I see you.

Toddstar: There’s always so much going on in the world of Jeff Scott Soto, but let’s talk about what’s really going on right now. The new disc Inside The Vertigo drops in a week.

Jeff: Yeah. A week from today, actually.

Toddstar: What can you tell us about this project that most people might not pick up the first or second time through, Jeff?

Jeff: Well, most people are considering it a solo album, and, actually, it did start off as a solo album, a follow up to my last solo album, but as I was going along, beside of the fact that I had many famous friends, and peers, and colleagues that I respected, and wanted to work with, and see what I could turn out here because I kind of had a heavier album in mind. I called upon some famous friends, so to speak, and they delivered some really incredible stuff. As we were going along, we realized it sounded a little too heavy. It sounded too different, and it sounded even more band-oriented to the point of calling it a solo album. My manager at the time told me, “It’s going to be a hard sell to sell it just as a Jeff Scott Soto album”, and that I should definitely brand it with the name. I kind of resisted a bit because I’ve got tons of names and products that my name is attached to. He said, “Just call it, simply, Soto. It’s already your name recognition on there. They’re going to associate it with your name, and it makes the most sense by you just using your last name. It’s got everything that it needs to know. It’s your thing, but is also able to brand it as a band. It sounds more like a band name.” So many in the past have done it that way. You’ve got Dio. You’ve got Winger, Dokken. I don’t want to necessarily use some of the 80’s bands, but that was the thing to do, so I decided it was the best way to piece the rest of the album together. I got the guys in my backing band, my touring band, to step up and now we are one band. We’re one unit.


Toddstar: This disc is awesome from top to bottom, it’s a very cohesive album, especially for being a heavier album which is kind of out of your norm, what you would call your solo material. It’s a little heavier than normal. How are you able to, I don’t want to say, “Write heavier stuff”, because it’s just you writing, but where did you come from this time that things just seemed a lot heavier, a lot more emotionally charged?

Jeff: I’ve been wanting to kind of return to this form. I dabbled a little bit on it on my last solo album, Damage Control, but it really was where I felt musically, and even personally, but it was a natural progression to kind of come back home. I didn’t feel like I wanted to just keep repeating the same old melodic rock, hard rock, things that I’ve been doing through the years. It’s exactly that. It started sounding like I’m just competing against myself, competing against my own career. I wanted to do something that was enlightening and something… show them a new spark. As we were writing the material, as the material was coming in, it got more exciting than it has in the past years. I really wanted to just roll with it, but, unfortunately, the label I was working with had no interest in it, which meant I had to take it out and start from scratch and find a new label, which I did. With this new blood, I’ve gotten more attention, not only overseas, but now even here in the U.S. People who are actually excited and want to hear what’s going on with this new thing.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. I, personally, am very happy that you’re getting a lot more attention here on this side of the water. Hopefully, it means a tour. Any thoughts on that?

Jeff: Oh, yeah. There are many thoughts on it. There have always been thoughts on it. Unfortunately, I never really had the backing or the, I guess, the structure behind the things that I was doing in the past, where this time, all of that has come into play before I even had a chance to think about it. That’s very exciting to be able to take it back to my own home yard. I’ve been touring Europe and South America for so many years, and coming home is, basically, just coming home. I’d love to actually put the band together out here, and so many people would love to see it, and I think we’re going to have that chance this year.

Toddstar: Great. I was speaking with a friend of yours Friday, and he spoke very enthusiastically about the project, Joel Hoekstra. He couldn’t talk enough about this project, and how it was just going to rock the world. Looking through the song list, were there any songs that you just really struggled to write or complete on this one, Jeff?

Jeff: The majority of it came pretty easily. A lot of it is self-inflicted, I guess. I went through a lot of what I was writing about on this album. In the past, I’ve kind of run out of subjects, and I would take other people’s situations, or, maybe, something I saw in a movie and kind of run with it, but a lot of what was written on this album was things that I was going through, or, maybe, issues or emotions that I was going through personally, especially the song, “End of Days.” That would have been the hardest thing that I’ve ever written in my life. It was a 9-minute epic piece of music, and I, honestly, didn’t know what I was going to do with it. It was my idea to do something like this, and when it came in, I was like, “Oh, great. Now what?” It took me a while to finally get… I procrastinated for the longest time, and then I finally started digging into it, but it had to be written in pieces because it’s such a long, long song with a lot of different parts. I just started breaking down the pieces of what each section should be like, and vocally, and parts, and harmonies, and all that stuff. It really was tough. When I listen back to it now, it’s really unbelievable that, not only did I pull it off, but I think I actually… I’ve outdone myself, and I created something that’s just so over the top, as far as I’m concerned, and I really love the song.


Toddstar: I’d agree with that, especially for being, like you said, it clocks in at just under 9 minutes, and doesn’t feel like it while you’re listening to it. You get some of those longer songs sometimes, and it just feels like it drones on and on. That song compartmentalizes itself, so it flows.

Jeff: Yeah. I totally agree.

Toddstar: On the other side of the coin, Jeff, are there any songs that just popped out, and they sound exactly like they did in their first incarnation?

Jeff: Yeah, actually, quite a few of them. “Karma’s Kiss,” “The Fall,” “Final Say.” I didn’t spend much time tweaking and honing on the songs on this album. It was one of those things that I would listen to the songs without any kind of vocal ideas through and through, just, maybe, seven or eight times, and the melodies would just kind of falling out. It was kind of like a nicely baked chicken, the meat just kind of falling off. I know it sounds gross, but the melodies truly were just falling off with a lot of these songs. For me, the lyrics are the easiest part because if you’ve got the melodies that are just making it happen, the lyrics just start singing themselves. As far as that was concerned, I don’t find any of them that were much difficult. Geez, I’m getting tongue-tied here. The song, “End of Days”, like I said, was… That was tough, but the rest of them, they were pretty, I won’t say, easy, but they pretty much came into themselves. The melodies loaned themselves to the lyrics and visa-versa.

Toddstar: Okay. Good insight. As far as the music and everything, when this album was coming together, especially in the studio, like you said, it’s your touring band, so do you think things… do you feel things kind of fell into place easier in the studio because you are so knowledgeable about what these guys can and can’t do?

Jeff: A little bit of both. The fact that they know what I want, they know what I’m looking for, but I also leaned on them to keep me looking ahead, if you know what I mean. I’m a guy from the 80’s. I think the 80’s. It’s so easy to… I could round off a song in like 3 minutes and make it sound perfectly from that era, but the hard part is being current. The hard part is drawing from current influences, not necessarily ripping them off, but making it so it’s something that younger people can relate to and not just looking at it as a nostalgic trip. That’s where the other guys really came into play. They kept me on course, or steered me off a certain beaten path. When it came to writing on the album, they just added that extra element that I normally wouldn’t be thinking of or wouldn’t normally write myself. I guess we kept each other on a certain course, and make it sound like a band, and to not make it sound like another solo album.

Toddstar: Well, you are definitely known for that melodic sound in your writing and in your past. Is there something now, that you’re in this current vain, is there something you want to separate yourself from, or you just want to show a progression?

Jeff: No. I definitely show an extension of that, by all means, because, especially some of these songs are quite heavy, and they naturally sound like they’re going to be going somewhere else if another singer sang them. Some of the things just sound like they’re going to go a direction that would have, nothing to do with me, but it’s because of what I do, and what I have done, that I’m able to squeeze in my own influence and turn it into something that is acceptable upon Jeff Scott Soto’s terms, upon the fans, or the background that people follow on my own name and my own history. I’m not so worried about it. It really does come naturally, to be able to take that melody and muscle and combining the two.

Toddstar: And you do it well. I go back to songs like, “Break,” where in the opening it’s all Jeff Scott Soto, but soon it turns into Soto, just more naturally from one plane to the other which, in my mind, is just phenomenal.


Jeff: Thank you.

Toddstar: With this material, again, a little heavier, a little darker, how are you going to find, especially when you come to the touring world and the tour opportunities you have, how are you going to try to weave this into… You’re going to have to play the old stuff too. How do you find yourself, or picture, being able to weave… have your darker material in with some of that lighter stuff?

Jeff: It’s easy. I’m not playing the lighter stuff. That’s one of the first things I discussed, and continue discussing, with the touring possibilities. Soto has to go out as a band, as an entity in itself. Just because I’m the lead singer doesn’t mean we’re going to have the freedom, or we’re going to take the liberties, of tapping into my past, because it doesn’t fit. It has nothing to do with the other. That’s a Jeff Scott Soto tour. I can go into the treasure box of my career and choose and pick whatever we want to be putting onto the set list. When it comes to Soto, this is going to be a concentration very much the way Dio did when he came out with Holy Diver. He didn’t go on stage doing Rainbow and Black Sabbath covers the whole night. He went up there to present Dio. That was the best, what the selling angle was. It wasn’t about, “Look what I used to do. This is what I’m doing now. Follow me on this trip”, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do with Soto. We might throw in, maybe, something from the Rockstar movie for good measure just because it kind of fits the mold, but I’m certainly not going to be mixing all the different things in my life and career into a Soto set. I want people to actually hone in on the Soto side of things, even if it means we’re playing opening sets and shorter sets. I think that’s more important than going out there and confusing people of a Jeff Scott Soto show/Soto show. It sounds a bit confusing, but I think you know what I mean.

Toddstar: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Yeah. I can’t picture anything from “Love Parade” alongside this album.

Jeff: Exactly. Now you’ve got it.

Toddstar: That being said, Jeff, you’re moving forward with Soto, and you’ve had such a historic career. You’ve been a part of so many different projects. You’ve collaborated with so many people, even on this album, Gus G., Jason Bieler, and Mike Orlando. Who’s still out there that you would love to collaborate with, whether it is just sitting in the studio writing, recording, or hitting a stage?

Jeff: Man, there’s a lot, but then, again, there’s so few because I’m proud to say that I’ve done… I’ve kind of hit my bucket list of people that I’ve wanted to work with, and record, and just do anything with. Unfortunately, as they always say, “Don’t meet your heroes because your heroes normally will let you down.” Unfortunately, some of my heroes have let me down, and it’s like I’d rather… the ones that are left over, I’d rather just leave them as heroes and not be let down in the sense that what they do with me is not what I would expect out of it. As far as wanting to collaborate, or thinking I might want to collaborate with somebody else, at this point I’m fine with the people I’m surrounded with. I have so much more to say by just doing it the way I have been doing it.

Toddstar: That’s an awesome sentiment. I know you’re a busy man, so I wanted to know, looking back on your career, and including this new album, Inside The Vertigo from Soto, if there were a couple of things that you could pick out professionally that you’re most proud of, or that you want to be remembered for, Jeff, what would those things be?

Jeff: Well, certainly, as the track we just discussed, “End of Days.” It’s something, when you listen to it, you realize how many parts and how much creativity came behind it that that’s something I… it’s kind of like my epitaph, really. I want people to hear that and know that it was something so left-field and out of the ordinary. I call it my “Bohemian Rhapsody”, that particular track because there was so many parts, and so difficult to come across, and, to me, is one of my shining moments as an artist. It’s certainly that one.

Toddstar: Well, again, as I explained, I love the way it ebbs and flows and moves within the different compartments of the song, so I believe it is your “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Well, listen, Jeff, we wish you the best of luck with Inside the Vertigo from Soto out on earMUSIC next Tuesday, May 12. We look forward to some touring news, especially up here in Detroit.

Jeff: Absolutely. I look forward to blasting out some touring news. It’s been a while since I hit up old Detroit.

Toddstar: Yeah. It has. We miss you.

Jeff: Awesome, man.

Toddstar: All right, Jeff. We’ll talk to you soon.

Jeff: Alright.  Thank you so much for the support.









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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