banner ad
banner ad
banner ad


| 17 October 2017 | 3 Replies

We all have our favorite musicians and bands.  Most that know me know that KISS is at the top of that list… what they don’t know is that Jeff Scott Soto is next on that list – regardless of the band, project, or release.  I have been blessed over the years to speak to so many rock stars and musicians that I dig and respect, but getting to speak to Jeff time and time again makes this less like an interview and more like catching up with someone.  With the new band Sons Of Apollo ready to release nine killer tracks on the world, I was able to once again grab some time on the phone with Jeff to discuss this latest band, release, and so much more…

Toddstar: Thank you so much Jeff, for taking time out for us. I appreciate it every time you have time for me.

Jeff: Well just the same. Anytime you have interest in me, I’m there for you.

Toddstar: That’s the thing. I’m always interested in Jeff Scott Soto. Doesn’t matter what you’re promoting. Today we’re going to talk about Sons of Apollo. Psychotic Symphony, dropping October 20th. What can you tell us about this project? First of all, is it a project? Is it a band? What’s your take on Sons of Apollo at this point, Jeff?

Jeff: At this point, and it’s always been this since the initial discussions, they wanted a committal situation with everybody. This is a band. This is something, when I spoke to Mike and Derek about it when they asked me to join, they were asking if I’m willing to put everything aside, especially for the year of 2018, and commit to this from the touring aspect to the promotions aspect to basically making everybody realize that this is a band. It’s not just a project we’re putting together; if it sticks we’ll follow through with it. If we sell two copies, we’re still going to go back in and make album number two, and we’re going to do this entire round of promotion; everything we’re trying to do to make awareness that this is a true band. I couldn’t be more thrilled because I would’ve done it regardless if it was a project or not. But just knowing that I’m part of an operation that with this caliber of players, with this caliber or writers, and that they actually want me to be included in it as an equal partner, I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s not where I was just a hired gun and somebody wrote all my lyrics and melody lines. Everybody’s involved in this and it’s a great thing to be a part of.

Toddstar: Well it’s amazing for fans of all the band members, but especially yours to know that there is something that is so intricate that you are being so tied to.

Jeff: And the other thing was giving me that respect and that trust. They had no idea what I was going to bring to the table or if I was going to be able to bring to the table what they were looking for. So, I knew, I’ve known Billy the longest, but when it came to the writing, it’s mostly Mike and Derek, who I know the least in the band. Well, I actually know Bumblefoot the least. Since those two were the creative forces behind it, they had to listen to my body of work to realize, “This is our guy,” without realizing it could’ve been a complete nightmare, that I could’ve written something with or for them and they’d gone, “This is not really what we’re looking for.” But that’s the incredible part of it, is everybody had that trust instilled in them in piecing this together, and it actually worked.

Toddstar: I’d agree. Listening to this disc – I can’t seem to stop listening to it.

Jeff: That’s awesome.

Toddstar: It’s just amazing. What I dig about it, is everybody brings their own creative juices to it. And you can’t call this a prog-rock album. You can’t call it a hard rock album. You can’t call it a melodic rock album. This is just a rock album. It swirls everything you guys have put in there. You got that voice that isn’t quite prog-rock. You have Billy Sheehan who, whose bass can’t be matched. What is it about this project that when you started listening to what was coming out of it, made you say, “Yes, this is the sound for me.”?

Jeff:   Even before I heard one note, I knew I would say, “Yes, this is the sound for me,” based on the caliber of the people behind it. I’ve heard enough of what Mike and Derek were doing before with the PSMS. Obviously I’ve heard a lots of what they were, Billy and Mike were doing with Winery Dogs. And we actually toured with them. My band SOTO toured with them last year in South America. I’ve heard enough Bumblefoot’s stuff, I just knew that, without even hearing one note that this was going to be something special. And again, if it ended up being something just completely for us, just something that, “Well, let’s just do this for us. We don’t really care if anybody likes it,” it still would’ve been something I was fascinated with. The fact that we actually created something that is now being accepted by the masses even before the album’s been released, it’s such a gratifying feeling. I had this conversation with my wife recently, just saying, “You know, I’ve already hit 50. At this point there’s not too many opportunities left that they’re looking for a 50-year-old singer to try to appeal to the masses, especially youthful market. So at this point, I think it’s, I just have to get used to the fact that I’m going to be riding into the sunset with my past endeavors.” And then this comes along, and it actually is a shot in the arm. It actually gives me a chance at life after 50 to go out there and actually reinvent myself and reestablish my name and actually take it to another level. And so I couldn’t be more stoked about this whole thing.

Toddstar: I’ve watched you reinvent yourself over the years being a fan of yours from way back when. I mean, you did the Redlist EP years ago. There was Biker Mice From Mars. I watched you reinvent who Jeff Scott Soto is year after year after year, and it’s been phenomenal and fun as a music fan.

Jeff: And that’s a tough thing. And the word reinvent is always a tough word or a phrase to use, because most of your fans that have been with you, especially for the better part of 33 years, that’s three decades. Nobody wants to hear the word reinvent. They don’t want to hear that you’re going through a new or different or experimental end of your spectrum. They want you to just do what they’re used to you doing. That way they stay with you. They’re happy. They’re pleased. But then you get the other side of that scope where you have them complaining, “Ah, it sounds the same. It hasn’t done anything different. It’s just the same old record. It’s the same old song after 30 years.” You can’t really win. You’ve got to find a nice balance and try to use the word reinvent in a creative way that’s not going to deter, but also not going to just make everybody say, “Everything sounds the same.” But it’s a tough thing to do. I get to do this for a living. This is my life. I’ve been able to create something out of nothing. And believe me, I am humbled as somebody just starting as a 16-year-old in this business. I still want this. I’m just as hungry. But I’m blessed that I get to do this and there’s still people, like yourself and others around the world, that are interested in what I’m doing.

Toddstar: Interested is an understatement. You guys came together and put together two killer singles, “Signs of the Time,” “Coming Home.” What is it about this collection of songs that you think will stand the test of time?

Jeff: Well, the fact that we actually cared enough to not just make it a wankfest, for lack of better term. Based on who’s in this band, it’s clear that they could play everything and anything. But we really spent the time and paid attention to the crafting of the songs. Especially when I’m singing. We pretty much keep it as simple and as, I don’t want to say commercial, but as pleasing to the ear as possible what I’m actually singing. And then when I’m not singing the guys could just go into their own crazy prog-land, it’s the kind of stuff that thank God, I didn’t have to sing over some of those crazy time signatures. I could’ve, but it’s best that we leave that to the musical side of things, and then when we get back to the singing side of things, I get to give you the hooks, I get to give you the choruses, and something you can actually sink your teeth into. So it’s a great balance and I think that was, clearly that was the focus of when we were putting these songs together and putting the whole idea together, that we have to craft songs that make us sound like a band, not sound like a project. A project would’ve just been, you do this, you do that, and it’s just a free-for-all. Everybody was honed in and we were kind of a bit leashed of what we normally would do if we’d just been given the track to just do at home.

Toddstar: I mentioned the first two songs and videos, “Signs of the Time” and “Coming Home.” Looking over the nine tracks, in some of these, they clock in at over 10 minutes, but are there any that you look back or listen back to and you think, “Holy shit, we nailed that one.”?

Jeff: You think? Pretty much every one. I mean, it’s funny because Mike just said recently in an interview where they asked him “What’s your favorite song on the record?” And he says, “Well, it depends what day of the week.” And that’s exactly how I feel. I could be at the gym and I get lost in this album. I go to the gym and start listening to it, and when it’s done I can’t believe I’ve worked out almost an hour, and I just want more of this stuff. It’s, every song just takes me to another place and just pleases me to no end. I just, I can’t believe I’m part of this.

Toddstar: Being able to toss in your lyrics and vocals into the mix, what song would you say was the most fun for you to contribute to?

Jeff: Well, the one that was most interesting for me to do and the one that was, that I really got to just do me and write without any… I turned it in and the guys said, “This is perfect. We’re not going to touch it.” It was the song alone “Alive.” I wouldn’t say it was fun, but it was the more personal one, because I pretty much nailed it in a sense of I gave them something that they all loved from the get. It wasn’t something that “Well, we like this but if we could change this or try something different on that.” That was, that to me was a validation of who I am and what I’ve been able to bring to the band. The one that was the most fun, I would say “Labyrinth,” the recent one that they’re talking about online. It has so many different parts and so many different segments. And we actually did a few different things in the studio that didn’t end up on there, we changed later after listening to it a few times. But it was fun creating all these different ideas, and then ending up with what we actually have now. So I think “Labyrinth” would be the one that was the most fun.

Toddstar: On the flip side of that coin, Jeff, you talk about certain songs that had time changes and things like that that you luckily were able to avoid singing over, what song was the most difficult or the most challenging for you to wrap your head and your voice around?

Jeff: To be honest with you, some of the more commercial ones, like “Coming Home” or “Lost in Oblivion.” I was thinking a little too much out of the box. I was thinking that, I was coming up with stuff a little more complicated or more complex. I thought the songs are pretty straight and pretty driven, so if I do something too straight and too, kind of elementary, it’s not going to really sell the band as that, this is supposed to be a prog band when I was initially going into this. I tried things that were a little more involved, and the guys honed it back and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not what we had in mind. We actually, we simplified things so we could keep your end of it simple just the same.” And it was actually a big relief because I was thinking I had to go into all these crazy, different proggy places I’ve never been to before, especially even on the straight stuff. And the straightest of it, of course that’s the easiest stuff to write, and we were able to knock that stuff out, but yet it still sounds like the band. It doesn’t sound like we were doing something that’s out of our element.

Toddstar: Jeff, taking the music aside for a second, what is it about Sons of Apollo that feels more like a band? You’ve had bands. You have got SOTO. You were in Soul SirkUS, things like this. What is it about Sons of Apollo that gives you that camaraderie feel?

Jeff: It’s mainly that we wrote the entire album together, that we did it as, we didn’t do this thing where we’re just file-sharing. The guys, I mean they did me the initial tracking when they were getting the songs written and recorded. They were sending me the songs. But they were more so for me to familiarize what we would be doing when we got together. Of course I jumped on some things because I had immediate ideas coming out when I was listening to the songs. But the fact that we were able to do it together feels more like a band. And I been in bands where we’ve done it apart and it’s still a band and it still feels like a band because we kind of read and vamp off each other. But we don’t have that yet with Sons of Apollo. We don’t have that, the personal connection that we have the trust that, “Okay, you just go ahead and write and sing that. Send the tracks back and we’ll, and we’re done with it.” So until we were able to kind of corner that ideal, we did everything together and that’s how we were able to create the sound that’s not going to sound like a Dream Theater cover. It’s not going to sound like a SOTO cover. It’s going to sound like a Sons of Apollo song.

Toddstar: Jeff, you’ve had such a killer career. I could list all the bands you’ve been a part of or projects you’ve been a part of…

Jeff: Please don’t Todd.

Toddstar: What I’m looking forward to with Sons of Apollo is the fact that you guys truly, you can tell in the production and the sound of the songs from song to song to song, this was something that you guys put together with a lot of thought, a lot of concern for not only what you guys were doing and what this brings you guys, but you could tell this was for the fan. Everything seems very fluid. Was that something you guys put a lot of thought into while putting the final touches on the production, putting together the track list and things like that?

Jeff: Well, again, it’s all about balance. You’ve got to find a balance of where you’re going to be pleased, you’re going to be so stoked, and be able to stand up and represent what you came up with. You obviously have to think of a fan base. You have to think of what the audience is going to think. But for the most part, you’re creating something that’s out of your system, out of your blood, your blood, sweat and tears. You want to make sure it’s something that stands the test of time and you can actually say, “Man, I’m so proud of this,” without doing it because you’re thinking about the fan base, you’re thinking about the record company. What are they going to think? What are they going to think? You’ve got to think about what you’re going to think first. And of course you throw in the element of, we’ve got to make sure that they think it’s just as good. So again, there’s that, it’s finding that balance and not overthinking everything.

Toddstar: Fair enough. With this project, Jeff, you mentioned the amount of committal for 2018. Does this mean that all of your fans in the U.S. are finally going to be able to wrap their hands and hearts and ears around Jeff Scott Soto on a stage? Maybe in Detroit?

Jeff: That’s exactly what it means. That the reason why they said, “Guys, please make sure 2018 is clear,” is because the plan is to tour the world, hopefully twice around, during the course of that year. We’re looking to hit every country, every market, and then obviously return for the ones that did well, or that we might’ve missed along the way.

Toddstar: We’ve talked about some of these songs, what was fun, what was a little more difficult, things like that. And I’m not ignorant enough to think that you have a favorite, but what song or two on the disc do you think will go over so well live you’re almost jumping to do them?

Jeff: I think “Labyrinth” is going to be one, because it doesn’t really have something for the audience to sing but then it does have a chanting that I already have in my head exactly how I’m going to work with the audience and it’s going to be like an audience participation thing. I think some of the straighter stuff, like “Coming Home,” “Lost in Oblivion,” I think those are going to be more of a fun rock-and-roll vibe with the audience kind of thing as well. To be honest with you, I have no idea. I’m trying to look into the crystal ball here; there’s going to be so much thinking involved in what we can do to make this sound more creative than it actually comes across on the album, and make sure that everybody feels a part of it. Because I think that’s another part of the whole prog scene. There’s kind of a disconnect with the audience. It’s more about, look at what we’re doing, just sit back and check out the ridiculous side of the talent that we have on the stage. But with Sons of Apollo, we want the Van Halen aspect to come forward just as much as the Rush aspect. We want everybody to be paying attention what they’re doing, but then we also want to entertain them like they’re going to the greatest party band show on stage. So it’s finding that nice balance of the two.

Toddstar: Well, and that’s the funny thing, and you hit it on the head. With you guys, each of you is such an entertainer in your own rights. Not just a musician, not just a singer, not just whatever. But you’re actually entertainer. You actually put on full-blown performances, each one of you when you hit the stage, whether collectively or in your other projects or band. Jeff, I know you’re busy, and I would talk to you for hours on end as I tell you every time. But with what’s going on, 2018’s going to be really busy for you, but looking back, if you could pick one or two things that you’d like to be remembered for professionally Jeff, what would they be?

Jeff: Well, the band Talisman was, I’ve spent 19 years of my life honing and creating, and I just kind of working a body of work and music and songs. I think that’s one of my strongest and one of my most proud moments in my career. Because as we discussed, what you said earlier, I been involved with so many things that the amount of projects and amount of bands and things that I’ve done are so numerous to even mention. Talisman is the one that’s lasted the longest. And there’s a reason for that. There’s, Talisman was to me home. It was always the place where I knew, creatively outside of my own solo career, that we would always be venturing into things that fit us, but also fit me as a, on a personal level. I got to do everything and anything I wanted with Talisman, and there were no bars held on that. It was a great situation while it lasted until 2009, when our bass player Marcel Jacob took his own life. We would’ve been continuing today if that had not gone down. So between that, and it truly is a kind of a cross between SOTO and Sons of Apollo at this point, because SOTO to me is another personal pride and joy, something that I been looking forward to doing for the longest time. We only have two albums to date. But Sons of Apollo is now creeping in on that because we created something I think will stand the test of time long after we’re all gone. I think this album’s definitely going to, it’s going to click with people. So, right now it’s a close second between the two bands.

Toddstar: I was going to say, creatively Divak and Sons of Apollo are a nice transition and helps bridge two different spans for you. So, I think it was a great move for you, and for your fans. Again, Jeff, I get so excited every time I talk to you. There’s very few people I can say that about. I can remember telling my wife I wouldn’t buy tickets to a certain show with a certain big-name band that you fronted, and I said, “Nope, Jeff’s singing, I’ve got to go see him in Detroit.” I’ll leave the name of the band out…

Jeff: [laughs] I know who you’re talking about.

Toddstar: I thank you as always for your time and for everything that you’ve contributed so many of your fans’ lives with your voice, your song, and your lyrics.

Jeff: That’s awesome. And man, I truly appreciate that. That’s one of the things that gives me that kind of reward to what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. If I can make even one person feel that, much less thousands around the world, or tens of thousands, to me that’s my reward. Just being able to pay it forward and give people something that makes them that happy, or to hear those kind of words. That’s my reward right there. That’s the reason I do this. And I, so I appreciate that.

Toddstar: Awesome, brother. Well, until next time, and definitely until I get to see you grace the stage in Detroit, safe travels. Enjoy the rest of your year, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Jeff: Thank you, my friend.

Toddstar: All right, Jeff.

Jeff: Bye-bye.





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.

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dan A says:

    Sons of Apollo album is why pretentious supergroups just fail on so many levels Bad rehashed music sterile production just bad songs all sound like you’ve heard them before. Another over hyped Portnoy “Project” into the realms of obscurity.

  2. While I love JSS and everything he has done (even the supergroup things including Sons Of Apollo) everyone has their specific tastes and likes… Thanks for weighing in and checking out 100% Rock!

  3. Steve V says:

    JSS is excellent Solo but that Turd called Sons of Apollo is a Portnoy Project that’s just horrible and after it dismal chart performance 147 is Portnoys worst charting release in 20 years a turkey JSS solo album is Far superior!

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad
%d bloggers like this: