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| 22 January 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Much to the delight of melodic rock fans around the globe, W.E.T. has announced the release of their fourth album, Retransmission on January 22, 2021 via Frontiers Music Srl. Core members Jeff Scott Soto, Erik Mårtensson, and Robert Säll deliver another astounding album that will surely be a contender for Melodic Rock Album of the Year in 2021. W.E.T truly epitomizes what melodic rock has become in the new decade. The key element at the foundation of W.E.T has always been to create a modern melodic hard rock sound that will drive the genre into the future. Combining powerhouse rhythms and top notch production (courtesy of Erik Mårtensson), the music is equally classic and contemporary. Retransmission is nothing else than an absolute milestone, which is well in keeping with the tradition established by the three amazing records that have preceded this one. Starting with a genre-defining self-titled debut, Robert Såll (the “W” from Work of Art), Erik Mårtensson (the “E” from Eclipse), and Jeff Scott Soto (the “T” from Talisman) accepted the daunting task to give that debut a follow-up, “Rise Up”. After that stellar follow-up, their third opus, “Earthrage”, cemented a legacy of music which will stand the test of time.” We were able to grab some phone time with Jeff Scott Soto to discuss new W.E.T. music and so much more…

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: Jeff, thank you so much for taking time out, once again.

Jeff: Not a problem, man. Here we go again, huh? it’s funny because I usually normally have a problem with releases coming out too soon and too close to one another, but in this case, it actually did work out. It’s not like any one of these releases is going to be, I guess, churning out so much interest that you’re blanking by starting to talk about something else. So it just works.

Toddstar: That’s the beauty of what you’ve always done, though, man. We’ve talked about this a hundred times. You’re so busy. We could talk about a release a month and not cover your whole catalog.

Jeff: Well, besides just trying to stay alive, it’s just something I can’t help. There’s just too much music to do and not enough time to do it.

Toddstar: Well, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way so we can have some fun with this.

Jeff: You got it.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about the new album from W.E.T. For those people who aren’t aware, W.E.T. is represented by members of Work of Art, Eclipse, and Talisman. There is a new album, Retransmission, coming and a new video out there. What can you tell me about this album, Jeff, other than the fact that this is a pandemic-type recording? What can you tell me about the album that maybe is a little different or not quite as common as was done on the first three studio records?

Jeff: I got to be honest with you, we kind of were preparing ourselves for a situation like this, even from album one. I was living in London when we did the first album and that’s a hell of a lot closer to Sweden than Los Angeles is and we still did this from afar. The guys wrote the music, especially the first album. I didn’t write anything on that album. Everything was sent to me and I just did all my tracking in my home studio. I didn’t have to be there. I didn’t have to be in person. The only thing we can’t avoid that you have to be together is photo sessions and videos. And even that, that’s something we were very much aware that we weren’t going to be able to do this time around and we even discussed and prepped for that, as well. This band, it’s kind of like you hear a lot of people always joking about, “I’ve been preparing for the pandemic for the longest time because I hate being around people, anyways. And now I don’t have to make excuses to not be around them.” Well, the same thing goes in terms of how we were creating all of these records because of the distance between us, because of having the tools and the technology to be able to pull that off. So yeah, I guess in most ways, we’ve been preparing for this kind of way of doing things for over a decade now. And again, the only reason this has always been the only way we can do things is because we’re all so busy with our kind of day jobs. Those guys are busy with their bands. I’m busy with my bands and my touring and all the things I do. So luckily, we have the way that we do things at our disposal and we’re able to pull it off in a quality way.

Toddstar: That being said, the first album where you didn’t write anything on that, how has your contribution shifted since that first album where they kind of came to you and said, “Here you go,” to where now you’re kind of contributing to the pieces?

Jeff: Well, to be honest with you, the first album, all I did was I just brought to life the things that were written for those songs. And basically, because I didn’t write anything on that album, my contributions were basically just to connect the dots; these are the songs written, these are your lyrics, these are your melodies. But it didn’t mean I didn’t contribute to it because, in the end, I sing those songs so differently from the way Erik does or the way the original demo sounded. My contribution was as important as if I did write on those songs. So the only thing that was different in the latter part is, knowing that now there’s something we’re going to follow up on, I wanted to be able to add my stamp to it. I wanted to be able to contribute more than just connecting the dots. The one thing we’ve always had for one another in this situation has been respect. I was the only kind of named person in this group when we started it. And I’m not saying that with any kind of ego. It’s just I’m the only one that really had the experience under my belt. And to be honest, those guys were fans of my bands. They were fans of Yngwie and Talisman growing up. So I was kind of the name, so to speak, in the band. So they probably had a little more respect than they thought I was going to have for them, but I always went into the whole situation, from day one, respecting what we’re doing together because, in the end, those guys are respected songwriters and musicians and I treated them as such. I treated them as my equal and it still continues to this day, the same way. And now, especially that we’ve been able to build this and grow this together, now it’s even more so that we respect one another equally because there’s no names, there’s no egos. We know what to do with this band and this sound and this music.

Toddstar: You guys have built this up. When you were cutting those first 11 or 12 tracks, depending on which version you have, did you think a decade later you’d still be putting out new tunes with these guys?

Jeff: To be honest with you, that’s a yes and no for everything that I and we do. With everything you put your heart and soul into, you realize that the reality is you might not see more than just that. It might not get past that, for whatever circumstance is in the room, but you hope that you’ll be doing that. So yeah, I do everything with the intent and the hope that I’ll be doing it into the future for many, many years and decades to come, but also realizing the reality of some members might not be interested, might not be available. Maybe the label doesn’t want it, maybe the fans aren’t wanting it. So you go into everything with the same ideal; I hope it is, I plan it to be, but I don’t expect it to be.

Toddstar: “Got To Be About Love” is the first single and video. What is it about the song that positioned itself to be the lead in your opinion?

Jeff: Well, it’s a great song. I had nothing to do with the writing on it. My contributions lie solely on the fact of, like I said earlier, connecting the dots and bringing forth the emotion of what that song was written about. When I sing any song that I’m not writing or not a writer to, I find my own emotion. I find my own kind of definition or meaning behind the theme. And what I get out of that song can clearly be about a relationship, about two people, but I put my own spin on it as, kind of like the Beatles message. They’re always swimming in my head since I was a little kid and heard the song, “All You Need Is Love.” That’s the same message that I put behind the emotion when I’m singing “Got To Be About Love.” We’re at a time, we’re at a crossroads in so many ways, as a people, as a society, from everything from social to political to religion. There’s so many different divisions going on. And in the end, you’ve got to put the social media down, you’ve got to turn off the news, and you’ve got to remember that we are a people and we have to survive and we have to live together. So the only way we can do that is to find unity and it’s got to be about love.

Toddstar: That’s so true. I link it back to the first album with “One Love.”

Jeff: Right, exactly.

Toddstar: The more I heard the new track, it just bridged the gap tot eh first album and I had to go back and listen to “One Love.”

Jeff: That’s awesome. I couldn’t agree more.

Toddstar: Obviously, with everything going on, there’s no touring. As you and I discussed just a month or so ago — maybe we’ll get there again, but touring isn’t really one of those things that you’re chomping at the bit to go out and do at this point, not only for health reasons, but like you said, business reasons, age, everything else. You’re more productive in a studio. That said, how often do you wish you could just take these songs and do a proper W.E.T. show? Because there is such a great catalog, even though it’s only four studio releases.

Jeff: Yeah. Well, we never set out to make W.E.T. a touring lineup. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that everybody’s schedules and we all have day jobs, so to speak. Our day jobs are the other bands that we’re very much a part of that we put a lot of the focus of our lives into. But another reason, and part of that reason is me, I’ve got to be honest and I’ve always been an open book; I realize that these songs are a different animal, a different beast to be able to pull off live. And I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think I could do an entire tour of these songs. It’s another world of how to sing, how high the range and all that stuff. And I’ve got to be frank that I don’t think I’m in the vocal place to be able to do an entire tour. To do a couple one-off shows, whatever, you’re rested, you can take a week off before the show, you could take a week off after it, but be able to do an entire tour of night, after night, after night, I honestly don’t think my voice can handle it. And so it’s kind of my fault that we don’t push the agenda further into putting this band into a live forum. We have a few things. We’ve got a few shows under our belt, but again, the circumstances made it easy to do that. And I’m not able to play the tracks and have cheat tracks with fake vocals or change the tunings or skirt around the actual real notes. If you can’t do it live, you shouldn’t do it. That’s how I see it. And I’ve got to be honest, these songs are in a range where I used to live vocally. And we still write in that range. We still write with me singing those higher-register notes because that’s what people expect of the stuff. I don’t want to bring down or take down the infrastructure of what this band stood before just because I can’t pull it off live. So that’s exactly why we’ll just keep this as a studio entity and I can do all the things that are expected of me in the studio, but there’s no way I could do it live. You kidding me?

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: It’s funny for me to hear because, as you know, I’ve been following you forever and I know your catalog as well as most. To hear you say, “I can’t do that night after night,” just floors me because listening to you sing and having seen you live, it’s beyond my comprehension that you can’t do this, just because of everything you can do.

Jeff: Well, you know what? I’d rather be honest about it. There are a lot of people that want you to believe they can. They’re just not interested in doing so. And I don’t want to be one of those. I don’t want to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. If I can’t do it, I’m going to say I can’t do it. If I don’t want to do it, I’ll say I don’t want to do it. There’s the difference. I’m going to be completely frank and candid. I wish there was more honesty out there and in general, but it’s not my business who wants to tell you what they tell you and give you the reasons why they don’t do certain things, but I find it’s my business just to be as completely honest as I can about what I’m doing because I think I’ll have more respect, in the end, from it.

Toddstar: Absolutely. Going through the track list, and this one’s got 11 killer tracks, top to bottom, what’s the one or two songs that you enjoyed putting your stamp on, so to speak, lyrically, vocally? What couple songs do you really think you raised the bar, as a contributor?

Jeff: Well, I’m a sucker for ballads. And my bands, Soto and Sons of Apollo, aren’t necessarily ballad-oriented bands, so to speak. I look forward to that time where I can take all that aggressive and high-energy singing and kind of break it down a little bit. And I love doing that with W.E.T. So the two songs I feel I really throw myself into are “What Are You Waiting For” and “Got To Be About Love.” Those two songs, I truly can immerse myself into a different style and different way of singing that I don’t get to normally do when you’re doing the up-tempo stuff. And “Got To Be About Love” is one of the ones I really emoted, because of that whole message of exactly what I was saying in terms of The Beatles message, the universal message, of all you need is love. And in the end, that’s the same kind of message I wanted to sing about when I singing the lyrics to a song I didn’t write the lyrics for, “Got To Be About Love.” We’re in time and a place where we need more unity, we need more social gathering together instead of social media that’s separating us. And “Got To Be About Love” is exactly that. It’s kind of the age-old message of we need more love and we need to come together more, as a society, because we’re way too divided right now.

Toddstar: I appreciate that viewpoint, because people are going to look at each one of these songs differently and they’re going to grab their own emotion or memory that they relate to each one. I can go through just your catalog and do that. I want to move there now, because you have been so gracious as to let me ramble on about your musical journey.

Jeff: Right.

Toddstar: So this is where I want to start my rambling rambling Jeff. With W.E.T, there’s not a whole lot to talk about. The music does the talking and that’s what I really like about it. What you, Robert, and Erik kind of created in the beginning, whether it is contributing the vocals and emotion to connect those dots or Robert and Erik putting the words and melody down, the music’s always done the talking and you’ve always allowed that to happen throughout your career. Is that important to you that it’s more about what you’ve created than you, yourself?

Jeff: Not really because I’ve created enough that I find I have enough body of work of where it’s come from my pen and where it’s come from my heart. I have enough that, even if I didn’t do another thing for the rest of my life. So when I’m given somebody else’s words and somebody else’s thoughts and somebody else’s melodies to bring forth, naturally, it is important to me to be kind of unleashed and do what I would do to those songs, but I can also find the emotion. I can find an emotion that maybe is not supposed to be meant to be there on what somebody else wrote and still make it sound like I wrote it and still make it sound like I believe it. And that, to me, is more important than ego. A good song is a good song. And if Erik comes to me with a great song and the lyrics and the melodies are done, I’m not going to say, “Well, that’s great and all. It’s a great song, but I’ve got to be a part of it. So I’m going to rewrite the lyrics so I could be a part of it.” I would never, ever dream of doing that because I can find another way, emoting that side of thing my own way, without having to be a contributor in terms of the theme or what the song’s about. I will find a way. The first W.E.T. album, exactly that. You listen to those songs and I made every one of those songs sound like I co-wrote them with the guys. And I didn’t write a single one.

Toddstar: You hit that on the head. That whole first album, sonically, lyrically, emotionally, I would place that album alongside any of your solo albums in that the spirit is there.

Jeff: And you know what? It also depends on where you’re coming from and where you’re at on your own personal life. When we did that first album, I was still fresh out of the Journey situation. I felt that W.E.T. album gave me the chance to show all the naysayers, all the people who were happy I was no longer in Journey, a change to listen to what I could’ve and would’ve done with Journey. So to be honest with you, the W.E.T. album, it was therapeutic in terms of proving to people that I should’ve and could’ve continued on with Journey on doing new and original music because there was a couple songs on that first W.E.T. album, I channeled Perry so much and it was intentional. I could’ve sung it the way I’ve sung Talisman songs or done it a JSS kind of way, but I specifically did it a Perry way so people would go, “Holy shit. This is how Jeff would’ve sounded with Journey if they continued.” And it worked to my advantage because that’s exactly what I got out of it on those particular songs.

Toddstar: That’s what I was referring to when I mentioned the spirit because, as we’ve talked in the past, you do less of a tribute to a guy like Steve Perry or Sam Cooke in that you’re not really paying tribute to them anymore. You’re just showing sometimes their influence. The Journey thing is what it is. As you know, I was going to skip that tour until I heard you were fronting. I bought tickets and went because I had to hear  how you handled that catalog. Being familiar with the Soul SirkUS album, I feel you demonstrated what you could do with Journey and within the confines. Let’s be honest. Neal Schon writes a Journey album, whether it’s a solo album or not, it sounds like Journey.

Jeff: Exactly.

Toddstar: Let’s have some fun and run through your discography and history for a minute, if we can.

Jeff: Sure.

Toddstar: Just the number of bands, groups, projects, supergroups, whatever you want to call them, up and down the line, you’ve just been associated with so many fabulous musicians. Are there any that stand out that you are thankful for the time being associated with them while you were in a specific project or whether it was a full-blown band like Talisman or something like that?

Jeff: Well, Talisman certainly is the one I’m most proud of because, especially that it was never meant to follow up as a band that turned into a band, that first album was basically supposed to be a one-off and all those songs were more so songs written for John Norum’s second solo album as Marcel co-wrote every song on the first one. They had their falling out and Marcel had a collection of songs he wanted to do something with. And that album, the first Talisman album, was supposed to be kind of a solo album for Marcel or just a way to release those songs. He brought me on, hoping I was the right voice that could bring them forth. And it turned into one of the most important parts of my life and my career that that band became a band from that. But in terms of pride, as well, I would have to certainly say Sons of Apollo because it’s one of the first situations where it wasn’t something I stepped into somebody else’s shoes and had to make it my own. Sons of Apollo was our own from the jump. It was something that I can take as much credit for my involvement and my contributions as everyone else in the band, yet everyone in the band certainly have bigger and higher plateaued names and gigs under their belt than I might have. So we were able to turn that situation into something that’s for all five of us as opposed to somebody creating that. It’s not like joining Dream Theater that James LaBrie already started and I’m continuing or joining Journey and turning in the JSS version of. Sons of Apollo, for every intent and purpose, is something that we built together and it’s something we continue to build together. And I’m bummed that we couldn’t do the proper tour. And as we continue moving forward, it’s important to us to actually follow up with the last album we did. That’s why we’re not working on new material. We’ll just basically say, “Okay, well, that one’s done and it’s gone.” It’s not. We have a lot of unfinished business. So I’m going to say Talisman and Sons of Apollo are the two most important because of what we were able to turn it into. Of course, I could throw Soto in there. I love that band. I love what we’ve created, but it’s not at the level of continuation where we’ve got so much momentum that we can continue the way we started. Something like Sons of Apollo was something that we knew we were going to go. We had to build it up, we had to find our own legs, find our own audience, and we’re doing exactly that. So I’m so proud of it.

Photo Credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: The show you guys put on early in 2020 in Battle Creek, Michigan was packed… you couldn’t move in the venue. It was just an amazing show. The four other guys – you talk about them being marquee names, but you’re a marquee name. Is Sons of Apollo what you would really deem a supergroup in that you’ve got five guys who can carry their own weight, nobody’s running off the other guys’ names, yet the egos are also checked at the door?

Jeff: Well, I don’t know what exactly you mean by that, but in terms of the best of the best, I mean, you don’t get any better than that band. So that, in itself, it validates everything that I’ve done in the past 30-some odd years. That they’re allowing me to represent them and to front them and that’s why, even that alone, why that band means to much to me, because we’re talking about marquee artists and, these guys, they can have a plethora of people, a selection of people that would do something different or better or worse, whatever you want to call it, and they chose me to do that with. It’s a validation of everything I’ve done, thus far. That’s basically why I feel the way I do with that band.

Toddstar: Well, you hit it. It was just my point of you hear the term supergroup thrown around so many times now and it’s because they’ve got two guys out of five that are actual stars. This wasn’t something that was put together on a TV show or anything of that nature. This is you guys doing this; that’s what I meant. Everybody just checked their ego and threw this together and said, “We’re buddies. We’re going to jam and we’re going to make something of this.” And to pigtail, I’m with you. MMXX [2020] is such an amazing album and the fact that your guys’ touring was ceased due to the pandemic was horrible because so many people weren’t able to go out and experience not only the music, whether they’re hearing it for the first time or just getting to see you guys do it live, because you guys enjoy what you do and you can see it onstage.

Jeff: Well, even more disastrous about the situation is that we were building so much more momentum on the second album and the second tour than we had in any part of the first one. The first tour was, like you said, you have these five guys from different walks and they basically can hold their own and the different worlds and arenas they come from, but the difference was we didn’t have our own legs then. We didn’t have our own audience then. We were still kind of borrowing from where we all come from as a reason for people to check us out and to accept us and to believe in us. By the time we started the second tour, we had our own fans. We made our statement and now we were following it up with, “Now, we’re going to have some fun.” And it sucked because, just as we were starting to build that momentum, it got pulled.

Toddstar: Again, I’m so glad I saw the show in February because I know that the wheels came to a screeching halt not long after that.

Jeff: Right. And boy, that venue is certainly special. Both times we played there, we had to traipse from the backdoor behind the stage to get to the tour bus in snow. Imagine coming onto the bus from a very, very sweaty, hot gig and going directly into blizzard conditions. It was brutal.

Toddstar: And you talk about these kind of shows, but I go back and I remember the first time I heard Jeff Scott Soto. It was on a song from Yngwie, but then my first real exposure was Eyes. That album, from “Calling All Girls” all the way through to the end, is a quintessential rock album that, unfortunately, so many people never heard.

Jeff: Yeah. Story of my life. [laughs]

Toddstar: I hate to laugh with you on that because it is so true. So many people hear your voice and they have no clue who it is.

Jeff: Yeah. That’s why I don’t give up. That’s why I still do it.

Toddstar: Going back to projects like Eyes and things like that where, all of a sudden, later, there’s so many releases of demos and everything else and there’s been just a series of Vinnie Vincent demos and things like that. How do you look back on projects like that? When people hear them, do you think, “Okay, it is what it is. It was recorded decades ago?” Do you ever look back and cringe and think, “God, I wish that wasn’t out there anymore,” or do you just consider it a step in your direction?

Jeff: Absolutely. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve done things that weren’t necessarily in my wheelhouse or might have sent the wrong message or the wrong ideal of who and what I am, but to be honest with you, I look at it as I’d rather have the big picture than the smaller one. And having all these things under my belt gives people a chance to… there are some people that like me more as a metal guy. Some people like me more as a crooning or a ballads or melodic rock guy. I love being able to please both sides or all sides. I come from the world or the mentality of Freddie Mercury in Queen that, if you have so many elements to your DNA, make sure you use them all because you can’t use them all with one band. He was lucky enough that he could with Queen. He was able to do everything and anything he wanted with Queen. I didn’t have that luxury. Therefore, I found the other outlets that I needed to make sure people found more textures and more contours in my voice than one or two might be able to allow me to do. And again, that being said, sometimes there’s reasons for doing certain things I’ve done in my life. Sometimes they’re monetary. Sometimes, as I’m talking about the W.E.T. album, it gave me a chance to kind of show people who might’ve not agreed that I should’ve been in Journey, to kind of help change their minds. And to be honest with you, doing Eyes was also a mindset of, “I want people to hear that I’m not just a one-trick pony metal screamer. I want them to hear that I can sing sing. I can do ballads, I can do melodic rock, I can do hard rock. I’m not just a “I’m a Viking guy that sings for guitar players.” One of the biggest reasons I did that was exactly that. I needed to prove something to all the people who were kind of writing me off as a one-trick pony.

Toddstar: You’re definitely not that. We’ve talked about how busy you are, even during the pandemic. I think, last time we spoke, you were in the studio and you took time out for the phone call and you were jumping back in the studio. Looking through your discography, it’s just so obvious. I mean, in 1990, alone, you had Eyes come out, you had Talismans self-titled album come out. Within a couple years, you had more Eyes material, more Talisman material.  Then you had Takara stuff, some Human Clay, Humanimal. What is it that pushed you to the point where you were just driven to just get out there with as many quality projects as you could to get your voice heard?

Jeff: Well, I could give you the funny answer. At that point, I had not mastered the art of no yet. If somebody said, “Hey, will you do this?” my answer was always yes, before I even thought for a second, “Oh, maybe I should’ve said no to this. But to be honest with you, all of those things, all those items that you listed, including the many that you didn’t list, they were all there for a reason. They were all there to give me a platform to show other sides of myself. With Takara, I said yes because I was helping a friend out. I wanted to help Neal Grusky get his songs and his band heard. And I was only supposed to be brought into that situation as a producer. Because I co-wrote all the songs with him on that first album and my voice was on all the demos, that was the only way the label that originally released that album was interested in releasing that album. They said, “We love the songs. We’re so happy you’re working with Jeff, but we don’t like the singer that’s in the band now. The only way we’ll release this album is if we get to release it with Jeff’s voice.” Of course, I was opposed to that because I didn’t want it to be a conflict of interest with everything that was supposed to be my real career, quote on quote, but again, I was helping a friend. I thought, “As long as it’s balanced correctly and discussed correctly that I’m not in the band, I’m not a band member, I’m a guest vocal appearance, blah, blah, blah, people will get it.” No, they didn’t get it. To this day, people still say, “I love your band, Takara.” I was like, “Do you guys even read the liner notes? You complain about not having albums and CDs and stuff anymore because you miss the liner notes, but back then, you had liner notes and it explained. I put a fucking manifesto in there telling you what my involvement with the band was,” and they still, “I love your band, Takara.” Okay, whatever. I’m done trying to explain it.

Toddstar: In the end game, I’m sure Neal appreciated having you as a, quote-unquote, “band member.”

Jeff: Well, it certainly worked for what he needed it and I was glad to be a part of it. And Neal and I are still great friends to this day. And it’s unfortunate that, again, because of my voice being on there, it planted the stigma of, “Well, we don’t want to hear this band with another singer.” And that’s unfortunate for Neal in moving forward, but at least we were able to do what we did on those songs in those early albums and a part of their history.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photography

Toddstar: The first album with you on it I ever heard that was really diverse Redlist. That was such a departure from most of what you had done. And if anybody can find it, I think it’s still out there maybe on iTunes.  Was expanding the web of Jeff Scott Soto as a brand and as a sound a mission back then for you to show that you were not a one-trick pony?

Jeff: Absolutely. And because music shifts and changes, the sounds, the styles, the times, et cetera, et cetera, evolvement is so important to me. It’s important to me to evolve as a musician, as an artist, more so for longevity because, if you just keep pumping out the same crap that everybody’s heard from me for 30 years, 40 years, the only people that are going to be interested are people that still buy that stuff. So I’ve always been a stickler of somebody to not follow the footsteps of somebody else, but if you really like what’s going on in the scene in music, the same way I liked what was happening before my moment to step into the spotlight started, I utilized all those influences at the time and they worked for me. Now, as I continue into the future, there’s new sounds, new styles coming, I find other things that excite me there, too. So I utilize those. “Oh, no, no, no, no. You’re supposed to be this kind of artist. You can’t be dabbling into that.” Screw you. Who says I can’t? Who says I can’t make new ones and I can’t absorb and add to my arsenal? There’s no rules. Even Queen didn’t stay doing their big harmonies and master stroke style of music. They dabbled into other things that were happening in the radio as a sign of the times and they continued to be successful by doing so. So who’s to say I can’t do the same by being influenced by new things and things that are currently happening? And that’s what Redlist was all about. I loved a lot of what was going on, musically, during that time and I stepped into the shoes of a lot of the things that I really liked about and stayed away from the portions of it that I didn’t like. And that’s what I did with Redlist. I wanted to reinvent myself in a way that sounded modern, that I could find a new audience that can grow with me and that can maybe even discover my past, but the music wasn’t reflective of everything I did in my past.

Toddstar: That’s a great recap, as far as Redlist goes, because, again, if anybody can get out there and get their hands on it, it is something so diverse, yet you somehow tie it together not only as a single piece, but also a two-year catalog, which you seem to do with everything. And it’s because of the way you bring yourself into the music.

Jeff: And that’s the thing. I’m not saying I’m the end all be all with everything that I do, but even with Sons of Apollo, I’m not just doing the same old JSS hat. I’m finding new and different influences to add to that so it doesn’t sound like the singer from W.E.T. singing prog, aggressive music. It’s got to have its own legs. It’s got to have its own DNA. It’s got to have its own genre and influence. And I’m getting that from a lot of the things that kind of evolve around that music. So of course, I’m borrowing, I’m borderline stealing sometimes, because that’s what it calls for. If I tried to do something I did with Takara in Sons of Apollo, I’d be fired instantly.

Toddstar: To listen to that album, there are parts in there where you wouldn’t even know what you’re singing if you didn’t know what you were singing.

Jeff: Exactly.

Toddstar: Because you did stretch out from your comfort zone.

Jeff: Where people think I come from, right. I don’t think I have a comfort zone anymore. My comfort zone is finding new ways to introduce people to what I do that don’t know who I am. That’s my comfort zone.

Toddstar: With everything you’ve done, has there ever been any that you thought should’ve got a second look that didn’t, from the music-loving public?

Jeff: Well, yeah. I’ll go to my grave defending what I did and what I’m doing with Soto because it is a departure from the JSS sound or the W.E.T. sound or the Talisman sound. And it is a little more contemporary, a little more modern. And I don’t expect people who love W.E.T. or love the JSS records to like SOTO. Again, I’m doing it because I love it, I’m doing it because I know there’s an audience for it, but I’m also not expecting the audience I have already built on these other things to enjoy it or to even accept it. And that’s why I’m doing it. I’m trying to add more to my arsenal and trying to expand and just be a little more exciting and be more creative than just to stick with the norm, to stick with what’s comfortable. And from that, something like SOTO excites me because I get to step into different shoes and get to do something else completely different, but I also get to enjoy it and be as creative, not going, “Well, it’s not really me, but I’ll do it, anyways, because it’ll earn a buck.” It has nothing to do with that at all. So I think SOTO probably the one thing that I wished I could get a little more ground on because I know what we’re doing absolutely has an audience and it has a market out there for that band.

Toddstar: It absolutely does. When I want to get my metal on and I still want that JSS groove, SOTO is what I go to.

Jeff: I appreciate that.

Toddstar: Jeff, I could go on and on and we’ve talked about that. And I appreciate you giving me the extended interview remix; I know it’s not your normal window, so I appreciate it. As always, I cannot wait until this shit’s over and we can get you guys back out as Sons of Apollo, get you back on the road and do what you do best and that’s control the stage, Jeff.

Jeff: Right on, Todd. Thanks for the chat and we’ll catch up soon.







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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