Interview- Jeff Scott Soto

In Conversation 

Jeff Scott Soto
Sons of Apollo
Jeff Scott Soto Band
Yngwie Malmsteen

Sons of Apollo recently completed a warm-up trek to ready themselves for their highly anticipated world tour that starts in April. Buffalo was been selected as one of the cities for the warm up shows and the band did not disappoint putting on a raving performance. We had a chance to talk to lead singer Jeff Scott Soto recently to discuss Sons of Apollo as well as talk with him about his career in the music business.

Rock Show Critique: How many dates will you be playing?

Jeff Scott Soto: Oh boy…the only true answer I can give there is the rest of 2018. It’s a pretty full schedule from April til the end of October. We’ll be all over the world and then some.

RSC: How in the world were you guys able to line up your schedules up for the tour?

JSS: This was one of the stipulations we discussed early on. Finding the time and scheduling to make the record was one thing, the only way we could follow up with the commitment to the touring was to discuss and agree that 2018 would be dedicated to Sons of Apollo.

RSC: You’ve guys have been in many bands and projects. What’s it like building up a band from scratch with all this talent?

JSS: The easiest part was the fact we knew each other from different walks of life. Billy and Mike have the most history together, playing together in so many facets and so many projects. Mike, Billy and Ron have done things together. Mike, Billy and Derek have done things together. I’m pretty much the oddball out but I’m a chameleon I can fit with everybody and I’m just so damn happy to be there. It’s friends first you know colleagues and friends first. It’s so fun to be around these guys. Of course on the musical aspect these guys are the best of the best but it’s still very challenging in the terms of the music we created together. It take a lot of getting to know each other but this run was about honing in on the music and making sure we can even play this stuff live. You listen to the record and go wait “we’ve got to play this live?” Our main goal is to make sure that we are in tune and chimed in and kicking ass together.

RSC: I remember the first time I became acquainted with you was in 1986. You were with Yngwie opening for Triumph. You had left and gone back to sing on the Trilogy tour. How did that come about?

JSS: I did leave the band as I was a bit dismayed as to what we all had to look forward to and not look forward to. Where I came from I was only familiar being in a band not necessarily working for somebody. I was under the impression we would be a band. It was all about Yngwie. I truly wanted to be back into a situation where it was one for all and all for one. So I left in 85’. In 86’ my predecessor Mark Boals got fired on the tour but not before they had a backup. I was their backup and they called me up and asked me if I would come out and do the tour. After I made few turns and changes on the original format, I did accept and came back to do the Trilogy tour with Triumph.

RSC: How did you go about learning the songs, obviously you did not sing on that album. I thought you made them sound better than they did on the record.

JSS: Thank you so much. I got to be honest with you, being a rock fan and just because I left Yngwie didn’t mean I stopped listening to him. When Trilogy came out I immediately bought it and knew all the songs. I didn’t know all the words soup to nuts but I knew the songs well enough that I could sing all the melodies and knew where all the parts were. Obviously when I went on the road I didn’t have time to truly learn them and absorb them. It was the old days where you didn’t have telepromptors and so many technological advances on how to get through those kinds of things.They literally wrote out the lyrics in big format and taped them to the floor. In front of me was a floorboard of lyrics it was a massive storybook. Again I knew the songs already and the words kind of fell into place. It took me maybe a week before i could have them stop putting the lyrics down.

RSC: You’ve been in Trans Siberian Orchestra for a while. How did that come about and why do you never make it to the east coast?

JSS: I got two answers for that and they both include the same name…Al Pitrelli. We met each other in 1990 and we’ve been friends ever since. When I got fired from Journey and he got wind of it he was in the studio doing a new album called Night Castle. Paul O’Neill the founder of TSO, was bringing in every singer imaginable for a particular character ad wasn’t satisfied with the way it was coming out. So Al dropped my name. He’s a tenor I need a baritone. Al said “Jeff’s a baritone, he sings a tenor and he got away with the whole Journey thing that used to be his world but trust me he’s a baritone.” They flew me out, I spoke with Paul maybe seven hours and in that time I did maybe twenty minutes worth of singing. I thought thats the strangest audition I’ve ever done. From there I got the gig to sing the main character on the Night Castle album. To answer your other question Al Pitrelli said as long as I’m musical director in TSO and I’m west coast, you’ll never go to the east coast.

RSC: It seems you are always busy. You also released a solo album (Retribution) late last year. Any future plans for a solo tour?

JSS: Probably not. By the time I would look into dates for Retribution it’s gonna be a year old and obsolete. That’s the cool thing about a solo tour. I can go on tour anytime. I don’t have to necessarily tour on my own to promote an album Those albums are basically vehicles for me to add to my set list as I go out live because I got to be honest they have consistently been selling the same amount since I released the first one back in 2002. The numbers pretty much remain the same whether I’m touring or not. Because Sons of Apollo is more of a high profile gig, clearly I’m doing this because there is more demand than a JSS gig. I’d be silly not to give my 100% commitment to Sons of Apollo at the moment.

RSC: It’s unfortunate you don’t get to play the U.S. much when you do a solo tour. That’s another unfortunate thing.

JSS: I never get to no. It’s been a huge obstacle in my career. People say your so busy. How do you find time to do this and do that? I mean this is what I do for a living. It’s the same for anybody who has a 9 to 5 job. That’s my day job to do three albums back to back to back and non-stop touring and albums and that whole cycle that’s what I do for a living, that’s my day job. I don’t look at it as going to work l look at it as being creative and fulfilling everything that I feel that I want to do with my life and everything else just falls by the wayside.

RSC: When you write a song how do you decide if it will become a solo song or a song for one of your other projects? That must be hard.

JSS: Not so much that’s pretty easy because I don’t necessarily write songs to write songs. For every cycle, every album I write only for that particular item while I’m working on that item. There is a song on Retribution called “Song For Joey” and that was written with absolutely no intention of releasing. It was my brother who passed away. I wanted to write a song and record it just for the family and close friends. It wasn’t until we were in the process of getting all the songs together for Retribution that I decided this song emotionally probably connects to a lot more people than just myself and my brother. I actually do want the world to hear it and that’s why we decided to put it on the album. That’s one of the rare instances where we wrote a song that wasn’t necessarily geared towards a release or an album.

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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