20 QUESTIONS WITH…
JEFF SCOTT SOTO!
We’re sure some of you might be wondering right now, "Just who in the hell is Jeff Scott Soto?" We were going to suggest that you insert yourself into the back of a cement mixer and let yourself spin around for a few hours, but we’re feeling nice today, so we’ll tell you! Jeff Scott Soto is a vocalist extraordinaire who has had a long and illustrious career, having fronted countless bands and projects including Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Talisman, Eyes, Takara, Human Clay, the Panther Project, Boogie Knights, Axel Rudi Pell, various solo endeavors, and probably a whole bunch we’re forgetting. We also heard he may have been the anonymous voice behind the Skrapp Mettle project, but we cannot confirm or deny that at this time. Regardless, his discography is a mile long. But we’ll let him tell you about all that and a whole lot more in this week’s 20 Questions. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. What are you currently up to? This is your one and only chance to plug your shit.
It would take way too much space & time 2 plug everything I?m up to, best for anyone interested to visit my site, www.jeffscottsoto.com, for regular updates?see, shameless plug! Briefly though, just got off a world tour, & I aint talking West Hollywood & Toad?s Place back East! Started in Australia, then Brazil, then a shitload in Europe. Now I?m home for a coupla weeks before doing some xmas shows with Queen?s side guys, the SAS Band, in England, I think Roger Taylor will be joining us for 1 of them. While I?m away, the new Soul SirkUS CD comes out (with Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo & Marco Mendoza) & we?ll start touring I believe in Europe sometime in Feb. 2005. The plate?s full but I?m always looking to pile it high like Thanksgiving dinner.
2. Let?s get this shit out of the way right up front. How sick are you of having to answer questions like ?Why did you leave Yngwie Malmsteen?s Rising Force? or ?How big of a dick was Yngwie to work with?? You must get asked that shit all the time! With a varied and extensive career such as your own, how badly does it bother you that, nearly every time you?re interviewed, you keep getting asked the same shit about Yngwie over and over again? Would it bother you even more if we only asked you questions about Skrapp Mettle for the rest of this interview?
No, actually it?s kinda funny that after 20 years since starting with him, it?s the ONLY thing people remember about him! I really don?t mind, it?s my beginning/foundation, I talk about it with shit eating grin on my face. But I also get a chance to set the record straight about us, everyone wants to hear the shit & I pretty much chalk it up as ?it was a learning experience? & leave it at that?but If you want the truth, you?ll have to pay me for the book rights 1st! Skrapp who?
3. Lately you?ve been working with Neal Schon from Journey on a forthcoming project called ?Soul SirkUS.? What?s that all about? Are you guys trying to start another Bad English or Hardline? Or is it all just for shits and giggles?
Neal told me from day 1 this was a real deal, not just a hobby or HSAS idea. He?s been doing Journey for 30 years now, like me he always needs to explore other regions of what he?s about & this is no exception. Hardline & Bad English both went awry because of egos, money, musical direction, record exec politics?you know, all the normal shit bands go through. This band had no preconception, no producers or A&R guys pulling the reigns, this is 4 individuals who are doing it our way based on the years we?ve paid our dues & then some. Those guys all have their cush gigs to fall back on so with this we?re treating it like a band of 19 year olds who?ll go out & play for beer if we have to. The mentality is killer, you would think the expectation would be 5 star hotels & champaign but we?re down with Mad Dog & Motel 6! The music is a mix of everything Neal & I have either done in our careers (Journey, Talisman, etc.,) stirred in with the things that influenced us growing up (Zep, Cream, Terence Trent D?Arby..ha ha, chew on that!) with an overall contemporary sound. Basically, we turn every stone & use little pieces here & there which will no doubt make people say ?that sounds like?.& that sounds like?
4. Rank the following singers on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being someone who sounds like they gargle sand, and 10 being someone who?s mastered the art of voice.
Vince Neil =5, I gotta give it up for Vince cuz the 1st Crue album RULES, even though his voice aint Lou Gramm, his vibe was the shit in ?84!
Jani Lane =5, I know Jani is a better singer than a 5 but I?m just not a fan.
Paul Stanley = 3, ok, don?t give me any shit, just not a huge KISS fan & his voice does nothing for me.
Bret Michaels =3, another strong front man, but the voice, well most know.
Mark Slaughter = 5, I think Mark could sing better than what he uses his voice for, not a fan of the ?cloud? singers but if he brought it down an octave, I?d give a better score.
Glenn Hughes = 10000?.you can?t just stop at 10 for the Mack Daddy of singing!
Don Dokken = 4. again, not a fan of his voice even though most see him as 1 of the better guys fro the 80?s.
Michael Sweet = 8, Mike could sing high & low & has a pure voice, sometimes too Dennis DeYoung, sometimes too high, but nonetheless, a real singer.
Joe Lynn Turner =5, Joe gets a middle score cuz I used to love his voice in Rainbow, but lately it?s changed too much for me to enjoy anymore.
Sebastian Bach = 7, he?s got a very strong metal voice, although not my cup of tea, still wails.
4. At a lot of your solo shows, you perform a wide array of cover songs ? anything from songs by Queen, Journey, and The Doobie Brothers to tributes to Prince, Kool and the Gang, and Madonna. One or two cover songs seems normal, but why so many? Don?t you feel that your own material stands up on its own?
When I do the covers, it?s because they?ve become a part of my career at some point or another. Live, I never do any covers that didn?t play a part in my career at some point or another. With Talisman, we?ve covered Prince, Queen, Madonna, Seal & BadCo, with Boogie Knights we did the whole disco genre, etc., I get fan mail all the time on how cool these remakes are & how people would love to hear them live so I put ?em in. My live show is pretty much a nostalgic trip through my whole career, not just my solo shit. Also, since establishing myself as a solo artist, there are a lot of people in the audiences that discovered me from the Rock Star soundtrack or a Queen Convention, or even Boogie Knights, so playing live could be a snore-fest if I only play things the diehards know. I read the reactions of the crowds & know just where to put in the ?familiarities?.
5. You also performed with Brian May and Roger Taylor when Queen was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Obviously, Freddie Mercury is not easy to emulate, even when merely paying tribute to him. How did this go over with the fans, and prior to your performance, did you deep throat a banana or anything whacky like that to get into ?Freddie mode??
Nah, just squeezed in to my leotard & hired a Hell?s Angel to tie my ballet shoes! It was really an experience I can?t possibly put into words. I jammed with Brian in England back in ?99 with the SAS Band (who were also his solo touring band) but this was more intense as it was me, Brian, Roger & a bass player (John Deacon is a recluse these days) so it was the closest to being Queen & Me. I just did my usual thing & the crowd ate it up, that?s where all the rumors & suggestions came from that we might do something further together. I?ve had numerous discussions with Brian about it honestly, even after 13 years, they?re still not ready to move forward with the idea. But if it ever happens, I?ll remember the banana idea.
Jeff with Queen’s Brian May
6. A few years back, you took a ?leave of absence? from the music industry, and didn?t record or perform for a while. How long did this self-imposed hiatus last, and what did you do to pay the bills during the downtime?
I still recorded but was part of the famous Boogie Knights, you know, the organization all the 80?s rockers go to Pasteur?& finally make some real money! I did the disco circuit for 5 years to the date & left in 2001 to kickstart my career again. I woke up 1 day with the pathetic notion of being 50 & still wearing that Rick James wig singing Donna Summer covers, not for me, no fucking thanks!
8. Yes or No, has Jeff Scott Soto ever:
Shot a potato launcher = only in alcohol induced dreams.
Been photographed nude =of course, anyone on tour has!
Caught a band mate jacking off = no, just my teenage son.
Let a chick piss on you = not ON me, she pissed on my carpet passing out on the way to the bathroom though.
Visited the Playboy Mansion = not yet?fuck Hugh, what are you waiting for?
Gotten a massage with a ?happy ending? = doing that today.
Worked a 9-to-5 job = nope.
Shit your pants on stage =not onstage, made it to the car!
Spent the night in jail = nope
Smoked crack = nope
9. On the ?Live at the Gods? CD, why did you include the audio of your response to the audience member who shouted ?You Suck!? What was the point of leaving that on the recording? Don?t you think it makes you sound like a crybaby?
Actually it was a friend of mine in the audience yelling ?Amazing!? (listen closely) but since I knew who it was, I had to turn it around for shits & giggles. Self-deprication is fun for me, shows everyone I?m not all stuck on & can make fun of myself as much as anyone else can.
10. When you look back at the list of all the bands you?ve recorded and performed with over the years, does it ever make you feel like a ?man-whore?? Come to think of it, is there any band that you wouldn?t do vocals for? Why not just start a band with Kerri Kelli while you’re at it?
Of course I?m a vocal whore, but the reason for that is the same answer as why does a dog lick his own balls. Listen, I?m a singer who makes his living singing. You could be asking me why I would lower myself to playing Bar Mitzvahs or cruise ships to make or living because those are other arenas 1 could earn without getting a 9-5er, or I can do sessions, projects, appearances, one offs, etc., get paid & still do my own shit, it?s a no brainer. I have so many influences & challenges in me that everything I do outside my ?expectations? only adds to my own deal so that in itself is more than just the paycheck. If I was as big as any of the guys you had me rate above, of course I wouldn?t need to be a whore but as long as I can make a living by singing, I?ll do it.
11. Give us a memory about touring or being in the following cities:
Tampa =9/11, I was stuck there a week after doing a weekend of disco shows, heading to NY THAT afternoon.
Atlanta = Last night of the tour with Yngwie opening for Maiden at the Omni, Yngwie was trashed & pelted a guy over the head with a beer bottle for bootlegging his shirts?oops, forgot, book rights!
Sydney =1st stop of my 1st Oz tour ever this year, great fucking city, nothing juicy to report.
Vancouver =guitarist from Boogie Knights detained for having traces of Coke on a credit card, funny shit.
Chicago = let?s just say it?s a very sexual city.
Rio de Janeiro = never been, but Sao Paolo this year, the bomb! Made my solo debut there, before the Gods, in 2002.
Honolulu = only time there was a plane change en route to Japan with Yngwie back in ?86.
Amsterdam =passed out in front of an Argentinian restaurant completely smoked out.
Tokyo = ?86, the site of Yngwie arguing with the bar because it was last call & then went to punch out his bodyguard for trying to contain him?fuck, again, I keep forgetting, book rights, I need to call a publisher!
Houston = let?s just say it a very sexual city!
12. What ?rock star? deserves a smack in the mouth and why?
DLR & EVH, both should have put their grievances aside & just toured, it?s what the people want & it?s what they?re wallets want.
13. Of the following, which do you prefer and why:
Hand jobs or rim jobs = neither, I prefer good old fashioned fucking!
Ace Frehley or Tommy Thayer = Tommy, he gives a shit about the music these days!
The Dukes of Hazzard or The A-Team =Easy, Daisy Duke over Dirk Benedict ANYDAY!
Jessica Simpson or Ashlee Simpson =Jessica, cuter & bigger boobies.
Boogie Nights or the Panther Project = the band or the movie?
Jack Lemmon or Walter Matthau = Matthau, hands down!
Outkast or the Black Eyed Peas =Outkast, BEP annoy the shit outta me, Outkast rule.
New York or Los Angeles =LA baby, the weather alone kicks everyone?s ass.
Jet or The Darkness =Jet, they?re not a parody
Pizza or sushi = Sushi, at 39, I gotta count every calorie.
14. In your opinion, which of the following Yngwie vocalists has the best hair:
Joe Lynn Turner, Michael Vescera, Dougie White, Graham Bonnet, Mark Boals, or yourself?
I?ll take that trophy, thank you very much! Although Graham with the whole James Dean thing is pretty cool/nostalgic.
15. For what amount was your biggest music-related check, and what did you end up doing with the funds?
On NYE 1999-2000, I made close to $20,000 doing a Boogie Knights gig, 2 hours of singing, sick money. I think I bought a new Sea Doo cash that year.
16. What do you remember most about writing or recording the following songs:
I Am A Viking = 1 of the dumbest lyrics I?ve ever been paid to sing, tied with a cartoon theme called Biker Mice From Mars.
Desire =Jesus, can you not?
Thunder Thruster =Is that Kryst The Conquerer? No comment.
Calling All Girls =This was supposed to be my anthem for finally having some chicks in the audience after so many years of Yngwie?s predominantly male audiences. Would have worked if the fucking label did their job right.
Standin? On Fire = this was 1 of those tunes that helped bring in the chicks, commercial appeal & all.
Shoot The Sherbert = this is what I did to the chicks after Standing On Fire came out.
Love Parade = this was my ?rainbow coalition? song, I wanted the Sly & The Family Stone appeal with my 1st solo album, white, black, Puerto Rican, freaks, young, old, straight, gay, everyone?that?s the idea of the Love Parade, no prejudice.
Fool Fool = Ok, that?s actually 2nd runner up to I?m A Viking.
Heaven On Earth = Uhh, what?s that?
Soul Divine = co-wrote with Howie Simon, guitarist in my solo band & Talisman, cool, sexual swagger in that song.
17. Your extensive discography includes a lot of demos, guest appearances, and session vocals that ended up never being released. As an artist, does it bother you that you?ve lent your talents to so many recordings that will never be heard? Or were you happy to simply record your tracks, get paid, and get the hell out of the studio?
Both, there are some of those I don?t want to ever be heard as they were just money gigs. But then again, I did it, I got paid & if they ever surfaced, I rest in the bed I make. I?m sure if I ever become a household name, die an early age or both, my career will become more bastardized than immortalized?.ah well, fuck it, at least I had fun!
18. A hypothetical question: Imagine you are driving a bus. When you start your trip, there are only 2 passengers ? an aging British metal singer named Biff Byford, and some punk with a raspy, sexy voice who calls himself DJ Ashba. At the first stop, Biff gets off the bus and former Guns N? Roses drummer Steven Adler stumbles on, almost tripping on the stairs but managing to find his seat. At the next stop, Frankie, formerly the singer of Kingofthehill, enters with his former drummer Vito Bono. Then 3 chicks who?ve been at the mall all day named Roxy, Jan and Share, all of whom used to be in the band Vixen, get on the bus. After a short trip, that DJ Ashba guy leaves, and glass-shattering vocalist Jim Gillette and his wife Lita Ford enter. Jon Bon Jovi gets on the bus with his dog Scruffy, while Frankie and his drummer get off, and, finally, the bus arrives at the bus station. What is the name of the bus driver?
19. The Last of Jeff Scott Soto:
Last book you read = Phil Jackson?s latest memoirs
Last concert you watched from the audience = Europe, they played 2 shows same cities/nights as me on this tour, caught them both before my show.
Last sporting event you attended = Lakers, last season.
Last video game you played = Tekken 3
Last tribute CD you sang on =Iron Maiden (did Aces High)
Last television or radio commercial you did vocals for = Rice Krispy Treats
Last fast food drive-thru you hit = El Pollo Loco, yesterday
Last time you got cock-blocked = 2 weeks ago
Last time you talked to Yngwie = 8 months ago when I jumped onstage for a song when he played LA
Last time you got drunk = last week, Nov 4, birthday show at the Cavern in Liverpool (The Beatles old stomping grounds)
20. Time for Metal Sludge?s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Stuart Smith = Ritchie Blackmore
Howie Simon = King Genius
Lenny Kravitz = Prince wannabe
Gene Simmons = Asshole, in a nice way!
Charles Pavlovsky = Spunk
Axel Rudi Pell = Ritchie Blackmore
Brian May =God
Nikki Sixx =The Ruler
Lita Ford = my big sister
Zakk Wylde =The Real Deal!
So there you go! Jeff didn’t hold back a whole lot and he gave us good, solid answers to everything we wanted to know. Although we’re pretty sure he didn’t get question #18 right, but it was a tricky one, so we’ll let it slide.
For more information on Jeff Scott Soto and his projects past and present, check out his official Web site at www.jeffscottsoto.com!