Jeff Scott Soto kicked off the “Damage Control” European tour in Belfast on Thursday 4th April. Jeff is a prolific recording artist and over the past 30 years has been lead singer for many bands including Talisman, Journey and W.E.T. “Damage Control” is Jeff’s fifth solo studio album and was released by Frontiers Records in 2012. The second W.E.T. album “Rise Up” has just been released in February 2013. Jeff took about 15 minutes to talk to me just before heading on stage at the Limelight.

 

 

 

NI ROCKS – Jeff, thanks for taking some time whilst in Belfast to do an interview for Rock Radio NI. You’ve been here on several occasions in the past. What are your memories of playing in Belfast?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – They’re faded memories because we got really pissed afterwards (laughs), The first time we were here was very memorable because we were with Tyketto over at The Empire and that was an unexpected addition to the tour. We did a show with them in Wolverhampton and they invited us over and we had a day off and they brought us with them. It was such a great time. For me it was monumental because I finally got a chance to get up here and into Ireland. I really look forward to doing it more. Unfortunately, the last time I was here I think was 2007 so it’s been a while since I did a proper UK tour and it’s really nice to be back.

 

NI ROCKS – The Belfast show kicks off a month long tour through Europe. Your biggest in some time. Does touring and performing live still give you a big buzz or has it got more challenging, particularly with the family being based in California?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Well, now it is. It’s become that again. Because I was based out of London for four years but now I’m back in California again that strain starts again. But we’ve got it down to a good medium, a balance of being at home and being away so it doesn’t really weigh in as much anymore. We’ve got a good balance behind it.

NI ROCKS – You still get that buzz from touring?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO -  Oh yeah.

 

NI ROCKS – Support for a lot of the European dates comes from Greek band Danger Angel who I’ve checked out and they sound great.

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Their manager is a really good friend of mine and he got me working with them. They were kind enough to ask me to produce their album, and when I heard some of their songs I thought they were really interesting and I was looking forward to doing it. It was a pleasure working with them.

They’re doing pretty much all of the European tour starting tomorrow. We couldn’t get them up here because this is the only gig that involves flights rather than nightliner.

 

NI ROCKS – Your last 30 years or so as frontman and prolific recording artist have been well documented so I was wanting to focus on what you’re up to now and your plans for the future. Which leads me on nicely to your biography “Stand Up And Shout – The Story of A Rock Star” which is published during this tour. Tell us a little bit about that project.

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – That was done in conjunction with my tour manager. We have this really diehard fan of mine who did a German version, kind of a brochure version, many years ago and we had a copy of it and were very fascinated by it. But we couldn’t read it because it was in German. Because of the fact that he left no stone unturned, we kept talking that it would be great to do a proper version in English that the rest of the world could read. So he spent about 7 years on it, researching everything, getting all the data, chronicling everything, putting it all in order etc etc. It’s been a labour of love really, but I’m looking forward to letting people read it. Especially the diehard fans. They have no clue the plethora of other material that’s out there, the things that I have done. They are going to read it and say “ok I know he did this amount of work, I didn’t realise there was so much more.” It’s kinda cool. That’s why it took so long to release it because things kept coming up and you’d say ok we’ll make sure that gets into the book. It’s an ongoing chapter!!

NI ROCKS – The current European tour is promoting your fifth solo studio album “Damage Control” which was released by Frontiers Records just over a year ago. For anyone who hasn’t bought it yet, who worked with you on that album and do you see it as a natural progression from 2009’s “Beautiful Mess”?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – My solo albums I kind of like to differentiate the sounds and where I’m at, at that time. I have so much in me musically that I need my solo career to be able to express that. With W.E.T. that band sounds like that band, Talisman has that sound etc. Everything I work with has their particular sound so I don’t need to repeat myself in doing that in my solo thing. It’s a kind of freedom of expression to do the kind of things you want to do. It’s taken on a life of its own, maybe not to the same profile as the others but it’s something I can call my own.

I wouldn’t call it a natural progression from “Beautiful Mess” more of a return to rock. I had a lot of people collaborating on it. Everybody from the current line-up of the band to friends in the record industry.

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NI ROCKS – Given that we’ve had to wait anything from 2 to 8 years between solo albums in the past, when do you think we might see you in the studio working on a new solo album?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Already started. Again, my solo albums reflect where I am at musically and “Damage Control” only tapped the surface as far as I’m concerned. I want to get even heavier and I’m going to do so on the next album. No idea of a release date, just gathering material and I’ve a list of people who are going to be collaborating with me on it.

 

NI ROCKS – February of this year saw the release of the second album by W.E.T. entitled “Rise Up”. The band’s debut album in 2009 had been a huge success so how much pressure was there on the band to deliver second time around?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO –  I think in the beginning there was because so many people loved that first album and revelled in the fact that it was the second coming of Christ almost when it came to melodic rock music. We didn’t see it that way, but there was that kind of stamp put on it. So in the beginning we were saying gotta make sure it’s this, gotta make sure it’s that. And midway through I kinda stopped the guys and said we gotta stop thinking about it so much. If we think too hard about it then it’s nothing like it should sound. Let’s go in and do what we did on the first album. Make the kind of album we want to make, especially now we’re collaborating as a band. The first album was more individual efforts, this time we did it as a band, because the band has progressed to that level and let the chips fall where they may.

 

NI ROCKS – W.E.T. have a few festival appearances booked already for 2013, including Firefest in Nottingham in October. Are we likely to see further tour dates added over the next few months?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – We have a few more dates at the end of May. In Sweden we’re doing a festival out there – not Sweden Rock that’s in June (The Metalsveskan Festival in Orebro, Sweden on 25th May). Then a melodic rock fest in Chicago in September (MRF 3 on 28th Sept) and Firefest in October. There are a handful of dates there. We’re doing it in baby steps especially because we’re all so busy.

NI ROCKS – Last year saw you on tour with “Queen Extravaganza” the official Queen tribute produced by Roger Taylor. You’ve listed Freddie Mercury as one of your influences so how did it feel performing his tracks on stage?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – It was great. It was one of the reasons that I agreed to it. I told the guys years ago when I knew they were planning this that if they could use me in any facet that I’d loved to be involved and they called me out on that. I thought it might lead to doing more with them on a personal level but since they only wanted me just for that and they weren’t looking at me as a possibility to work with on other facets I thought it was time to get back to doing my own stuff. I didn’t want people to think I was leaving everything behind, particularly as “Damage Control” had just been released around the same time. That I’d go out and sing someone else’s music when I have a lot of work to do on own! That’s why I’ve departed from that group.

NI ROCKS – Are there no more plans for shows with “Queen Extravaganza”?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – I think they’re doing a residency in Quebec in August. I don’t know what is happening. It just wasn’t for me to continue with.

 

NI ROCKS – You were heavily involved of course in the soundrack for the movie “Rock Star” in 2001 performing vocals for the original Bobby Beers version of Steeldragon. If the opportunity arose, and if you could travel back in time or whatever, which band would you choose to be front man in?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – You know what, I already know what it is like to front Queen, or at least I’ve performed with Roger and Brian, and of course I’ve sung with Journey which was another dream of mine.  So the one band I’d like to perform with is VanHalen.

 

NI ROCKS -   You’ve been part of the Trans Siberian Orchestra since 2008 both in the studio and on tour. It’s an enormously successful project – I read somewhere that it’s one of the top ten ticket selling bands in the last decade! What is like working in such a huge stage show compared to the normal band tour?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Yeah it’s an animal. They created a monster with that. What is great about it is that everyone is more less their own individual cog in a big wheel. No one stands out, There are no real superstars. All the elements come together to make it work and it is great to be a part of it because it continues to grow and get bigger and bigger. I love doing it because it comes along when I have my down time. And who needs downtime? It’s also another expression that’s not my own. I can do something that is completely different from what I normally do and I can learn from it. It’s a challenge doing something different and maybe draw something from it.

 

NI ROCKS – Other than the solo tour and upcoming W.E.T. appearances what else can we expect to see you involved in through the remainder of 2013?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO –  We got W.E.T., we got this tour, work on the solo album, work on another Trans Siberian Orchestra tour at the end of the year, some work with them on a new album, its non-stop. They want to talk about doing a W.E.T. tour, but before that there’s also talk about doing a Talisman reunion sometime next year. It’ll be the 5 year mark of Marcel’s passing as well as it would have been his 50th birthday. I would love to tour or at least do more than one show but I think it’ll be one big show and it’ll be pretty grand. It’s gonna be a lot of people from our past and the bands past. The way they’re talking it’s going to be a big thing.

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NI ROCKS – If you had to pick three albums from your career to date to represent what you wanted to be the Jeff Scott Soto legacy what would they be?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO –  That’s a good question. You can’t pick from everything and make one? I’m particularly proud of “Beautiful Mess” because that was something I was wanting to do for a long time even though career wise it didn’t fit too well with my hard core fans. It was too mellow, or too funk or whatever but for me it was a proud moment to do that album. The Talisman “Humanimal” album is one of my really highlight proud moments. And a third? There are just so many to choose from. We were trying to count. I’m on over 65 albums. It’s insane. I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I didn’t say the “Damage Control” album. And I’ll add a fourth as well. The W.E.T. album.

 

NI ROCKS – I was wanting to finish off with a few quick questions.

Firstly, to get an idea what kind of music you listen to. If we were to click shuffle on your iPod or whatever what five artists would we be likely to hear?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO - The diversity that is on my iPod is well, I don’t even want to say that. I think it’s the same for everybody. Back in the day when you had CDs. How many did you bring -12, 24 whatever. It would be genre driven. Now you have an iPod you can have everything from Abba to the Beatles to Metallica. So you will put it on there even if you don’t listen to it. And you scroll down and you go what..Kylie Minogue!! (laughs) What’s that doing in here!! It’s one of those things. You load it up with everything that is some circumstance you might want to listen to. There’s no Kylie Minogue though!  (laughs)

I have everything from current stuff like Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, all that pop stuff to the heaviest stuff. I’ve got all the hair metal stuff. I’ve got Extreme, I’ve got Whitesnake. It’s a big smorgasbord of music.

NI ROCKS – And a couple of firsts! First concert you remember going to and first album you remember buying?

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – First album I bought I think was Styx “Pieces of Eight” which would have been 1978. First concert was in 1977 or maybe 1978 – the California World Music Festival with Toto, Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent.

 

NI ROCKS – Finally, any up and coming bands out there that you’d recommend to the listeners at Rock Radio NI

JEFF SCOTT SOTO – I was really keen on the Black Country Communion stuff but they’ve now no longer together. The new Shinedown album!

 

NI ROCKS – Really appreciate you taking the time to answer the questions. Best of luck with the rest of the tour.

 

You can find out more about Jeff at www.jeffscottsoto.com

 

Check out N I Rocks at

www.facebook.com/NIRocks

 

 

Five videos recorded in Limelight 1, Belfast on 4th April 2013.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WLJnyrurV0&feature=share&list=PLS8aNoz9Ii3WWnIZIc0P4gaJ9-N7sDgOe

 

 

 

Original Tour Dates Listed for “Damage Control” Tour in Europe

04/04/2013 Thursday UK Belfast ‘The Limelight’
05/04/2013 Friday UK Birmingham ‘The Asylum’
06/04/2013 Saturday UK London ‘Camden Underworld’
07/04/2013 Sunday UK Rotherham ‘Hard Rock Hell AOR Festival’
11/04/2013 Thursday DE Hamburg 'Rock 'N Roll Warehouse'
12/04/2013 Friday BE Vosselaar ‘Biebob’
13/04/2013 Saturday NL Kerkrade ‘Rock Temple’
15/04/2013 Monday BE Oostende 'Bada Bing'
16/04/2013 Tuesday DE Essen ‘Turock’
17/04/2013 Wednesday FR Cergy Vaureal (Paris) ‘Le Forum’
19/04/2013 Friday DE Lichtenfels ‘Paunchy Cats
20/04/2013 Saturday HU Budapest 'Barba Negra Music Club’
21/04/2013 Sunday BG Sofia 'Sofia Club Live’
23/04/2013 Tuesday BG Burgas 'Bar With No Name’
25/04/2013 Thursday GR Thessaloniki ‘8ball’
26/04/2013 Friday GR Athens ‘Kyttaro Live’
27/04/2013 Sat GR Ioannina 'Cafe Kaplaneio’

29/04/2013 Monday IT Milan ‘Blue Rose Saloon’
30/04/2013 Tue IT Turin 'Il Peocio'
02/05/2013 Thursday ES Barcelona ‘Sala Razzmatazz 3’
03/05/2013 Friday ES Valladolid ‘Sala Porta Caeli’
04/05/2013 Saturday ES Santiago de Compastella ‘Sala Capitol’
05/05/2013 Sunday ES Madrid ‘Sala Caracol’

 

Last Updated (Wednesday, 17 April 2013 21:39)