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In Words: JSS

- Jeff Scott Soto - Mar. 2009 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Jeff Scott Soto promotion photo
© Jeff Scott Soto

Jeff Scott Soto - March 2nd 2008 (by email)

Jeff Scott Soto is surprising the fans with re-releases of two of his solo albums and a new album called Beautiful Mess. His latest piece of work shows him a bit different... A tour is planed and a DVD will be recorded in April. More then one reason to talk to Mr. Soto!

I would like to talk about the re-releases first... Was it Frontiers idea to do the re-releases? Or have fans been asking for them?

It was their idea as they simply ran out of my product in their stock! We went to them asking for more to sell on my online store & they were about to go to the manufacturer for a new order, but asked if I was ok with adding more items to the existing albums, making them a little more special than a standard re-issue.

How do you choose the bonus tracks for the re-releases?

I had a lot of songs here & there that we used for an album called Essential Ballads that sold quite well. Some of these songs were meant to be used between the 2 albums as well as some bonus tracks that were on Japanese releases. Theyre all here now in the 2 re-issues.

Your new album is called Beautiful Mess, why this title?

My life the past years has been quite a mess personally, but thankfully had a beautiful ending. My career is quite messy when you think of how many bands & styles that have come through it, but it's quite beautiful how it all fits together... even this album is a bit of a mess as it goes from Hard Rock to R&B to Pop to Blues, but it all works together so beautifully!

For me it seems that you are freed from limitations... Or just let the music flow, not considering what others might expect... Is this album a kind of showing your roots and trying to escape categorization?

I try to do that with everything in my career, but not all in one basket. With this album, yes, I guess you can say I wanted it to stand out from everything else I have done. It is the album I've always wanted to make, for better or worse, that is how I feel.

It sounds like you feel home in all the different styles... How important is it for you to do different styles? To go different musical ways?

Two of my biggest influences were Queen & Prince, they both taught me to break down the walls of being in one genre, to not be generalized or stereotyped. I want to be seen as an artist who can do it all, but more important, do it all with conviction & heart!

Is there a musical direction which you would like to go to, but haven't had the chance to yet? Perhaps working with an orchestra or a brass section... Or someone you would like to work with?

Who knows, I love so many different styles of music, there are no limits to what I would try. But one thing for sure, I don’t want to remain one 'type' of artist…not for too long anyway.

I guess by now you got the first reactions on Beautiful Mess.... Are you satisfied?

Very satisfied AND surprised! I really thought I would get NO attention from my past fans & critics as the album isn't really something that should be reviewed by Metal Destroyers Magazine or whatever. You wouldn't see a Seal or Lenny Kravitz CD reviewed in those! But I am happy there are enough open minds out there who gave it a chance & realize you can like metal & soul on the same iPod.

You had the album first as a digital download and now as a physical CD, but with some bonus. Do you think that's the way to do it these days?

A lot are doing it this way, but for me it was more to get a public awareness as well as attention from the industry. It was a successful venture for me because this material is so different, I wanted to reach out to new audiences, younger people who did not know of me yet.

When the CD were new, everybody said it's the end for vinyl releases. But there always been vinyls and these days they are getting more popular again. Do you think it'll be the same with MP3s?

There will always be different formats coming & going, it's called evolution. We must evolve to move forward, so to answer that, I am sure something will eventually replace the mp3.

And what about DVDs... Do you think that it have a limited time like the video tapes? Will one day we only download (hopefully only legal copies) or watch it on demand?

There will always be a need for storage though, even if you download, you cant always have the same format as everyone else to watch your items so DVD or some kind of disc will always be around so you can watch it anywhere, anytime as well as carry it in a USB pen.

Personally I would miss the physical aspect... I love the vinyl covers, but prefer CDs for their easy handling... What's your favorite format?

CD's for sure, I too loved albums, but they were not always consistent in having the right turntable, the right needle, even sometimes the right calibration so it played in the proper speed it was supposed to! CD's are easy, perfect & contain the full sound of the music. Mp3's are like what jpegs from raw PSD files are to photos, they are compressed & not as good quality sounding.

You worked with different bands in the past, I guess this helps somehow to grow as a solo artist. Do you think so too? And who of the bands / artists you worked with influenced you most?

I am a musician, singer & producer, but I used to get so much negativity for being on so many albums. I have to make a living just like everyone else & in my earlier years, I could not afford to be in just 1 band that was not selling albums & never touring, there was no way to make a living this way. So saying yes to be involved in so many other projects not only helped me pay bills, they did add to my whole musical scope. Talisman is the one band that kept me interested in being in just one band, that is why I am still to this day a part of it.

As far as I know Al Pitrelli got you involved in TSO... How was it to be part of such a huge touring party? To be part of such a big show?

Yes, Al & I met about 19 years ago & vowed to work together some day…that day has come. He is a phenomenal player & person, the full package! I am very proud to be a part of the TSO family, it's an amazing combination of a professional corporation & good people all in a stunning musical & visual show.

For the first Takara albums you been the singer and you are still friends with Neal Grusky. Have you heard the latest Takara piece of work? And what do you think about the new singer he recruited?

Of course I have heard it, I would not have sung any backing vocals on it if I disapproved on the sound, I am happy they are continuing & I really do like Gus, he is a great guy with a big future.

We're not talking about the business side or money here, only about the idea... Can you imagine to join forces and take Takara with you on the road? I guess the fans would love it...

Yes, they would, but it would be a huge money loss as you said, the business side of things won't allow something like this to happen unless they are willing to pay for so many costs in doing it. There are many bands with lots of scattered fans worldwide who simply cannot afford to go on the road because they can't draw enough fans in each city for a venue to gamble on attendance. It started this way for me when I went out as a solo act, many promoters knew my name from all my projects, but with no proven 'solo' album sales or hit singles, they were hesitant to book me. I pushed & shoved my way to get where I am now.

You will hit the road soon... Do you miss playing live? Are you looking forward to play the small clubs again? To be closer to your fans?

I love playing, end of story. Of course I love the big arenas, everything about it is big from the sound to the amount of people to the emotions, but I am just as happy to rock out a small venue as well. It's all the same to me as long as I can go out there & help people escape reality for a few hours.

You'll have a new band with you, please tell us why you decided to work with these guys!

My new sound called for a new approach, my other line up are amazing, they can play anything, but I could feel they were not so into the new material & I didn't want to risk this touring to promote this album. I wanted a feel, look & vibe that transferred across with the material & I knew these guys, who love this new stuff as well as my old, would do it well for me. I will remain with the other guys when I have to do more 'classic' JSS shows in the future.

I guess you will do a kind of 'best-of' set of your solo albums... Especially as you will record the Madrid show for a DVD. Can fans expect something special? Some surprising tunes?

Well, if I mentioned anything 'special', it wouldn't be special anymore so of course, I try to save some good ideas for the road once we start rehearsals. I will be concentrating on my solo career a lot though, for the past years I concentrated more on my other bands & projects, but I now have 4 solo albums & want people to realize how serious I am about this.

And what about Talisman... Anything your fans can look forward to? Or is Talisman still on hold?

I can officially announce here we will start recording a new album later this year with a projective tour in early 2010.

Are there any other projects you are involved with? Something you can talk about?

I have sung for a project to be released later this year called W.E.T. The members of this include members of Work Of Art, Eclipse & Talisman (its where we got the name, the 1st letter of each band name) & the music is pure AOR Heaven! Some of the songs sound like what Journey might have been had we remained working together, their fans & my older fans will love it.

I know that music is your life - you are a fan and a musician -, but what is JSS doing to take a break from music?

There is no break, I literally go from 1 moment to the next, last year I finished Beautiful Mess, spent a month in the studio with TSO, then in Europe with Tempestt, went back to the studio for a month with TSO, then did a tour in Brazil, shows in California, then back to Bulgaria, then a month in the studio to do the W.E.T. album, then the rest of the year on tour with TSO....this is my life, I love it, I live it with absolute pride that I get to do this for a living.

Any other art you would like to channel your creatifity to? Writing? Painting? Sculpturing? Or is music the only art you can imagine to do?

Not yet, I'm too busy trying to create my own legacy in music. :)

What's on your schedule after the solo tour?

I have many things being planned, but nothing in stone yet, but everything can be found on my websites, I will be as busy as last year for sure, ending again with TSO so hope to see you all in some capacity or another. JSS

Sounds like there will be a lot more to talk about in a year from now... And that JSS will keep surprising his fans with new stuff. Go out and catch him on the road!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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