Since the age of 18 when he joined iconic guitar-hero Yngwie Malmsteen, Jeff Scott Soto has been a relentless and prolific force in music. His resume eclipses most other prominent musicians having fronted Rising Force, Talisman, Journey, Sons of Apollo, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, in addition to his solo projects! You may also remember hearing his voice throughout the hit movie Rockstar.
Having been busy all of 2018 with the supergroup Sons of Apollo, Jeff is now back touring with the perennially popular Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Soto took the time to discuss his long career and how he approaches his craft. I hope you enjoy this introspective look at the man behind the legendary pipes…
1. When you are part of a huge, choreographed show like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is it hard to inject your own personality? Do you do it through vocal performance and stage presence?
Not really, I as well as everyone here know what our roles are to make this show what it is…there is no star, there can’t be any egos or divas here as this show is driven by the story, the songs behind the story and the incredible production behind it. We realize we’re all cogs in the machine and when if there is a faulty cog, it must be replaced so the machine runs smoothly. I am happy to be a part of this ideal as I can do it without guessing, worrying or wondering about things the way I do when it IS about what I do outside of this.
2. You have collaborated with some of the world’s best musicians, are you ever still genuinely surprised by anyone at this stage in your career?
Absolutely, and this is one of the things I always hoped would never go away regardless of what level I was able to get myself to. Every artist, every musician starts as a fan of those who influenced and inspired us. Once you’re no longer a fan, you lose perspective on what its like to please fans. I still have my geek out moments even with those I have been blessed to meet or play alongside, and I love playing with guys like Portnoy and Sheehan who also fanboy out on certain people. I still have a bucket list of some missing from my wish list, some I am probably better off not ever meeting as thats another category, the disappointment side haha!
3. When you are presented with complex pieces, like with Sons of Apollo, where do you start? Do you try to imagine a melody, or do you work on lyrics first?
It ALWAYS starts with the music/melody 1st, I have to listen and soak it all in then melodies start flowing on things I hear over it. From that, the themes come from the drive I get from the song…you can’t exactly write about love and butterflies when the tune is like a blistering Metallica vibe!
4. When you first joined Yngwie, what was the dynamic? Was he the “hot new guitar player” after Steeler and Alcatrazz, or were you both young guys trying to make a dent in the scene at that point?
Indeed he was, and I was one of his biggest fans at that point! To be honest, I went to the audition expecting to NOT get the gig but at least come away from it meeting him. I was beyond stoked to get the gig although far from a perfect experience, it was the beginning for me and part of this crazy ride I have had over 3 decades!
5. After Retribution, do you think you will work on a solo album between SOA projects? Do you crave more solo work?
I love doing the solo works in between statement albums, I don’t consider myself a solo artist really, they’re more an extension of who I am and what I do. At the moment, I feel there is a bit of a JSS overkill out there haha, so I’m concentrating mainly on my 2 passions, SOTO and Sons Of Apollo for now. That will keep me plenty busy into 2021!