I had the chance to speak with vocalist/frontman/songwriter extraordinaire Jeff Scott Soto about Origami, the new album from his namesake band SOTO recently. The man is insanely busy with not only this band, but a metric ton of other projects, so I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to chat on the phone for a while. We talked about this new record, what’s happening with SONS OF APOLLO and much more. Have a look:
Jeff: Before we start, I just wanted to thank you for the killer review of the album. I guess I owe you some money for that one?
Amps: Not on your life, Jeff! The minute I heard “HyperMania” and the dirty boogie of “AfterGlow” I was hooked, man.
Jeff: You know what, “AfterGlow” is the sleeper tune of the album. It was almost relegated to a bonus track (*Amps shrieks*), and I got so many comments on it. I kind of thought, “Of all the songs, this one’s maybe not fitting in” but when we added the horns section it was a done deal. I said, “We’re onto something now.”
Amps: You are so busy. I mean it’s all of the time.
Jeff: You know what? A lot of people say that I’m a workaholic, but when you think about it this is what I do for a living. I do music for a living, and I am very fortunate to do music for a living, but at the same time, a person who goes to work from 9 to 5 to put food on the table is working just as hard as anyone out there. In my case, I don’t see it as work. I mean, I’m lucky enough that I get to do what I love doing, but I don’t see it as work. I get paid to have fun! Music to me is a joy, it’s a release of emotions, and I love that.
Amps: As far as writing goes, how often are you doing so?
Jeff: I don’t write just to write. I don’t write unless there’s a purpose, and that’s why the material is so focused. It’s not like I write tunes and then go to the vault to see what’s available for the next album. Every single album is written for the intent of THAT album and therefore everything is actually focused on what we’re doing at that time. It’s always been that way for me, from the early days to SONS OF APOLLO. We write for what we want that album to sound like.
Amps: You KNOW we can’t have this conversation without us talking about the SONS OF APOLLO debut record (Psychotic Symphony), right? And let’s take a moment to appreciate how awesome you were live when you hit the TLA in Philly!! You sir, are a world class frontman and singer!! And yeah, I’m fangirling!!
Jeff: Dude I’m gonna go broke from paying you for all these compliments (laughs)!! But seriously, thank you. I look at it as a testament to all the years I put into this. I’ve always done my best to do justice to what influenced me from the David Lee Roths to the Princes to the Freddie Mercurys of the world I knew I was born to be a singer and a frontman. And as far as that goes I strive to be the best I can be at that. I wanna entertain people, and the minute you have a lull in your live show you’ve pretty much signed your death warrant. So I do my best to keep the flow going and not to be boring. A band like SONS OF APOLLO, I guess I learned early on in my years with Yngwie, there’s a lot of solo spots, times where I’m not doing anything, so I find ways to fill certain sections without looking like a chode (laughs)!
Amps: I knew I’d have a good time at that show, but I didn’t expect to have THAT good a time!
Jeff: That warms my heart. Thank you, man!
Amps: So, before we get back to SOTO Officiale…see, I made it fancy!
Jeff: Oh, I like it!
Amps: What is going on with a new SONS record?
Jeff: We’re still tweaking and working on the new record, (again *Amps shrieks*) In fact, literally when I hang up with you I go and knock out the vocals for song #6. We’re chiseling away here and getting everything done and I anticipate an early January release. So this is my break, and I use that to reintroduce SOTO to the world. We have a new bass player in Tony Dickinson and it’s a beautiful time. At this time, at my age of 53 I can say I’m on a major label (InsideOut Music/Sony), and that’s not too common to find these days. I’m blessed and I’m gonna make the most of it the best I can.
Amps: Any chance of a U.S, SOTO tour?
Jeff: Right now, no. I do most of my touring in South America and Europe. They really get it. They’ve always been a hotbed for me, maybe because the majority of my career has been with European guitar players? I get to tour every year based on that alone. The U.S. unfortunately needs to catch up. I don’t wanna lose money taking the band on the road, you know?
Amps: Well, I’M gonna say it so you don’t have to: the U.S. NEEDS TO GET ITS HEAD OUT OF ITS ASS (Jeff Laughs)!! Because Europe and South America get all the best tour packages and festivals, while here in the U.S. we get FIVE FINGER DICK PUNCH headlining every summer!!
Jeff: You just said it all. The bottom line is that the only way you’re gonna see your favorite acts is that they have to be found out about. We don’t have radio and MTV like we used too. We have other tools, sure, and to be honest with you, SOTO is not really geared toward my longtime fans. A lot of ’em don’t really like it. They’d rather I keep doing what I’m doing with the Melodic Rock stuff. Well, guess what? That’s not selling well enough to put on the road, either.
Amps: That chorus to “HyperMania” is in my head constantly, thanks to you!!
Jeff: (Laughs) that’s fucking awesome! Honestly, it’s a dream to hear that, and it’s the kind of stuff you live for. As an artist and a writer you live for the moments where somebody says, “Man I can’t get this song out of my head!” so thank you. Thank you very much. You’re making my day right now!
Amps: what do you like to do as far as relaxing or unwinding, away from music?
Jeff: I wish I had an answer for that because I’m not resting. Right now I’m on the promotional trail for SOTO, I’ve got gigs with Jason Bieler from SAIGON KICK. We’ve got these acoustic shows, and now we have a lot more booked this year with our new agent. I’m also going to Russia later this year. I barely have time to hit the gym daily. To be honest with you, I do nothing else. I’m doing music full-time at the moment, and I’m thankful for that.
Amps: What would you like to say to all your fans out there?
Jeff: What I want to say is this: SOTO is a new beast, please give it a chance. Thank you for everything we’ve been able to do so far, and now there’s a new kid in town. It’s called Origami. please and thank you for checking it out. Hopefully you love it because I wanna come and play everywhere you guys are!
Jeff Scott Soto has one of the bestest and coolest attitudes in the business. He is a genuine, down-to-earth nice guy who truly loves what he does and is genuinely thankful that he can. Origami is an excellent record, and if you don’t already own it, you should remedy that posthaste!
LIVE IMAGE: HRISTO SHINDOV