Interview: Jeff Scott Soto

Jason Bullinger For Alternative Revolt

SOTO, the hard rock group featuring the amazing vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Sons Of Apollo, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, W.E.T. and Talisman) are releasing their new album, ‘Origami’ via InsideOutMusic on May 24. In advance of the album, Jeff was kind enough to talk with us about a variety of things including the songwriting on ‘Origami’, their latest video “HyperMania”, touring , and if he ever goes through a creative slump.

Alt Revolt: Congrats on a killer album!

Jeff Scott Soto: Thank you man! I appreciate that!

Alt Revolt: How excited are you to have it released this Friday (May 24)?

Jeff Scott Soto: I equate every album I do as an orgasm. There is build up and build up and finally the release date comes around . . . you orgasm, and then you go “OK, now what?” There is a big enthusiasm and you hope it’s going to resonate and people are going to enjoy it. The record company is behind it. The parameters are all in place to get it there. When they are not, that is when the orgasm becomes a “lame fuck”. (laughing)

We are extremely excited! I really hope the reception has been as good as all the positive and enthusiastic interviews I have done. I hope we get a million more like that.

Alt Revolt: I think it is my favorite of the SOTO albums.

Jeff Scott Soto: That is awesome! Thank you so much!

Alt Revolt: The video for “HyperMania” was just released today (May 17).

Jeff Scott Soto: That was by design or really not by design. We should have had this video out as the second single released. The “Origami” video should have come out today.  I think this made sense to hold onto this one and release it a week before the album is out. The video is already creating some controversy. I think it will generate enough excitement for the album and everything will go hand in hand.

Alt Revolt: The video has a lot of sharp contrast with beautiful dance movements positioned next to darker elements. Did you work with the director on the storytelling?

Jeff Scott Soto: Absolutely! I write lyrics in double entendre. I don’t like the listener to have to whole picture. I’m more like the author of a book rather than a director of a movie. If you watch a movie you get the entire thing and exactly what the movie is about. If you read a book, it might take you a week to get through it. It gives the visuals and imagination of what the story means to you. I always write with the intention of meaning one thing and pertaining to something else. When it came to the video, it became a triple entendre. There is a new third meaning of what the lyrics are about. I sent the director (Thiago Kiss) the lyrical content and he said he had another idea of where he wanted it to go. It will still pertain to the lyrics but it will have nothing to do with either one of your double entendres.

Alt Revolt: Did you work again with Gustavo Sazes for the album artwork?

Jeff Scott Soto: Yes. Our drummer Edu Caminato is very hands on with the music, production, and now the visual side of things.  When we came up with the album title ‘Origami’, he came up a conceptual idea for the artwork. He worked with our art guy and I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t know what he had in mind. When I first saw the artwork, I was taken back as it did not scream hard rock, metal, or prog band. It did not really make sense until I studied the design and imagery on the album cover. It reminded me that through the years I can’t stand putting out album covers that tell you what the music is about. I look at a lot of bands that put out album covers that give away the entire story. The cover for “Origami’ give you nothing about the ride you are going to take listening to the record. The old Rush covers were visually stunning. They didn’t make sense. I love anything that makes you think about it. That is what I love about Gustavo’s work.

I really want people to listen to this record and get the whole intend of what SOTO is about. I love this band. I love the guys in the band. I love the music. I hope it resonates with the rest of the world.

Alt Revolt: Did you take the same writing approach as you did with the prior SOTO albums?

Jeff Scott Soto: We have some of the same partners we used on the first few records. Not everyone came back but there a lot of return writers that were critical to the SOTO sound from the beginning. Tony Dickinson (bass) is the new guy in the band. He was imperative to the early sound of the band. He was a writer outside of the band before he joined. He has become a major creative force in the band. We revisited the people that established where we were, brought in a couple that we knew would help us and the band stepped up and turned these songs from others pens into SOTO songs.

Alt Revolt: Some of my favorites on the album are “World Gone Colder”, “Dance With The Devil”, and “AfterGlow”. Can you talk a little about these songs?

Jeff Scott Soto: “World Gone Colder” came from BJ who plays keys/guitars in the band. A friend of mine guitarist Léo Mancini from Brazil also helped with the song. He was in a band called Shaman and helped me with my solo records with Frontiers Records. Those two came up with the music for this song and when I heard it I thought it sounded like Talisman. That is one of the reasons I was excited to put it on the record. We were doing so many different styles and vibes on the record, I wanted something that represented the hard rock side that people know me for and needed to have that edge that sounded like SOTO. “Dance With The Devil”, and “AfterGlow” come from Tony. With “AfterGlow” the more I was digging the chorus, the melody, and lyrics something sounded empty to me. We tried adding some things but something was missing. I told Tony for some reason I hear a middle section with horns. When the band Extreme put horns in their songs, I hear that. They had hard rock songs with horns.  Tony said when I wrote that song and especially that section I wanted a horn section but I never brought it up because I thought you would crucify me. I said I would give you my blessing to put a horn section ensemble together and knock this fucker out! He did exactly that. I loved it so much! That was by design inspired by Extreme and Nuno and I was very happy that Tony was inspired by that and wrote those horns in there.

Alt Revolt: How was the South American tour?

Jeff Scott Soto: We did a shorter than normal tour. Unfortunately, with the timing and promoting we could not hit Mexico and Argentina. We wanted to get our feet wet again and get the band out there. We wanted to show people that this is a real thing. We wanted to show the label good faith and represent the record live. We are going back out in September for a European tour. The rest is a wait and see pattern.  We don’t want to force a tour. With SOTO being a new entity, I need the album to sit with people and for them to discover it, resonate and then the demand to begin. I do not want to take it to un proven territories.  I do not want to lose money. I do not want promoters to lose money. I want everything to be on the right focus before we take this thing on the road.

Alt Revolt: How did the acoustic shows with Jason Bieler come about?

Jeff Scott Soto: Jason and I have been friends since 1988. I think Jason was 18 years old. We do mostly all Saigon Kick material. We do a couple of my things that might work in the context of them knowing the songs. I do not like to do songs people have not heard before because the reaction is “why don’t they do a song I know”? The idea behind it was a bucket list idea I had. Before I die, I wanted to do one Saigon Kick show as their frontman. I brought this up to Jason once and he realized that Saigon Kick was being dissolved and he was heading into the singer/songwriter path. He said we should do that idea of the two of us going out and doing the songs and see how the reaction is. We love it and the crowd seems to be digging it. We just keep booking more. The show is so fun and hilarious. If you know anything about Jason, he is so clever, witty and intelligent. We add a lot of that in the show. It is very entertaining besides the music end of it.

Alt Revolt: From all the projects you do, do you have a favorite creative outlet or is it like picking a favorite child or dog?

Jeff Scott Soto: Pretty much nailed it on that one. I have so many different colors and many genres that I love to visit and not stay long. There is a lot of uncharted territory. Something like Sons Of Apollo, gives me a chance to really flex my muscles and challenge myself. Music to me needs to by challenging. If it gets boring or stale it becomes my job. Once it becomes my job I do not want to do it anymore. I want it to be exciting fresh and new. That is partially why I’m involved in so many different things. I get bored easily. Unfortunately, there are not too many bands or people in my past that can keep up to me. I don’t mean to be disrespectful or rude. It is just my own personal feeling. I love music so much. I want to do as much as possible as I can while I’m still on this earth.

Alt Revolt: Do you ever go through a creative slump?

Jeff Scott Soto: There always is a creative slump. Especially when you have been doing it as long as I have, you get to certain points and ask yourself, Is this good? Am I repeating myself? Am I trying to be too different? You start second guessing yourself. That is only normal. I think it is a good thing. That means you truly care. It truly represents what you are doing and putting that much effort into it.

Alt Revolt: Thanks again for your time and good luck with the new album. If you book a show in my area, I will definatley come out and see you.

Jeff Scott Soto: Thank you. I appreciate it. If I can get the people to catch onto this band believe me, I want to take it around the world especially my own back yard of the U.S.

SOTO – Line-Up:
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals
Jorge Salan – Guitar
Tony Dickinson – Bass
BJ – Keys/Guitar
Edu Cominato – Drums

Stay up to date with all things SOTO: http://www.sototheband.com

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Inside Out Music: http://www.insideoutmusic.com