Veteran rock vocalist, Jeff Scott Soto, will release his fifth solo album, “Damage Control,” on March 26, 2012. The CD is melodic rock at its best and Jeff’s vocals are truly amazing. I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff and talk about the new CD and find out what keeps him moving forward creatively.
KE: Hi Jeff! Your fifth solo album, “Damage Control,” is about to be released. Can you tell us a little bit about the CD and what prompted you to release a deluxe edition as well?
JSS: First of all, there are going to be two versions of the album. I’m really pushing for the deluxe edition because that’s kind of the director’s cut so to speak, the vision that I had for making this album. It had to be cut down because my record company only wanted eleven songs from me but I had fourteen that I was absolutely married to. Because of the loyalty and the years I’ve had with this company, they gave me the option to release two editions so I’m gonna go on record and only push the fourteen-song edition. For an extra couple bucks, you get videos, interview with me explaining the album and all the songs and you get three extra tracks.
KE: You can hear the influence of your earlier years in Soul SirkUS and Talisman throughout the record. Was that intentional on your part?
JSS: The record was something I was really looking forward to making because my last album, “Beautiful Mess,” was a bit of a departure for me musically and it’s something I really wanted to do. I knew it was gonna really please my hardcore, diehard fans. This album is sort of a return to what they would expect and what they would hope I would do and that’s why I was really looking forward to do it. I wanted to rock again and I pulled it off on the new album. I sat down with the record company and discussed it. They have an idea of what my fan base and what my audience wants. I did an project called, W.E.T, back in 2009, and the album was so well received and it had a lot of the melodic rock, hard rock flavors to it and it sold really well and it gave a huge boost for my name and my career that the label really wanted me to follow in those footsteps. But I didn’t want to make an album that sounded like that. It had to be me and sound like something I would create. They wanted me to kind of capture more of the hard rock, AOR kind of thing and so yeah, it was intentional. For all intents and purposes, I wanted to do something that had everything from mid-stream to the heavy edge of what people expect of me.
KE: I know you have some teasers of the record on your website. What has the reaction been like so far?
JSS: Yeah, they put the video on it so I think through that a lot of outlets are picking up. I don’t know what the actual numbers are. I’ve just been so engulfed in doing press work and a new W.E.T album. So my focus is on that.
KE: There are a lot of collaborations and guest artists on the new CD. Did that change your whole writing and recording process?
JSS: It absolutely did. The last album that I did, not “Beautiful Mess,” but “Lost in the Translation,” it had me sitting down with a guitar and kind of penning the entire thing, even musically. Where this time around, all the music that’s on this album, I went to outside writers and outside collaborators to give me the music and I would complete it with my melodies and my lyrics. With that, I’ve got over twenty five musicians contributing, but also a bunch of different writers including the guys in my solo touring band and guys from my past that I’ve had a yearning to work with. And people I didn’t even know I wanted to work with. So it’s a collaborative effort with a lot of different people and even the fact that I recorded it on three different continents simultaneously. It was a huge undertaking and the fact that we actually pulled it off in the course of three months, and the result, I’m actually quite amazed. One of these days, I’m gonna look back at this and say how the hell did I do this?
KE: (Laughing) Aside from logistics, were there any difficulties working with so many different people?
JSS: Absolutely not. It was probably the easiest process, easier than some of the albums that I made in the past with only four people on the same album. I think it was because there was such a respect. The people that I was working with they felt like they needed to step up. They wanted to step up to deliver the best that they could do and by me accepting them and asking them to be a part of my album and to actually co-write and play on it; they all stepped their game up probably two or three times more than they would if they were doing something on their own because they wanted to remain. If I came back and said ‘nah, it’s not good enough, no it’s ok, I’m gonna move on.’ So every single one of them raised their bar almost to the point where it excelled all my expectations and then some. And that’s what made the process that much easier in putting it all together and we were able to pull it off. It was a feat to be able to do it on three different continents and different states and the world all at the same time.
KE: There is some great guitar work on the record. I’m thinking in particular of the ballad, “BonaFide.” Who did the solo on that?
JSS: That was Dave Meniketti from Y&T.
KE: How was it working with Dave?
JSS: Dave is a great friend and he’s one of my musical heroes from high school. I remembered loving Y&T and listening to “Black Tiger” religiously. The fact that the guy has become such a great friend to me, it was always one of those things I had in the back of my head to do something with him. But I would have never dreamed because of the timing where I was at, he had just gotten off the road and gotten back home when I was mixing the album. We were about eight mixes deep and I got the drummer from Y&T, MikeVanderhule, who said he‘d love to play a track on the album. And I threw him “BonaFide,” and he actually played the drums on “BonaFide,” and I sent him the song. He did the track in the studio and sent it back to me and he said “you know what would sound great on this? Dave would sound amazing. You should ask him if he wanted to play a solo,” and I thought, he just got back from the tour, I know he’s ill and he’s gonna come up with every excuse in the book. And he didn’t. I went to him and I asked him if he would do it and he said so spontaneously “Yes.” It was more like “when do you need it by?” as opposed to “well, maybe next week.” It was amazing. There was no excuse that I expected might come up. So I was really stoked that I was able to get Meniketti on this.
KE: Is there anyone that you would like to work with in the future that you haven’t had the opportunity to do so with yet?
JSS: I made a short list of people that I wanted to work with on this album and for the most part I was able to get everybody that I did want to work with. But one of the ones that just couldn’t do it, time wise, was Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno’s been a huge influence and such a great guitar player and I’ve always loved Extreme’s music and I thought we could actually come up with some really cool stuff. The time didn’t allow us that this time around. So I’m hoping for the next that I can finally get together with Nuno and knock something out.
KE: Are you going to be touring in support of “Damage Control?”
JSS: Absolutely. I’m gonna be hitting the road I think closer to the end of the year, like in the fall. I’ve got a tour coming up that I can’t discuss yet. I think in another week or week and a half, the details of that will be revealed and announced. But that’s gonna take me into the summer, this tour that’s coming up in the U.S., and I think we’re gonna have some sporadic European dates leading into a festival late July. Somewhere in August I need to take a little bit of a break because I’ve been non-stop and then in September we start the “Damage Control” tour in South America and then into Europe and I’m hoping we can bring it to the U.S.
KE: That would be great. If you come to the States, we would sure love to see you.
JSS: I would love to do it. If I can drum up enough interest, I am so there.
KE: I saw that you did a benefit back in January for the Animal Rescue Foundation. How did you get involved with that, and is it something that you would be willing to do again in the future?
JSS: Absolutely,absolutely, absolutely! I can’t stress enough how much of an animal right’s activist I am, especially for the cruelty of animals. I’ve always had dogs, I’ve always had pets and I’m such a huge, huge animal person. I’ve known the LaRussa’s for many years now and I’ve known about the ARF Foundation that they have up in Walnut Creek, California. I actually played at one of their galas with Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain back in 2007, I believe it was. They do this thing every year where they raise money for their foundation. The education, even teaching our young about animal cruelty and how to save animals instead of extinguish them. It’s such a cool thing that I can’t stress enough how much I am behind this organization and all of the organizations like them. When they asked me to do it again this year, I said enthusiastically yes and I would do it every year if I could.
KE: That’s great. It’s such an awesome cause. I’ve got one final question for you Jeff. Your resume is so packed and you’ve been doing this for so many years. What motivates you to keep moving forward and to keep creating new music?
JSS: You know my motivation really comes from the fact that I’m so lucky that I’m still doing this 27 plus years later. The fact that I can actually sit here and talk to you about music, about the fact that I get to record music, that I get to play music, that I can make people happy and even myself happy with this beautiful thing called music. That’s my motivation alone, that’s all I need to get me through and to keep me interested and to keep me moving forward and wanting to do what I’ve been doing for all these years. It’s a charmed life. It’s something that’s very difficult to attain and even more difficult to hold onto. As far as I’m concerned, this is part two of my life. The first half of my career was learning the ropes and getting a name for myself and getting the respect of my peers and everything that has to do with learning the business, etc. And now my second half is getting to enjoy those benefits. People know who I am. People are buying my music. I get to sing. I get to record. I get to meet people. Everything about it is now at the enjoyable stages. And so I can’t give you anymore motivation than that. I’m just so stoked to be here.
KE: Awesome! Thank you for calling in today with us at Backstageaxxess.com, best of luck with the new CD and the tour plans.
JSS: That’s awesome. Thank you so much.
We would like to thank Carise Yatter from Hired Gun Media for setting up the interview with Jeff. For more information on the new CD “Damage Control” or Jeff Scott Soto in general, please go to: Jeff Scott Soto.