Don't you dare to say that this name doesn't ring a bell for you! Jeff Scott Soto is the real legend of the whole hard rock and heavy metal scene, the voice that launched many bands into the first echelon of rock music. His collaborations featured Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Takara as well as (at times confusing but lately very successful) solo career. Being overwhelmed with emotions is the least that can be said to discribe how you feel when talking to him. But action, not words! Here is Mr. 'The Voice'. Hello, Jeff! How are you doing?

Jeff Scott Soto: I'm fine, thanks. OK, since we have the time limit we might probably stick to the mostly unknown or rarely mentioned moments of your career.

Jeff Scott Soto: Alright, no problem. But first I'd like to start from the very beginning of your carrer. How did it all start?

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, I first didn't listen to hard rock music at all. I loved soul and rock'n'blues bands like Jackson 5 and others alike... I guess you had it in your blood since half of your family is black.

Jeff Scott Soto: Yeah, that's right, I went crazy over those bands. But later I got into hard rock music like Journey and others and I loved the energy of those bands. I also knew Spanish and listened to several Latin American bands. Did you learn to play any instrument or did you start as a singer?

Jeff Scott Soto: No, I used to play trumpet in a band with my brother. I also could play piano and tried to play along with my favorite soul and blues artists. Some time later you joined Yngwie J. Malmsteen and that was the launch of the Rising Force. How did it happen?

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, Yngwie was starting a band and he was living in Los Angeles and was checking around to find a singer for his band. So I sent a tape and got a call from his management asking me to come to the auditions. I came and was accepted, that's the way it went. So there followed several triumphant years with Yngwie but you left the band. Why?

Jeff Scott Soto: First I should say that I wasn't working with Yngwie, I was working for Yngwie. We never had a real partnership, never were in the equal position. And that did not concern our personal relations, it was the management and all the people from Yngwie's camp. Also I didn't like the fact that the music was quite rough and lyrics were too dark, I was more into melody but was not the leading force of the band so I just quit to do what I wanted to without so much pressure. So you joined the band Driver. Was it the same Driver that later went on to become M.A.R.S. and record the album "Project Driver" in 1987 with Rob Rock as a singer?

Jeff Scott Soto: Yes, that was the very same band but in its early stages. Basically the whole Driver band was based around ex-Ozzy Osbourne and ex-Quiet Riot members Rudy Sarzo (bassist) and Tommy Aldridge (drummer) who were trying to get the record contract. I joined the band and really liked the direction. But the situation here was almost the same as in Yngwie since management ruled over all. When I joined the band I managed to make guitarist Craig Goldie leave Giuffria and join the band making the previous guitar player leave. However, when the band thought I was not right for them because we couldn't succeed for a while I was skipped too. It is also a well-known fact that you worked with ex-KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent. How did it come around?

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, I actually sang background vocals on the 2nd album of Vinnie Vincent Invasion "All Systems Go" (1988). And some time later Vinnie contacted me and asked to sing on several demos he made because he wanted to shop them to various record companies to get the new record deal. So can you tell me more about Vinnie as a person? He's said to be quite weird...

Jeff Scott Soto: No, he was never like that with me. He was very kind and treated me very well. I was at his home and we recorded everything fast and I never got to know that side of his personality that many people talk about. OK, let's talk about that band Kryst The Conqueror. What was the band all about and why the full-length album was never released?

Jeff Scott Soto: Actually the whole project was organized my some ex-members of Misfits who wanted to get into a more positive musical direction rather than Misfits. The music was going to be more melodic and that's why I took the pseudonym of Kryst The Conqueror. Actually all members had pseudonyms. But before the recordings were over the band was finished, the band split up. Also the quality of those recordings was not good enough and we failed to find a record contract as well. Another unknown fact of your career concerns work with ex-Megadeth axeman Jeff Young...

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, in most of such cases it happened or happens in the following way. People ask me to record vocals, we discuss details, I do my part of the job and get paid for what I do. With Jeff it was more or less the same thing. But since those recordings were never released I wonder what was the music like? Obviously it couldn't be in the vein of Megadeth.

Jeff Scott Soto: No, no, nothing like Megadeth. The music was in the style of Journey and Aerosmith. In the mid-1990s you released the debut solo album "Love Parade" (1995) and later to promote the album the album "24th Of June: Alive'n'Kissing" was released only as a promo. How did it happen that you, Michael Voss (ex-Mad Max, Casanova, Demon Drive), Neal Grusky (Takara) and some other musicians played on that album?

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, when my debut album was released the record company decided to organize a press conference and invite many reporters from various countries. That was the way that many people could gather in one room and ask many different questions and find out everything they wanted to know. And just before it happened we thought that it could be interesting to play an acoustic set after all the questions were answered. So the set was recorded and released but in very small quantaties. Also can you comment on all events that happened with Talisman? Why did you need Human Clay and Humanimal?

Jeff Scott Soto: Talisman was formed in early 1990s and went on to tour and release albums up to 1995. That's when we decided to put the band on ice since the latest album did not sold as good as the previous ones. And we were also having troubles with our guitar player. That's when we got an offer to do a Human Clay album. It was supposed to be just one album as Human Clay but the record company proposed the second one and we recorded it but that was the end. Then we re-launched Talisman and recorded one more album but it failed again and Marcel got an offer to make an album so we decided to call it Humanimal after a Talisman album title so people could know it were the same people from Talisman. The whole album became possible also due to our guitar player at that time Pontus Norgren. He released an album through that company (Z Records) and helped us sign the contract. And after the album was released troubles with the record company started piling up so we abandoned the whole thing. Soon we found the right guitar player for Talisman in Howie Simon and the band is now up and running. When you worked with Axel Rudi Pell you had keyboard player whose name was Julie Greaux. What is now happening with her?

Jeff Scott Soto: To tell you the truth, I got no idea. She was my fiancee and songwriting partner and I once brought her with me to Germany because I knew that Axel needed a keyboard player so Julie became a part of the line-up. But then we parted and I don't know what happened to her later. I've heard that she played with Billy Joel but that's all I know. By the way, talking about Axel. Many of my friends consider you last album with Axel "Magic" (1997) to be the best one of all your years with him and one of the best he ever recorded.

Jeff Scott Soto: Really? I can't believe it. (Pause) Well, the whole album was done not in the way that it could be done. I recorded my stuff in the States and Axel finished the album in Germany. He wanted me to go on tour with him but I couldn't because I had many projects and recordings and I was also working with Boogie Knights so I had to leave Axel because of my unavailability. You also worked with Yngwie again on the album "Inspiration" (1996). How did it happen and didn't you plan to go on tour?

Jeff Scott Soto: Yngwie called me and asked to do a song with him. I said, "No problem! I'll come and do it!" So we were in his studio, spent some time together and even planned to go on tour. But that's when management got in our way again and screwed up the whole thing. That's why Mark Boals went on tour instead of me. But I have the video clip of "Carry On Wayward Son" with Mark Boals lip-syching to your studio singing and the clip is shot live at a concert somewhere.

Jeff Scott Soto: (very suprised) Really? I never heard about it! Is it that very studio version with my vocals in the clip? Yes.

Jeff Scott Soto: Unbelievable! That's the second time when Mark is lip-syching to my vocals in the history of Yngwie. So when was the first time?

Jeff Scott Soto: It was just when I left the band on the song "I'll See The Light Tonight". Mark had short hair when he joined Yngwie for the first time and had to use hair extensions to become a real metal singer. That's when they took a live version of "I'll See The Light Tonight" and Mark was lip-syching to my voice in the clip. Some people even didn't know it was Mark in the clip. So what do think if Yngwie calls you tomorrow and proposes to go on tour together? Would you do that?

Jeff Scott Soto: I think I will. But only if we have equal rights and equal partnership and the management wouldn't dictate to us what to do or say. If it happens in the right way I'm all for that. I also wanted to know your opinion on the current state of rock music in the States and Europe. Do you think that the European audience was always much more loyal than the American one?

Jeff Scott Soto: Yes, I agree with you. If you have fans in Europe they will be there today and many years later and you can always rely on them. I think the situation with music in the States reminds of a cake; you can only eat it when it's fresh. When time is up it's rotten and can only be thrown away. The last question is about the book written about you by a fan in Germany. I have the book but it's in German. So is it possible that it would be translated into English?

Jeff Scott Soto: Well, I have no idea about it. I was really surprised to know about the book myself. I thought, "Wow, somebody's writing a book about me!" The guy contacted me and asked questions about my past. I also cannot read the book but I think if the guy gets enough requests he might publish the book in English one day. Well, Jeff, we're running out of time. In the end I would like to express my biggest thanks for all your years in the world of rock music and hope for many more to come!

Jeff Scott Soto: Thank you for the interview. It was great! Bye!

Dead Ripper
(December, 2003)

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