Interviewed by Denys (Site Founder/Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Hi Jeff welcome back to Myglobalmind Webzine and thanks for taking the time again to answer some questions about your upcoming solo record “Damage Control”.
Myglobalmind: Last time we spoke you we’re hot on the heels of the highly well received W.E.T project; it’s been almost two years since then. How are you doing? I hear you are in London at the moment?
Jeff: Yes, its been a while as also its been a few years between releases which is why I thought it was time to get started on a new solo album since Beautiful Mess was released nearly 3 years ago. Yes, in London and many other cities in Europe at the moment doing quite a bit at this time!
Myglobalmind: Is hard to believe this is now your fifth solo album, that on top of the countless of projects and contributions you have been involved in for almost 30 years in the business. Still hanging tough dude, what’s your secret? You’ve become an iron man of sorts.
Jeff: There is no secret except that I am married to my work, I live a charmed life in that I can do what I always dreamed of doing for a living but at times it can get scarce which is why I stay so busy…not having the luxury of a monthly paycheck keeps me having to make sure things are always moving and I don’t lay back too long. It does help that not only do I love what I do and am so lucky to do this but through the years and with all this experience, I am quite fast in how I turn things over which makes for being able to squeeze in what seems like a lifetime of work into a 28 year span.
Myglobalmind: Welcome back with “Damage Control” a heavier hard rock/melodic rock record, you have said it before you wear your influences on your sleeve, which is why some of your work has varied from funk/pop, rock, metal etc. You as well as some of your fan base has always loved the Talisman and solo era of your career and after the successful W.E.T project last year, when did you decide you wanted to get back to a harder groove on the new record?
Jeff: I felt this after the release of the WET album and knowing there would be no more Talisman albums…I’ve always used Talisman as my more ‘hard rock’ launching pad and my solo career as a more ‘let me do what I feel like doing at the moment’. With that, I felt I wanted to rock so I rolled up my sleeves, made some calls and rounded up the best of who I could to make this album shine. On the same note, I wanted to pay a little forward so to speak, there are so many talented people I know and work with that are not otherwise known in the music world so I wanted to give them a chance to get their names out all the while helping me create a great album.
Myglobalmind: What’s the best quality of your new album “Damage Control” Jeff in your opinion?
Jeff: Just that it flat out rocks! And I am referring to the 14 song Deluxe Edition more than the 11 song one as there are 2 of 3 bonus tracks not on the Standard one that are of the heaviest nature I’ve done in years! Its diverse in that you can hear familiar aspects of who I am and what I’ve done but it’s also fresh, interesting and melodic. The talent really shines on this album as I have over 25 musicians on it to round it off including all of my co-writers performing on the songs they wrote.
Myglobalmind: I have a lot of respect for your wide range of genres and styles you have manage to cover in your musical landscape as I think it shows your versatility as an artist, but for me personally in regards to your solo career I have always thought that “Prism” and “Lost in Translation” we’re great records because you had the perfect mix of arena rock, hard rock and melodic all into one. Did you approach this new record the same as those?
Jeff: Yes and no, I did map out how many rockers I needed, how many AOR cuts, etc., but in the end I had more than I bargained for in which it was more about what was better for the completion of it. Thankfully I have such a long history with Frontiers who instead of sticking to the contract and standing their ground about ONLY having 11 songs on the final album, they gave me the respect of releasing the ‘directors cut’ with all 14 songs I felt were the true vision of it. The flow of the songs when having all 14 for me makes it fly by, like you can’t believe a whole hour has gone by…for me that’s a testament to something strong and I do hope others feel the same way.
Myglobalmind: Do you have any personal favorite’s cuts on the new record? I like the speedy up tempo groove of “Tears that I Cry” and the kick ass riff in “Afterworld”. I can see that one being a favorite live.
Jeff: Good choices, I think the 1st 2, Give A Little More and Damage Control, get me all hot and sweaty, the rockers on here really do it for me especially the 2 I mentioned, Take U Down and Afraid To Die, which are the bonus tracks…slamming stuff!
Myglobalmind: You have some nice guest musicians on top of your own solo band to help you out this time around, people like Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Jamie Borger (Talisman/Treat), Casey Grillo (Kamelot), and Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger). Is always a treat to hear the stories behind the music, how did you get in touch with people like Meniketti who I’m sure is one of your musical heroes?
Jeff: Well, on the Deluxe Edition, I go into more detail about each of the writers and songs so hopefully you guys will get that have the full stories…but with Dave, we were nearly done mixing the album as I was waiting for Mike Vanderhule, who drums for Y&T, to send me his tracks he’d played for the song BonaFide. He sent me the link in an email with a suggestion on getting Dave to play the solo on that song but I’d already had it played by Gary Schutt. I thought it would be superb if Dave would like to do it and in that we’re such good friends and he is one of the coolest in the business, he said yes without hesitation! Yes, he is a hero from way back, I love this band and his talents!
Myglobalmind: I read this somewhere and I thought it was amazing, so you stated recently that Kamelot the very popular metal band approached you at some point when they’re singer Khan left the band to see about helping them on tour on some of their live dates? How cool is that? Tell me about it because that would have been epic!!!
Jeff: It was just as everything went down when they released the recent album, unfortunately they needed me like on a moments notice and where normally I could move things around, I didn’t think I could learn their material fast enough to represent it properly. Khan is quite an important element to the fans expect about this band and although with enough time I am sure I could have done it well, I didn’t want to half ass it. They asked me to do a later tour they were planning and again, I had already committed to TSO and didn’t want to pull the rug from under anyone that late in the game. However, I started doing some research ‘just in case’ on the band and their material, good Lord, what a band! Very epic stuff and I am so happy to have made their acquaintance as it leaves open the whole ‘you never know’ thing. This is also where I discovered Casey Grillo and in that he is practically neighbors and buds of my longtime pal Gary Schutt, it was easy to drag Casey into doing a couple of tracks on DC.
Myglobalmind: You know Kamelot made a record about the Faust story a few albums ago, and you played the character of Mephistopheles on the TSO tours. Small world isn’t?
Jeff: I don’t know enough to know about Kamelot’s songs, themes or albums, have just heard a handful of their songs…but yes, small world, I’ll take your word for it.
Myglobalmind: Do you picture yourself tackling the metal genre anytime in the future?
Jeff: You do mean ‘again’ don’t you? Remember, I have a long history with Metal…Yngwie, Axel…I did a very heavy album called RedList which is still available on iTunes and a lot of other things that were more Korn sounding through the years. I certainly wouldn’t discount it for a possible solo album though, I still enjoy adrenalin music!
Myglobalmind: I read also that you will begin writing for the next W.E.T record soon, were you surprise of the feedback from that project?
Jeff: Yes, one of the things I am currently doing in Europe, I have 6 songs sung already so we’re well into it right now…it’s gonna be another scorcher! But yes, we were all shocked by the response from both the media to the buying public, it’s a nice feeling to be validated for the work you do!
Myglobalmind: You’re taking a break from the TSO tour in the spring to hit the road in support of your solo work. Excited about rocking the crowds again? It’s been a little while since you hit the road hasn’t it?
Jeff: Yes, taking a break as I needed to do a lot for DC in the promo end, get the WET album done as well as gear up for another tour this summer that will be announce on the day DC hits the street…something I am quite excited about and am hoping will become a regular thing in my curriculum annually if it takes off! I believe I have some dates and a festival in July as well but the real tour wont launch until the Fall which again, busy boy!
Myglobalmind: You’re always super busy when you’re not on tour or doing collaborations, etc. What was the highlight of last year? Was 2011 a good year for JSS?
Jeff: Every year for the past 4 has been a sort of Part 2 of my career, a time where I can start truly enjoying the fruits of all this hard work! 2011 was good but 2012 will be great and so on!
Myglobalmind: When you’re on stage live do you get any one particular request for songs from the crowd?
Jeff: I pretty much know what they want, they seem to want random things that only they might know though, I have to think overall on my live sets as I don’t want an audience of folks scratching their heads if I do something that might excite only 2 people! We have a great rapport though, I think I have a good grasp on the live front.
Myglobalmind: What’s the best cover song you have performed live?
Jeff: That’s a hard question, the most fun would have to be the funky medley I have done…it so doesn’t fit the normal rock show yet it fits so well overall!
Mygloblamind: What’s next for JSS for the rest of the summer and year?
Jeff: The tour I mentioned earlier which will be officially announced end of March, JSS dates, finishing the WET album, JSS tour and possibly another TSO tour to end the year…somewhere in there I might find a chance to nap!
Myglobalmind: Any breaking news you want to break to us? An exclusive for MGM?
Jeff: Wish I could, as I said, the touring news I mentioned will come out soon…otherwise I have given you the full JSS gamut for 2012!
Myglobalmind: Congratulations on another strong effort Jeff and thanks for taking the time is always fun. Final words are yours and much respect!!!
Jeff:Final words are support the music, support the artists and support the places like Myglobalmind who help support us all with the best in Hard Rock! JSS
Webzine Review for Jeff Scott Soto – Damage Control