Music Incider interviews Jeff Scott Soto from Soul Sirkus –
Music Incider Magazine
Soul Sirkus is the new supergroup. Give me a fucking break. Neil Schoen from Journey on guitars, and lets not even talk about how fucking fantastic Marco Mendoza is on guitar or how many shots I have of him in my private collection. –This interview is about the man, the singer, the one that ties it all together-Jeff Scott Soto. Read on.
MI: What is your birthday?
Jeff: November 4th, 1965.
MI: Tell us where you got the name Soul Sirkus from.
Jeff: The word soul automatically stuck with me. I was trying to find a word that went with the word soul and soul circus just rolled off.
MI: What is your favorite track off of the new album?
Jeff: It’s really hard to say. For me it’s like trying to choose your favorite child. You like certain ones certain ways because of their personalities. There’s not one real standoff track that I can say is my favorite.
MI: Tell us about you music history.
Jeff: It’s hard to put into words. It’s pretty extensive from everything to my influences to not having any formal training. I took a few lessons in high school and learned how to play trumpet. That’s how I learned how to read music.
MI: What is the most memorable show you’ve played live?
Jeff: October of 2002 in Los Angeles… The band Queen got their star on the Hollywood walk of fame and I’ve known the guitar player for a few years prior to that. The night they got their star they had a jam afterwards at a club and asked me to sing with them. That was a lifelong dream to sing with Queen and it came true that night.
MI: What is the most fucked up thing you’ve seen on tour?
Jeff: It was back in 1987, we had just finished an opening spot for Iron Maiden and it was the end of the night. My whole band was getting lit and back then I didn’t drink a drop of beer much less anything else. We were on the bus getting ready to go back to the hotel and someone mentioned there was a bootlegger outside selling shirts. One of my band mates hated bootleggers more than anything and immediately ran out and smashed his beer bottle over the guys head. The guy looked at him, dropped the shirts, and ran away with blood gushing down his head.
MI: Have you ever inhaled?
Jeff: I have maybe twice in my life.
MI: What do you think about the legalization of drugs?
Jeff: I think it’s all just silly. I think it should be legal. In a controlled legal environment people wouldn’t have to sneak off and do it in such an illegal way. Alcohol should be as illegal as marijuana if their going to ban marijuana.
MI: Who do you think the five greatest vocalists of all time are?
Jeff: Not in any particular order, Steve Perry, Freddy Mercury, Sam Cook, and Jeff Scott.
MI: Where did you get your inspiration as a musician?
Jeff: Mainly the music I was surrounded by. I guess my family would be the main inspiration because there was always music and parties and celebrations. There was always dancing, music, and lots of cheer. Both of my parents were singers and they were on the verge of getting signed but then my mom got pregnant with my older brother.
MI: How did the death of Dimebag Darrel affect you?
Jeff: It was like any other situation in the way it took place. I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought it was some kind of publicity stunt or something. I only knew Dimebag on several occasions we’ve met on. It puts so many emotions in you from anger, to hatred, to sadness.
MI: Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Jeff: I was in Tampa and was trying to get an earlier flight to NY before it happened and the lady told me it was a 300 dollar upgrade, so I said fuck it I’ll wait. Good thing I did because that flight would have been diverted and I would have had to spend an extra week in some other airport. At least I got to stay in Tampa.
MI: If you could design a memorial for the victims of 9-11 what would it be?
Jeff: I wouldn’t replace it. I would just build some sort of memorial.
MI: What do you think of the US involvement in the Middle East?
Jeff: Everyone has their own comments and I’m a Democrat by trade. I don’t really agree with the Republican way of thinking. I absolutely do not agree that we belong there.
MI: What album has made the greatest influence on your life?
Jeff: A Night At The Opera.
MI: Tell us about Axel Rudi Pell.
Jeff: He’s a good guy, he’s a funny guy, but his music isn’t my cup of tea. When I continued playing with him it was because I didn’t know how to tell him, nicely, that I didn’t want to do music with him anymore.
MI: What are your thoughts on these packed festivals like Ozzfest and Lollapalooza?
Jeff: I think they’re necessary. It’s obvious theirs a decline in interest in tours so they put these packages together to ensure they have a good amount of audience. It’s great for the baby bands too that wouldn’t normally get this kind of exposure.
MI: What do you think about the battle of Ozzfest show?
Jeff: I think its great entertainment. I love that show. I don’t agree with the whole making of a pop star in that form, but it’s a different era and there are so many artists that have evolved that way and we don’t even know it.
MI: What do you think about the MTV today as opposed to the MTV we grew up with?
Jeff: Obviously they put more entertainment behind it than just playing music videos. I don’t think it should be called Music Television anymore. They should have re-titled it. Everything has to evolve to survive…
MI: Tell us about your relationship between Takara and Talisman.
Jeff: There’s a huge difference. With Takara I was never actually a band member. It was more like a guest appearance artist for that. Talisman has been a long time band and project of mine for many years. It’s the longest of my career actually. It’s something I really enjoy.
MI: What solo projects are you working on?
Jeff: I did my 3rd solo album which came out late last year and did a European tour for that. As soon as that was done it was time for Soul Circus.
MI: If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring two people, two books, and two CDs what would you bring?
Jeff: The Night Of The Opera album and Prince – Sign Of The Times. I’m huge on autobiographies… That’s pretty much all I read.
MI: What about the world pisses you off the most?
Jeff: The same things that have always pissed me off; Hatred, war, and racial indifference.
MI: If you were God for a week what would you change?
Jeff: I want to say something deep but then there are so many comical things that come to mind as well. I would definitely put myself on a higher pedestal than where my career has me now. I would make people say that Jeff Scott is God.
MI: Do you believe in psychics?
MI: Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
MI: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Jeff: I see traits in different people of things that were here once before.
MI: If you could come back as anyone who would it be?
Jeff: A Golden Retriever. They’re the happiest dogs in the world and nothing bothers them.
MI: If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Jeff: Definitely Freddy Mercury.
MI: Who was your hero growing up?
Jeff: I hate to say it now, but when I was a little kid Michael Jackson was my hero. He was only a few years older than me and he was achieving everything I ever wanted to.
MI: Who influenced your vocal style?
Jeff: All of my favorite singers. Everything was formed from all of them. From Freddy Mercury to Steve Perry to Michael to Tom Jones, Sam Cook, Jackie Wilson…
MI: When you’re not writing or playing music what are you doing?
Jeff: I play basketball pretty much everyday of the week. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Honestly, there’s not too much else I do besides music.
MI: Are you married or single? And are there any children?
Jeff: I’m married and I have one child from my first marriage.
MI: Has your child followed in your footsteps?
Jeff: No, he’s basically musically retarded. He was born to be a music lover and that’s it.
MI: What advice would you give to a young person getting into the music business?
Jeff: I’m not one of those people to direct people away from it. I look at it as there is room for everybody because we need new and fresh talent. Be yourself and don’t follow trends. When you jump on the bandwagon and start following trends is when you’re going to get lost. If you really want it and persist then you’re going to get it.
MI: If you had a million dollars to donate to charity what charity would it be?
Jeff: It would definitely be something children related. If anyone deserves a chance in life it’s definitely kids. As adults we have all experienced life but children have not.
MI: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Jeff: God Father.
MI: What message would you like to send to your fans?
Jeff: It’s been a 20 year roller coaster and to those who have actually stuck with me I thank you. Any musician should be so grateful to make a living and have the support of others.
MI: What is your favorite quote?
Jeff: Stella, I could have been a contender!