BIOGRAPHY BY: AUSTIN JENKINS
Jeff Scott Soto is one of the most versatile and respected vocalists in the business today. He has worked with such diverse
artists and bands as Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell, Journey, Talismen, and Soul Sirkus. He has appeared on dozens of
albums, both as a lead and backing vocalist, including albums by Steelheart, Lita Ford, Stryper, and Saigon Kick. One of his
most successful ventures was doing a selection fo the lead vocal tracks for the "Rock Star" movie, starring Mark Wahlberg. He
currently has just finished a new solo album and is gearing up for its release sometime later this year.
INTERVIEW BY: AUSTIN JENKINS
Austin: First off, who do you consider your main vocal influences?
Jeff: Not in any particular order, Freddie Mercury, Sam Cooke, Steve Perry, & Terence Trent D'Arby. Most
assume I would list more rock or metal singers but honestly I was never influenced by any, I may
have enjoyed some of this genre's work but I never emulated or used those guys as springboards
for my own style.
Austin: Have you had any vocal training to develop your voice into what it is today? If so, did you start before your career
began, or did it come later .. you were already an established singer?
Jeff: None whatsoever, I've only been to a vocal coach 4 times in 2002 before I had nodule removal
surgery in my throat (this was required by the surgeon as my lack of technique/knowledge was
what got me to that condition & would not perform the surgery unless I took a preventative course
in breathing & singing) & 1 time with an amazing vocal coach who Steve Perry went to for a long
period of time by the name of Joel Ewing in Los Angeles. I went to Joel right at the beginning of my
tenure with Journey to help me reshape the top tenor my voice naturally was in my youth, it
really helped a lot & I still use this warmup technique today even though not singing those top
Austin: Have you ever used any books/CDs/DVDs to help develop your voice? If so, which ones?
Jeff: None, I tried some courses but not everyone is the same, there's not one book or course that's
universal enough for everyone. The voice is like a fingerprint, everyone different therefore there
are different things that work & certainly more things that don't work for each individual singer.
Austin: when you started out, how often did you practice?
Jeff: I never actually practiced, I pretty much just sang to everything, all the time. You couldn't shut me up
as a kid! I have been singing as long as I've been talking, it was always a natural thing for me,
music in general, there was no doubt in
anyone's mind that this would be my calling. If we had American Idol 20 years ago, you bet your
ass you'd see me on it!
Austin: Do you have any idea of what your current range is?
Jeff: I'm at a high baritone now, I was never a tenor but could sing anything in the upper range with ease…
and the genre of 80's hard rock always called for that. Just before I got the nodes is when I noticed
it was a little harder reaching the high note at the end of the opera section of Bohemian Rhapsody
(yes, that Bb above high C on a piano!) & definitely when I healed from the surgery, I had come
down a notch with my natural range. Thankfully most of that stuff today is quite silly to sing that
high & I can do contemporary music in a man's range, haha.
Austin: Did your higher or lower registers come more naturally to you?
Jeff: Higher when I was younger, lower as I am older….naturally
Austin: You've got an extremely powerful head voice; did it come naturally or did you have to work to develop it?
Jeff: Like I said, I never really developed it, it really came from emulating singers like Ronnie James Dio &
Bruce Dickinson or even Lou Gramm, I thought anyone who could sing well could sing like that, I
didn't realize how diferent I was until I started recording. But even the 2 albums I did with Yngwie
Malmsteen are miles apart, strangely, my vocals were recorded only months apart. The 1st album,
I really sound my age (I did those vocals 2 months before 19th birthday) & the 2nd was about 1
month after I turned 19. I heard an immediate maturity especially since I didn't want to sound like a
kid, I wanted that majestic Dio tone so people wouldn't treat me like a kid.
Austin: When you are preparing to sing, do you do a warm up? If so, what does the warm up consist of, and about how long
does it take to perform. After singing, do you warm down?
Jeff: I often do my Joel Ewing warmup if I'm a bit tired or worn from touring, otherwise I don't usually need
it. I should be doing warm downs but get too lazy & undisciplined on the road, its hard to be
motivated when end of shows usually consist of dressing quickly for meet n greets & then you roll
off onto the next city. The warmup is about 15 minutes long…it was tailored to my voice & needs
for what I do, it wouldn't work for anyone else I don't think.
Austin: What sensations do you feel in your throat when you sing raspy as opposed to singing clean? Do you feel it more in
the soft palate or somewhere else in the throat?
Jeff: I've done a 180º turn on the raspy stuff, I used to have the pure, clean voice like Steve Perry &
Tommy Shaw when I was a kid into my early 20's. Because I had the power, I was able to add the
gruff to my voice when I needed it. As I got older (especially after the surgery) I found the cleaner
voice was the harder to get, the raspy, huskier voice comes out with ease, almost wanting to be
that all the time. I refuse to let my voice control me so I know how to get the clean out when I need
it & naturally the rasp out which works most of the time with rock.
Austin: Where do you feel your breath support when singing? Do you use what Jaime calls the "Power Push"? (the Power Push
is a technique where you push down like your using the restroom to keep from vocal strain).
Jeff: Never heard of the Power Push, I don't know if I wanna picture that one! I have learned to sing from
the diaphragm though, I used to be all throat.
Austin: When your doing raspy vocals, do you get louder?
Jeff: I have full control over the volume whether singing soft or raspy, I used to love how Klaus Meine of
Scorpions got those multi toned notes in his voice while even singing softly, I taught myself that &
can do both softly & loudly.
Austin: A lot of people know you for your work for the Rock Star movie, mainly "Stand Up and Shout". When your singing the
power parts of that song, are you singing extremely loud, adding more push, or doing anything differently than
normal to get that tonality?
Jeff: I did that session before my throat surgery, you're getting nodule city on that performance When I do
it now, yes I have to push it because it wants to come out more clean sounding if I don't. Emulating
something I did when my throat was in a bad way is strange now, I find it almost damaging to do
because it was so natural then without even trying to sound like that.
Austin: How do you change up your vocal approach when your singing something by Queen as opposed to when your singing
something for Yngwie?
Jeff: Singing the Yngwie stuff to me MUST be done the way I sing now, I couldn't/wouldn't do the way I did
in my youth, sounds too silly to me. As I mentioned, on those albums I was emulating Dio & now it
would be silly to do, my voice has matured enough, as has my career, I can just be me & let it
happen. Singing Queen stuff is different though, that really brings me back to my youth & I feel I
have to emulate Freddie's way of singing the songs otherwise it would sound completely wrong to
me. I feel the more I try to sound like Freddie (even though I know I don't, no one does!) the more
I'll do the songs justice to those hearing me do them.
Austin: What kinds of things do you do when your sick to keep your voice in shape?
Jeff: Lots of fluids, lots of sleep & as little talking as possible. There is no way around it when you're sick,
sometimes you even have to alter the performances to get through them but taking good care of
yourself will keep it intact until you get well, I've never had to cancel any tour or show from being
too sick & we're talking about a 23 year career here.
Austin: A lot of singers have problems singing early in the morning. When you have some kind of appearance to do in the
morning, what do you do to get your voice ready for it?
Jeff: I definitely have this problem, my voice isn't ready to go until hours after I've been awake. Usually the
night before, I will take a few sleeping pills VERY early so I can get a full night's sleep & wake up
hours before I'm supposed to sing. There was a time I had to do a morning news show singing at
9am but the gig the night before didn't end till 2:30AM, flight over was at 6…naturally I got GREAT
sleep the day before & stayed up all night & morning until I was done, then passed out after the
news thing, it was live, no second takes!
Austin: I want to talk about your studio approach. First off, do you have your own home studio that you do most of your
work in, or do you do most of your work in a regular studio? If you have a home studio, what kind of equipment do you
Jeff: I do have a basic home studio, started with the Alesis ADAT format then graduated to Pro Tools once I
realized I had to get with the times. I love Pro Tools, it's very easy for me to use & adapts to every
format of hard drive recording out there. Since 1991, I have recorded my own vocals, by myself
with no one in the room, not even an engineer (with the exception of a few sessions here & there).-
Austin: How do you approach vocal tracking? Do you do several takes then comp together the best parts in the end, or
some other method?
Jeff: let me get one thing out here, I HATE COMPING!!!! I cant stand singing the song 8 times & having
someone get the best lines or words here & there until the song is done. When I am on my own
recording, if I don't know the song or it is too new & I am still creating it as I am singing it, I will go
verse for verse, chorus for chorus until I get to the end, then review from top to bottom. Usually I
hear things that can be improved on, so I fix them & then live with a few days while continuing with
others. After everything gets final reviewing & I can live with it, then it's done. That to me is
a better way & it's like comping because you know if it's not right you can back to it, singing it 40
times while you're still learning the song will sound to me in the end like you sang a song you don't
really know 40 times!
Austin: Do you use things like pitch correctors and harmonizers while recording?
Jeff: No way, hell no. you have the luxury of overdubs & punching it in until it's right, there's no need for
that stuff unless you flat out can't sing.
Austin: How do you keep your voice from blowing out after hours of tracking vocals?
Jeff: This is why I like my technique of recording, my way, I can usually knock out a full performance in 20
minutes to an hour which means I am not oversinging therefore preserving for the next day. Singing
it over & over will blow you out & that's not good for deadlines, pressure & stress can blow you
without singing a note!
Austin: Do you use any kinds of vocal sprays or teas to keep your voice in shape? If so, what ones?
Jeff: On the Journey tour, I used a spray called Entertainer's Throat, it's a mixture of glycerol & aloe vera
with flavoring as it can taste quite nasty, but great for the throat. I also use Advil daily (4 about an
hour before singing, doctor's dosage is 800mg, those little tablets are only 200mg) as it is an anti
inflammatory. I also discovered herbal tea with, and this is important, raw organic honey, not this
pasteurized crap in a little plastic bear, the real deal that comes from the honeycomb before they
boil out all the nutritional values from it. Raw organic honey has natural antibodies that
repair broken tissue, the throat is so delicate & takes lots of abuse on tour, this stuff is a natural
miracle worker, do the research, you'll see I'm right
Austin: Give me a summary of a normal day in the studio for you? What things do you work on first, do you start with lead or
backing vocals, about how long does it take you to do the vocals for each song, etc.
Jeff: Discussed above except for the fact that I love to sing at night. I am a vampire by nature because I
find I get more done during the non-distraction hours, meaning when the rest of the world is
asleep! If I get up at about 11AM, I wont even start singing until about midnight, after a good
workout &/or steam when everything is up & operating. I know I don't have to get to the bank,
someone's gonna call or I have to feed the dogs. It's my time & I can really dig into it as well, my
voice is at its peak 12 hours after I've woken up.
Austin: On the other end of the scale, whats a normal day on the road for you? Do you have any pre show rituals you
Jeff: Depends on the situation, with my band, I can pretty much do whatever & hit my mark every night. I
Iike to have some drinks after or even before shows to loosen up, sleep deprivation doesn't really
affect me either. But with Journey it was more like a disciplined student of Mr. Miyagi (come on,
remember The Karate Kid!). I literally woke up, went to the gym, had lunch, did soundcheck,
warmed up, did the show, didn't speak much to anyone, went to bed & got my 8 hours sleep, no
booze, not even a beer, no social conversation, nothing. I was quite boring but I had to be, I
was singing this tenor that I'd left behind me years prior & had to be ON every night, sick or not,
rain or shine. These days I practice a little of both regiments.
Austin: Now, what do you have in the works for 2008? Are there any new projects or shows in the works?
Jeff: I've just finished my new solo album last month, which there is no set release date as of yet. Am
currently singing on the new Trans Siberian Orchestra album (Night Castle) & next month touring all
of Europe with some friends from Brazil called Tempestt. I have a few shows & events here & there
with the SAS Band (members of Queen's touring band) but will then concentrate on the release of
my new album & hope to be touring by the Fall for it. Also there are talks of a new Talisman album
since now we can continue without other bands being the reason it wasn't a good idea to continue.
Austin: In closing, what is the biggest piece of advice you would give to singers wanting to break into the industry?
Jeff: : I got criticized years ago for being in so many bands, singing on so many albums, appearing here &
there, blah blah, I say screw them all. I learned everything I did because I took on experiences &
challenges that made me who I am today. Take all you can get, learn as much as you can, be a
sponge & understand the business before you enter it, it's more cutthroat than one can imagine, no
one really is your friend & if they say they are, those are the ones who will screw you 1st! Take
care of number always, but remain humble, nobody likes a cocky son-of-a-bitch when
you're nobody & working you're way up, save that for when you are somebody & even then, stay
true to yourself. It's a quicker ride down than the ride up & you never know who you'll run into on
either side of the tracks! Most important, never burn your bridges, take the high road & stay
JEFF'S SOLO RELEASES
1995 - Jeff Scott Soto presents Love Parade CD
2002 - Jeff Scott Soto (JSS) - Prism CD
2002 - Jeff Scott Soto - Holding On EP CD
2002 - Jeff Scott Soto - Live at the Gods CD
2002 - Jeff Scott Soto - Live at the Gods DVD
2003 - Jeff Scott Soto - Live at Queen International Fan Club Convention DVD
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto - Believe in Me EP CD
2004 - Jeff Scott Soto - Lost in the Translation CD
JEFF'S LEAD VOCAL SESSIONS - THE 80's
1982 - Eternity - demo-recording (UNRELEASED)
1982 - Kanan - demo-recording (UNRELEASED)
1984 - Seducer (Coverband) - live-concerts (no known recordings were made)
1984 - Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - s/t
1985 - Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - Marching Out
1985 - Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - Studio/Live '85 EP
1986 - Doug Farrar - demo-recording (UNRELEASED)
1986 - Scarlet Harlot - several live-appearances (ex-Secuder)(no known recordings were made)
1986 - Panther - s/t
1986 - Various Artists - L.A. Steel (w/previously-unreleased Panther track)
1988 - Jeff Young (ex-Megadeath) - demo-recordings (UNRELEASED)
1988 - Kuni - Lookin' For Action
1989 - St. Valentine - demo-recordings & production (UNRELEASED)
1989 - Alex Masi - Attack Of The Neon Shark
1989 - Kryst The Conqueror - Deliver Us From Evil (UNRELEASED full-length album)
1989 - Kryst The Conqueror - Deliver Us From Evil EP *
JEFF'S LEAD VOCAL SESSIONS - THE 90's
1990 - Albert Morris (ex-3rd Stage Alert) - demo-recording (UNRELEASED)
1990 - Joe Mina (ex-St. Valentine) - demo-recordings (UNRELEASED)
1990 - Horny Strings (Coverband) - several live-appearances in Sweden w. T. Denander & M. Jacob (no known
recordings were made)
1990 - Eyes - s/t
1990 - Eyes - demos for 2nd (3rd) album
1990 - Talisman - s/t
1991 - Phil Soussan & Tommy Thayer - demo-recording (UNRELEASED)
1991 - Stuart Smith - Tribute To Randy Rhodes (live-concert - no known recordings were made)
1991 - Shime - demo-recordings (UNRELEASED)
1991 - Skrapp Mettle - Sensitive**
1991 - Stephen Powell & Gonga - demo-recordings for Swedish girl group (UNRELEASED)
1992 - Bakteria - s/t (UNRELEASED)
1992 - Axel Rudi Pell - Eternal Prisoner
1992 - Chippendales Project - JSS did some cover songs for the live-show of the male strippers (UNRELEASED)
1992 - Rattleshack - Demo-recordings which lead to Monster "Through The Eyes Of The World" (UNRELEASED)
1993 - Axel Rudi Pell - The Ballads
1993 - Talisman - Genesis
1993 - Takara - Eternal Faith
1993 - Eyes - Windows Of The Soul
1993 - Biker Mice From Mars - s/t
1994 - Axel Rudi Pell - Between The Walls
1994 - Talisman - Five Out Of Five - Live In Japan
1994 - Talisman - Humanimal
1994 - Talisman - Humanimal Part II
1994 - Gary Schutt - Sentimetal
1994 - Various Artists - Smoke On The Water: A Tribute
1995 - Various Artists - 24th Of June: Alive 'N Kissing (promo-only CD)
1995 - Takara - Taste Of Heaven
1995 - Axel Rudi Pell - Made In Germany (Live)
1995 - Various Artists - The Dance Box Vol. I ***
1995 - Talisman - Life
1995 - Lita Ford - demo-version of "Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight" (lead vocals - duet)
1996 - Axel Rudi Pell - Black Moon Pyramid
1996 - Human Clay - s/t
1996 - Talisman - BESTerious (compilation)
1996 - Talisman - best of… (compilation, diff. than above)
1996 - Various Artists - The Encyclopedia Of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal 1970-1996 (Bonus CD)(w/previously
un-released Talisman track)
1996 - Yngwie Malmsteen - Inspiration
1996 - Various Artists - Dragon Attack: A Tribute To Queen
1996 - Hollywood Underground - s/t
1997 - Axel Rudi Pell - Magic
1997 - Human Clay - u4ia
1997 - The Boogie Knights - Welcome To The Jungle Boogie
1998 - Takara - Blind In Paradise
1998 - Takara - Eternity: The Best 93-98(compilation)
1998 - Talisman - Truth
1999 - Various Artists - Hot For Remixes: Tribute to Van Halen
JEFF'S LEAD VOCAL SESSIONS - THE 2000's
2000 - Various Artists - Bat Head Soup: A Tribute to Ozzy
2000 - Jeff Scott Soto & Jamie Borger - song writing & demo-recordings for Teen-bands (UNRELEASED)
2000 - Zakk Wylde - demo-recordings (UNRELEASED)
2001 - Various Artists - Aerosmith: A Tribute to Aerosmith
2002 - Humanimal - S/T
2002 - Various Artists - An All Star Lineup Performing The Songs Of Pink Floyd -Jeff sings "Us & Them"
2003 - Ken Tamplin - Wake The Nations (Duet on one song - The Story of Love)
2003 - Laudamus - Lost in Vain (Duet on song 'In The Final Hour')
2003 - Talisman - Cats and Dogs
2003 - Edge Of Forever - Jeff is singing a duet on "Prisoner" with BOB HARRIS and doing most of the backing vocals on
2003 - Chris Catena - Italian funk/soul/rock singer (Jeff duets on 1 song)
2004 - AC/DC Tribute - Jeff sings 'Problem Child' with Reb Beach on guitar, Tony Franklin on bass & Aynsley Dunbar
2004 - Iron Maiden Tribute - Jeff sings 'Aces High' (Billy Sheehan on bass, Vinny Appice on drums & I believe
Nuno Bettencourt on guitar).
2004 - Swedish Tribute to the band "Sweet" on "Love Is Like Oxygen" also featuring Thomas Wikstrom & Mic Michaeli
(Europe) on the track.
2004 - Tribute To Led Zeppelin - Jeff sings on "Royal Orleans".
2005 - Soul SirkUS - "World Play" - With Neal Schon (Journey/Santana), Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake), Virgil Donati.
2005 - Talisman - "Five Men Live"
2005 - Talisman - "World's Best Kept Secret" - DVD
2005 - Michael Schenker - Jeff sang on Doctor Doctor with Marco Mendoza on bass. (Unreleased so far)