Jeff Scott Soto says that his time with JOURNEY was "an incredible moment" that gave him an opportunity to live out "a rock and roll fantasy."
Soto, who previously sang with Yngwie Malmsteen, joined JOURNEY about a week and half into a six-week summer 2006 tour with DEF LEPPARD, after Steve Augeri began having vocal issues. Soto had earlier worked with JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon and drummer Deen Castronovo in the short-lived side project SOUL SIRKUS. JOURNEY named Soto its permanent lead singer in December 2016 before firing him just five months later.
Asked in a new interview with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio if he's had any "pinch me" moments in his career, Jeff said (hear audio below): "Oh, absolutely. That's an easy one. I mean, my time with JOURNEY was one of those 'pinch me' moments in terms of… This is one of my favorite bands of all time growing up. I know their entire catalog — B-sides, Japanese bonus singles and all, and now, all of a sudden, I'm singing with this band, their songs, in front of their audience. Of course, it was an incredible moment. But on the other hand, I knew that I couldn't really bank or capitalize on that, because when I did exit that band, I didn't necessarily bring their fans along with me. If I'm lucky, out of the million or so people that I played in front of [in] the short time I was in that band, I maybe got about three or four percent of them to continue following me from there. And rightly so. That's [former singer] Steve Perry and those guys' legacy; it's not my legacy. I was just basically there helping them bring it on the road and continue their legacy. I can't take any credit for it. But it truly was a defining moment for me to be able to sing these amazing songs and get to live out a fantasy as a kid. I mean, it's almost like a rock and roll fantasy. 'You're gonna sing for JOURNEY for 11 months. What do you think?' It was great."
This past summer, Soto told the "Rehired" Internet show that he didn't remain friends with the JOURNEY guys following his exit from the group.
"Without going too much into it — there might be even some legalities in talking about it — bottom line is it was cordial, but, unfortunately, there was connection with the band from there," he continued. "There was no, 'I'd at least like to be friends or come to see you guys at a show when you're in town,' that type of thing. I really wanted to wish them well. I wanted to wish them forward and give 'em all hugs and say, 'Thank you for letting me be a part of this.' But, unfortunately, it didn't get to that.
"Going back to what I was saying earlier about letting your anger get the better of you, I got angry about that," he admitted. "And especially because I was inducted as their permanent lead singer, I felt I had to make more of a statement about being let go, and not just being basically thrown away like yesterday's newspaper. I had to start a lawsuit against them in terms of — and this is just on the business side; I wasn't trying to teach any lessons or show, 'Hey, you've messed with the wrong guy.' It was more so, like, I'm trying to be, 'Please, guys. Here's another olive branch I'm putting out to you. Please, let's discuss this and shake hands and be gentlemen about it.' But, unfortunately, that didn't come to pass, and it sucks."
Soto went on to say that he doesn't want any animosity between him and any of the JOURNEY members. "I would love nothing more in this world than to be able to handshake or a hug or be friends with Neal and Jon [Jonathan Cain] and that whole scenario," he said. "That's part of my history now — it's part of my life. I wanna be able to generate nothing but positivity for the rest of my life.
"Whatever the situation, whatever got me to being fired, it's being held on to, and I guess they're just not interested in hearing my side, for whatever that reason is," he continued. "If you tell me what the situation was about, of course I can tell you — or I can say, 'Oh my God. I didn't realize it was that. I'm so sorry.' But I don't even know what to apologize for. So therefore it just lingers. And here we are 13 years later, and it's still kind of like it happened, and it just went away."
Asked if he went into "defense mode" once he was fired by JOURNEY, Jeff responded : "I don't really go into defense mode unless I'm being attacked where it's not justified. I went more into warrior mode, kind of survivor mode — what do I do next, kind of thing. And to be honest with you, I was just more hurt about the situation and only hurt in the sense of, everything on their social media, web site, whatever, anything that had to do with me being in the band was removed. There was no photo of me; my name was gone. It literally went from Steve Perry to Steve Augeri to Arnel Pineda. And it stinks. It stinks to feel like I didn't matter. That validation, to be able to front that band, to be able to sing those songs and to front them, and the trust and respect they gave me to be able to do that is completely washed away, because I can't even be part of their history.
"I didn't expect an invitation to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, I didn't expect my name to be dropped, but even just to be able to see some level of positivity of my time with them, and to not have any of it, that's the part that hurt."
Jeff's musical career spans over 35 years. He first burst on to the scene as the vocalist for guitar hero Yngwie Malmsteen's iconic first two solo albums, before going on to front acclaimed hard rock band TALISMAN. Currently, while maintaining his solo career, he is busy singing for the wildly popular TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, the melodic hard rock band W.E.T., his own metal project SOTO, and the prog metal supergroup SONS OF APOLLO.
Jeff released his new solo album, "Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)", on November 6 via Frontiers Music Srl.