In 2009 his new record Beautiful Mess has the potential to transform JSS into a mainstream artist capable of making a massive commercial impact across the globe.
But in the second part of a revealing interview JSS tells rushonrock about his Journey agony and why Yngwie Malmsteen is a true rock icon.
rushonrock: How do you look back on the whole Journey experience?
Jeff Scott Soto: I can’t say one bad thing about the time I was actually in the band. I can’t fault one moment of one day until the time I was let go. Until that day they were amazing times and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything. I really thought I was in Journey for the long haul after so many years of chopping and changing.
JSS: I thought I’d found my natural home. There was every intention, as far as I was concerned, to do the Journey thing for a long time. We were talking about touring a long way down the line and writing a new album. But now I look on it as a blessing in disguise. I get to build my own legacy rather than work on improving someone else’s. Who knows? I might have got bored singing Journey songs for the rest of my life. Now I have my own thing that I’m building. It was a good experience while it lasted but in this business you just learn to move on.
rushonrock: You also moved on from your first big break working with Yngwie Malmsteen. How do you rate him?
JSS: He absolutely is a pioneer. He is to his genre what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar, what Jimmy Page was to rock and what Eddie Van Halen was to metal in the 80s. He’s more of an icon than simply one of the best musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. To be an icon, rather than the best in your field, is a bigger title or reputation to uphold. But Yngwie can do it and I’m proud to say we’re still friends.
rushonrock: How do you think the music business is shaping up right now?
JSS: It has to change and there’s always something or someone that sparks that change. The business has always changed and it always will. You cannot compare the 70s to the 80s or the 90s to the noughties. There is always metamorphosis and that’s the beauty of the industry we’re in. There are peaks and troughs and they reflect what’s popular and what’s happening with technology and taste. The rug is suddenly pulled from under those people who think they’ve got it nailed and someone else steps up to the plate. Right now nobody knows what’s happening with record companies, digital media and management and the people are asking: is rock dead and buried? But they’ve asked that question before and the answer is never yes.
rushonrock: What’s the best advice you can give a new band or artist setting out in 2009?
JSS: First of all I would warn them that this is one of the toughest industries to crack. It seems easy with MySpace and iTunes to get your music out there. In actual fact it’s harder because it’s more difficult to gauge just how popular your band really is. The only thing I can tell anyone is to be persistent. And you have to believe in your dream. If you want it enough then you’ll get it. It just might take a little longer than you imagined.
JSS: I’ve seen a lot of people give it up but if you really want it it will come to you. Sometimes the whole industry can bring you down and you feel like you’re wasting your time. But from my point of view the bottom line is I know nothing else. It’s in my blood. Without this you might as well put a gun to my head.