A Conversation with Sons of Apollo Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto

Few bands have the pedigree of Sons of Apollo and even fewer can back it up with incredible records.  Made up of current and former members of Dream Theater, Guns N’ Roses, David Lee Roth and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sons of Apollo released their debut record, Psychotic Symphony in 2017 and are about to unleash their new collection MMXX.  Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto recently took some time to talk about the new release and so much more.
Please press PLAY below to hear the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Jeff Scott Soto:
On the new single “Desolate July” and the late David Z – I wanted to do something special for David as soon as I heard that, as soon as Derek played me that haunting piano piece it was very eerie and haunting I knew exactly where the lyric was taking me. I’m so glad the guys were all on board and allowed me, especially Mike (Portnoy), we both felt strongly that we wanted to do something for David. We did something on the Origami record (by SOTO) for David in that sense that we immortalized him in a track that he co-wrote with us on tour and we used the original bass track and built the entire track around that, you and I spoke about that. Well, I wanted to do a little something more than just a tribute to him and immortalize him, I wanted to actually write a song about him.  Especially both Mike and I felt when this time of year comes around, in July, when we lost him and we feel empty and desolate inside and that’s hence the title.  I wrote the entire lyric around how I feel personally.  Every time I have to see a tribute and just that feeling of that day we got the news that we lost him. I just wanted to put that in a piece of music that the rest of the world can relate to because everybody can relate to losing somebody and in different ways and different factors that song can resonate to a lot of people and that’s what I wanted to put out there and put across. 3:18
Photo: Hristo Shindov
On gelling together as a band – What made it easy to step into this band was the fact that we already had personal relationships with one another. Some had already worked with each other but for the most part, I knew all the guys in this band. Bumblefoot was the one I knew the least, but he’s the kind of person, he’s like David (Z) was, you only have to know him for a few months and you feel like you’ve known him a lifetime. So we already had that connection as people to stepping into this  I wasn’t a stranger,  it wasn’t like “what the hell am I doing here, why did you choose me?” It felt natural in the sense of us knowing each other and being friends already.  But the chemistry of a band, that can only be built by touring and spending that kind of time with each other. We absolutely got that connection and that chemistry lends to a  massive change and transformation in how we work together.  I feel the album, direction-wise, doesn’t really go that far away from Psychotic Symphony but chemistry-wise, you can absolutely 1000 percent feel that the chemistry is a lot more there. To be honest with you I personally like that I was able to put more personality, more me into the new record. 5:13
“Desolate July”
On writing for MMXX – The majority of the material on the first album was exactly as the entire recording, the entire creation of the music on this one.  Ron (Thal) and Derek (Sherinian) and Mike team together and hashing out ideas and piecing the puzzle together. I have no real place in the musical side of Sons of Apollo. Those guys are masters of their trades, I have no place in saying “hey do that chord instead or repeat that part or change this line and lyric”.  I would feel silly stepping in and telling these ridiculous musicians what they should be doing. As a producer I have that natural inkling and that natural reaction to things, but as a writer not so much. They have the same respect when it comes to what I do. I can write something and I can put it together and send it to the guys and they will have their opinion because, in the end, the song is more important than the ego of who wrote what and how it was done. It’s all about the song. 8:40
“Goodbye Divinity”
On preparing for the upcoming tour – Because we have 2 records now we can absolutely draw from just our material to make the show, whereas the first tour, it being a headlining tour pretty much throughout the entire year that we were on the road, we had to add some things to make it a full-length show. Even if you play the entire record you only have an hour show. Now we have two records that are about an hour each so we have a 2-hour show. 14:26
“Fall To Ascend”
On what track from MMXX he is most looking forward to playing live – Absolutely, by far “New World Today”,  the last song on the record, the 16-minute extravaganza.  Every time I listen to that thing, I’m sure Mike and Derek are sick of it by now,  every time I hear that song I send them a text saying “I can’t believe I’m a part of something this incredible!”  This, to me, is one of the highlights of my life and my career is that song.  I love the ebbs and flows and Bumblefoot is just an absolute star on the song.  16:40
On Rush and the passing of Neil Peart – Rush, for the most part, because of the vocals is an acquired taste. Of course, musically it’s just beyond the moon but if you can’t get past Geddy Lee’s voice you’re not going to be able to listen to them. In the beginning, was a tough one for me because I like singers like Freddy Mercury and Lou Gramm,  the soulful, Steve Perry those kind of guys. Obviously, Geddy Lee didn’t fall in that category of a singer, but once I got past that because the musicality and the drumming was so intense I absolutely positively love Geddy Lee’s voice and became such a massive Rush fan like my brother did. 18:12

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