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Sons of Apollo

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Jeff Scott Soto of Sons of Apollo from 2020


Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

I was born. I saw Michael Jackson with his brothers on TV at the age of seven and said, “I wanna do that, too!” The rest is history! I have been fortunate to get my professional start in the biz at the age of 18 with Yngwie Malmsteen which led to many things that got me to Journey, my band Talisman, so many other great career moves that got me to Sons Of Apollo!

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Six-feet under! I mean that, even if I am not singing or performing, I will be writing, producing even managing acts. I know too much about this business to walk from it, I feel as though I have far more to offer than just being an artist so yeah, I wouldn’t wanna be around if I couldn’t be involved with music in some way.


How did the name of the group originate?

This was a Portnoy/Sherinian decision. Those two are the nucleus of this band and they snatched up all the initial stages that got us together. They both loved Apollo, but it was too common. I believe it went to Apollo Creed, and they realized the litigious end would consume us, so Sons Of Apollo came from juggling the word Apollo.


Who would you see as your musical influences?

Most who know what I do, what I have done and what I continue to do would never believe or know that my biggest influences are between Queen to Motown…I grew up with R&B/soul music all my life, so this was infused into my DNA early on. My first rock bands I loved were Journey, Toto and Foreigner, all of whom had singers with "White Soul: in them, which was something I could relate to learning about rock. From there, the Rob Halfords, Bruce Dickinsons and Ronnie James Dios of the Metal world consumed my soul. Through the decades I have done all I can to inject all of these elements that made me who I was early on.

MSJ: How do you see the new album in comparison to the previous Sons of Apollo work?

We didn’t stray too far from the awe level of blowing people’s minds. I feel I was a bit more harnessed as a singer on the first album, not that it’s a bad thing, but I feel I put more of me into the new one both lyrically and personality-wise. Overall, the album is heavy with prog tendencies. I don’t see us as a prog band, because that limits the genre of people I want to give this band a chance. I feel after album number two, we have shown we could be teamed with a multitude of acts out there regarding touring. But to be honest, I think the one thing I would love to see (which will probably never happen) is to tour with Dream Theater. I think the fans would eat this up and see it as a form of water under the bridge and letting the music bring us together….


What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?

I just love when people “get it.” We’re not making music that only shows how insane or crazy we can get with time signature changes. We’re making music that excites us, that after 30+ years we’ve all had in this business we can dig our teeth into and truly love the results. When I read even one fan or journalist feeling this, then I know we did our jobs right!


What's ahead for you?

Touring, promoting and rest on our laurels is not acceptable!


Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

Not really, I have come to that point in life that I have played with everyone I have ever wanted to. Right now I see Sons as the dream band I or anyone would kill to be part of, so I hope this continues for many years to come!


Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

For the bigger acts, it certainly has hindered the lining of pockets between the artists and the business end. But for someone like myself who never really hit that mark of millions of albums sold, it has done better for me overall. The way I see it, if someone downloaded my songs for free and loved them, that’s a plus, because they probably wouldn’t have spent their money to get it. By knowing and loving my stuff, they pass it on, and others discover you, which leads to putting asses in seats at my shows. (laughter)

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

It’s part of being a fan. I did it when I was younger, and it was a very important process in learning new music and sharing it with others. Again, if it brings people together, this is the common goal. The money and fame comes later as long as you don’t live life so negatively about being pirated.


If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Based on the movies and technology of each sequel, I will choose Iron Man. The dry wit and sarcasm, the wealth and ability to do about anything is a great power to have. My arch nemesis would be Thanos…naturally!


If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Bumblefoot and Derek Sherinian!


If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

(laughter) No one would come or everyone would, because I would design it after the Pink Pop festival in Holland. It would have everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire, Terence Trent D’Arby to Iron Maiden, Sons of Apollo to P!nk and Bruno Mars!


What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Devin Townsend – Empath. Well, I didn’t buy it. He was nice enough to give it to me, but that is one masterpiece from a genius of an artist!


Have you read any good books lately?

I have zero time to read, but because I work out every day, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I just finished Bruce Springsteen’s as well as Nikki Sixx’s Heroin Diaries and Jonathan Cain’s book (wanted to see if I’d get a nod in it) (laughter).

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

The Winery Dogs in L.A. this past summer.


Do you remember the first concert you attended?

Yes, the California Worrld Music Festival (yes, they spelled "world" with two "r"s) in 1979 with Toto, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent and Cheech & Chong (laughter)

MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

Yes, the gear I use, which is the TC Helicon Extreme Live 3, Keith McMillan midi pedal board and my Sennheiser mics. I’m dialed in with gear!


Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

No. Everything I love or others would not approve of, I stand behind as great! I love Prince with every fiber of my being, I love the Queen album Hot Space. These might be guilty pleasures for others, but they are simply pleasures for me!

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
The first Yngwie tour, we played a venue that you had to go downstairs and under the stage through an empty room to get backstage which was upstairs on the other side of the building. Yngwie would do 25-minute guitar solos, so on this day, as I usually did, went down, through the room and backstage to hang with Billy Sheehan and Talas who were our support band. I heard what I knew was the end of Yngwie’s solo and made my approach to go back down and to the stage but the door was locked going back to through this underground room. I ran out of time and decided the only way back to stage was through the packed audience. I pushed my way back, got to the mic right on the first word of the song they started not realizing I was nowhere near the stage!

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Freddie Mercury, Prince and Paul McCartney!


What would be on the menu?

Vegetarian Indian dishes and a lot of vodka!


Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

I think I covered it all…Sons Of Apollo: don’t even think twice, have a listen, come to the show!

MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:
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