Ex-JOURNEY Singer JEFF SCOTT SOTO Says He Is 'On Good Terms' With NEAL SCHON Again

October 12, 2022

Jeff Scott Soto says that he is "on good" and "positive terms" again with JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain — a decade and a half after he was fired from the band.

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 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.

Soto touched upon his current relationship with JOURNEY during an appearance on the "Talk Louder" podcast, hosted by veteran music journalist "Metal Dave" Glessner and lifelong hard rock/metal vocalist Jason McMaster (DANGEROUS TOYS). He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We were a bit estranged for a decade and a half and just recently I reached out… We're basically, I wouldn't say pals again, but there's a narrative, there's a dialogue now between us. I stayed really good friends with, of course, Deen Castronovo and some of the other guys in the band, but I was a bit estranged from Neal and Jon, and I'm just happy to say at least now we have a narrative — we're on good terms and on positive terms. And this is all I want out of the situation. I don't want any bad blood; I don't want any negative energies out there in the world, especially at our age. Now is the time to embrace the things that we've done and to really look back and reflect on them and not have all this bad water under the bridge."

Asked if he had done any recording with JOURNEY in the five months that he was in the band, Soto said: "We did one song [called 'Winds Of Freedom', which can be heard below]. It was a song that Jonathan wrote for… It was a private gig that we did for — it was a polo match, actually. They were celebrating America's birthday and Jon basically wrote a song… It was kind of like a history. It was talking about Jamestown and the ships came over and they settled in the new land and colonized. It didn't sound like a traditional JOURNEY song, but it wasn't supposed to be; it was specifically for that event, and it was only supposed to be performed at that event. And we did that song, we demoed it, and that was the end of it. That was the only original song I got to do with them. But, man, I just remember when I was singing it, I 'Perry-ed' the fuck out of it — if that's even the word: 'Perry-ed'. I went into [Steve] Perry mode. I did a lot of his inflections, a lot of his grammatical vowel sounds — just the way Perry sang — 'cause he's such a massive influence in me, his phrasing. Sam Cooke was his mentor, and before that, Nat King Cole was Sam Cooke's mentor. So I basically learned from all of the masters, including, down the line, from Steve. And I wanted to pay homage to what he brought to the band, what he left with that band, because it's such an identifiable signature sound. But when you hear it, you can hear the inflections, but you still hear it's me."

Last year, Soto told Argentinian journalist Lucas Gordon that the "problem" was that he didn't know what caused his split with JOURNEY. "If I knew what the problem was, if I knew the reason why I got fired, then at least I could be at peace with it; I could find a way to discuss it or talk about it," he said. "If I was told why I was fired, if I was told 'your voice sucks,' if I was told I killed one of the guys' dogs, if I made somebody in their family angry, if I was told the reason why I was fired, I could make peace with it. But to this day, 14 years later — whatever it is — I don't know. I don't have the answers. I was never given a proper reason. The only thing I was told was they had a change of heart. It didn't make sense to me. If you have a change of heart, call me up and we can say goodbye, we can hug and say, 'Hey, hopefully I can get a couple of tickets to the show with the new singer.' That kind of stuff. You can leave as friends. I came in as friends; I wanna leave as friends."

Within hours of BLABBERMOUTH.NET publishing Soto's comments, Schon issued a response via the BLABBERMOUTH.NET Facebook page, writing: "It was unfortunate but Steve Augeri's voice gave out. We were in the middle of DEF LEPPARD tour so I was working with Jeff on side project and suggested he come in and help Finnish the tour. It went well but all were not sold on him being the lead singer after writing a tune and listening. Both Jon and I agreed it didn't sound right- or better put what we wanted. I hope this satisfies this on going drama. It didn't work out."

A short time later, Schon added in a separate comment on the BLABBERMOUTH.NET Facebook page: "This is all boring and overly redundant whining of 14 years ago. PR stunt at best. Zzzzzz Jeff tried to sue us after we let him go and playing with us live for only 1 tour. This did not sit well with myself and could easily see personality clashes way too early. Good night".

This past April, Jeff discussed his time with JOURNEY in an interview with "The Bay Ragni Show". Asked if Schon's comments gave him the closure that he was looking for, Soto responded: "Not really. It wasn't really so much closure as it was… It was more of, 'You're still talking about this, dude?' And I wasn't really talking about it. I was answering a question in an interview. I gave an honest reply in an interview based on what the question was about. And it turned into a whole, 'Jeff is just looking for attention. Jeff is just looking for press.' It was none of the above.

"To be honest with you, I've had closure with this — my personal closure — for a long time in terms of not to expect any further reasonings, any other explanations," he continued. "But of course, naturally, I wanted to be able to be friends with the people that I worked with or that I no longer work with; I don't want enemies in the world. So it was more along those terms that I was even talking about it, is that I was extending that olive branch of wanting to make sure that before I leave this earth I leave with everybody knowing that I'm a good person, that I was a genuine person, that my best interests were only in being good for these people, not necessarily what I can get from them or what they can get from me, et cetera.

"I always say, especially, you meet somebody like Yngwie Malmsteen, it's not new news that there's a division between us, there's a wall between us. And I'm trying to break down any of these walls 'cause I wanna leave this planet with absolute peace and harmony with everybody that I'd known and everybody I'd worked with. And that's the bottom line. If you had a breakup with a girlfriend or a girlfriend had a bad breakup with you or a boyfriend or whatever the situation is and you kind of feel like you wanna be able to hug it out and have closure. You don't have to be friends afterwards, but I just want the civility part to stand up more than the animosity part, and that, to me, is more important than anything. And that was the majority of what I was talking about when I was replying to that question. And this was last year that this interview happened. I don't know it resurfaced later and it ended up as a Blabbermouth headline, a clickbait kind of thing. It wasn't even a recent interview. So for it to come out later, and it made it look like I was bringing it up this year; it was actually last year that I did this interview. [Editor's note: Lucas Gordon's interview with Soto was uploaded to YouTube on January 2, 2022, and the BLABBERMOUTH.NET article mentioned above was published the following day, on January 3, 2022.] And it turned into something that I didn't ask for; I didn't expect it to do that.

"So, to be honest with you, as I said, I am absolutely at peace with the whole JOURNEY situation," Jeff added. "I went to go see them recently. I wrote up how exciting it was, how it was emotional to be there watching as opposed to be on stage doing it with them after 15 years, but how happy I was for everybody. It worked out for everybody in question here — it worked out for [current JOURNEY singer] Arnel [Pineda], it worked out for them, and it even worked out for me because I ended up doing a lot more things in my life and my career that I wouldn't have done had I been just with that band."

The day after he went to see JOURNEY perform in April 2022, Jeff took to his social media to write: "Last night, I went to see my 1st JOURNEY show in 15 years….yes, I was invited but no, because of covid protocols still within touring contracts, I could not see anyone in the band before or after.

"The band was sheer fire…Arnel rose above my expectations vocally and could quite possibly be the best I have heard him since he joined the band, Neal's fingers were flying all night as expected, Deen's playing and singing soared beyond my memory of being onstage with him and the rest just kept it locked and loaded!

"I found myself singing, cheering and feeling proud that I once graced that stage with my childhood favorite band. It was emotional at times but I mean that in a positive way, so many great memories of my 11 months with them stacked with the 40+ years of what I got as a fan!"

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