"..I wanted to rock again, my audience wanted to rock with me..."
Aprile 2, 2012
Interview: Fabrizio Tasso
Translation: Daniela Patanè
RRM: Hi Jeff, first of all thank you for this interview, I don’t know if you can remember me: I’m the guy who always brings you loads of booklets to sign every time you come to Italy!!
I reviewed your last cd Damage Control on our magazine and I gave it top marks. In my opinion it’s yet another masterpiece of yours, can you explain how can you find the inspiration to release so many high quality products?
JSS: Thank you so much, this means a lot especially after the disappointment from my core audience over Beautiful Mess which was an album I did more for me and to find new fans that don’t know who JSS is! But for this one, I felt the need and desire to ‘rock’ again, especially with some of the heavier numbers. It felt so good to be aggressive again and I know my audience will appreciate that I haven’t lost that edge to become something else. Most of them already know I have a diverse attention span musically so I have to satisfy those energies to feel creative, that would be the answer to your question really, I find inspiration mainly from having the freedom to follow my heart.
RRM: All song in your last record are a perfect mix of power and melody, it also seemed to me that you managed to combine perfectly all the influences coming from your previous works such as W.E.T. and Talisman. How did you concieve Damage Control? What kind of message do you want to transmit?
JSS: As I already said, I wanted to rock again, my audience wanted to rock with me so I made a protocol of what I wanted for this new album and mapped out which co-writers would help me create it.
RRM: In your live sets you always perform with and incredible energy, as few other frontmen do. Who’s the singer who influenced you most, and what was the first gig that made you decide “I want to do that too!”
JSS: It started with Tom Jones and Michael Jackson when I was VERY young…then I loved Prince and Freddie Mercury going into David Lee Roth and Bruce Dickinson, clearly all frontmen who are very energetic live and know how to hold an audience! To me its just as important that you sing well and ‘perform’ because just singing well is basically like staying home and listening to the CD. But just performing well and singing like shit is basically telling the audience you’re only good in the studio.
RRM: Some years ago (during the Lost In The Translation tour) you opened your show with “Living The Life”. How important has it been for you to record the songs of that soundtrack, what can you remeber of those sessions and what do you think of the movie? (I absolutely love it!)
JSS: It was another important milestone in my career really, the movie soundtrack I think is more popular than the movie itself! I choose to do these songs live because you’ll probably never get to see Steel Dragon live so at least you get to see the singer who brought them to life in the studio!
RRM: Always about “live” memories, last time we met a guy asked you if there would be a chance for another record with Soul Sirkus and your answer was “I made a mistake with Neal Schon once and I won’t do it again” Can you tell us what went wrong with Journey? And if you had to record a sequel of “World Play”, who would you choose as a guitarist?
JSS: There will be no Soul SirkUS with anyone else, even if the album sold millions, I am not interested in doing anything further that included anyone in Journey, I have my own plan, agenda and interest to continue molding. Regarding Journey, I did nothing to deserve how it all went down and that is something you have to ask them if you want a real answer as its 5 years later and I still don’t have one.
RRM: I know that you mentioned as your influences, among many others, Queen, Styx and Journey and even Jackson 5!! That was the first record you ever bought! Can you tell us something about the young Jeff trying to find his way?
JSS: I knew early on that performing was going to be my career choice, I was as driven then as I still am 27 years after my professional career began with Yngwie. I cant do anything else with the same passion, even if it means I am not a household name selling millions of albums every year, for me it’s the love, passion and emotion that comes from music that’s the reason and motivation for me to continue!
RRM: I assume most people ask you about yout period with Malmsteen among your many cooperations, instead I’d rather ask you if you could share a few words about these other projects of yours: Eyes, Takara, Kuni, Skrapp Mettle and Tran-Siberian Orchestra. Actually I would ask about many others but there wouldn’t be enough room here!
JSS: Even here there is not much room to discuss those few things in my life, the best place to get those and ALL of the answers is a new book coming out later this year that my tour manager Frank Tunney has written about my career called “Stand Up And Shout: The Story Of A Rock Star”. It is not so much an autobiography but more a chronicle of my career listing all of my bands, projects, demos, sessions, etc., as well as many personal memoirs from myself and many of the people in my life and past.
RRM: Fantastic! I can't wait it!! Tell me one thing..can you reckon all cds where your name appears? I can’t keep up with that, every time I think I’m only missing a few records I soon find out that you did backing vocals on someone else’s album!! Among your works which are the most significant to you?
JSS: All of that will be in the book as I too forget how many I have been on, I think it’s past the 60 mark, and this is albums where I have sung ‘lead’ on, add the albums I did background vocals only and we’re pushing the 100 mark I am sure! It’s a lot of work but as I said, its my passion and I love and live to work!
RRM: In the last years I’ve been lucky enough to meet both Pontus Norgren and Jamie Borger. Both spent nice words about you and Marcel. I know he was a brother to you, would you share a special anecdote you like to recall when you think of him?
JSS: That would take pages to write, I have too many words to say about how much I loved him and of course miss him, I miss the music we made and have too many memories to think about. Someday I will write my own memoirs and share many of our stories as well as other personal ones that I am sure would make for interesting reading.
RRM: We’re at the end, here’s the last question: if you had to choose the musicians to form an All Star Band, assuming that anyone you call will accept, who would you choose and why?
JSS: As far as I am concerned, Damage Control is my All Star Band, everyone who contributed are people I made this album with and I couldn’t imagine this album without them…especially my solo band who are the greatest friends I could travel and perform with. As far as I’m concerned I have already done the all star thing and its overrated haha…
RRM: Thank you very much for the time you dedicated to us, it was a grat honour for me! We’re waiting for you on stage in Italy, also because I’ve got another booklets load for you! Can you say hello to the readers of Rock Rebel Magazine?
JSS: I’ve been in this business for 27 years and for me, I am now living out the 2nd half of my career where the 1st half was more about learning the business, making a name for myself and gaining experience. Now I can enjoy all the benefits of these years and with the appreciation of people like you and my fans, I am lucky enough to still be here living out my dream. That alone is thank you I cannot express in words so lets keep rocking my friends!