|1. Who are your musical influences?
It all started very young with soul/R&B/Motown artists like Michael Jackson, the Temptations, Sam Cooke. As I got older, the soulful and versatile singers like Steve Perry, Boston & Queen really did it for me. as I progressed more into heavier music, Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Scorpions were amongst my top bands into the 80's. From there, I just kept an open ear for things that added to all of my tastes and genres of music.
2. Which song by another artist would you have loved to have written yourself?
3. Pick three albums that you would take to a deserted island
Van Halen (debut), Queen – A Night At The Opera, Boston (debut)
4. Can you describe the importance of music in your life?
The key word is 'life', music is life, music is food, music is blood, its emotion...these are all elements needed to survive therefore music is a key factor to exist for me!
5. What's the strongest memory of your career so far?
Meeting James Brown at a festival I performed in Japan alongside Dio and Quiet Riot...introducing myself and asking for a photo with him, he turned to me and said 'no' and turned away. It's quite funny reflecting back on it every time I tell the story!
6. Which goals in life did you achieve and which ones do you have left?
As much as it was important for me to someday aim at being a household name, a well known artist around the world selling millions of albums and touring, the most important part was gaining the respect of my peers. Having my idols and heroes as a young artist now as some of my dear friends or even that a good portion of these people know of me and respect my aim is something I believe I achieved. The thing that is left is the household name and selling millions part now!
7. If you could start over your music career, what would you have done differently?
Nothing, every decision, good or bad, led me to understanding the business, understanding myself. I was told so many times to follow my heart yet so many told me I could only choose one course, one genre of music to chase. I chose to do things that I felt were right more than I did that would benefit me. Maybe I could have achieved more and been a superstar had I stayed in one band or stuck with one genre but it didn't feel right to cheat myself musically through all the influences I wanted to pay homage to.
8. Do you have an important topic which you want to share through your music?
About 90% of my songs, my lyrics, contain topics near and dear to me, I absolutely have messages and experiences to share. If I help, influence or even inspire just 1 person with them, I have done my job right.
9. What is your perspective about the musical climate in todays business?
It's a change like every other decade or phase of the industry. Nothing stays the same forever and the system needs to flush itself out sometimes to evolve with the times. Some find it abysmal but I think its good that we find the right way to accommodate the fans and the industry. In the late 60's, there were a handful of bands doing what was considered hard rock music. In the 80's, the direction and genres expanded to so many choices because there were thousands of bands and choices. Now its tens of thousands of bands out there all fighting for the same piece of real estate. It truly forces artists and labels to be selective in quality within the quantity.
10 What are your plans for the future?
To continue my quest for world domination...some say I passed my prime already, I say it's just begun!
11 Can you tell me what the current touring plans are?
I only tour when or where there is a demand for me to play at this point. In the past I did tours just for the sake of promoting or even wanting to just perform but if there isnt enough interest, if no one is coming to the shows and I still have to pay the bills and salaries, it is impossible to do. So at the moment, it truly depends on the interest and demand on the new album/band...believe me, I want to tour year round and will if allowed!
12. What bands will you be playing with?
At the moment, I am only doing an acoustic tour in Europe with my good friend Terry Ilous, singer for Great White and formerly of XYZ. I will be taking SOTO guitarist Jorge Salân with me and this takes place in Feb 2015. I believe I also will be playing at Wäcken with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra late July as well as a possible tour in Brazil with SOTO but at the moment nothing is in stone.
13. Best tour memory so far?
There are far too many, I would need 4 pages to list them all as I don't have one in particular that is a 'best'.
14. What's the best and worst being on tour?
The best part is doing what I was born to do, I love performing, I love the stage and the people. The worst part is probably some of the accommodations whether it be hotels or venues, even some of the bigger arenas are shitholes and it is so much more inviting when the conditions are tops. I don't mind the travel part as long as I get enough rest between shows.
15. Can you tell how it feels being on stage?
It's always new, its always exciting and anticipating to see how a new audience or city will accept you. I love it like starting a new relationship, it inspires you to impress and do everything you can to win them over!
16. What do you do just before going on stage?
Usually warm up my voice, hang with the band and get positive/funny vibes happening. I try to watch a little of the support band if there is one, to feel out the audience or even see what they might be doing that I should or shouldn't haha. I have to other rituals or habits really, just get warmed up to go give my best.
17: Funniest thing which ever happened during a tour?
Again, there are too many to choose from, from handing myself a microphone with a little toss and it goes flying off the stage, falling off stages to splitting my pants onstage with no underwear on...if you think it's happened, it happened!
18. If so, can you tell us about the album recording process?
I was in a band called Talisman for 19 years and in the early 90's when we started, everyone said it wouldn't last as I lived in LA and they lived in Stockholm. We found ways to make albums, write songs without having to be in the same room much less same country even then, before there was email, mp3's or Pro Tools. Today we have this technology and with my band being from and in all parts of the world, I expand on my knowledge and experience in making a successful process with today's technology. We do everything by the music being written and demoed, sent to me so I can complete the lyrics and melodies then once its produced to the form it will take in the studio, the tracks are then done the same way, in the country or studio it was created and sent to me to complete the singing side. Then its all compiled to my engineer in Boston who mixes and masters it...simple, right? :)
19. What's the best and worst with recording an album?
The best and worst were the same answer...there is a song on it called End Of Days, it was my idea/intention to make an epic song, something that combined a sci-fi soundtrack song meets Live & Let Die meets Bohemian Rhapsody meets Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd! My co-writer took these elements and created a 9 minute monster which I then had the task of writing lyrics and melodies to. It was HELL coming up with things that worked, that sounded as epic as the music itself...but the reward was the result which is one of the prouder moments in my career!
20. How would you compare your newest work to your previous records?
As I already mentioned, I have so many influences and have done acted on them through the years so this is more of a comeback of sorts, back to my heavier roots in where it all started. The last few albums were more in a melodic hard rock format but I haven't done a metal album in years. This was the reason for pushing it now as a band as opposed to solo artist, I wanted to brand my last name as the band name so it separates from my solo career and there is no confusion of the direction. People will know SOTO as a metal band and I can keep my solo identity intact for my other experiences.
21. What's the idea behind the album?
As just mentioned, it was a chance to return to the heavier side of my career but also to express some personal issues in my life the past years. I have gone through some personal and emotional torment that I am now able to release as therapy in song, the lyrics and emotions are quite heavy here and this is the best way for me to get my thoughts out. This and the fact that my backup band were so good, so loyal to me, they deserved to share the accolades of this new album with me as a unit now. It's a heavy, power, prog, modern metal band with loads of melody and killer performances by all involved. Lyrically its angry, retributory and therapeutic which I am sure many will be able to relate to in some way. Inside The Vertigo, the title as well as a song on the album, explains very well what I want the buyer to feel they're entering.
22. Any Favorite songs on the album, and why?
Haha, all 15!! And of course there are only 12 on the main release, 13 on the Japanese release but I had 15 total that we had to save some for either bonus tracks later or a deluxe edition of the album if it does well. The 2 missing links were co-written with Joel Hoekstra who is now in Whitesnake, they're monster tracks that I am sure will be heard someday.
23. Who are working with you on this album?
Besides the band, I started the songwriting process as another solo album. I reached out to some friends and colleagues whom I admire greatly like Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob), Jason Bieler (Saigon Kick), Gus G (Firewind, Ozzy Osbourne) and other unknown guys like Connor Ensgtrom, Tony Dickinson (who are part of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra organization). Also in the mix writing with me are Gary Schutt formerly of my solo band and 2 great guitarists named Leo Mancini (Tempestt, Shaman) & Hugo Mariutti (Angra, Shaman).
24. is there anything you'd like to share yourself, like the answer to the question that you are still waiting for but which never has been asked before?
I believe all that was asked was covered here, I am beyond excited to delve into this new venture with earMUSIC, the new album and sound hopefully gaining some major international attention so I can proceed on my mission for world domination!!