Jeff Scott Soto says he would have been better accepted by JOURNEY fans during his time with the band if former JOURNEY vocalist Steve Perry "was no longer with us."
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 JOURNEY guitarist Neal 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.
Jeff discussed his time with JOURNEY during an appearance on a recent episode of the "Breaking Absolutes With Peter Orullian" podcast. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "One of the hardest parts about singing for JOURNEY… Okay, first of all, replacing Steve Perry, Steve Augeri already had that task. But now I had the task of replacing the guy who replaced the guy. Now, if it were QUEEN, if it were a situation like QUEEN or AC/DC where the singer is deceased, there's no way that singer's ever gonna sing those songs again, so for the bands to forge on, they have to get a new singer. Stop whining, stop bitching, stop moaning — the band's moving forward with a new singer because their original singer is no longer with us. Steve Perry was alive and well. Nobody knew his whereabouts, nobody knew if he was recording; all he ever said was, 'I'm retired from singing, retired from performing.' But the fans, especially the fairweather fans who are not watching all the Blabbermouths and all the talk and all the gossip, the fairweather fans will just come to a JOURNEY [show] and all they'll say is, 'That ain't Steve Perry.' Because they don't even know he hasn't been in the band for 20 years. All they know is, 'Who's that guy? This ain't JOURNEY. What's going on here?' They feel duped. So that was probably the hardest part about singing for JOURNEY for me, was going on stage every night when a good portion of the audience was going, 'Wait, Steve Perry's alive. He can still sing, I bet. Why isn't he doing this? Why do they have this guy?' If Steve Perry was no longer with us, I think it would have been a little easier transition."
Perry sang on many of JOURNEY's best-known hits, including "Open Arms", "Any Way You Want It", "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Who's Cryin' Now".
Two years ago, Soto told "The Robbcast Podcast" that performing JOURNEY's classic songs originally sung by Perry was no easy task. "It was difficult — it was really, really difficult to adapt," he admitted. "First of all, my voice was already kind of going through its changes. If I had gotten that JOURNEY gig even five years earlier, I would have destroyed, I would have just killed the range, the intensity of what Perry left behind."
Asked if JOURNEY ever made him an official member of the band, Jeff told "The Robbcast Podcast": "In December of 2006, when the entire DEF LEPPARD run was done for the year, there was an official press release that they inducted me as their permanent singer at that point. And this is the part that kind of pisses me off still to this day, because there's zero mention, there's zero attention brought to the fact that I was even in the band and I did those tours. You look at the JOURNEY web site, I don't exist — my name is not there. It goes from Perry to Augeri to Arnel [Pineda]. It's like it didn't exist. It's kind of strange. How can that not exist when I have… I have photo clippings. I even still have URL sites that show you when I was officially made a member of the band. And then for them to act like it didn't exist or to say that they wanted a signature sound and I was only supposed to be a hired gun and just to get them through the tour, that kind of bums me out, man. 'Cause have at least enough respect to tell the truth or to even sugarcoat it and say, 'Yeah, Jeff was a permanent member of the band, but we realized, as we were going into that, that it was a decision we had to change and that's why we moved on or eventually got Arnel,' or whatever. Because I was in the background listening to Neal doing interviews when we were doing the European tour, saying I was their new singer and that we could finally get past the ghost of Steve Perry and blah blah blah. I was there, and I heard all of that. And to not have that acknowledgement now, it just hurts."