Jeff Scott Soto says he’s finally gotten some closure on why he was suddenly axed as Journey frontman, though he’s still not ready to go into the reasons why.
Soto, now a featured singer with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, stepped in — with just two days notice, he tells Classic Rock magazine — about a week and half into a six-week summer 2006 tour with Journey, after Steve Augeri began having vocal issues. Soto had earlier worked with both Neal Schon and Deen Castronovo of Journey in the short-lived side project Soul SirkUS.
By December of 2006, Soto says he had been given the nod to become the second successor to Steve Perry. But, not long after, Soto says he was axed by Schon — for reasons he didn’t understand until recently — in favor of Arnel Pineda, a big-voiced Filipino unknown that Schon says he discovered on YouTube.
In the years since, Pineda has helped the group to a pair of Top 20 album projects.
Schon, an original early-1970s band co-founder, is joined in Journey by original bassist Ross Valory, keyboardist Jonathan Cain (who joined in 1980), and Castronovo (with Journey since 1998). Perry served as lead vocalist from 1977-98, followed by Augeri.
Soto, however, never knew exactly why he’d been passed over, until he ran into Castronovo at a TSO concert in Portland, Oregon, and things were smoothed out.
“We had a long chat,” Soto tells Classic Rock, “and although I can’t tell you what was said it gave me closure. I haven’t had a nightmare since.”
Asked whether Schon’s decision was based on music considerations, personal reasons or some other business concern, Soto would only say: “All of the above.”
“What is it now, four or five years?” he added. “I’ve lost count because I’ve lost interest. But the way it was handled was not very kosher and I can honestly say that I didn’t see it coming.”