Jeff Scott Soto was the singer in Journey for about one year, and despite his frustration with how his tenure came to an end, he's as impressed as anyone at how Arnel Pineda has embraced the pressure of the role.
Soto arrived in Journey in 2006 after Steve Augeri started battling throat issues that rendered him unable to tour. While Soto was initially announced as a permanent member of the band, he was replaced by Pineda in 2007.
While Soto tells the RobCast podcast that he got the gig because guitarist Neal Schon knew he could get up to speed quickly, the singer added that it was "really difficult to adapt" to life on stage with Journey.
"First of all, my voice was already kind of going through its changes," he said. "If I had gotten that Journey gig even five years earlier ... I would have just killed the range, the intensity of what Perry left behind. The biggest problem ... was the fact that Steve Perry was alive and well."
During the press tour for his latest solo album, Traces (released last fall), Perry himself conceded that even he can't sing his old Journey parts the same way. He recalled embracing the challenge of writing more and more difficult vocals on each Journey album, until eventually he got too burned out to continue.
But beyond the physical challenge of singing songs from Perry's prime, Soto says the idea that Perry could return to Journey at any time put him under a microscope in direct sunlight; he was bound to go up in smoke.
"It's a totally different situation when you have like, say, Queen for instance," Soto continued. "You know there's no chance of Freddie Mercury come back. When Steve Perry is just sitting in his backyard sipping on some Kool-Aid, and you're on stage trying to pull his s--t off, you've got a lot of people ... they're gonna bag on you because, 'We don't want this. We want Perry. Why doesn't Perry come back?' ... I had to deal with a lot of that, as I'm sure Augeri had to, and even Arnel had to."
Soto added that all these years later he feels disrespected by Journey, which for some reason is loathe to acknowledge his time with the band.
"There's zero mention — there's zero attention brought to the fact that I was even in the band and I did those tours," he said. "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."
Photos: Getty Images