Journey: The 2005 Generations Interviews.
Part 4 - Ross Valory. Bassist come vocalist Ross Valory talks about the last 2 Journey albums and his new pet project - his website.
Ross Valory has for many years been the quiet one in Journey. Letting Neal and Jonathan speak for him in recent years, he has now taken a stance and is talking more and talking enthusiastically about the many projects he has been involved in over the years outside of Journey. And he talks passionately about his new baby – his very own website!
Hey Andrew, can you hold just one moment.
Well, good timing
.I was still on the bus at 5.30, I just got to the hotel room.
I'm just sitting down to have a chat with Andrew.
It's great to finally talk to you. In our organization you are listed as a prominent journalist.
It's great to finally interview you!
You generally have the up and up on just about everything in music, at least as far as you cover.
Let me ask you a few questions first
[I undergo a short interrogation about my background quite a surprise given that I am supposed to be interviewing Ross, but it's cool to have the artist take an interest in who they are talking to
So you have the Generations album there and you are guarding it with your life. [this interview was done just as it was about to be released at the band's concerts and pre-European release]
Yes I am indeed.
Ok, so you are on the up and up with that. That's good they treated you to that. I think you certainly deserve to have it given your outlook and your positive about this band.
Well, I have always loved the band and you guys have treated me with respect also.
is your website all configured in your home or do you have an office?
A bit of both
I have a separate office at my house.
Ok, that's great you don't have t put up with other phone calls and 'honey, mow the lawn' and stuff like that.
I've had studios off an on through my past some have been within the home compound and it's convenient to walk out of one door and walk in another, but sometimes you get stuck by all the distractions. Now my studio is a good 20 minute drive.
So that if it becomes necessary I don't have to answer the phone or just unplug it.
Anyway what is the scope of what we are talking about here today?
Well Ross, let's talk about the tour about to start and of course, the main topic the Generations release
.and your debut as a singer!
Yes, one more item
my debut as a lead singer!
Is the world ready for Ross the lead singer?
Tell us about your part in recording the new Generations album.
The recording of Generations is some of my proudest moments. The music is strong, it's varied, it's surprisingly not necessarily what people would expect from Journey.
With the deprival of Arrival being that nobody thought anything of it for whatever reason we made a sincere and conscientious attempt at writing music that tied to our past influences and past styles. That threads, that signature
from Arrival to the songs we were most known for in the past.
And it did absolutely no good. It didn't mean anything to anybody.
In spite of what I believe and what you believe, ah, they were some quality songs and quality recordings representing the Journey style and all of a sudden nothing happened. Right Andrew?
I can't entirely blame Napster for this. But what it did do is give people like you and the rest of our fans the chance to review the material before its release and tell us what they thought it needed and as a result we added two more rock n roll songs to make it less soft.
But regardless of all that I think it was a fine album and a fine representation of the current band and its ties to the past and nothing happened.
So on this round, with Generations, we said 'what the heck - let's do what we want to do' and let the dice fall which ever way they fall.
And this is what it is. This is a band without any restrictions. I really feel that way and as we have been doing the last year or so with our live performance, everyone has been singing lead songs.
This is not my debut record well for the first time in 30 years it is but I had already been singing Walks Like A Lady for the last tour and it's getting a very good response.
People are just about to get a beer or something and they look up and go 'wait and minute
this is different.'
I'm the blues guy!
The blues guy.
I have worked out that my niche with this band is the blues guy, even though I really come from a classical/jazzy background. I spent many years being exposed to and being immersed in the blues first with the Steve Miller Band and then having played with Neal for 30 years you can't help but be influenced by the blues. Then there's the Sy Klopps Blues Band. You are aware of them?
Yes, I have one of the CDs here.
I guess I'm the blues guy it's completely different from the way everyone else is singing their songs and I'm happy to have that place in it all.
It's quite a bulldozer of a song.
It's an interesting boogie. The first thing I thought of when I heard it was it reminded me of Styx's James Young and his lead vocals.
I'm not familiar with his style.
His does a lead vocal or two on each Styx album.
I will apologise for not being up with their repertoire.
Even though Styx, REO and Journey are all in the same genre, when I get home I don't listen to pop music.
When I am in the car, I have 2 classic stations, a jazz station and on the AM, it's all talk. Some political, some art bell.
When I go to a record store, I'm buying the Mozart and Miles Davis that I haven't got yet. Sort of retro for me.
Getting back to what you were saying though. There is a new approach by Journey there with everyone singing something.
And isn't Deen something else?
I love the Deen tracks.
When are you going to come and se us live again?
Not anytime soon sadly
.but I am looking forward to getting feedback from the new tour. A 3 hour show!
Yeah, it's starting tomorrow night
.have you talked to anyone else yet?
No, you are number 1 the first!
It's a 3 hour show with a brief intermission, 1 hour to start and a short break and 2 hours after that.
You would have done your homework on early Journey we are doing material from the first three albums in that first set.
The first hour starts in 1975 and takes us right up to Infinity.
The second set is 2 hours long and features the dirty dozen and the new material.
Are you going to sing your new track?
We won't be singing new Deen songs as he will be busy singing the Perry songs from the elder years during the first set. While playing the drums of course! The fact he does them both at the same time is amazing
it has to be tiring, but he can do it!
Have you talked to him yet?
No, he's next
that is the gist of what the set is. It was very interesting putting this together and it was a lot of fun, it's going to be a long evening.
Of course the CD for most of the concerts will be available. It will be given at most of the concerts. At some shows the arrangement with the promoter is a little different. They have to be purchased due to politics, but most of the shows will have them given away.
I was frustrated to see CDs on sale at the show I saw in 2003, with 20,000 people in attendance, but most of them walking out afterwards.
They should have had the music!
.Generations is quite an accomplishment and it reaches out into new areas.
There are many things about Every Generation that is Rolling Stones-ish, there is Faith In The Heartland that smacks of U2 and that's a compliment it's not like us trying to sound like U2.
I don't want to mention other bands as it might give your readers the wrong impression.
But we stretched out into areas that we liked. With Arrival, we tried to be loyal to the sound and style of those past hits and it didn't make any difference. Now we are just doing what we want to do.
And we can handle it if they don't like it as we are used to that also!
The reaction to Arrival and Red 13 was off the wall! I loved it, but they just didn't know what do to with it.
You have a certain portion of your audience that wants it played safe don't you?
Yes, they want the hits and they will get them, but we expect them to be patient and forgiving and open minded enough to hear songs that they didn't either know or didn't think as much of and new material that they have never heard before.
The band for its first three albums and first five years had a different kind of following it was more a male demographic.
The band was progressive with long solos, no one worried about 3 and a half minutes 'don't bore us, get to the chorus' and we played what we wanted to play.
And we had a loyal and consistent following of ticket buyers and record buyers that consisted of about 500,000 people.
That's as big as it got it never grew any more than that. We said we are going to have to do something if we want to succeed in this business.
When we made the conscious decision to change the menu, to move to more vocally, song orientated material. Then along came Robert Fleischmann briefly, then Steve Perry.
That was all a conscious, definite move to change. In the process I'd say that we lost maybe 300,000 of those original fans.
They went 'what's this
who's that guy'?
And they went to Rush and Genesis and the other bands that proved to be successful as progressive bands. We were one of the first progressive rock bands, but it took someone else to break that market open financially.
Meanwhile we went onto singing songs and become very successful at it. I'd like to think that people who pay attention to your journalism know that we are returning to that at least for a concert season, to that material that some of those early fans loved come on back and at least stay for the first hour.
we've talked about that blues guy I've always been a singer, always been capable of lead singer. In some cases it is a matter of confidence, but I've been surrounded by some of the best
There wasn't really a place for me in that. All of a sudden it has happened and it was a little easier than I thought it would be.
I can handle the fans
I'll sing autographs still
But I have been involved in a host of musical projects in my own camp and visiting other people's camps. In all musical styles.
I have always considered that my life away from Journey is something that had no business application. I was enjoying music for itself.
But all of a sudden I have been inspired and motivated to develop a solo career, hence rossvalory.com and a manager.
This guy is new to the music business, but he is enterprising, he is inventive and he has taken the bull by its horns along with my webmaster they are hand in hand in conspiring to make me the best website as far as the best technology available.
It will have all the bells and whistles as it gets developed.
So what's going on? I've decided to be a solo artist where do I begin? Well, I start with an album by a band that most people have never heard of it was a band in-between Journeys called The VU. The band consisting of a very fine lead singer in Kevin Chalfant, who was also in a subsequent band called The Storm with Gregg Rolie and Steve Smith.
The VU also features Steff Burns, Tim Gorman and Prairie Prince
.it appeared in the late 80s, and being that it was an offshoot of Journey, but not Journey in an era of music where labels could find young cheap bands and either make a million or not lose anything
everyone liked the music, but they said 'we're just not selling that right now'.
In other words, there was people out there that would buy it, but these guys weren't interested in selling it.
That was basically what they were saying.
So nobody's heard this music we have new artwork, new photos, new graphics and that will be my first offering at rossvalory.com
Yes, it's 15 years old, but from that era it's as good as anything else out there.
I know the album well; it is certainly an excellent AOR record.
Well there ya go it's coming back. Now
there is another project VTR Valory, George Ticker, founding member of Journey and Pete Roseman, good friend and local musician I have known for years.
We've been in our spare time, in my studio, working on instrumental material for 6 or 7 years. Well finally it's time to take the best 9 songs, mix them and put them out. Do the artwork and also by the way we are involving David Williams, better known as Wavid, the artist who has done stuff for Journey.
He is doing the VU, he is doing VTR, so I'm sure people will like the look.
This music of VTR is instrumental and the title will be Cinema. It is music influences from around the world, different places, from different times.
Very pleasing and certainly furthest from Journey that any of the solo artists have reached. Very different.
Then there is my approach with Frumious Bandersnatch. You would have done your research and know this.
Actually, this one is news to me!
Well Frumious did re-release its original album a while back on Ace Records. But Frumious did reconvene in the last couple of years and create a new album and that will debut on my website when it is finally mixed this summer.
Now, Sy Klopps I was basically musical director for the first album. That album and the second album, with, now with Herbie Herbert's agreement, will be released.
Not only am I taking projects I was directly involved with I am also taking projects as a discography that I appeared on as the bassist, with the permission of the artist, that I will sell on my website.
Eventually in the near future you will also see Sy Klopps Volume 1 and 2.
Also Neil Za Za
That's a great record.
His product is being shipped as we speak Staring At The Sun will be appearing on the store.
Then there is Todd Tundgren 'Second Wind' I am going to approach Todd, this is a hopeful that album was forced upon him by Warner Bros.
They insisted that he given them his final album of the contract, even though he knew and they knew they were going to throw it away.
So he said 'you know what
I'm going to give them more than they ever expected'. And sure enough, it went by the wayside, but I'm going to try and get that for my website release.
I am hopeful for The Storm also.
Great! Why not! It goes on and on. I have a whole list of things I was involved with very fine products that I am very proud of that a lot of people never heard.
Now we have rossvalory.com that is linked directly to the Journey site. You want to know what I do in my spare time, we'll, this is what I do and a lot of people don't know about this stuff.
You work with a couple of very vocal and public people in Jonathan and Neal, so it's great to see you putting your name out there a little more.
Well, I am now making myself visible.
I learnt a lot of things from Neal and Jonathan.
I might have forgotten to tell you something things
all these things!
You are a busy guy!
When people go to my site they will see a desert motif, they won't understand that unless they understand me.
I'm a jester
a chameleon; you never know what I'm going to say next especially when you give me a microphone or you give me a website!
There you go!
Those of you that pay attention to Andrew, don't be confused, just go there and click on the proper buttons and listen to what's there and I'm sure you will be pleased by it and there is going to be more to come.
I'm a very eclectic guy
I have grown up that way - everything from church music to gospel to jazz, to vocal, classical
.I have been involved with these people over the last 15 years since they heyday of Journey and now it's all coming out at once.
I'm this beaver that has been building this dam and I don't even know why I did it and all of a sudden it's time to cut the water lose and it's moving down the valley very quickly.
I'm very excited about it honestly folks
I can't believe this is happening, but then something else says I can't believe didn't I do it sooner.
But it's never too late.
Uh-hu, uh-hu know that title?
Sounds like a good song title.
.so that's what's going on.
I am also in business with Prairie Prince for a certain kind of apparel. Let me think
what can I say when you put this piece of apparel on, you become the animal that it represents.
It's not a picture of an animal on your shirt you become the beast that's all I can say without you signing a non-disclosure agreement.
If I told you any more I'd have to kill you.
Being that I can't reach you with a gun barrel, I can't tell you!
We'll go into more depth when that's ready
we are still in the research and development side of things.
I can tell you one thing I knew when I was 25 or 30 years old, I thought things are hopping now, but something tells me that I'm going to be twice as busy in the second half of my life.
I'm going to let you go unless there is anything else you would like to cover, I know you have to speak to Deen.
You have given me more info than I anticipated Ross!
Great, I'll let you get on to Deen.
It's been a pleasure talking to you.
You know, some people you can talk easily with, so it's been a please and an honor.