I can not tell you how long I've been bugging Rindell to set this up for me, and hoping that it would come together. Because I am a huge fan of your work, let me say. I'm flattered, I truly am. I've read your reviews and the kind words that you've said about me. I'm thankful, I truly am.
You have some big shoes to fill. I think you've done it with ease. For me, although I've been at this for nearly three years now, it still seems, for this first record, I still feel like we got a ways to go as far as finding the right niche. But I think we're on the right track. I think every time we play together whether it's rehearsal, recording or shows, we still get a little closer to our final destination. And I think as time goes by, I think by the next record, I think we're going to get it. If you like it this time out, I hope to think you'll really like it next time, cause I think it will be that much more where it should be.
We did a lot of experimenting through the past three years. We were fearless. We tried a lot of different styles, a lot of different directions and we figured hey, you know, we've got time. Let's break down the barriers, let's not be this or that, let's try it all. After Kevin picked his songs, it became Arrival.
But before Arrival, we were all over the place. That was a lot of fun. We learned a lot about each other, we learned a lot about each other's musical influences and backgrounds, we dabbled in a little of this and a little of that. It was a lot of fun.
I'll tell you, it was a great deal of fun.
I've got some questions regarding the songs. What I think is very cool, and somewhat ironic, is the first line you sing on the whole album - 'So I think I've got it all in place now'. What do you think, does that just about sum it up? You know, it's funny how that just happened to be the opening lines. Sort of like when we do our shows, when I sing "Separate Ways" its like 'here I stand' kind of a thing. It just worked out that way. Yeah. I mean, I have Jack Blades to thank for that lyric (laughs).
It just seemed very fitting. Your voice sounds immaculate. It's a fabulous line and it just sounds great. I appreciate it. I first heard a batch of songs. That was a batch of, I think, three that Neal had sent me that he had written with Jack. And each and every one of them was better than the last. One after the other knocked my socks off. That one was absolutely wonderful. In fact, there were a handful of others that I couldn't believe didn't make the record. I personally think you would have absolutely flipped out because they were really melodic, really in vain of classic melodic rock. One song in particular, that we hope to see on the next record.
This is your first recording in several years as a singer. You've been with the band nearly three years. I can't believe how quickly that's gone. On the eve of the U.S. release, what emotions are you feeling now?
Well I'll tell you, just now I'm getting a little excited. The record could have easily been out a year ago, as far as I remember. My memory isn't as good as it should be. After age 40 , I kind of lost it (laughs).
Right now, everything is starting to come together. We've released two singles out through American Radio here in the states. And they are slowly but very, very surely gaining chart position. I just checked the charts yesterday. It's a nice sure movement. They are jumping up about 10 spots a week. If we continue this gradual climb up the charts, by the time the record gets released, in about a month's time, I think we're going to have some really great chart position.
And by then, hopefully the record company will feel very confident in promoting the record as they should. We all have our fingers crossed. There are no guarantees in life. No matter who you are. Especially not for Journey. Especially in the position we are here, right now. But I think, I take a look at the charts, and things seem to be taking shape very nicely and we're feeling very confident.
What support to you feel from the label. Do you have the feeling that they are behind you? I'll put it to you this way. I've heard from their mouth, that we're going to get wonderful support. That they love the material and they are going to give us the support. But seeing is believing. The truth of the matter is, you can only have faith. We are all going to put our faith in the music and in the band. As long as we have faith in ourselves, we're going to make this thing happen.
I have all the faith in the world in these guys. With that alone, I feel very confident.
That's a great attitude for sure. I don't think I've seen any interviews with you thus far, or not many at least, a couple in Japan obviously. For those who don't really know the story, I just wanted to cover how you got hooked up with the band in the first place. You've got a mutual friend in Joe... His name is Cefalu. I'll try to make it brief. Because it's long distance. I don't know, what time is it over there?
It's eight in the morning. Ah, good morning! Have your coffee? I'm making a cup of coffee right now, how about yourself?
I just make one for my fiancée actually. Congratulations. Good luck to you.
Thank you. Well, I'll make this short and sweet, or as short as I can.
Joe was a fellow Brooklynite who since moved to Neal's neck of the woods in San Francisco. It seems he was a Journey fan as a child. Neal was basically one of his idols growing up. Anyway, he turned out to be quite some guitarist. Before he moved out there, I had made his acquaintance and I actually sang on a few of his demos. Just brilliant. Along the lines of Satriani and Steve Vai.
This was after Tall Story's first record. And we were just getting ready to do the second album, more writing for our second album, and we befriended each other. Anyway, I did some demos with him. Off he goes to San Francisco.
Hadn't heard from him in quite some time until one day I get a phone call from him and by the time I speak to him, I had sung with Tyketto for a short time and basically went into retirement.
To put it as simply as possible, I had a great deal more success in my career than a great deal of other musicians, especially people that I know. I was able to release a couple of records. I toured some of the world. I made a lot of friends along the way. I was able to perform my music in front of thousands of people and I felt myself very fortunate. But at the time, success hadn't come my way. And the fact is, I have a family, I had a child. I guess I was doubting myself perhaps. I guess that's reality. I had to take care of business, so I took myself a nine-to-five with The Gap.
Actually, I did 2 years of construction here in New York. I became a manager. I was a maintenance manager for thirty stores in Manhattan. So when they would fall apart, I'd have to fix them. Everything from broken plumbing to electrical and painting, you name it.
So a year goes by and Joe Cefalu, this wonderful guitarist gives me a call. He says listen, Steve, I'm friendly with Neal and I was speaking with Neal the other day and he tells me that Steve Perry is no longer with the band and they're starting to look for vocalists. They are wanting to reform Journey and go on with another singer. It had been a year since I was working at The Gap and it was two years since I even sang a note in public. So I was like, that's really great but, regardless of whether I was singing or not, I thought it was just crazy. Out of my reach. It was a wonderful, flattering thing but I thought he was just bonkers.
I love this story, I love it (laughing). Seriously. Put yourself in my position. You're talking about Journey, you're not talking about a baby band. You're not taking about amateurs. You're not talking about the little leagues. You're talking about the major leagues. Yankees, World Series.
I really do love this story, I'm enjoying this. That's the truth. I was yeah, yeah, yeah. He said look Steve, you can do it.
Send me a tape. Tall Stories records at the time, or CDs were very scarce and rare. He said please send me a CD and I'll give it to Neal.
I told him yeah, OK, I'll do that. And a week went by. We're calling on weekends and after certain hours because we're both poor. So he takes a whole week until the rates drop like after nine o'clock. He calls me and says, Steve what happened? I'm waiting a whole week for this tape. I said look Joe, to be honest with you, I was never going to send the tape. I said I just don't think so, I really appreciate it, but you're crackers.
He said listen, I'm going to put it together. What three songs do you want me to put together on the tape? I said Joe, I don't even know. He said, I'll tell you what, I'll put this tape together. I'll pick the three songs, you leave it to me.
I did exactly that. We hung up. I thought he was out of his mind and I didn't think anything of it, truly, until I get a phone call three days later from Neal, or at least someone who said it was Neal. I wasn't quite sure if someone was putting me on or perhaps it was truly Neal. I didn't acknowledge that it was him, nor did I blow him off totally. I waited until we got off the phone.
I called Joe back immediately and he said Steve, you might want to sit down because what I'm going to tell you is going to blow you away. I spoke to Neal and I gave him a tape and it seems as though Neal knew of me from my Tall Story days. He was aware of the band. He and Jon both, when they were in Bad English, he was living in Los Angeles at the time and heard a Tall Stories record on the radio out there all the time. When Joe handed him the CD, he said we were already thinking about this guy. So it was just one of those synergy things, it was synchronicity, things just seem to come into place.
The only thing I needed to do was I begged Neal and Jon to give me a couple of weeks to prepare. Because after two years of not singing, I was basically like... nothing was really there. I auditioned; I had a weeks worth of singing with them. On the last day of the auditioning process, which was a writing and a get to know each other as well as a singing audition.
Things seemed to come into place in the clutch. Just at the right moment, the last day, down at the final wire. I guess I pulled it out of my hat. It's incredible. Sometimes I still don't believe it. But on the other hand, this is something I've dreamed of all my life. As crazy as it sounds, I was just telling somebody this today, this is what I've wanted to do all my life. I've just expected to do...not with Journey, it's still ridiculous. I always wanted to sing for people ever since I saw the Beatles on national television on the Ed Sullivan show here in the states. It just took me a little longer than everybody else (laughs).
Good luck to you. Good luck. I just think that's fantastic. And what does your wife think of this? Well you know, she couldn't be any more happy. You know, obviously the pitfalls are for a touring musician, when you have a family. The hardest part is leaving them every so often for a couple of months at a time. How do say goodbye to your wife and children? Except thank goodness for long distance bills and cell phones. So you're constantly on the phone and you fly them out as often as you can whenever the schedules allow. We've done that the last two tours and we'll do it again this summer.
That's wonderful. This may be too broad of a question but is there any song you auditioned on for the guys? Like your first song. Absolutely. The three main songs were "Don't Stop Believing", "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways". Here's the beauty of the story, at least for me.
As I said, I hadn't sang for two years and when I first got in there, it was pretty rusty, the pipes were real rusty. It took about a week to get them warmed up and I was a little intimidated at first sitting down with the guys. By the last day I said this is a do or die situation. Things seemed to be going my way that particular day. We recorded these three songs. After the recording they were going to send it off to John Kalodner at the record company to get his opinion. After the third song, the guys were pretty happy and Neal was kind of high-fiving Jon.
I was feeling pretty cocky and pretty proud of myself. And I had one foot out the door, I was on my way back on an airplane to New York City and I turned around and I said listen, there's one song I really, really would love to sing. All the while to myself I thinking, if I blow this, I very well could be blowing the audition.
But I turned around and said listen, can we just try "Open Arms"? I don't know what came over me, I was just crazy. But I did it, and I guess it turned out OK, because here I am, speaking with you. But it could have went the other way.
I doubt it! I've never been much of a gambler. I'll tell you what's funny too. I was working at this day job and I told my boss over at The Gap, I said listen, I need a week off, a leave of absence. Which they were good enough to give me. But is was a gamble, going out there and doing this thing. Chasing that dream, that lifelong dream. Because I'd never been a gambler. I mentioned to somebody else, I've never been very ambitious. In fact I'm what I call an under achiever. You can give me that title. This was something..., there is a wonderful song by Ricky Lee Jones called "Last Chance Texaco". Basically it's about that last gas station before you hit the desert. This was my last chance Texaco. This was my last shot at my dream. That's the way I looked at it. And well, it worked out.
Fantastic. I did hear it once said that you used a vocal coach, is that correct?
Just to train it up - to get fit again? Well, for sure. I saw the coach immediately after I left the guys in San Francisco.
I flew to Los Angeles to see one of the finer coaches in the Los Angeles area. And this guy got me on track real fast. And then I saw a couple of people here in New York. And quite frankly, I truly needed one.
Whether or not I hadn't sang for two years or not because I kind of grew up singing just the way I wanted to and never had any true guidance. Going out on the road for months at a time you've got to be in amazing...you've got to be an animal to be able to last five shows, two hours a night during the week and go a few months at a time.
When I was younger, when you're younger, period, you have the muscle stamina, you have the muscle tone. But once you hit a certain age, this goes for female vocalists as well, just like your body, just like the biceps kind of wither away if you let them, if you're Charles Atlas.
Do you guys know Charles Atlas over there? I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger works twice as hard now than he did when he was a kid. That's just biology. Long story short, you really have to whip yourself back into shape and I just couldn't do it, what I used to be able to do when I was twenty out of pure adrenaline and pure youth. So I had to go and see somebody that would teach me the finer techniques of singing and think of something that would get me over those long two, three month tours. And low and behold, I've had some great teachers along the way, and it's still a work in progress. Just like anything else in a profession or any kind of educational area you can always keep learning.
Different people can teach you different things. I'm happy to say that I'm studying with a couple of different people for the different reasons and it's great fun to be honest with you.
Are you conscious at all of your natural vocal comparison to Steve Perry? Or is it something that's just there? Yeah, you know I wasn't aware of it so much until people kept approaching me and I kept on hearing it more and more and more.
Within the last 15 years or so, especially with Tall Stories. Obviously there are similarities in timbre and even style wise. But honestly, it was a subconscious thing initially. Then when we did the Tall Stories record, as much as Jack Morrow, the guitarist would deny it, he was the first one to keep telling me Steve, you got to lay off of the Perryism. That was the word he used. The Perryism.
That was the little joke, and I was like, I don't get it. I don't understand what you're talking about. Perhaps I was in denial at the time. I just didn't see it.
He was a wonderful writer and he wrote wonderful songs that were not unlike Journey songs. He was very similar in his guitar approach, they're both really great, wonderful guitarists and they have a lot of similarities too. So I think that also added to the Journeyisms, not just the Perryisms.
But was I aware of it. Initially no, until it was brought up to me.
Before Tall Stories, I worked with a band, in fact three members of Tall Stories other than myself were originally three Brazilian musicians. And one by one, they were replaced by an American musician in New York City. Before that, we shot the tape to Columbia and they actually said this sounds like Journey meets Sade (laughs). That was the very first time anyone compared me to Steve Perry. And then it opened the flood gates after that.
But I'll tell you one thing, I'm getting more comparisons now to Kenny G lately. The visual thing. I can't walk down the street without people saying hello Kenny!!
That's funny (laughing).
You should try it someday (laughing).
I'll jump forward a little. I'm a big fan of the Tall Stories album and I had that long before you were in Journey. It took me a long time to find it on CD as you were saying. But I have it, thankfully. And I think half the album you're yes, Journey-Steve Perryish, but the other half you sound more your own person obviously but there's a little bit of another favorite lead singer of mine called Glenn Hughes in there.
Way back when, I was watching television here at home, and this is going back in the seventies, and I saw...put it this way, Burn, I was just crazy about that particular record, and Stormbringer. Glenn just absolutely blew me out of the water. I had the pleasure of meeting him during the recordings of Arrival. He was in town writing with Pat Thrall. Those two, that Hughes/Thrall record just slays me. That record kicks.
'I Got Your Number'... ah yeah... Cover to cover, from the coolest, grooviest stuff to the two heaviest tracks you ever heard. "Muscle and Blood" and ... anyway, huge fan. Just absolutely huge fan. That dude, what he does with his voice. He takes it from a whisper to a scream. He takes it from..., the dynamics that that cat has, I truly aspire to sing with his kind of passion and his kind of control. Never mind the technical side is the emotion. Just beautiful what he does. He's my kind of guy. He's my kind of vocalist.
Really pleased to hear you say that. Oh forget about it. Forget about it. But before him, my very first concert was a Humble Pie concert. Steve Marriott was my truly, very, very first..., aside from the Beetles which everybody liked. I was fifteen when I saw Steve Marriott and Humble Pie here in New York I was first row, my brother had taken me for my birthday. And that's when I knew, I've got to do this. I really have to do this.
I connected with Steve. It's a funny thing, we share the same birthday.
Oh, do you really? I could swear, I'm telling you there was some connection that particular night and I said that's what it's all about. I mean I'm a bigger fan that I am...that's why I'm so charged about music today, because I'm such a huge fan.
When I got back to music, after coming back to sing with Journey, after I left the guys, when I turned around I said listen: this is kind of a far fetched thing, me coming out here and auditioning for you guys. I told them, one thing I have to thank you for is this could go one way, it could work out, it may not.
But I have to thank you guys so much for just having me out here and getting me back in touch with my love of music. Because I actually lost it. Because when I turned my back, you kind of, sort of try to bury the past because it was very painful. They unearthed it and they gave it back to me. I said if this thing doesn't work out, that's cool because I got a chance to meet you and have a little fun.
But I said you really did give me a gift in just singing again. And I said the one thing I'll do, I'll go back and I'm going to sing again. You got me back into it and you gave me back my music. I thanked them. So I've actually had this kind of rebirth thing and I've been getting in touch with my old records that I grew up and was inspired from and influenced way back when.
That's one of them, those early Glenn Hughes records and Coverdale. Those two guys were brilliant together. What a team.
I'd love to see them on a record together. There was some word that someone was trying to do that. Yeah, I don't know. You know Tall Stories, we had another great vocalist in the band that never really got a chance to sing as much as he probably should have, and that was our bassist Kevin Dutorian. Looking back in hindsight, I would have loved to have done something like the Coverdale/Hughes thing. I'm sure there would have been some tension between the two but boy, did it make great records. Don't you think?
Yeah, oh absolutely, absolutely. Magic. Those guys were just better. One guy was just better than the next every song you put on. Holy man.
Two enormous egos and both really going at it. I imagined, I imagined. But the talent was there so you got to give it to them.
Oh absolutely. Look, I've interviewed both of them and it was an absolute joy talking to them, it really was. They're really nice. Yeah Glenn was really a sweetheart, he was great. And Pat Thrall, he's wonderful.
Looking forward to their new record. Oh, same here. It's got to be great.
I'll jump to Tall Stories still while we're on that. I actually had an e-mail from Jack a little while ago, your guitarist. You're joking, no kidding!
Yeah! I don't know if you two are still in contact, or do you see each other do you? It's funny, the last I saw him was at that fellow who got me that Journey audition, Joe Cefalu. He invited me to his wedding and my wife and I arrived at the reception and there was Jack sitting next to me. So it was wonderful.
It was a great re-union of sorts and we just laughed and had a few. Actually we didn't have any cocktails. Not that we don't drink or anything but we just happened to stay sober that particular day. That same night I was flying to San Francisco to meet with the guys so I was minding my P's and Q's. We had a great reunion and we talked over old times. So how was he doing? What was the e-mail about?
He was good. I actually mentioned him on the site that the Tall Stories CD was getting re-released in Japan in conjunction with the Journey back catalogue. And he emailed me going, What!!? Oh how cool is that?
I'll have to forward his e-mail address to you. You know, in fact, I think he had given it to me but I misplaced it. I would love it. I understand, did he mention, right now he's on tour with a Broadway show?
He didn't tell me what he is doing. Yeah he's doing a show out here called Swing. And he's on tour with them throughout the states and he's back on the road. In a different capacity. Let me tell you, Jack, he's a guitarist's guitarist.
He went to school at a very high level music college down in Florida, University. And he can play inside out. He knows that thing inside out, upside down.
He'll play anything from Wes Montgomery to Django Reinhardt and then Jimi Hendrix. And his boy was really Eric Clapton. Boy he could whip out any Cream song at the drop of a hat. And then he had his own thing, which was wonderful.
Did you guys ever start recording or finish recording any extra tracks other than the original? We did tons of demos. In fact, this is the crazy thing about, unfortunately, what the demise of Tall Stories was this; we were demoing and demoing and demoing and at that time we got the record out, very similar to the Journey record, about a year after it had been finished and should have been released already.
It had been, I wouldn't say shelved, but it was definitely postponed, the release date. So by the time it had come out, the timing was so wrong, it coincided with Pearl Jam's release. The writing was on the wall. The music industry in the states was going to change, was going to push this new sound. Which is very healthy, I guess, to business. Not very healthy to Tall Stories.
Wonderfully for us, we happened to go out on the road for two months with Mr. Big and that was great. It got us some exposure. We did some gigs. We did two months of touring with them, which was wonderful. They were very inspiring. The history was, this music right now was starting to get ignored by the record company. Although you'd never know it because we rolled into Seattle, the home of grunge, back in '92 and we thought it was going to be the worst gig ever.
But it was the best response that we got out of the whole tour. It was ridiculous. That was the irony thing. The irony was that the folks, the rock and rollers that were truly into melodic and hard rock were...maybe they just didn't want to hear another grunge song. They really wanted to hear something fresh for a change. Which is kind of what's happening now I think, here in the states.
You know things are kind of cycular. I think this sound, just good melodic rock and roll is coming around again. It'd be played at least commercially on radio stations that is. I think we're at a good time, here right now. Things are starting to look good right now. As far as the Arrival CD is concerned.
So you've got a whole bunch of Tall Stories demos lying around. Oh yeah, bunch of demos. And what happened was, we were playing them this, we were playing them that. And basically they were telling us that this sound was over. Steve, you sound like Steve Perry.
They sound like Journey tracks. That's when the Journey comparisons were really heavy. Basically the demise of Tall Stories was that we were getting compared to Journey a great deal at the time.
So it got to the point that we were starting to do songs that were absolutely out of my style, vocally. And I was trying, I was experimenting you know. I was brave, I was courageous. I'd give anything a shot, but it wasn't me. And as much as we tried, I was just going to feel like I wasn't true to myself any longer.
So quite some time passed by and I got a phone call from Brooke St. James of Tyketto. And Brook tells me, he says, you know what? We're writing a new record and I was wondering if you had some time. Won't you come down and we'll play some guitars together, try to write a couple songs.
So we had been friends together, Tyketto and Tall Stories. We were mutual friends. We'd go see each others shows here in the New York area. They're a great bunch of guys. I really like Brook a lot, and I said sure. At the time he never mentioned anything about Danny not being present.
So I took a drive out to the next state, to Jersey and started writing some songs. And as a week or two go by I start getting the vibe that Danny is no longer in the picture. I'm now three weeks into the writing sessions and their drummer lays on the deal that Danny is no longer with the band and would I consider, instead of just writing, would I consider singing with the band.
Actually, at the time, it wasn't even a Tyketto thing. They said, would you like to form a band? We were just jelling, and it was a lot of great energy and a lot of positive vibes happening. So much that, it hadn't felt like that with Tall Stories in quite some time. We were just getting a lot of negative responses from record company and management. As mush as we loved each other's music and music ideas, the thrill was starting to leave. The thrill was starting to go, and it was starting to emerge within the Tyketto camp. So it only felt natural, it felt like the right thing to do at the time, to join up with the guys.
And I said I had learned that Danny Vaughn was no longer with the band and I really enjoyed working with them so we gave it a shot. We started writing the record and I tell you we must have wrote it in a month. And we recorded it in even less time. We must have recorded it in two weeks. It seemed like that, everything went down that fast. Just before the record was going to be released, we had another name picked out, we were going to do music that we felt like doing. We just felt, stylistically, it was just the thing that happened. We didn't try to do this or that or the other thing. It's just what came out. Just before the release of the record, the record company gets back to the guys in the band and says listen, we are not going to release the record unless you release it as Tyketto.
Typical. And it was the worst thing for us because it really stiffed the fans. It kind of limited our chances of any kind of success because everyone that expected the record out really was waiting for a Tyketto record.
Not a rhythm and bluesy, we were kind of doing 70's influence in a lot of the songs and it was just not as melodic as the Tyketto stuff was. Unfortunately we turned off a lot of their old fan base. We wound up winning back a couple of them and making some new fans along the way but I tell you, no regrets.
Great guys. We really had great times. We went over to Europe a couple of times. Traveling with a rock and roll band is always a lot of fun and we really enjoyed each other's company. Made a lot of friends.
Again, as I said, just going out and playing music for people. You don't have to go out and make a million dollars. You get into this business initially because you love the art form. The music. And that's what we did. We had a good time. And like I said, no regrets. We went our separate ways.
But that, replacing Danny Vaughn in Tyketto, was a very huge learning experience for me. Because, when I got the opportunity to work with Journey, I had learned a lot of lessons and I knew I made quite a few mistakes. Well, not so much mistakes, I knew some things to do and some things not to do. Again, I think it was meant to be.
Obviously on your first tour, maybe even your second tour, a lot people didn't know that Steve Perry was out of the band. Did you feel a lot of pressure to pull off the best performance you could? Whether or not you're replacing such a heavyweight of a vocalist in the first place, you always go out with that...you always want to give two hundred percent. Then you add the Steve Perry factor, and the replacement factor. Ask Gary Cherone and ask Sammy Hagar. Although, obviously both those guys were established. They had one up on me. Getting somebody who's an unknown, actually maybe it worked a lot in my favor also, it's hard to say.
Because it might have actually helped. But yeah sure, I felt the pressure. But as I learned early on, you just have to do your best. Because the minute you start thinking about it, that's when the slope gets slippery. You just do your best, as with anything. If you're a shoemaker, you just try to make the best pair of shoes you can. Same thing with singing.
Were you happy with the fan reaction? Absolutely. I mean really. I didn't expect the response that we had gotten. We didn't expect to get everybody back, all the Journey fans. But I can honestly say that I think that we got the majority of the old fan base back. It's hard to believe. And I never thought it would happen, but they were open-minded and open-hearted enough to give it a shot. To give it a chance. And for that I'll be forever thankful.
The response to, the feedback I've got from people emailing me about the shows and any reaction to the album has been absolutely, unanimously positive. I couldn't be more thankful. Not to say anything negative but you really can't expect..., and there are some folks. Neal and I laugh about it.
Every once in a while, there'll be a show and there will be one person out there in the audience. And for some reason, there's a beacon on them. They'll have their arms crossed and they won't have a happy face, a very sad face.
And you know, you have to respect it because they had the love enough for the band to come to see the band, and hear the music. I have to respect it. One of my most favorite bands also of all time was Led Zeppelin. And as much as I love David Coverdale, now they didn't try to reform Zeppelin, but I don't know if I would have been able to see Led Zeppelin formed with anybody else but Robert Plant singing. So I understand it, I respect it, and that's exactly how I approached singing with Journey. I'm not a cocky guy, although, maybe come talk to me a year from now. I've never had much of an ego (laughs). I hope it doesn't change.
I doubt it (laughing). I mean that's just the way it is. I'm a pretty blessed guy. I'm just happy with my life. I've got a good life. No complaints.
Nervous heading into the studio to record Arrival? Yeah, big time. Definitely big time. As much as I was telling myself, no.
The fact of the matter was, yes. In fact, just before the recording, we happened to get into this rehearsal studio. And do you think, after all this state of the art technology that you have, you get a world class band, get some rehearsals a week before, of pre-production, before a major recording.
And there's a less than adequate P.A. system, and monitor system. So for a week, I'm singing into the equivalent of, pick a Deep Purple concert, the loudest band in the world. I'm singing out of a, what do they call it, a vocal master. Which was a couple of ten inch speakers. My voice was toast. And here we are going in to record a Journey record (laughs). So I had to take two weeks off.
Absolutely. And I was frightened to death. I thought, oh my God, what did I do to myself? That's part of the game. You learn as you go. I was never experienced enough, never had I been in this situation where I would have known any better. I'll tell you now, next time I'll be a great deal more careful. You'll know to ask, look, I have to have this, I have to have that. I can't sing unless I can hear myself a little. Now I have that information. I'm programmed now, so I'll know that next time I go in to do the record. Everything turned out all right in the long run.
It gave me a little more grit, a little more gravel. Probably would have preferred to have been a little sweeter at times but that's all right, I was always a big Rod Stewart fan.
Rod's awesome but I think you sound sweet enough, believe me.
You know that was actually, my very first single, record actually, that I ever owned was "Maggie May". He was also one of my very, very early influences.
He's got a great voice.
Rod could do no wrong.
He's got an energy, hasn't he? The best. He's got it all. The voice, the attitude, the look. He always did. And he still has it. He's still out there, just released a record, he's still on the radio. You turn on the radio and they'll play his new single and they'll play, you know, "Maggie May" back to back. And I'll say, That's my man.
Yeah, I've got several of his records. I like them a lot. I was pleased to see that you're involved in the writing process on the album. You've got five songs that made the album. I thought that was great. Yeah, I think in fact, I'm not a hundred percent sure but, I think with the American release there's seven. But none the less, whether it was a hundred percent of the record or no involvement, the fact was when I was getting into the situation it was enough to sing. Just singing. That was enough of a case load, enough of a work load to deal with. The great thing about being with the guys in this band is that they gave me the opportunity to get involved in the writing process.
A part of the audition in fact when I first met them was, as I said, was not only to the singing part, as well as seeing if we were actually compatible. If we could stay in the same room for like an hour and not end up at each other's throat. You know, any fist fights. Which is very important. But they also wanted to see if I had any kind of input as far as creativity. Coming from them, to be able to do that to a novice, or an unknown, was very generous and they certainly didn't have to. So, as I said, they were gracious to offer that to me and I couldn't tell you how happy I am that they did.
How may songs did you demo for the album? I mean there's like fourteen on there. I would say a minimum of thirty. There had to be at least forty.
Oh wow! So there's that many demos sitting out there. And if I may say so, there were some songs that were left off the record that I really wish had gotten onto the record. In fact, there's a song that the guys wrote with Geoff Tate.
Oh really!? Yeah. That was absolutely amazing. Just amazing. The week that I went out to audition, we recorded four Journey songs and we recorded about four new songs. And one of them was a song they had written with Geoff and one other was "Signs of Life". In fact that was the very first song out of the bag as a Journey song. And it wound up making the record. So it has some staying power.
That's one of my favorite tracks on the album. Yeah, I'm glad. Thank you. It didn't change much from the very first day. So it was a keeper from the beginning. And the Geoff Tate song was spectacular. Stellar. And it was just brilliant. And it didn't make the record and I swore it would. It had a great ethereal, great moody vibe to it. It was very Pink Floydish. It had that dark thing going on. And I hope perhaps a soundtrack. I think it would be definitely suited for a soundtrack or something like that. "Walking Away From the Edge" it's called.
I would love to hear some of this stuff. You know what, if we meet up, I'll make sure we have a tape.
That would be great. I should hope that we make it your way.
I don't think so (laughs). Oh I think we're going to get there. We'll get to Australia.
I hope so! I only hope so.
But if not, I'm going to try to make it to the States because I've got to see you guys. That'd be great.
Favorite songs off the album, that did make the album? I swear it changes. In fact, I'll tell you what, going in to the recording I felt exactly the way Neal did. We wanted to make a rock and roll record. And then after everything was recorded, I found myself listening to ballads, or at least the less up-tempo, and the less mid-tempo. I jump depending on the mood that I'm in, I play the music that I can relate to. And so if I feel like jumping into the car and I've got to get to an appointment that I'm late for already a half hour, I'll throw on "Higher Place". And it gets me there. It makes that hour drive turn into twenty minutes, and a speeding ticket.
I play it on the way to work to, believe me.
You know, I think one of my favorites is "We'll Meet Again". It's one of my favorites and I'll tell you, it turned out a great deal different than the initial conception of the song. I especially like it because the inspiration to writing it was...after coming off tour on the first record, I was so impressed, getting back to the fans and the fans reaction. I was so impressed with their reaction.
And it was so difficult at the end of the night, after a two hour and fifteen minute set, to leave these audiences that went from skeptical to just charged and happy and elated that they had been to a Journey concert. And I was equally as elated that they were enjoying us, that when we came off the road I had this idea of just trying to express how I felt about how I can't wait to get back on our next tour. And how we would meet again. And that was kind of the general idea of the song. And the funny thing was, Neal had written a song years ago and laid a demo on it of a couple of really incredible rock and roll tracks, and that was one of them. In fact if you ever heard it, it was a guitar song. It was a major, major guitar song. It was a huge guitar song with like the guitar, rock and roll song. And it turned out to be quite less than that, but still I think it turned out to be one of my favorite tracks.
Yea, it's a real moody track, isn't it?
What Jon turned it into was beautiful, and I'm happy it made the record. I love that.
It's a great track to end the album, isn't it?
I think so, yeah. I'll tell you what I like, getting back to the up-beat thing.
What I do like about the record is that, and probably what I'd like about Journey or what I've always liked about them is they are...there's always room for negativity in life. And one thing that these guys have always been able to do for me, is lift me up a little bit when I'm down. Or put a smile on my face, or make me feel a little more hope than there may actually be. Or hopeful for tomorrow.
And I think that's what I really like about this record is that it seems to have a common thread. Although the songs may be diverse, stylistically, there seems to be a common thread in positively. It's not for everybody, and not for all times because sometimes I like to put on a Black Sabbath record, especially with Dio, like Heaven and Hell or Mob Rules. My point being, I like to turn a Marshall up on eleven just like the next guy, and play hard and heavy and dark stuff.
But then you have to have the other side, and I think the other side, a perfect example of that is a Journey record. I think that although it may not be the Journey of yesterday, I think it still carries on that positive direction that the band always had before.
I think it picks up perfectly where you left off. I think it carries on perfectly.
We've been torn about the balance of the record, whether a slow, up-tempo, hard, heavy or this or that. But in the long run, at the end of the day, I was happy with the integrity of the music and definitely, definitely satisfied with that.
Tell me about the two new tracks you went in and recorded. Here's the thing about the two new tracks, Neal is a rock and roll animal. This is what makes this band, or for that matter, many bands very special. This is what fuels them. You have two definite and dynamic personalities in the writing team. That being Jon Cain and Neal Schon. Jon can rock like the rest of them but his forte in my opinion....
He's the mellower one, isn't he? I will be opinionated now. He can write a ballad or love song, whatever you want to call it better than anybody. And then Neal can write a rock and roll track better than anybody's business. So to me, in my opinion, again this is not factual, this is just my observation.
I tend to agree with you. I think these guys have their fortes. So that being said, you got the best of both worlds. Somewhere along the line, I hope, somewhere down the line I want to find my place somewhere in the middle (laughs). But I like being the middle man right now. Where was my point?
Two new tracks... The two new tracks, OK. I think one of them, to me, is absolutely stellar. And that would be "World Gone Wild". I think it's on the level of "Higher Place".
I can't wait to hear it.
To me, it's on that level. It's got a real musical and lyrical level of integrity. That's what I'm saying. The other track is definitely more of a party rocker. You know it's kind of, I'm not going to say it's a throw away. But it's definitely a party song. Every record needs to have a good time and it's like a no brainer.
It's a rock and roll song.
Something like "I've got a Reason" maybe.
Yeah, precisely like "I've got a Reason". So you know, it's like put on your jeans, let's have a good time, let's have a party or get a six pack and let's have our friends over and let's dance, kind of thing. Where the other one's a great deal more deeper. That's my view on them.
Fantastic. When are you off on tour again? It sounds like we're going to be starting in the first week of June, it looks like. They haven't got everything one hundred percent confirmed yet. I'm still waiting for the actual schedule. It looks like something around June, first week of June.
And you've got my other vocal hero out on the road with you opening, John Waite.
Oh, you know, that's another crazy thing. I've had the Baby's Greatest Hits, or is it The Best Of? I think they call it The Best Of. The one with the bronze baby shoes on the cover. I've had it in my glove compartment box for a year before Jon and Neal called me. I used to go and I'd play that all the time. When I was stuck in traffic or something.
So I've always been a fan, I've always loved John's voice. And I've always loved their music. And it's funny how things come full circle. It's silly. It's really crazy. Honestly, I was as big a Babys fan as I was a Journey fan. It's going to be interesting to say the least. To have all these guys on the same stage and the same backstage area.
That's why I'm going to get over and see it. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to get over and see the show. It's going to be a rock and roll circus I assure you (laughs). They've got some great John Waite stories and they always amuse me with them. So I want to make our own stories for 2001. If we don't tell you in person, I'm going to make sure I have a couple of stories for you next year. Or at least after the tour.
That sounds pretty good. That sounds like a date. Yeah, please make sure you come out first. That would be wonderful. If you come out, you could come see a couple shows.
Well, that's the only problem, you have to sell your third born, or first born to be able to afford the airfare out to the states. I bet. And that flight's a bitch too.
And it's a shocker. It's not something you can do and just come over for the weekend. It takes a weekend to get there. I hear that. Well you know what's crazy, it's just the time difference is wacky. That's what really knocks you out.
It is, it is. Like It's Sunday morning here, 9am. And it's the end of summer. Yeah, and your toilets flush opposite.
Exactly. When I went to Brazil I found that out, and I thought, that's amazing! Then I wondered, why do I even know this (laughs).
One of those things. It's scary.
Look, it's been a real joy talking to you. And one of the things I've really picked up on while speaking to you, and I'm really pleased with, is that you're a fan of great music along the way as well. I've got a young son, he's twelve. And I look at him and I think... wonder where he's going to be in ten, fifteen, twenty years. Where his life and his path will take him. And you can't choose for your children, just like my parents couldn't choose for me. Somewhere along the line, you see something that inspires you or you gravitate towards. And somewhere as a child I gravitated towards music as many of us do, whether as a listener or a performer.
It's such a wonderful part of life that should never be ignored. It's funny that I actually did it one short time, and I promise you I'll never do it again. It shines sun where there's been absolutely none, there's been a void for a long time. Puts a lot of smiles on a lot of faces where there normally wouldn't be. I'm in a kind of feel-good business and I'm glad to be doing it.
Well, you're certainly doing that now for a lot of Journey fans I can tell you that.
Well, I appreciate it. Andrew it's a pleasure to speak to you man, especially after all this time. I enjoy your website very, very much.
I appreciate the comments back. Thank you. I'm curious, in addition to your website, do you publish a magazine as well? Or is it strictly the website?
No, it's strictly the website. It's great. Because it's international. It's great to be on board.
Absolute pleasure. And you're helping me out by just doing this interview. Like I said it's great to speak to you finally. I can't wait to get it on line basically and see the reaction. Cool! Well that makes two of us.