Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Reasons To Hate Journey

Journey is often lumped in with "corporate sell out bands" like Foreigner, Asia, Loverboy and Boston, most of which are good bands with bad raps, in my book - including Journey.

But there is a form of cheesy power ballad/over the top arena rock that was mastered by Journey on their mega hit albums Escape and Frontiers. The music biz has never been the same sense (and not in a good way).

Some late night Web trolling led from one site to the next and I stumbled on an in depth interview from 2001 with the guy who hand-assembled and managed Journey from its early 70s start to 1993, Herbie Herbert.

This guy himself is a total piece of work, as you'll see. Among his other accomplishments are the first use of video screens at stadium gigs and the success of 80s bands Europe and Mr. Big. Make of that what you will.

The point is, aside from being a no bullshit, tough as nails relentless business man, he is brutally frank about the ups and downs of Journey. And even though he created the band and managed them for 25 years, he sure doesn't have much good to say about them.

Especially wrathful are his comments about Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain. The crux is that Journey was a band made of mostly ego-centric megalomaniacs that make Roger Waters look like a diplomat.

The highly amusing four part interview is here (allot some time for yourselves - this is a long interview), but my favorite bits are:

--I'm picking up Jon (Cain) at the Oakland airport…The doors aren't even closed - I haven't closed my driver door, he hasn't closed the passenger door - he hands me a tape, and says 'this is a tape of my wife, TanĂ©. Now, here's the deal - you manage her, you get her a label deal, you make her career happen, or take my keyboard out of the back, I'm out, I'm going right back to LA, no Journey.'…Do I get out of the car, or do I stay in?' And, so I said, 'Well, I will get her a label deal. I'm sure it won't be because she deserves it.' And he said, 'Let's listen to the tape.' and I said, 'No, let's not. Just shut the door.' And so, I gotta tell you, in no uncertain terms, I knew what Jon Cain was like day one. Day fucking one.

--(Steve) Perry - he's got the bulk of the world fooled. And he had you fooled until tonight.' That was it. That was the beginning of the realization for Jon Cain. I betcha right then and there he said 'I wonder a little bit less why Gregg Rolie walked away from such and incredible enterprise, at such an incredible point in their history.' It was just a no-brainer. Stadium act. How do you walk away? I'll tell you how you walk away. If you were drowning in the ocean, and Steve Perry came along in his luxury liner, he would offer you a life raft in such a manner that you would decline it. I'm not just talking about you; I'm talking about anybody. The terms and conditions would be such that you would pass.

--...all of a sudden they call me over to Sausalito for a band meeting on the waterfront. I'm sitting there with Neal Schon, Jon Cain, and Steve Perry. They inform me, 'We're struggling, and Steve doesn't feel right about these recordings.' And I go, 'All the tracks are finished!' 'Yeah, he doesn't like them. He wants to replace Smith and Valory [bass and drums].' Replace Smith and Valory? Over my dead body! What the fuck - this is a group, this is a band! This isn't Steve Perry and his side band. He had corrupted Jon Cain, but the two of them (had) damaged Neal Schon so bad that in his darkest moments I fear that Neal Schon is suicidal over the primrose path he let (them) take him down. That turned out to be a brutal mistake. I said 'OK, but these guys are going to be paid as if though they were here. And we will all eat the cost of this stupidity, and the cost of these sidemen.'

The interview is about as one sided as it gets, but that's entertainment! Enjoy.

PS - I still like Journey (gasp!)


Dr. John said...

I, too, like Journey. From their early prog rock days (some really cool shit) through Frontiers (after that I gave up on them), I liked most of their songs, except for the power ballads that they became so famous for. Interesting to note the story about Steve Perry's ego. In a Modern Drummer interview in the October 07 issue, Aynsley Dunbar (the original drummer fro the group, and no slouch) told a story about how he got fired from the band for playing a ride pattern on a china cymbal instead of a ride cymbal. Perry didn't like it, Dunbar wouldn't budge, so Perry fired him.

Isorski said...

Well, if you read the interview, it says they fired him b/c he kept hooking up with REALLY underage girls. I'm sure somewhere between the two stories lies the truth!

VoxMoose said...

A few years ago I made a compilation CD for my brothers titled: Maiden Journey: Escape from the Beast. As you can probably guess, it was a mix of Journey and Iron Maiden (switching bands every song). I even merged the covers of Journey Escape and Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast in an unnatural way (is there any other way to merge those two covers?).

Ah, sweet, sweet cognitive dissonance! There is definitely a "snap factor" as songs flop from "Six! SIX SIX! The number of the beast!" to "I cooome to yoooou with oooopeeeen aaaarms..."

Ned said...

Just got through the whole article and the first thing that struck me was how different the industry is now compared to the era(s) Herbie comments about. Even in 2001 big labels were still king. Herbie's lucky to have retired when he did.