Saturday, July 05, 2008

Journey's Steve Perry and Neal Schon Hash It Out in GQ

I have posted twice about rare interviews with ex-Journey manager Herbie Herbert (here and here) and found his interviews pretty fascinating. But I also got the distinct impression that they were very one-sided.

This is old news to Journey fanatics, but in late May, an extensive interview with Steve Perry posted to GQ. I get the impression he doesn't do a lot of interviews these days so I was pretty riveted to hear what he had to say.

In the course of the two hour interview he covers everything from his joining the band, all the success they had, leaving the group, the reunion and why he left again, all the way to how he feels about all the replacement singers and his former band mates.

The writer also popped a follow up call to Neal Schon and pretty soon we had the whole Perry-Schon battle raging again. There are tons of nuggets in these interviews, such as this very small tip of the iceberg:

Perry says:

...when we did the VH1 thing, I said there was quite some time where I never really felt part of the band. And people didn’t understand what that meant. And what that meant was that there was a period of time where I always felt, from Neal, that I had to prove myself worthy of the position I was trying to occupy in the group. And not until it really took off, I think, did that question really get answered. But along with this, you have to print that I can’t blame them. Because they’d had a certain amount of success without me, and they were wondering, once I joined, “Is this the right direction?” I could tell that. I didn’t have years of being in Santana under my belt, like Neal and Gregg. Ross Valory had played with Steve Miller and people like that, I didn’t have that. Aynsley Dunbar had played with everybody. I didn’t have that under my belt. So, yeah. I was the new kid. And I think that proving myself was something that went on for quite some time with the band members.

I think the beginning of the end was when Neal started his solo career. Neal did a solo album way before I was thinking about it, with Jan Hammer. And I said to Herbie, the manager, “I think this is a bad idea”—that it would fracture the band on some level. And he said “No, he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. I’ve tried to talk him out of it, but he wants to do it.” And then he did his second one, and I said “OK, look, if he does a second one, I’m probably going to end up doing one.”

I said “Look, you go call whatever you wanna do with whomever you’ve checked out something else. Call it the J-Boys. Call it anything. But don’t call it Journey, y’know? Because I am gonna get this [hip surgery] done, eventually.” But I needed to be ready to lay down and do this thing. And it took a few more months, until October, and then I was ready, and found the right doctor for me...But in January, Jon told me on the phone, “I just wanna know.” And I said, “Don’t call it Journey. Because if you do, you will fracture the stone. And I don’t think I’ll be able to come back to it if you break it. If you crack it—it’s got so much integrity. We’ve worked so hard. Can’t you just, y’know—not do that?” And, he asked me again: “We wanna know when you’re going to surgery. Cause we wanna get out there.” That particular set of words. I said “Okay, you do what you gotta do, and I’ll do what I gotta do.” And I hung up the phone, and when the dial tone came back, I called my attorney, and I said “Start the divorce.” And he said, “What divorce?” And I said, “The divorce.” And I told him what happened. When somebody says, “We’ve checked out a few singers,” it’s like your wife’s saying, “Look, while you were gone—I know a few guys, and I just wanna know what you’ve decided to do, because I need to know.”

And Neal has this to say:

The label said, “We think you need a frontman. Otherwise we don’t think that we can ever get anything on the radio.” They wanted us to get on the radio. And sell some records. And so they gave us an ultimatum—you either get a frontman, or we’re gonna drop you from the label. And at that point we’re all thinking, “Oh, wow. This is a drag, after all this hard work.” And Herbie [Herbert] had received a tape from somebody at the label, of Steve Perry. He was in another band, at that point, and apparently they were getting ready to get signed, and his bass player was in an awful car crash and died. And I think what Steve felt at that point that he wanted to fold the band and go back to working on his grandfather’s ranch. So Herbie got his tape, and he played it for us, and he goes, “This is your new singer.” [laughs] And we’re all looking at each other going, “Really. Okay.” So we’re listening and goin’, “Wow, this guy’s got an amazing voice, but does he fit with us?” Because it was a radical change.

He’s saying, y'know, “If these guys wanna go on, I think they should just start something new and not use the Journey name.” Don’t crack the stone is what he kept on saying. Don’t crack the stone. Don’t go out and play these songs with someone else and crack the stone. Well, he did the same thing, way before we did! He went out on a solo tour, a solo Steve Perry tour, where none of us were invited. Actually Jonathan Cain tried to go down and go in and see him in San Francisco and they wouldn’t let him in the building! And he was playin’, I think, nine Journey songs and three of his original songs.

The interviews are really, really long - block out some time.

But probably the most interesting thing about the GQ post though are the extensive comments from fans who are highly passionate and land firmly in either the Perry camp or the Schon camp.

This is well beyond the "Bill Bruford is the only drummer for Yes even though Alan White has been in the band for 30 years argument; Or who's better - Sammy or Diamond Dave?" These fans are some the most impassioned and opinionated I have seen.

Such as this little gem:

When Neal was on the road banging women I'm sure he knew that the whole time the women were wishing that it was Steve.

Classic! Meow!

I am still digging the current lineup and new album, and got my ticket to the Portland show in September. I will for sure be writing a review.

Check out the GQ interviews here.

26 comments:

Dr. John said...

Very interesting, Isorski. I kinda lost touch with Journey after Frontiers, when Steve Smith (one of my fav drummers) left and the band took a distinctly more commercial turn from where they were at the time. All this talk is making me want to go out and buy that new CD, even if it means I have to step foot in a Wal Mart to do it. Are there samples of the tunes anywhere I could check out first?

Dr. John said...

Do you think they will play Kahoutek (sp?) on this tour? Now THAT would kick some ass!!!

VoxMoose said...

I'm enjoying the Journey blogs. Their pop stuff was quite amazing for the genre (lots of nostalgia for me -- and about a zillion other people), but I certainly dig their jazz-prog roots. Of course, I do recall you ragging on me Freshman year on the bus (pre-Osiris) when I even mentioned Journey in serious music conversations :)

Anonymous said...

I have read the GQ interviews, and the whole situation is really just sad and pathetic. I have been a Journey fan for many many years, and like most fans, I cannot fully describe the enjoyment I have derived from listening to their songs. I have seen Journey in concert many times, both the old and new versions of the band. The music that Neal, Jonathan and Steve wrote together as a band is of such high quality, and filled with such emotion, that it has transcended age, race and culture.

Since Steve left the band, it is fair to say that that neither he, nor Jon and Neal, have come even close to achieving the same level of work. Their contributions to Journey’s music were obviously unique and complimentary.

Recently, there has been much hype regarding Journey’s new replacement singer Arnel Pineda. I purchased the new Revelations CD, and enjoyed some of the new material. Arnel has a great voice, but he is definitely no Steve Perry. Arnel’s strength in his ability to mimic Perry (and many other singers) with uncanny perfection. If Perry had co-wrote the new music it would have been elevated to a whole new level, and some of the songs would have joined the ranks of their timeless classic hits.

I also listened carefully to the recorded classic hits that Arnel sings on the CD that is packaged with the new Revelations CD. Here Neal and Jon made a real mistake. These songs sound simply like a tribute band at best (the new Stoned in Love version is particularly bad, especially the intro). What was the motivation/purpose for rereleasing these timeless hits with a copycat singer that has been with the band less than a year, and is not likely to be in the band 5 years from now. Did they need the additional money that badly, or are they so pissed off at Perry that they wanted to stick it to him. Either way, it is really pathetic, Jon and Neal should be ashamed, they are better than that.

What a colossal waste for the Jon, Steve and Neal to be incapable of resolving their issues and get together and write more timeless music to add to their impressive legacy.

Anonymous said...

"If Perry had co-wrote the new music it would have been elevated to a whole new level, and some of the songs would have joined the ranks of their timeless classic hits."

--Anonymous

Uhmmm, I honestly don't think so, IF Perry co-wrote these Revelation songs, it will sound more pop and cheesy--such as Any Way You Want It, BUT thank goodness perry was out and the new songs' melodies are far edgier, jazzier, more soulful...while the lyrics are more profound and have more angst, yet leaves one more positive...sooo over-all they are stronger and have more impact!!!

Anonymous said...

Steve Perry will be 60 in January and as great as his voice was in his heyday, I seriously doubt that he can hit those soaring notes if he were to rejoin the band today. The moment for the reconciliation between him and Journey has passed, unfortunately. The rest of Journey has to make do with what alternative resources they have. So why is there all this resentment from Perry fans? Journey can't have Perry back because Perry at his age now won't be able to perform. Do these fans want the rest of Journey to close shop and retire just because Perry did so years ago? C'mon.

Anonymous said...

"Uhmmm, I honestly don't think so, IF Perry co-wrote these Revelation songs, it will sound more pop and cheesy--such as Any Way You Want It, BUT thank goodness perry was out and the new songs' melodies are far edgier, jazzier, more soulful...while the lyrics are more profound and have more angst, yet leaves one more positive...sooo over-all they are stronger and have more impact!!!"

--Anonymous

You must be kidding. What impact are you talking about. Jon and Neal have been writing and recording music (separately and as Journey) for 10 years since Perry left. Which one of the dozens of "edgier, jazzier, more soulful" songs that they have produced over the last ten years has had any lasting recognition. Give me a break!

Isorski said...

Dr. John, poke around the Web. I think there are places to hear samples and I am sure you don't have to go to WalMart to buy it at this point. There will be online outlets that have it now. And you can take it from me, it's worth the $12 I paid for it - the new CD is great, the re-hashes are interesting at the least and in some cases very good, and the live DVD is a nice bonus.

Voxmoose, I blocked out my 'bus abuse' period from high school via years of therapy but if I said that to you, it's more evidence of how big a tool I was back then!

Chris said...

Dr. John, I scored a copy of the new Journey record at a local music shop who had it; if you want it, it's yours. I loathe the thing, frankly.

Dr. John said...

Chris - if you are willing to part with it, here's my address:

John Metz
469 Wooden Ave.
South Plainfield, NJ 07080

If I hate it, I will pass it on like you. Thanks!

Chris said...

Chris - if you are willing to part with it

It'll be headed your way later this week! Hope you like it!

Anonymous said...

I like the way Journey did with their music today. The latest album sounded, of course, Journey-ish, but modern at the same time. If you get into to the smallest details, some "instrumental" changes from the new to the re-records were done probably to fit this generation. I'm 20 and I want this better than it was done 20 years ago... I still have respect to the iconic Perry though. Classic rock with the modern sound.(I'm talking about the song as a whole.)

With the re-records, as far as I know, it was a deal with Wal-Mart. (Being an exclusive distributor, I guess) While "Faith in the Heartland" was a deal made with Kevin Shirley who thought it was not properly recorded. People may or may not agree with me but I guess Neil Schon and the rest of the band have good ears and better judgement than any of us when it comes to their music.

Dr. John said...

Chris

Got the CD today. Have not listened to it yet, but hope to in the next few days. Thanks again!

loveofmusic59 said...

Journey is just a tribute band! At least Steve Augeri used his own voice. Most of the hype is about the way in which the new lead singer was found and his life story which is touching. I did not say he could not sing, I just don't want him to sing classic Journey songs. He is a great mimic but needs to find his own voice. Without Steve Perry I have no interest in them whatsoever. I have been a fan since Perry joined and no one else at the lead will do for me. Steve is 59 so you all assume that he cannot sing? Have you heard of Mick Jagger(64), Steven Tyler(60), Robert Plant(59) or Paul Rodgers(58)? I think they still rock and are relevant in todays music. Whether Steve Perry can sing anymore is a matter of opinion I suppose. I would buy anything he wants to put out as I know that whatever he does will be sincere, of the highest quality and to best of his ability and that is good enough for me. Check out YouTube if you really want to see the war waging between the SP fans and the new Journey, mostly due to the mudslinging of the AP fans in the direction of Steve Perry diehards. It is not pretty!

Anonymous said...

Okay. I never had the opportunity to see Journey in ther HayDays but i did catch the show in Salt Lake this year. The new lead singer will never be Steve But as it has already been said. Steve is almost 60 years old and I'm not sure he could hit those notes anymore. Besides. this new guy is young and so full of energy on the stage. I hope he can make it 5 years with the Band because the energy could really help boost Journey to greatness once again... for the new younger listening generation.

Anonymous said...

They're back and that's cool!!

Anonymous said...

Fools!!! Youtube this - "Steve Perry Stone in Love" .. check out the live constipated version he did back in 1995 ! 14 YEARS AGO!!! He should stay retired and stroke his cats... He's coming out with a new album but I'm willing to bet no more high note high energy music... Maybe something for the diehard 50-60+ year old geriatrics out there!

Anonymous said...

classic fools, of course the new vocalist will not be able to avoid sounding like SP, they are both tenors, singing the same songs in the same band, the previous replacements couldn't hit the high notes that SP can hit, this new guy can, so what do you expect.
if you happen to listen to pavaroti and other tenors singing the same song, they sound the same, but they are not copying each other.

If you are a true rock & roll fan, you have to understand that true rock & roll is like GENUINE ART or TRUE LOVE, it is UNIVERSAL, it knows no boundaries, knows no color nor culture nor language barriers. Obviously that's what Neal Schon and the rest of the Journey Band feels like, so if you really are a genuine journey fan it shouldn't matter who the frontman is. You wouldn't ditch your favorite football team if it's starting quarter back get's injured or retires would you? Disliking this guy while comparing him with SP I think is ignorance and prejudice, and is wrong,it's 2008 cavemen and women your should know better, but you have the freedom to be that way if you want to, just admit your racist prejudice, else you become ignorant and a hypocrite at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I happen to personally like the new Journey singer (and Perry was obviously amazing as well, as was Rollie), but regardless of your "universal" and "genuine art" rock and roll delusions, it DOES matter who arranges and performs a song.

You evoke the famous "no true Scotsman" argumentative fallacy by telling us what "true rock and roll fans" should understand. Are you really arrogant enough to believe you personally know what a true rock and roll fan must understand? On what authority?

You are trying to advocate a very open-minded approach to the new Journey, which I appreciate. However, ironically, without realizing it, you are actually advocating a very cold and rigid a "the song is just the notes" position.

People enjoy music because of many different complicated reasons. A new singer performing older material in the style of the old singer may simply be unpalatable to some people. Just accept it. The experience is subjective. Their negative opinion doesn't invalidate your experience of the music.

Anonymous said...

JEG ELSEKER DEG STEVE PERRY

susan said...

OK PEOPLE, it's not about the general music business for these guys. That may have been a indirect component BUT the REAL issues are about mere human feelings, emotions, thoughts, attitudes interactions, relationships towards one another since Steve Perry's beginnings with the band. Neal believed he held the mantle for Journey b/c he was co-founder with Santana (who is legend himself). You don't need to be a psychologist or a professional anthropologist to figure this out. Human behavior is no mystery. People don't want to see it this way b/c these are all guys in a rock band BUT what I presented is on track. Aside from the band itself, these guys need to come to a REALIZATION that forgiveness and overcoming hurt and pain is possible. They've always written songs about what the lives of the fans. Well, they can write all the sad songs about hurt and pain....but there comes a time where they need to mvoe forward and starting feeling the music of hope, conviction, empathy, forgiveness, reconciliation. It's time to let the fight die. Both parties need to act 100% like human beings and not like members of a band and come back together again. Sorry but I am upset at Journey because I CANNOT stand Arnel Pineda with his wannabe rock star emulation. His gestures on stage is quite annoying and distractful. What on earth is happening to the greatest rock band in history? They ruining their reputation to failed legacy. Journey sucks right now.

Anonymous said...

Journey is not Journey without Steve Perry!! I can only hope they can work it all out for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can't wrap my head around the thought of AP fronting the band at the concert. Someone needs to knock their heads together and say enough already!

Anonymous said...

My job requires me to travel the country from coast to coast... all radio stations that I randomly choose continue to play Steve Perry Journey, I seem to see the pattern as a never ending demand for the voice of Steve Perry. I myself am the person who spends an incredible amount of time alone driving for endless hours, and many times I will find myself putting in a Journey or Steve Perry CD and notice that 8 hours later I am listening to the same CD's and I never tire of the voice of Steve Perry... from Infinity to For the Love of Strange Medicine. I guess I cannot think of any radio station that does play the changing sounds of Journey through the years, it usually is all about Steve Perry's voice and all the bands amazing music. I also am a big fan of John Waite, Bad English, Baby's, and other efforts the band members have done, kind of an 80's geek, but Steve Perry's talent touches me, gets under my skin, into my soul. Makes the sun a little sunnier and the sky a little bluer.

Anonymous said...

People forget that every time Journey plays any song that Perry is credited on, that Perry gets paid. Even the Revelations CD with Arnel covering the classics, Perry got paid.

Neal has been quoted that Perry gets 'paid like a $%^erf*cker' every time they do a show.

It's Schon's band and he can do what he wants but even he knows that the public would rather have Perry out there than Arnel.

For the record, I think AP is pretty good. I am always wondering why people never mention that Rolie, Perry and Augeri left because of burnout. Soto is already gone probably because of personality. How long will Arnel survive? This band records and tours constantly. I can see why Perry wouldn't want to rejoin.

Kathy said...

I think Perry/Schon/Cain & to some extent Valory need to sit down and hash it out. It is truly all about forgiveness and until they do, time won't heal the old wounds. Don Henley summed it up better than anyone of us in "Heart of the Matter" - these guys should take these lyrics to heart:

I got the call today, I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again
I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
...People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn't keep me warm

I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin' that anger, it'll eat you inside

I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

Unknown said...

Well said! Don Henley wrote classic advice. Really wish Steve would have sang at the RR Hall, selfishly. He was a CLASS ACT on stage. Stuck to his word, though , and chose not to sing. Forgiveness! Please!