SAY IT ISN'T SO: Exclusive interview with The Outfield's Tony Lewis

By Gerry Gittelson Los Angeles correspondent
LOS ANGELES -- Tony Lewis, lead singer for well-remembered British classic-rock act The Outfield, is back.
Four years since the death of co-founder/guitarist John Spinks, who was the main songwriter, Lewis just released a new album Out of The Darkness, and he is also among the key figures in the multi-act Retro Futurama tour that is trekking across America from New York to California and lots of cities in-between.
'The response has been really good, really overwhelming -- the crowds still know all the words to the songs,' Lewis said. 'It's kind of weird being out there and not seeing John Spinks next to me, because we had been together so long, but yeah, it's going well.'
Smash-hit 'Your Love,' featuring that infectious opening line 'Josie's on a vacation far away,' was a No. 6 single on Billboard in the 1980s -- among other Outfield hits from triple-platinum debut Play Deep -- and Lewis still loves it, he said.
'That song kind of took on a life of its own. The crazy thing is, John Spinks wrote Your Love in like 20 minutes,' Lewis remembered. 'He was a great guitar player and a great songwriter.'
Lewis comes to Los Angeles on Saturday, July 28 at the famed The Wiltern Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard -- something the dark-haired singer is looking forward to because The Outfield rarely played in tinseltown.
'That wasn't our choice. We wanted to play in Los Angeles a lot more,' Lewis said.
A particularly memorable performance with The Outfield was an old concert at the open-air Greek Theatre with Starship.
'I remember Neil Diamond had just done like five headline nights at the Greek the week before,' Lewis said. 'That was a good night. We actually were on tour with Starship for six months, and I remember the Greek Theatre very well.'
Meanwhile, unlike other British groups, The Outfield did not hang out at the usual Los Angeles and New York spots, instead returning home to London when not on tour.
And while The Outfield's success was meteoric, as the group was never able to match its early success, the songs like 'Your Love,' 'Say It Isn't So,' 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'All The Love In The World' continue to be played on the radio.
As for Lewis, he is not quite ready to take his walk into the sunset.
'It has been quite a while actually, but it's nice to be back. It really is,' he said.

Las Vegas, NV
Mandalay Bay
Saratoga, CA
Mountain Winery
Phoenix, AZ
The Van Buren
Costa Mesa, CA
Pacific Amphitheatre
Los Angeles, CA
The Wiltern Theatre
Tucson, AZ
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Milwaukee, WI
Pabst Theatre
Northfield, OH
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Kewadin Casino Resort



RICK SPRINGFIELD Talks Influences Behind 'The Snake King'

A short interview I did with RICK SPRINGFIELD to promote The Snake King record. As published in the last Fireworks Magazine.
Rick Springfield is one of those evergreen performers that just seems to keep on going. And he never stands still, bringing his fans new music that challenges and pushes new boundaries.
In his 69th year, Rick delivers a first - a blues based album that seems him delve deep into the swampy authentic delta blues that only the bravest attempt. At the same time, the familiar elements that define his music aren't far from the front. A typically self-depreciating Rick Springfield discusses the new album 'The Snake King' and what drives him still after all these years.

So Rick, I'll keep this brief as I know you're busier now than ever before.
You're taking some musical liberties with this and indeed, the last album. Are you driven by a sense of needing to feel as if you've covered all bases while you are still able to? (Not wanting to age you here!).

I'm 68 and figure I can record music that makes me happy or at least fulfils a need in me. This is just 2018's version of that. Not trying to cover all musical bases because that would mean I would have a disco album in my future and THATS not going to happen!
We are all thankful for that! Rocket Science was a great left turn into the country sphere, but carried the same Rick Springfield essence we all know. The Snake King feels more like a left, then's a lot more focused on the influence of the chosen direction. Was that a conscious decision or just how it naturally evolved?
Well it's not as blues based as I'd envisioned but I like the mix of blues and rock that it became. I don't make records anymore to be liked, I make them because I have music to play and something to say. I decided to do a blues based record but wanted to write all the songs so once I started, it took its own path.
You commented to me a little while back that you 'had to do' this album. What drove that?
Lyrically there is so much going on in my head about the world and God and whatever form the devil takes, and sex of course, that it just happened pretty organically. If you can call getting drunk and writing a bunch of stuff organic. I do. Musically it is, as always, just whatever comes through.
And would you class this as a step away from the RS catalogue, where Rocket Science fitted the mould more easily?
I am not a good judge of that. To me it sounds like me. Certainly, if you look at my whole recording career its gone through changes from time to time so I guess this is just the next change.
The cynical and lyrically unique RS is still prevalent throughout! Did Matt again co-write or were you on your own this time?
This is only my fault. Don't blame Matt. But I will write with Matt again. Especially if this one bombs as badly as I think it will. Hahaha!
Haha, ok! It would probably been easier to do an album of blues standards (but much less enjoyable for us fans). You chose to put a lot of effort into this as you would any normal RS release, yes?
I don't think anyone, including me, wanted a Rick S version of Little Red Rooster. Plus it's about what's happening in my head today so singing about some long dead woman who did me wrong wouldn't be truthful. And all those great old blues songs were done right the first time around, so I wanted to write new 'blues' songs. It's definitely not a particularly happy album so I'd class it as a type of 'blues.'
I certainly did get the overall darker tone and questioning of some common themes from past songs - God, spirituality, suicide, disillusion, relationships etc'
Ok so its not so new, theme-wise, but I think it is because it's a more universal approach. I know a lot of people who have similar feelings to me and in the end you have to write what's in your mind because that's the only way its truthful. The days are gone where I'd make up some boy/girl scenario and write that. The overall theme is I guess WTF is going on???
How about the guitar work - I know Tim Pierce guested - how much of the playing is just you - because, honestly, there is some truly stellar work within this album.
Tim and I played the guitars on this and I played more than I have in a while because my guitar style tends more towards the blues based progressions and I love to play guitar so I said "it's my record so I'm playing on it".
I did all the acoustic, dobro, steel resonator stuff, most of the electric slide and played electric on a lot of it and some of the soloing. Tim is an unbelievably gifted player and can assume any style of guitar work and his soloing and atmospheric playing is amazing on this record.
I have to ask about a couple of the songs - Land Of The Blind sounds like a great starting point - halfway between Rocket Science and this album?
Yes we thought Land of the Blind was a good one to lead off with as it's a little more familiar but still in keeping with the vibe of the record. Work our way in slowly.
But then it's straight into the delta blues with harmonica, horns and smoking blues guitar....
May as well get to it. I still think it's less bluesy than I was picturing it but that's what happens in the writing and recording process. It takes on a life of its own. A friend of mine, Russell Morris, in Australia got me thinking about doing a blues oriented record. He was a contemporary when I was in Zoot and we've been friends ever since and he did some very successful blues CD's, all his own stuff and I thought it was a good idea so I was influenced a bit by Russ.
Those two albums for Russell have been huge down here. Little Demon has a classic hard hitting sound and RS vocal - it's a more naturally you sounding track?
It's actually one of the later songs I wrote so maybe I was getting tired of the confines of the blues thing and wanted to stretch out a bit. I don't really know how to classify my music or talk intelligently about it. That's why I write in the first place, so I don't have to discuss it!
Jesus Was An Atheist is certainly not your average pop lyric - where did that stem from?
A glass or two of wine and a late night. Again, I have no real idea where the final songs come from other than me thinking for a while and then picking up a guitar and turning on a recording device. I have no more real awareness of this or what that means than you do. It's always open to interpretation. Even for me.
And Orpheus In The Underworld seems like a pretty simple "storytellers" type song, but it keeps going....and going! There's a lot of lyrics there! Is that perhaps the longest set of lyrics you've ever written?
It sounds like it bored you Hahahaha.
No, It didn't. It's just long!

Yes, I can see that. I look at it as a lyric stream of consciousness that you have to absorb if you're inclined to.
On the subject of songwriting - how do you feel when many fans (me included) thank you for being the soundtrack of their lives and in particular gaining strength through your songs to help through difficult times?
I had my own songs as a kid and it's a great compliment to be a tiny part of any other humans life. I don't take that lightly but I also think it's the individuals way of finding words and music that speaks to them as a way of helping them through tough moments.
So this is three-four albums in pretty quick succession compared to some parts of your career. Where next?
A nap. I'm thinking about the next record and looking for more good acting work as well as writing prose and other projects that interest me.
To those that would like to hear a more traditional RS album - how would you see that sounding based on where you're at and where you've come from?
I have no idea at this point. As I said it takes on a life of its own once a project is begun.
Is there anything you haven't done that you'd still like to? I can't think of anything to be honest, which is quite amazing really.
I want to be in a great and creative night time TV series so that touring can be a seasonal thing.
On a deeper topic, how do you react to the many untimely passings in the last few years - this week David Cassidy, but also your dear mum and great friends like Darryl Cotton?
It's hard to see people leaving. And someone like David C and Bowie and Tom Petty, you feel like they're friends anyway. Darryl was a difficult loss for us all who knew him because he was so vibrant and positive and such a wonderful human being that it just didn't seem right that he got sick and died so quickly. My beautiful Mum was 96 so it's more understandable but losing your Mum is brutal and she is such a powerful spirit she is still around, we can feel it.
She was loved by many. Any plans for European appearances and c'mon...let's do Australia please!!!
Nothing would thrill me more than to do an Aussie tour. We are working on it. It's just that, like Europe I haven't really been touring there so it's an unknown quantity for promoters and us both. Hopefully we will soon. I have a monster touring band and you should see these guys :)
Anything you'd like to add?
Thanks Rick, very much appreciated once again.

RICHARD BLACK - The 2006 Shark Island Interview

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shark Island: It is finally time to gather the faithful.

Shark Island was a band that exerted enormous influence on the rock scene. Perhaps more than you realize. 
The band was the biggest and best live act in Los Angeles in an era where there were literally hundreds of bands playing the Sunset Strip scene. Shark Island had it over all of them, yet of the bands to break out of LA into international fame, The Sharks had to wait the longest and cruelly never took their renowned charisma to the levels they deserved.
Somewhere along the line it all went wrong – or as the band's charismatic frontman would put it, it wasn't ever just one thing.
After more than a decade the band are back together and have a new album on the way and finally a home on the web under development - (

Vocalist/frontman Richard Black is a very private person who has kept his silence for many years now, but on the eve of a new Shark Island record, he breaks that silence in this exclusive interview.


Just fantastic to catch up with you Richard, thank you for your time. 
As I have stated Richard, I'm a Shark Island fan from the beginning, so this is a great honor to be able to quiz you about what is one of the more interesting stories of the evolution of a band.

Good day to you too Andrew, and I should thank you for the opportunity.
So to begin - First of all, Shark Island began as The Sharks in 1979. It seems hard to believe it was that long ago now! What are your memories of those early years?
Let' see, when I think back of the early days of The Sharks What can I say? We were young, it was fun, I recall a deep sense of possibilities. We believed that every thing was possible, whatever we envisioned for the band, we could set into action. We'd make a plan, and follow through step by step. 
Such is still the case today, but of course our world was much smaller then, being so young we weren't spoiled or knocked down yet. Thinking back some of that raw energy would be handy later on in life. Who was that that said, 'Youth is wasted on that young'…I understand that now. 

And I believe you released your first indie product in 1982?
1982 that was Altar Ego. Then in 1985 came S'cool Buss, we had several singles in between as well.

Shark Island's history is complex and I hope I can tackle that history adequately in one interview!
The band quickly gained a strong following in the LA area live circuit and became known as one of - if not the best live band in LA. 
What was the energy in the band liked playing two or three shows each and every week waiting for that 'big break'?

Yeah, complex. I never heard it described quite like that.

First of all let me clear something up, the L.A. circuit as you call it, is much more than two or three shows every week, some weeks we would play 16 to 20 shows a week. It' a little known fact outside of LA/Hollywood there were hundreds of places to play. Places in every city, every burrow, every bar, every high school. Every rented hall from woman's clubs, to veterans of foreign war. We simply played any place we could manage. We didn't have day jobs, so we just played, and often, more importantly we depended on it to survive. 

That is an amazing number of shows and yes, no wonder you guys were tight!
We did not become excellent as we were by a fluke. Four shows a night is a lot of practice. If something went wrong you get to try it again in about an hour and a half. You get better if you don't want to make a fool of yourself time and again.
For me the stage was my life; it's where I felt most comfortable. When I think about it, it is where I expressed myself most often day-in-and-day-out for years.
On the dark side of that, I developed a false sense of reality, and found myself suffering in real life. Always expecting acknowledgement for anything I did, and taking on a feeling of entitlement. I've learned since then, the world owes you nothing.

With the hard rock explosion of the mid-to-late 80's, it still seems that Shark Island had to wait a lot longer than many lesser bands to get their breakthrough. You had one deal that fell through (A&M), before Epic picked you guys up - but why do you think you had to wait so long for that deal?
Ahh… the big mystery, naturally I can only theorize, I think it had something to do the fact that the record companies had a hard time pigeonholing us, or knowing where or how to market us. 
By the time we were record quality we had moved on from Heavy Metal, but at the same time were not refined enough for Pop/Rock. We didn't fit leather and studs but didn't look enough like girls for the Pop/Rock.
We figured the time would come; besides we had these gigs to focus on. By the time you got home to sleep at 4AM and wake up, it was time to think about that nights show.

New bands were pouring out of LA around 1986, right through to 1990. Your debut came out in 1989 and quite honestly, blew most other bands out of the water - especially with your live reputation.
Do you think the band's history might have been different had you been signed earlier in the piece?

Thanks again Andrew, Shark Island took live shows very seriously, our reputation was important to us. Your right, if our deal would have come through sooner, I think it would have been a lot different, in fact even a couple of years later would have even been better timing, the biz was in flux at that time - aka grunge, which was nothing more than a new arrangement and a new costume. Timing is everything. One could never know...its fantasy. 

I'm not sure if you want to comment on this - but I hope you do - but it is well known that several other artists mirrored their look and their stage antics on yours. I already mentioned what a huge reputation the band had as a live act, but the big draw card was your charismatic performance as frontman.
It seems to be a well known fact among followers of the scene at the time that Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose would come and see you guys perform every week and 'borrowed' a lot of your moves - from your moves to even your stage rap and song delivery.
There are other examples, but Axl seems to be the best known.
Is this correct and what impact did it have upon you to see other bands getting famous off something which you more or less perfected?

You know I have always tried to avoid this topic because I never wanted to sound like a sniveling bitter victim, and I largely kept my mouth shut. But every so often however, the topic continues to rear its ugly head. But then again avoiding the subject never did any good.
Let me tell you a story; in the early days I was influenced by the pioneers of this music, but I was getting it together. I soon learned if I continued to copy them, people wouldn't take me seriously. I evolved and became my unique self. I have never systematically copied a single artist except jokingly or on Halloween. 

What happened in my instance however, was quite a different story.
I was being copied all right…sometimes by down right impersonators, it was creepy.
I could see their point, they figured it was working for us, so why not them.
Regardless of how you felt about the band it was hard to ignore us. I suppose wearing nothing but an American flag or a paper jumpsuit with duct tape hasn't caught on yet, but was pretty original…a little too ahead of its time I guess.
I would wear pajamas on stage just for fun…soon there after I'd see some our friends and followers wearing pajamas.
I use to have these bike shorts that I decided to wear onstage, then it seemed bike shorts were the rage in L.A. I don't think it was a coincidence.
What I'm talking about is copying someone' essence. When art is involved, that is not cool; it's a form of plagiarism.
And I give a horse' ass about 'imitation is the best form of flattery'. I don't need to be flattered.

Many Popular bands and personalities came to see Shark Island, that's a fact, and many took elements home with them for their stage show or album covers, or wardrobe…oh well, I'm flattered…nothing that could have altered the path of my career. 
But that good-for-nothing Axl Rose, he' really a piece of work for the dregs. 
As far as I'm concerned he's never done anything original in his life. Him and his cronies would come every week and watch the show.
One day before GnR's debut, I went to his place…as I walked in I saw a video of me playing on his TV and on top was a stack of VHS tapes all labeled Shark Island with dates and times. I remember being mortified, it was obvious he was studying my shtick, and I knew there was nothing I could do, being their album was about to be released, and he'd cap on the press get the credit.
My many years of developing, and refining my craft and years of modern dance were up for grabs by this fool and a video camcorder.
I remember some people telling me about him acting like me, but I never worried much on a count that we were all in the same boat.
Then came Welcome To The Jungle, I though I was looking in the mirror, or the videos on Axl's TV. 
You said 'borrowed' earlier well that implies a payback. What burns me up even more is in his heyday he never so much as mentioned Shark Island or Richard Black in all his press. Which, by the way, could have helped us at no cost to him; he never even threw us a bone. 
Now, truth be told, I couldn't possibly care less. That's all old crap and it does me no good now, besides, I am nothing like I was back then, and I'd look like a fool to try.

I think Shark Island were easily as good as Motley Crue, LA Guns and GnR...your debut album found a lot of fans and you did tour, but not on the scale of these other bands - I still feel that many did not get to see the original great live band, that these other artists copied, in action. Do you agree?
Well, relatively speaking that is true, tour support, record promotion, album sales…these help drive tour lengths and frequency. Negotiating a good balance is important. 
Music is a labor of love; the Music Business is still a business. Some of the best musicians die poor and obscure. 

Let's talk of the album Law Of The Order. I love this album to bits, I really do. Were you happy with the way it turned out or like I have heard, was there a lot of label politics involved in getting it made and shaped into the sound it had?
Largely I like it; whether it captured the real band I'm not sure. We were very much a live act and to compare it to a live show was unfair. We did a live national radio broadcast from The Whisky just prior to the release of Law of the Order, called it Bastille Day
It was recorded multi-track, it was fantastic, so much so that I was lobbying to have it released as our debut instead of Law of the Order. But a Live Debut Album? The powers that be thought it too risky. The compromise was that it would become a pre-release promotion only for radio stations and the like. I only wish we had the same creative environment during the recording of Law of the Order we had recording the new album Gathering of the Faithful.


I'm looking forward to hearing that! On label politics - is that something you just couldn't avoid back at that time, or was there a better way you could have done things (in hindsight)?
Label politics? Negotiating while under contract can be dicey. Trying to convince someone of your point of view with no track record is even more difficult.
A company like Epic Records knows what they're talking about, and one has to consider that. But there are exceptions to all rules; I remember fighting tooth and nail to keep Paris Calling on the album.
In hindsight? I'd have stayed with Epic and dumped the manager.


Well the album certainly won you guys a lot of fans, both nationally and internationally. However - it would become the band's one and only album (to date that is!). What went wrong Richard? Who or what fucked things up for you guys?
One travels down a path and every so often you come across a fork in the road, and you must choose which path to take. Any one of those paths could have put you in a completely different place. I cannot blame any one of those paths but several in a combination? Maybe. But in all fairness we did the choosing based on our trust and beliefs. 
Naivety? Wrong producer? Desperation? Wrong manager? Wrong promoters?, Lack of wisdom? Contraband? Did I mention wrong manager? Like I said - any one blow? No problem, but several in the right combinations? TKO. 

It still beggars belief how one of the greatest ever bands of the Sunset Strip era could not capitalize on that energy and that charisma. 
Well Andrew, you belong to a fortunate minority that knew what was happening on the Sunset Strip in the 80's. Others will have to read about it.

Talking official releases - there were appearances on two movie soundtracks. Again, I love the tracks of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - with the soundtrack obtaining a cult following equal to the movie. What are your thoughts on those tracks now (Father Time and Dangerous)?
I love Father Time, it' one of my favorites. A funny story comes to mind; to revisit your politics question. We were with A&M records in development, they were at task to collect songs for the Major Movie release Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. It was mentioned that there is a film about two teenagers that take a time machine to various places in history and cause havoc. I told them I have the perfect song, Father Time, it's got a good beat, good lyrics…their response: 'Well I don't know'. What do you mean 'I don't know'? What is there not to know? Sometimes I think if they don't discover it themselves, they can't see the forest through the trees. Fortunately it was all good.

My all time favorite though I think is the fired up hard rocker My City, from the Point Break soundtrack. I love LA and you guys are the quintessential LA band - and the lyrics of this song speak of the city and its dark forces. Can you tell us about this particular song?
My City in Point Break really does describe L.A. It is what it is and there is no better way to describe it than the song itself. It' poetry in motion. Spencer Sercombe and Greg Ellis were great champions of this song.

I must add that I made my first trip to LA in 1992 and was blown away at the opportunity to see you guys playing live at The Whisky one was an amazing show and everything I had heard about your live energy was true. Saw a couple of other bands also there watching (as was always the way it seems...)!

Talking of The were heavily involved in what is now a legendary part of LA folklore - the 80's Strip scene, with Gazzarri's and the other clubs at the forefront.
You must have seen and heard some seriously amazing and possibly unbelievable things during that time. What are your recollections of that scene as a whole?

I could not count how many times I played The Whisky. We had the room down! That and The Roxy, The Troubadour, and of course the house of ill repute, and the home of the godfather himself Gazzarri's. It's funny, no one talks about Bill Gazzarri any more, you know we were the house band there for years. 
I think Van Halen had that job before Shark Island. I have to say if those walls could talk. That is why I think they needed to raze the entire building (only to build the same shape building in it's place, kind of a mass cleansing. Minus of course the secret tunnel passages and hidden rooms). So much evil occurred in that club over the years it' a miracle I survived. The closing of Gazzarri's was like bringing down Babylon. I feel it marked a change on The Strip.
During the 80' The Sunset Strip was like a living organism, crawling with alluring beautiful people congregating in masses and traveling from club to club with seething energy. It was like a huge costume party or fashion show with all the best. It went on until all hours of the morning, as they moved to the private after hour clubs and nearby homes.
I did see images of my life, much more than I could possibly share in an interview. 
Sadly it seem hard to get people out of their cars lately, yes you may catch a glimpse as they run into a club to see their friends play then leave shortly there after. The town seems too preoccupied these days, or there is nothing worth seeing. Well things cycle. Maybe there will be a revival.

Moving on - you worked on what was then a side project in 1991 - Contraband.
No offence meant with this question, but the line-up was quite amazing and I would expect from the names involved, the clash of egos must have been more than interesting!

No offense taken. Ego clashes? I think they occur when one person feels one upped by another. We weren't around one another very often for that to happen.


Ok, how was it working with the likes of Michael Schenker, Bobby Blotzer and Tracii Guns then?
I spent the most time with Michael Schenker and Share Pederson. I remember while in Germany I found Michael and I got alone quite well, we had many heavy conversations about his philosophy and many of the causes he was involved with.
On the lighter side, I remember going with him to visit his mother in Germany and we ended up taking her to an AC/DC concert, it was weird, but quite fun.
As far as Share goes, we did the first promo tour together around the world. We got to learn a bit about each other during that time. She's a good woman.

Was the band ever supposed to go beyond one album and one tour? If I recall correctly, the tour ended prematurely and badly, didn't it?
Contraband? What a mistake! 
I should have never agreed to that. Let me clear something up about Contraband. First of all it was a farce. In fact the members of Contraband have never to this day played together all at once.
Surprised aren't you? It's true. Never!
It was nothing more than fabricated rouse by a self-absorbed manager. The only time we were actually together was during photo shoots and video filming. The album was recorded individually. And there was never a reason to play.
Looking back it was doomed from the start, but I fell for it. I was told and somehow convinced that having opposing bands record and promote an album would somehow help my band's efforts. What a pile of crap! The day I agreed to it (with my band's support) was essentially the end of Shark Island.
I was told that well just record the album and that's that. I figured harmless.
Next we were told we needed to do a promo tour, because it wasn't moving fast enough,
Against our better judgment Share Pederson, and I did the press junket through Europe and Asia, while others stayed home with their bands.
Upon our return we learned that a tour was required, to push it along.
Keep in mind my band is home getting songs shot down for the next record by the same manager…meanwhile Ratt, L.A. Guns, are preparing for comebacks.
Now get this; first Share is not allowed on tour for some mysterious reason and who do you think gets the opening slot for the Contraband tour? Ratt and L.A. Guns of course. By the way we mustn't forget, Juan from Ratt would take Share's place to even deepen the conflict of interest...
So check it out this new line up has never played together either! And despite my constant complaining for rehearsal, none happen until sound check of the opening day of the tour! It was pathetic, and I was expected to front this debacle. 

Now think about this; the opening bands featured members of the headliner! Here the conflict unfolds… Think how easy it would be to blow the headlining band away and at the same time make your own band shine. It was not only pointless but bad sense to make Contraband sound good. I was on my own, fronting a band of monkeys that could give a shit. Contraband was so bad that I could not be certain what songs were being played. I'm serious.
This went on for several nights with daily complaints from me to the manager with no improvement. It was downright embarrassing. One night I reached critical mass and decided that not matter what happened I would put an end to this cruel joke. I remember standing there in front of about 3 thousand thinking my labors and dues are worth more that this, and the people who paid to see the show deserve much more. I walked off for the very first time in my life. It was the only thing I could do to regain some control and dignity.
Well this caused a ruckus to say the least. Not only was I completely broke down, the manager freaked out threatening I would never work in this business again - under those conditions; I never want to.
Then Traci Guns runs in swinging and tries to attack me - I think he was wishing he had walked off himself first, but I beat him to it. He had a great image conflict between L.A. Guns and Contraband. Contraband was way too wholesome for his brand of Rock and Roll. LA Guns were a really good band. They really kicked ass.

When I finally returned from the Contra thing, things were very changed at the Shark Island Camp. The fact that I left Contraband meant I had left our management and our label as well, because it was the same company - another conflict by the way.
All of a sudden we were a garage band again. I found this new freedom exhilarating, my band however didn't, in fact not only was there was no hero's return, I felt my band somehow resented me for what I've done. They of course were not privy to all the managers' deceptions regarding the projects, and them! 
There I said it, as briefly and eloquently as I could in this space of time. 


Contraband: Tracii Guns, Share Pederson, Michael Schenker, Richard Black & Bobby Blotzer.

Following that project and the demise of Shark Island, many might think that you disappeared - but from what I heard, you were still working on other things correct?
As the money ran out, our drummer Greg left…a huge disappointment. It was a time that I felt we needed even more unity. I could see the tides were changing in music and in the business. After a few attempts at a replacement, we decided to take a break.

One such project I heard of was Black 13 - but what else was there?
I tried to put a few things together such as you mentioned, Black 13, but starting from scratch with new people felt very strange. It seemed that all the players at the time, while wanting to take advantage of my reputation and experience, were afraid to commit. 
They all seemed so desperate and all had side projects going. They reminded me of playas always on the make for something better, then ending up with trash.
Personal agendas aside they all seemed hell bent on making the same screw-ups that I already lived though.
You know what? I have discovered that one of the greatest travesties in life is that most everyone must make the same mistakes for themselves. If not they will never believe it. On the flip side, in the rare occasion one is bold and trusting enough to follow a mentor, true greatness will follow. 
Oh yes, I know I was just as guilty in my youth. I thought I was different, and I knew better. Eventually you'll get there, but what a long, long road.

I heard you were to hook up with guitarist Steve Stevens at one point in the 90s. That would certainly have been interesting!
Steve Stevens and I talked about me singing for Atomic Playboys but the timing was all wrong. That really would have been an honor for me. I have always loved his work. To this day one of my favorite albums is Whiplash Smile. Stellar!

Next question - one I am sure will have an interesting response. Bourgeois Pigs. Now - a lot of people (me included) got very excited at the news of a return to action by yourself, but it seemed to go pair shaped very quickly. 
I have heard several stories about the project's instigator, guitarist Michael Guy. How many songs did you get recorded? I heard 2....but that was it.

On Bourgeois Pigs? I finally got to use that name! I thought this may be something. We recorded about 5 songs if I recall. Michael Guy was largely running the project. Something went wrong; I'm not sure what happened. It was like the Twilight Zone when everyone disappeared. There was talk about festivals and tours, then, just as abruptly as is started, it stopped. Hmm.

Moving on towards present day....Shark Island was working towards a second studio album in the early 90s. There is an absolute stack of unreleased tunes that get traded around the demo circuit (I have many, but poor quality sadly).
Some of these tracks sound easily as good as the debut - how many songs did you guys demo and why didn't these get finished at the time?

We had many songs recorded, there has got to be 50 or 60 more recorded in demo form. We were prolific to say the least. 

These tracks have obviously been traded heavily, but also sold on E-Bay. Is this the catalyst for getting you guys talking together again?
I once saw a bootlegged Official Demo, what ever that means, go for $325. On E-bay! I thought: I ought to cry but I got to laugh. Not necessarily because of the money, but because it typifies the condition of the music trade today.
If there ceases to exist the ability to make a career in music, great musicians won't bother. It's too much trouble if you can't get paid for it.

I agree. When did you decide it would be cool to record together again?
I've always wanted to record with Spencer Sercombe again - he is a phenomenal talent and one of the best musicians and writing partners I ever worked with.

xxx<img data-cke-saved-src="" src="" width="354" height="348 alt=" "="">
Shark Island: Richard Black, Chris Heilmann, Greg Ellis & Spencer Sercombe.

It all started when Spencer called me from Germany to forward a message from Robert Marshall of Manifest Music & Entertainment. I didn't know why, in fact as I recall, it took me quite a while to get around to calling him.
Anyhow, I finally called him and we got together for lunch in a little deli in Glendale. Well it happened that Robert had acquired our old demos from a private collector. He was curious why we had never done anything with it. 
Basically, I resided a story very close to this interview and ate my Roast turkey sandwich. I told him all the reasons why it could not be done and he informed me of the reasons we could. I was eager to do it but thought Spencer will never go for it. I don't know what he said or how he did it, but Robert got Spencer onboard, infact he got everyone on board. Spencer Sercombe flew out from Germany, Christian Heilmann came in from England, and we replaced Greg with a phenomenal drummer Glen Sobel from NoHo [North Hollywood] joined us. Then miraculously, 9 months later a new recording is made Gathering of the Faithful is complete and the rumors are flying. Very nice indeed.

What kind of material will the new studio album feature - from what era - some of the old demos and/or new material?
And stylistically speaking - what are long time Shark Island fans in for?

Well, at the risk of sounding Cliché, I think stylistically it is closer to the original concept of Shark Island. Those were days that we wrote to please and express ourselves. What we have here is some new stuff made from wisdom, blended with some old stuff aged like fine 12 year old scotch. You can't rush that.

I can't wait to hear the results of your work on this. What was it like working without the constraints of a record label or A&R guy? 
Most definitely, working on our own was a literally a dream come true. This would have been difficult to pull off years ago. I can't thank Robert Marshall enough to afford us the opportunity to do it. This CD is something else! If I do say so myself…
We managed to put together a real listeners album, one you'd put in the car player and do a road trip. Or use it as a soundtrack for your life in your iPod. 

Do you have a deal in place as yet for this release? And when might be expect it to be done and ready to roll?
A deal? Not in the classic sense of the word. There are a few surprising approaches afoot. will have updates as they develop as soon as we launch.

I know you were caught in record label games in the early years, but taking a look at what the industry has become must be amazed…and appalled...
Do you believe there any way major labels will one day again represent good music over fabricated pop stars or music designed to score a quick return?

They may have always played tricks, but in years passed, at least labels signed bands to a 2 or 3 album deal and developed them. What do you think of the current trend of a band being under pressure to deliver a hit first time or be dropped?
The landscape of the music business has changed immensely as you know. Music collecting has gone by the wayside along with collecting Baseball cards and such. Today it has been replaced by Music accessing and for free at that. 
Unfortunately many feel little need for ownership. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? The attention span has become all too short. Far and few between can be found true music connoisseurs, people who studies the music, listens to the words. At this rate I think the quality will eventually suffer. 
The fabricated Pop Stars? They largely cater to children I think, those kids wont be able to take then seriously in a couple of years any way.

What is the future for all artists with integrity Richard? 
Old and new...what can real musicians do in this day and age? The future is yet to be created. I doubt there is one answer. If there was one, someone would have written a book. Personally if I could afford it, I'll do another after this.

If you don't mind me asking - what else do you do with your time as far as working? Not much is said of many artists who do this, but everyone has to earn a living and writing and recording and releasing albums seldom covers that need!
Oh you mean my day job? I've gotten into Metal Sculpture ( from metal music), both my own and commissioned pieces. I also do period restoration welding for metal antiques. I find it very fulfilling. Between that and stray residuals I'm very blessed.

I have asked a lot of questions, but I'd love to hook up again for a more in-depth look at the tracks and details behind the new album when you are ready.
For now though - anything you would like to add?

Thanks Andrew, by all means lets get together again, after you've had a chance to digest the new album. I think you'll like it. I do.

By the way - did you see the classy re-issue of Law Of The Order with all the extra released tracks added as a bonus disc? (Bad Reputation label in France...) Looks and sounds awesome...
Yeah I have, it scared me when I first heard about it, but when I saw it, I thought it was well done. It covers all the work we did under Epic and A&M records.

Thanks again for the privilege and your forthright answers to my questions. I know I have learnt even more about the band and I'm sure readers will also.
I will look forward to hearing back from you when you can!

Right on Andrew, Cheers.


c. 2006 Andrew McNeice /


Thursday, June 12, 2014


Steve Augeri: Tall Stories & Opportunities - One Singer's Rock N Roll Journey

When Steve Augeri left Journey a major chapter in that band's history closed. Steve took some time off....and was missed. Now we have the new archive Tall Stories release to discuss and hopes of a revitalized solo career ahead. There's also the amazing Firefest performance to revisit. But there are other questions to ask and I hope they have been asked here respectfully and I think Steve respectfully answers those questions.
I've said before and I'll say it again here, that Steve is one of the good guys of rock n roll and the dignity and grace to which he has dealt with adversity and to which he speaks of here only serve to strengthen that reputation.
I hope you all enjoy reading this interview as much as I did conducting it...just a week or two back...February 2009.

Steve! It's Andrew!
Hey, Andrew. How ya doing?

Good! How are you, mate?
I'm doing great! What's happening?

Well, same old stuff basically.
Yup, Yup. Yup. Same ole same ole.
You watching any of that Superbowl? Do you follow American Football at all?

Not a lot…apart from this time of the year, but I didn't get to see this game, no. I was working.
Yeah, it was pretty cool. It was an amazing game actually.

And did who you were following win?
No. Actually, I was pretty neutral……

You just wanted to watch?
…until one of my buddies starting betting, throwing some money around. So I literally just bet against him and I took $40, U.S. from him. (laughs)

(laughs) Good on you!
Well, frankly, I usually go for the underdog but I have a great many friends who are Pittsburg fans.

So I kinda went in there, at first, a little partial to Pittsburg but then when my friend started talking trash, I just had to take his money! So there it is.

We actually had an Aussie boy playing for the Cardinals but…
Is that right?

…yeah-the kicker is an Australian guy…
I didn't know that.

A retired Aussie Rules football player here that retired and went to play there and get his shot but unfortunately, they didn't win. But that's ok.
It was a great game. You know what? That last play—it was kind of debatable so, frankly, it could have gone either way. One of those things.
One of those things. And, did you watch the halftime show?

You like Bruce up there?
You know what? I always appreciated Bruce Springsteen. I gotta say... a good many years—maybe twenty years ago. I was given seats… We were once courted by, Tall Stories was, the legendary Mike Appel of Bruce Springsteen fame [former Springsteen manager].

...and he once threw me some tickets-whether or not he was still with him or not, I don't know because of bad blood, etcetera etcetera—somehow, one way or another I did get a couple of seats to go and I was absolutely floored.
Just absolutely blown away. He played an hour and a half, went away for a couple of minutes and came back and did another hour and a half……

Yeah! (laughs)
….and it was just unbelievable! I walked away just having a great respect for him, aside from the key songs that you can't help but love.

But then to see him do them live and to see the absolute outpouring of dedication from his fan base was ridiculous. It was great! So, I have always…..I had a new born respect for him—this going back, like I said, 20 years ago. 30 years of my life I was kind of just non committal...(laughs)

(laughs) then to see him come out and he absolutely…he didn't have to say a damn word. The place became unglued.

Now I've seen many half time shows—U2 was brilliant, the Stones were very good, but even the Stones didn't make it happen the way Bruce did. He came out and he could have left after the first song and people would have been talking about it for twenty years, it was that good. So, it was great!

Yep, yep, he's good. You make an interesting point about 2 things: Bruce and his band on the last tour played something like 70 odd different songs through their setlist…
Unreal. I saw his album in the store the other day and I just bought it sight unseen. I absolutely figured if this guy still has something to say, and there was quite a buzz with the movie and The Wrestler soundtrack—that he had written the song and there was quite a buzz about it—so picked it up. And I gotta tell you, I was SO entertained by the record. It didn't sound like it was all re-hashed; it sounded like he had some tricks up his sleeve. He sounded current and very contemporary and he sounded like Bruce has always sounded so, you know, it's inspirational to see somebody who's a couple of years my senior, if that could be possible.

(laughs) Yes.
…still kickin' it, kickin' out the jams and doing a really amazing job of it. Kudos to him.

Yeah. I bought it sight unseen myself, actually, for the same reason.
Now, speaking of birthdays, we should wish you a happy birthday
Yeah. How' bout it?

—a couple of days back, right? (laughs)
Yeah. (laughs and laughs and laughs)

Can I rub that in a bit then? [Steve's 50th Birthday!]
Pretty incredible.

Yeah!! So what did you do?
Pretty incredible-a pretty momentous occasion. We had ourselves a good weekend. We kind of based it around the Super Bowl; we had a huge party. It wasn't planned that way. We actually had some things going on where we sort of held off. We have a member of the family who is not 100%. They were thinking about going into surgery and this and that, and my home was going to be home base for them, here in New York. As it turned out, things didn't' work out in that way so, at the last minute, we put together a little impromptu celebration. The second part of my celebration is going to be somewhere under a palm tree, on a sandy beach. You know?

Yeah. You're smack in the middle of winter; you must be about ready to leave it.
My wife, Lydia, promised me—she's allowed me that much. I think when you turn 50, you know---before that it was like the birthday week. You had the birthday week it USED to be birthday. Then, we got a little greedy and we made it a week thing. So now I'm going to try to stretch it out to the year.

I like it!
Something to look forward to when you turn 50.

Great stuff. Well, let's talk Tall Stories.

The record's out! Can you believe it?!
The cat's out of the bag.

You can actually buy the second Tall Stories album.
That's right. And you know what? It just barely came out a little later than Guns N Roses' Chinese Democracy.

They got it. They beat us to the punch.

(still laughing) I'm only joking! (still laughing)
But, maybe we'll go down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest band to take the sophomore plunge, you know?

It's been a while. I'm just about to—our label, as you know, is about to do the Alias album. That's their second unreleased album as well. It's about the same time frame - 1993.
Oh. Really. No kidding? Well, frankly, the record was literally recorded, actually written and recorded between the years of '92 and up until '96.

That long?
The band technically split up, just days after New Year's Day of '96. But, we were writing and recording all the way up until that time.

I thought it was pretty much all at the same time a little ealier.
In fact, the very last year--Tom Defaria technically left the band in '95.


And, we worked with a gentleman named Glen Grossman on drums, who was a GREAT drummer, just a little crazier than myself. (laughs) So, he was just a little left of center. He was eccentric; let's put it that way. (laughs)

But, he was a wonderful drummer and we actually did quite a bit of writing and recording with him as well. So, like I said, technically, the record was written and recorded between the years of '92 and '96.

Ok. I actually had thought it was in the can by '93 but that's not it.
No, no.

So, did you have a label attached to it all that time? Or, did you leave Epic prior?
No, no, no. Epic saw fit to drop us, I'm gonna guess….aw….jeez, I don't know the exact year, but I do remember…I'm gonna try…… I don't want to misquote myself here, but do you remember when Epic dropped Iron Maiden?

Uh...I don't remember [Spring of 1993 it turned out tobe…]
I'll tell you why because I remember seeing that and I thought to myself, “If they could drop Iron Maiden...(laughs)..anything can happen!”

(laughing) Good business move!
I'm trying to remember if it was around the same time frame. All that craziness was going on. Bands that you thought were…um…well, to say it bluntly, making their record labels…

Yeah, rich!
...good for their bottom line...when you thought that that was the case, they were cutting people left and right.

Disappointed, yes. Surprised, not quite.

Yeah, there was a wave-a tide of change, wasn't there.
You bet.

A tsunami I said in my review which I posted. I don't know if you read the review…
(laughing) That's a good terminology.

A tsunami of flannel (laughs).
Yeah, that's pretty good. That's pretty good.

The ironic thing is that we were on the road with Mr. Big at the time - this was the year they had their big record, and they had their number one single here in the states—and we were rolling into Seattle. I remember, I can speak for myself and I think the rest of the band-we were pretty intimidated thinking, “You know, they are just going to HATE us!”

I'm going to speak at least for Tall Stories. And, as great a band as Mr. Big was, they were nowhere near anything grunge-like. So, they are just going to go in there and just put their noses up—hold their noses.

Instead, it was the entirely opposite reaction. It was if WE were the breath of fresh air-something they hadn't heard in a great some time. It was a really great and pleasant surprise. It was one of the highlights of the tour.

Yeah. We called it the “Big and Tall” tour.

(laughing) Fantastic!!
Like the clothing line.


Mr. Big is back together this week.
Did you say that they are getting back together?

They announced it, sort of, overnight.
I gotta tell you-I'm SO happy for them, because they are an incredible band. Is it the entire original lineup?

Yeah, the original 4 guys. Pat, Paul Gilbert, Eric and Billy.
Eric was something to behold every night.

Yeah. I love the guy.
To listen to him is….I don't if anyone has got more of a richer, more pleasant listening voice than Eric Martin. Something else.

Yeah. I'm a HUGE fan. Yup. And, a tremendously nice guy, too.
Yeah, you bet. I remember the last I spoke to Eric, I was in Japan—I had a few sakes….

…and a fan handed me the phone and it appeared….perhaps…..we may have gotten him out of bed—let's put it that way.

And, um…that's the last I spoke to Eric. So, I'm not sure he's speaking to me or not. (laughing)

(laughing) No. (laughing)
(laughing softly) I HOPE he is.

The album, the Skyscraper as it's been dubbed, the second album…it was a noticeable change in direction from the first anyway, no matter whether it was released now, then, whatever. Why the change? What was going through you guys mind then?
Well, let's see. The first record was written—if we released it in '91-ish, technically—if we had released it then… there was quite a couple of years in preparation for the record. So, let's say, at the very minimum, that we had written the record anywhere from '88 to '90. I'm thinking. I gotta say, minimum, for 2 years prior to that, we were writing and demoing that record. So, I'm gonna say, safely, around '90-ish before the record was finally released because Epic sat on it for about a good year.


Right. Right.
And, the longer they sat on it, you know, the tide was changing and, unfortunately, it made matters even worse for us.

But, at any rate, you gotta figure that from '90, and we literally did split up in '96 at the drop of New Year, when champagne corks were popping, unfortunately the cracks and crevices were severing the ties within the band. So, you could say that within that 6 years, there was a lot of room for growth and we did evolve quite a bit. And, for several reasons, but certainly, at the very least, for normal reasons, for natural reasons, we four, just felt it was a natural progression for us to grow and just evolve, whether it took us in this direction, that direction or the other direction.
So, to us, it was a healthy metamorphosis no matter what we turned into. Fortunately for us—well, we thought it was the right thing to do because if it's true to you, as opposed to forcing yourself in one direction or the other, then that's the way you gotta do it. You've got to be honest with yourself, first and foremost. So, the band did go and experiment a great deal. These 10+ songs on Skyscraper, to me, are the best representative and the most honest representation of the band and the best expression of the band from those years.

That is as basic and as honest an answer I can tell you. To be anything more or less or different wouldn't be honest with ourselves or our fans. That's the long and short of it, really.

Yes. Were there specific influences…..
Was that winded enough for you?

YES!! (laughs) NO!! That was GREAT!

Were there specific influences you were drawing on? I mean, there was quite of a Led Zeppelin vibe to several songs I felt…I thought.
Well, there's no denying. One of my most influential bands, myself, growing up as a kid was Led Zeppelin.

They were huge here in the states. I know they were worldwide; they were big. I don't know how big they were in Australia. God knows they were large everywhere but, in New York, they were gods. And classic rock, rock and roll when I was growing up and coming of age—the HUGE bands were, to name 2, Deep Purple—I'm just throwing out a couple—they were up at the top—they were on the throne.

So we couldn't help but be influenced. And, the fact that I was singing as a tenor early on, it was a natural thing that I kind of gravitated toward.
Not to mention that there has also been said that there is some similarities to early Jeff Beck Group, some Faces—Rod Stewart. Rod Stewart was one of the very first records that I ever owned—a 7 in 'Maggie May'.

Obviously, there are some overtones in “You Shall Be Free”, which is the 10th track on the album.

Yeah. I like that.
That's kind of homage to that era and that sound that we were kind of weaned on—born and raised on. And I'm speaking, I know, for Jack and Kevin as well. Jack, especially being a guitar player—we couldn't help being influenced by guys like Beck, Page, Clapton and those guys from the original Yardbirds. I think that kind of comes out as well too, these kinds of roots that the band had. British rock-blues that was interpreted by the British, but originally conceived by African-American blues players-they re-hashed it and did their thing. And, then Tall Stories came along and we did our thing.

So it's kind of like third generation.

Yes. Absolutely. There some amazing playing on there! I mean, there's really some intricate moments.
Yeah. You know, I hadn't listened to the record until last week-I think it might have been the day it was released in Europe. I hadn't listened to it for quite some time, probably since the mastering process. And I was trying to get my head back into the music before I started doing some interviews. I have to tell you; it's not for everybody but for me, after listening to it from front to back, there's nothing I would change. I'm 100% proud of it….

You should be.
And that's how I feel about it. I'm extremely proud of it. The unfortunate thing is that I understand that, of course, our first record was embraced by the melodic rock fans and the like. It hurts me and pains me to think we shut a door on that because we certainly didn't intend to. I think there's still a portion of the record that can be perceived as, and still embraced by, this genre.

I agree. Absolutely.
But, the record does as I said as the band has evolved, it has—the record has a great deal more layers than certainly our first one did.

I agree again.
But, I'll tell you one thing, on the other hand, when you do think back in retrospect, the first record was not your paint by numbers melodic rock record.

No, I don't think that it was. I think that some - if criticizing the direction of the second album – may have forgotten where the first one came from. It's a little bit left of center than just commercial rock.
Which may be, in the first place, why people kind of took notice of it in the first place.

So there it is. It's a progression; it's a natural progression. But again, more importantly than anything is that we felt it was a true expression, a true representation of us. And, certainly, today, looking back at it now, any other record would have been a false representation.

Well, that's good. You've got to be honest. You've got to be true to yourself. The entire process of mastering took a long time itself too, didn't it? You had a lot of problems with the drum tracks?
Well, yeah. The truth of the matter is that when the drums were initially recorded, they were recorded on what was at the time, state of the art drum equipment. We had the absolute luxury of recording in a room where Foreigner, where Mick and Lou and the guys, were also demo-ing—writing and demo-ing songs.
So there was a great vibe in the room where there was this great energy where we were kind of ----I like to think we were drawing on as well.
Damn Yankees were also writing and recording..

Love that band.
In fact, Michael Cartelone, er—I don't quite get that pronunciation quite right….

…and me being Italian, I should be ashamed of myself!

Michael had recorded with us quite a bit as well as did a show or 2, which was really fantastic because he is such a great drummer…



Right. Yes, he is.
Anyway, getting back to then, we were recording in this studio-we had the luxury of using Foreigner's things, and unfortunately, the drums were the most lacking out of all the tracks. We tried. Literally, we tried so many processes and spent so much time and a great deal of money trying to preserve, and trying to use the original performances. So we tried to use samples and triggers because Tom's playing was… it was the thing.
It was it; it was the right performance for the song. So to go and –the LAST thing we wanted to do was go and just replace it, even with Tom, whether it was with Tom or ANY drummer because there's a magic there.
The record was literally recorded, I would say, 95% of each and every track was as live as you can possibly make a record these days. I mean, from beginning to end, there were minimum overdubs, as possible, as much as we could get away with. You know. Jack would literally play the song from beginning to end. Some of the solos that you hear on the record-the majority of them-are the same solo he played, in the room, along with the rhythm track, with the band in the same room, with the bleed of the drums bleeding into it, and with the vocal mikes bleeding into it. So it was really good; there was just something magical that happened back then that we tried to preserve as best as possible.
When it got in the way that we couldn't, when the audio started suffering tremendously, then we….and this was 2 years after or into the process, Jack and I finally decided that “well, now it's time to bite the bullet and replace the drums”.
We first went to Tom, of course, because he was the initiator of the drum parts and he was the vibe master. He was the man behind the kit and when he was unable to fulfill that, at that particular time, it was unfortunate. We took it upon ourselves to look and have some guest drummers on. I think we found a great bevy-a great chorale of amazing New York City studio guys.


Well, it certainly sounds good and it sounds consistent from start to finish.
Yeah. I know, personally, I don't know that I'd ever be able to tell whether it was one drummer or another one.

Yeah-and I didn't. I thought it sounded pretty consistent, start to finish. So I think you did a very good job.
Uh-huh. Thanks.

You and Jack still work in the business and Kevin's still touring. Tom's out, isn't he?
Well, Tom is in and out. He does…because you can never 100% leave the business...I know that he still plays once in a blue moon for his own enjoyment. Kevin probably plays 4 nights to 5 nights a week. And, he's made a great living which is unheard of for a musician! Let's face it, guys. Musicians are reading this so you know what I'm talking about so he's got a wonderful gig right now. In fact, this is a dilemma that we're facing; we want to get our asses up and go out and do a bit of a tour to promote the record and we're having a very difficult time to get Kevin - to convince Kevin to come out on the road because it would cut off his life line. It would be sort of rolling the dice in Las Vegas so to speak.
So, this is the kind of thing that you would do when you are 20 years old…..

(laughs) Yeah. (laughs)
And certainly, 20 years ago, when we were a baby band. But, you never say never and the wheels are still in motion. I've got Jack raring to go, you know?

But I need to have Kevin; I desperately need him too because he's my second voice in the band. Vocally, he's got a brilliant voice and he is such a kick ass bass player.
I don't know if you know this but he had a lesson or 2 from Jack Bruce when he was a kid—he wasn't more than 8 years old.

Oh really?
His dad was in the business. He's probably seen every band under the sun, certainly coming up in the 70s and even in the late 60s. He was fortunate enough to - Jack was sweet enough to - sit with him and give a couple of bass lessons.

Wow. You couldn't forget that.
That's Kevin's claim to fame—one of them, anyway.

You wouldn't forget that in a hurry, would ya?
And, he kicks some ass on blues harp, man. You know. He can play the blues harp.


That sort of brings us to the Firefest performance. Did you enjoy getting up there with the old comrades again?
I certainly did. (laughing) I have a funny story because I know we got a lot of mixed feed back about the show. I'll give you MY take on it.

We had—unfortunately we were unable to rehearse as often as we should have and certainly, in retrospect, I KNOW that's the case. So, the next time the band goes out, I guarantee that we will be absolutely to our optimum-a well oiled machine.
That I promise myself. But, you know what, it was rock and roll. We had committed to do the show; we went out there, rehearsed as much as we could, which was only 3 times but we went out there and, considering that, I think that the guys did a great job. The only one regret I have is that - I had such a Spinal Tap moment - was that we didn't have any road crew. We came over - the 4 of us; it was a skeleton crew. So, I came out before the show and plugged in my guitar and got my microphone stand all set. I had myself all situated. Usually, there is a curtain in front of you but there was no curtain so it's all out there for everybody to see. But, that's ok.

So, I had myself 100% set. I go backstage and we're getting ourselves geared up to go and getting ourselves all charged up. I come out and the sound engineer was doing what he thought was his job and he was actually being a sweetheart. He saw I was playing guitar and he actually changed my straight stand to a boom stand. And he also proceeded to wrap the cord around the stand.
So, when I came out, without a guitar, I tried to take the mike out of the stand. I absolutely—I just tangled myself up more. I tried so desperately to keep my cool, you know?

We are such creatures of habit.

Yes. (still laughing softly)
We have our traditions. Not to digress but I once had the opportunity to work with Michael Schenker. Michael would never walk on stage without his leather jacket. It looked like he had had it all his life, since he was a child. He just had these rituals and I've known countless musicians who did. We're a strange bunch.

So there I was. I thought I had myself in gear, ready to go. I got thrown a little bit of a curve. It threw me off a little bit. It took me about 3 songs to get my game back together.

After about 3 songs or so, I felt confident. I think the guys felt confident and we just had a good time.

You know, it's funny that you should say that because I said to you after the show, “Did you relax a few songs in?” And you were like, “Yeah!” (laughing)
That was it. It took that long to get over the initial (laughs) Murphy's Law thing. It was great! It was interesting. You plug into a line of Marshalls and it was great fun. It was great fun! We had never had the opportunity to play England.
We knew we had somewhat of a fan base there and there were a handful of folks out there that were, amongst the other bands, there to see us. So we were so happy about that.

Absolutely there were.
We had a great time. And, it wet our appetites a bit so that we make sure that we go ahead and do it again.

Yeah. Absolutely. And, it must have been nice to really nail the vocals too.
Well, you know what? Like I said, it was a rock and roll show, rough and ready, and I certainly felt my oats now and then. It was good to perform those old songs and we even had a chance to play some of the new stuff as well.

I think I really get off on the newer material as well.

Especially the newer material.

So, you are trying to put some dates together, which is great but the upshot of that is that Tall Stories will remain and ongoing concern, then? Hopefully?
Well, here's the worst case scenario--or actually the best case scenario is that I can get the entire gang, which I don't think is possible. I'm hoping for 3 out of the 4. Tommy gave us his blessings and so, at the very least, we're gonna have a really adequate, more than adequate, replacement. I have a short list of drummers but I can tell you that each and every one of them is a star in their own right. If I can't get Kevin to commit, then Jack and I, at the very least, are going to put together another rhythm section. I know he and I have a motivated---and I think I have certainly more motivation or more to gain or more to prove than any other guy. So, at the absolute VERY worst case scenario, is that, if I can get their blessings, I would put my solo band together. Whether before or after my new record and then I would continue to perform Tall Stories songs in the future.


You know, hopefully WITH the guys and, if need be without them. As I said think I can get their blessings and one day would be able to join me, I think that would be terrific.

But I don't know what I'd do without Jack so… and as I said Kevin...either one of them. But, the show must go on...and, um, I've got to rock and roll.

You've got to rock and roll. I love it! Solo record, then? You've just touched on that. It's still in the works?
Yeah. Well, what's happened is that I've had this psychological block about the Tall Stories record and I had this sequence of events in my mind that I needed to get this out. And now that this is finally--once it was……At the beginning of the new year, I turned over a new leaf and started head strong and full force into my solo effort.

So that's what I'm doing currently.

Great. Is there a direction you can allude to?
You know, I would LOVE to! The only thing I can tell you is that it is probably going to be a lot less stripped and lot less raw and a bit more produced!!

Oh good!!
I think it's going to fall somewhere in between a Tall Stories record and a Journey record.

Well, that sounds perfect to me.
Yeah. You know what? Because I've had the honor of working with one of the finest bands, one of the finest melodic bands in the land.

You can help but, you'd be a fool not to learn some of their ways, you know?

In fact, John Kalodner once said, in fact the week that I was asked to join Journey, he had some of the wisest words he'd ever mentioned to me, or that I had ever heard personally. A few of them were, “when you work with Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, be smart enough to keep your eyes and your ears open.”

And so, there you have it. It would unfortunate if you didn't pick up a morsel or 2, or some little gems of information from those 2 guys because their kings of their craft—they can write a song like nobody's business. I hope to think that a little bit of it rubbed off.
So, I do want to incorporate some of their standards, for lack of better words, their standards and apply some more of my personal expression.

I think that's where the Tall Stories—I don't want to sound like a…a….I think the truth of the matter is a Tall Stories record is a more of an honest representation of myself personally. It just is. I can't deny that - it just is. When I was asked to work with Journey, I walked into a situation that was quite beautifully established by Steve Perry.

Yes, of course.
And who wouldn't have it any other way. So, you know, you had certain guidelines and certain parameters that you needed to stay within. That's all wonderful, fine and well. With Tall Stories, and certainly with a solo effort, you break down the barriers.

You are free to experiment and try, perhaps shoot yourself in the foot…

...but you have that luxury. You know what I mean?

I do. I do.
So it's great to come from the Journey camp and now have a chance to, well, for latter of better or anything, just prove myself.
I look forward to doing that.
I hope I can get a couple of people to come along.

I am absolutely convinced you will, Steve. In relation to Journey, I'd love to talk Journey for a little while if we could….
Sure! I'd love to.

I really do believe that the guys wouldn't still be in the position of strength they are today if it wasn't for the effort that you put in and what you brought to the band when you did. They were at the crossroads. You were the person responsible for continuing the legacy after Steve Perry and you brought a lot to that band.
Well, I appreciate that. I'll tell you what. I would certainly say that there were probably a good many vocalists that could have done EASILY the job that I did.
But it just so happened that I was the lucky one. I won the Journey lottery back in 1998.

So it happened to be me and the reality is that for 8½ years we took the band that had been on hiatus for quite some time. They didn't forget but they needed to be reminded. Do you know what I mean?

Look, I was absolutely plucked from obscurity and I was absolutely more than willing. I mean, God! They took me from the Gap stores! I was swinging a hammer at a Gap store.

That fact alone is almost legendary now.
Sure!! I'll do it!! I was MORE than happy to jump aboard.

So, again, it was fortunate for me, and there could have been a slew of others guys that they had considered and I was the lucky one. So, lucky me. In 8 1/2 years, I would tend to agree with you. And it was a great ride!!

You delivered though! You delivered. They could have picked someone else and they could have fallen on their ass.
(pause)They COULD have but yon know what? I guess I was, I think, I was lucky.
I was lucky that eventually the fans came around. You know, um……it was difficult at first. The fans didn't want to know about it. But, you know, the band persisted - they had faith in me and we persisted. We went out year after year and we built. The audience started out in 1500 seat theaters in 1998 to the mega concerts that they are doing today. And so, yeah, I'm proud of the time that I spent with the band. I think they, I know that they are well aware that we did it together. And frankly, unfortunately for me, I couldn't continue on. My health—I couldn't make it. The whole journey.

As did Steve [Perry] had to take a step back and re-evaluate his life and perhaps his health, I had to do the same. It was a mutual thing that we came across and I think, in the long run, certainly, it certainly worked out wonderfully for the band.
For me, if you were to compare my health today to 2006, I'm a different…I'm physically regenerated. I mean, I can't say it any better. I was a physical mess and I needed to get away and unplug. And that's exactly—the doctors told me that's what I needed to do. I did it and I'm so glad I did because, frankly, had I not, I may not...we wouldn't be having this conversation and I wouldn't have a voice to even speak to you one the phone.

Yeah. They talk about the band's catalogue being the hardest catalog to sing in music, you now.
Sometimes, I just have to shake my head and say, “how did this man do this?” I pray that Arnel takes really good care of himself and I pray that the band looks after him, because after several vocalists down the line, you gotta get wise and just say, “Hey, listen - that's your guy. Take good care of him because we want him to last a few extra -a few more years, than the last 2 did.
And I'm sure they will.

Did they take care of you? I mean, the schedules were grueling, even up until the last year, weren't they? Did you have a say in that?
(long pause) I'll tell you what - the unfortunate thing is that it comes down to the individual. I can never point a finger; you can't point a finger at anyone but yourself. So, if the schedule was grueling, then I didn't have the backbone to say, “Stop. I'm getting off the train.”

Do you know what I mean?

“You're killing me.” It's just…that's the bottom line. So, the only regret I have is that I didn't have the courage to say stop. I may know what…frankly, to be honest with you, I did…but the train kept going.
That's…we had built from 1998 to 2006, and God knows to the present, there was an absolute and was if you had a locomotive just started up, just restarted, let's face it, cause they were there. We started and there was no stopping it. The machine was going.

So, you know, life moves on. We're only human; you can only do… we're not Superman, which is a very coincidental song, which closes our album.

Funny. You'd think the song was written yesterday. (laughs)

(still laughing) Maybe it was. Maybe it was…..

Yeah. Maybe it was…
I was a witness from afar obviously, sitting here at my computer, reading feedback and stuff but that very last show that you played with the band - the 3rd date of that new 2007 US tour. You had to drag…well, not drag, but you had to ask Deen to come out front and sing for you.

Oh sure.

I mean, God… What was going through your mind?
Well, I'll put it this way—it wasn't pretty BUT thank God for Deen. And then, I have to say, for the band. Thank God for having Jeff nearby so that he was able to fill in for me and they were able to continue and finish the tour. But, uh, it was not a pretty situation and I would never want to re-live something like that again. But, the old story…if it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger.
You live and learn. One thing I will tell you that I will never put myself in the situation—THAT position again where I…when you KNOW you're hurting and you know that you need to rest, you've got to step back and just do it. I just didn't have the, you could say, the smarts. I didn't have the smarts to say, “Stop. Stop the world. I want to get off.

And so, instead, it ran me into the ground and, luckily for me, I was able to pick myself up out it, dust myself off and continue on.

Did you sense the end was coming for a while?
Well, you know what I did sense was ….um…. I DID sense that, when the tours were coming around, I was taking longer to pack my bags.

The first year, I had my bags packed a week before we left, before the plane left.
(laughing) And, by the end of my tenure with the band, my bags may not have even been packed until the day I left. The other thing was after 8 years, you start missing your wife more.

You start missing the little creature comforts of home. I felt like I missed half of my son's growing up. And that, I tell ya, is one of the biggest regrets I had was missing that. Those were the moments you can't go back and retrieve.

So, things like that, you know, start compile and pile up and start to eat away at you and, eventually, it breaks down and you start, you know, re-evaluating. You start re-prioritizing things in your life.

I think, again, I had lost someone very dear to me, in fact the record is dedicated to him, Nick - he was actually my brother-in-law and my best friend. I saw him and I saw his family loose their dad and their husband. There was a moment there, unbeknownst to my fans and the public, where I thought my days were up; I thought I was…you know...I thought I wasn't long for this earth.

That serious?
I can tell you that everything gets put back into perspective when you have a situation like that - a life threatening situation. And so, finally, when the change did happen, and I was off the tour and I was sitting at home, the one thing that did get me through, because it was a pretty sad thing to deal with—anybody would say that. It's no fun being sacked from Journey or from McDonald's - sacked is sacked, right?

Whether it's mutually or not, like I said. It's still…as mutual as you can get it. The bottom line is that it was the right reason because my body was just...needed to do it.

Again, getting back on track, you put into perspective and you say, “Look. You're a rock and roll singer in a rock and roll band. Life goes on. There are wars on the other side of the planet; there are people hungry in Africa. You're just a singer in a rock and roll band. Pick yourself up - it's not the end of the world. It's gonna be ok.” And you know what? At the end of the day, you're gonna be alright. I've got a smile on my face and I'm a happy man today and that's all I can say. I've got a new record out. I'm writing new music. I'm singing again. The sun's shining once more for Steve Augeri.

It's inspiring to listen to you, Steve. You certainly do put things in perspective and I appreciate that.
Honestly, there was a dark period there for a while but we all go… a lot of us go through it, for one reason or another, and it just kind of took it's toll on me. I'm glad I got through it and I'm certainly not alone. Some people can relate to it and understand. So, that's the deal.

Yeah. I spoke to you in the UK about the hammering you took on my message board….
(laughs) Oh yeah. (laughs)

(laughing) I didn't enjoy one bit of that, as much as I'm sure as hell you didn't.
No. No, but you know what, getting back to….you can't color…you can't candy coat and you can look to the world through rose colored glasses. You gotta face things, eventually, and so that is basically the bottom line. If you are glutton for punishment, you go out and (laughs) you read it everyday. But I wasn't gonna do that so I certainly did not.

I'm glad.
But of course it got back to me…

Of course.
You are driving in a car and you see some road kill on the side of the road - you take a peak every once in a while. I wasn't oblivious though. Just put it this way - I knew who I am and what I'm about. What people were talking about me and what they were saying about me was um….they were being misled and didn't have 100% of the story. long as YOU know the truth and YOU know the facts then you can stand up and look at yourself in the mirror everyday.

Yeah. Your proudest moment?
Wow, that's a good question.

I have to tell you something that's really pretty special about these guys [Tall Stories]. When we first did that get that opening spot for Mr. Big, I was the only married man in the band at the time and I was the only dad. I had had my son. He wasn't but a couple of…maybe he was a year or two old. Back then, we were doing odd jobs like painting houses, construction, bar tending-anything a New York actor or musician would be doing at the time.

We went on the road and we got a couple of bucks per diem; I think it could have been…I think we got $35 a piece a day-no salary. Just enough to maybe pay your rent and this and that. The guys got together and kicked in - I think they gave up and extra 10 bucks each so that I could money home to my wife and feed my kid. To me, THAT'S a proud moment for me because that's the kind of guys that these guys are...were then and still are today. That's a proud moment. I'd like to say it was walking on the stage of Madison Square Garden, but that wasn't the case.
We never did get that opportunity. One very proud moment was walking out on stage with Journey and having them out in the audience. I know they were feeling pretty good about that; I was a pretty proud fella doing that.

The other Tall Stories guys were in the audience.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So that was pretty groovy I gotta tell ya. As well as, I remember having the opportunity to introduce them to the Journey guys and always feeling like a proud papa to them, my old fellas. Introducing them - that was pretty cool.

Excellent. Recording-wise, are you happy with the legacy that you've left with Journey?
I think I'm almost satisfied. I love to say but you wouldn't be telling the truth. You always want to do your best. Ultimately I would have loved to have had a successful single. I think I said this the day I joined them up until the last days I was with them. That was always a goal of mine but unfortunately didn't happen.

So I've got to find another vehicle for that. That's what I'm working on now. But I am proud of a great deal of it. I'm very proud of the Arrival record and a lot of everything else we recorded-the Red 13 and Generations. But, you know, the minute you are satisfied, that's the time you want to turn out the lights and go to bed.


(laughs) Yeah.
I'm not ready. I'm staying up a little later. Mom and Dad, I'm stayin up. (laughs)

(laughs) Awesome. One thing I did want to ask you quickly - did the band ask you back after working with Jeff Scott Soto?
After you'd had time to rest and stuff?

Uh……actually they didn't. But I think some time had passed and I think, you know, whether they intended to or not, I could never say. They were fortunate enough to find Arnel.

And I can't think of a better guy to fill the spot that he's filled. I think his voice is absolutely spot on for the Journey sound. And when I say the Journey sound—the legacy that Steve made with them…

As a band member, not alone but as a unit, and I think Arnel does it so well. As I said, it's remarkable when I listen to him. I'm looking at myself as an out of body experience, thinking about myself when I first joined them in '98 and thinking, you know what, this is This man's big shot and his big chance and that was YOU. How great was it for you and so be happy for him. Quite frankly, that's exactly how I feel.

I'm literally, I'm totally, totally all for the guy cuz I see myself several years ago doing what he's doing and I'm thinking, boy, he's having the ride of his life right now.

And he deserves it.

Well, you know, your words again-inspiring and humbling. Everybody says you're one of the best guys in the business. Even management, after you had left, said to me—they just spoke with such high regard for you, your time and dealing with you and how they regretted that it was no longer the case. There's something to be said about being the good guy isn't there?
Well, let's face it-we're not always the good guy but (laughs) we try!

(laughs) It's not always possible.
There's a little of everybody inside you and I and you have a choice of letting the good out and the bad and I just choose to stay as positive and do the right thing. My dad and mom raised me to do the right thing. It's an Italian American Brooklyn expression that we use.

It's big, good fellas that you might hear—I've never heard it in the sopranos but you should have. That was the expression—do the right thing. You just try to do the right thing and I'm not gonna say it's the golden rule but…um… comes back at you.

I'm a strong believer in Karma.

Yup. Me too.
Look, we're not all perfect; we all make mistakes and I've made plenty. You know, you pay the price, you pay your penance, and you get on with it and you go forward. You pick up the pieces.

Yup. My wife and I are of the same thinking. Absolutely.
And we learn. We learn everyday.

Yup. We do! We do!
And, John Kalodner, yes, I'm still keeping my ears and eyes open.

(laughing) That's great advice.
Uh huh.

Great advice. I think there is a lot still to come and I think you've picked up a huge fan base with the band and everything that you've done. There's a lot of people that are really, as you know, as you saw at Firefest, there's a lot of people that are passionate, believers in what you do and are looking forward to everything that comes next.
Yeah, well, I'm fortunate to have come by these people and certainly to grab their attention and I'm gonna try to hold it.

Fantastic. Great talking to you Steve.
Andrew, the same here, man.

I really appreciate your time.
I appreciate the review. (laughs) I wasn't tickled pink but I'm gonna tell you what I do think - I think you're an honest man and I would never ask anything less of you.

Thank you, mate, I do appreciate that.
Right. I was thinking to myself...I want you to also know something - when we gave you a thank you or a shout out on the record

I didn't see that yet.

It wasn't because we weren't bribing you or buttering you, up.

We did it because of your honesty and because of your sincerity about music period, whether it's this music or that music. You are and were and still are a friend of the band. No matter which turn we go, we can respect you and I just wanted to let you know that too.

Thank you.
Now every once in a while, we have a heart to heart. This is my second one with you! HA HA HA! (laughing)

Yes it is!!! (laughing and laughing)
I didn't want you to think we were trying to bribe you and I hope your readers didn't think that, too. So, I need you to know that you're alright in our book - certainly my book that's for sure.

I really enjoyed the time we spent together in the UK…

That was the greatest Indian I've had in a long time.

That was pretty good, yeah…
You know, coincidentally, a friend of mine invited me out to have dinner that night. I turned him down cause I had a very important date that night. HA HA HA!

Thank you, mate, I really appreciate everything you've said and your time. It's a great interview and I'm sure – hopefully it'll promote the Tall Stories record and the band and yourself a little bit further.
I hope so. That's great.

Thanks, Steve.
Alright, Andrew. Great chatting with you.

You too, mate.


c. 2009 / Interview by Andrew McNeice - February 2009
Transcribed by Debbie and / Photos: Marty Moffatt - Firefest 5, 2008.




Thursday, June 12, 2014


Rick Springfield: Back In Overdrive

Rick Springfield doesn't rush his albums out, so when a new one arrives there is always an air of anticipation. With Venus In Overdrive, Rick steps back into the power pop domain he owned in the early 80s, while adding a strong contemporary twist that makes this material some of his most classic and most catchy in a long time.
I spoke with Rick a week or so back about the new album, the upcoming tribute album and what keeps him fit and ticking after all these years in the business.

Good Morning, Rick! How are ya?
I'm good. How ya doing?

That's good. I'm ok… You will have to excuse my rough voice though; it's 5 in the morning.
Oi. (laughs)

But, here we are.
Thank you so for the opportunity with Venus in Overdrive with Angelmilk in Europe…we'll do the very best job that we can.

Great. I'm actually really excited about this.

So why Europe now? Or, why not before? I know you are very proud of this record.
Yeah, I think because of this record, the strength of the record and also we're touring so much and the live show is really, really great and we've had a lot of people coming in from England and Europe to see shows over here.
So I know there's still interest over there and it just seemed like the right record to start it off over there.

Absolutely. Your reputation for live performances precedes you; it's been with you all your career but especially in the last 5 or 6 years. Has that been an important part of continuing your career?
Yeah, the live show has been really getting better and better and the audiences have been responding which is-- it's a very high energy show. I think number one is to go out there always be current and always look to the future, which is why I keep recording.
We do new songs as well as all the old stuff. And, we tour in a way that keeps it very fresh. We can go out for a couple of days and then go home for a rest or do other things. We all have studios and other things; I'm doing the acting thing, too. It's a great way to tour. I do a lot of flying but it's worth it.

I know a couple of other bands, like Night Ranger...Jack Blades, is a great friend of mine and they kind of do the same thing these days because he's a family man as well and it's just great that you can do that these days.
I mean obviously if we went to Europe it would be a little longer but I just went to Australia for 3 weeks and I can handle that. That is always fun being in a new country anyway because we tour America so much that it's great to go out 3 or 4 days and go home.

I like it. There's obviously a lot of ground to cover in Europe and part of our deal with you was encouraging the touring aspect of it. So, is it's something you'd like to do and you plan on doing?
Yes, very much. I think this is the record to do it with it. It's time now and we're gonna go back there and do it.

Great! Have you set a time? I know that you're busy through the rest of the year with the album in America. Early next year perhaps?
Yeah, that would be great timing actually.

We'll look forward to that. This is an extraordinary album, mate. I'm just so thrilled to be working on getting it to as many people as possible.
Thank you.

I guess no more thrilled than you are getting it released!

Why is this such a special album to you? You know, you could say that for every release but there's just something about this one, isn't there?
I don't know. It's just, the music comes when it comes, you know. I think its back to more a band, I think. We recorded it in like 30 days which precluded any fussing around with it…and changing stuff just because I was bored.
So, I think it's was a very honest record and I like all the things that it says. You know, there are things that are going on, in our heads right now, and it's just one of those records that I can listen to all the way through which I can't usually do on my own records. I'm usually so sick of them by the time they come out just because it took such a short time, that it is still fun to listen to.

Cool. And I guess fun to play as well?
Yeah, yeah…we're playing a couple of those songs live already and they sound great live because they are such band songs. They are real easy to do live without a lot of production or anything.

You said that songs come when they come, but that hasn't always come easily has it?
No. You know I go through a lot of dry spells and when I collect enough ideas, I start writing. And so, you know, you can't force it. I mean, that's why I really haven't, so far, written for other people - I only have enough songs for myself.

That's an interesting take, because your songs have been covered over the years but you haven't necessarily written for other people, have you?
Not for other people, no.

What sparked the creative thing here? Was it the partnership with Matt, or something driven by personal circumstance?
That's something that helped move it along [working with Matt], but the actual getting the idea for the song and coming up with the subject…I don't know, it just happens.
And like I said, it's not something you can force but certainly, for the first time writing with Matt, we were kind of in competition with each other, you know, to write the best part of the song (laughs).
That was really fun and you are almost writing for an audience right away. If you are writing with someone else, you send them a piece and they are like” yeah” and then they try to write something better. So, it was a great process, very fun process-the most fun I've had writing in a long time. I'm usually writing and it's a bit tortuous for me and it's very lonely kind of experience and this is more fun.

You've said that before and it's really interesting because you always pour your heart out into your songs.
On Venus In Overdrive I can hear classic elements of your own song writing from the past and I can hear some new things. Are the new things Matt's influence or were you experimenting as well?

I don't know. There's a bit of both. Matt came up with stuff that sounded like, you know, more along the lines of my old stuff and I'm usually the one that kind of wants to change things and be different.

I mean, thinking back, you've never really recorded the same album twice, EVER, have you?
No, (laughs) it's safe to say, for better or for worse, I've never recorded the same album twice!! (laughing)

Well now, you're always moving forward. I remember, hearing Tao…and then, a couple of years later, Rock Of Life was like….'Wow, who is this artist?? Who is this guy?


I adore Rock Of Life, I think it's fantastic and a real personal statement. Venus in Overdrive is the first time I've had that feeling that reminded me of the shift that was Rock Of Life.
It's pretty big change, certainly from the last one. I have a lot of influences and a lot of things I like. I'm influenced by what I hear and what goes on in my life and, I think you know, I was in a pretty dark place when I wrote Shock Denial Anger Acceptance and I think that shows. And, I'm in a much better place in my head with Venus in Overdrive.

It seems to reflect a more positive mind set.
Yes, definitely. There's sad stuff in there but it's approached from the perspective, you know, that life goes on.

I definitely feel a positive undercurrent. What songs especially mean something for you?
On the new record?

On the new one, yes. Is there anything that sort of stands out? Obviously, the Sahara songs…
Certainly, Sahara has really special meaning for me. The daughter of a friend of mine who I got to know really well since she was 5. She got cancer and passed away at 13…
That was just a gigantic blow for everybody who loved her. She shows up in a couple of songs. She's named Sahara and she's part of the source of Oblivious. And also, she is God Blinked.

She had a pretty big influence on me: her life, certainly her past…there's positive takes on it.

How hard is it to celebrate the life of Sahara when faced with witnessing the injustice of what no child should ever have to go through?
I think just celebrating who she really was helps everybody - that's the point of the song. The pain is in there, sure. When Sahara died, her mom said if I was gonna write a song, make it a celebration.
And I've tried to do that. I certainly do with God Blinked. I wanted to write her a song towards the end of the album.

That song is a real left turn on the album.
Yeah, (laughs) I know.

Another reminder of Rock of Life for me – like If You Think You're Groovy
It makes really interesting listening. I love Saint Sahara, too, and then closing the album with that is a really uplifting way to close out the album.

Yeah, it's the only song we fade. I'm not a big fan of song's fading out; I always think it's kind of weird you know, gradually getting softer. We always like to end songs, so everything ends except for that one. We couldn't think of an appropriate ending and the fade thing is really a spiritual thing to do, you know, with the kids singing along in the background.

Yes, that works in a big way.
I'll tell you what – I'll Miss That Someday is absolutely mind blowing. I still can't believe how good that song is.

Well, great. That was the whole thing of loving someone so much that sometimes you just want to beat the shit out of them. (laughs)
And, like when my dad died, the things I missed the most about him were those little human failings, things I didn't think I would miss. It's kind of what's it's about.

Would you officially call that a song for your dad or is it just part of the makeup?
Well, it's more a song...Matt started it, around his dad—the issues he was having with his dad, and we both had the same sensibility about it. We know that, when they go, you're going to regret all the things that you said in anger and wanted to bite my tongue about.

(laughs) There's some great lines there I love the play on words moving between lines.
Oh! (laughs)

Very subtle!
Yes! (laughing).

And I must admit, listening to Venus in Overdrive—that's such a commercial groove. I can almost hear that on R&B radio.
It was another kind of left turn, that one. I heard some song, some iPod one, and I was influenced by kind of getting that feel. And then, the song kind of came from that. The title - I had it floating around in my head for a while. I don't know where it came from but I don't quite know what I thought but I knew what I meant. It turned out to be about someone really heavy, bringing love to the table and changing you because of that aspect rather than the negative aspect.

And the ballad Oblivious – lush!
Yes, We put an extra little bit of strings on that as background. I think it warranted it.

You're singing a little bit of falsetto through the album for the first time in a while.
Haha! Yeah.

Just because the mood caught you? It works really well.
I don't know how that stuff comes up. It seemed appropriate; the best place to go with the melody. I mean, I don't really know how to dissect that kind of thing. It's just one of those things where it just comes from…I don't really know where that is.

(laughs) You've been a huge Beatles fan ever since the beginning really, haven't you.

Was She your little tribute to the guys?
Definitely. And also, 3 Warning Shots. Not so much a sonic tribute, although it sounds kind of Beatle-y at the start. It's about John Lennon's death.
But She is very much Beatle-y.


Do you, at this point in your life, afford yourself the luxury to look back over where you've come from?
Not really. I have always looked to the future, which has been a good thing, and also a bit of a failing. I don't really dwell on the past much. I've never been one for putting up platinum records and awards, stuff like that. They are out in some shed, gathering mold, slowly turning to dust. (laughs)
I've been at people's houses where that stuff is all over the place. It kind of makes you feel uncomfortable.

It's just not your style?
Well, it just like looking at something you've already done. I don't know what the point of that is because it's done. I mean, I have always been thinking about the next song. So, once the album's done, I'm thinking about the next thing I wanna do. You know, and it's a bit of a pain in the ass, sometimes, because it's hard for me to relax.
(laughs) But, I also feel that it is a part of my drive, too.

How do you relax? In the down time?
I think the only time I truly relax is when I'm sleeping and sometimes not even then or when I'm on an airplane. I fly a lot and there, I can't move.

You're forced into just sitting there.
I heard Ray Davies liked to fly too because he can get time to, or he used to anyway, take that time to write.

It's really forced relaxation, as long as you are ok with flying, which I am.

Well, you would have had plenty of time to relax during the flight to Australia then.
I had a LOT of time - a real lot of time. The longest flights in the world.

It's a shocker. Getting from here to the UK and back is a nightmare.
That's a big one. I think Australia to the UK is bigger flight than to the states.

It's like 30 hours by the time you get there.
Thank God for the iPod and for the iTouch. That's what I definitely rely on. It's the only time I ever watch movies or any television is on my iTouch. It's a big screen iPod.

Technology is definitely…there's more toys out there than ever, isn't there?
It has enabled me to travel. It was miserable before the cell phone but now I can call home whenever I want to instead of having to wait to get to the hotel, or to the gig or whatever.
The cell phone has made traveling a much more happy experience for me. And, then, the iPod, having it there, having videos on the small sized screen. All that stuff.

In your trip to Australia, doing the mini-headlining set for the Countdown Spectacular [a 12 minute set!], how did you feel when you threw that nice little medley of songs there at the end, but how did you feel, having to throw Speak to the Sky into the mix?
(laughs) I actually suggested that myself.

Did you really?
The emphasis was Speak to the Sky and it can back, “yeah yeah, definitely”. And it certainly didn't really fit musically but it was one of those things that I just had to do. It was my start; it was my first single as a solo artist. It was a big hit in Australia. And, it was an audience that remembered it.

It was a pretty receptive audience, wasn't it?
They sure were.

Did you find a difference in each city or were they just enthusiastic wherever?
They were all pretty much up for it. It was great to see. Sydney and Melbourne were like big cities everywhere - they are always a little crazier. But, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

It's an interesting concept for a show, isn't it?
Very interesting.

I'm not sure the quirkiness of it could work in the states.
No. It's a little too….uh….well, you know maybe not. I mean, I can't really… probably, the closest thing to it would be like a Hullaballoo tour.
They had a bunch of actors in that. I don't know if any of those guys are still alive.

(laughs) Maybe not.
I think, fortunately, because of good Australian genetics, we're all still here.

We are!! You are doing pretty well, aren't you?
Yeah! (laughs)

It kind of is the kind of country that affords people that. How do you keep fit? Your stage show is so energetic and whatever. How do you keep fit? Is it all down to just good genetics?
I love what I do and, like I said, you know, forward looking is the right state of mind when you play. And I never accept it, when although I know that everyone wants to hear the old things, I never accept it as just that, which is why I put in new stuff and keep it interesting and forward looking for me too.
You know, working and playing is a workout. I come off pretty drenched and it's a great aerobic workout. I've always been a real watchful eater. I'm not a dieter as I don't think that'd work. But I've always…when my dad first got sick, when I was 21, I started to think about what I put in my body. That's usually a wakeup call for a lot of guys, you know, whatever happens to your dad. I was very connected to my dad. He had a huge effect on me.

Of course!
I started looking into eating problems.

I could be a dad myself today if all goes to plan.

No shit!! (laughs) Aww, dude! Congratulations!

Thank you, mate. I've got two small boys, 2 and 5, but
Yeah, I know, I know.

Yeah, number 3.
Oh, that's awesome! Wow! Due date is today? No wonder you are up early.

Number three is actually due today.
Wow!! That's fabulous. What's that make him, a Leo?

I don't know. My wife's a Leo and she's July 28, so…
You know I think it's later in July, actually. I'm a Leo. Well, congratulations.
A new kid is about to walk on stage.

Absolutely. My wife so over it. She is just, like, come on already. (laughs)
(laughs) No shit. (laughs) Oh God. Well, have a great one then, and I hope it goes great and…

Thank you.
Let me know what you have and what you name it.


I sure will. What do you think of the tribute album that we're also going to do in Europe?
Oh, I thought it was great. I love some of the approaches. Actually, the version of Speak to the Sky—I thought it was much better than mine. (laughs)

It's kind of quirky, isn't it?

The tunes have a great live feel…
Very, very cool. I'm very happy with it.

I really appreciate getting the ok to use Right Planet Wrong World. I've always loved that song.
That's a good song. There's a couple of good songs I wrote with Jeff [Silverman].
I wrote Dream in Color off of Rock Of Life with Jeff. And Religion of the Heart off Karma with him, too. So, I've always had a long relationship with Jeff.

Great songs and he's a really good guy. Why did that song perhaps not fit anywhere earlier on?
I think by the time, I think that was around the time of Karma that we wrote that, and I didn't really think it fit. There's a
lot of leaving songs off so it fits the whole concept. I don't always stick just every song I think is good on it; I try to make a concept out of the album, a kind of feel…

...a musical statement. And if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit, and I didn't think that one did. But I've always liked the song. I've liked everything I've written. There's a great song called Hey Eileen—it's about my mom.

Oh, that's right!
It was on a fan thing that I did [SDAA Special Edition]

I've got that song and you're right, it didn't really fit anything but it was a great stand alone song.
I still to this day absolutely adore Lust from the Sahara Snow release.

I may rerecord that one someday because I like that song so much.

That was a great, great song. Really great vibe.
I was actually thinking about it for this album but we had so many songs for this album that…maybe the next one.

Interesting. I could hear that on this one.
Where to from here? I guess hit the road and the promotional trail and the usual?

Yeah, we're going to New York for a week and do TV and press and stuff. We're doing a song for the rock guy I play on General Hospital. We're doing What's Victoria's Secret on the day that the record ships.

And we're going to radio and doing all the promo, and then the tour. And then, we do the cruise in November.

Oh yeah, that's a unique kind of idea, isn't it?
It's gonna be fun.

And John Waite's tagging along with you - he's another great talent.
Yeah, John is coming on it. A couple of actor friends of mine are coming on for Q and A.

That's good. And, could that become an annual thing or a more regular thing?
This one's sold out already. So, we'll see how it goes, see if everyone enjoys it, if I enjoy it. If it all goes well, we'll do it again.

Fantastic. You've got a great band with you. Are the usual guys going out on the road with you?
Absolutely. They all played on the record, too. They are such a great band; I don't need to replace anybody.

No! No, it sounds like a great live record.
Anything you would like to add – especially perhaps to the folks in Europe that we are targeting with this release?

I don't know why we haven't been back to Europe before this.

Well, now's a perfect opportunity. And we've got some radio play in Sweden there already, if Rob told you, I'm not sure.
Yeah, that's great.


Are you coming back down to Oz for your own tour?
Yea, nothing is planned yet but I would think that that would certainly be in the offering. I'd love to that. It's all about coming home.

How's your mum doing?
She's great. She's kicking butt down there.

If you don't mind my asking, how old is she now because my nan is in her 90s so it's good genetics again.
Almost 88. I'm amazed. She's driving all her friends around to doctors visits and stuff because she's still mobile. (laughs)

(laughs) that sounds great. Mine goes to shopping trips to Melbourne on the plane.
Does she? That's cool. She still does her own messages. She calls them. She got her little wicker basket over her arm.

It's great to see. It gives you something to look forward to, doesn't it?
Yeah, our family home is there.

And how are your kids, Rick?
Great! They're both home on holiday at the moment…finding their way in the world.

Are they in the business at all?
My eldest son, Liam, is an actor. And he's going to do a play reading for some writers. He's looking for an agent now. He's going up on general meetings with TV shows, things like that.

Yeah, so he's just starting to get into it.

Are they into the music at all?
Aw, very much so. They both are big, huge fans.

What's your favorite music? But, there's one question that I want to ask you; what's your favorite new bands and music?
I really liked the new Mute Math album - I thought that was great. And I'm a big Queens of Stone Age fan. I like some of the heavier stuff like Tool, and Def Tones.

I did want to ask you, do you feel the craft of record making is in danger of dying away, when the promotion of iTunes and just downloading one song is so prevalent at the moment?
No, I think album music is always going to be there. They still want it; they are just getting it in a different format. I think certainly music won't go but the art of the album cover, the whole album graphic, is fast disappearing.

People aren't interested in that anymore. They couldn't really care less about the cover or any information about who wrote what, or who played what, or who did what or where it was recorded. I still love all that kind of stuff.

Oh, me too.
I offered a record to a kid the other day, the daughter of a friend of ours, and she said she didn't want it. She said, it's ok - I just download my music for free.

It's pretty scary. She didn't want the album. I was trying to give it to her. I guess it wasn't a band that she liked.

What do we do to educate people that it's NOT free?
I don't know. I don't think you can educate them. Don't download for free - that's like trying to keep people from drinking—prohibition didn't work. Once they discover it, it's there. I think we'll have to find ways to encode stuff and get people to have to pay for it because it's not fair to steal artwork. You don't go to the gas pump and pump for free. But, it's become accepted. Free music. It's part of the game.

It's a very big problem.

Well, look, I'll let you go, mate. You're busy and, certainly, I could use a bit more sleep before things go south here.
(laughs) I'll bet you will want that…in just a few hours.

Absolutely. But, thanks for your time.
Thanks, Andrew, anytime. Good luck today.

Thanks, Rick, I'll let you know.
Alright. Bye, bye.


c. 2008 / Interview by Andrew McNeice March 2008


Thursday, June 12, 2014



Jimi Jamison: The Two Jim's Crossroad Moment

When Jim Peterik reunited with former Survivor buddy Jimi Jamison, high expectations were immediately raised. And a 15 track CD delivers some of 2008's best AOR moments, with Jimi sounding in fine voice and Jim Peterik providing some magic songs. Both Jim's talk about the creative process behind the album and what drove them back together again after all these years.

I'm sorry that I missed you earlier-40 minutes or whatever?
JP-No problem. We had a wonderful dinner and a couple of glasses
JP-….of whatever.


JP- But, we're still coherent. I think. I think.

Well, I'm stone cold sober so I'm not impressed.
JJ-Well I'm sober, too.
JP-It's 12 o'clock, noon, you'd better be stone cold sober.

(laughs) I know but this job drives me to drink though, I can assure you.
JJ-I can imagine.
JP-I know about that.
JJ-You've got so much information on that site. I don't know how in the world you do it.

Well, tell me, what are you 2 vagabonds hanging out about tonight? Why are you hanging out together in Chicago tonight?
JP-I'll tell you what; we're together doing a show at the House of Blues in Chicago on Thursday….

JP-it's one of my World Stage shows. Jimi came in a little early to do things like talk to you.

Priority ONE!! (laughs)
JP-…priority one….
JJ- For sure.
JP- And we're doing WGN news at noon tomorrow to publicize House of Blues. The House of Blues is gonna be a World Stage. It's got Jimi Jamison, Dave Bickler, Mickey Thomas of Starship and Stephanie, who he works with now. She's fantastic; she does all of the Grace Slick parts. And, who else do we got, Jimi?
JJ-Is Don coming? Don Barnes?
JP- No, not tomorrow. No. We've got Ray Parker, Jr., the Ides of March…
Kelly Keaggy and Night Ranger. Oh, Martha Davis.

JP- Yes.

Oh, my wife loves Martha Davis.
JJ-Yeah, she's great, isn't she? She's a sweetheart.
JP- Wonderful.

She did a tour, an ensemble tour, down here last year and she was the highlight of the night.
JP-Her voice is flawless and she's such a wonderful person.

JJ-Yeah, she really is.
JP-and that comes across. I don't know if we are missing anyone else. Oh, Toby Hitchcock of Pride of Lions, Lisa McLowry of Life Force and of course her own career…
JJ- and Colin's band…
JP- Oh, Colin, my son's band, Lobster Newburg. Thank you.

JP-Wow. What a show.

What a groovy CD that Lobster disc is, too.
JP- Oh, thank You!!!

Please tell him that I think it's great and I must feature it on the sight somehow, but it's..he's lost in another decade there, Jim.
JP-He is, thank God.

(laughs) exactly.
JJ- (laughs)
JP- This new one is coming out in a couple of months and, as good as that first one is, this one is just amazing and growing in leaps and bounds.

Let's put aside some time to do a spot on that when the time comes.
JP-Right on.

Absolutely. Well, look, I didn't realize you had a World Stage this week. So that's great! I'm really excited for you; I wish I was there.
JJ-Yeah, we wish you were here too.
JP-This is a little bit different. It's one of those $250 a plate benefits…

Oh! Great!!
JP- You know—the high rollers come in for the San Miguel School. There's 2 independently funded schools that cater to the ghetto children. There are amazing success stories. They take these kids and they become lawyers and doctors. It's just incredible stories. So, last year the Ides of March played and we raised $300,000 and this year we are hoping to beat that. And, oh by the way, Lovin Spoonful are opening up for the World Stage, so that's another very cool thing,

That sounds like a great cause and I wish you both a lot of luck with that show.
Jim, I'll pick your brains about the House of Blues. After the show is all said and done, because that might be a good venue for another show for me next year.

JP- No doubt.

A little bit smaller than South Bend and a little less formal. Hopefully, about $30,000 cheaper. (laughs)
JP-And, very close to metropolitan Chicago which is great.

We need to do it in Chicago next time, don't we.
JP-I think that was the main problem last year…

Yeah. Live and learn.
JP-yeah. Right on.

I survived.
We should talk about this album, called Crossroads Moment.


What a fantastic record! I know that I've told you guys this already, personally, but---wow! You really nailed it.
JJ-Man, thank you so much, Andrew. That really means a lot coming from you, it does. I've never been more proud of a record in my life. I never post stuff on the internet about any record I've ever done; this is the first time I have ever done that. I've been posting like crazy over at MySpace and stuff…

JJ-…I'm just real proud of it…..

And you should be.
JJ-...Jim out did himself with the writing….

Oh yeah.
JJ-…I think I kind of out did myself. (laughing)
JP-I can say that. He sang so well. People are comparing it to Vital Signs and even saying that he sung better than Vital Signs. That's high praise.

Yeah. I'll come back to the…..well, let's hit the vocals now. Jim, what did you have to do to get Jimi back into top vocal shape? I didn't actually criticize but I did at least raise the question over some of the vocals that were on the Reach album because some of them sounded smooth as silk, some sounded hoarse and raspy. I think you told me at the time that it was Frankie's decision on how much time to spend in trying to get the right vocal out of you…
JJ-Right. All the time was actually spent on the guitars.
JP- (laughs)

JJ- You know, it took me a week to do the vocals-2 or 3 days to do all the tracks and the band-and the rest of the time was guitars.

So what did you do to get Jimi back in shape? Or, bring the best out in him?
JP-First of all, we love each other and the atmosphere we create is very important. You can't do great vocals without a good atmosphere of support. I really support his talent. He supports my talent. And, he loved the songs.
JJ-You know, Jim, that's the main thing. If you're not inspired…. I was so inspired by the songs. If you've got a great song to sing, you're gonna sing it great. If you've got a crummy song, it's not gonna be as good. I was really inspired with these songs; I really was. It made it so much easier to sing. It made it so much easier to hit the high notes; I had no problem hitting the high notes. It was weird, actually, you know? (laughs) But, it was great at the same time. When you are really inspired, that means a lot. Your adrenaline gets going, you know, you are excited to do it. And when you get to listen to it when you are through singing it and it will be great. Touch fists, like Jim and I did after every song.

Yeah. I remember driving around in Jim's truck in Chicago and he said, “I've got 2 songs! I've got the first 2 songs to play for you!” He played Behind the Music and I thought, “Wow. That was great!” And, he goes, “I'm not sure if you'll like this one quite as much.” Then, he put on Crossroads Moment and it just FLOORED me.
JJ-It's a killer, isn't it?

I was like, “WOW! This is even better than the first song!”
JJ-Exactly. And, you know the sequence on the album starts off great and it gets better as it goes down. You hardly ever see it on a CD like that and I'm not just saying it because it's ours. That's the way it feels to me-it just gets better as you listen to it.

I love track one, I love track two but then track three and I think, wow, that's got something special. And then, Crossroads Moment hits and then 4, 5, 6 and 7 are like one bang bang bang bang and you are almost 2/3 of the way through the disc and you haven't come up for a breath of air, you know?
JJ-(laughs) Exactly! I did an interview with a big rock magazine, I can't remember the name, in Germany the other day, and the guy said, “My favorite song is Til the Morning Comes.” I said, “I LOVE that song!” We both said it at the same time—it makes you feel good. We said it at the exact same time. It was great. It just gives you a good feeling, you know?

There's so many good feeling moments and I really like the pacing of the record. The two ballads are really well placed. Jim, the 2 ballads are classic Jimi Jamison but quite different in their own right.
JP-Well, you know, as is, it's one of those, like Jimi said today, that Josh Groban can sing that. It's very dramatic. It's very much a statement of Jimi and where he is right now and take me-- As Is. I've been through the fire and here I am. I survived. And Lost is it's own thing. The melody is I think really special on the chorus. We love it.

Yeah. Lost is just a dramatic song; it really, really is.
JJ- I think the background vocals really make it sound even better than it is. Jim, I guess you came up with those. When I heard it, I was like, “Oh man. He did it!”
JP- Actually, Thom Griffin did almost all the backgrounds except Jimi did some. Like in Crossroads Moment, it's Jimi and I did some. But Tom was brilliant. Of course, you know Thom, and he was truly into it.

Yeah, I know Thom. I met him for the first time in Chicago. He's just a gem of a guy.
JP- He did great. The background parts on Lost–that was Tom's creation and we just let him have his way with it.
JJ- And he did a great job on that, too.

It's obviously a really personal song and an honest raw emotion but, could you, in the lyrical theme, is there an underlying theme of faith in that song, Jim?
JP-Well, you know I think there is. The ending of the bridge, “Now I stand before the kingdom that is His….

JP-….you know that is very….I mean if you don't catch that then you're not listening.

Yeah-that's what I caught.
JP- As Is. Not to be too preachy or anything but the Lord takes us as we are and accepts you. And, it's really about self acceptance.

Oh, I just think it's an amazing lyric, to be honest, and Jimi, you nail it with the vocals….
JJ- Thank you very much.

….you do the right thing by the lyrics, you know what I mean?
JJ- Thank you. I appreciate it.
JP- My favorite story of this record is As Is because Mickey Thomas came in and sang, which is another really cool song, Jimi, we didn't talk about…
JJ- Bittersweet.
JP-Bittersweet. Mickey came in to sing the harmonies. That was great because it was like reliving Vital Signs when he came in and did I Can't Hold Back. Mickey's a great friend and he's gonna be on this show, by the way on Thursday.

JP- But, before we started, he said, “Well, let me hear a few things from Jimi's record.” We were just finishing As Is and we played it for him. Afterwards, he said, “Jimi, this is the best you have ever sung and it is a classic song.” And we said, “Stop there. That compliment is enough for me.” So, you know, it was so great.

Absolutely. What was the catalyst at the very start to bring you guys back together?
JP- Hmm.

What kicked this thing off?
JP-Jimi, you wanna tell the story?
JJ- Yeah, we—you know Fergie Frederickson had hepatitis C so we were actually doing a benefit for Fergie…..

Ok! I remember that.
JJ- …and it has turned into the Hepatitis C Foundation which we do every year. Fergie invited Jim to do it and he invited me to do it and whole lot of others—I can't remember who was on the show—some of the guys from…..
JP-Beaver Brown…..
JJ- …yeah, Beaver Brown…So we decided to, when we saw each other, and immediately, we like ran across the field and (laughing) it was great.

JJ- And it was SO good to see him and Karen. We just started talking and it was like we had never stopped, you know? And so we decided to The Search is Over, just us two.

Wow. And doesn't that work a treat?
JJ- Oh, it was great. When we started doing the song, we looked around behind us and all of the musicians were standing on the stage behind us and they were like in a semi-circle, listening. I tell you, what really started this whole thing was actually Karen's suggestion that Jim and I do it. We almost said it but she came out and said it. That's what really started it.
JP- Yeah, it's true. Karen was very big in this. I was a little hesitant, I mean, I love Jimi's voice as much as I love Jimi but there was so much blood on the tracks and it was like, should I really get into this again? When Jimi and I sang The Search is Over on stage, Jimi and I said, “yeah, we gotta do this.”
JJ- Yeah, it was all over especially when all your peers and the guys you really respect are standing back there listening and applauding for you. It was shocking.

JP- I'll tell you Andrew, and Jimi will probably attest to this, we are having more fun this time than when we had a number one record in 1985. It means a lot more and we're having more fun.

Excellent!! Yeah!
JJ- We really are. If this record never does anything, which I don't think will happen, but if it never does a thing, I'm still more proud of this than anything I've ever done.

That's fantastic. And you can hear it. It's just…there's a real spirit in the songs.
JP- Cool. Cool. You know, the very last song---we kept thinking that we must have cut, what, Jimi, about 20 songs.
JJ- At least.
JP- Serafino and Frontiers are very tough on our songs. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't but more often I, at the end of the day, I think they have made some good decisions. I mean, there will always be differences but what they did do was push me to my limits. When I thought I had the record done, they said. “No, we need one more. We need two more.” Deep inside I'd say, “MAN! I've done my best!” But then I would pull out, what's the song, Jimi….
JJ- Yeah, uh, Love the World Away.
JP- Yeah…..
JJ- Serafino knows it was coming up.

Yeah. Love the World Away is one of the last ones, wasn't it, as well.
JJ- Yeah and whether he says he likes the last song or not, he's gonna say, no because he wants Jim to come up with another one. It'll be great. The other one's gonna be great!

JJ- The record actually started off to be a country record, didn't it, Jim?
JP- Oh my God. Yeah. We were looking for what direction Jimi should go. He's equally good at rock, country, you know, the whole bit. We must have cut 8 things in the country genre. And, they're all good. They're all good. But, you know what? That's not what Jimi thought he would want. They wanna hear what he does best, you know, and that's melodic rock. We decided we are going to preach to the choir; we could always do a country album down the road but it is time for this.

JJ- Even if we do a country, it is still gonna be melodic rock, no matter what we do because there's no way to get around it-we sound like we sound and that's it.

Yeah, exactly and I'm really glad. I know you've guys tested out the country thing first but as a way in to start working together but I'm REALLY glad you ended up where you did though.
JJ-Yeah, me too.

And I'm really glad that you posted this week on MySpace, Jimi, that there would be a record next year.
JJ-Yea, I did. Jim doesn't know that yet.(laughing!!)

So is that the country record??!!
JJ-Yeah, it will be country but it won't be country. You know, it's gonna be good, whatever it is. I put A Sound of Home on my MySpace just to see what would happen and I have got so much response. I took it down the other day and you wouldn't believe all the email that I got saying, “OH! You've got to put it back up!!” Because you can only hear the song-you can't download it or anything. You can only—if you go to MySpace you can listen to it. They said, “I've got to have my fix.” They are flipping out over that stuff.

It's proof again that a good song is good in any format.
JJ- Yeah.
JP-Yeah, it's funny. It's a Pride of Lions song—in fact, that's the one we're gonna do with Toby on Thursday. It's like you said-it's all down to the arrangement.

Yeah. Absolutely. Now, talking of arrangements, Friends We've Never Met—what a great little lyric and what an uplifting song that is.
JP-Thank you. I always felt that so many cities and so many people and you make eye contact and they become friends for that night and then they are gone, you know? This is our way of saying thank you to the royal—I call them the “Royalty” of the fans.


I'd love to hear this song live. It's got such a great spirit and I love the last couple of minutes. It's like a rousing final. It's almost like an encore track.
JJ- You know what grabs you right off the bat is when those keyboards come in…
JP- (sings) (all laugh)

It starts off slow.
JJ- Oh my god…..

Yup. Yup.
JJ- …….it's so majestic.
JP- I have to say there's a little bit of Styx there. But, anyway….

JJ- More Asia. (all laugh)
JP- Well, alright. Well, ok Asia. At the last minute, Andrew, the last line of the song used to be, “for friends we've NE------VER met” and all of a sudden we, Jimi and I thought of Happy Trails, the old….
JJ- Roy Rogers.
JP- ….Roy Rogers thing. And we changed it to “someday we'll meet again”. That just made a goose bump moment for us.

I completely agree. And who was responsible for the guitar soloing?
JP- That's Jim Peterik.
JJ- (laughs)

That sounds like you. I'm glad you left that in because I know sometimes you can second guess or think, “maybe I should restrain myself a bit here.” But, I'm glad you didn't.
JP- Well, I really actually play a lot of lead on this record.

I can hear it, Jim, I can just really hear it.
JJ- Yeah, and I can't, in a lot of the places, I can' tell who's playing what. I have to ask Jim. Unless it's that real fast thing, I can tell it's Joel. But otherwise, I'll have to ask Jim, “did you play this?” (laughs)
JP- Well, except for the real fast Joel stuff, Make Me a Believer and When Rock Was King, I do almost all the leads. Now, I relied on Mike more for the rhythms-the really great riffs like on Battersea. He had a lot to do with that but the melodic lines—I like a lead part that you can sing.

JP- No offense to Mike or Joel but they're fast and they're technical but sometimes you can't sing the lead parts. Frankie's talent was playing leads that you can sing; I was trying to pick up from that.

I can hear you playing, Jim, and I can hear you soloing; I know it. And I think people will get a real---I think you are underrated as a guitar player.
JJ—Oh dude, you know the whole time that I was in Survivor with Jim, I never knew he was a guitar player.
JP- (laughs)

Yeah!! He's always the keyboard guy. And I think that's just so unfair.
JJ- I never knew it.
JP- Yeah, there were a lot of frustrations with Survivor. One of them was that there was only room for one guitar player on that stage and it was Frankie. You know, as a vocalist, it's public record, I really, really missed singing. When I first started with Dave Bickler, it was supposed to be kind of like a duets thing but other people had other visions and that's the way it went. I don't regret because we had a huge success but it was frustrating as a musician.

And, these days at least, you've got your solo record outlets.
JP- Right.

There's a couple of tracks that Jim, that you sent me for this record that you are thinking about demoing and that's gonna be the lead track on your next solo record.
JP- I don't remember which one.

Which one? Hang on. I think I've got the disc here, I think. (shuffles stuff) Somewhere.
JJ- He's gonna be singing a lot more when he goes out on tour with me.
JP- There you go!!
JJ- (laughs) I didn't talk about that yet!!!

(laughs) I think you guys really do need to put a setlist together. I really do. Heads Are Gonna Roll. Jim?
JP- You know, Hearts Are Gonna Roll.

Hearts Are Gonna Roll, yeah, sorry. Hearts Are Gonna Roll.
JP- Yeah, that's such a neat song and that could be a JP you now it's a little more…like Above the Storm or whatever. You know what, I've got to tell you though, I really live through Jimi Jamison though and it's almost like I don't need to sing when Jimi's singing one of my songs. It's such a thrill to hear him singing.

It's just great to hear the chemistry between you two.
JP- It's really real and we just….
JJ- Thank you, Jim. (sobbing/laughing)
JP- bwahhhh! (sobbing/laughing) I love you, man.
JJ- I love you, man.

JJ- (laughing)
JP- (laughing)

Even better to know that it's going to continue.
JP- Yeah. There's no doubt. You know, we're joined at the hip, man, and we're gonna do a lot of things together.

Yeah. And wouldn't it be great to do some live shows?
JJ- Oh yeah, it'd be great. That would be so much fun. We have working together. As long as it's fun, gee.
JP- I'll do shows, as long as I can still do the Ides of March, and of course Life Force is gaining momentum now as well as my solo jazz thing. But, I would love to go out with Jimi and do some shows.

Absolutely. Well, there's one next year I've penciled in for ya, so….
JP- Yeah. You tell me the date-we'll be there.
JJ- Andrew, I've never been to Australia and I wanna come badly. Just help us get over there. (laughs)

Yeah. I'd love to try and make that happen, too. It's just so bloody far to get here and it's so expensive. You know, it's like over 2 grand, $2,000, just for a coach seat.
JJ- Jesus.

That's U.S. dollars. It's like 2,600 Australian to fly anywhere. It's ridiculous. But, you know, that's what you get for living in the ass end of the world.
JJ- Hey, you never know. Maybe that's the head of the world and we're the ass end. (laughs)
JP- That's right! (laughs)

Maybe. (laughs) Can I ask you a couple of things, Jim, that you told me that you are up to? Or anything else that you'd like to add Jimi at this stage?
JJ- No, I think we've pretty much covered everything.

I just wanted to talk about the album and concentrate on that.
JJ- Yeah, go right ahead, Andrew.

Is there anything you'd like to add about the album?
JJ- I'd just like to add that I'm really, really, really thankful and very proud of this record. There would always be a track on a record I did or maybe 2 or 3 tracks that I did that I didn't really want to play for my friends. But with this record, I will sit down and play the whole thing, for anybody and not feel any weirdness whatsoever or feel like I could have done something better. Everything fits just perfectly and God bless Jim Peterik and Karen for sticking with me and Jim for writing such great songs.
JP- And I wanted to add just a couple of things. One is that Jimi really inspired me to do my best writing. I mean, it reminded me of back in '84 when I was thinking of his voice, imagining it and writing songs like I See You in Every One and Popular Girl and The Search is Over. To me, as a writer, it takes a great voice to inspire and great song and that's what happened with this album. I also wanted to give accolades to Larry Millas who co-produced this record. Of course, he's done all the engineering for Pride of Lions and Ides of March and I really think he hit a stride with this in terms of the sonics for this record. I think it's very punchy, very rock and roll, the drums sound great, the guitars sound great. So accolades, definitely, to Larry.

JJ- Yeah.

Good. Everything sounds fabulous on the album, Jim.
JP- And it's not fakey--too many albums, even in the melodic rock vein---I'll not mention any names---sound very synthetic, like their drum machines and guitars that are just going through the electronics, as opposed to real amplifiers.

JP—We tried to get the real meat of the analog recording like the 80's really and I think we pretty much got it.

People are asking me, Jim, about the Sound Stage performance. Is it gonna be a DVD or a TV thing or both?
JP- It's gonna be both. It's coming out in March- the DVD—

JP-and will air in March as well, on PBS. In fact, we're just editing it and doing whatever fixes need to be, if there's a bad guitar note. Luckily, there are very few problems. John Barnes just did his vocal repairs today and so we're right in the trenches. But it looks brilliant, sounds brilliant and I think everybody is represented so well. So, it's gonna be probably a double dvd set…

Wow. That's awesome. I can't wait to see that.
JP- It's gonna be great. It really is.

Absolutely, Fantastic. So that's great. You've got the jazz record—that's out officially? Is that out now?
JP- Well, it's off my website but it's going to hit the stores in February for an actual release.

Oh good. Ok.
JP- Yeah, we've got the whole distributorship. We have radio promotion; we have PR; we have everything set up and we're really going to go for it. And, as a spin off, I'm producing Lisa McLowry and a solo jazz album for her, too. It's kind of a spring board for her, as well.

That's great. An iron in every fire.
JP- (laughs) As long as I'm passionate about it, I'll do it. I'm at an age where I don't do anything I don't love.

Yeah. And why should you? I agree completely.
JP- Right.

Hence, the unlikeliness of a Survivor reunion.
JP- Right. I mean, I think it would be more pain than gain. It would be very tough and right now, I don't see the need for it.

Yeah. You know, there are a lot of people that would love to see the three of you on stage again or even both vocalists and you and Frankie.
JP- That would be pretty tough.
JJ- I think it would be really good if it was just me, Jim and Dave.
JP- (laughing)

Well, how is Dave doing?
JP- Dave is great. I just spoke with him. He's going to be on the show on Thursday. We're doing Somewhere In America, which is a real oldie that is from the very first record. We're doing it because it was like a hit in Chicago. We're doing Summer Nights. We're doing The Eye of The Tiger, of course, Dave's singing it. This is gonna be a blast. Jimi and Dave are gonna go up there and do a duet—something—I haven't figured out what yet.

Fantastic. I'd love to hear that. Do you get asked about Pride of Lions, too, Jim?
JP- Yup.

Any plans? Or is it just sort of in the back of your mind for sometime later, perhaps?
JP- Well, no, it's getting more specific. We've got Frontiers barking down my door now, and I said, “Look. I just finished Jamison's record. I've got to re-group. I've got to build up my juices again”. Yeah, but '09 will definitely be a Pride of Lions record. I don't know exactly when yet but I'm starting to think about it-starting to collect ideas. Of course, we want it to be the best one yet.

Yup. Great stuff. It's good to see that. Just keep things continuing on all fronts. Keep everybody happy.
JP- Yup. There ya go.

And then we'll have a new Jimi Jamison album……(laughs)
JP- Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
JJ- (evil laughing)

Keep it rolling. Fantastic. Anything else you'd like to add, Jim?
JP- Ides of March are putting on a new record. That will be spring of '09.

Oh! A new studio album?
JP- All new original studios, yup.

JP- I'm very excited. It's called Keep Rockin'. Every song is up tempo; there's no ballads.

Really? Ok.
JP- It's a very, very cool record. Yeah, so that's about it right now.

That's enough, isn't it?
JP- Yeah, I mean, come on. It's gonna be a great '09. Jamison is probably the thing that I'm most excited about because it's gonna wake people up. I think the AOR melodic rock world is ready for this record. They're really seeing what Jimi can do—what really is Survivor—what was the magic behind Survivor. Of course, Survivor is Survivor and there'll never be another Survivor but I think, on this record, we've captured a lot of the essence of what people really loved about Survivor. One really little small thing about Jimi's voice is that, when I first met him and he started singing for us, I didn't know how to describe it but he had a kind of a catch in his voice that made him very unique. If you listen, I call it a yodel. It's hard to describe but nobody else does it, ok? Through the years, I think the yodel disappeared. Certainly on the album Reach, there's not a yodel to be found. I think it makes Jamison—well, first of all, it identifies him as a Memphis guy. It's just a little bit Southern, what he does. But NOBODY else does it. No one else can do it. So, with this album, I said, “Jimi, you've got to bring back the yodel”. (laughs)

JP- And it's there. It's part of the reason Jimi's vocals sound so distinctive on this record. Almost like harkening back to When Seconds Count or Vital Signs.

Yeah. There's definitely a classic Survivor sound on there and just a great all around record. You both should be very proud.
JP- Thank you, Andrew. And thank you for your support
JJ- You're definitely part of the team, brother.

That's what I love doing so I was happy to jump in and help and I'll be there next time.
JP- Yup, thank you, man.
JJ- We know you will.
JP- Anything, we can do. Tell me about the shows and we'll be there.
JJ- For sure.

Fantastic. Long way off but we'll definitely—I'd like to do something.
JP- How's your new baby boy? Is it a boy?

Yeah, another boy, I've got three kids, three boys now, yeah.
JP- Wow.
JJ- Wow. When did you have the last one?

He's 10 weeks old-eleven weeks old.
JJ- Wow! Congratulations
JP- What's this one's name?

His name's Toby.
JP- Oh Toby!!
JJ- (yells) Toby Wayne?
JP- Toby Hitchcock. Toby Wayne. (all laugh) The other ones are called what?

Nicolas and Zachary.
JP- Toby. He'll come out of the womb singing the Sound of Home.

Yeah. Exactly. The other 2 kids love their music so we're on the right path.
JP- Good. Good deal.

So we're all doing ok.
JP- Well, I'm glad we got a hold of you and do you have enough to write about?

That's plenty. Thank you, mate. Absolutely.
JP- Good. Well, we're gonna go to bed. (laughs)

One more toast before bed.
JP- You got it. You got it.

Alright, Jimi and Jim, thank you both very much again.
JJ- Thank you, Andrew. Man, you're the best. We really, really, really appreciate all your help. You've helped us immensely.
JP- No doubt.

Anytime. Anytime. And I look forward to catching up again soon.
JP- Ok. Alright, Andrew. Take care.

Alright, thanks, mates. Bye.
JJ- See ya later, buddy.
JP- Bye bye.


c. 2008/9 / Interview by Andrew McNeice June 2008




Thursday, June 12, 2014



W.E.T: The downpour has only just begun...

Time to talk to the mastermind's behind this year's classic debut album - W.E.T. Jeff Scott Soto, Erik Martensson and Robert Sall....

I guess the starting point of an interview at this stage must be the critical and fan feedback on this amazing album you guys have managed to write and record. You must all be pleasantly surprised with the acclaim?

JSS: Well I guess some cheers to you as well as jeers for that, haha. You certainly started an upheaval of opinions on your site which was fun for us to watch on the outside. I get on there once in a while to dig & jab with some of the regulars but this time I decided to watch the debate, it was great fun reading as well as nice to get so much attention, good or bad! We had no idea this thing would get much attention past our individual fans but we've stepped on a landmine here, this thing is outselling a lot of my past endeavours, I guess people really found a click with W.E.T. I am very proud of my comrades here on the little monster we created!

From a one-off project as things started, it seems this is now a band and has taken on a life of it's own?

JSS: Yes, especially now that were discussing the prospects of touring now. I said from day one we would consider it if there was interest....well, were considering it!

Going right back to the start - what was originally pitched to you from Frontiers guys?

JSS: Yes, Serafino Perugino, the president of Frontiers as well as my bastard twin separated at birth, haha, came to me with this idea. I knew of Erik's music with Eclipse but only heard some Work Of Art songs without having met Robert at that point, but was very impressed with their vibe thinking this could be pretty cool. Once I got the 1st batch of songs, I couldn't wait to dive into them, even though I didn't co-write them, it was almost like copping Erik's vibe from his vocal demos & making them my own, it was really cool.

Erik and Robert - you had not written together before right? But instantly it seems there was great chemistry between you.

Erik: I've known Robert for over ten years and we have always discussed that we should make a melodic rock album together. But we never got together and actually made one. Thankfully, Serafino gave us a very good reason to make one! And things went surprisingly smooth when we started to write together. There is absolutely no prestige between us so if one had a better idea then the other one just backed off.

Robert: Since Erik and I have been friends for years, we were both familiar with each others music and I always felt that if we just could find the right situation, we would come up with some pretty exciting music. I think the WET album is a proof of that. It was almost too easy writing these songs with Erik and I know we're gonna write lots more music together in the future.

How did you work the initial stages of writing?

We just sat down in my studio and wrote almost everything on acoustic guitar. When we had the first basic idea of the song I started to demo the song the same day. More or less all the bass guitar and rhythm guitars from the first demo are what you hear on the album. I really believe that the energy you give a song when you record it the first time has something special that is really worth keeping, even if it isn't played perfectly.

Robert: We usually got together in Erik's studio around 10 o'clock in the morning and most of the time; we had a complete song by lunchtime. That's how quick most of these songs were written!

And Jeff, for an album of such importance to fans of "AOR Jeff", you left all the writing to the other guys. You were obviously comfortable in their abilities to deliver for everyone?

JSS: Yes, as I said earlier, it was all about trust & respect to those guys, especially to Erik for making sure he would impress me with some great melodies. Every song became better than the last as I started knocking these out on my home studio. Remember, we did NONE of this stuff together, like Talisman, we were worlds apart yet right next door when it came to knowing exactly what to do with the songs.

Jeff - you passed some early demos on to me in 2008 and I was immediately blown away at what you guys were going to do - but the end product is even more amazing!

JSS: Yes, I am glad I stepped into some of the production process as I was so pleased with how it was coming out but didn't realize the work files I had which were recorded to drum machines was the final drum product we would have in the end! There simply was not enough in the budget to use a live drummer & I went to Serafino insisting if this album is to reach its potential in the end, we MUST have a real drummer playing on it. He added to the budget & that's how we brought Robban (drummer from Eclipse) in. Same at the end, Erik mixed the album brilliantly but as he had never mastered an album in his life, I thought we should play it safe & hire someone I trust with all of my mixes, John Ellis, to give it the final touches. Again, Serafino opened the check book & we got what we needed.

Erik - as producer and main musician on this album and the recent (also amazing) Eclipse release - talk us through the process of working up a song demo and then moving onto a full blown mix...

Erik: Thanks for you kind words Andrew! As I said earlier, the first demo version is very close to the final album. I think that when you record an album you must know what you aim for when you start to write and record. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted this album to sound like from the start. This means that you can make the right decisions of how to record it. If you want the guitars to be really massive and fat then you better have that guitar sound in you amp. It sound really simple, but too many musicians forget this. So many times I've been given the master tapes to mix an album and it's recorded really poorly.

What is your particular secret to getting the tunes to sound so amazing without the $100K budgets?

A good pair of ears and good songs! Simple as that. And you can record and mix albums with the help of computers today and that really help to keep the costs down. The old, big studios cost a fortune to hire. But you still have to know how to mix and record and that is harder to get cheap. And all the guys on this album are great musicians and that really helps a lot too.

How was the recording process done with Jeff's participation? Jeff - did you fly in to do the lead vocals?

Nope, all vocals done separately & nowhere near Stockholm :)

Erik: But since we all are Jedi Nights, we could sense each other with the help of the force all the time!

Jeff - the vocals on this album are outstanding and some of the highest range you have done in years. How hard were they to do? Has your constant touring over the last several years helped in this regard?

I hadn't sung this range since my touring with Journey, I knew it would take some warming back into it as Beautiful Mess was a complete departure vocally. It actually became a bit easy because I had Erik's guide vocals that almost assisted me in revisiting my earlier years sound. I enjoyed sounding 26 again, it was fun, should be interesting to do live, haha.

At the same time - there are some truly heavy tunes here also. A truly great balance I thought...

Erik: Personally, (and I think that many on the melodic rock site disagree with me on this but), many melodic rock albums tend to bore me after a while. You put the album on and I'm really impressed with the great melodies and great performances but after a few songs they start to sound exactly the same. I turn them off and put something else on. I think it's very important to have a variety on an album to keep it interesting for the listener.

Robert: Nowadays when 12 songs on an album is almost standard, I think variation is the key to making an album interesting to listen to from the first to the last song. I think this album as really good mix of songs.

I agree. There are some obvious nuances in there to Steve Perry (vocally) and to Journey (musically) - Erik and Jeff - views on this?

JSS: I'll take this one...there are songs that naturally lean towards the Journey style, as I am & always will be heavily influenced by Steve Perry & his predecessor Sam Cooke, that vocal style naturally comes out in me without having to try or copy Sir Perry! Hence my statement on how this is what could have been in terms of my continuance with Journey, not song or genre-wise per se, mainly in that Perry influence is in the blood but well never know what it could have been.

If I Fall is the most obvious and seems to be a real fan favourite!

Erik: I love that song too. We re-wrote it a long time before it sounded like that album version. The original idea sounded nothing like the final version. This was the only song that we re-wrote a couple of times but it seems it was worth it. And yes, it sounds very much like Journey even if it was not planned. 

Jeff - did you feel as if you had something to prove to a certain group by recording a dedicated melodic rock/AOR album?

Not at all, remember this was all Serafino's idea, he was the one that wanted me to follow up with this kind of album for my solo career after Journey but I want my solo sound to be me 100%, not lean or borrow on the AOR side of things I've already done. With WET its fine to head this way, the shoe fits better on that foot!

So how about you guys - favourite songs on this album?

JSS: The 3 songs we did vids for, One Day At A Time, If I Fall, I'll Be There....too many to list!

Erik: Brothers In Arms, Invincible, If I Fall, Comes Down Like Rain

Robert: The 3 video songs.

How about the videos - nice to see you went to the effort to create 3 videos, giving extra life to the album as each one is released… It is obviously much easier these days to create a decent video without another $100k to waste!

JSS: Serafino asked me if we would do videos for this release as it is becoming a standard for my albums with Frontiers. I believe in giving the listener more bang for their buck, even if the videos are not 6 figure productions, it adds to the basic CD release as well as, I believe, assists on the illegal digital download thing, if 10 people buy the CD knowing they'll get more than just songs, that's enough for me to justify the extra budget & time we take to make the vids. I personally like them, I am proud of how well Gary (Schutt) has grown as a videographer & editor although I give all the shooting credit to my friend Lasse in Sweden for getting the footage for us.

What is the immediate touring plans for the band? I know that with 3 busy schedules that making time for this when you are all free at the same time will be challenging, but can you make it happen and when?

JSS: Were discussing it now, timing & scheduling. I won't be doing the TSO Spring tour in 2010 as originally planned so now I have the whole 1st half of the year to see what we can do with WET.

Jeff - will you co-write on album 2 and how could that influence the sound differently - if at all?

JSS: Who said there would be a 2nd album? :) Yes, I plan to be more involved with the next one, we will naturally bond touring & hanging on tour so with that comes capturing this on a new album. Talisman started exactly this way, completely separated & not really a real band, became my main squeeze for nearly 20 years & look at the coincidence, both bands are Swedish!

These songs deserve to be heard live. How would you work up a set list? Songs from everywhere you guys have been recently or just off the album?

JSS: It hasn't even been discussed but I am sure would visit the 3 bands that comprise this one....I would love to sing an Eclipse song maybe & have Erik sing a Talisman one, that could be cool! Robert has no voice so we might have to split vocals on a Work Of Art song :)
But I would imagine it would be primarily songs from the album.

And a potential line-up, who would round out a live band?

JSS: Exactly as you see it on the videos of course minus Marcel (RIP). I imagine Erik might play bass so we can remain a 5 piece band, I might play bass on some songs so Erik can play 2nd guitar, maybe Ill do some keys.....who knows how it will configure but well make it entertaining!

Erik - back to Eclipse now for you this year? And Robert - back to Work Of Art for a highly anticipated new album?

Erik: I will surely return to Eclipse this year. Magnus and me will start to write for a new album as soon as possible. I really look forward in writing new material for Eclipse. We've been showing each other a few ideas already and it looks (sounds) very promising.

Robert: We're almost done recording the new Work Of Art album and I except it to be mixed and done no later than March.

Robert - Work Of Art was an amazing debut - what have you planned for the new album?

Robert: The new album will more or less be in the same style as the first one. It might be slightly more west coast oriented at some places since we do realize that our first album attracted a lot of west coast music fans as well. And now when we have WET, I don't worry about exploring our west coast sound a little bit more. I think that's one of great things about WET that both Erik and I appreciate. With Eclipse, Erik gets to do the heavier Hard Rock stuff and with Work of Art, I can lean towards a more west coast-ish style. And then with WET, we mix both our styles and come with something that is 100% pure AOR :-)

And Erik - the last Eclipse was a masterpiece also - so where to from here for you guys?

Erik: I think we will take it even one step further towards hard rock with the next one. Another fine album with just killer and no fillers and absolutely no ballad!

Jeff - you are the ever busy workhorse of the business. TSO duties....solo dates with the new band...WET...what else have you got up your sleeve for 2010?

So far, only to follow up on things out there, which is quite a bit now. Gonna chip away at the stone in 2010 before diving into anything else new.

Jeff - you like mixing things up and the recent move to JSS brand and the Beautiful Mess you maintain that image and sound when returning for the next solo album and how far along is your thinking there?

JSS: Haven't thought that far ahead yet, who knows what will inspire me next? :)

Jeff - When is Queen going to see sense and get out there with you up front? :)

JSS: Haha, those guys have an agenda in mind, if I am to be part of it, they know I would love it, that is the last & only band I could foresee being a part of that already has its own past, I was once known as the guitar players singer, the last thing I want now is the replacement singer for well known bands!

Or how about an Eyes reunion? LOL

JSS: Umm, yea right!

Everyone - obviously there is going to be a huge demand for a follow-up album - when could that possible be started and delivered? Sometime next year?

JSS: One day at a time bro, let us have some fun with this one 1st, I would imagine that could be in the cards.

An album like this obviously excites a lot of the core fans within this scene - but truly - for those that wish for Melodic Rock music to rule the airwaves again, how big is our scene in your view and how many record can a great album sell in 2010?

JSS: I see it slowly creeping back in with the new bands, so many of the new artists coming out were listening to Def Leppard & Whitesnake when they were kids in the 80s, now they're all grown up & emulating the old sound with a new vibe. Listen to Orianthi, guitarist for Michael Jackson's latest line up before he passed, she is bringing back the whole guitar hero thing with melodic songs that you might hear Avril Lavigne doing, I think its great & about time, everything comes back full circle!

So it's back to work this week - where are you guys all at right now and what's on your "desk" so to speak?

JSS: I am literally about to make the final curtain call on the last show for the TSO winter tour then off to LA for the NAMM before returning to London.

Erik: I'm in the final process of writing another album for Frontiers and I'm working with a couple of other new Swedish bands at the moment.

Robert: I just got home from another writing session with Erik earlier today. Also, I'm writing songs for some new Frontiers projects and I'm currently writing songs for some Swedish artists.

Any message you would like to leave for the fans of the album and you guys individually?

JSS: Yea, buy the album, get rocked & see you on the road!

Erik: I couldn't have said it better myself!

Robert: I'll drink to that!

What have I left out - any last comments?

That you are responsible for keeping this music alive in a big way, our thanks go to you & THIS site!



c. 2010 / Interview by Andrew McNeice - December 2009.




Thursday, June 12, 2014



Giant: New Promises

Giant drummer David Huff celebrates the band's return - albeit in a new form. Time to get mometum up and continue that on he says. Let's hope so!

Hi David - so, you're ok to talk now?
Yeah! I'm good!

Great! Ok, so, you've obviously been doing interviews pretty flat-out. What's it like to get back into the whole interview process and album prelaunch phase?
It brings back a lot of good memories. It really does. It's been good. We're talking about something that's not a grind. We're talking about something that we're proud of, enjoyable stuff to do.
It's been good.

Ok, so you're normally working behind the scenes of the music you're making, right?
Yeah, exactly-totally. I work with a lot of artists: that's THEIR job. (laughs)

So, the last few years, who have you been primarily been working with?
A lot of people. I've lived in LA and, now, I've moved back to Tennessee about 7 months ago…I work on film and TV movies; I work with some pop artists-some stuff that is totally not in the Giant vein at all. I've done some country artists and some rock bands-kind of all over the place. It's kind of like how Dann and I grew up. We played on a bunch of different records when we were little, or young I should say. And so I was busy doing that-just busy making music, which is awesome. It's just a pleasure.

Absolutely. But, always close to your heart is the idea of Giant.
Well, yeah, somebody asked the other day what brought it about. First of all, I've got a great relationship with Serafino and Mario over at Frontiers records.
I've stayed in touch with them over the years. I was producing a rock band in L.A. and I was working with a guitar player, DJ Ashba who played on a lot of Motley Crue stuff. I hired him to come in and work with me and, man, it just –just the power of the rock and roll music. This was kind of melodic; this was the new rock and roll. Man, I remember telling the artists that I really miss making this kind of music-they way we did with Giant. It brings back the power of the good style of rock and roll music.
I do a lot of work with programming and all that kind of stuff, which I love, but I truly miss that style of music. So, it kind of prompted a couple of conversations with Serafino and we just moved from there; we went on from there. Obviously the talks went well because we did a record. (laughs)

Obviously, Dann's involvement was a debate point for you for a long time. I gather you waited for him for a while because I remembered Mario coming to me in 2002 while we were in the U.K. together saying, “What would you think of Giant if we had a different lead vocalist? That was in 2002! (laughs)
Yeah. You know, to be honest with you, after we did Giant 3 that was really a test for me because they'd asked us to do another Giant record. We're obviously best friends-brothers too. We work together now and we worked together then. It's kind of like we let the music die-we let the band die because the music style was over in the U.S.- it just totally died. It's kind like trying to unload a Hummer I right now.

(laughs) Yes!
It doesn't work in this day and time, you know? So, that was kind of a test to me and it was kind of...I understand why it was kind of a lukewarm reception because it wasn't new music.

Over the last….shoot man, over the last 4 or 5 years, I noticed a lot of people putting together tours again and all going over to Europe so that it has always stayed in the back of my mind.
But Dann...he never really wanted to do it but the idea in my mind never totally quite died off, you know?
I know the style died, but it's like anything else-it's difficult coming back.

Yes, it might not be a huge audience but it's a very loyal audience.
Very loyal. Yes, You're right.

In Europe and even in America, it's growing a little bit. It's a loyal audience. And we're an a bit older now but we still love what we grew up with and there's even some kids coming into it.
I've known some U.S. markets and they're ready for some good songs again.
It went through a good period but that period needs a change. That's what keeps us all young, right? Keep it varied? You know, new music?

Absolutely. Are you happy with the songs you've lined up for this album? Not all are co-writes by the band but you've got a few great tracks in there as well, haven't you?
Yeah! I'm very aware. You know, Serafino and I talk and we talk pretty frequently. I was always a big fan of them. They came over before 2000 and we had some wine at my house. I was so close- in kinship with them. I had visited their site once in a while and had asked Serafino about co-writers and he had mentioned Eric's [Martensson] name. It just so happened that he's had some songs . I kind of cut him mid sentence and said, well, does he have some? Would you open to sending some songs to me!
And Serafino asks me, and he says, would you be open to listening to some songs? ABSOLUTELY! I kind of wanted to hear more of what he wrote about. I heard the songs that he wrote and, you know, the real musician part of me went, I wouldn't change that.

Yeah, I LOVE Eric's stuff-I really do.
I mean we changed some of the arrangement stuff but that's not re-writing, you know?
I thought it was GREAT. Personally. I thought it was awesome! I went, well man, I thought we needed a few more. To be honest with you, the market over there-I respect it and I don't know it well enough right now.
You know, had it been like before with Giant and the real money and stuff was there…you know what I'm sayin'? -- with the label and we would have flown over and written for a month.
But that's just not, in this day and age right now, and especially with all the work we've got goin' on, that just wasn't possible.

I understand that; it's an entirely new budget these days.
But, it just so happened to work out that they had these great songs. I was like, man, if you mind, I'd love to cut them and see if we cut them right and we can see if they can make a record. We and the label both felt the same--that they worked great.

Yeah, they were-absolutely. And, you've pulled a couple of old Dann Huff co-writes there as well?
Of course! (laughs) I mean Dann…he's been such a …he loves… I mean…He hasn't sung since probably early 1992 when Giant disbanded, you know.

I think that's criminal. I remember interviewing him once in the mid 90s and he said, “I could never get my voice back in shape.” I just thought, that's a perfectionist talking because he's got such a WONDERFUL voice! It's just a criminal waste to not hear it again.
I know. It's so unique and so signature. I agree with you. When that point hit, I knew he wouldn't want to do Giant-the way giant was.

The funny thing is, when we started Giant, there was a producer-I won't mention the names-who we first hooked up with-who we wanted to produce our band and take us under HIS production company (to a label) who HIGHLY suggested that Dann not sing and that we find a lead singer…..

..and the four of us were like, “Are you-are you KIDDING?” You know, we told him this a PG interview? (laughs)

(laughs) No, no no!! Tell it like it is!
We said, “You don't know… are you CRAZY?” And then, we stood behind our gun. We like Dann's sound and the feel that he brings. And it was a good call because that's what we felt.

So, in making the bold step forward to record without him, what was the criteria for a new vocalist? How many guys did you look at?
We looked for a while. You know Andrew, we've got a different philosophy; this was mine and Mike's philosophy. We talked about doing this band, under the name Giant. We understand when you make change in the world, or anything, some people are not gonna like it. We didn't go into the whole thing trying to please everybody. We knew we had fans but it had been a long time. We didn't go into it trying to replace Dann.
He's irreplaceable and so we wanted to stay true to the brand of Giant…

….but we also wanted to evolve because it's been so many years. I think that was the criteria for us looking for singers. What met the criteria for us was someone who could play and sing rock music but just as important was that he have some soulful sort of background.

Yeah. Terry Brock's a great choice.
Yeah and you know it was a very natural choice, as was John [Roth]. He's the same; he's got a lot of rock but he's got a lot of soul in him because he's in Memphis.
So anyway, that was kind of our philosophy. And, we had approached the label too with we can't replace Dann, nor are we trying to. We just want to make it true to the melodic rock, guitar driven music but kind of evolved.

There's a lot of guitar on this record actually.
Oh Yeah!

John really PLAYS. (laughs) Everybody knows what a really great player he is but he gets to shine a bit is what I meant.
I think he's an awesome player. Dann's heard stuff and he was very impressed with everything; he was TOTALLY impressed with it. And he is very supportive of it.

Where did the rumors come from, that there was a rift between you guys because of you moving forward with the name?
Between me and Dan? Oh no, no, no. You know, you've been in the media long enough to know that some people will just day things to start some stuff…
The bottom line is, like I said early on in the interview, Dann and I are best friends; we are blood brothers and we're best friends. We have nothing but love. You know, I went to Dann first and said, Hey, I know you don't want to do Giant because you don't want to sing and I know your commitments. But, hey, I'm gonna ask you officially anyway because we're brothers…and that's how I do things. Either way, it's fine. He didn't want to do it but he is absolutely, 1000% supportive. He has absolutely bent over backwards to give song input and play some solos, which are amazing.

Because that's what brothers do. So there's no rumor-no.

That's fantastic but I'm still stunned that he doesn't want to sing! (laughs)
I know. (laughs) I know! He's SO good; he's so interpretive and soulful. Yeah, I agree with you; I agree with you. Maybe had we been in Giant 5 years earlier, you know, at the PEAK of all that kind of music….maybe we woulda had enough records under our belt-you know, hits-maybe we could be around like, and I'm not comparing us with Journey, but kind of like how they have lived through that.

And still make it worth your while to tour or whatever.
Yeah and they can still make a comfortable living off of all the stuff they did back in the 80s! (laughs)

(laughs) Exactly, yes. Their songs just won't die, some of them.
Yeah. I heard some of them the other night, Don't Stop Believin', and I was like, Wow, that sounds awesome.

It's hard to believe that it's 30 years old, isn't it?
Uh huh. Yeah.

Speaking of aging and things like that, the first of your 2 studio albums still sound AMAZING today.
Wow. Well, thanks. Thanks.

They have aged and I just wanted to ask you whether you are aware-I'm sure you are aware of the cult following that those 2 albums have.
We are all very aware of that. We are very appreciative of that. Part of making this record is knowing that we still have…people come out of the blue, Andrew, and say, Man, I love Giant. Are you ever going to make anything else? And I'm talking recently. People that I know that are in the pop world-I won't mention any names but famous people-they LIKE the band.
So, we know we have fans, especially over in Europe. We always really wanted to make another record. We'll make some of the fans happy by that. We sure had fun making the record, and although it's a different day and age, we still hope we can have some of those fans.

And you've captured a great sound, once again. Obviously, you guys know your way around the studio by now. (laughs) So, you can make a great sound for a lot less these days.
Yeah, well, and we get to work at world class studios I was asked the question, Did you do this just for the money? (laughs)
And I said, I'll tell ya-I'm glad you ask because I don't take anything as an insult from anybody. I can just tell you straight up that we DIDN'T do it for the money. We put the money into the project-what budget was there-we put it into the project.

Anybody that's aware of the scene as it is now wouldn't ask that question.
Well, good because I told someone else that wasn't really convinced, I said, You know, hey, Mike and I put our own money into the video. Because I wanted something that was…we are used to doing things on a high level, you know? I didn't want to something that was real shitty and neither did anybody in the band. We wanted to give back to the fans and hopefully they like it and appreciate it. We certainly had fun doing it. I'm not trying to do the martyr thing; we have a lot of pride and we want to make something good.

Well… it sounds GREAT! There's no doubt about it.
It's not a one off and it certainly wasn't to make a killing to go live in the Bahamas, ok? (laughs) That wasn't about that.

(laughing) Absolutely. So, you say it wasn't a one off so the idea is to keep things rolling?
Yeah! We just turned the record in about a month ago-not quite a month ago...right at a month. We're building the website. We have the website started: just now building it up. We did the video. Our plan is to do some touring-get hooked up with a booking agency that really connects in Europe. What we'd like to do is get offered a couple of festivals and just do something in Europe, one off, is, right at this point, impossible. It's almost impossible.

You know I was nagging you for my show in Chicago in May.
I know and we want to but we are at an unfortunate point that we just made a record and we are already up and running. Our intent is to be fully up and running to where we can go…. a lot of bands go over to Europe and do shows twice a year. That's what we fully want to do.

That's Good!
And, to be honest, we miss that, you know? Mike and I – we MISS that a lot. We had the most incredible time playing in Europe. We played HUGE shows here, in the states. But I can tell you, we played arenas and HUGE outdoor sheds and arenas. Our true, fun times were when we played in Europe—way more intimate' we just felt way more appreciated. And that was really… we were really received well. We were soooooo grateful for that.
We want to get back to that.

I hope it can come together, David, I really do.
I think it will. We just have to. I don't know the European market so I don't know how. I can't book shows over there. You have to get the right people for the right job. So that's what we're looking for right-the right agents that can kind of string some stuff together for us so when we leave we can for 2-3 weeks at a time, which makes a lot of sense.
Like we used to do.

I understand that. What –I was going to ask you earlier – but what were the budgets on the first 2 records? I'm not asking what today's budget is because we know what It's like (laughs) but just so people know the silly kind of amounts that it took to make records in the heyday. How much were the budgets for the first two albums?
Well…they were well over a half a million…pushing….pushing…..just recording? Just recording was well over a half a million. We recorded in London and we stayed there for 3 months.

Oh my god.
It was expensive. And a lot of money mixing. We spent – I remember when Nigel Green mixed—what was the song he did—I think it was the first one he mixed. He mixed that one and it took him 3 days to mix that one. In London!
Nigel took like 4 days on one of them!
Imagine -a full on studio. I know what they were in New York; they were 1200-1500 a DAY just for the studio.
So, 4 days plus the mixer's fee, which is…well, I can't tell you what he got paid. I know a lot of those mixers in L.A.- a lot of my good friends in L.A.- they're making $12,-15,000 a mix.

…in pop music. So, just imagine…the budgets were a lot! Let's put it that way.

(laughing!) YES!!! (laughing!) Amazing.
But it was cool because we got to experiment with tones and sounds and arrangements and we LIVED the music, you know? We made the music by living it.

They just sound Immaculate-the records just sound … you know….not a note out of place without it sounding sterile.
And, we were working with great engineers. Obviously, the world's a different place now. People aren't making-not even the big, big artists- they're not making records like that for that kind of money anymore.

No, they're always making a tour pass, aren't they.
Exactly. So you know , you still just work with great engineers-that's what we did. We STILL work with great engineers: that really helps you.

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. What are some of the favorite songs you've got on the record? I must ask you-the title of the album, I think you've been asked this before, but the original Mark Spiro title is Back To The Promised Land and the lyrics are “Promised Land” yet the title is Promise Land.
That's good question. I would revert it back to the writer, Mark Spiro, and let him try to figure out why. You know? I don't know; it's just kind of like a different state of mind, you know? It doesn't have to be…they kind of mean the same thing but then again, a promised land is something that you strive for. We didn't all write it…Dann and Mark wrote it-but we all worked that song many times.

That's kind of cool because it brings back a lot of great memories to me. Um, I like Believer -the new version of that. At first of all, I thought that it might be a little bit weird that it had the same title, kind of the same title…but the song sounds so different.

Oh, I LOVE it! Love it. My favorite song, I think.
I like stuff like Complicated. Man, I like a lot of the different stuff. I like Save Me-you know, that song Dann and I wrote. It's kind of like….it's part of US. I like that. I like Our Love. I love that.

Yeah-a good ballad. And Power of Love is ..that's straight out of the Giant songbook.
Absolutely. I think all the songs, like I said, stay true to a brand that we started and it has also evolved. It's both.

In the second half of the album, there's some good original stuff on there.
It's melodic, it's commercial, commercial kind of rock kind of stuff to me. All I can say is we had a GREAT time making the record. We just knew it brought so much enjoyment. You know, it's funny when we first started getting ready to go in and record, I hear some negativity about it--- Why are you going to record Giant.
So far, for people that have heard the record that's not even a point of contention anymore. It has touches of Giant-very much in the same page as that- but it has also evolved. Thank God, it's evolved a little bit.

Yeah. I'm glad you moved forward. I was a bit hesitant myself but once I heard the record, I was really pleased.
Andrew, like I said, our philosophy was to go into the thing…. We didn't go into it scared, we didn't go into it pressured like, How are we going to do this. We went into it ….the one thing that was hard was making sure that we were comfortable with the new lineup.
And once we went with that, Serafino and I worked very closely on songs and, you know, we just went in there and made music. We never thought.
When we made the first Giant record, we never thought; we just made music.
That's what we did and I felt like we accomplished our goal by doing it. We made music. Ultimately, everybody's going to make their assessments on it and we were pleased; we were very happy with it. We love it and we hope people do too. Time will tell.

Fantastic and you won't leave it 10 years between records now?
No! (laughs)
No, you know what's funny is that it took us a minute for Mike and I. We spend a lot of time together out having a beer and talking about what we need to do to start this up. So… Now we've got some momentum, I wouldn't dare think of wasting this. Hopefully, we can get some tour stuff backed up on this thing and continue to write some stuff for the next project. I mean, granted, it has to be accepted enough to warrant doing another record. You know?
There has to be some sort of demand out there and that's why I keep saying, I hope people like it; I hope there's a demand for it.

I'm sure but the music stands on it's own.
Oh well, Andrew, that means a lot coming from you-it really does.

Thank you.
I've seen some comments. We just got a page started,, and we've had some remarks from people…very, very complimentary and just very excited to go buy the record.
That was cool; very encouraging.

Great stuff. Great stuff. Well, that's about all I had for you, David.
Well thank you very much for the support Andrew.


c. 2010 / Interview by Andrew McNeice




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kevin Shirley: Distortion To Death Threats - Life In A Producer's Chair

Mega-Producer/Mixer/Engineer Kevin Shirley talks direct from THE CAVE about working with some of rock's biggest legends and with acts famous for infighting.


Great to talk to you Kevin. What are you sitting there working on right now?
Right now I'm doing a song with Joe Bonamassa with Vince Gill on guitar, and John Hyatt on vocals as well.

That's an interesting combo.
Yeah - Nashville boys. I'll be doing a new album with him in, I think….coming up soon.

Fantastic. So, you're sitting in the cave in Malibu?
I'm sitting in the cave in Malibu as we speak.

Very good.
It's a good place to be.

Yeah, yeah. How much time have you put into building that studio now over the years?
Um…not that much time. I just did it. I mean, I just built it and then I just update it from time to time. But it's like phenomenal; it's basically a mixing studio but I do vocals and some guitars and things here. But it's basically just a big ole mixing studio.

Ok and of course you go on location for what needs to be done and then bring it back to the cave for mixing.

It's really good to talk to you after many years of emailing and the odd controversy here and there. (laughs)
Oh well. You get that.

(still laughing) especially with some of the guys you work with.
Well, there is controversy that comes from…it's all over the place. It's all over the forums and from the bands and…….it's a tough environment and to just kind of get away from all the bullshit.

Well, it's almost impossible these days, isn't it?

I remember, just to recall quickly, when I first started the website, in the first year I managed to get a hold of Jonathan Cain, which started off a lengthy relationship of support from my site with Journey. At the time, they were going through the motions of, signing out Steve Perry in '98…

It was before they and many others had embraced the internet - at the time it was very much a novelty and there wasn't the control-freak restraints there are today over anyone saying anything out of turn.
I called Jonathan and asked how things were traveling with Steve. He was like, 'Yeah, we signed off on that today, he's gone…' and I said, ok, can I print that? He goes, 'sure, why not?' And from that I kind of created this massive shit storm by printing it that afternoon, without any formal announcement from the band as yet.

Well, you know, it's a tough one because it's interesting, contrary to some people's opinions on all of these forums, I'd say, that all these bands I work with have pretty rabid fans…

(laughing) Yes indeed.
(laughing) Yes indeed.Journey probably being the most rabid. But Joe Bonamassa has his fanatical fans and you can't ever say anything right because it's always being looked at as some kind of insult, and Iron Maiden and, you know, Mr. Big---all these bands…. It begs the question, 'Why even bother doing interviews', because, contrary to popular belief, I a) don't enjoy them, and b), because I really don't have any reason to do them - they take up a lot of time and I'm really busy.
But, when I was a kid, I couldn't glean enough information about people that were in the business, and people I wanted to know about. If you followed an interview in Rolling Stone or New Musical Express, you would pore over and it and you would….it was like listening to the fades in songs, looking for more information about the songs than you could just glean from listening to it. So, at the risk of sounding magnanimous and arrogant, I owe it back to the kids that are interested in making a record to do the interviews. I couldn't, generally, give a flying fuck about what people think about which things should be in and what bands and whatever; that doesn't really matter.
But you are talking about a vital part of the art - I could also do all these interviews and just be matter-of-fact about stuff and edit what I wanted to say but that doesn't achieve the reason for doing the interviews for me. People want to know what's going on. The biggest problem these days is that people are making records in bedrooms and they're not interacting with people and their social skills are fucked up. The skills that make musicians work in an ensemble are huge skills to learn. You can't learn that by having an Apple Macintosh in your kitchen, making beats and then putting a vocal on top of it. It's not the same thing at all.

Well that's interesting because you…just for a little bit of background, I was going to talk about the Australian pub scene—it used to be the most brutal learning / educational platform for musicians in the world probably. But you grew up in South Africa before moving to Australia, right?
Yeah, right. I started in South Africa making records and then I moved in '86.

I thought it was the late 80s.
Just in time to start from scratch all over again. Then, I went up to Newcastle and I was working quite a bit in Newcastle and worked with all sorts of small bands at the time— Vegemite Reggae and Dv8 and all the Newcastle guys that were up there—Screaming Jets and…..

…Silver Chair, which was big. But Silverchair was still a good 8 years away at that point.

Ok. So, how did you get hooked up with Silverchair then, because that really broke you in Australia then, as far as the go to guy.
Pretty much in the world. I mean, the thing is that I had had a lot of big records before then. I had a lot of big records in South Africa and I worked on big records in the states, including like Bon Jovi and Billy Squier and, of course, the Baby Animals record.

I forgot the Baby Animals came first. That was HUGE here in Australia!
I was an engineer in all these records; I didn't make any money at all on them and, I mean, they literally paid nothing on them.

Yeah, it was kind of pitiful but it's just the way they were.

I see that you weren't cut in on the residuals, then?
Oh, not at all, no.

And I think for Baby Animals I got $5000. My wife left me during the making of Baby Animals because there wasn't enough money. She sold all of my guitars and…

Oh God!!
… and I couldn't get them to pay me and it just went on forever. But, you know, we were just trying to make a record and trying make the career work.

Wow. And that's still one of the best sounding rock records I've ever heard.
Well, thanks!

The drum sound on that was just… I just love it.
The drum sound on that was just… I just love it.Yeah, that was Bearsville. I mean, it was just a good sounding drum room. Frank had a great sounding drumkit and we just recorded it, pretty straight up.

Yeah. How do you get to be a 'go to guy' for all, whether it be here in the states or whatever?
Well, there were a lot of factors. It may be…you know, we were talking about people skills before. I think a lot of it is how you interact with people and the way you manage to make decisions is very important in all that. When you can get projects that are finished, when you can get budgets in on time, when you have a delivery date and you deliver. A lot of people vacillate over a lot of things and very often, people want decision makers that come in and do something.
You don't just get a producer because you want to have a name on there-you are trying to get something done. A band like Journey have got guitar techs and piano techs and bass techs and everyone. We have grand pianos and we have tuners in everyday. Everyone's got a hotel room and the budgets. We have tour managers and people holding their hand and wiping their ass.

It's just like this mammoth undertaking every time they get to do anything.

So, you know you can't just go in there and fuck around for four months or six months because things are not getting done.

Believe me, with those guys, there are a lot of decisions that cannot get made.

I want to come back to that. I'd like to ask you a little bit about the dynamics of the mixing in the studio. When did you decide to move to L.A. then?
Well, I moved to L.A. in 1990, after the Baby Animals, and I had a bunch of other work to do. Then, I just gradually went broke in New York City…and then I did Rush in '92. I decided to move back to Australia and just be a medium sized fish in a small pond. The concept of world domination was obviously had nothing to do with happiness. So, I moved back to Australia – Sydney, and I was very happy there. Then, I did Silverchair and everyone called. In all that time, I had kept a place in Sydney and I still have a place in Sydney. After Silverchair, I did Journey and then I did Aerosmith and then I did the Black Crowes and then I did a host of other people….Iron Maiden. It's funny because Steve Harris says that one of the reasons that they got me to do the Iron Maiden album was because they loved the sound of the Silverchair album.

Is that right?
Yeah. So, on you go.

On you go. How did the Journey guys get a hold of you in '96? You raised a few eyebrows, probably unintentionally, with that recent Music Radar interview, saying that you'd never heard of Journey or really knew their music before you signed on.
But I wasn't going to lie!

Oh no, of course not. Journey really were nothing in Australia and American fans have a hard time understanding that.
I was brought up in South Africa and I think that I'd heard 'Wheel in the Sky' and I think that was about it.
But, you have to understand that also didn't grow up in a rock and roll household; I grew up with classical music. I grew up singing in the church choir and I grew up as a conductor of an orchestra-I played the French horn and I played classical guitar. So, rock and roll wasn't a part of my life. Some people had the Beatles and some people had the Rolling Stones. I didn't hear Led Zeppelin until The Song Remains The Same! I didn't hear all of those albums coming out there. So, it's not just Journey that I didn't hear. I didn't listen to Aerosmith before and I didn't listen to a lot of these bands that I work with. I mean, you've written pieces about them. I didn't listen to them. The bands that I did listen to were Deep Purple-I really listened to because I was a big aficionado of Deep Purple-they were the bees knees back in the day.

But I maybe listened to Simon and Garfunkel, John Denver even. I mean, as a kid, those were what I had to listen to. So, I didn't hear Journey-people can say what they want. I didn't hear Journey-I didn't know about them.
I think what you've got there is the typical American Journey fan that has no idea outside their own circle what exists.

I can relate to that….you mention Journey to somebody down here and they go, 'Huh?', But then you mention Steve Perry's 'Oh Sherry' and they go, 'Oh!! Yeah Yeah!!! I remember that!' Steve Perry had a MASSIVE hit down here but Journey never broke through to that level. But they still have a great cult following of fans here also.

So. Who got in contact with you then?
I know that the band had reformed; John Kalodner had put the band back together again…and Steve Perry was always the alpha dog in that pack. They had been to see a lot of people. You have to understand—the reason why I mention that…you know you can't go through 50,000 trains of thought when you say a sentence….but the reason why I mention that was Kalodner suggested that they had just been to see Bruce Fairbairn in Vancouver and they were not impressed with something that he had done. They had met Ritchie Zito and they were not impressed. They had met Mike Clink and they were not impressed.

They were looking for a producer. Glen Ballard had come along and they were going to work with Glen but he dropped them, apparently to go and work with Aerosmith on the album that I invariably went and took over from him so it was kind of a strange thing.
So, they were looking for a producer because they didn't have one. I went to go and see them—and the whole point of even saying that I hadn't heard of Journey was that when I went in to go and see them play, I had no idea that this was a 100 million units selling band here. They were just like these guys playing music. I didn't recognize Steve Perry; I wouldn't have known who he was; I wouldn't have what his name was. It didn't mean anything to me. I wasn't star struck. When I saw Jimmy Page, I almost fell down! You know, he was a huge idol. I saw these guys and I didn't know them from anything. I'm not arrogant about it—that's just what it is.

It's just a fact, isn't it?
Yeah. It really is a fact.

Yeah. Do you think being new to the band helped you to craft that album?
Oh absolutely! I mean, absolutely. We had done demos and we went into rehearsals and I was very big on the pre-production thing being right at that point. We spent….we went over and over….I think we might have done 6 weeks of pre-production. I think everyone was getting really upset with me.

And I would go in everyday and the band would sit on stage and I would sit down in a chair in front of them with a notebook and make notes. I had Journey play for me day in and day out. I'd say, Steve Smith needs to change that drum fill, and we are going to cut this like this, and we're going to cut this album live and they were like, 'We haven't done that before-we've done this before and we haven't done that before…' And, you know, it all paid off in the end. When we did “When you Love a Woman', that track is like one take!

Everything on that track, other than the string overdub which Jon Cain originally played it on synthesizer, is one take. Neal's solo is live, Steve's vocal is not live—we would have gone back and done a comp of that, but that track was a one take track!
The drums, the bass, the guitar solos, all the guitar—it's one track. I mean, we had rehearsed the thing so well that this was what the band sounded like.


Absolutely. You've alluded to it, and I think that everyone else has heard before that those guys are argumentative and opinionated in the studio…things get tense. Did you hit upon that during 'Trial By Fire' or did that come later?
There was a bit of it in 'Trial By Fire'. It definitely got more difficult to deal with as time went on. You know, personalities changed as personnel changed and people took over. Like I said, Steve Perry was the alpha dog in the band. He was the lynch pin of the whole thing. So everyone cow towed to the Steve Perry train of thought, pretty much.

But after he left, there's been a rumble about who takes over what place and, um, it's working itself out.

I think it seems obvious that in today's Journey it is Jon Cain and Neal Schon holding equal billing on the ladder and everybody else does what they are told?
Sort of. You know. I don't really want to discuss Journey.

No worries. So, do you don't want to talk about the new album then?
Uh, no. I don't want to talk about the new album.

But how did the sessions go for that – generally?
Uh…..they went. They went.

Challenging. Very challenging sessions. Um…..(Long pause) Very challenging sessions.

Do you think that as a band of guys that they got what they wanted? It's finished, isn't it?
It's busy being mixed at the moment.

You're mixing it…
No, I'm not mixing it.

You're not? Really? Who's mixing it?
A guy called David Kalmusky. He's a good guy.

Ok. Did you have the option of mixing it or had you just had enough by the time you'd finished recording?
No, it was part of my deal to mix it but I'm just really busy. When we did the deal, I'm just really busy this year. I've done a lot of records this year. Part of it was that we didn't need it till summer of next year so I tried to break it up into two sessions. In between the two sessions, people got tired of waiting. So….when it came time to mix it, they said, 'Look, we've started mixing with somebody else'. And I said...'Ok'.
And, honestly, I've been without prejudice. I've been fact; I mixed something for them yesterday. I'm giving them a handle on things because they've run into a couple of problems with a couple of mixes here and there. I did the mixing and told them where I thought the melodies should go and where this should go and where this should go.

Yeah. So there's nothing negative on my side at all, not even like one little bit.

Ok then.
My name is on the record as a producer; I want it to be 100% as good as it can be but I'm not mixing it. I'm happy somebody else is mixing it. Honestly.

Really. I'm not sure my heart could have taken another mix session. (laughing)


You did the Journey record, you did Trial By Fire….
I did Trial By Fire. Steve Perry was fabulous to work with and he just has such a voice-he's just a great voice-great sensibility, great sensitivity. I know a lot of people have issue with the record being as soft as it is but I know a lot of people who rank it up there with the finest.

Oh, I love the record; it's soft and whatever but I still think it's fantastic. It was just great to hear Steve singing again, wasn't it?

Do you understand the myth of Steve Perry? He's a reclusive guy they all say and whatever. He doesn't come out a lot and say much but there's a real myth about him, isn't there?
Well, there's only a myth because there's a lot of nonsense that folks have said about things but, you know, he's a singer and he's got a life. He's got things that he chooses to do. I mean, I don't speak to him at all but he chooses not to have me in his life and that's just the way some people are. I don't think any of this stuff is fun. He certainly was around at the San Francisco baseball stadium when they won the World Cup and the television camera was on him when he sang 'Don't Stop Believin'. He's out in public and he's living his life. He doesn't like to get tied up in all the bullshit. Like I said at the top, it's important to stay; there's a reason for doing the interviews and that's because I think it's important for people that need and want the information on how to make records. So, that's why I'm candid and forthright about things because I think it's important. But Steve doesn't want to do that. And he doesn't want to deal with the ramifications and the bullshit. And he doesn't want to deal with internet fucking Bob coming in and saying, this person's got this much and that person's got that much. I mean, I've got one death threat for Iron Maiden!

I mean, are you out of your mind? It's music! I can't get a fucking death threat because someone preferred to hear The Number of The Beast instead of Where the Wild Wind Blows. It's just ludicrous; we're just creating art. It's about culture. It's increasingly becoming a strange part about our culture where humanity thinks it's ok to steal it by downloading it; no one is making any money from it. We have to find a way to make it work because it IS so important in our lives and it IS so important in our dreams. It's about the ONE THING that you can relate to your childhood from. It's like…music…you grow with music… it's so meaningful in the things that you do in your life. You can't remember what your garden smelled like when you went to a school dance but you can remember the music that you danced to. You can remember that you slow danced to this song or that song…or this song was a part of something. Even pop music is obviously more disposable than other genre like jazz or classical but it is vitally important that we keep it going. That why I do these things since Steve Perry doesn't want to deal with it – that's his prerogative.

Yeah, there was a rumor that you were involved with in mixing some new material, and I helped that one along, but that is obviously bullshit?
That is such nonsense—I don't even know where they get that from. Really.

You haven't heard from him then?
No. I haven't heard from him since I did the Journey Greatest Hits Live a couple of years after Trial By Fire and it was a debacle because they [Sony Music} had to have stuff signed other wise he would have reamed them. So we did that record and we did it over the phone. It was ridiculous.

Yeah…. (long pause) …We had 10 days to find tapes and make a record and to get to signing before… because apparently it took the back end [financials] of Trial By Fire away from them so we just had to get it done.

So, yeah, there's a lot going on everywhere.

The business is brutal.

Where's it going, Kevin?
Well, I saw in Time Magazine that the C.O. of Pandora reckons that it should become a patronage system where the king or someone pays for music. It's banal to me that people think in that sort of head space; it's just stupid. Where's it going? It's going….people are making money-music is making money. Records are not making money but music makes money.

You have to have the records for the music to make money. So, the model has to come into play where the records are somehow reimbursed for what happens in the line. So the model has to change. For me, it's difficult because I have to [earn a living]…I can't go to Led Zepplin and Iron Maiden and everyone and say, I want a piece of the tickets [sales] because they'll just tell me where to get off.

But that's gonna have to happen. Otherwise, we just keep making records, you know, in bedrooms. People are going to look at recoupment as being the way you find it at the front end then that's not going to work.

Yeah, very interesting take and I agree. Previously, the only way you could buy something was to go into a store and buy it.
And this is the thing—things need to have material value. When they went from LPs to…it gets to be how old are you really…but it went from LPs to CDs, it immediately got more difficult because you lost a huge quotient of the artwork, apart from the fact that you had to have a magnifying glass to see what the credits read.

And that was all really vitally important. You would think that after the internet came in that they would have artwork on the net and credits on the net and you could go and read all that stuff. We STILL can't find it. There's a few artists that have done it, admittedly, but there's a lot of information that you can't get. To hold something gives it value and when you are just looking at your iTunes—which computers are going to die like in 2 years anyway and you are going to loose it all and try to beg iTunes to get it back- you know, what value has that got? It doesn't hold the same value.

I'm completely old school with you. I love holding something-you know, the physicality of it.
I don't know if it's old school! You know, I think its material VALUE. I think you want to have something that has material value.

It just worries me that the kids, early teenagers of today, are now being completely bought up on digital files.
Let's not blame them! Let's blame the quality of the product that's out there! There's terrible music out there…

Yes, there is!
… and the packaging is shit.

I mean they've put the name of the band bigger than anything on the CD so that when you rack them, you can read 'em. And then, there's a picture of like a goat's head on there and that's supposed to be something. Then, it's all black on the inside and you can't read the credits. It's hard to get that value.

Yeah. I agree. A lot of the shops are gone…you can't even go to them anymore. It's a shame….
It is a shame.


So, how did the Mr. Big guys get a hold of you?
Uh...a phone call? It's one of these new fangled telecommunication devices.

(laughing) Who called you up?
Their manager called me up and said, Are you interested? I looked at my schedule and I thought, 'Well, I'm interested.' To be honest, I'm not that familiar with a lot of Mr. Big music either. Obviously, I knew the supermarket hits but I'm really not that familiar. I went back and listened to the catalogue once I signed on to do something with them so I could get a take on what they were doing. There's a couple of cool things, especially on “Lean On It'- a couple of great things on there, 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' I think it was.

Then I listened to some of Paul Gilbert's solo stuff. That was just phenomenal. And Racer X.

Oh! My god, I tell you they are incredible musicians-all 4 of them.
I think you have your cell phone close to the phone or something.

How's that? Better?
Yeah. Probably. Yeah it keeps going (makes a noise).

(laughs) I am in the ass end of the world here, you must remember…
Oh then! My parents live there so go easy!

(laughing) I know! They are in the next suburb!
They are in Sandy Bay!

Yeah, that's a suburb away.

When are you coming down to see them again?
Maybe March. We'll see. I'm trying to see them but I'm busy and I have really fun projects coming up.

So, back to Mr. Big. Phenomenal, phenomenal guys.

I can't believe how GOOD this album is.
Well, I'm glad!

Obviously, they wrote some great songs but the energy with which it's recorded….tell me how you went with them in the studio.
Well, we did ok! I think that they were like a lot of the guys when I work with them, they are……I don't think I have an unconventional approach to working but it's not conventional. I'm really more concerned with the overall presentation, with the big picture, than the minutia. I don't listen to individual instruments, necessarily, and look for all the detail in them. I try and make sure that there's energy in the big picture and THEN I'll go and like….. if stuff needs to be sorted out then sort it out. I'm not one of those guys who will do the drums and then overdub the bass and then overdub the guitar. I don't like the sound when you make a record like that; it sounds sterile and it doesn't have---it doesn't capture the interaction that musicians have between themselves.

I mean, when musicians play together—and especially of that caliber—there's a way they play; there's pushes and there's pulls and there's tugs so when you're cutting it to a track, you don't get that stuff—you can't get that stuff because it just sounds wrong when you isolate it.
So, I don't like that. And I think, no I KNOW that was challenging for Billy-not to have to opportunity to go in and re-do everything and look at it under a microscope.

Less though with Paul, who was just happy to…I mean, Paul was just really happy to….he just embraced it. He just loved the challenge of being put on the spot and coming up with stuff. I think they both would have performed differently if we had done it in a different way. But we were lucky, I think, lucky in that we had time issues and we HAD to get it done.
So, this is the way that I thought we should do it and so we did.

They haven't played together in a while and they did the right thing, if you ask me. They played together so many years and then had such a long break. But then they went out and did a couple of tours and got tight again. It sounds as if they just walked straight off the stage and straight into the studio.
Good! It was supposed to.

Yeah. Excellent. I figured….it's funny you should say that about Billy because his bass playing on this record is just out of this world.
Well, I hope you write that down because he needs to know that-he was very self critical.

Really. God! It's phenomenal!!
I think so too!

The interplay between him and Paul on this album—I don't think I've heard it as good on ANY Mr. Big album.

It's probably their most energetic record ever. So I'll most certainly put that in my review.

And, it's my favorite next to... I think it's going to be my favorite next to Lean Into It and the debut album.
There's a modern touch on the album. Why? Is that their doing or your doing?

In what way?

A little bit darker, a little bit heavier, a little bit—I wouldn't say down tuned but just a little bit grungier kind of sound.
Oh that's, I'm sure…that's what I wanted to get—that's how we get the energy out. That's what I wanted. To me, rock has got a dark component about it. It's interesting that you say that because I have thought that some of the early work, and especially the more glistening, polished stuff from the early 90s, sounds a little lighter than this does. You know, it's not going to be to everyone's liking but I like the darkness in rock.

Yeah, yeah I do too.
It appeals to me.

I think you've struck a nice balance with the album because there's like probably 6 tracks which I pick out as having that classic, Mr. Big sound of the debut album sound and there's about 6 that have that darker overtone.
Yeah. Undertow.

Yeah. Undertow is phenomenal—it's just blowing everyone away. I'm really impressed with that.
Ah—good! I love Stranger in My Life. I think that one's great too.

Yup. Absolutely. Huge ballad.
Great lyrics on it. Eric did a great job.

American Beauty.
American Beauty's rockin'!

That to me sounds like it's off the first record. It's got the energy.
I think it's probably---I think the riffs were written back then, at the time, and they've been laying around for a while.

It's one of the older ones that's out there.

Yeah. It definitely has that feel. And then Nobody Takes the Blame is probably the heaviest thing they've ever recorded.
Oh, right. Yeah. Still Ain't Enough For Me I think that's mostly a Billy song. I think that' pretty much a rock and roll song. I think it's a Billy creation. A lot of fun!

Ah!! Just fantastic! Unforgiven? The bonus track for Europe-it's another great rocker.
Yup. Do you have the Japanese bonus?

I've got the CD on order so I haven't heard it yet.
Oh. That's a great little tune, too.

What is it? Kill Me With A Kiss?
Yeah. It quite different for them but it's a really cool tune.

Ok. I look forward to hearing that.
It was difficult to decide what to leave in and leave out, you know?

Did you record any further tracks?
No. That's all we got. We only had 2 weeks in the studio and the Monday was a holiday and then Eric decided not to come in on the Tuesday because he figured we'd be setting up. So he didn't come in until Wednesday. We didn't get going until Wednesday about 3 o'clock.….

…of week 1. We ran over 1 day so we had had the second. We actually had only 2 weeks in the studio. No weekends. So I think we were maybe 10 days tracking the thing.

If only other bands could record as quickly, eh?
Well, if it's right, then it's right. I don't there should be a rule about that stuff. However long it takes. But, these are great musician, though. Pat Torpey plays great drums…

Yeah, I was going to say, I haven't mentioned Pat yet but, again, that great drum sound—it just fills everywhere, not just great playing. He's just—whenever there's a gap, he's putting in a fill, isn't he?
Yeah, well, you know and I really did emphasize that-I really try to keep movement going on a few of the tracks where I wanted to get this real energetic overplaying. I like people to feel like they are 19 and they want to play. It goes back to the beginning. Music, for me, is best when people are 19 and 20 actually. The energy is the BEST. They grow and they start getting fine chords and jazz this and that and start writing out charts and then at some point who gives a fuck.

Well, you've certainly brought out the energy in these old guys.
Well, good!

This is another band that's renowned for tension in the studio and stuff. I get the feeling that there wasn't any of that this time around?
I think there was probably more tension between them and myself but it didn't bother me.

I just dealt with it, yeah.

How do you deal with that? It's a good question.
Well, it's my job. It's what I do.

We all know what musicians can be like, some more than others. Do you just ignore them? Do you tell them what they want to hear or do you go to war with them?
No, I don't go to war with them. It's their record at the end of the day and it's really important that they know that I realize that it's their record at the end of the day and that, after a month, they're going to go on and perform this album and then they'll perform for a year while I go and do someone else's album. So, I'm very forthright about that. I do say, This is where I'm at with that; I'm 100% dedicated to them, 100% focused-I'm giving you my 100% experience and what I think is……it's like, it's what I do. Not everyone likes it but I what I bring into a record is what I do and if you wouldn't sign up for it if you didn't have some notion of what I do on a record. So, this is what I think and this is where I think songs are strong and this is what I like to hear in music—there's no science involved. Basically, all it involves is what I like to hear in a song. And, I'll very often NOT like the hits singles on records because I just happen to actually prefer a different kind of thing; you know, I like darker, heavier music.

Yeah. You've almost…you've done the impossible-you've gotten away with putting vocal effects on Eric Martin, which I've NEVER heard before, on a couple of tracks there. You are feeding his voice through several effects to just sort of modernize it but you get away with it.
Yeah. In what way? Do you mean get away with it for the big picture or in terms of dealing with Eric?

Oh well I don't know! How was it dealing with Eric? I mean, Eric's a really good friend of mine….
Eric was a piece of cake; he's a dream, actually. Eric just said, We want you to make this record, We're going to give you the songs, We don't want you to know who wrote what songs, We want you to pick the songs that you think we should go with.
Yeah, they don't want to appear confrontational and then they'll be confrontational in a passive aggressive way—Eric as well and I have said as much of them. It doesn't mean I don't like them for doing it; I just recognize that they are doing it.

We want you to make this record, We don't want to fight in the studio amongst ourselves, We want someone to take the reigns and make a record for us.

So he was very committed to you being the producer?
Yeah, and he was very much…..he got just a little passive aggressive at the end. He said, “I hardly said anything and you don't give me time on my vocals”. I mean, You had plenty of time to get AMAZING vocals on the record, I think.

He sounds PHENOMENAL; he sounds the best I've heard him in 20 years probably.
And you know there's a reason for all of these things! I don't go and say everything all the time, because I'm achieving….and, again, this is when the interview is not for the band to read - this is for everyone that wants to make a record. But I listened to Eric's vocal and when he was controlled, as in the studio environment, when he was singing with the acoustic guitar, I noticed that he had a particular vibrato. When I put him into the room, just to run through with the guys rocking, and he was energetic and not thinking about it, he would let it go so I thought it was better for the music and maybe less dated not to have that vibrato. So I would emphasize that I wanted him to sing these songs live. That's why I think he sounds like he sounds; he sounds energetic and enthused.

So here, he does all of the vocals live as well?
All of them. All of the vocals are live.

That's all the vocals live, But, you know, it's not…..everytime I say this, you are going to get people saying why didn't they take their time and do it in the studio. I STILL craft the record. It's not just ONE take!

Yeah, of course.
It's this internet frenzy. As soon as we say we cut things live, everyone goes like, I wish they'd take their time. We STILL craft the record—it's just done a different way now.

The record sounds like a million bucks. I'm glad you've done what you've done.

You do whatever you do to get the results.
Yeah. Right.

I'd love to hear a band like Journey do the same, do a record in the same way.
Well, you know we do, pretty much - we do, pretty much. Um… does get away from it a bit, but Trial By Fire was like that.

Yeah. Yeah. Arrival was a much longer process, though, wasn't it?
Um…yeah. Arrival was a bit more difficult-Arrival was difficult. Um…Revelation was fun! Revelation was a lot of fun.


Yeah! How was Arnel? Everyone's got good things to say about Arnel.
Oh Arnel was great! Arnel is great. We did have one issue on the making of this new album where he'd just come in from a long stint in the Philippines and his English was a little broken. I was very vocal about him being unprepared for it and I was later told by management, that that he had been ready to leave the band if they wanted and they could get a new singer in as he didn't want to embarrass the band. Of course, I didn't say any of that-I just meant….

By the way you say that it he's sounding like he hasn't had a prima donna hissy fit but he'd actually said that for the good of the band.
Oh no, no, no. He's just a super guy, I mean, he's really a super guy.

Yeah but he said, you know, Get someone else because that would be the best thing for the band. Is that what you are saying?
Well, he was just offering it, I think out of his own embarrassment.

I know what you are saying but he just seems to be a good character and what you are saying there just kind of emphasizes it, I guess. (long pause…) Is he in over his head?
Not at all!!!! No! He's the real deal. He's a great singer.

Oh, I know he's a phenomenal singer-I'm just wondering if …..
No he's not in over his head at all. I mean, he needs work, like everyone, and he's got the extra challenge of having his diction…

…in a band where they are All American icons, and anyone outside with a Conservative Palin-like attitude will take a swipe at him. But, he's the real deal. He's an amazing singer and he's terrific. And, he's done a lot for the band, too. He's really broadened their credibility and their reach.

Although, the decision to take him on could have been a disaster. They had to go through a lot of negative PR from dumping Jeff Scott Soto but I agree with you; they took a risk and it paid off.

He's a phenomenal guy. I haven't interviewed him yet but I'd like to. He's a phenomenal little character, I think. (long pause) Now when I said that he's in over his head I mean he comes from a different world, doesn't he.
It's difficult for him. He has to leave his family and he gets to leave his Filipino food and Filipino culture and Filipino language behind. He gets to join a band who are substantially older than he is. And, he gets on the bus with... a bunch [that don't always see eye to eye]…

and he has to deal with them.

(still laughing…) Is there a more… How do I put this… Is there a more dysfunctional band than Journey?
I don't wanna do this. (laughs)

(laughing) We've got a new record coming out and it's a good record. It was a difficult record to make. You have difficult records to make—it doesn't make them less valid and it doesn't make them less exciting to listen to. Lennon and McCartney had issues and Tyler/Perry have issues and the Robinson brothers have issues-they make records like that. You know, Cain and Schon have that kind of thing. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant-I've worked with them. They go at each other. It's pretty much one common thing between them. At least they don't say anything that they wouldn't say behind each other's backs.


You've just summed up some of the icons that you've worked with. You really have worked with some challenging people, haven't you?
I have! Except for the Beatles bit…

Do you enjoy that situation more than someone that's just a bunch of 'Yes' people or just …. happy? Do you prefer the challenge in the studio?
No, no. I….no—give me yes-people any day. (laughs)

But, you know, I'm not here to make friends. I'm here to make music and I'm here to hopefully, in some respects, make history as well. It's one of those difficult things in the business where you work with people, you know, you live in people's pockets for 3 months and then you don't see them for 4 or 5 years, if you have a long term music relationship with them. While they are recording, they're your best buddy, and when it comes to concert tickets, it's like, Speak to someone else.

Um…You're not REALLY friends - it's a strange kind of friends thing going on there between the producer and the band. What I like about making records with these guys, is that I know that it is REAL music and I know it's going to get out there. I know I'm not wasting my time. It's fascinating to take …..I mean, I did a track with John Hiatt last week. He played me this track and I made this really HUGE suggestion that we try something and take the song totally away from where it was at. Nothing to lose. And to his credit—at the end of the day it would have been just a demo, it wasn't anything locked in - we did it and I did the mix. He called me and was really moved, and said, You know, this is so fabulous!

It's really fabulous. I just LOVE what you've done with it and it just sounds incredible.

Is that the best compliment you can get?
It IS the best compliment! You know you are making a difference and you know you have to I said; I just make the kind of music that I want to listen to. I mean, I just make it the way I want to hear it. There are no other rules – there's no science, so that response justifies it all.

Excellent. Excellent. Well, to wrap things up—I could probably talk all day, Kevin, (laughs) but I don't want to take up too much of your time. Is there a project that you'd still kill to be part of? That you'd do for free to be involved in that hasn't come out yet?
I think I'd like to make a record with the Stones where I'd get some of the Exile on Main Street swagger back…

….where we'd just put them in the studio and we'd just say, Here's the deal—make it. And I don't care about the older tunes and I don't care about this and…I guess we'd have to have cigarettes in the room.

….but here we go! Let's just play it! I don't think they've made a lot of records like that and I think people enjoy those. I like 'em. I'd like to hear Sweet Virginia happen again.

Very cool.
So that would be really fun. I totally think they could do it. And I think the world would love it. We need another band with tambourine off the beat.

(laughs) What about Led Zeppelin?
Led Zeppelin is different. Led Zeppelin's…I've done my time with Zeppelin and it's like a highlight of my life, working with Jimmy and, to a lesser extent, working with Robert because he wasn't really that involved in the beginning; it was DEFINITELY Jimmy. And that was just like unbelievable and it was unbelievable to have…to work with an icon-MY icon--MY hero and have him trust me, like implicitly on the stuff we were doing. It was, like, fascinating. At the end of the day, I'm not on that I want to buy a Led Zeppelin album that's produced by Kevin Shirley so…

…I don't know if anyone else does. I think that Jimmy Page produces Led Zeppelin and if he ever wanted me to help him with a project, I'd be happy to. But Led Zeppelin is produced by Jimmy Page-that's what it is.


Gotcha. Very cool. I should…I've neglected to mention Black County Communion. It's great to hear Glenn Hughes back in full force.
Yeah, it just….did you see today it just got ranked…..where is it…..let me see….it got uh…..Classic Rock magazine rated it , ranked it number three on their top 50 for 2010.

And then I also had Iron Maiden at number 7. And then Bonamassa is 32. THAT'S the guy that…you know I've such a thing for Joe….

I should touch on the relationship you and Joe. Obviously, of all the musicians you work with, you and he are probably the closest, right?
We are.

He seems like a sweet guy and then again I haven't talked to him but he's an amazing talent.
He's an amazing talent; he's unbelievably overworked. He's more overworked than anyone I know. I think one of the reasons why we get on well is because he is so overworked. I love his dedication and he trusts me; he really does trust me to make his records.

When you announced Black Country Communion and the guitar player was Joe, I was like, 'I know he's a phenomenal blues player and Glenn loves his blues rock, but can Joe rock?' But, boy, he sure can!
Joe can rock. Joe's just phenomenal. Joe can rock, Joe can country, Joe can jazz, Joe can blues, Joe can slide, Joe can finger pick—I mean, Joe's just something. He's got all of that in his memory banks. He's just grown up to be a guitar player. He learned from Danny Gatton, he learned from Jimmy Page, he learned from Eric Johnson, he learned from Peter Green, he's learned from Paul Kossof ---these are his influences. Clapton is an influence and then all of the old black, blues guys—B.B. King, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and those guys.
So he's got all if this stuff and then he stored it all. Then he can do the finger picking, you know, the country picking stuff. He can just do anything. He's great.

Awesome. What's coming up for the next Black Country Communion album?
We're coming up for…..the next Joe solo album is being released on March 22.

And I think it's going to be called - well, we'll wait for them to announce it. It's phenomenal. Joe's next record is just insanely phenomenal.

It's streets ahead of anything we've done so far.

What do you put that down to?
(pauses) I think, sonically, it's really great for one thing and I think all the performances are exemplary. It's got an amazing song list-- I mean, amazing songs on it. It's a cross-pollination of styles again; it's become a bit of a trademark of the way WE do things. We went to Greece and we went to Nashville and we went to Los Angeles for this one.
So we have a little bit of influences from all of these places. He's singing great and he's playing phenomenally. And, we've got some special guests on there, too.

…like B.B. King was on the last one and we've got some special guests on the new one, too. Vince Gill and John Hiatt…

Excellent. And then, after that, you're doing Black Country?
We do Black Country Communion albums, starting on January 10—I hope to have that delivered by the second week in April. That should probably come out by the beginning of June, just in time for the festivals in Europe and whatnot.

Excellent. What styles? Same again - an extension of the first?
It's a guitar-based Classic Rock band. I've only heard a few of Glenn's new tunes….Joe's still on the road with still a couple of more days to go there but we're rooted in the late 70s rock era with that band. I think this time around we're going to have a bigger more expansive drum sound. We want to really try and capture some of that DNA that's in the Bonham family.

And, you know, Zeppelin meets Deep Purple meets Free and Bad Company – that's the kind of record that I'd like to make with them.

Absolutely. And Glenn…I've known Glenn since I started the site and I love him. He's a personality and a half, isn't he?
He is indeed. He is indeed. I get on great with him. He's a good bloke.

Couldn't agree more. I think …people say he lives on Planet Glenn. (laughs)
Yes, he does. Our rock pontiff. Our very own rock pontiff.

He's got the voice of rock. As soon as BCC came to life he emailed me and said, 'It's time to rock! This is the one you've been waiting for!'
Because I've been hounding him for the last 2 or 3 years to get off the soul train.


So I was really excited to hear the album and I love it.
Yeah. Great!

Great stuff. Anything you want to add, Kevin?
Geez—I don't know. You've let me talk for hours!

We have, haven't we? We've done a very nice interview and I appreciate your time.
Cool. Great. Thanks, man.


c. 2010 / Interview by Andrew McNeice


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Neal Schon: Doing It His Way

Guitarist Neal Schon makes his claim for Guitar Hero status on the new Journey album Eclipse. I talked to Neal just prior to the band hitting the road in the USA for their 2011 Tour - Leg 1.


Hello Neal!
Andrew! How are you, buddy?

I'm doing ok. How are you?
I'm doing good, man. We're just, you know, booking out here, trying to keep up with this, man; it's a lot of work! You know-the travel.

We're just in from Italy-last night from Milan. We had a great show there. We just did sound check and I did another interview for Guitar Player Magazine. And so, here I am! I've been ready to do you for a while but I understand you had some other things going on.

Oh yeah, sorry. I flaked out on you a couple of times there—held up and then kids. You know what it's like with 3 young kids. (laughs)
I understand. It happens.

So thank you at least for staying patient and good to talk to you again.
Same here!

Yeah! Are you completely sick of talking about this album yet?
(long pause) No. But I've seen a ration of shit that you are getting already!! (laughing!!)

From EVERYBODY!! You know. It's a catch 22; it's all I can tell you. It's like, if we……I LOVE the record and I know that you love the record…

Yeah, I sure do.
.. and now I'm like the devil in everybody's eyes because it doesn't sound like our older stuff…but if we make a record that sounds like our older stuff then they'd say, well why can't they do something different. So, it's…you always want the opposite. They can always criticize.

You're never going to please everybody and if you wanna play the older stuff, you've already got it - go play it.
Exactly what I thought.
I'm sorry, man. I'm eating like a little piece of candy here cuz I'm just dragging ass and I want to wake up for you here.

Ok, so you've got the album out. A lot of people really love it and get it, which is great.
Yeah, and what I've been talking to management about is that we need to get more awareness that it's actually out. It was cool to come here to Europe and do all these dates in South America and stuff but, in a sense, I think that we could have done a bit more damage if we had stayed home and did more TV and made people aware that it's even out.
I think that things are going to pick up. It's been known to happen to other records too, in the past. It just takes while to work things. We do have some TV coming up and I think that's going to help out tremendously.

I definitely think that the record has legs so that's not the problem. We can keep coming with the tunes off it and, you know, I feel good about it. The whole record industry is in a different place than it's ever been before, like always…

Yeah. (laughing)
(laughs)… like every year it changes and it seems like it gets worse; but that's just the nature of the beast. If you get dealt lemons then you've got to make lemonade.

You're one of the few bands that have been around, virtually for every change in the music industry (laughs) since 45 singles almost.
Yeah. Yeah (laughs)

You've been there the whole time-you've seen it all.
Yeah, I get asked the questions all the time – in every interview - like, 'How do you suggest for people to get new music out there…'
I'm like, you know what? I have no frickin clue. Just PLAY LIVE!!

Nobody has any idea these days. It's tough.
Play live, play in front of other people and hopefully word of mouth spreads. I don't think there is any foolproof plan or any perfect plan to get things out anymore—there isn't.

No, there isn't. Nobody has the answer because nobody's been getting rich.
No. They are all searching for it. It's terrible for new artists because I feel bad for my son too because he's a great guitarist and he's trying to get things going and it's like everybody's looking to me like, why can't you do that for him! (laughing) And I'm like, I can get him all the gear, I can get him the studio time, I can get him this, I can get him that; I can't get him a record deal.
I said, Miles, you gotta get out there and just play and so that's what he's doing.

So he's out there and he's playing and he's going at it—and making quite a little name for himself.

Yeah. Absolutely.
And so that's what ya gotta do. You know, you gotta pay your dues and there's no way getting around it. There's no quick way.

Well that's what you guys did.
Well, yeah. I mean, there's a quick way. When labels existed, and they heard somebody they liked and they'd come out and do a massive push and stick a ton of money into promoting and everything like videos….They'd spend all the bands' money so that they're never ever gonna make any money (laughing) in the next 10 years. (laughing)

(laughing) yeah!
You know? But they're thinking to themselves, Well, it doesn't matter because they're not gonna last that long we'll drop them before that. It's a very crude industry.

It is.
But, um, I'm really grateful just to be able to a part of it still and do what we do.

It's kind of amazing isn't it really? I mean, it's a testament to you guys and your stamina, your personal, physical and mental stamina…
It's definitely a test, you know? I mean, we haven't even started the states yet, obviously. I've gotta tell you-the South American tour was grueling. It really was. It was a hard schedule to keep up with, mainly because of the travel.
We had to fly everywhere and it was the whole crew and the band. All of our equipment went underneath the plane with us to every city that we went to…or country. Every 2 days it felt like it was 9 or 11 hour travel days.

So, I felt like I was going from Ashcroft to London every 2 days.
We came down with some really weird infection. Our manager, John and myself. We got weird ear infection—I think from the water. We had a really bad ear infection, sinus infection and it went into the chest. I was on the heaviest antibiotics I've ever been on for like a month straight and still it didn't go away.

So I was like trying to travel and keep up with it at the same time, you know, and it's like rough when you are not actually well.
And so, right now, everybody's good! And that's the way we're trying to keep it. We're like….. we constantly meet a lot of fans and washing hands and (laughing)…

You really are still a hands on band, aren't you, when you're on the road? You know, meet and greets and stuff?

Hello? Sorry! It dropped out.

No worries at all.
I was talking and talking and talking and then I go, Hello????

There was nobody there!

So was I! (laughing) What I was saying was you're still a very hands on band when you get on the road, aren't you? With fans and stuff?
I think so- yeah. You know, we try to be as much as we can—meet and greets every night. It's tough sometimes to keep up with that. It's not that you don't want to meet the fans; it's just burnt, you know? Burnt. And we've been doing it and they haven't been really super big meet and greets so it's like a little bit easier. You take a fast picture and meet some people and say 'hello' and then pretty much we're on stage after that.
And so, but when you're traveling… we did like 7 hours last night travel and then tonight we've got 9 hours on the bus. Some people are not sleeping on the bus and I'm kinda up and down. Arnel doesn't like—he hasn't been sleeping on the bus.

And so, you're trying to catch up with your Z's and keep everything in focus.

Yeah. It's tough on the road-people don't appreciate how hard it is.
Well, they don't do the work, that's the thing. They like to criticize it but look! (laughing) 'well, it wasn't as good as this and it wasn't as good as that' but if they had known the circumstances - what everybody has gone through in the last few months, you go, Oh-well now I can understand.
It's always like that.

Tell me, back on the point you made originally, you were saying that you want to give a bigger splash for Eclipse in the U.S. and you're going to ramp that up. You are obviously keeping track of the sales figures – are you a little bit concerned that they're lower than expected?
You know…well…..we had so much going on around the time that Revelation was released…we had a lot of TV exposure.

You were everywhere!
I know! We were on Ellen Degeneres; we were on Oprah. You know, Oprah was the thing that like really kicked everything off.

And, that's what everybody gets the awareness from. You can't buy advertising time like that. And especially if you can sound good live, I mean-that's the thing. We do sound good live and so…nobody's afraid to play it live on TV. So, we're working on that right now-just getting more TV exposure. I think that is going to kick everything in the butt.

And, you've got another long tour, haven't you.
Well, we're going to be out for 2 years.

That's amazing, isn't it? How many bands could actually do that?
Yeah. (pause) Well, we'll see if we make it! (Laughing)

(laughing) Hahaha! You'll just pull up stumps halfway through and go, eh, that's enough.
(pause) No, it's hard to do that –you can't do that—once you're committed , you're committed, you know?

But we are committed to 2 years and worldwide. We've been off a lot this time and, usually, we'll just do the States and we'll go over to Japan and that's it. We played a couple of shows in South America before when Arnel first came in the band but it was easy. You're in and out. This time there's…you know the UK was great and we had a great time in the UK this time and we have so many great fans there—and enthusiastic audiences. We just had great shows there.

I had great feedback on that –I heard really great feedback.
Yeah. It was really great; we loved it there. The band just seems to be getting bigger and bigger over there, which is so crazy to me—this many years later!


Hello? You there?
Yeah. I'm here, Andrew.

It comes and goes. We'll deal with it.
You've put in the hard yards over in Europe, haven't you? It's what, you're 3rd or 4th tour back there, isn't it?

Um, in Germany?….I think it's the 3rd - I'm not really sure. But, yeah, this is a different market - Germany is. So far, some of the smaller dates that we've played are… they're good but, so far, I prefer playing the festivals…

Yeah ok.
Like we did last time. And, I just like getting in front of more people. You know, actually, we did a lot of damage last time---in a good way.

Just being able to get in the middle slot or a special guest and play a little bit shorter set but just charge it up in front of a lot of people. We worked for a lot of great reviews and took a lot of fans with us. So, I'm looking forward to these bigger festivals that are coming up here shortly.

You're coming off of an album that sold 800,000 units in the U.S. I mean, who the hell does that these days?!!
(softly laughs) I don't know.

(laughing) How did that happen?
(laughing) I don't know anybody that sells records at all, it's like crazy: except, for catalog stuff - older catalog stuff - like our older stuff. The classic rock stuff that's been there forever; it just keeps on selling albums.
That stuff's never going anywhere.

Good for us!!

A new record-a new studio album sold that many units. It's just unbelievable.
Yeah! But you know what is funny about this record is even though I don't think the units are out there, I think they've downloaded it because everyone is singing the songs in the audience when we play the live stuff. (laughing)

(laughing) Ok.
So, they know the songs—they do! They know the lyrics and they know the songs. They're singing right along with it. I'm like, wow—this is weird! How can they know it?

There's a few bands on the road at the moment that are taking new albums out with them and playing the new songs and I'm really glad that they're doing that.
Yeah. I mean, for us, Andrew, I feel that if we don't do that then we're just kind of sitting in neutral and resting on our laurels, which we could have easily done anyway. We could have just played our greatest hits forever and forgot about ever making a new record and forget about being critiqued for it, you know?

I think we're real ballsy about where we went here. You know, Jon and I absolutely agreed on where we wanted to go after we finally talked about it. It was just kind of like a no brainer because we had all this other material sitting there; we had so many great ballads and they're all sitting there and how many can we really use in a show?
Not very many. You know, you have so many minutes to play in a show. It's not like we're doing a 3 hour festival or 2½ hours or even 2 hours, you know?
We've got a lot of stuff to play and a lot of hits to play and people expect to hear that; there's no getting away from that ever!

Nor do I want to! I love the fact that people want to hear it!

Oh absolutely!
If they didn't want to hear it, then I'd be going, Why do I want to play?
They still love it so, yeah, I want to play it.
And we're mixing the new stuff in and it's going over well! I mean, you know, nobody's sitting down! I remember the days when you'd play something new and everybody sits down…and they kind of like fall asleep for 4 minutes or however long the song is and then they get back up on their feet when you play something familiar.

I saw you guys in L.A. in 2003 and you did Higher Place and I think I was the only person standing in the whole building! (laughing)
Yeah, I mean, it hasn't been like that with this record so far.
Everywhere that we've played and when we were playing the longer show, which wasn't a real long show but some of the South American days, we played 5 tracks…5 new tracks? And nobody sat! Nobody sat!

The whole time. And they dug it and they didn't even know it. That's a good sign in itself, right there, you know?


Absolutely. So, where did the idea for the album come from? I mean, you've been promising to rock it up for a while. Is this like a continuation of from where you were going with Planet US and Soul SirkUS? That desire to really turn it up?
I don't think so. I mean, I think it sounds like Journey.

Of course! It certainly sounds like Journey: I meant the heaviness of it and the attitude.
Well…(pause)..I mean, I don't think it's heavy metal by any means. It's very melodic still but it's guitar driven…and some of the grooves are like bigger than the usual stuff that we do. It's just not as much pop - it's more rock - it's more of a rock record.

Oh I know.
Yeah, well so do I! That's no secret to anybody; I always talk about it – that I like to rock and I'm…


You know, I was talking for at least 5 minutes…

Oh no!!
…and then you weren't there and I was like, I don't know what's going on. It's pissing rain here right now.

Well, you know what? It's pissing rain here as well and I had a black out- I lost ALL power including my phone connection.
Oh, ok. Well, we're driving back now; we're going to the hotel. Maybe the reception will be better.

Sorry. Where were we?
Um……I don't know where we were.

What pearls of wisdom did I miss out on there?
Um… you know, I don't know. I was babblin, man. I couldn't—unless I recorded it and listened to it—I couldn't tell you what I was talking about!! (laughing)

You asked me a question and I was answering but I don't remember where we left off but it was like 10 minutes ago.

(still laughing). Ok….so it's time to record a new album and you've obviously got something on your mind. How did you bring it up with Jon about style and what you wanted to do?
Well, you know, we just talked about it and said, 'Look, is there really a reason to repeat ourselves here and keep writing exactly the same stuff on every record?'
I mean, really, is there a need to do that? We've all these new areas we can go—Arnel's coming into his own. He has no brakes; we don't have brakes with him so let's just experiment a bit. I look at this record, Eclipse, like it's our new Frontier record-like Frontiers one was for us, when we put it out with Steve.

That was a totally experimental record at the time and I think some of this stuff is even more straight up. But, there was nothing wrong with it back then; I don't think there's anything wrong with it now.

I think it's a lot…what's different about the record is that it's a long play record-you listen from one end to the other and it's not like you pick out this song and then you pick out that song and you have those 2 saved…and everybody's going to have their favs but really I mean, and unless I'm wrong, that's the way I listen to it and I like it. I think it's got a great flow and musically it goes up and down, like it should and it keeps my attention, which is hard to do, man! Honest to God!

I love the 'journey' of an album—pardon the pun. I love 45 or 50 minutes of an emotional ride; I don't want to hear 4 minute singles all the time.
Yeah. I mean, those are great too but they also easy to come up with and we have a lot of those already. You know, I mean, we've got tons of hits like that and so we're trying to move forward here and show some light of existence and new area and not just repeating the same thing over and over and over - move the chords around, move the melody around, do the same groove, don't change anything up too much. That's the bit, you know.

Well, on the positive side of the reviews, that where you've gained a lot of respect, you know, for not taking it easy—for not sitting back and just being lazy or whatever you want to call it.
Yeah some people are getting it. I've read a lot of really great reviews and a few bad ones, but you've got to expect both sides—like I said, you can't please everyone…but the ones that do get it, absolutely get it.

Yeah, well as much shit as I get on the message boards, I like to think that I got it so…(laughs)
You did and you're catching a lot of shit for it, too!! (laughing)

It's ok! I don't care either!

What do you from here? Have you got a long term plan as far as what you'd like to write next or do you just forget about it for a couple of years while you're on the road?
You know what? We're not…I'm not thinking about that right now. We're just starting touring here and we have a very young record. (laughs) Some people are cutting the legs off already and saying, it's done! It hasn't started yet-it hasn't begun yet…that's the way I look at it, especially when we're going to support it for 2 years on tour. Things just haven't started really yet.

I agree completely and I only asked that because I wondered if you actually set out a plan or you just take it as you feel at the time and live in the moment.
Right. That's it. I mean, that's all you can do-play the cards. You know what I mean? You're dealt a deck of cards, man, and you play 'em as they're coming.

Absolutely. I talked to Arnel about this and I was saying to him that he's so well accepted now, I think. This is a tough question, but do you think some of the stuff that was aimed at Arnel in the beginning was because of the way you swapped singers? Could there have been a better way of doing things?
(pause) You know (pause), things happen for a reason, Andrew.
And for some reason, things just did not fit like a glove…like we thought it might and we felt the need to find a guy and that was just my gut instinct - it was everybody's gut instinct.
But it's not taking away from anybody, it's just…that's the way it went, that's all. I suppose when you're looking back, there's always better ways of doing things but, at the time, we all like listened and had eyes wide open and we said, you know-we need to find somebody.




I'm going to keep calling back till we get this interview done!
(laughing) Oh, it's fine, I don't care.

Did you ever expect to find Arnel where you found him? Not as far as the YouTube thing but just, being from the Philippines?
I didn't know what I was going to find. I was looking into a lot of different singers on there and there was a few guys that I heard that absolutely had great voices; it was more of a soul thing. I was looking for that. I like soul but I was looking…
I wanted the rock mixed with the soul. We needed to find a high tenor: somebody that had a high tenor voice to properly do our old stuff as well as just for us to sound the way we do - the way we're supposed to sound. Arnel was really the only guy who I stumbled upon him and he is the only guy that I really…when I heard his voice I went, WOW—who is that?
Honestly. He just struck me - immediately. I went, that voice is something else.

Yeah. It is.
I think it was just fate. He's a really great guy and he's very humble and he's very talented and nobody deserves it as much as this guy. He was like homeless!

I know! It's unbelievable.
He's never forgotten that. He's definitely tremendously talented; he has a God given gift. Ok? No matter how long other people work on it and work on it and they get better at their craft and they sing better and they do this and that, some people are just gifted from the second they were born. To sing or to play whatever they're playing and they have a natural ability—he is one of them.

You worked with Kevin Shirley again for this record. But not the mixing aspect?
You know what? Kevin always does a great job; I found the problem with Kevin, you know, is he is always so busy-he's all over the place. And, it's hard to lock him down for enough time. (laughing) He's something. You know what I mean? That's what we found when we were done, it was like there was a whole lot of extra work that needed to be finished and that's why it's co-produced by myself and Jon.
Arnel pretty much re-sang the whole record; I re-did a lot of guitars and…added some keyboard parts and finished stuff up and tightened things up, moved string parts around. I mean, I did a lot of work with Jonathan on this record-- you know, after Kevin left.

Then, I was there for the whole mixing process with David Kalmusky and Jonathan would come in. But I sat there hour after hour in Nashville and made sure I got the best I could get out of it. I think that had we not done that I think the record would not sound the way it does. And I think, personally…I think it's one of the best sounding records we've made in a long time. I think the fidelityis full…a big bottom end that we don't have on a lot of our records; we compared all the mixes. We made like a little Pro Tools session and listened to ALL our records in a row-little bits and pieces of ALL our different records. They were big records and we then listened to the new record go by and it was just like… it sounded bombastic compared…it was all smashed in the middle. It's wide range fidelity and I don't care what anybody says-the proof is that if you listen to it side by each---you know, a lot of older records were actually mixed more for radio.
Because of all the compressing they used on radio and whatnot. This record was made for you to play over a system—like a good system…

…or even good speakers on a computer, you know what I mean?

And not for radio, so much. All the mixes that used to go out to radio in the old days are so horrendous sounding when you put them on a record player.
You know, they sounded great on the radio; it was nothing but high end sizzle and noisy! Just noisy!

I love the way…I love how Deen sounds on this record.
The drums…we worked long and hard on the drums, too.

Man, they're big!
The drums. The way they were recorded—there was issues with them. Big time.

We re-worked a LOT of that. Yeah. There were certain songs the mike wasn't on the snare! (laughing) I had to duplicate the snare and move it around! It was like…there were some issues.
You know, there was just a lot of work, Andrew, that's all I can tell you.
More work than I have ever done on any record, ever in my life.

It sounds like it.
Thank you. When we all finished with this and it was down to the sequencing. The sequencing was really…like if anybody wants to try to sequence this record in a different way…let them try! I listened to this record every frickin' which way you could listen to it. Moved every song, moved it around in front of it, in back of it. I mean…. I came with some of the stuff that more Journey-friendly - Someone and Anything Is Possible - I tried moving those up more towards the front and the other stuff sounded so out of character.

So, I worked on the sequencing for a couple of days straight and that was what I could get out of it—to where it flowed as an overall statement.

I feel it really does! I'm not sure I could rearrange it any better either.
Yeah. Well, you know all I can tell you is I know that I worked my butt off on this and the end result is absolutely as good as it can be for what it is.
And, if you don't care for it, then you don't care for it; if you love it, you do. It's like that, you know?

Absolutely. I think you've done a great job; there's no doubt about it and I'm glad you're on the road and things are going well.
Yeah. Things are good. I'm looking forward to getting back to our system. We had own PA system in the UK and in the United States. These shows that we're doing right now, we have whatever system you have that the promoter supplies you with and that's just the way the smaller shows go. So, it's more challenging for our mixer and such but, I mean, I think he's been doing a great job.

Yeah, ok.
I've heard some complaints here and there about sound but he's still fairly new with us and he's learning our stuff to great detail.

It's getting better and better by night by night. That's all I can tell ya.

Who is that? Is that your new permanent guy?
Yeah. He was out with Nickelback and he's done a lot of people. He's done Halen before, he's done Ozzy—Lionel Ritchie (laughs). All sizes—in fact, he's done Chicago. If you look at his roster, I mean it's just miles long. So, he's getting a grip on our stuff right now.

There was a different guy, Martin, actually that was mixing us, from South America. So, it's like we switched in midstream. With Martin, it was very more of a clinical mix; it didn't sound like the band to me. He's very good at what he does but it was more like a Steely Dan version of Journey.
Everything was separated and we were all compressed and tight. You know, Deen and I—sometimes sounded like we were in a closet!

And, so, it was just not working for Deen and I at all. Our new guy is a little bit on the other side so he's having to pull it back a little bit. He gets it rocky like a big monster but then he needs to be able to put it on top in the vocals. It's a fine line and he's...he just said to me the other night - he said, 'This band is not as easy as I thought it would be to mix.'
I said, No, it's not! But now, you're finding out. There's a lot going on that doesn't meet the eye when you listen to it. Jon's got a lot going on over there and there needs to be space made so that everything can be heard.
But, he's getting a grip on it! I really feel that he is.

Very cool. I've got to ask you 2 questions about the album that keep popping up. So, don't shoot the messenger but the one thing that everybody keeps saying is, This is Neal's record. Do you agree?
Well, you know what? It was…I've always wanted to do a conceptual record.
Whether or not we got a conceptual record - I don't know about that. I think musically it is a conceptual record, the way songs flow into other songs.
Conceptually, with lyrics, being about what they are on the record, I think that does flow too, but, obviously, it's not like a theme to it, lyrically, where…like a Tommy with the Who or anything like that.
So, you know, it was a vision that I had and but I think it's just as much Jon's record as it is mine! And the whole bands'.
I mean, Jon wrote the songs with me. And Arnel wrote on 2 songs and so I think it's all our record.

Yeah but it is a guitar record - there's no doubt that it is more of a guitar record.

And you know, some people maybe would prefer to hear the songs shorter but I felt no need to chop them shorter. I'm like, Why the fuck chop the stuff up when we're going to make a single anyway out of a song—it's going to get chopped up anyway for radio. For the actual record, why not have it stretch a bit? You know? If someone doesn't have the patience to listen to it then they just don't! You know but I felt no need to chop it up for radio purposes because I'm looking at it and I'm going, Really, how much radio is out there any more?

That's the exact same thing that Jack Blades said to me a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to him.
When Jack and I worked together… Jack and I were working on the other solo project that I worked on - you know I made 2 solo records after the Journey record and Jack helped me with the one with Marco and Deen… and so we were talking about it and I said, you know, what's the need to chop everything up? I don't get it.

That's what he said.
I'm like it's not like it's played on radio anymore and if they do want to play something, it's so easy to chop it up and not make it sound like it was like completely chopped off at the legs any longer: with Pro Tools there's a smooth way of doing it, where in the old days with tape, an edit was an EDIT…

(laughing) Literally!
…just cut it off. Cut it off a lot. I mean, we chopped down the City of Hope and we're chopping—we're ready to chop all of them.

Obviously, they need to be chopped but I just didn't feel the need.

Well, there isn't a need-you're absolutely right.
Kevin Shirley, before he left his last .02c was - I saw some stuff that he sent to Jonathan - he said, I feel there are too many guitar solos, it's too long, chop it up, and I was like, Well you could shorten stuff up, but then I said, Why??
It's a long play record; it's that type of record you know.

Oh, I'm lovin the extra guitar!
Well, like I said, it's always easy to chop later. If need be.

Here's the other big question that keeps coming up. You stated that you needed Arnel to return to the legacy sound, then there's the criticism that now this new album isn't the legacy sound! So what were you talking about?
Um…(laughs) Well, I don't know how to answer that. You know, like I said, we all need to feel like we're moving forward at one point and this is Arnel coming into his own. I mean, we can easily go back and go and write another Separate Ways - we can go back and write another Faithfully - we can go back and write another Stone in Love - you can go do that. But it's like we already have those songs.

Well, people will argue with me, well, you don't need those songs anymore - don't play them! I'd rather hear you play this! Everybody…it's a catch 22 constantly, Andrew. It's like, you know, no matter what you do, someone is saying, You should be doing this…and in the end, you need to do what you think you ought to do - not what everybody else thinks you ought to go.
We're in a Lamborghini here; we're switching gears and we're not stuck in neutral, you know what I mean?

…or first or second gear. Things are opening up! We're learning about who this new band is - with Arnel. We can…I don't think…Who knows what our next record will sound like.
You know…I have NO clue. But I can tell you that the fact that we made this record is a record that I wanted to make and everybody loved it when we were done with it and –I still LOVE it!

I still love it too.
Yeah. I think that it's a great record. It wasn't made specifically for radio - no it wasn't. Period.

Well, I'm glad…and that's exactly what Jack Blades said, “We didn't make it for radio; we just did what we wanted to!” (laughs)
Well, Jack was, before they started recording their record, we were talking about it! I'm like, man! ALL our songs are like 5, 6 minutes long! He goes, Really? And I go, YEAH! I go, Who cares??!
You know? I mean, if somebody, whoever, is listening and they don't like it because it's too long, they can always move forward - you know, go to the next track!! (laughs)

You could put out a 30 minute edited version for those that like concentration.
Like I said, Andrew, it's always easy to chop; you can't add. When you've added it from the git go, you can't add later. You can always take away.
And, all these songs can be put more in a radio friendly way to where they can be chopped down to 3½ minutes and still make sense.

Sounds good. I heard Arnel talking about Arrival, saying how much he liked the songs on that and it's still a GREAT album.
Yeah. We actually considered, at one point, Jonathan and I were talking about re-doing some of that stuff as we did with our Greatest Hits. And we felt very strongly about Arrival, too, the material –wise.

It's a great album.
Who knows, you know? Maybe we'll do something like that: maybe we'll dabble into that. We could have done more Greatest Hits 2 with this record…like the other Greatest Hits that we did with Revelation and do the same thing we did last time. We just chose not to, you know.
Well, we've definitely started something because now everybody likes the idea of re-doing a greatest hits but, once we got into it, and I realized it wasn't going to be that hard, I said, Why don't we do a full length record? You know, I want to do a new record…as well. So, a lot of people are doing that now.

Ok, so I like the idea that this is a stand-alone record it gets to stand on its own. But you're not ruling out doing some re-recordings of Arrival tracks and some other stuff at a later date?
No, I'm not opposed to that at all. I think we have great material on there, which I think…personally I think Arnel will KILL!
Not that Augeri didn't do a good job - he did! But, you know, they are 2 different guys.

Oh absolutely—very much so. You've managed to pick up singers with their own identity yet still have the Journey sound, haven't you. You've been pretty clever with that.
I think, honestly, Arnel is like…the guy. When he's not tired and he's not sick---he had a bit of some kind of chest thing going on where some of his high end went away for about 4 or 5 shows. He was really struggling—the smoke. The problem is, Andrew, is there is a lot of cigarette smoke over here.

Oh I know!
There's so much smoke in the air. I'm telling you what, when I played with Paul Rodgers, for a time, if ONE person lit up a fucking cigarette, he would leave the stage.

Really? (laughs)
He would. I mean, that was his thing-he hated cigarettes. I mean, like most singers do and it was like a couple of these places we played, I felt like I inhaled a carton of cigarettes while we were on stage. I don't even know how he sang with that crap…it was very, very difficult. It got in his lungs and it took him a bit south for a second, but he's on the road to recovery right now - he sounded really great last night.

It's a different thing in Europe, isn't it - the whole smoking thing is still widely accepted, isn't it?
I told my stage manager, Rob, today I said, I want fans-across the front of the stage - not ON the stage but like just build a little platform down there. And I want fans all the way across. And he's building them for all the cigarette smoke and he's blowing all back into the audience.

(laughing) If they're gonna blow smoke up, then it's going to go right back into the audience.

Great stuff. Now when are you coming to Australia - come on!
Next year! We're supposed to come next year.

Yeah, that's what I keep hearing. Is it going to happen?
I think so! I mean, honestly! I mean, it sounds pretty solid. That's why we're doing…we're not doing 2 years to go back into the same markets.

Well, I know that there's a lot of people down here that have waited a long time for you guys to come here.
Yeah! We need to put the right package together for it. I would love to play some dates with Barnes there. With Jimmy Barnes.
You know, seeing Jonathan wrote and produced that Freight Train Heart record for him and I played on it—we could have some fun.

That's a killer record. It still is.
I know! I love the record.

It's still his best album.
I haven't heard him years but, man…what a voice. I heard he's back in Cold Chisel…that's amazing.

Anything you'd like to say in concluding, Neal?
You know what? I think the record stands on its own merit and I'm sticking with that. I think that anybody that thinks that this record is done right now is COMPLETELY wrong.


There's a lot of records that I've seen that were out there like 8 months before something even hit and so we've got a lot of stuff and a lot of different ways to go about getting this record out. And everybody said, well, it's more of a European record…well, yeah! Europeans are digging it but it doesn't mean that it's not going to happen in the States too but we actually need to get there.
We need to GET there and make some things happen. It just doesn't happen like magic, man! We've got to be seen on TV; we gotta promote it! You know?
It'll happen.

I'm sure it will. I'm sure it will; it's a great record and it deserves it and thanks for making a record that really appeals to me! (laughs)
Thank you. I'm glad you appreciate it; there was a lot of heart and soul went into this thing: that's all I can tell you--a lot of effort.

Yeah. It shows. I think it shows. Whether you like it or not, you cannot deny that there's a whole bunch of stuff going on there.
Well, I'm glad you see it, my friend.

So, that's it for me, Neal; I'm off to bed.
Ok, Andrew. It's great talking to you. I haven't talked to you for long time.

It's been a while.
Best wishes to you and you're family.

Thank you, mate! Hopefully, I'll be able to bring them over to see a show next year.
Great! I'd love to see you.

Thanks for your time, Neal.
Thank you! Take care.


c. 2011 / Interview by Andrew McNeice


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Arnel Pineda: From Dusty Streets To Platinum Records

Journey's frontman came from extremely humble beginnings, but his dreams came true thanks to the Internet and a God given gift. Now he's everyman's hero. I talked to the softly spoken frontman during the band's European 2011 tour.


Hey there. You are Andrew from
Yes, that 's right, Arnel. How are you?
I'm good. How are you?

I'm good, mate! It's good to finally touch base with you!
I know, (laughs) but I feel that I have known you for quite a while now.

(laughs) Ok. You are ok to talk, then?
Yeah yeah. Don't mind my voice-I'm just tired because the hotel where we checked in—it's not so good. It's so noisy outside and then the room service keeps on knocking on the door and we forgot to put the 'Do Not Disturb' card on the doorknob.

Uh-oh. So, they are disturbing you all the time.
Yes, but it's ok. It's ok.

Have you got a show tonight or are you on a day off?
We are on a day off and then…tomorrow. Tomorrow, yes.

Where are you playing tomorrow?
We are already here in Hanover, Germany so this is where the show is going to be done. It's only like a 20 minute bus ride from the hotel.

Ok. And how are you finding life on the road? This is obviously your 2nd big tour with the band.
It's tough. Yeah, it's tough.

It is, isn't it? I don't think most people realize how hard it can be.
It's always tough on the road, yeah, yeah. There'll be…there are times that we travel sleepless, you know?
It's just like what happened when we came from Dublin, just a few days ago, to Berlin. Yeah, from the time I woke up at 11 in the morning, and then did the show in Dublin and then took the flight, went to the airport at 4 o'clock in the morning, and then 7 take off and then we got bumped off. The plane decided to land in Manchester for a while because there was a sick passenger…so we finally landed in Berlin like 2 in the afternoon. It was like I was awake for 25 hours.

So, it's things like that.

Yeah, it's hard enough without adding problems like that.
Yeah. Yeah. And then, our South American tour—we did 10 shows there, right? From country to country. So we have to spend at least 8-10 hours in the airport alone.

Yeah—the travel. It's so slow there: the immigration, the security, the queues, you know, it's long and painful. (Laughs)

But you guys are international rock stars—they just whisk you through, don't they? (Laughs)
Yeah…….No-it's …you know what happened? It's Journey's first time to tour around South America; they never did it since the days of Steve Perry…

You know how it was for them during his day, right? They only stayed in America and then the farthest they got was Japan.

They've never ever been in Australia, your country.

I know! I know! We keep trying but we haven't quite made it.
And in Europe, they only started braving Europe during the day of Steve Augeri.
And then, they were doing small shows back then.

Yeah. Absolutely.
Yeah. Yeah. And then they did big shows when they fronted for Def Leppard, right?

Yeah. And then with Jeff Scott Soto.

Yeah. And….
And now they are trying to hit it big again.

I think they are doing a great job doing it but it's hard work for you guys, isn't it?
Yeah it is but you know what, it's all worth it so you know as long as the fans are happy, the hardcore ones and then the new ones then you know, we're happy.

We're happy.

The reports of the tour have been fantastic.
Do you like the album? What do you think of the new album?

I love the album. Did you see my review?
(pause and speaks with a smile) Yes, I read about it, yes. I think you liked it. (Laughs)

(Laughing) I LOVED the album!!
Thank you. Thank you, Andrew, it means a lot for… - for all the fans.

My pleasure! I'm mean, there are people that disagree with me and there's a lot that do.
Well…..what can you say. You cannot please everybody-I'm telling you. It's…

Well, it's Journey. It's especially complicated for you guys to please everybody.
(pause) Yeah, I know. They're still looking for Steve Perry, you know?

Yeah, well they've got a good enough singer at the moment so they should just, uh…(laughs)

It's safe to say all is well.
Yeah. Thank you.

Was there much difference from how you were personally approached the recording of this album than from Revelation?
Yeah I think we were much prepared. I mean, basically, with this album, we were much prepared than what happened to Revelation…. you know what? What happened to Revelation --they had enough materials but the thing is, I wasn't prepared to do it.
If you know what I mean?
I was like….I was ….they did not force me but I was so pressured to do it because it needs to be done in like a month and a half.

And, you know, I was like recording every other day. I was learning each song as days go by, if you know what I mean—learn a new song each day and then record it.

That's how it happened with Revelation. But, with this album Eclipse, I was prepared to do it.

I was given time- I had time, you know…So it was great. I had a great feeling for it this time.

Your vocals are just outstanding! The vocals are really superb.
Jonathan Cain prepared me very, very, very well.

How did he do that?
He was the one…of course…vocal teachers - I have the CDs, a lady - her name is Amber - so she prepared me for this one. Before I went to do the final vocals I did it in Nashville so I went to see this lady, Amber. So, she prepared me with Jonathan - we did all these things to open up my vocal chords. It went well!

It certainly worked! And something…your voice was crystal clear as far as the diction and the pronunciation of the words.
Yeah. Jonathan guided me well.

What advice did he give you?
Oh…he was just there. He was filling in every words that I was missing, every diction that I'm missing. And he was like, 'what a minute Arnel'…he was there. Like a father. You know? It was fun…it was good.
He was a real mentor for me and so was Neal. So he was there giving me all the confidence and the moral boost, you know.

Great. Well then there was no doubt that you could DO it - they were just helping you nail it.
Yeah! Yeah.

I talked to Kevin Shirley a little bit ago and he was saying that, at one stage you said 'If I'm not doing a good enough job, I'll stand down.'
Yeah Yeah. I told him that if I… because we were talking, you know, like friends, and you know we became relaxed with each other's company.
So I told him what's in my heart, you know. If the big boys think I am not up for the job, I'm willing to step out any time, you know, because for the sole reason that I so respect the legacy they have built and that Steve Perry has left behind; I don't want to ruin it.

I don't want to mess it.

It's…it's…it's not just like some music that you hear everyday. You know? It's a special music.

Yes indeed.
I grow up listening to those music, you know? To this music - Journey music.
So I don't think if I'm not offered the job, then I would still stay? I think that's something I wouldn't do. I have so much respect for the boys, you know.

Well that's a very humble attitude approach to take.
Yeah… It's not just about money; this is about delivering the best… the best in me through their trust.

Well take it from me you're doing the Journey name very proud.
Thank you. Thank you, Andrew, really.

Absolutely. I hope to tell you that in person soon enough. (Laughs)
Well, we will MEET! I think we are doing some dates in Australia next year.

Yeah that's what I'm talking about.
A couple.

I'm talking to management to try and help them so uh…
It's on the talks now I think; it's rolling now.

Great. Great. Great!
It's a matter…it's just a matter of financial, you know.

Absolutely. Yeah, it's not cheap to get here.
I know. But, to get there I think we need to cover some more area, I think.
If we go there, we need to go to Singapore , we need to go to Hong Kong, get a few things again in Japan, Guam. So…we would be able to afford to go Australia.

Absolutely. Sounds great. Everybody's heard the story of how Neal contacted you and how you came about…
Yup. Yup.

... but just to take you back there a little bit from a different angle, what were your long term plans at that time…singing so often, every night as you were in Manilla?
You know, before Neal called me, me and my wife were about to head out and back to Hong Kong.

Yeah…We were planning to back there so I was just trying to help her fix her papers so we could both go together to Hong Kong.

And what were you going to do in Hong Kong?
Uh… you know...just stay there and live there because I have a permanent ID there. It's considered like…I'm a permanent resident there.

But I was singing every night.

But you didn't have any major plans for another band or whatever?
That was the major band. (Laughs)

Sure! Just moving…
Just bring my family there and live there and my wife, Cherry, could work there too, you know,9-5 thing and me doing the 8-2 in the morning gig, you know.
Every night.

That's a hard slot. How did you find that?
Well, it's easy because I've been doing it anyway since 1991 there in Hong Kong so it's not hard for me to find a gig there.

Yeah, ok. And then you've got this phone call and now your life…
I gave away my number to him…because I was testing if he was to call or if he would email me or something - email me back. And he decided to call me up and after 10 minutes of sending those emails, you know. He definitely received those emails and he had already called me.

So, that was it! It was a start.

Oh absolutely. (Laughing)
And, uh, the rest is history.

Was there any method…when you were singing, performing and doing all these songs and putting all these clips up on YouTube, was there any greater reason for doing that, other than just showcasing what you were doing?
I choose the latter part of what you said. Yeah. Just for showcasing it.
You know what, Andrew, before I met these boys in Journey, I was singing by anything.
But totally, honestly I sing high songs but as well as I sing low songs because I cannot do what I am doing now with Journey before. It's so hard because I was singing, um…by instinct.

If I feel like singing high, I will sing high. If I don't feel like singing high, then I will go low.

Yeah. But now you can't really to do that! (Laughing)
You must have checked my profile; I was singing like alternative songs as well as really classic rock songs, right?

Oh yeah, absolutely. But you never expected one of those bands you were covering to give you a call, right? (Laughs)
Yeah. Yes, it was a sweet surprise but, then again, a shocking moment for me.
Never in my wildest dream that I would ever, ever get a kind of an opportunity like this-it was… really. Until now-it's so weird…every time I'm up there.

A dream come true.
You know, Andrew, they have broken the uh…broken the uh…how do you say that…each, any and every kind of boundaries there is to become in American rock and roll band. (Laughing)

To sing, you know. They have broken it. I'm not supposed to be there but then it's…it's…its exciting—it's happening. You know? (Laughing)

Absolutely. And I don't like… I don't want to talk money with you or anything but, for someone in your position, to get a gig like this, it's obviously—it changes your life, doesn't it.
Yes, a lot. Yes.

You can be secure in being able to take care of your family-that must mean a lot.
Yeah-in a drastic way. Yes, yes. You are true, Andrew but then there's always a price to pay, too.

Oh yeah, I can understand that now you're separated from your family being on the road, right?
Yeah, yeah. But I'm with my family now.

They're with you?
Yeah. The only time that I wasn't with my family was the first tour—in 2008.

Oh great! So, your wife travels with you?

Well that must be a huge moral sort of support.
Yeah, yeah. It made a lot of difference in at least…the pressure is not that bad--the loneliness--the longingness--you know, the emptiness.
Even though I make people happy by singing with Journey—it may sound so self-fulfilling but when you are back in your room, it's just an empty room, you know?

Yeah, I understand that completely and from the many interviews that I have done over the years, that's the point in time where you can get yourself into trouble, right?
Mmmmm…yeah. It's true. That's why I see the other singers, the other rock stars right? Drugs, women and alcohol—they do that because…because...they cannot get in touch with their fans or whoever they want to talk with because that moment will get them into trouble, they keep themselves alone in the room and doing all sorts of things.

Not good for a family man!
Yes, yes.

Off the subject of music a little bit, I saw a fairly lengthy documentary on your homeland and in particular the city of Manilla.

I'm not sure that people really understand how hard the living conditions are for a good portion of the population there.
Oh wow. You haven't been to Manilla, right?

No, not personally. I've been to Indonesia, Denpasar and stuff but not Manilla.
OH! You have to be there to see for yourself but there's a lot of depressed…uh, depressing areas there. Depressed areas—a lot.

Yeah. This documentary was quite stunning.
There are at least …at least 50 to 100,000 kids living on top of the mountains of garbage.

Oh yeah I saw that on this documentary—I couldn't believe it!
They are physically and literally living on top of all that; that's where they get their livelihood –you know, collecting plastic, papers. They dig through, you know, smelly, smelly things, you know.

Unimaginable smell, you know. That's why I want to do work.

It's horrible. You're actually trying to help some people there. You've got a foundation.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

What a wonderful thing to do.
Yeah, because I was there once.

I was in that same situation once. So, I feel like…to be able to give back, I have to do something about it by putting up my own foundation.

And, how does that operate? How do you get…how does the help reach these kids?
Hmmmm…continuous support of the dollars and I've been getting a lot of that lately. And, during free times, I work onto reach on these big companies to be able to get big grants so I could put up a small school center near there. So hopefully I will get one in the future-in the near future. I'm not going to stop working until I get one.

That's awesome.
You know, just to be able to help these kids because they are…they were born poor and their parents were born poor. It's just like they are heirlooms to this poverty and I think they do not deserve it. You know? I mean they deserve an equal opportunity just like the other privileged ones.

Absolutely. They're born into it—they have no choice, do they?
So…I will help them have hope, you know…feel the hope. I will make them feel that they have hope - they have…they can make a difference through education and they can still dream! They're not…and their poverty is not permanent…that they can move on.

Yeah. Just how poor were you, Arnel? What situation were you in right back at the beginning?
I physically and literally ended up really, really hungry and homeless for quite a while. I was homeless for a year, yeah.

For almost a year, I was homeless and asking food, you know, from friends.

Yeah. And did somebody give you a break? How did you break out of that?
Through a friend. Uh…he introduced me to his friends-they were a band. They were into bands and playing gigs and so I was introduced at the age of 15. It was 1983.

Oh wow.
It was a slow start but it sure got me out of my poverty period.

Yeah. It's fantastic. Music was your savior.
Yeah, my voice. (Laughs)

When did you start singing Arnel?
I started singing when I was only 5 years old. It was my parents who started enjoying my early singing years. (Laughs)
They would make me sing every time they are in the mood to hear me sing and they would ask me if I could spare a couple of songs for them. (Laughs)

(Laughing) Fantastic.
It was fun!

And now, at this point, you are actually bringing your fans to a band that has been around 35 years.
I know. I know.

How strange is that-to consider that?
Too strange. I cannot even…I don't know where to begin to describe it…I don't even know.

It's just hard to explain. It's just…until now, I'm telling you, it's like, my God, I'm doing this, you know? How cool is that? How strange is that?

(laughing) Yes.
This is like…these guys… I'm only watching them from videos. Music videos, DVDs… And now I'm in! Like, you know, meeting these guys Foreigner, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Kansas, Reo Speedwagon…it's…Sammy Hagar I've met. Joe Satriani—I met them, you know.

How have those guys been to you? What have those guys said to you?
They've been great, you know, they've been assisting me all the way; they've been taking care of me-they've been helpful! They were mentors-they're mentors. By the way, if you happen to talk to John Farnham…

(laughing) Oh yeah!
Or AC/DC? They are one of my heroes.

Oh, he's amazing! He's such an amazing guy.
John Farnham…what a voice.

Oh. Amazing. He's got one of the best voices in the business.
I know. My God. I wish I have half of his sound.

I think you have more than half, mate. (Laughs)

I really enjoyed your covers of the Survivor tunes, too.
Oh yeah. Survivor. I haven't met them but I watched them once in the Philippines when they did a show.

I would love to meet them, too. And thank you.

Yeah, Jim Peterik is a very old friend of mine.
Really!! Wow……!!!

Yes, absolutely. When you're in Chicago, I must try and get him to come along and see you.
Please tell them that I want get autograph.

I will! I will.
The singer-the one that sang Ever Since The World Began…What a voice. What –a – voice!

Yeah. Amazing.
Arnel, what was it like getting on stage in your home town of Manilla?

(Deep breath) You know what? That was very overwhelming.

I bet. I bet. I can't imagine.
Overwhelming. Yeah, the emotions were so mixed and, my god, it's just …I don't know! I'm so proud but at the same time I'm so scared.

You know, how are my fellow man going to touch me? How are they going to grade me? But, you know, it went out well!

It did! It absolutely went off well. I heard amazing stories. was a sigh of relief, after the end of the show.

Yeah, yeah.
You know, it's like, God! You know…that's all I said.

And the music of Journey is so emotional, how do you hold it together on stage when you're feeling emotional yourself?
Well…you know, Andrew……I should really put all the words in my heart when I sing it. And that's what I did! That's what I did. I know every single word of…the way they wrote it…that's how I sang it.
There's no other way to sing it but that way because if you sing it the other way, I don't think it's gonna work.

I don't think the people will be able to comprehend or will be able to relate the way they should relate to the songs so I ...that's how I did it.
They way it should be sound…and then I was thinking of Steve Perry.…was Perry gonna sing this, you know, so that's how I did it.

Like I've said, you're doing the music proud; I really believe that.
Well you know, that's why the hardcore fans should stop really saying things because I'm doing this not to overdo, or not...not…to outdo Steve Perry. I'm so proud of doing this because I know I am carrying his legacy on my shoulder.

Yeah, I have so much respect for the guy because he's just …he's just one of my heroes.

Me too!
…and he will always be one of my hero. He's great.
No, really, I mean I would really, my God, it would make my world…it would make my whole life even better just to be able to shake his hand and all, you know.

Absolutely. Look, I won't keep you too long because I know you're busy and tired and need to rest, Arnel.

What are your favorite songs off the new album?
My favorite songs? Oh…

All of them? (Laughs)
Ummm… let me think…I like Resonate—I like Tantra—I like Anything is Possible—I like Chain of Love—
City of Hope has a hold on the audience. I think most of it, I like! Someone…you know.

I love your vocal in Anything is Possible.
I really enjoyed doing... singing all of those-really. Everything.
Except Venus, of course. It's just all guitars!

Very good! Very good.
Neal's gonna kill me! Yeah.

Yeah, yeah. One song that's got everybody talking is Tantra.
You know…what do you think of the song, Andrew?

I think it's one of my favorites on the album—I absolutely love it.
Mmmm. Yeah.
It's very spiritual, right?

I love the intro and then when the band comes in and, towards the end, your vocals are just unbelievable!!
(deep breath) Yeeaaahhhhh, well… I told you! They taught me well.
They really got it. They really mentored me well, so…my hat's off to the guys.

Yeah, well, you're too humble. You should take more credit because that's an amazing song and if not for an amazing vocal, it wouldn't have worked.
I follow well. (Laughing) That's all I can say, yeah.

How did it go singing it live? Because you did it in England, didn't you?
Yeah, I did! Oh!!! You know what? After…sometimes I struggle because…because of…too much…because of…it's a long set…

Yes! It is!
… an hour and a half…and, you know, and then you sing to all these…uh…30,000! A bunch of new songs…you know what? I soooo love singing it on stage: letting the new fans hear about it. It's just blessing, you know.

Fantastic. And for the future you will stay with Journey as long as they will have you?
Yeah!! As long they want me, I'm gonna be there. But then, as long as I can do it…I want to be as honest as possible to myself, you know? If I can do it…I don't want to force myself, you know?

Because, not just for the money, you know.

Like if you burned out.
Because I care about the fans, too. I don't want them coming to the show and then leaving disappointed.

No. It's not gonna happen. So, as long as I can do it, effortless, then I will do it.

But the time comes that the voice is faded then I think it's time to throw the towel in already.

Yeah. Well I think you've got a lot of years left in you; I think you're a…you're very young at heart.
Yeah. Well, I take care of myself a lot and I'm so ready, already, taking care of it. Well, we're only human, you know. Age. Age-we cannot beat it. It's always going to haunt us.

Yeah exactly. Yeah, I've had a rough couple of years with my health so (laughing) I know about it. (Laughing)
(laughing) Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It catches up with you!
Well, just stay with regiment, my friend.

Yes. I need a better regiment. I'm lazy. (Laughing)
(Laughing) Well if you're lazy, maybe you could consider at least changing your eating habit.

I need to. Absolutely.
Take some brisk walking –maybe every other day.

Yeah exactly. Look, last question, Arnel. I think the answer is yes.

I think the answer is yes - I have to say that up front but do you feel accepted by the Journey fans? Do you feel…some people were a little bit hard on you at the start, you know, without knowing what was to come. But, do you feel accepted now?
You know what, to tell you honestly, it matters but, at the same time, it doesn't matter now who are accepting me or who are not. But, then again, I'm grateful to those…to the people who are accepting me.
And then, I also thank the people who are not accepting because they give me more drive and inspiration because of what they say.

It gives me more…it gives me more courage. Like…Ok. I'm gonna try harder! I'm just gonna try harder.

That's just a wonderful attitude.
Yeah. And, then if the time comes that there's nothing there for me then that's about it. At least I tried my best. And then, to my knowledge, I made a lot of people happy.

You have.
That's all that matters, you know? And then, if the other people are not happy about it, I mean, it's not going to make me lose sleep.

Yes. You shouldn't.
Yes. I respect how they feel. I respect…uh…their music preference…I respect their singer preference. You know? What can I do?

Yeah. Well, I think you've won a lot of people over and I think you've really established yourself.
Thank you. Thank you, Andrew. Well, they helped me a lot, you know, the fans? And then, Journey—the boys—they have helped me a lot. The crew…everybody! And my family! My family…they were…it was a dramatic help; it was a humongous help so…they were!! They loved me! I can only love them back.

Fantastic. Look, it's been a pleasure talking to you, Arnel.
It's an honor, Andrew. I think I'm going to need to meet you in person now. (Laughing)

I absolutely look forward to it!
See the face behind the voice.

Absolutely. One day, for sure. Hopefully, hopefully on OUR shores here for an Australian tour.
Yeah! If it will happen; I think it might happen early January. Or late January.

Well, we'll be there - you count on it.
I'm looking forward to it, Andrew. I'll see you.

Take care, take care of yourself on the road, Arnel.
Ok. Ok. You too, huh? Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you for your time.
Yeah. Thank you, thank you.


c. 2011 / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed by Debbie - August 2011.




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Steve Perry: A Legend Finds Peace

Steve Perry has been atop my "want list" for interviews since I first started this site in late 1996. I was very lucky to talk to Jonathan Cain early in the picture about the Trial By Fire album and from there I got to talk to all members of the band. But the elusive Steve Perry interview remained a dream. Until this week. On Monday October 24, 15 years of wishing came to fruition. After a month or two of planning, Steve was ready to talk to me about the pending release of Journey's Greatest Hits 2 and the vinyl remastering for GH1 and Steve's own Street Talk solo release. Nerves in check, the following interview is exactly as the interview went. Nothing cut out and no questions dodged. Of course I would have liked even more time and gone into even more depth on several questions. But that would probably result in a book, not an interview!
I'm very thankful to Steve for extending out interview time and to Sony Music and Lora @ FanAsylum for setting this interview up for me...after years of nagging!

I hope you enjoy the read and if you take one thing from this interview - Steve talked as if and sounded like he was in a very good place. It was a great pleasure and a thrill to talk to him and have him open up about some tough subjects. Not only is he a rock icon and a personal favourite of an army of fans, but he's also one of my personal favourite singers of all time. And dare I say, one of (if not the) very best melodic rock vocalist ever.


Hi Steve. It's a great pleasure to talk to you.
It's nice talking with you. This has been a long time coming.

I am extremely grateful to you for talking with me. Thank you.
My pleasure, my pleasure.

I've been running this site for 15 years; you have been at the top of my list ever since, so I can cross one off.
(laughing) So now I've been scratched off the to-do list.

Yeah, I can quit tomorrow now (laughing).
No you can't! Come on, come on (laughing). So has it been nice there? Is it winter?

It's heading into summer, but it's still a month away. Warming up.
Isn't that something? You're headed into summer and we're heading into winter. That's how it works?

Exactly, yeah. It's Tuesday morning, it's heading into summer, it's been anywhere between 80 and 40 degrees. It's typical spring.
So what have you been doing? What's been happening with your life? Talk to me. Tell me your story.

Sure, Steve. I feel like I should refer to you as “Sir” or “Your Lordship” or…
No, No! No Way! Stop! (laughing). 'Steve' is fine, 'Steve' is fine.

I feel like talking to THE Steve Perry requires something extra.
No, no, no… if my mother can call me Steve, you can call me Steve.

(laughing). Thank you! Well, Steve, is my full-time job and I've got a wife and three young boys. They're all tucked up in bed right now [it was 4.15am when the interview commenced] and I just do my best to make a living in this crazy business, which isn't an easy thing to do.
No, it's not. But you must love it. You know I had a conversation one time with Donnie Ienner who used to run Sony Music. And we were having our ups and downs on the way he was promoting, you know, projects. But then I realized at one point in time, I said to him on the phone what you had just said, “You know Donnie, you must love what you do because I couldn't do it.” I said, “I just don't know how you do it.”
He really honestly took it to heart as a compliment, which it was. Because you've got to love this business. You've got to love music to the point to where you're willing to stay in it. As Randy Goodrum told me one time, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

(laughing) Yeah, probably.
It's not. You know? (laughing)

No, it's not. It's not.
But the trick is everybody sees the lights and they see the show, they see the lifestyle and everything else. And in today's world, just turn on your television. All you have is a bunch of people doing reality shows doing lifestyle, not music. (laughing) You know? It's amazing.

It's like a hobby to them, not like a commitment or full-time thing. They just want their foot in the limelight for a minute.
That's right, there's no commitment. You're right.

Thankfully, you come from an era which is what I talk and write about, which is the 'golden age' I guess we could call it. You've seen so many changes.
Oh my goodness. When it started for me it was around 1978 when I joined the band. That's when I got my first break to get into the music business and I got signed to Columbia Records. And it was a dream come true back in those days to get a record deal. It was the sweetest thing you could ever have, is to be signed…next to the most horrific day of your life which would be to get dropped. So many of my friends did get dropped because they didn't sell records. I looked at it as if every time I had the opportunity to make a record – which the first was Infinity, with Journey – was this magical blessing that, I finally am in the record business and I get to make a record. But, I did not believe in my heart there would be a second one. I knew I had to love doing it, and if I could make any money I should save some money because I didn't trust there to be a second one.

Because the industry was so... shaky. It wasn't shaky compared to the way it is now, but it certainly… bad things could happen. You could be dropped if you didn't sell records. So, I was always excited about the ability to be able to make another one. “Oh my goodness, we're going to make another one? That's great!” You know, so here comes the next one. That's the way I kinda looked at it. Every one of the records for me emotionally was always like another opportunity to just do another one because the record labels would pay for us to just record music. It was… great. You know?

Yeah. And you jumped into the band and made such an impact so immediately. Did you take everybody by surprise?
Well, I've got to tell you, the thing is that I was finding my way at the same time they were trying to find their way in a new environment with me. And we all, at the same time, were struggling with what that means and what that doesn't mean. Them coming from a background of knowing what they wanted to be but they weren't successful at that. And all of a sudden they have this wicked stepson, you know? (laughing)

They have to deal with this stepson that is something that they like but they wish they could have done it their way, and why wouldn't they? Why wouldn't they have wished that they could be successful without having a lead singer? Well then the label says “We want you to have a singer” and then they went, “Well, I don't know, I don't know.” So, all of the sudden, here comes me, and I think it was a real challenge for all of us to find out what that really meant. They had to let go of doing it their way. I was bringing in ideas; they were growing. But, I will tell you this…being the singer in that environment with them as we were growing together on the Infinity record brought a certain kind of vocal strength out of me that the band required it have. Otherwise, I do not know if I would have ever found that anywhere else. And I think that at some level I did the same thing for them.

And that's what made it a really amazing band was that we all had our disagreements, which that's what bands do, who cares? The end result was that we brought the best out of each other that we could not do without each other. And that musically, I will be forever grateful because I was in a very different vocal style at the time. Then, I joined Journey and realized I had to do these long legato vocal things, and I had to sing in this range which I could do to kind of get above and be heard inside and around Neal Schon. Neal's guitar sound, which in the beginning used to be a struggle for me, actually became an asset for me to dig in, you know and go get this vocal thing. And then I'd sing something and he'd play something, and all of a sudden, as one of my girlfriends said, “That guitar and my voice went together like 'salt and pepper.'”

Oh yeah, absolutely.
They just work. They just go together forever, you know? And that's what I recently just experienced by remastering the Greatest Hits 2 and the original Greatest Hits to vinyl. I had to really focus on the tracks because they came from such a wide span of time, a wide variance of studios, with a wide variance in recording consoles, and a wide variance in recording engineers and recording techniques, and producers or no producers – Roy Thomas Baker to Kevin Elson to the band. I mean, it was just like the broadest spectrum of basic tracks and the way they sound that I could have ever been challenged with. So, to put those on vinyl again and to compile them for the Greatest Hits 2… which is coming out Nov 1 with “Stone In Love,” “Feeling That Way,”… was a real challenge. Emotionally, I had to really listen to the tracks closer than I had in years. It was truly, emotionally extremely painful for me to be perfectly honest with you because I forgot how great Neal was…and I forgot how great the band was. And I think I've gotten away from it long enough to see that. And I forgot some of the things vocally that I used to do. I'm thinking, 'I was out of my mind, what was I thinking?' (laughing), you know?


Yeah, (laughing)
Why was I singing so high like that? What am I, crazy? (laughing)

Yeah, I do recall a quote from Neal saying something like 'at some point only dogs were going to be able to hear you.'
(laughing). Coming from Neal, um, I think he was being nice. I don't know. (laughing)

Oh no, no it was a compliment! This was an old quote now.
No, I know, I know (continuously laughing). I think that's the way Neal gives you a compliment, by the way. (laughing) That's a band. That's what a band is all about right there, see what I mean? (laughing)

Yeah, I was listening to GH1 a couple of days back just to go over it again - not that these songs are very far from my mind at any point anyway because they're just, you know, so great, they're always on rotation with me. But I noted that there really was quite a varied dynamic through the GH1.
You should hear GH2! Oh my God! GH2 is even more so because it goes from “Stone In Love” into “Walks Like A Lady,” into “Feeling That Way,” “Anything You Want It,” and “Suzanne.” I mean, it's just all over. And you'll jump from a Neve console to an SSL console. Are you kidding me? The frequency challenges when it comes to cutting vinyl is not forgiving. The lathes cutting head is not forgiving. There are certain sibilance issues that for some reason you have to…in the old days you would put a de-esser across the track to make sure some of the “S's” and some of the “T's” don't throw the cutting head into complete distortion so that when you play it back on vinyl, they're not friendly at all. So, instead of putting a de-esser on it, which was old school and limits the frequencies of cymbals and anything else like guitars, and clarity in the track can be limited – instead of doing that, I chose to put everything in ProTools and spend the time finding every “T”, finding every “S,” and listening to it on a test lacquer cutting of vinyl, on lacquer, ok? On acetate. I would cut the lacquer first, see if it splattered on the lacquer, and if it did, I would go back and cut all the “S's” and “T's” to sort of give them a little haircut at about 15 to 20,000 cycles. And they go by so fast that you can't tell. In ProTools you can stretch the file out, isolate that “T” to where you're not touching anything on either side, and then shim up on the high end and then put cross fades on it and close it back up. You could never do that in the old days. But, you can certainly do it now. The only deal is, it's extremely time consuming and that's what took so long. But I did not want to sacrifice the quality of the master fidelity with a de-esser. So, I did it the new way, which is spend hours upon hours with ProTools. Did that make sense?

Absolutely, yeah. How'd you learn to do that?
I love this stuff. I love it. I've been doing it for years. I love it.

I've read several interviews with you and you always seem really excited about the technology and the gear that you can use and you know your way around a studio.
I'm building a studio right now. They're wiring it. I live down in San Diego and I just converted a portion of my house into a small studio, enough to do drum tracking and stuff like that. And they're wiring it as we speak, and I'm kind of excited about that aspect. But I'll tell you what. One of my new passions is editing film.

The options that are available to “cheat” edits and move things around and give an emotional performance in the result of such edits is just phenomenal. I love it. That's just a side passion. But anyway, let's get back to music (laughing). So anyway, where were we? (laughing)

Well, anyway, the band was really, really a great band. We all busted our ass extremely hard to get in front of people so we could have an opportunity to hopefully let them love our music. And nothing could be more exciting than that.

Yeah, I was looking through some old notes and the tour schedule that you guys had back then was brutal.

Absolutely brutal. The Escape tour, in particular, I mean…
I was like a pitbull. I still have tons of energy. My girlfriend tells me all the time, “You're the most energetic person I've ever met.” But when I was younger, I was on fire. And, so I think that back in the day when the voice was fresh and young and I had that much energy, I kept up with that scheduled pretty good. Though it was difficult at times, I was able to keep up with it.

Well not many people can do four nights in a row, one off, another three nights. (laughing)
Not with blistering high frequency notes like that.

Oh, man!
And almost two hour shows, you know. It can steal from the other side (laughing).

Yeah, yeah. Well, what did you do to keep fresh at that time?
Well, what was funny about that was I wouldn't know what I did. Or maybe I should rephrase that; I didn't know what I had left until the next day. And that was the hardest thing to have to explain to the rest of the band members, the neurotic fear that I would be going through because I'm in one city tonight and all I know is I've got to give it everything and I'm not going to skate it. I'm going to put it out there. And I would. And I wouldn't know how much I borrowed from tomorrow's show until the next day.

So I'd wake up in the morning in fear. Do I have laryngitis? Is it gone? Is it there? So I would just try to speak on the phone or say something. And then I would be in fear. I couldn't try to sing because it's too early. So, I would just shut up and live in fear for the rest of the day until about 4 o'clock, when it's too late to cancel the show. And now I'm doing the soundcheck, and now, during the soundcheck is when I find out what I have for the night. But I did get to a point where I would try my best to not borrow too much of what I need for tomorrow because I need to make it across the week at least for that day off. Then I wouldn't talk for 24 hours.

In the time that you joined the band you guys out out five albums in pretty quick succession. You put out five albums in a period that bands today take to put out one. And that's including writing and touring! You must not have had a life outside the band.
No, that is your life. That is what you give yourself to because this becomes your life. This is your girlfriend. And she needs all your time. If you're going to make this relationship work, you've got to give her 100% of your time. There was no time for anything else. None. None whatsoever.

Yeah, ok. Is that why listening back is so emotional? Because it's such a huge chunk of your life?
It certainly is part of it. Along with the emotional aspect of it, is that my mother's been gone forever, my dad's been gone forever, and I'm an only child. I look back and think, I'm so grateful that my mother gave me her encouragement when I was young and then once I got in the band, she gave me her blessing so to speak. I was touring and I was dying to come home and see her. But she just did not want me to stop for one minute. She would just say, “Oh God! You're doing great! I saw the “Faithfully” video and it made me cry. I just love it. Just go. Keep going. You're doing great.” She was happy because she had me on television and she would read all the magazines and she would keep all these magazines. She followed it very closely and she kind of gave me her blessing, so to speak, to go away, to be gone. So I don't feel guilty whatsoever. She eventually did get sick and I then did lose her, but that's when I went back to her and left the band and hung out with her for a while. Yeah, but that being said, yes, it's a serious commitment. And by the way, it wasn't just for me. It was for Neal, for Jonathan, for everybody, for the band. You betcha. Everybody went through the same commitment because we were all together far away from everything together, out there. But we loved it! Don't you understand that?

Yeah, oh yeah!
We loved it! We lived for it, you know?

Oh, you can tell through the music, Steve. You can absolutely tell through the music that this is a band that's just on fire.
Yeah. But, let me just tell you: I remember when I was trying to get in the music business in Los Angeles. There was a club in LA called the Star Wood. And the Star Wood was down at the corner of Santa Monica and I think Fairfax. And it was one of the bigger rock clubs at that time along with the Whiskey and the Roxie in LA. And I remember going there and watching Journey perform. I remember watching Neal Schon with his white Stratocaster with his Twin Reverb Fender kicked back at an angle. And his Strat is plugged into a wah-wah pedal and the wah-wah pedal is plugged into his Twin Reverb, and the Twin Reverb is on 10. And all I can tell you is I saw him play back then. And he killed me. He just killed me.

I wasn't that excited about the rest of the players to be perfectly honest with you. Though, I respected them and understood them. But, standing next to Neal, he dwarfed them. And I said to myself, “That's what I need to get with. I need a guitar player like that.” Because it's always been Page and Plant. There are two lead instruments: lead guitar and lead voice. It's not lead bass. It's not lead drums. You know. The rock and roll thing always has these two lead instruments, this spectacular interchange of melodies. And so, years later, a friend of mine named Larry Luciano in San Francisco happened to know Neal. And that's when I first met him. He was actually playing with Azteca in a concert as he was actually a member of Santana at that time. And then years later, we ended up together. It's very bizarre. Very bizarre.

Well obviously, it was very much meant to be.
I think that's the case. But there were certain sequences of events that I can tell you exactly where the dominoes fell that led to me becoming the singer in Journey with Neal Schon.

And looking back… what a legacy of songs. Seriously. There are few bands out there that can come close.
And the funny thing about that is when you listen to these tracks on vinyl, not only do they sound unique, they sound emotionally so friendly on vinyl. Oh my God! After listening to it on vinyl, I didn't even want to hear it on CD! Because it just sounds like so where it was destined to go. It's where it was born. It's where it was headed. When we were recording, the target was, “how do we make this sound great on vinyl?” And all these steps along the way were geared towards making it sound amazing on vinyl. Then CDs came along. And people started adding more top and more bottom, more top and more bottom, and making it louder and louder. It didn't necessarily make it feel better, it just made it louder. And more bright. And you didn't hear the needle tracking in the groove. So, everybody thought, “Gosh, isn't that amazing, I don't hear a needle tracking. It's so clean sounding.” And that's true. I must admit, that was a plus. But when you go back to the sonic emotional aspect of analog, meaning a needle driving through a groove. It's amazing. And I just want to turn it up, and it's just so, so good. You just want to chew your teeth it sounds so, so good! (laughs) So, you know, it's just kind of exciting all over again is what I'm trying to say

Oh absolutely! Have you reached perfection as far as what you can do sonically with the old masters?
No. Absolutely not. Every circumstance where you're recording anything has its own unique challenges. So, every single track, like when you jump from “Chain Reaction,” you know that track right?

I know every track there is, Steve!
Right, well think about “Chain Reaction,” the way that sounds. You should hear that on vinyl. Then go to “Walks Like A Lady.” Now, those two tracks are so different, they have such different sonic challenges, they have such different emotional performance challenges, they have such different nuances to them that it does not sound like it's the same band at all. And that's the beauty, that's the diversity that people I think are starting to catch on to that I was so very proud of being a part of – that Journey could do “Chain Reaction” or “Separate Ways” and then turn around do “Walks Like A Lady.”

Yeah (laughing).
You know what I mean?! And then turn around and do “Good Morning Girl/Stay Awhile?” And then turn around and do “Don't Stop Believin'”? It sounds like a different band every time.

I must say that I am partial to your latter era, you know singing and recording. I'm a huge fan of the Raised On Radio album.
Wow, I really appreciate that because I think that was an amazing accomplishment. I think that album was a very adventurous departure I dare say. And, though it did not do as well as the rest, I think on that album you'll see an exploration of grooves and changes and vocal styles and harmonies and choruses that were different from anything that came before. I was proud of it because I thought that we needed to grow. And we could have very well just grown and become the next musical change. But, I had a feeling that people kinda wanted us to stay in a certain genre and not move that far.


They always do…
But at the same time, I think the band needed to grow you know, a bit. And I had just done my solo album, Street Talk.

I love that record too.
And Jon and Neal had that record. So when I got back to start writing the next record, they kinda liked some of it to where there were more R&B grooves and more R&B changes as a base of what they had seen me do on my solo thing. And, we kind of incorporated some of that. And it just kind of met somewhere in the middle, you know?

It sounds like it. The second half of the record has so much soul in it…its just unbelievable.
Give me an example, I'm curious of one that comes to mind.

Well, “Happy To Give” for one.
“Happy To Give” is one of those songs that Jonathan Cain and I were just messing around with. And it just had that digital presence to it to where it just sits there in the nicest, simple digital landscape, almost an ambient track before there was ambient music. You know what I mean?

Well, I've got to say at the time the record came out; there was nothing else like it.
I thought so too, but nobody picked up on it but you! (laughing)

I'm sure there are others. (laughing)
And I love that track, you know? It was an emotional sentiment that I was going through at the time…'where is that one, someone's who's happy, happy to give their love,' you know?

Well I've got to jump right in and interrupt you, Steve. I want to give you a compliment: this is what I love about your music and your songs. You pour your heart and emotion and soul in to it, and the fans can hear it. I can hear it. And I think that's what gives such a resonance with people.
Wow, that's so sweet. That's the nicest thing anyone's really said about my voice.

Well I mean, many people have copied your style. They may have the power or the range. Or maybe – not even the range because you're insane, but they don't have the soul is what I'd like to say.
Oh my goodness, that's the sweetest thing I've ever been told. Thank you so much for that. Um, I don't know what to say.

Well, as a listener I get swept up in it every time.
Oh, thank you very much. I can only add that I just don't stop singing until I start to believe it. And sometimes, I'm my worst enemy. And I'll walk past stuff that emotionally moves people but it doesn't move me yet. And I'll keep pushing and I can walk right past something that was good enough because I'm extremely difficult on myself.

I've picked up on that.
Yeah. For instance, I've got a large amount of songs and I've got them demoed up vocally and I haven't really sung them in a master approach yet because I don't want to sing them on my laptop with drum machines and keys when that might not be the basic track. I don't want to accidentally capture…I have done this. I've actually captured moments on my laptop that I probably could never do again. And hopefully I'll just transfer this to HD ProTools and keep some of that. But, it's a moment in time.


I'm going to come back to that Steve, but just on the subject of Raised On Radio. I just love where your voice went starting with Street Talk and then through Raised On Radio and onward from there.
You know what's bizarre? Do you know that Columbia Records and the Journey management never told me that I had a hit record in Australia? They never told me that “Oh Sherrie” was a hit. Do you know that that's the God's honest truth? I did not know until a friend of mine from Australia told me.

Wow, wow. Oh my God.
It's as if I wasn't supposed to know. I couldn't believe it! That it was a big hit!

I was actually going start the interview with this fact, that you are far better known here for “Oh Sherrie” than you are for Journey.
That's what someone told me and I never knew it until recently. And that's the “swear to God” truth!

To this very day, “Oh Sherrie” is still all over radio and Journey barely gets a listen. It was massive down here. It was just massive. And that was my introduction to you, because I'm a little bit younger.
That's where you first picked up on it?

“Oh Sherrie” was the first Steve Perry/Journey song I ever heard.
Oh, that's amazing. Wow.

And then I was sold from that point on.
Was “Foolish Heart” a hit there too or not?

Lesser so, but yes. It doesn't get airplay now, but…
Right, but “Oh Sherrie” still? Wow.

Yeah, it was massive, and the album was massive. If you say Journey, some people know and some people don't. If you say “Oh Sherrie,” oh yeah everybody knows that! (Laughing)
Oh my God, I did not know that until recently, and I mean within the last two years. And it's frightening to admit that to you. But it's the truth.

It's just hard to get Sony to know that, you know? They have the same mentality as “Let's do Rocky 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.”

You know, they want to do the safe move. They don't necessarily want to branch out and just believe in things. They're not big believers, you know? (laughing)

It must have been a big call for you to self-produce that album on their dime. It must have been hard to convince them?
They were scared to death. They thought that I was going to spend a lot of money and they weren't sure what I was going to do. But you know, I ended up doing it relatively inexpensively and quickly because I had great musicians. There were no computers back then. Everything you're hearing on the Street Talk record is absolutely performed in the studio and captured on a piece of tape. I mean if you threw hamburgers in the studio, you would get hamburgers on tape you know? So, there was not a computer to be found, no auto tuner existed. Nothing of today's era existed during '84-'85. So, that is real musicians like Larry Londin on drums, Bobby Glaub on bass, Craig Kramph on drums, Michael Landau on guitar…

What a legend he is!
I mean amazing players! Randy Goodrum on keyboards! I wrote “Foolish Heart” with him and he helped me with the lyrics of “Oh Sherrie.” And we wrote “She's Mine” together and that's him on the keyboards. I mean we're talking players who spent their youth reaching for the ability to perform with feel. And when these guys play, the performance is dripping with feel.

Absolutely! And that's what engages me, the listener. I don't want to hear false perfection. I want emotion and feel.
Right, right. Yeah, of course.

Don't take the life out of the record.
Well a good example of a band that reached for perfection, but didn't have a lot of R&B in them, but their perfectionist quality was so good and so amazing was Def Leppard.

Yeah, yeah I love Def Leppard!
Right! I love Def Leppard. But Mutt Lange took them to a pristine place of rock clarity and pristine performance to where it was something you could not ignore because it was so amazing. But it wasn't R&B (laughing)

No, no! (laughing)
Right? It was just amazing rock!

Yeah, yeah. Other end of the scale.
Other end of the scale, but equally amazing in its own right, you know?

Yeah, yeah, but you know what, Street Talk still sounds amazing, I can't wait to hear it on vinyl.
Oh geez, it sounds so good on vinyl!

And you know what, it sounds good on anything. Because those songs were just so alive.
Right. It was a special time in my life I think. I had just come to Los Angeles and had decided I was going to go ahead and do a solo record after Neal Schon had just done two with Jan Hammer. I told Herbie, our manager, “Well, he's done two. I told you if he does some solo stuff I'm eventually going do one too.” So I came to LA and I did a demo session with Niko Bolas, a brilliant engineer and in a small studio. It had an API console and it was a 3M tape machine and that was it. So we did this demo with Craig Kramph and some musicians and from those demos, just to see if I could have fun, came the song “Strung Out.” And that song “Strung Out” on the Street Talk record is the demo from those sessions.

Really? What a great song.
Yeah, so that was the qualification that told me that I could have fun in the studio by myself too. So, then I went back and recorded the rest of the record and wrote it with Randy Goodrum and a bunch of people.

Wow. I haven't told anybody I'm doing this interview, but I made a joke online saying “how can I fit 148 questions into 20 minutes, so…” (laughing)
No, please go ahead. I'll try to extend it best I can.

I appreciate it any time you've given me Steve.
No, no, no! Continue, we're good, we're good.

There's so much I'd love to ask you, but I just wanted to say thank you…
Well do, continue, please! I'll listen! I'll tell you anything you want to know (Laughing)

(laughing). I just want to say “Thank You” for some of your songs in particular. “Running Alone,” for example.
Right, you know John Bettis and I wrote the lyrics to that.

Oh, it's such a big song.
It was such a challenge to me. Do you know how much recently I have been using the lyrics in that song to keep me from depression? I have my own ups and downs because I'm an emotional person. I'm not on medication or anything, but I have my highs and lows like anybody else. But the lyrics in that song…

I've dealt with that myself.
Well the highs and lows of passionate people is just what comes with it. That's all there is to it. And I think once I started to understand that, I can sort of ride the waves and be a little more forgiving unto myself and not expect it to be something other than it is. But what helps me go through the lows lately has been the lyrics in “Running Alone.”

Is that right?
“The trick of the dreamer is keeping yourself from the blues.” And “I don't mind running alone.” I mean that lyric to me is something. John Bettis, who wrote a lot of songs for many people in Los Angeles is a great lyricist, just a straight up “smoke a pipe” kind of lyricist, you know? He really helped with that.

Well this is why some of your songs mean a lot to me personally, you can struggle with happiness when there's no reason.
I do, I do know that. People think, “Steve Perry should be the happiest guy in the world, what problems could he have?” Well let me tell you what problems Steve Perry has. The only problem Steve Perry has is that he's alive just like you are and he has to wake up in the morning like you do and he has to face the world exactly like you do. I'm no different than anybody else. I don't have some special coupon that excludes me from life on life's terms. There is no special coupon. Though, I'll tell you something Andrew: When I was younger I thought that if I could become famous and everybody would love me I would kind of have a special coupon. But guess what? The reality was that after I'd attained that, I realized that I am no different than anybody else. I still have to live life on life's terms.

Yeah. Yeah. Have you battled with that recently?
When Journey broke up for the second time, which was after I went back and got Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon and said “Why don't we make a record again?” And we decided to make a record, and we decided to call it Trial By Fire…when we got back together for that and we ended up breaking up again and breaking each other's hearts again. I'm just talking about one unto the other. I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong. It's just what bands sometimes goddamn do. When that happened a second time, I think it damaged all of us again. And, from that experience, they went on; I went away. From that experience, they went on with someone else. And I went away. I did. I've been gone. I just went away and tried to figure out how to live life on life's terms and just come off the ride. Just put my feet on the ground. I think that has been the challenge and also to allow myself, Andrew, to start dreaming again, because the dreaming is where the music is. But the trick of the dreamer is keeping yourself from the blues. See what I mean?

So what I'm trying to say is you can't embrace your whole life if you're shut down. I found out that I can't just run away and shut down. I'm losing the rest of my life doing that. So I started giving myself a chance to write music again. And that meant that I had to dream again. And if I get into the fantasy of dreaming again I'm going to have the blues again. And if I'm going to feel the blues, then I'm going to be depressed. And then if I'm going to be depressed, I'm going to write music. And if I write music, then I'm going to feel good again. And if I feel good again, I'm now back again on the rollercoaster. So, I thought in my mind it was better just to run away and not feel any of it. And you know Andrew, that worked for quite a few years but it certainly isn't a way to live life and I do not recommend it! (laughing) I do not recommend running from life, though I needed to. Because the break-up was so painful for all of us. And I'm not saying just for me, goddamnit. I'm saying for all of us. Please, I hope you print this. I want you to print this. The break-up was painful for all of us. But it necessarily had to happen.

Yeah. You can see from comments that have gone back and forth in past interviews. Neal pretty much says it as it is without a filter. You can take his comments as “Wow, that's hurtful” or whatever, but you can tell that he was hurt too and that's the way he expresses himself.
Sure, sure. I mean everybody has their way of expressing themselves. And everybody processes their anger in their own way. And so, you know, as I said one time in an interview a long time ago, it was a live interview on I can't remember…I think it was Bob Colburn. We were live via satellite and the band had just replaced me with their first singer, the first of three.

And they said, “The band is probably listening on our affiliate in San Franciso. What would you like to say since we've have about three, four minutes left in the program.” And I sat there and I said, “You know Bob, I really don't think there's any wrong here. I think everybody in their life does what they believe is right for them. I believe they're doing what they feel is right for them at this time in their lives and I'm doing what's right for me in my life. I don't think there's any wrong here. I think it's just people doing what they feel they need to do.” And that's okay.


Amazing. At this point I must say again that after Raised On Radio my favorite Journey album is Trial By Fire.

I just think that album has so much heart and soul in it.
Yeah. I think it was a great record, too. And I'm going to tell you something: we literally did it and we were insistent on doing it ourselves. Though there were a couple of members that wanted to bring some outsider writers in that were contemporary, I fought against it to be perfectly honest with you. I said “No” and I won't even tell you about it, who said it. I said “No.” I said, “Let's get together and be what we are. I didn't call you to get us back together for us to be somebody we're not. Let's just see what we've got right now.” So we went back and did it the way we always did. We wrote sketches, we rehearsed them, and we made cassettes and DAT tapes of rehearsal, went back and just worked on those, and just started to cultivate the ideas. And from all that came that record. And the song “Trial by Fire.” Do you know how that song came about?

I'd love to know, because it's one of my favorites.
Neal was at the rehearsal hall and, God bless Neal. He is absolutely, insanely committed to just noodling on the guitar, mindlessly all the time. And so he'd get there early and I'd be walking in, and I'm an early guy. And everybody else shows up about when they do. And I heard him noodling. And I walked in. He had just gotten a digital Echoplex. And the digital Echoplex allowed him to record about 3 or 4 loops and loop them wherever he wanted to. So he'd step on the pedal and play something. He had a drum machine linked in to that. He would step on it again and that would mean the end of that. As long as he did it in time, then it would just loop and it would allow him to play with himself while we're not there.

And he started playing this thing, this thing that was amazing, which was the solo of what later became “Trial By Fire.” And he's just playing this beautiful thing, the drums going (making drum sounds), and he's playing (humming the guitar solo melody). I go “What the fuck are you doing?!”

So I walk up and I just start playing bass with it. And I'm going (singing) “It's just another trial by fireee.”

[Yes folks, Steve Perry just sang to me….and he sounds great!]

You know and all of a sudden we're doing this thing. And Jon walked in, and believe me, it was just a matter of seconds, me and Jon wrote the lyrics and that song was done. And when my hip crashed, that song saved me.

Yeah, it did.


Wow, that's another song that I play a lot for myself, you know? (laughing) and I also play “Anyway” from For The Love Of Strange Medicine.
Do you know what that's about?

I'd like to know. It sounds like a goodbye song.
No it's not. I want you to read the lyrics again. It's about Journey. “We believed in music. Brothers til the end, a fire burned between us…” We did believe in music til the bitter end.
This is what the song's about – just about every time somebody gets close to being able to talk about something that really needs to be talked about, it would get too emotionally close. And the best I could do was “anyway, what was I saying?” You know what I mean?' Everybody does this, we go “anyway, it's not important.”

So if you notice the song does that. The character of the song goes [singing again!] “We believed in music, brothers til the end. Nothing stood between us, a fire burned within. Oh how I remember, wounded but alive. Lost in our… insanity… escaping to survive.”
It's about the band! It's about Journey and what happened to Journey within itself.

See what I mean? It really is. We were brothers til the very end. You can't become successful in such an endeavor like becoming a world-known rock band unless you really band together, which is where the term “band” comes from…unless you band together like war buddies and you're absolutely brothers til the end. Though you have your moments and you hate each other, you're joined at the hip because you have a mission. And we had that. We had that spark. We had that goalpost in our hearts, all of us. And it truly was a fire that burned inside us all. And that song was my homage to them and I don't think any of the Journey members ever heard it to be honest with you.

Okay, interesting. I can see every bit of what you're saying but I can also say it speaks to me on another level as well. Very personal. I just like the personal aspect of the song. You've opened yourself up and you're being very honest in the lyrics, the vocal is very raw, it just really speaks to me.
It was a great track. I got to write on that record, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't I write that one with Tim Miner?

I think you did, yes.
Tim Miner and I wrote that one along with a song called “Missing You.”

Yes, another great ballad.
And so, Tim Miner is just an amazing gospel artist. The guy's got an amazing voice; he's just one of those sort of like successful underground Christian artists. He's genius, he's truly genius. And I wanted to write with him, so I did.

And you used another Christian artist, Lincoln Brewster on that album.
That's correct.

What a fantastic guy he is.
Great, great. You know, I wish the solo tour could have come to Australia. That would have been un-be-lievable because that band we put together with Moyes Lucas on the drums, and Paul Taylor on keys, and Lincoln was unbelievable, and Todd Jensen on bass.

Oh, that's right, love Todd.
And everybody sang. All four of them sang and then I sang, so we had five really strong voices. So there were no samples, there was just really great playing.

I've got to say that “You Better Wait” is one of the best opening tracks on any album of any time.
Really? (laughing)

I love that song! That is just a massive song for me. I play it constantly.
Yeah, Sony didn't like it, just so you know.

Psh! What do they know?
What do they know? They've got their heads so far up their butts they don't know what they're doing. (laughing)

It's too bad because it used to be a music company. Somewhere along the lines it became something else.

Well, it became Sony Corp. didn't it?
Yes, it did unfortunately.

Let me jump straight back. 1994, you come off the road at the start of 1995 and the solo tour was finished, right?

Surely…at that time…you had no way of knowing that it would be your last tour.
If I recall – hold on, you're giving me to the “way back” machine, hold on, let me pull this up in my head. The solo tour was my last tour. Yes. I had no idea. I was going to keep going but I got very sick. I got on the East Coast and if you look up the weather of that year, the East Coast got blanketed by incredible, large doses of snow from the top to the bottom of the East Coast. And we were out there and I got pneumonia. And I ended up in a hotel taking antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to get my lungs to calm down. And I couldn't get 'em to calm down. Finally, I had to fly back to my doctor out here. I left the trucks and crew out there for a few days to see what he said. And he said, “You need to go to bed or I'll put you in the hospital.” And I went, “Well shit.”

So I had to shut the tour down. And it was such a fun tour! It was the first time I'd ever done a solo tour. So, you know, I had so much fun reconnecting. This is going to be funny and it's a little bit over the top, but I guess it's because I was having so much fun. If you go on YouTube and you type in “Steve Perry,” I think if you type in F-T-L-O-S-M…

Yeah, I think you're talking about something I've already got and seen many times.
Yeah and if you go there, you'll see a bootleg of me having fun with the audience in the middle of this thing where I start talking to them saying, “I want the girls to sing to Stevie one time” because I had not been in front of an audience in so long! Oh, I had not been in front of an audience in so long and I was having so much fun and I want the girls to sing “I miss you Stevie!” And they sing, “I miss you Stevie” (laughing)

And then, and you know I'm looking in the audience and this guy's crossing his arms thinking “What the hell are you doing?” And I said “Well if you were up here, you'd do it, too!” you know? (laughing)

Because it was just so much goddamn fun! You know? (laughing)

I've got a VHS tape of this and I think it's New York or Toronto or something, one of the shows.
Oh, it might be the Beacon. It's either the Beacon Theater in New York or Toronto, you're right, I'm not sure which it is.

Yeah, yeah. I've watched it over and over – a bootleg VHS, I love it.
Yeah, it's fun. It's really fun. I really had a blast on that tour and it was a thrill to be rolling down the highway again in a bus. There was just something magical about rolling down the highway in a bus. There's just something great about it.

Well you speak so fondly of that…and your job for so many years was being the lead singer, the front man. You can't turn that off, surely?
I have turned it off, though. I had to turn it off and go away because it was too painful. I did. When my hip crashed and I had to have a hip replacement, that was so, so crazy. I never had anything stop me like that. I was a pit bull. Nothing stopped me. I could do anything. All of a sudden, guess what? You can't do it. I was fighting and resisting and pushing harder and it was just killing me. It really got my attention, and I had to sort of, I had to grow up a bit into the fact that I had to slow down. I had to have a hip replacement, and the band was telling me when they thought I should do it. And I said you know what, “Major surgery like this is not a band decision.”

You know, I'm sorry, it's not! So I said that I would get it done, but I didn't get it done quickly enough. I must say that they just wanted to get on the road. And, so there was an ultimatum given to me and I don't respond well to ultimatums.

Well I don't either. I can understand that.
Especially, Andrew, since I had gone back and put the band back together for Trial by Fire. But I have to respect the fact that they were impatient and they wanted to go out there. They were trying to get me to either go to surgery right away or they wanted to move on. And so I had to respect that at some level, looking back. At some level, I had to respect it. At the time, I fuckin hated it! I hated them for doing it; I hated them for giving me an ultimatum. But now I can look back with clear eyes, you know. I can't blame them; they just wanted to get going. I was going to go to surgery, and I did. But not on their timetable. So I did that. I had my hip replacement and the rest is history. They've gone on and I'm where I'm at.

This is a hard one Steve. Do you like the fact that they're out there playing songs you wrote with them, helping continue the legacy of Journey music? It must be a really hard thing to emotionally process still.
I will tell you that in the beginning it was exactly what you said. It was emotionally very difficult to process it because I fought hard to get in to that band, I fought hard to be the best I could for what the band needed a singer to be, and I always wanted to be part of writing the best music that could be part of all that. And I did not want to see it become anything less than the integrity that we achieved together as a result of all that! So, I did not want to see that happen. But, it was going to happen anyway. So, it looked like that's where it was going. Life had showed up and there was a fork in the road between us. So, we went separate ways dare I say, not making a joke. And that's okay. Now, I look back at it as the most painful time of my life. But you know what? They need to love their lives. They love performing out there all the time. The fans love the songs we wrote.

They do, they really do.
I just think that it's really okay. It's really okay.

It's amazing to hear you talk this way.
It certainly is a wonderful gig for all three singers that were there after I was gone. It was a wonderful gig, you know?

One of those singers is actually one of my best buddies in the whole world, Jeff Scott Soto.
Uh huh? By the way, of all three singers – now I've not heard the other two, but I know in his own right, with his own music, with his own songwriting ability, this guy's a very talented guy! And of all three maybe they should have stuck with him and continued to write music, but that might have required that they let him in emotionally a little more? (laughing)

Maybe? (laughing)
Maybe… But I think that might have been a challenge. And so I think that possibly, he was the one that I think would have been a growth because he brought a lot of his own self in to it.

Oh, I agree with you so much. And do you know how much he loves you!
Well he's a very talented singer-songwriter and could have been an incredible addition to the band. I don't know what happened, because then they've moved on and now they have their third singer. So I don't know the workings and I've listened to really none of them to be honest. I just know his reputation is really great, I have friends who talk about him.

He'll be proud to hear that.
Lora & Cyndy (Fan Asylum) are amazing fans of his and I keep in touch with them.

They're great gals, yeah.
Oh, ridiculously great girls.

And by the way, they've never once taken sides on any of this. Do you believe that? That's how spiritually fit these girls are. They are so spiritually fit, they love everybody and don't want to get in the middle of it. It's incredibly wonderful.

I love you as a solo artist every bit as much as I do as part of Journey. So for me, it's such an honor to talk to you now because this completes the Journey circle for me. You know, I've talked to everybody and I love that.
Well, we have to move on Andrew, I hate to say, but we've got to.

That's all right Steve, can I ask you one more? I have to go back to talk about new material. I want to know about here and now. You've come out in interviews and said you've got 50 songs, or you've written songs, you've had some guys in to record for you.

Where are you at and when are we going to see you back on the stage?
Well where I'm at is I've been sketching everything in my laptop in just a demo sketch form. And the good news is I've got some really fun moments in there, great things going. The bad news is that they're demos right now and they're just sketches. And I like 'em. And I've converted an area of my house into a studio big enough to track some drums if I need to, so that should be done I would say in the next month or so. So my plan is to get in there and start recording some of these with musicians and start trying to get some tracks actually built on some of these songs. But that being the case, the only thing that would stop you from hearing it would be me because I'm my own worst enemy. I have always been. I'll play things for friends and they just think they're really great. And they'll tell me the truth if they're not.

I'll say, “Gee, my voice is a little out of tune here. I've got to sing this again. This bugs me, that bugs me.” And they'll say, “I'm sorry, I don't' hear that.” But I do. And so, you know, that's the problem. So the only problem I have is that I'm the only problem I have, you know? (laughing)

(laughing). Well stop! Stop!
Well I'm trying. But it's always been that way whether it was recording with Journey or the solo album; I would never stop until I was happy. But I have been known to walk past some emotional moments reaching for things that I think could be better. So that all being the case, I have to be careful because some of this stuff might be good enough as it is and I don't even know it. I'm going to have to really start to have to look at it.

Well, you need to send all the songs to me to be as the impartial judge and I will do the work for you!
Yeah, okay (laughing). If you come to San Diego, I'll play 'em for you! (laughing)

I'm on the plane tomorrow! My wife might not like it, but I'm on my way!
(laughing). Well I have been playing some of these sketches and demos to people so I can get a barometer of which ones to focus on first. But the thing is, when I was signed to Columbia and I was in Journey and I was signed to Columbia as a solo album, they're sitting there. They're ready to go, they're ready to roll. And there's a certain time limit that you have to get you motivated which does not allow you to either not release it or go back and fix it. You say, “Well I guess that's it, I guess it's going out!” So that's missing. I'm not signed to anybody. I'm free. I can do whatever I want. But that's the good news and the bad news, you know? (laughter)

Yeah, well I'll send you a dollar and sign you to my really small label that I've got here.
(laughing). Well I need a label in Australia!

Well I'm here, I'm ready. Let's go. I'll give you until December! (laughing)
Okay, that's good? See. I do need a time limit. It's true. You know, there's an old adage in the music business that if you have until December for instance, to do the record, you will get the record done. If you have until June to do the same record, it will take until June! (laughing)

Yeah. (laughing)
You know?! It's true! It's kind of the artistic mentality I think that kind of comes with it. Now you are going to transcribe and print everything I said 'cuz I really don't want you to filter. Because what I feel and what I say is what I feel and what I say. I really do love the Journey guys and I know in their hearts they love me. Maybe we don't like each other like we once did. Or maybe we never really liked each other to start with. But that's all okay! Because you know why? Because I know deep down we love each other and when we were together, we were good. And we don't have to be together to know that. We just can know that. Right?

Yeah, for sure.
We should just know and the fans should know that I think deep down underneath the calamity and each of our own stupidity is the fact that we really do love each other. Maybe we don't like each other that much, but we do love each other.

And whether we're together or not, what we did together proves what I just said.

Absolutely, oh absolutely. And you've got a legacy that few bands can touch, if any. Have you been too far removed from the band now to ever go back for anything, any occasion, even a one-off…anything?
That is the most difficult question you could possibly ask me.

Yeah, which is why I saved it until the very end.
I can only say at this point that I have an absolute commitment to do what I started which was, to come out of what I would call a removal of myself from any hope to be near music again and allowing myself the right to suck and try to write music again. If I don't give myself the right to suck, I won't write music.

Well you're being hard on yourself again! (laughing)
No, no let me finish! I have to allow myself the opportunity to dream and see what I can find because I don't sit down and decide I'm going to go to Ralph's (grocery store) and write music. That's not how I do that. I just have to be open enough to suck if I have to and while I'm doing that, I'll find something wonderful. And then I'll follow that.

Well, I don't think you could suck if you tried!
Oh no. I'll play you some shit, I can suck! (laughing) I'll play you some shit where I really suck! (laughing) Then you'll go, “Steve you're right, there's a few things where you kinda suck!” (laughing)

(laughing) No, come on!
The truth is, it was a hard come back to this point. So I cannot think of anything more than finishing my studio and recording this music that I have laying around. I can't think of anything more important right now than that in my life. And I think Journey's doing what they love doing, and they've been doing it since 1998. And I'm doing what I'm doing, and that's about it.

Yeah. And you're still writing new stuff all the time now?
Yeah, I am. I am. I just came up with one the other day.

Well, it's been a real pleasure talking with you Andrew. I'm sorry it took so long for us to finally get together. I really hope that you do post my latest effort which is an eBay auction that benefits Susan G. Komen, ( where people can win a 15-minute phone call from me and an autographed copies of GH 1, 2 on vinyl along with my Street Talk album. All proceeds go to breast cancer research so, that's what we're doing. I think we're over $10,000 right now. If you can't afford to participate in that auction for whatever reason, then you can go to the special donation page we have set up on the Komen for the Cure site ( and donate a dollar. Because it would be really appreciated.

Yeah. I've already given it a plug and I'll certainly give it another good plug for sure.
Listen, you take care of yourself and thank you for such an insightful, wonderful interview. I had no clue that I was going get into all this emotional stuff with you but I think what happened is it's overdue because you and I have never spoken. And I hope you got what you were looking for and I hope I was clear.

Very much so, Steve. It's been 15 years' worth and I really appreciate your time.
All right Andrew, we'll do it again I promise.

Steve, one final thing before I say goodbye. If I do a festival for the 15th anniversary of my web site next year – can I at least look you up to ask you come and play?
Well you can certainly bring that to my attention, but I can't tell you what I'm doing the rest of this day! (laughing)

Exactly! (laughing)
So I have no clue, I mean, you know, my life has made some left turns on me that I didn't see coming. So I can't make any promises to any one anymore!

Well of course not!
But we'll certainly talk about it again somewhere down the line.

Thank you Steve! You've got to get this record out!
Alright, take care!

Alright, bye.

I hope everyone enjoyed the interview - look forward to hearing your thoughts and thank you again to Steve Perry for taking the extra time to chat.


c. 2011 / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed with thanks, by Ehwmatt.



RIK EMMETT - The MelodicRock Interview



Rik Emmett: No More Pink Elephants.

Andrew from Rik.
Hello Andrew.

A great pleasure to talk to you.
Well it's nice to talk to you too.

It's been too long. We did an email interview about many years ago or several years ago at least, but never a phone interview and I'm really pleased to touch base with you.
That's great, it's nice to talk to you too.

How are things? Where have I reached you, at home in Canada?
Yeah, I'm sitting in my studio and all is right with the world. The Toronto Maple Leaves hockey team has had a lovely victory this evening. Between interviews I was watching them play hockey and it takes me back to my childhood. When they win I feel good, when they lose I feel like something's not right.

Where about it Toronto or in the area do you live?
I live in Mississauga which is sort of a western bedroom community. It's a city in its own right.

Yes, I lived on Queen St. West in Toronto for about a year in '93.
Oh yeah?

Loved the place.
Yeah, Toronto is a fantastic city. I mean I've seen a lot of places and I'm always happy to come home. I do like my hometown. I'm a bit of a homebody kind of guy.

It's a great city. It's a big city without that big city presence or without the sort of intimidation isn't it?
Yeah, it's not bad that way. It's starting to get bad in terms of traffic. We're starting to have the same kinds of problems that every major metropolitan city faces in terms of traffic but it has a nice vibe to it. You sound like you're calling from Australia.

I've never had the opportunity to travel there and I've heard some fantastic wonderful things about that, so one day I hope to come and visit there.

Yeah, absolutely. I thought we had you down to do some guitar clinics at one stage or a couple of proposed solo tours.
You know the thing that happened about, I guess maybe three years ago now or something, and Rick Wharton had set something up, and a guy had even sent a deposit to start booking the air fares, and then he just kind of disappeared. I don't know what happened. It was gonna be a solo thing and come down and do some guitar clinics, play some festivals and then the guy just literally sort of disappeared off the face of the earth.

Yeah, it happens. It's the industry for it isn't it?
Yeah, I guess. (laughter)

Well, you've got Airtime out, which is great. You've always been making music all the while but I suppose this goes back to your core audience doesn't it?
I guess if there's still a core audience around that acts like a core audience.(laughing) I don't know if that's necessary true after all these years. Certainly I know from the reaction to the record over the last little while that there were a lot of fans that were anxious that I would return to hard rock at some point and make a record that touched on a lot of the things that Triumph had done in its day and traveled around in that kind of ballpark and did those kinds of things.
So it's been fun and it certainly seems as if there's a lot more interest in this record than say in some of the smooth jazz or classical guitar things that I've done. I guess it's a much bigger audience again and so I realized oh yeah, Ok, there is something to be said for strapping your guitar on and turning your amp up to 11. It makes people notice it a little more.

What a position to be in to be able to have such a lengthy career and just make records whenever you feel like it basically.
It is a privilege. In some ways it's liberating and in other ways it's weird to have expectations placed upon you. I mean, I'm not complaining but it kind of strange that the way our world is in terms of stylistic kind of demographic shoeboxing, you know. You have to live in this pigeonhole. How dare you come out of that pigeonhole, you're not supposed to do that? When rock and roll sort of started to spread its wings and really take off during the 60s and 70s it did seem to have more of an eclectic kind of nature to it and a more embracing kind of progressive nature. Then slowly but surely the world became subdivided up into different camps. I mean it's not like the different camps didn't already exist but we live in an age now of a kind of niched demographic kind of marketing and it makes it a little hard to be an eclectic kind of person or artist or musician. But as you say, I am kind of lucky that I am the guy that used to be the guy so you'll indulge me a little bit and that's OK so now I'll indulge you back, so hear's some of the old stuff and here's some stuff that's in the vein of the old stuff. Maybe I'm twisting a little bit to my own ends, but don't worry I'm not gonna make it too uncomfortable for you. So there is a relationship that exists with your audience and with your past and with expectations place upon you so you cope with those and deal with them. It's part of the ongoing chemistry in the whole affair.


Airtime definitely touches on some of the old Triumph sound but you're also pushing the envelope forward a little bit which is interesting to hear.
I felt that we broke ground without making it too uncomfortable for fans that would be melodic rock and hard rock kinds of fans, and maybe even heavy metalish kinds of fans. But by the same token I think we sort of set ourselves up so that maybe we can move a little bit further afield next time. There's a tiny bit of progressive nature in what was going on on the Liberty Manifesto record so I'm thinking next time Airtime will be able to take a few more chances and have some adventures and then maybe people will kind of be a little bit more open minded about it.

I'm very happy that you're talking about next time. This one took a little while to get together. Was it the length of time recording the album or actually shopping a deal, because you didn't rush it did you?
No there were a whole bunch of things that played into it. I mean when we first started, when Mike and I first got together he was just after me to play some guitar on some things he was doing, different sort of recording projects that he had going in his studio where he was sort of functioning as a producer.
Then it was, well maybe we should write a few things together, and then I think Shotten had an agenda all along but he was very kind of subtle and moved at a slow pace pushing me along. I was a little reluctant and I'll admit it and I didn't necessarily feel any giant need to be making a rock record but he kept insisting that this would be a great thing, and it would be lots of fun and I should embrace this, and we'll start writing and it'll turn into something and then it was 'hey Rik you should sing these things' and I'm like 'oh no, you should sing them' then 'oh, no, no Rik you should sing it, people have been waiting to hear you sing rock for a long time'. So then I sort of got into the spirit of it and said 'I think I'll play bass guitar' so I tried a couple and I said 'Gee this is kinda fun do you mind if I try and play everything?'.
Of course it takes a lot more time to do that. You could get a much more competent player to play it in a shorter period of time, but you know I was now kinda getting into this whole homegrown two of us against the world kind of approach. But we went through a lot of stuff. Mike went through a divorce and the song Moving Day is about that. I wrote the lyrics about the fact that he was going through this very heavy time period where he's got two boys and it was rough.
He was having to adjust to becoming a single dad and dealing with that and the kids are away with their mom 3 or 4 days a week and he's coping with that. Then his brother committed suicide and that was a heavy duty thing that knocked a whole bunch of time out of the middle. Then my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer and he passed away back in September. So there was a lot of stuff that came up that was personal stuff and then there were the regular kinds of things that you mentioned like shopping the record. He started down the road a couple of times with a few different labels as we chatted and negotiated sending emails back and forth.
It's a different world now. My expectations of what constitutes a deal and even Mike's from his Von Groove days. You know people are not necessarily as willing to bank on the future and make as much of an advance as they used to and all of those kinds of things. So there was an education process that we had to go through, or I guess a re-education process about the state of the business.

Yeah, it's not real good is it?
No, no it's not healthy. And so, those things all took their time and the other thing was of course that the biggest concern for Mike and I at the bottom of everything was simply that the record be really good. We wanted to make it sound good and we wanted it to be mixed good so we had Ricky Anderson help us a lot. He's a guy, because Mike and I had done so much over-dubbing, lots of overdubs and lots of guitar harmony parts so the record ended up being very thick and we had lots of production stuff going on. So we needed somebody who had a lot of expertise in handling upwards of 60 or 65 tracks for a song.

Yeah, so Anderson was very good at that and he helped us through that stage. Then I was going through this stuff where I was sort of having all of this reunion stuff happen with the Triumph guys. So that was knocking a hole in things. Then Gil was saying you've gotta come into the Metalworks and you gotta master here and you gotta use Nick Blagona so that added a little chunk of time onto the back end of it. That was something that just helped get the quality of what we were after to naturally I took advantage of that.

Oh you've got a great sound, absolutely.
Well thanks. Anyway, so that's the long answer. It was a kind of convoluted story and it did take a long time to get it done.

But now you've got the structure in place you can hopefully do it quicker next time.
Yeah and in fact, that's exactly, we've been kind of talking around it and I've been doing all these interviews and stuff and it's the logical question that everybody asks. Yeah, I do think we should be able to and hopefully we won't have all the sorrow and grief and horrible, terrible stuff that happened. I hope my wife won't divorce me. (laughter)

You've been together a long time.
Yeah, she's put up with a lot.


You remind me of, you know this gentleman very well, a very good friend of mine, Jim Peterik. Who is an absolute, I mean I love the man, he's just fabulous, but you know he's in the same boat. He's in this crazy industry but he's managed to keep a sane sort of family life on the side.
Yeah I think it's a question of, and like you say I know Jim very well, in fact's he's the guy who gave me the song title idea for the song Rise so he's got a little piece of that on the album.

Oh good, I forgot the writing credits.
Oh yeah, Rise was like, I'd sent him a couple of the tracks and he'd sent back some ideas and stuff, and I wasn't knocked out with the direction he was going. But he had a line in the lyrics for the song that became Rise about a phoenix rising from the ashes and it tied so beautifully to some of the subtext that existed in the record. Like Liberty is a song about post 9/11 and what do you do when you're trying to rebuild your whole concept of freedom and liberty and those kinds of things.
Of course there was also the subtext of me being the guy that used to be in Triumph and here I am returning to rock, so what am I trying to do rebuilding the whole phoenix from the ashes kind of thing. So that really hit home with me, that that was a really nice idea for a lyric. So I sort of stole that line and it became part of the chorus of the song called Rise and I thought it would be unconscionable of me if I didn't at least give Jim a piece of the tune because he'd kind of been the inspiration.
Anyway, I've gone and played in Chicago and played on some of his shows and things and yeah, he's a great guy. I think that Jim lives for the music. I doesn't live for anything else but how great the song can be and how great the music can be. And because he's a guy like that he's got a lot of integrity and personal humility because he know the music is this sort of infinite challenge and he's in love with that.
So I think when he found a girl and build a life with and have kids with and stuff that he knew he had something good and meaningful and true and right because he's a guy who understands that stuff. There're lots of guys in rock and roll who don't really have a grip on that. Their grip is more on the idea of wanting to be a star and wanting to have fame and fortune and all of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with that either. I'm not putting it down but it ends of being kind of a shallower kind of existence and those people tend to crash into one thing and burn, then crash into something else and burn, and crash into something else and burn……(laughter)

I see it, absolutely. You've got the European deal for this record with Escape, how is it coming out in Canada or the US?
We did that on our own. It's not like we didn't have some offers but we also made a deal in Japan with Marquee so it's out in Asia as well. And we did talk, again this goes back to your question about the length of time, there was a certain period of time when we had people saying, 'no wait don't got yet, we've got an offer, we want to make an offer, we really like you' so we say OK we'll wait, we'll wait and we waited.
Then when the offers came when I measured them against what I knew I could do off my own site in the first few months because I'd been putting out my own little records and I knew this one would do at least as well as one of my own little records. So then I realized, well the state of the business is so awful and so terrible that these guys can't do any better than I can do. They can't help me so I might as well just do it myself.
So that's what we've done. I put it on for sale through Maple Music and we've done great the first few weeks. We're moving some product and we're doing fine and the big thing of course is that I'm not indebted to anybody else. I own my own masters and we own our own publishing so it's ours free and clear. I mean, we've already made a license deal to have one of the songs in a movie, a feature film.

That's great. In Triumph you sort of came up or evolved through the whole traditional label set-up dealing with the same label for years but as a solo artist you soon diversified. You were one of the first people out there really using the internet to its full advantage.
I know there's been some stuff written about me and media things that have said that and it's nice to read that people sort of want to give me that credit but I don't necessarily see myself as to much of a pioneer because it wasn't like I couldn't see other people and get ideas from them and started saying 'ooh that looks like a good idea, why don't I try that?' I do think that for a guy in my position I might have been one of the first guys to say I don't think the old system works and I'm willing to jump ship right away and try something new because I don't want to be hanging around on what looks to me like a sinking ship. In a sense that goes right back into 1988 with Triumph.
I really did get a feeling that if it stayed the way it was, it was doomed. It was unhappy from the inside out, and it seemed to be getting unhappy from the outside in. The world was changing and grunge was starting to happen and the face of radio was changing and so much was going through a huge evolution.
Then of course the internet came along and that really started to change things. It's not like I couldn't look and see, say like the idea of doing network shows coming off my own website. That came from Patrick Moraz, the guy who'd been the keyboard player in Yes. I'd seen him essentially booking them so his brother was actually running a business off of Patrick's site. So I went 'well that's a clever idea why wouldn't I do that?' I could look at Ani DiFranco who had done an incredible job of setting up her own label and appealing to a certain small demographic and building her own independence. Loreena McKennitt had done it. She was a Canadian who was a Celtic harpist. A very small kind of humble beginnings almost like a busker in a way in playing small festivals and things. She built it into a huge kind of international thing pretty much on her own as an independent. So it's not like I couldn't look around and go hey there're other people doing this.
It's just a question I think of having the courage of your own convictions. You have to say 'look, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, I'll pay to make a record, I'll pay to manufacture it, I'll pay to try and market it and little bit and have my own website to do this'. Part of the giant deceit and conceit of the record business was that all of the pre-production, production, manufacturing, and marketing of a record, record companies could turn around and say 'well geez, I'm sorry artist, I know we sold a million records and we made 10 million bucks, but we don't owe you any royalties because it was just way too expensive to try and do this'.
Well in truth, over time it became clear there was a lot of monkey business going on with the way they did their accounting. They got to be the manufacturer, the banker, the accountant, you know, they got to be everything. When the scales started to fall from people's eyes they realized, hey, wait a sec. At the same time the digital revolution was occurring and it was getting cheaper and cheaper to make records all the time and now anybody with a laptop and a microphone can be a recording artist. It hasn't necessarily made things better in the sense that we've got so much better quality music out there. (laughter) There's just so much more music out there and a lot of it is pretty awful. Now it's hard to get heard through just the fact that there's so much competition and so much noise. It becomes more a question of marketing than a question of talent and ability. So who's gonna be a patron of this? Who's gonna help artists go through the learning phase of becoming a good artist, becoming a good writer, becoming a great recording artist by being able to spend a lot of time in the recording studio learning? These things are expensive propositions and there aren't any record companies anymore to do it. We've got a lot of people teaching themselves. I don't know if it's necessarily gonna result in a lot of great recording artists that the world gets to find and recognize, but let's hope it happens.


Yeah, I hope so too, but for an artist to have the longevity of Triumph or Led Zeppelin or any other band like that it seems a fair long shot doesn't it?
Again I think it's probably a numbers game. If you look back in the past and try and count how many bands actually got the opportunity to make their second album you would probably find that there weren't that many. There were a lot of acts that would make a record and they'd be dropped. You know, one hit wonders that came and went. The business constantly fed itself on that part of the paradigm too. It's not like it didn't exist. There were less bands in the 60s and 70s. There was less radio, there was less play listing, it was a narrower, smaller kind of a world.
Now it's widened out and there are so many demographic slices but now it's just as hard to break through to the maid stream of any one of those demographic slices and it's ultra-uber-competitive. Certainly the whole kind of paradigm has changed and yet the odds probably aren't much different. I'd venture to say that there are probably 10,000 bands that started today and another 10,000 that broke up. You know, because they make records and they tried to do it independently and spent all of their own money and all of their Uncle Louie's money and all of their Aunt Maybelle's money. Now that's it. Their patronage has run out and their own bank account is empty and they go yeah, we'll break up this band and we'll go see if we can't get something else off the ground.

Yeah, absolutely, I mentioned Led Zeppelin a moment ago and thinking of that, they say never say never on things. Does the induction of Triumph into the Hall of Fame last year help freeze hell over for you guys?
I think it's safe to say that hell has sort of frozen over in the sense that I never thought I'd ever talk to them again in my lifetime. It was eighteen years that I hadn't.

Was it that long really? Well, I suppose it is, yeah, wow.
Yeah, like it had ended very unhappy. So it had been a long time. Actually my brother getting sick and me going through the process of sitting with him and talking with him, I phone him every night and we'd have conversations on the phone. I mean, he was in a life and death kind of circumstance, so when you have those kinds of conversations with people they tend to get right down to the important stuff in a hurry. He would say to me when the invitation came, and it's not like those hadn't come along from time to time over the course of the years, but I'd always rejected them.
But when this one came along I said, 'well what do you think?' and my brother said 'well look, opportunity comes and knocks every now ant then, and life is short'. That was never a more poignant statement than when it came from him under those circumstances. And he said 'you've been carrying around a lot of negative baggage for a long time and this is an opportunity for you to put it behind you and move on and try and find something better. Move on to a better circumstance. You should try and take advantage of those opportunities because they don't come along all the time'.
So on my brother's insistence that was really why I decided to try and reconcile with Gil and Mike.
It was awkward. It was not easy at first. As I've said in many interviews since, there was more than one pink elephant in that room where we were sitting around having coffee. I think we were all determined to try and ignore them as much as we possibly could, and I even said to them 'Guys this will never work of we revisit any of the negative stuff, if we try to talk about it again, if we try to rationalize or justify positions that we took that'll never work. The only way this is gonna work is if we just move ahead from here and then if we do revisit the past we only do it to wax nostalgic about good things and talk about how much fun this was or how crazy this was'.
Then it didn't take us that long to get to the point where we could share stories where we were laughing about things that happened and anecdotes.
Because it had been a long history and it had been a good one. It had a lot of success and it had good things to be able to be positive and proud about. So once we got there, that made it easy to go to the actual award ceremony itself and then nothing but good vibes from that. Geez when you actually get into talking to media again and then we were in a room with old radio dogs and record company guys and you would have figured if we could put all of the heard and soul of all these people together we might be able to build one good one.(laughter)
These are music business guys after all. They're cynical and these guys are 'Integrity, what, I've never even heard of that word.' (laughter) But it was quite, it was something, really something to see all of them kind of giving a heartfelt standing ovation and some tears in some eyes and stuff. And I felt, geez, I never even realized that at this level with guys like this there was that much kind of respect and affection. Then of course you start doing media and you realize wow, even the media and then of course fans. They go, oh God, when are you gonna do it again and then the flood gates are open and here it comes. So we have sat down and talked about the possibility and the potential of what might happen in the future and there are some more of these kinds of industry event things that will arise in the future. It looks like, but I'm not at liberty to talk about them right now but I think some other things are gonna happen.
And then there are offers that are coming, and do we maybe want to play a one off here, do we want to do a couple over here, do we want to do a giant tour? Then of course because of Led Zeppelin and the Police and Van Halen and all these others who have had such huge interest, it seems like sort of a natural spin-off and people get interested in the possibility of a Triumph thing.
But Mike and Gil haven't played in such a long time and when we sat down to talk that was kind of a central issue. There's no point in us doing it unless when we do it, it resonates with energy and quality that existed when we first started and tried it as young guys. And we're not young guys anymore. So for Gil, at this age and stage of his life, he's got a young family that he's just, you know, second marriage, second wife and the kids are still young. You're not gonna want to go off on the road for a long time.
Plus he started this huge sound and light business that's a multi-million dollar thing and he's devoting all of his time and energy to it. Then he's got the studio still running and he's got a school in conjunction with that that requires a lot of time and energy. So he said look, I know these offers are coming in an people are talking about Memorial Day of this year, 2008, and I couldn't really even look at this until maybe Memorial Day of 2009 to give myself time to get back in drumming shape again. He hasn't played drums for almost a decade and a half or something like that. So that's the way that got left. We said ok, fine, we'll revisit it again on a time schedule where we might work up to May of 2009. (laughter)

That's cool.
Yeah, it was cool, and it was very, no pressure you know? No body was pressuring anybody else it was all just kinda like we don't have to do this, there's no need to do it. We would never want to do it just for the money but of course there'd be no point in doing it of there was none. And Triumph was a band that was always known for sort of large scale productions and very high quality kind of productions. That also became part of the conversation about geez, we're not just gonna try to throw together a few roadies and pack it all in the back of a van and show up and be the opening act for somebody. That's not gonna happen. So anyhow, that's the way it all got left.

Well, I'll look forward to the next part of that. Were you aware that the entire catalog's about to be re-released in Japan again?
I just did an interview with someone else that mentioned it. I was talking to Khalil who's the Escape Music guy and he was telling me, and he said that he knows who's doing there in Japan and he's a huge collector and it's coming out and he asked of I'd like to get it? And I went, yeah sure, but the truth of the situation, and I don't mean this in any negative way at all, but Triumph is like literally, none of my business.
I don't have anything to do with it. I got bought out of it and I don't participate in it, so when those things happen they're decisions that are made by Mike and Gil and they don't have anything to do with me. So here I am doing a round of promotion for the new Airtime thing and naturally people want to talk about Triumph but I'm not really out here in the market place again trying to promote Triumph. That'll be their job when these things happen if in fact they take much interest in it, but they seem to be able to come up with a new DVD or something every now and then. I know that when I'm signing autographs after gigs and things I get new stuff put in front of me and I go 'What the heck is this?'

That must be a funny feeling.
It is kind of strange. But I mean, I'm in show business. If I'm gonna let strange things throw me…

…you are in the wrong business.
(laughter) Yeah because something strange comes along about every five minutes.

Absolutely, look, well I just said the word myself, Absolutely, probably one of my top 20 of records of all time.
Nice, great.

A wonderful, wonderful record that I've spent many years listening to inside and out.
Well, I was proud of that record. It was the first big step after leaving Triumph and there were so things that I was trying to do to break out of the mold of being perceived just as a rock guy. There were some ballads and it was more of a singer/songwriter type record in some ways than your average rock band kind of record. It's funny, I remember when it came out how there were, because I was the guy who had left Triumph, there were some people in the rock community who didn't want that record to succeed. There was some jealousy and things here in the Canadian market that I had to put up with that I was the guy who betrayed the whole Triumph thing so, you know, screw me.
So there was some of that, and then there were changes that were happening at the time where rock radio wasn't really like it had been. There was the advent of the whole Seattle grunge thing starting to happen in a big way. That transition was occurring so anything that had that melodic kind of quality to it or classic rock kind of quality was losing it preeminence in the rock market. There was that big conversion occurring. So you know, whatever, I still think like, whenever I do acoustic shows there are a lot of songs off that album that I can just sit with an acoustic guitar and those tunes work fine.

I love the record. I really do. Stuff like Middle Ground meant a lot to me and still does.
That was the first song I wrote after I left Triumph. I remember playing it for an A&R man, and I don't remember if it was a demo or I just played it acoustically, and the guy was just totally unimpressed. He described it as a pronoun song. He goes, that's one of those pronoun songs. You're talking about yourself, me, this I, he, she, we and you. I go 'Really, OK, thanks a lot. Then I said, 'Do you think I could get a release from your record company so I'd be free to go and find something else?' And the guy said yeah, I think I could talk the record company people into that. I said great thanks pal.

And he's probably flipping burgers at this point.
Ah who knows, but that's the whole thing about it. The music business is a very strange, itinerant one. Over time the only way I got any widespread respect was just because I'd survived. That's really what it boils down to. If you can hang around long enough then people will go well geez there must be something good about it because so many others have crashed and burned or come and gone. I've done everything I can to try and promote them or make them successful but for some reason they didn't survive so this guy must have something. I don't like it and I don't know what it is but I'll give him his dues. Then you see that and in the end it kinda makes you laugh, but it is a very strange, itinerant kind of world. You kind of just go OK, I'll just keep kinda rolling along and take the punches when I get them and ride the waves when I can catch one.

Well you kept making records through the years do you have a favorite. I mean you've got Spiral Notebook, Swing Shift, you've got blues, you've got jazz.
I think what happens, I mean this is a relatively stock question and my relatively stock answer for it is, my favorite record is always the next one. My favorite song is always the next one. I'm an artist so that's the way I think. That's the way I feel. That's the way my DNA is constructed, you know? I don't really go back and listen to my old records much at all. I move forward and into new work, which is what fascinates me. I'm not fascinated with my own history. The more I kind of navel gaze on that basis the more my stomach starts to turn.

The less momentum you get?
Well that's part of it for sure. That's not to say that I don't respect and honor the past. I know that for my fans, they're the soundtrack to their lives that they find to be incredibly compelling and they want their own lives to have a substantial kind of meaning so they want me to have continuity with those songs. I understand that and I respect that. So this is kind of what happens with past records. Inevitably you get up on stage and you try different things and different times. There's a few song that kind of stick with you and they're great live so you keep playing them. And there are some songs that get air play so they're gonna stick with you because there are certain audiences in certain markets that have to hear them.
If I go to St. Louis by God I'd better play Hold On because it was a top 5 song there on both AM and FM radio so you go geez, you can't go to St Louis and not play that song, everybody expects to hear it. So when I go back into the past there're certain parts of the Allied Forces album from Triumph that are really good. I think the band hit its stride and did a lot of good things on that particular album. But we'd done some good things on the Just a Game album too.
So there're a few songs here and a few songs there then when I move up into my own solo career I go, yeah well you know, say off the Absolutely album. I hadn't heard Stand and Deliver in a long time and somebody played it on the radio when I was doing an interview one time and I went 'man I haven't heard that in a long time' and I thought that's got some pretty good stuff on it, that was a pretty interesting track. So I know there're moments. I thought the Ipso Facto album had some good things on it, you mentioned Spiral Notebook, I felt that was a record where I made big strides as a singer/songwriter.

That was the real departure, when I heard that record. I thought yeah, there's a change in direction here.
Yeah and a lot of people went, ooh God he got really soft. What happened to the rock guy? That had already happened for Ipso Facto, but then the record company said we can't put this record out. You have to go back in the studio and make some hard rock songs. We need some hard rock on this record. Then I'd gone back in and I'd done Straight Up and Band On, Do Me Good, Rainbow Man, so there'd been about 4 or 5 rock tracks that I'd done that got pasted into that record.

Interesting, yeah it kinda sounds like two different records.
Yeah I think it was three different records actually, because there was some jazz finger style stuff too like Woke up This Morning, and Transition, Calling St Cecilia, on there where you can see Spiral Notebook coming. You can hear it. You can smell it.

Yeah, Ipso Facto was the crossroads.
It kinda was. I've almost gotta have a soft spot in my heart for the Ten Invitations CD because that was the one finger style classical that I dreamed about even when I was in Triumph. For years and years I dreamed about doing a classical guitar record with nothing but finger style guitar pieces and that was what Invitations was. And that was the one that launched my own little label, my independence.

It was the start.
Then Swing Shift had some. Live I still play two or three things from Swing Shift almost every kind of gig that I do other than a classic rock on. Even then I'll throw in, like we did a classic rock one last week and I played Libre Animado off of Handwork and we did a band version of Three Clouds which gives everybody a chance to just blow their brains out. Like a sneak that stuff into the set now and I'll even tell the audience 'Look I've indulged you with Fight the Good Fight and Magic Power now you're gonna have to give me five minutes and I'm gonna do some of my own. I have been making records all these years folks'.

Anything you'd like to close with Rik?
Not really. I appreciate the fact that we've had a lot of support from you on your website. That's been a great thing.

Thank you, it's been a pleasure. I'm a long time fan.
I know that the record company guy tells me that it's important to have support of guys like you so I appreciate it and it was nice to chat with you.

Yeah you too Rik, it's been a great pleasure. Like I said, I came in on Thunder Seven to be a Triumph fan and went backwards from there and I've always traveled forward with you. It's great to talk things over.
Well, thank you very much.
OK Andrew.

Thanks Rik.
Take care now.

Within the interview, Rik gave mention to an offer on the table - well, as we now know that was for the Sweden Rock Festival Triumph reunion show. I updated this interview by getting back to Rik and asking him about this news:

How did the proposal of Sweden Rock come to you guys and why did this in particular appeal to you to do?
The Sweden offer came through an agent. It appealed to us because it was the first substantial offer, and it obviously came from a true fan, as well as a promoter with a track record, and we'd never been to Sweden, so it satisfied a sense of adventure and experiment.

How will you prepare for this show and it sounds like there could be a few more on North American soil this year?
We'll prep with a lot of rehearsal - the other fellows will really need it, to get back into playing shape. Whether or not there will be a few more anywhere remains to be seen. As far as I know, there aren't other firm offers on the table as of this writing: at least, no one has brought them to my attention. My attitude is - let's wait and see what develops. Let's have a lot of rehearsals under our belt before we start looking to far down the road. Maybe we should do one concert, and see how it goes, before we commit to booking months & months ahead.


c. 2008 / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!
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Steve Lukather - The Ever Changing Times Interview

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Steve Lukther

WTF does this do?



Steve Lukather: Here Lies Mr. Toto.

The self described road dog of melodic rock. Steve Lukather is one of my favorite people in this business and as has been the case with my previous interviews with the legendary guitarist - he once again lays it all bare, his heart on his sleeve.

Mr. Lukather! How are you?
I'm doin' OK, just one second here, I've just gotta fix one little thing.
OK. I'm feeding my dog right now.

Fair enough.
Now, here we go. Never a dull moment in family life.

I know it mate, I know it.
I've just gotta to put this up, hold on a second Drew, give me two minutes.
My whole house is being torn apart because we're remodeling. That and with the new baby it's kind of hectic around here.

How's she doing?
I wanted to save you for last so we could actually have a chat.

Thanks man, I appreciate that.
Usually it's just newspaper stuff promoting the shows.

Did you get through some good interviews?
Yeah, they got a shitload of them. More press than we've ever done in Australia. Ironically, as we're heading to the demise.
Hold on one second, I'm almost done. This dog won't eat the food unless I put a little cheddar cheese in there. She's a spoiled little beast, but we love her. (laughter)

So we were talking privately earlier about life on the road – how tough it can be…
I mean everybody's like God forbid anybody should have a hoarse throat.

When I was on the road with Jeff Scott Soto for a couple of weeks, it's a hard fucking slog.
It is man, and he's one of the best singers out there.

Yeah and I should have documented the hardness of it all but I had a tour to run because I was doing the tour manager thing, but you've been on the road for two years.
You're allowed to be bloody tired. By the time it's all done it'll be two and a half years on the Falling in Between thing.

That's amazing.
We're bringing a little bit more rock and roll set down this time, you know.

It's a lot of the same tunes, but with Sklar on bass because Mikey's still sick.

Yeah, that's too bad.
I wish I had better news there. He's still trying to recover but it's going very, very slowly.

Is he holding up mentally himself?
When I see him yeah, he puts on that, he doesn't say too much. I keep going 'how you doing man'.
It's a tough lot and you know…I'm looking around the stage and saying every single motherfucker's been replaced at least twice. (laughter)

Except you.
Except me, now you can print that.

Yeah, that's gotta be on the record.
Yeah, well c'mon, I'm the only one that's been there from day one and everybody else has been replaced two or three times.

We just can't kill you.
Well, I don't want to be killed. (laughter) It just kind of hit me all of a sudden and I started realizing, it's a fucking great band but is it Toto? I mean everybody's a motherfucker and I have nothing but love and respect, but is it Toto?

You still don't take yourself too seriously do you?
Well sure and that's another misconception that I'm all serious and don't get a sense of humor about all this shit. I get tweaked when people say things like I'm a coked out loser, yeah, and you can print that (laughter) but I mean, do these people know me? Have they ever met me or are they just making something of me having a hoarse voice and my voice isn't like it was when I was 20 years old? Hell is anybody's?

Nobody's you know, I don't think anybody's voice is the same.
Well I thought my quote in my email to you, which is usable, is that yeah my voice isn't as smooth as it was when I was 20 and neither is my ass. (laughter)


I'm getting a few wrinkles myself.
Well, you know what I'm saying, it's like c'mon, I've been doing this shit for 30 plus years. And you know when you're gonna get on the road, you get a cold, you can't help it. Both Bobby and I were kind of sick when we did the live show in Paris for the DVD that's coming out, but we fuckin' persevered. Then people come in there speculating that 'oh that's the reason see, they fixed all the vocals and made it sound all fucked up'. I didn't have time to do that, we were on the road.
McMillan's a genius man, he managed to make things sound bigger than they really were. When you've got a 5.1 mix you've got to fill in the holes. It's a big thing and when people remix this stuff in 5.1 they digitally enhance the doubles and the stuff like that. When we did the record all the background vocals were quadrupled for God's sake. We're not out there lip synching, but everybody's got an angle. Everybody's trying to bust your nuts. That sounds too good, or it sounds bad, or like 'is that real or is that fake?'
I mean c'mon, in the era that I grew up we didn't even…what does faking it mean? I learned to play before I made a record. So I think people are being a little too harsh. It's like they've got their jeweler's eye out looking for every little possibility. 'Oh yeah at 3 minutes and 42 seconds you can hear the pitch does like…blah, blah, blah.' Get a fucking life. (laughter)
Do you honestly think that we wanted to come back home after doing all those songs on a fucking tour then sit in a recording studio and listen to it and re-record it? Are you fucking nuts? I'd still be doing the overdubs if that was the case.

I'd think they would just enjoy the music and relax.
Right, I mean listen, when I have a minute I kind or peruse, you know I love the site, and I kinda check out what people are saying. I also check out what people are saying about other bands.
And there's some fuckin' harsh shit in there man.

Oh yeah, there is sometimes.
Oh man, put yourself in our shoes. I mean it's really easy to put down people and tear them all apart when you're sitting in your home, but what the fuck are you doing? (laughter) What are these people doing? Everyone's an armchair critic. Listen, you know we're not perfect.
Yeah, we're fuckin' a lot older, voices change, you don't run as fast as you used to, there's a lot of shit you just can't do that you used to be able to. I try to practice, keep my chops up to do the best I can. But what can I say?

And by the way, to clear up another misconception, David Paich and I have never been better friends than we are right now and I just got off the phone with him 5 minutes ago.

And yes we will definitely be working together down the road on something or other whether it's Toto or not.

We went through a rough spot, like brothers do. I'm a very emotional; wear my heart on my sleeve kind of guy and I can tweak sometimes. I can get upset about things. And we never really talked it through. When he didn't talk to me about it my initial reaction was 'fuck you' and then it became this 'fuck you' fest.
Then we went out to dinner, just me and him, and we looked at each other, and we like hugged each other for about two minutes and at almost at the same time said 'I'm sorry'.
It was almost like a perfect double and then we sat down and we've been in close contact ever since. I've been confiding in him about my feelings about where this band is at, where it's going and if it should even go on, and he totally concurs with where my vibe is at.

I'm really pleased to hear that mate. That's great.
But listen, you get pissed off at people but when you've been friends for 35 years it wasn't going to last forever, c'mon. Everybody's speculating and yeah, sure I spout off a lot of bullshit but the written word never really conveys how one feels. That's the danger of e-mail and internet in general. Even when somebody's taking the piss out of me, maybe they were laughing when they wrote it but the way it reads was that they were serious so it's hurtful.

Yeah, you can't see the smile can you?
That's the whole thing. Unless you actually write it in like LOL, or Ha Ha Ha a statement is a statement in the written word. Sometimes it hurts. I don't care if people don't like the music or they don't like the band. That's their right. I hate this like 'Journey or Toto', you know what I mean?
Or like this guy sucks this guy's better, who's better Neal or Luke, you know that's stupid. Neal and I are dear friends man. I can't be more supportive of him or him of me. We're friends.
Fuckin' his son Miles is down there staying at my son's house. They're buddies. I mean this is ridiculous. People who don't know it make these horrible assumptions. Why do you have to be on one person's side or the other? Why can't you just dig both bands, or dig one, you don't have to slag off the other.

No, look mate. I've got so many favorite bands it's not funny.
But you know there's no such thing as the best at anything. Music is subjective. Art is subjective. Beauty is subjective. Do you think that when two ugly people are fucking they're saying 'Ha ha you're the ugliest person I ever fucked in my life?' No, of course not, they see beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Music is exactly the same way. (laughter) I don't like everything either but it would be horrible if I were to go off and slag off bands I don't like. It's hurtful. I know what it feels like. When somebody you don't know says you suck, you go 'Dude, you don't even know me.' If you don't like the music there's a nicer way to say it like, 'I don't really care for this kind of music, it's not my thing. Good players, I respect them, but it's not my thing.' You don't have to go, 'You fuckin suck man, you fuckin suck. You're the worst fuckin shit ever'.

You're coming to Australia again in March.
Here's the thing. The last time we went it was a big success. Yeah. Except for my poor guy John Howard man and his partner who took it up the ass from the guy that owned the fuckin' gig. He ran off with about $80,000 dollars.

I couldn't believe that.
Here we've got sold out shows and the cats are all ecstatic and they thought, great you made money, we made money, everybody's happy and all the sudden he gets fucked and I just felt terrible because I consider John a very good friend.

Yeah, absolutely John's a great guy.
Yeah, he's gonna release my solo record down there, do the promotion, you know. Then he believed enough to fucking throw down again to bring us down even after taking a beating like that. But I think he was learning, you can't trust people, you think you can, but you can't, not in this fucking business man. (laughter) Cats will suck you dick while sticking two fingers up your ass to get the cash you just ate. (laughter)
It's a shame to see good people go down but it was such a big success that they said let's break you out into some other markets. We're even going to do New Zealand.

Are you going to New Zealand?
Yeah, we're doing Auckland.

Oh fantastic.
As a matter of fact it's our first stop. That's someplace I've always wanted to see.

Auckland's awesome.
We're doing that, then we're coming over to do five or six dates I think you've got it there, I don't have it in front of me.

Yeah, I've got it here mate.
We're very excited about that, then we're running off to do a Malaysia and then we're going to do Japan with Boz Skaggs. So that's kind of fitting, then Paich is coming over to play with us in Japan.

Really? Oh that's great.
So it seems really fitting that we started out in Boz's band, Toto came out of that. Now we're ending this chapter with Dave back with Boz. It's bookends, you know what I mean? Then we're going to put this thing away for God knows how long. Two and a half to three years is a long time man. Everybody wants to do their own projects. Simon wants to produce records. As some cats get on they don't want to be on the road for eight months.

Yeah, exactly.
They're not like me. I'm a road dog. I'll live and die on the fucking road. That's who I am and what I am and I'm built for it. I mean physically built for it. I'll probably have a massive coronary in my room one night, but hey, what a way to go?

Only when you're 95 thank you.
Well, like I said, you know. I figure I've got this solo record coming out that I'm really proud of that's getting great reviews out of the box. I did a real video, a concept video.

Yeah, what song for?
The title track, Ever Changing Times.

Great song.
Thanks. I have no idea what it's gonna be about. We did it in Japan with a lot of green screens and stuff so there's gonna be all kinds of trippy shit going on.

I really like the artwork. The e-card kind of concept. It's simple, but I really love the colors.
I'm really proud of it. Robert Knight and Mary Ann Billens did all the photos. We did it out in the desert here.

Yeah, it looks sweet.
Conceptually I can't even tell you what perfect timing it was. I just says it all about my life. It's changed so much. I've mean from the beginning to now. Toto's been so good to all of us. Thanks to everybody out there for supporting us all these years. It's been an amazing journey, and amazing run.
Not to say that it's never going to happen again, but you know it's time to put it away for a while. We worked really fucking hard. Everybody wants to do their own solo things or take a break whatever. Everybody's got projects and stuff lined up. It's a great way for us to end up. We're all still friends. There are no bad vibes or anything like that. We're gonna go out and do it with a big smile.


So there's nothing planned for next year or the 30th Anniversary?
Oh no. No, no, no…nothing. The books are clean. Instead of the 30th it'll probably be the 35th Anniversary. (laughter) At that point who knows what's gonna happen.
I cannot predict the future. All I know is that we've worked very, very hard and everybody wants to do some different things.

That's fair enough too.
If you put yourself in my position with people saying 'well you ought to do the 30th tour next year', those people haven't done what we've just done. You be away from home for 2 and a half years and then say it. A lot of these guys in the band just don't want to do that. So, no, no, no, no, no not at this point.
I'm gonna go out and concentrated on my solo stuff and do some really weird, bizarre, obscure Toto songs. I'm gonna do songs off all three of my solo albums probably culled from the first, second, and the new one, maybe a track or two off the third one. And maybe some very interesting covers that I wrote for other people and/or did versions of. It's going to be a really kick-ass band. Everybody in the band in gonna sing including the drummer.

Who is the band? Have you got that lined up yet?
It's too early to tell. There'll be a few familiar faces and a few newbies. It'll be another world tour, so I'm gonna be out there working for a long time.

Well hopefully we can get some loop dates in Australia as well.
If all goes well the answer would be yeah. After we've made this contact with the Australian people again it would be a shame to lose that momentum. Big John says the shows are selling pretty well, but I won't really know until I get there.

Yeah I was gonna ask you about that because you have bigger venues.
I asked him about and he's goes 'no it's doing really well and I'm really happy'. If he's happy that means he's not taking a bath, so. I would not want to do that to the cat again.

Who could have predicted that was going to happen?
Well, like I said, we got all our money up front so he's the one that took a bath. We felt terrible and the time and said 'we gotta go back and make this right'. He's a good mate and we stayed in touch through all of that.

John's awesome and he just had a baby boy too.
That's right. Everybody's having babies.

All us old buggers.
Well, ya know what I mean, the dick still works for something. (laughter) For now. Yeah, for now and there's always Viagra after that.

Just to clarify Toto, this leg of the tour is ending, you're coming off the road and that's it for the foreseeable future.
Yeah. Like I say, we're gonna go out and give, it's like when you know it's the last lap you run real hard, real fast and give it you're all, that kind of the attitude that we're going in with. So it's not like we're gonna walk through the shows. This is a little bit more rock and roll set. We got rid of some of the ballads and all that acoustic stuff and we're gonna go out and rock.

Oh, I can't wait. I'm gonna have to make sure I'm there mate.
I'll get you over there one way or another. (laughter)

I'll come and see you in Melbourne this time, I think. That's closer for me.
We'll make that happen. When we get closer to it we'll be in contact.

Yes mate, of course. So this solo album is, congratulations again, we've talked a little about it you and me, but it's a fantastic record.
Aw thanks man, I appreciate that.


It's my favorite Luke album since the first solo album.
Thank you man. I worked really hard on it because I wanted to see if I could make a personal best at 50 years old. A lot of people say nobody makes a good record anymore, everybody's past their prime just going out and playing the hits, taking the money and going. I've read that so much about so many people and I refuse to believe that that's all I've got. You know everybody has their personal favorites. I mean is there gonna be another Africa? Probably not it's a different era, there couldn't be. But for me as an artist I needed to make a record first off that wasn't a fusion record. (laughter)
I kinda got that shit out of my system but I needed to do that for me. It was very selfish and very self-indulgent, but hey fuck it, you know. I've been playing Hold the Line since I was 19, I'm 50, do the math. I needed to go out and freak out. But I needed to make a real record, a real artist's record and Randy Goodrum's the guy that brought the concept, my old song writing partner. He executive produced the record and brought me to the Blue label. They're really behind the record, really gonna spend money, and these guys treated me like I first signed in 1977. I was wined and dined.
They love the record. They never said no to anything. They're writing checks for tour support. They did a nonrecoupable video and big promotion budget. And Serafino's working with me in Europe and again and he did such a fantastic job there. I'm really happy to be back there.
Then I've got big John down in Australia and another company here that's releasing it in North America. So I'm gonna go out and go for it. Give it all I've got. It's like, I'm not gonna do this when I'm 60. I'm 50 and everything's winding down. Everything's changing. Everybody's happy.
I wish everybody was healthy. I mean my brother Mikey's, it's just fucking me up that he's not getting better real fast.
It's like I said before, I'm the only guy that's really gonna go out and go for it right away. I have product and I'm putting together a great band and I got dates on the books. So I'm hoping that the record does well and I'll be able to build on that and stay out there for a while and get my own thing going on. I'm sure the other guys, well I've gotten emails that say 'good luck man, we're with you all the way'. God bless and we'll see each other again soon. I'm not making any official statement or anything like that. People are gonna read into it what they want. But after 30 years and the last 2.5 years on tour I've gotta take a break.

I can't think of another band on the planet that's been on the road for the last 2 years in this day and age.
It's a big world.

Yeah, but who else is doing it?
No one does the world like we do. A lot of bands tour every year in America.

It really shits me that Bon Jovi on their last album called it a world tour and the did I think a couple of dates in Canada and the rest in the USA and called it a world tour.
Well no, they do a big business in Europe. They were there. They're doing football stadiums.

I know they're doing OK, but it's not really a world tour.
No when we go on a world tour we do a World-fucking-Tour.

I mean Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, America, Europe that's a world tour.
Well, you know there are very few spots we missed. We were considering the “Let's find Osama” Mideast tour but that fell through. (laughter)

Well you didn't get to Tasmania so….
Hey, it's never too late. That's another thing with Toto. It took a huge overhead. There are so many people involved and it's a much bigger operation. I might be able to sneak into some of these places because I have a smaller operation. I'm not gonna need all those crew guys and all that shit but Toto is its own beast.

Absolutely, it's a big beast.
But like I said, we're all family. Everybody's come to this place where we see like, Ok man this is going to a great last run let's have fun with it. And whatever happens after that, happens after that. I'm not fucking Nostradamus, you know. I can't predict the future. Every time I have I've usually predicted wrong.

It's gonna be a great set of shows and the DVD about to hit any day now…
Yeah it's gonna be a month and when you see it man, it looks really fuckin' cool.

I can't wait to see it.
It looks like we're, it's just huge, there's a lot of people in the audience. The way it was filmed, you'll see the full production. With the 5.1 that's the way to do it. You need a big screen TV and a couple of beers or whatever you're into, and check it out like that. Then you'll see if everybody's faking it or not. Do you know how long it would actually take to go in there and redo the vocals and have it perfectly lip synched? I'd be doing that for the next 50 years of my life. (laughter)
So I mean come on, COME ON fellas. I don't want to dwell to much on that shit though. I like to make one blanket statement and just be done with it. All that does is open up the internet blog from hell. I want to try avoid anything negative if at all possible. I mean let me take the piss out of myself don't leave room everyone to come at me with a fuckin' chain saw.

An old buddy of yours is doing very well out on the road at the moment isn't he? Mr, Eddie?
Eddie V, I went to Staples and saw the show it was great. I was at the rehearsals too.

Everybody says it's great. You know for everything it took for this tour to happen there's been relatively no rumors…
Well I saw it at the Staple Center and there's 18,000 people, and man, they looked great, they sounded great, Roth was singing good, and the set list is the dream set list. And Eddie was playing great. You know, you hear stories about good night, bad night, I don't know man. The guy I know is really trying to give it all he's got. There's always gonna be somebody slaggin' him. 'Oh man he's lost it', they say the same shit about me man, the same shit about everybody. If the guy never did anything else again he changed the face of guitar history. Let him alone. He should be immune to people fucking with him. We're all getting older man, c'mon.

That's why I'm glad it's happening now, because it may not have a chance to happen in the future. It's going well enough that they've added more dates.

I think that's fantastic.
You know I love them, him and Al are like fuckin' soul brothers to me.

Absolutely, I hope they get down to Australia but I don't know.
Well if they get out to that side of the world don't be surprised. But I don't know. I haven't seen them since I saw them back stage before the show standing next to a very bewildered John Mayer.

Oh really?
Hell yes, I walk into the dressing room, which by the way's in like Def Con 5 security. Ed's in his own room and I just walk in and…[off the record…sorry!]

I'd like to see some of today's band still around after 30 years.
Exactly, walk in my shoes. Where are you cats gonna be in 30 years? If all you're relying on is Protools and eyeliner you're gonna be in deep shit real soon.

Well, anything else to add mate?
Geez, that I'm happy, tired but happy. The two dad's thing is pretty cool.

Yeah, how's she doing, good?
Oh, she's a beautiful baby.
She's growing already. It's a trip. It's a trip man you know, you're gonna go through all this shit again. I haven't done this in twenty years so I'm really like wow. My wife is thriving. She's just wonderful. She's a great mom already. I'm on the A-list with the in-laws because it's their first grandchild. It's gonna be the last for me but she does have a sister. (laughter)

Long as you're the first.
Right, you know what I mean?
But everything's going good man. I really want to thank all the really wonderful people. Thank you for keeping the shit alive on the site and for having my back and promoting the music, promoting the music for all of us, not just me and Toto but for all the guys that are still out there kickin' it. We're all out there bustin' ass man.
Don't pick on the old guys because someday you're all gonna be old. This is really ironic. It's like all the old reviewers that have trashed us are all retired or dead. So there's a new young breed that says Toto's pretty good so that's gonna do OK.

What did you do wrong? Nothing!
You know, all I did was play music. But you've gotta be honest. We were the band to fuckin' beat up. We were without question the most berated band ever in rock history. I'm still taking some for the fuckin' name man. I figure that just made it too easy for them.

I like the name.
It's a stupid name. (laughter) You can print that. (laughter) I hated it from day one but now I am Mr. Toto so what can I tell ya? (laughter) I can't shake it if I want to. (laughter)

That'll be on your tombstone mate.
(laughter) Yeah, exactly, here lies Mr. Toto. (laughter) And there'll be dog shit on top of it probably because that'd be the last fuck you, ya know. (laughter) A fitting end!(laughter)

That's a fitting end to an interview mate. I can't possible top that.
(laughter) OK mate I think that's very good.(laughter)

Oh good, OK.
(laughter) I like that idea, keep the funny shit, keep people laughing. They'll get a better idea of who I am because people think that we all take ourselves too seriously.

You're one of the funniest bastards I've had the pleasure of being with all these years.
Well hell man, like I said, I get the joke. There's the title of the interview.

I get the joke.
I get the joke, “Lay Off Me I Get The Joke”. See I'm hoping to get interview of the year again.

That'll have to be for next year because it's January. (laughter) We didn't do one last year.
That's right we didn't.

Well not formally anyway.
But we had a couple beers together. That's a good thing.

And that was fun wasn't it?
And we'll do that again.

Oh shit, that was the last time I was badly drunk.
Boy you are a cheap date!



c. 2008 / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!
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Herbie Herbert: One Man's Journey


Herbie Herbert is one of the music industries most colorful characters. For a period of time he was the #1 manager in the business, taking Journey – a band he put together with Neal Schon – to become a multi-Platinum selling stadium act.
And in taking the band to the stadiums, he also helped pioneer the way we watch bands in such settings. The video screens and high-tech productions that dominate tours today were developed by Herbie and the company he and Neal remain partners in – Nocturne – who are today behind tours by U2, Madonna, Metallica, Def Leppard and of course, Journey.
Herbie also broke Swedish hard rock act Europe in America, not to mention taking Mr. Big, Roxette and Steve Miller Band to more Platinum sales and sold out worldwide tours.
He is vocal in his opinions and calls it like he sees it, which doesn't always please some folks on the receiving end.
But few people have been in the position Herbie was in and when the chance to interview an industry legend presents itself you don't turn that down.
I have long followed the business side of the music industry, so Herbie's insights were something I was looking forward to hearing and he doesn't disappoint.
I do think this is a different interview than the infamous 2001 interview which was viewed by some as caustic in nature. And I'm pleased about that – but Herbie still has a number of things to say about the band he spent 20 years of his life guiding, some of which you may agree with, some of which you may not agree with.
There are some points within this interview that I clearly do not agree with, but I respect Herbie's opinion and the experience he has in this business to make those comments.
As was previously the case, Steve Perry remains in his sights as the band's number one problem. Why is this so? Well…one interesting comment from Herbie says a lot. In talking about the band, Herbie says: “I would just like to make my living and do what I think I can get done here. So from my point of view that got stopped and mucked up quite a bit. There was no reason for them not to continue in '84, '85, '86. they could have been a polished Grateful Dead and that was my model as a deadhead.”
I feel that Herbie saw his long held vision for the band altered by Perry and therein lies the root of the problem. Read the interview and make your own conclusions about the personalities that make up this story.
Journey has a long and complex history, with a number of different eras and different fans of those eras. It makes for an interesting world.
At the end of the day, I would like to hope that this interview could be used not as a springboard for new arguments, issues and debates, but rather as a piece that closes the chapter on the past – a glorious musical past that has left us with so many lifelong memories.

Without Neal Schon and Herbie Herbert there would be no band.
Without Steve Perry there would not have been that electric chemistry that helped deliver a catalogue of songs few artists could compete with, sung by a golden voice envied by all.
Without Steve Augeri the band may not have recaptured the imagination of so many fans, allowing the band to continue into a new era.
Without the fans…there would be no point.

Thanks for reading - Andrew.


Good evening Herbie. Thank you for granting an interview. I know you don't do too many.
No, I don't.

I'm not sure, but has Kevin Chalfant told you anything about the website or myself?
Not really but I believe I've heard about it because if I'm not mistaken you guys are the ones that somehow in Sweden determined that Steve Augeri was singing to a hard drive.

Ah….well, I didn't have anything to do with that myself, but you are correct in that those claims appeared on my website's message board – posted by the sound guy from Sweden. Some chatter was already taking place and…heated debate continued as it always does on that board. The Sweden thing kind of took on a new life from that point onwards.
Yeah it did and I thought that was a healthy thing, that that came to light. Because, you know I think they dodged a real bullet there. They could have easily been reduced to Milli Vanilli quickly. What's unfortunate about that is Neal Schon's the real deal.

To generalize a little here – many big acts use samples and even shadow musicians behind the scenes to enhance the sound they are delivering. Why that need for perfection?
Well, because the money at stake on any given night is humongous and unlike motion pictures or television you can't say freeze or let's re-tape that or can we do that over or can we shoot tomorrow or whatever. Rock 'n roll is, always has been the most intense, high pressure, and if you're in that pressure cooker and you do get involved with drugs at all, then you're very quickly weakened. And you can't cut it or if you're as clean as can be there's a high level exposure. Every city you get to you gotta go to radio and retail and go to in-store appearances. You gotta have backstage meet and greets with all the record labels and the branch in that town and the various radio station personnel.
All the radio stations, you need their support in each market so you're pressing the flesh and kissing babies and catching the flu.
I remember with Steve Perry we had a four night sellout at the Reunion Arena in Dallas and he really was in rough, rough, rough shape and it was the one time when I had to sit down and go 'Steve', it's horrendous, this is why the pressure is what it is, but we would put in suspense the settlement on this, what at the time was an obscenely big gross in rock 'n roll and until we returned and played the postponed fourth date we couldn't settle because all the deals were really tightly negotiated predicated on four days.
They were extraordinary low deals but they were justified by the band playing four nights sold out in the round and all the ancillary income from parking and all would be frozen if he couldn't perform. And so, somehow he got through that performance and in those days, when that happened, the crutches hadn't been developed.
They hadn't come up with the Akai Samplers and the various technologies that would allow for it. But there was a famous lawsuit that happened in Detroit where it was discovered that a band were playing to just a big reel to reel tape machine out in the soundboard and there was a substantial award - a big settlement against them, a big judgment.

Against what band?
Against Electric Light Orchestra and Don Arden and Jet Records and whoever for basically doing a fake thing, a Milli Vanilli kind of thing.
Journey really, I can remember sitting down one day and putting headphones on and watching a video of the last concert with Gregg Rolie back in 1980 in Tokyo at the Sun Plaza. And being just astonished at how good these guys could sing. You know, Jon Cain was never a Gregg Rolie as a voice but he's been trying and working at it for frickin' years now. He tries to cover those Gregg Rolie songs and he marginally pulls it off and Deen Castronovo is such a frickin' franchise talent. Great singer, great drummer, tremendous talent and so they really could pull off serious vocals. They didn't need the crutches. With Augeri they did. They needed the crutches, they needed the help. He had trouble. It was rough. I never understood why they went with him. They could have gone with Kevin Chalfant.

You have been a champion of Kevin's over the years haven't you?
I really have. Of course he was in the Storm with Gregg Rolie and Ross Valory. And when, you know I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I was on a sailboat going between the Hawaiian Islands and then doing a saltwater fast and was gone for about two and a half months. The day after I got back they were roasting me for the benefit of Thunder Road [October 1993] and they'd put all these bands together that wanted to perform at this benefit and it was sold out and I didn't pick the bands or book it. Journey performed that night and I was stunned. And they performed with Kevin Chalfant. This is researchable because in Rolling Stone, Random Notes, that must have been '93, it said, and this was one of the most cutting quotes I've ever read where it said “Not even Steve Perry's mother would have missed him in the band.” Now that is deep. (laughs) I mean, if you're a writer and you think and say wow that guy really thought about that line.
I mean, he wanted to fuckin' play out a zinger there, ya know? (laughs) So yeah, and so Kevin was pretty flawless at all times and really could sing in that really high range. But, he did an album of Journey covers.

Yeah, that was last year – very good CD too.
Yeah last year and the thing is, I think the reason that he didn't get put in the band then is because, you know we're all, how old was Perry when he sang most of these songs, 30, 31, 32, 33, when you're in your 40s or 50's, forget about it. There's no chance, so Kevin was knocked down a half step. I'm not gonna go to a piano or guitar and try to figure that out. And he really intimated to me that this was done in the original key. Yeah, but barely, you know if you're a half step down from a major to a minor or whatever, you know, it's a significant change in the tonality and everything else. And for whatever reason, the band, Journey has always had an obsession with playing the songs in the original key. Despite the logic, the unavoidable logic, that if Steve Perry was still in the band, and I know that there's a giant public out there that would love nothing more, they're clueless to the fact that the guy can't sing anymore.

A number of people have suggested such a thing…
No, I said it in the one interview I did other than this one. No, what the hell, I said listen, here's what I want you to do. Go out there. There were so many people out there in Golden Gate Park for Bill Graham's wake. The Grateful Dead, Aaron Neville and all these artists performed and Journey performed that day. Journey performed, you take these songs and you get a tape of that and they took them down two whole steps. I mean, this is from E to A. They passed G to A, you know what I mean?
Knocking 'em down hard and Steve Perry's voice was all broken up. So, you know, forget about it. It was just so revealing. That was in '91 at which point that day I hadn't seen him since 1986 Raised on Radio and that was five years. And what an ugly encounter that was with Steve Perry that day.
That was the last time I ever saw him, Bill Graham's wake, and if I never saw him again it would be too soon.

You've certainly been outspoken about Steve Perry. Your 2001 interview, which was dubbed Castles Burning - [] - your last really big interview I think, become kind of infamous.
Oh really and who did I do that with?

It was with a guy named Matthew Carty.
Oh yeah, Matthew Carty, that was the guy. The guy from Phoenix or whatever, that was, you know the funny thing about that one was, at the end he said 'Now I have to ask you, why did you give me this interview.' I said, 'You're the only one who ever asked.' And I'll tell you what. This would be the astonishing part. What I think is significant about that is how the artists feel that they're so the center of the universe. That surely the interest in what is the every nuance of their life is so, you know, as if it were important or whatever. Nobody ever tried to find me. Nobody was ever interested enough to ask me any questions let alone the questions that kid asked. That kid asked some good questions because obviously people were, well, I think it stirred up a lot of controversy.

It sure did…
What it really proved more than anything is the power of something that I was very responsible for. And make no mistake, I have the utmost respect for the talent of these individuals. I selected them man by man. I negotiated and put them into my band.
You know what I mean? And it's because they were extraordinarily gifted but when you have that sort of creative genius it doesn't mean that on the other side of your brain, left brain function where it's acquired knowledge about how to act, how to be, you know, that part that doesn't have narcissistic personality disorder, you know, that's the hard part. Very little exposure, you know? It becomes difficult after a while. Who's human to human, you know? That's the problem. In the long run though I have ultimate gratitude, ultimate gratitude and I'll go to my grave as Neal Schon's greatest champion and fan. I think he is just extraordinarily gifted.

He certainly is. One of the questions I was going to ask you and I'll throw this at you now – but I don't think Neal gets his share of love from the critical press.
I've never understood it. I've kinda thought maybe because of the origins of where Neal and I came from, from when he was 15 joining Santana and I was Carlos' personal guy and just had a great love affair commence right then with Neal. And I've kinda always said, you know, Carlos closed the door behind him. On the guitar legends thing you know, Page, Plant, Hendrix, Carlos Santana, those people could be mentioned in the same breath and for you to distinguish yourself and rise above the din of all the other guitarists you're really going to have to swing a big bat. And you're gonna find, you're gonna look up and you're gonna go wow, I guess Eric Clapton wasn't just a lead guitar player. I mean at the end of the day he became a great personality singer and great song selection has a depth of catalog and after while you go wow.
Of course Neal was always a major Clapton fan so he didn't need to be told anything like that but he didn't really connect the dots. And so I wanted him to be a songwriter and a singer and in the songwriter since he's a melody savant, you know, just something else, you know, but it's been tough and people have been very reluctant to give him his due although I think he's been incredibly influential and they just don't talk about it. And whatever, it's never been de rigueur to mention Neal Schon. I think he scares the hell out of a lot of people. Even technical people that are great players like a Steve Vai or a Joe Satriani or a Eric Johnson or you know? It's just across the board because he's just a, he has some sort of sensitivity and touch and feel and voice. Did you hear the album he did for Higher Octave called Voice?

Oh absolutely.
I mean now, who can do that?

I've got every one of his solo records. I think he's astounding.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (laughter) It really is true you know. He's just something else.

I've got a lot of questions for you Herbie and…
I'm sorry to just ramble on. Go on and ask your questions.

I didn't want to cover a lot of territory that Matthew's interview already did because, credit to him for getting that great interview online, but there's a lot since that point in time that's happened that I'd like to ask you about.
OK. I've been very, very retired and very, very uninvolved.

I think you keep your ear to the ground though right?
A little bit, yeah. I mean Neal will call me and tell me all the things he's doing and of course and way back in the very beginning when he first found this singer on YouTube he called me and had me listen to it.

Oh great, Ok, look I'll get to that in a second Herbie.
I wanted to ask you, just for the people, you know the younger readers of my site that don't know the Herbie Herbert legacy - you started off in San Francisco with Bill Graham who obviously was a legendary promoter.
How did you hook up with Bill?

We met at the Acid Trips Festival, I think in January or early February of '66 and just had various encounters when he had the original Filmore Auditorium and then at the Filmore West and we just became very good friends. He was like a second father to me and a mentor and he is the one who, when I asked him what I should do, having been offered a job by Johnny Winter and Steve Paul from Peter, Paul and Mary who had a big hit at the time - Jet Airplane - and their manager was Albert Grossman.
Bill knew both of those gentlemen and what should I do, and both offers started at $150 a week and in 1969 that was a lot of money, believe it or not. And he said, 'I think you should go to work for Santana'. And I said, 'Santana, why, they don't even have an album out?' And he said, 'well they're gonna have an album out' and he had just returned from Woodstock, which I didn't go to, and he said the world heard Santana at Woodstock, when their album comes out it's gonna explode, and he was of course totally right.
So I said 'What can they pay me?' And he said 'maybe I can get you $75 a week'. So I said, 'you're telling me to not even consider those other jobs for half the money with Santana?'
And of course, Bill goes “You asked, I told you, you owe me nothing.” (laughter)
So I took the job with Santana and loved it, just loved it. And I loved that man, then along came this little punk kid guitar player, Neal Schon, and there's a wild story about how that evolved and somehow Gregg Rolie said to the owner of a studio, yeah I'll help you produce some local club band and Neal was in that local club band. So it was fantastic. Gregg Rolie was always a joy to work with.

I've only had a few dealings with Gregg but he has always been very genuine.
Uh huh, and his band's great. He's doing fantastic. If you go and see his band play right now he lets you know that he was a very big part of both Santana and Journey. A very big component, and really the leader, you know. Musically, the band leader and it was devastating when he left Journey. I was fuckin' crushed.

And you covered that in the Carty interview. He'd just had enough at the time. Yeah, it was just, you know, bad things were brewing. He knew it and he didn't want to live through it. I think he felt that Perry was gunning for me from early on and I don't know why.

Yeah, so you started off with Sanata and moved through the ranks and then put Journey together and you were doing pretty well initially. Where did the desire to turn Journey into a bigger act come from?
After the first three albums, and by the third album the inmates were allowed to run the asylum. Meaning that Journey got to produce their own third album, Next. You know, there was a real cult following. They were like a jazz/fusion/rock kind of thing. We played with Weather Report, Majahvishnu Orchestra, Santana, and Robin Trower and bands like that. And it just went over perfect and I loved that original band and many people did. I think the first album in real time sold like 150,000 and the second album sold 250,000 and then the third album did 100,000 or maybe 150,000. So with that, and the thing that people can't quite keep in perspective, is where Journey was in that. All the other bands in their supposed genre had really come and gone. Boston, Foreigner, Styx, REO all those bands had their hits way before Journey had theirs. In fact some of those hits were from things borrowed from Journey. I think if you'll listen to I'm Gonna Leave on the Look Into the Future record, track 5 side 1, it's Carry On Wayward Son, by Kansas. They just lifted it. And if you listen on the third, Next, album to Nickel Dime, that's Tom Sawyer by Rush and they didn't modify it very much.

And that, I think, is the biggest song of their career. That's a pretty big career and so they were kinda left in the station when the train left. They were standing on the platform watching the tail lights of the caboose go wailing away in the distance. Then you look up and it's 1977 and they've toured all year, all through Europe with Santana and another big tour with ELO both in '76 and '77 and it just wasn't happening. And you look at the charts and its Donna Summer, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Disco Inferno by The Trammps. I mean it was as clear as ringing a bell that era was gone and basically Columbia Records said that. It's over.
So I was just in a complete scramble and they were gonna drop the act. So there was a scramble to do something to modify what we were doing. So I said we'll change it, we'll go commercial, I'll put in a lead singer and this guy that was in charge of artist development, Arma Andon had a singer that he liked that was managed by Barry Fey in Denver and that guy was Robert Fleishman. So we tried him and did a whole tour with him, with Emerson Lake and Palmer and even played stadium dates. And he was just very difficult to manage. And somewhere along the line I finally got a Steve Perry tape. I'd met Steve Perry numerous times, had thought about him numerous times. There were just certain moments. I mean when I was going to make the deal for Robert Fleishman in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge with John Villanueva we both looked at each other and I goes, 'Steve Perry. I still have never heard that fuck, but I have a feeling about him'. Then when I finally did hear him, I listened to him for about 60 seconds on tape and I tried to chase him down, but he's already left the music business. I talked to his mom and he was working in a turkey farm in Visalia pounding nails with his stepfather Marv on the weekends trying to pay back his debts.
He'd borrowed all this money from them while he lived in LA and put his bands together and put his demos together and did showcase after showcase to managers, to labels, to agencies, and nobody ever heard it. Nobody ever wanted it.

I don't get that at all.
I was pretty astonished by it. I got it in seconds. I got it, and so I wanted, and you know what? At that moment, when I heard it, I was thinking that and well it was really truth, Robert was pretty well in the band and Neal loved Robert Fleishman. They really liked him. He was just a poodle in heat to deal with as a manager. He was like (using whiny voice) “Oh everybody, would you clear the dressing room? That person smoking over there….” That kind of, you know, oh man please. If this is before he's got his first paycheck what's gonna happen?
So there was that side of it and so at that moment I just liked this band. I wanted to sign this band. It was called Alien Project. And I said I'll do this. I'm gonna make this happen. And from my first phone call, that very weekend, the bass player in that band died in a car accident which really left Steve Perry very fermished [messed up].
When I tried to talk him into coming up and spending a week with me at my house he couldn't afford to. I talked to his employer, got an ok, told him I'd pay him the money he was gonna lose, pay his expenses, he can sleep on my couch. He did all that and I started workin' on him and said ok let's forget the Alien Project. Let's talk about Journey. And it was not an easy negotiation by any stretch. He was afraid of Aynsley Dunbar not having a groove, being too white a British drummer with very minimal exposure to soul or R&B and not strong on the backbeat. I loved Aynsley, I still love Aynsley, great guy, intellect. You know, talent with an intellect, that's why I worked with Steve Miller for so many years. I like the resourceful type people, the Jeff Lynne's of the world. But you know at a certain point with Perry, Aynsley only lasted one record really, the Infinity album. Then we terminated him and brought in Steve Smith.

And that was the start of the hits era for the band…
Yes, in truth yes, their first top ten hit was Who's Crying Now from Escape. Although people want to swear up and down that Lights and Feelin' That Way and Wheel in the Sky and all these familiar songs, you know, the Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin', Anyway You Want It, and songs that got so Goddamned much airplay you got pounded by them but they really were never hits. And a lot of that airplay was subliminal. And a lot of it was not really subliminal it's called foreground music.
That was little discovery about these companies up in Seattle, Washington at the time, AEI Audio Environments Inc., and their lobby's loaded with all of Journey's platinum and gold because they played up nationwide like you can't believe on their in-house proprietary music systems. We did big promotions with all their people and access to Journey tickets and merchandise and meet and greets and things like that and oh my God the airplay we got from that was incredible. So every shoe store, shopping mall, restaurant from the Rusty Scuppers to Houstons, you know, there it is. Getting all that airplay, those are all gross impressions and they cume up to a level of recognition and familiarity that makes people really believe that those songs were hit songs. They were heard so much it just wasn't on normal, it certainly wasn't on contemporary hit radio which is how you get a hit single.

Yeah exactly, in the classical sense.
Anything and every kind of radio but that, you know.

You were credited over those years with taking Journey further than maybe they would have gone on their own as well as building the whole idea of a live touring circuit weren't you?
Yeah, it was kind of a sneak attack because when the industry is used to a certain methodology as to how it works and how hit bands work what kind of hit it takes on the radio to go platinum, what it takes in terms of contemporary hit, CHR they called it at the time, radio. R&R Parallel One stations was the bible at that time and we weren't getting any of that yet selling millions of records. This is totally beneath the radar and one of the other techniques was we would fashion the most fantastic radio spots that would emphasize our emphasis track that we wanted the most airplay on and we would run those. Sixty second spots back in the day when radio was cheap to buy. In the '70s it was cheap, cheap, cheap, and we'd pound those and you know those radio spots were airplay. They were cumes [accumulations], they were gross impressions and you know, they're proving that theory right now in the most recent Apple campaigns. The music today that they're using on the new Apple Ipod or the new Air [laptop] da-do-da-do-do and all of a sudden you're singing the song and that's the way it works. Familiarity creates comfort which creates a transaction. So that's what it was all about, how to cume up gross impressions of a band that is not radio friendly in a disco world.
In a disco world and another thing that was very effected was the artwork at that time. Creating a unique, highly recognized imagery within your target demographic so when they see it, so by the time we got to the Escape album it did not have to say Journey on it. And what I would suggest is, no matter how that lineup is perceived, if Jon Cain all of a sudden comes in and it's the classic lineup, OK, OK, but there was a bed there already a base of sales. They'd already sold 12 - 14 million records by then. Across Infinity, Evolution, Departure and Captured, you betcha. Look at all those records. I think Infinity's quadruple platinum, I would imagine Evolution is, I would think Departure's at least triple platinum and the double album, I know Captured is past double platinum.
A double album past double platinum and at a time when lots of live albums come out and no one fared that well, the Eagles or anybody. So they had a hell of a thing going and the way we said Escape was E5C4P3 and the way we wrote the band's name, it looked like Russian and a lot of people never figured out how you had to turn it on it's side to see it say Journey and that was only on the shrink wrap. There were some graphics on the actual album cover itself, but when we initially put it out it was just the egg with the scarab Escape vehicle busting out of it. That's it. Then they made us change it and put some stuff on it. We didn't need to. Blew, blew units out everybody knew what that was. It didn't need to have a name on it. Then of course, right then and there is when Steve Perry really wanted to muck with the formula. You know, he really wanted to put things through a lot of changes.

In the years you've had to reflect on that have you come to a definitive conclusion as to why he wanted those changes?
No, he'd send Sigmund Freud to the hills, screaming and rippin' out his hair. (laughter) He's a tough nut to figure.
Who knows, it's probably very petty jealousies or whatever. It seemed like he wanted, you know it was especially revealing to me when we had his solo album and I was managing him with Street Talk, and the song Oh Sherrie, and I mean I tell ya, he really had a gun to Journey's head right then. He had me, and I was just committed, I'm gonna make this happen because also as a manager it was going to be what I felt would be a very rewarding thing for me to know that in view of the failures of virtually every major artist coming out of a major group to have success on their own. The members of Pink Floyd, or Hall & Oates, or the Cars or any band that was huge. Aerosmith or any of theses guys, they do solo records and it's a dud. Phil Collins at that point had failed to go gold on Face Value and the one record that had come out as a solo record that had done extraordinarily well, virtually the same time, was Bella Donna, Stevie Nicks. She did triple platinum and we did more than double platinum in just America alone on Steve Perry's Street Talk. And I can tell you honestly, he denigrated me at every possible opportunity and said that I sandbagged him, that I fucked him, and I you know, and that the record of course should have been much bigger than Escape and showing total ignorance to the concept of branding and what we had built over so many years.
That was '84. We had incorporated Journey, or Nightmare to furnish the services of Journey in March of '73. So here's eleven years of building a brand and a business and he wants to eclipse it with his first release. And if he doesn't I have failed and even though there is a history of nothing but abject failure on solo projects.
So I don't know man, it's like fighting the impossible fight. I remember one time he phoned me at my house and just went nuts about Be Good To Yourself having been the first choice of a single off of Raised on Radio. And I said, it's a great song, it's a great production, it's great sound, it's Journey. That was the problem.
It sounds too much like Journey. Well too many of the other songs sound too much like a glorified Steve Perry solo record. You'll have to remember on Raised on Radio is when he had me remove Ross Valory and Steve Smith from the band. Of course that was completely ridiculous and I forced him to pay them as if they were there on the tour and everything.

Absolutely, that's what I think you do for your people. There's very little chance that Ross Valory or Steve Smith would remember it let alone reciprocate but that is the honest to God truth. I made sure they were taken care of. I thought it was patently ridiculous and thought that Steve Smith was one of the best drummers on the planet.

And still is.
And he has been recognized as such I believe for longer than anybody in history as the best drummer in the country for something like twenty years running.

What do you think Steve Perry's problem with Ross and Steve was? I mean they were hardly the decision makers of the band.
No, because he wanted to divide and conquer. There was a real relationship I thought with Steve as regards my relationship, my father/son relationship with Neal Schon. It was a pretty serious thing as I would say to people half serious, half in jest half as the truth of the world, I would say 'This is my Neal Schon, he didn't turn out that good.' (laughs) And I'm not talking about him as a guitar player at that point, obviously not, I'm his biggest fan.
These guys, when they screw the pooch not only can they not learn commitment, anything that comes along that they like better they get uncommitted real fast. And when they make a booboo, and booboos happen and the thing is when I make a mistake I have no expectation or notion of unringing the bell or puttin' the bite back in the apple. It doesn't occur to me. To them it's the gospel, of course that's possible, which I find hilarious. I find that humorous. That part of the business I surely don't miss. Management is a rough go, I tell ya.

Oh, I don't know how anybody could live on the road or get into that 24/7. It's hard enough just being a commentator on it.
You know at the end, especially on Raised on Radio, Steve Perry insisted I be on the road. It made it very, very difficult to do my job vis-à-vis phones and access because in those days, even in '86, you didn't have cell phones. You know, I mean we barely had the advent of fax machines and thank God for that, know what I mean? I spent my life on the road with no electronics, no benefits of the computer age.

Yeah I guess people forget about that. How did you do it?
It was so frickin' hard Andrew. I'd be in some country in Europe or the Orient and just run to a pay phone and oh my God, foreign currency, foreign languages, numbers, prefixes, country codes, man I wanted to go beat somebody up at a bus stop. (laughter) Just for the hell of it (laughter) just to take my aggressions out on someone.

It is amazing how quickly we get used to the technology we have and can't imagine life without it. But not too long ago – we didn't have it at all.
It's really true and now they really do have modern conveniences. But you know, oddly enough, and this was the least anticipated thing in my life, after I retired from management for some frickin' crazy reason I decided to become an artist and sing and play a little guitar. I had a total ball, and you know, played the Filmore 18 times with the legendary Sy Klopps blues band []. All the best venues, all over the west, all over the country really with Sy Klopps and just really enjoyed it. When I stopped from that and they retired on the stage at the Fillmore, Bill Kreutzmann said you and your guitar player and me, let's form a band and we'll do Robert Hunter songs and so I said sure, let's do it. We created this band called the Trichromes and got up, got on a tour bus, went for six weeks with Bob Wier's RatDog and Phil and Friends and I had the complete touring experience. And not like a Journey, we were the opening band. And when the tour was over I told an audience of 40,000 at Alpine Valley what a revelation, what a joy, what a breeze, what an extreme fallacio everyday. Just a blowjob, you get treated so well you know I was ready to get on the bus and start it all over again the next morning. I thought that on those buses on tour you got no sleep and that the labor board could literally make an argument that me and my production company, Nocturne, which is one of the preeminent production companies in the world today and we have so many tours and so many crews that they'd come and make an argument that this is 24 hour 7 day a week employment and you have to pay overtime on every hour. They're on a bus, it's not restful sleep they're working the whole time and I just had all these nightmares going on thinking of business exposure and so forth. Then when I went and did it I've never slept so good in my life. And everybody else was that way. It was just phenomenal. I mean so what the hell and all these years I'd given these artists the benefit of the doubt I was so naïve and wrong. It was just, you know, I mean let me tell you, that isn't work. If any one of those guys could walk in a manager's shoes one hour they would be exhausted and require hospitalization.

I can imagine it. I've seen it and I wouldn't want to do it.
You know, when I was Sy Klopps I never did a single thing. Pat Morrow was the manager of Sy Klopps and I never picked up the phone and said a business word one time. He did a brilliant job. When I was a manager I knew I was management, was the key catalyst, and when I became an artist I got that reconfirmed yet again.
I know I'm drifting astray and I know you have more questions.

I could probably spend a week talking to you because I love the industry and I love the business so it's a privilege to talk to you.
And you're in Australia and Journey was never really happening there.

You know what? I actually got into Journey originally via Steve Perry's Street Talk album in 1984 because Oh Sherrie was a huge hit single here and that voice!
But Journey – although every album was released here – never had a big hit single here and had never toured here.

He [Steve Perry] didn't do any touring really for that record. I got him finally to do Oh Sherrie on tour with Journey.

You did? I always figured that was Steve's idea.
Yes it was my Idea so as to moot the need for solo touring on Steve's part. Journey also performed Don't Fight It - the song Steve did with Kenny Logins and Foolish Heart too.
Then, when he tried to do his theater tour as Steve Perry with Lincoln Brewster and…

…In '94…
That was I guess very much a struggle. There were certain cities where he booked and calendared and then postponed, then calendared and postponed then ultimately cancelled and never played the market. Couldn't get well, couldn't sing, I didn't see any of that tour but I just heard that it was pretty rough.

Steve hasn't performed live since that point and has only recorded one album - Trial by Fire with Journey again.
Trial by Fire…I listened to that one time and not one lift off. Not one moment of this is gonna go somewhere. Monotone, monotone, I don't know what was going on with that. They really genuflected and signed all these agreement to try to supposedly get him to make a record and tour and I told Neal Schon that I swore on everything holy that he would never tour. 'He'll never do it; I promise you that, I'll bet my net worth'. He didn't take me up on the bet but I was of course right.

That was the last time that Steve was seen with the band. Just about every other band on the planet has reformed at some point since then, including many of them doing it now, but there is absolutely no sign of Steve Perry ever returning from the fray is there?
I really don't think so and to be honest with you I don't think it would be desirable. I mean just in a fantasy world. People want to remember back to a fantastic time when a great, there was a moment when surely Steve Perry was the foremost, contemporary vocal stylist in America. I believe that. Male vocal stylist, he was right there on point. Everybody loved that voice and he touched many people with songs, many of which that Jon Cain wrote like Faithfully and Open Arms. Man they hate it when I tell that story about Open Arms. You know about how they were fuckin' just denigrating Steve and just talking stink. He's in there trying to sing Open Arms with Kevin Elson, Mike Stone and I'm goin' 'he's singin' his heart out, he's tryin' to nail this fuckin' thing'.
I mean you know it was (whiney voice) 'Is that Perry Como, and its so frou-frou' and they're just teasing him awfully. I took Neal and Jon into the backroom and go 'What the fuck are you doin' man? He's obviously written a fantastic song.' Jon Cain goes 'He didn't write that, I wrote that.' And I was stunned. I just looked at him and my mouth dropped open, it go 'Just making your behavior all the more remarkable, unbelievable.' Sometimes man, you can write a brilliant song, (idiot voice) duhhuh, duhhuh, but if I asked you to think it might hurt you.

So they were in the studio giving shit to Steve while he was recording?
Totally giving him shit. I mean seriously giving him shit.

I don't get that.
Anti-inspirational to the max.

I guess Jon Cain and Neal Schon really have become the partnership that has held the band together over all these years.
Well I guess so. I really don't know about the inner workings and the chemistry of it. To me it's always been a situation where I felt that from way back that they should just move on from Steve Perry. I'm talkin' I wanted them to move on in '84.

I heard you wanted that. That would have been an interesting twist.
For them to allow him [Perry] to hold the band hostage, and the money in '84 and '85 and every year thereafter because that '86 money could have been just a real Journey tour with just a replacement singer and this kid they have now [Arnel Pineda] can sing that material right now in the original keys in a very credible way and there's no way Steve Perry could touch that.

I'm gonna come back to this in a minute… but right now, in '84, the mid '80s if they'd have made a break, a similar sort of break as what happened with Van Halen in '86. They brought in Hagar and did a left turn with their sound and they lost some fans but won some others - just like Journey did in '78.
Exactly, that's when they shifted to Sammy Hagar from David Lee Roth. Right exactly and that was a brilliant move and very effective and you know I made a solo record that you may have in your collection called Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve.

Absolutely, love it, for sure.
And you know, we know Sammy really well. He's one of our best friends, he comes to our birthday parties and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Oh I love Sammy. I'm an absolute diehard Sammy Hagar fan.
Yeah exactly, he's a great friend and of course we knew intimately. And of course I love the story of the '78 Journey tour with Journey, Montrose and Van Halen. The tour started on March 1 in Racine, Wisconsin 1978. And I said, 'Hey Neal, be sure to get a look at the opening band. I want you to go and see them and give me a call.' Then I got out to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, the big cities, Pittsburg, Philly, every time I'd say 'Hey Neal, you seen the opening band yet?' He goes, 'No man, I never get there on time. I'll do it, I'll do it.' When I finally get to New York, I'm sittin' in the lobby, Pat Morrow the road manager brings 'em in. He's taken them out to the NEW radio and the Sam Goody stores and all that and they got just enough time to grab their clothes and maybe a little bit of food and I say 'hey Neal have you seen the opening band' and he goes 'no' and I say 'give your room key to Pat. He'll bring your guitars and all your shit. You're going with me right now'. I took him to the theater. We were sold out 3500 people and I said let's just walk in and sit down. We walk in the front door and sit down and he looks around and says, 'Where's all the people?' I go 'the people don't come until very late. I mean hardly anybody sees this band'.
And even when we were done there was maybe a thousand people out of 3500 when their set was over. But when they started playing Running With the Devil and You Really Got Me and Jamie's Crying and all that stuff, and all the guitars Neal was just blown away. Blown away and he says 'man I gotta meet that guy, I gotta learn that stuff and I mean, you think he'll teach me that shit?' (laughter) I says 'man if you'll teach him some of those melodies you come up with'. He say 'whadaya mean'. I go, 'the man can't believe the melodies'. 'You mean he watches me?' I said, 'He watches your every note.' On this whole tour he hasn't missed a note you played and you haven't seen him once. So from then on he never missed a note. And they've become very good friends.

Ok, to jump to another point as far as touring – it seems that playing live is about the only way to make money in this business these days? The pressure is on a big tour.
Well now wait a minute.

Don't get stuck in the old, tired, fucked up, ground into the ground model of the traditional exploitive record, you know, Columbia records deal. Well you know, even though Journey had a 37% royalty, hey a phenomenal deal and they were well paid by any standard, but still it doesn't compare at all to what a single freestanding retailer can do for you. What Victoria's Secret did for Spice Girls or Target or Best Buy or certainly a classic example that Journey's following because of Irv Azoff,…

…is the deal with WalMart, absolutely. They blew through 3 million units for the Eagles faster than the record business did back in the, unless you could go back to the peak in the early '80s or something.

It's a phenomenal number isn't it?
It really is. I mean if out of one location WalMart's nationwide and a double album, priced right, $11.99, if they paid the band $8 a unit or something like that, a mountain of money, you know. Twenty four million or something like that and it's not a loss-leader.
WalMart makes money now Journey's gonna have the 11 new songs, the 11 old songs, the DVD that Nocturne is shooting right now.
WalMart's gonna price that really well and Journey's got, I mean this is a chance. The new Eagles record was very, very good and if they can get airplay and have a hit off of that record, wow. I mean it's defying the odds almost unbelievably. Having a hit is like moonwalking on water.

You once, I've gotta quote you on this, you once said that you had a better chance of your dick growing another foot than Journey had of having another hit single.
I admit it. That's what I said. I've got a better chance of my dick growing a foot. Sure I'd love it to happen but it's not very likely, and actually upon further review I'm not sure I'd love it to happen. But anyway, it's just the likelihood. I think I'd stand by that quote and I think the Eagles have just done what I've said. They've just walked on water.
For the 60 year old set to come out and you know Journey can make a great new record. Especially with someone who can still go somewhere with their voice in that tenor range. The songs have to live. The whole idea with Journey was songs that started someplace, took you somewhere, and resolved that and brought you back. Which is a very difficult thing, most guitarists, if they know how to launch a solo and keep it interesting for more than twelve bars, they don't know how to resolve it. That's another thing that Neal's a master at.

Brings it back into the song doesn't he?
Yeah he does and so they could make a fantastic record. I have no doubt about that. The point is how do you get it listened to? How do you get it heard? I mean the business has so hopelessly, for so long, been a contemporary youth oriented business that they have walked away from multimillion dollar brands.
Columbia let Chicago and Heart and Journey and Santana and all these brands that they branded for so long, let 'em go away and they're a huge success. Heart at Capitol, Chicago and Warner Brothers, Santana obviously with Clive Davis but previously with Polygram. What the fuck are they thinkin'? What the fuck? This stuff took so long and so much money to cume up the gross impressions over such a long duration to become nigh onto, if not a household word. This is the hardest thing to achieve.
Madison Avenue looks down their nose at the record business because these guys don't know a thing about selling records. And they were so right, and now everybody thinks they can pick off the record business. It must be embarrassing.
And the precipitous slide into the abyss, do you know when it started? When Steve Jobs took fuckin' a week to get every CEO, every president in the fuckin' music business to drink the Kool-aid. And give their entire catalogs, opening Pandora's digital box, and that shit will never get back in the box, and that's all master recordings going out digitally. And the way music is stored, distributed, sold and listened to has completely changed and they're not invited to the party.
They get paid for their catalog, a little bit, but the real beneficiary is Steve Jobs who really dominates the business from not only software and the delivery side of it but also the hardware and how people listen. The biggest mogul in the history of the business and I think he spent a weekend figuring out how to be the biggest music business mogul in history. He's also the biggest motion picture mogul in history. And he's a majority share holder of Disney all of a sudden. And so this is really important stuff.
Then everybody else said yeah, let's go pick off the record business. And I mean everybody from Starbucks to Victoria's Secret thinks they can do it better and you know what? They're right. They couldn't fuck it up, I mean, by accident they could do it better than the record industry with focus.
Now, if you want a label to push the button you'd better be ready to give up your soul. I never, you know, if Journey, if Jon Cain, or any of these guys wanted to really be honest, and say wow, what was the greatest luxury than Herbie Herbert ever afforded me as an artist? They never had a record company executive step anywhere near them in the studio, in the songwriting process or any part of the creative process.
We completely controlled everything vertically; album covers, the content, the songs. I sequenced each one of those records, and somehow fought to get the record covers the way they were, and I named all the albums. That's what you need, is to have some focus like that. It's not an ego trip, it's marketing expertise. It's branding expertise.
I have nothing invested in this egowise. I would just like to make my living and do what I think I can get done here. So from my point of view that got stopped and mucked up quite a bit. There was no reason for them not to continue in '84, '85, '86.
They could have been a polished Grateful Dead and that was my model as a deadhead. I wanted to just have them, and they were so huge in merchandizing and you know what else? The Journey Force Fanclub was a force to be reckoned with. We really had created the virtual affinity group, but it was physical, it wasn't virtual. It wasn't virtual, it was physical. It wasn't in the computer age. It was physical mailing lists. Well we did have computers. We had the first program that would manage our fanclub and automatically print labels and weigh and sticker and send out newsletters and the whole thing. And they had such a high membership, I think 600,000 at one point.
That list, they sold the fanclub, disregarded it, and just thought that had no value. They almost thought of it as an albatross and a liability. They sold it to Tim McQuaid who ran the Force. He turned it into Fan Asylum [] and turned it into a very successful business. He sold in the internet age and made seven figures. And it was the very same computer tool set that he bought, no modifications. And we invented all those things that you get when you're in a fanclub and go to the box office up until an hour before show time, show your Journey Force card and buy up to five tickets near the front, fifth row or closer and we would hold those seats. Then and hour before the show we'd send them out front with a bullhorn and just fuck over the scalpers. Any leftover fifth row seats, face value at the box office, right here and people would run standing in front of the scalpers right at the box office. You know, and it was just a fantastic thing the way that worked. We invented the travel packages. And you could travel with the band and do the meet and greets. These things were phenomenal.
The velvet rope concept, all those things were created by the Force. These are things that are so valuable now and they just walked away from the whole tool set. They could have just been making their own CDs since they were dropped from Columbia and selling them like Ani DiFranco direct to their own active hot list that by now would have been converted to active email addresses and everything electronically and been completely in business.

So they missed a real opportunity there?
They just don't understand that there's something more to it than just writing songs and singing and playing. That business component of it and the thing is I was pretty much solely focused on that. All the other activities were done in the vacuum of their absence. They said well we're not gonna, even after Raised on Radio in '86, I said fuck it then, I'm gonna do this band Europe from Sweden. I got the job for Kevin Elson to produce it, I'm gonna break it, they released it, they failed, I'm gonna rerelease it and make it a home run. I was playing it for Jeff McClusky and Jerry Mickelson on the back of a band bus outside of the Rosemont Horizon on Journey's Raised on Radio tour, and Steve and Neal came into the back of the bus and said 'oh man that's tired and in the weeds. That'll never happen'.
That was The Final Countdown. It went fuckin' #1 all over the world. (laughter)

Yeah, that did pretty well.
Yeah, then I did the Roxette project and that was very successful, almost dominated the charts there for several years.

Oh they were probably, I was in retail at the time, a record store, and Roxette were the biggest band around.
Yeah and I got them from the get go. I broke The Look here in this country and I there was no looking back, you know what I mean. And I had four #1s, three #2s and two top 15s in two years and sold 60 million records around the world.

That's gotta be good for everything!
Yeah that was fantastic. I just got a big hardbound book in the mail, all in Swedish about Per Gessler [Roxette guitarist] and I looked to see if they had any pictures of me anywhere. But I was a folk hero when that was happening because of what happened with Europe and what happened with Roxette and another Swedish band called the Electric Boys. They were very good, toured with Mr. Big and Hardline, one of Neal's bands.

I saw that show. I saw that show in Marin County California in '92.
Ok, so you know all three bands, Electric Boys and Mr. Big and Hardline. I thought that was a good tour.

Oh, it was a phenomenal lineup. I love Hardline. I'm a huge fan, actually I'm a very good friend of Eric Martin.
Well there ya go and I worked with him for 12 years before I could finally break, that was a long story breaking that To Be With You single. I traded all my Grateful Dead memorabilia for that hit. It's a long story but I mean that was very, very rewarding because you know, I had a lot of people say well you did that thing with Journey and you know you're pretty lucky. And I say 'Lucky, man the harder I worked the luckier I got.' They just kept drumming me on being lucky. I go yeah I must have a horse shoe buried right in my ass. You know but then, Europe, that wasn't luck. I levitated a dead project. Roxette, that wasn't luck. Everybody in the business, everybody turned me down on Roxette. And EMI, I got the record getting played here in this country then EMI changed their mind and said OK, we'll keep it and go forward so I worked with EMI. But right at the last second Doug Morris said, I want it, I want it. I said Doug you waited too long I wanted to make this deal a long time ago. But Roxette, that worked out well and then I did the Mr Big deal with Doug Morris instead. That worked out well too, so you know when you just start taking them all from the garage all the way to #1, I never had a #1 with Journey.

Yeah, isn't that strange?
Number 2 with Open Arms hopelessly behind Endless Love Dianna Ross and Lionel Richie. So I said I'm gonna do this. I got to #2 with Carrie by Europe again and then with Roxette I finally had my first #1 and then with Mr. Big that was my last #1.

Well you deserved that.
That was the fifth single off that Mr. Big record.

Yeah I know. I have the records. I bought the first Mr. Big album the week it was released because I loved all the guys individually and I thought wow what an amazing idea.
You know, I was trying to do them on a legitimate, you know, as a shredder band. And the first single was Addicted to That Rush. I was bold. I wanted to have the real thing. I didn't want to homogenize those guys but eventually if you wanna fuckin' have broad based appeal you've gotta go with something that gets you that hit. And you know, To Be With You, boom. All of a sudden they sell 10 million records around the world. So how do you argue with that?

Eric Martin keeps telling me that's a song that just keeps on giving.
It is a song that keeps on giving. Yeah, that's the one that probably pays his rent to this very day.

Absolutely, yeah, just jumping back to Journey – looking back over the years - they seem to have a history of dramatic vocalist changes don't they?
Well, but how about from Tommy Johnston in the Doobie Brothers to Michael MacDonald? From China Groove to Takin' it to the Streets all of a sudden, totally different voice, what did the new voice get, four or five Grammies. You know, and so you can make these changes. You have to just have to be bold and go forward. And you know at that point I have every right to say God dammit, I wanted to do that with Journey and they were just chicken and the left a lot of chips on the table for what I call in reality 15 years. From '83, because in '84 they should have moved, and so you go from '83 to '98 that's 15 years. How are they ever gonna make up for that lost time?
I mean shit, I got tired of waiting and then when I'd waited all that time and they were ready to go forward they wanted to go with Steve Perry and I told them from the get go that we were gonna have to write a letter and say that we were doing this and offer it to Steve Perry. But in the event that he accepts I'm going to have to decline because at that point it's been about nine years of utter bliss not having to see him or talk to him or deal with his craziness. Man hey, once bitten twice shy. I'm not going back. I have a profound philosophy that our president, Bush, is incapable of articulating but it's very simple. Fuck me once shame on you, fuck me twice shame on me.

You're on record as saying that Steve Augeri was a good choice and a top bloke, and we all know he was a top bloke, but things ended on a negative note for him also.
I don't know what their relationship was like but I thought at first blush, looking at Steve Augeri I like his body language, I liked his look on stage, until I realized it's either hard drive or, you know, and often he would drop his microphone and the vocal would continue. And even for me, it took me a while to realize, Oh, it's not necessarily a hard drive there, you have Deen Castronovo, who could in fact do an even more credible Steve Perry and especially on the ballads. And so on the ballads Augeri would drop his mic and the note would be held and I finally realized.
Because he's got that little teeny bend-around microphone or headset that Deen has and it's not like you can really tell when he's singing. Without video screens, that's where video becomes so crucial. It really does so you can see that. If you're at the mixing board that's invisible, you're not looking at somebody's lips move. At least not me anymore.
I'm sure they passed it off as something for medical reasons or whatever and leaving a notion or tone that maybe he could be returned or that he could return to the band but I think not.
I think it was real and I think that even if you were in fine voice, as maybe this gentleman from the Philippines is right now, this is a rugged expectation.
And to really make it pencil financially you really want to try to get to and try to maintain at least a four night a week date density. This is easy to do in the northeast but very difficult to do in the west because it's so far apart between markets like LA, San Francisco, Seattle. And the secondary markets like Fresno, Sacramento, and Eugene don't yield much more than you're production nut. In some cases it's really hard and so where do you get a third and a fourth show? So it's very hard to route with and density in the West and when you have a high density to pay the bills then you run the risk of vocal hardship.

Yeah, which unfortunately and sadly happened with Steve Augeri.
I think it becomes a chronic problem. The pressures of live performance and you know it's just singing one time too many in any given week and you get a little rough and then it makes it rougher and you need recovery time. And you know what? As you get older you need more and more of it [recovery time].

Yeah, and you were saying at the beginning of the interview that modern technology allows you to make compensations for that.
That's exactly right. So realizing the horrific financial ramifications of failed performances or inability to perform or muddle through it or whatever, I can certainly understand the underlying reasons why they would potentially do this.
But you don't do it as a matter of practice on an everyday basis. You do it on an emergency basis and then you allow the band to have some latitude, some spontaneity for Neal Schon to play an extra eight bars on a solo if he feels like it. Expose one or two links in that choke chain, loosen it up a little bit but it's tight. It's really a tight thing.
I would want to get out from that noose. I've had that conversation with Neal any number of times. Why don't you just loosen that up a little bit. It feels a little regimented through the material.

Now you're talking about the band using a click track? []
Yeah exactly, I mean you're stuck. You've got to nail the exact arrangement, the exact meter and you cannot deviate or vary from that meter. So once that song's clicked off you'd better hold tempo perfect. You know what? I love click tracks from a meter standpoint. I think timing makes the music, tuning makes the musician. You really, when the time and the meter is really right, it gives power to the music and when you have bad meter you can't dance to it and you fall in a heap.

And after Steve Augeri came Jeff Scott Soto.
I really didn't think that Jeff Scott Soto was the right choice.

He has much more of an alto voice. There was a lot of material, especially Raised on Radio material like I'll Be Alright Without You that he might have done really well on but if you're gonna try to do the really high songs like You've Got Something to Hide or La Do Da or whatever, I can't recall, I went and saw them in concert and there was a bunch of material that was so far out of his reach he was just as bad as Augeri at his worst so you can't. If you make a change it's gotta be an upgrade. Kevin Chalfant would have been a much better choice at that point. Kevin Chalfant would be a much better point now. I don't know.

But they have gone with Arnel Pineda.
I've listened to the record that he has made and the songs that they've chosen on this 11 song thing and the performances are very credible. Have you heard it?

Oh no, I'm eagerly anticipating it though. Have you heard it already?
Yeah I've got a copy of that and it's in my truck. I listened to it and I thought he did a very good job. I gotta tell ya.

With the re-recording of the old hits, the sacred ground so to speak?
Yeah, sacred ground, well how sacred is it? Anybody is given leave to do that.
They're public domain now. Kevin Chalfant, anybody can do a Journey Greatest Hits record and see how they fair. You know and provided this is, I just think he does pretty good, pretty damned good.

Well here you're talking about a singer competing with the world's greatest melodic vocalist at his prime in Steve Perry, so to come close is probably doing extraordinarily well.
Yes that's right. I think I agree with that completely. To come close and he comes better than close.

Wow, I'm really pleased to hear such an enthusiastic endorsement.
I guess many fans are worried about the band treading on sacred ground by re-recording those tracks. Why do it?

Look at Frank Sinatra - he comes into the world and he puts together a string of hits that was formidable for Columbia Records and has a whole career. Well then he wants to come out west. He gets offered a boatload of money and a huge royalty to record for Capitol. So of course, sacred ground although it was he re-recorded the entire catalog for Capitol and it was hugely successful. I mean this is the stuff dreams are made of and he was such an important artist you can't imagine. I mean Steve Perry, I took Steve Perry and Steve Smith to see one of Nocturne's tours and it was on the opening night in Oakland Coliseum. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin, ya know, and I said 'come and see the classics. You'll see Dean was the inventor or smooth before Perry Como and Andy Williams and all these guys'. This was the guy and you'll see so much of Michael Jackson and the dance moves and everything from Sammy Davis and then when the Chairman of the Board gets out here, phrasing, delivery, material he's just gonna hammer you. Of course that happened. Steve was impressed. How can you not be? And so then Warner Brothers came along and said 'we'll give you your own label and a mountain of money if you'll do it again'. So then he recorded it all again for Reprise. Now what happens is, in these contracts there are provisions for re-recording clauses and usually a re-recording clause would elapse in seven years at the outside and often in five. So then your re-recording restriction has expired. Now it's your song. You're allowed to re-record it and if you can re-record it somewhere and get it fresh and have a new mechanical royalty for it at the current statutory rate and get a new artist royalty for it from a new label or a much higher royalty from alternate means from re-recording it, go for it. I was one of the guys in fact advising guys to follow the Frank Sinatra model and do just that.

This is great. I really wanted to hear your take on this so this is interesting.
It's a way to generate revenue. I had Steve Miller put his greatest hit together and re-recorded them and I sold it to Arcade in Europe for TV advertising. I sold it to my buddy Michael Gudinski at Mushroom Records [legendary Australian record label] and got a gold album on my wall, from a re-recorded Greatest Hits by Steve Miller. All new sell it to Michael Gudinski, made the deal myself. Is he still kickin' around down there?

He most certainly is.
Good, he's a good man.

Yes he is he's done a lot for music in this country. So basically you're saying don't get hung up on the original because you've already got them?
Right and you know sometimes this stuff gets re-recorded and is much better. It's much better. One artist and manager that took my advice and actually came to my studio to do it was Bill Thompson with the Jefferson Starship and Mickey Thomas and we took these records and these tracks and I remember one day we figured out that the average cost of each track of their greatest hits record was in excess of $150,000. Many of them were produced by guys like Ron Nevison and Peter Wolf and yadda, yadda, yadda, and I said let's come in, and I really believe in today's age with all of our new, modern recording technology, that in complete A-B comparisons we can smoke every aspect of every one of your greatest hits. Deeper, broader bandwidth, better stereo soundstage, better tuning and timing and record quality, reduce of noise floor and I mean the only thing that would be questionable is the quality of the vocal performance. If you can deliver that vocal as well or better than the original we can absolutely eclipse all the original recordings. And we did that and we did it for $15,000 for 15 songs.
So when you have a second shot at it, you know like 'Boy would I like to have another whack at that.' And sometimes you can hit it out of the park. You know what? I always felt that with Journey. So when I was putting together the Greatest Hits or putting together the Boxed Set [Time 3], I remember this, I'll admit to this, I always favored the track live off of Captured that Kevin Elson produced. For instance, as compared to the horrible recording quality in truth, although trendy and the moment and with lots of oral excitation and layered tracks, but those Roy Thomas Baker tracks on Infinity and Evolution were wanting. I mean if you listen the Wheel In The Sky off of Infinity and the bass drum and everything else even for 1978 it was almost kind of a medieval recording style. You know I really, I just thought he did a piss poor job. I really didn't like Roy Thomas Baker. And you have great songs which is the nucleus, the epicenter of our business, and so they had great songs and they had great performances. What was really bad was the way it was recorded. I remember going to Cherokee and he was playing back the songs and he'd blown up the speakers and I said please Roy, don't play it back so damned loud. I want to hear it so I'm insisting that I don't want it to go over 104 DBs. So I'm listening back at that level and I'm hearing this rattling and this ticky-tacky like somebody's got BBs in a plastic bottle or shaking a canasta or something. It's just awful. I'm hearing this and they couldn't hear it. It was driving me crazy. Finally I reached over to the knob on the board and turned the sound off and was gonna yell at him. But then the minute I turned the soundboard off and the speakers down I still heard the rattling, even louder. I said there it is, it's really loud. And I looked to the left of me and there was what he insisted on using. His own Stephens 40 track recorder, and every VU meter and every needle was tick-tacking pinning. Totally pinning itself and red lining and making almost drum rolls. Forty meters rattling and that was what was making all the racket. And I looked and I said look at this thing. You're so over-saturating tape it's creating compression and limiting just from over-saturation. You're just pushing the life out of this recording. And so, if you take songs like, whatever, Lights or Feelin' That Way or any of those songs from Infinity or Evolution or Departure and the Captured versions are usually vastly superior.

On the new recordings, are there any one or two or three songs that you thought the band really nailed? I don't even know what songs they've rerecorded yet.
Oh, I don't have the list in front of me. I remember there being, they did 11. There are more songs that need to be recorded than 11. I remember being pleasantly surprised that they did Stone in Love. They didn't do Ask the Lonely which was always one of my favorites. Ask the Lonely and Only the Young were originally on the Frontiers album.

And they should have been, what great songs.
What great songs and instead they were pulled off and Backtalk, because Steve Smith wrote it and he voted in on, it was a terrible glorified Bo Diddley, and Troubled Child, a real down Roger Waters kind of you know, funeral dirge kind of thing.
I feel that with Ask the Lonely and Only the Young, and with the original Frontiers artwork, not the space alien last ditch effort to get the record out on time because he rejected the Kelly/Mouse cover which was brilliant, I think it would have eclipsed Escape. But he really didn't want that.

He really didn't want that and then of course when his record didn't sell as well then he kinda wanted to sabotage the Raised on Radio thing and bring Journey down to the level of him on his solo project. And getting rid of Smith and Valory and destroying and you know it's not a matter, I would say to Steve Perry, it wasn't a matter of what you want it's about your fans and the fans of this band. They're not all here to see or here your. Ross has his fans. Steve has his fans. I have to believe, especially with the way Steve Smith has gone on and the accolades he's received in his career and how Ross has continued to perform at an high level, you know, that, you know, dude you were wrong. I mean, Hello.

I saw there was an alternative cover for Raised On Radio also.
Yes there were multiple covers on Raised On Radio. At least two other than the one used.

And now, 22 years later fans are still debating the whole Raised On Radio album.
Oh are they really?

Absolutely, people still argue the point on…
…whether it's even a Journey record or not.

That and the whole change of style and where the record fits into the Journey legacy.
That's interesting. I never knew that until this moment that they were astute enough to realize it's hard to call that a Journey record.

I should send you a link to my forum, or maybe I should do you a favor and not send you a link! But it's arguing in the most infinite detail over the band and Raised on Radio is a constant. The whole lineup, the tour, the sound of the album, some people say it's their favorite album and some people hate it.
I have to admit it cost more than all the other Journey records put together. The guy, Bob Clearmountain you know, it's a very well done thing but it's just a bastardization of Journey. It's a corruption of the formula. It's very good, great songwriting, songs like Girl Can't Help It, I love I'll Be Alright Without You.

Oh I love the album. I think it's great but it's a different beast isn't it?
Yeah, it's a different beast and Randy Jackson, I don't know if you ever see him on American Idol and Journey being his claim to fame.

I can't take him seriously sometimes.
Yeah I know 'Yo dude yo.'

I see him with that hairdo from '86 and the clothes!
It's pretty rough and they've actually showed videos of him wearing those clothes on American Idol. Hey dude, your lack of humility knows no bounds. I mean wow, that could be embarrassing. But I guess it's so dated that he, you know, and it's his link to credibility really. Everything else, well he was just a hired side guy there too.

Purely hypothetically speaking here, but during the mid '80s with Steve and the band on the road, if technology had been available then, could you see Steve or the band using technology to assist their performances?
Well yes, well I don't know. We were doing it and had the technology and were triggering Akai samplers on background vocals and were perfectly capable of doing it on any lead vocal we wanted to on the Raised on Radio tour.

Yes, we pioneered this technology. We were, you know, that's my thing, production, so they had somebody right there. I'm managing, but I'm right from the back of the truck and I want to be on the leading edge. Just like Steve Miller was the first national tour to have in-ear monitors and it created a whole revolution. No monitors on stage, no equipment on stage. Everything off stage, just drums and keyboards and that's it. No speakers on stage, nothing, clean, clean, clean stages and I was certainly all about that in the Journey stage design. We carried our own stage and we were so oriented in sound, lights and production. We owned all that stuff, and you know, I'll tell ya, it's somewhat of a phenomenon that as egocentric as the music business is that other bands would unabashedly approach us for production services being so enamored and see these Journey tours and be so impressed that they would swallow their pride and come to us and ask us to do it for them.
Whether it was The Who on their farewell tour wanting their set designed and video on their '82 farewell tour or Loverboy wanting us to do the lights for them and just various production services, we must have had 20 concert halls pay us to build barricades like ours for them for their venues. Our stage and our barricades and the design and they were portable and they were put together and they were bullet proof. You could not bend or break these barricades and so you know, just good stuff like that.
I wondered, I've always wondered, I guess that Journey just didn't get that. It wasn't on their radar, it certainly wasn't a source of pride for them. And in '84 I came to find out that they had had a meeting with Joe Brown with a production sound company in England and offered to sell him Nocturne. And for what they basically hadn't been repaid. They invested two million and they recaptured a million two fifty of it and so they were outstanding, unearned three quarters of a million dollars. Hey, we were only a couple years into it at that point and they're earning back quickly and so the offered to sell it and that's when I said I'll buy it. That's just crazy. I'll buy it for that very same price. It does over 20 million a year you know. What were these guys thinking? Holy shit. Neal stayed in on Nocturne.

Yeah I though he did.
He's the only one that did and all the other guys must just be scratching their asses. What the hell, you know? And that was really Steve Perry that was the influence to say liquidate the investments, liquidate the real estate, liquidate the production company and he must have brushed a hundred million dollars off the table right there. And you know what? These guys should want to beat the livin' shit out of this guy. He cost them so much. He cost them so much. And cost himself so much and I've always said it's almost like he wants revenge and you know the old saying, 'if you want revenge dig two graves'.

Interesting. I guess Steve wouldn't be too happy about the guys re-recording stuff now.
He must have put up a fight to have that stopped. I think he probably did but I think he had to throw in the towel. What can you do? California is what's called a Right to Work state. They've never employed that strategy but it's as good and any you're gonna find. I mean they should have never, ever kowtowed to him in the slightest. I've never understood it but wow he sure carried sway with Journey, with Irving Azoff Management, and with the record company too. Impressive, I tip my hat. And all negative, nothing that would benefit or inure to the benefit of Sony, Columbia, CBS Records, whatever or Journey. As a matter of fact he just cost them money at every turn. So why, what's the attraction you know, what's the attraction here?

Nocturne sounds like a massive company these days. Is that early decision to buy into it paying off?
Nocturne is, we're buying two high definition, major investment right now for Metallica, one of our clients, who's gonna do such a massive stadium tour that we're gonna hopscotch complete productions. Mega-productions and so it's a business where we do a lot of reinvesting and if we want to maintain our market share and continue to be the #1 video company in music then we have to continue to invest but it's something that, the company went through it's first incarnation from '79 through 2001. Then we just kind of folded that down, refinanced and funded a whole new company and we've been doing fantastic, but we have to buy a lot of new technology. The whole advent of high definition basically meant all of our old MTSE standard systems were obsolete.

Ok so Nocturne's a sort of retirement investment.
Yeah, retirement, and not that it's not making money and it makes money, but a lot of the money that it makes is in assets build up and so core value of the company we have taxable assets without any cash so the company funds all of our taxes with increases in equity and gives us money too but it's not like it's making us rich.

And meanwhile Neal's still out there on the road doing what he does best.
Yeah well he, I saw a relationship that started out I think in Denver the first time that Neal Schon and Steve Perry sat down to write a song they wrote Patiently. That's such a great, great song. You go from there to Neal is doing the cocaine, drinking, fuckin' the chicks, doin' all the fuckin' things that Steve couldn't do as a lead singer. And then going out on stage totally hammered and playing perfectly. And then he'd go on a binge for a week, come into the studio hammered, and do all of his guitar parts, in that condition, on the whole album in the next two days and that's it. This guy, you know you take his album like Voices and I don't think Neal spent two whole hours on any track on that record and every single effect, everything you hear comes out that way on his guitar. The engineer has two stereo channels totally flat no EQ and all the effects, everything you here Neal does, on the fly, real time. The dude plays equipment every bit as good as he plays guitar. He's a frickin' genius with it and he just moves right through the whole thing and he'll play a couple bars, get it in his head, 'I got it, let's roll.' And he just rolls and sings the song. I'm telling you nobody can do that.
My dear, departed friend Don Pearson who owned Ultrasound, probably the best sound company in the world, and they invested so much money in this ultimate Meyer sound system, and was on tour with the Grateful Dead for years and years and years until of course Gerry died. And um, then he put that system out with other artists one of which was Andrea Bocelli. And on Neal's record Voice there was two Andrea Bocelli tracks and in front of 300,000 people in Hyde Park in London on that sound system he played those two tracks and Andrea Bocelli was back stage, and this was also a Nocturne tour, and he said 'Who in the fuck is that? He's doing my vocal and every nuance of my vocal.' How can someone do that, you know? Even the singers hear it. You know Bryan Adams toured with us on the whole '83 tour. He heard 'Everything I Do I Do For You' off of that record and said, 'Jesus, that's just fuckin' unbelievable.' Even the singers themselves, they just don't expect somebody to be able to play like that.

Like Neal?
Like Neal yeah, get that feeling, get that phrasing, really get that voice.

Yeah absolutely I agree, I agree.
So just to jump forward to wrapping things up in a minute because you've given me so much of your time and I appreciate that. Years ago could you have imagined Journey with a Filipino lead singer? It's quite amazing.

Well, I think I can see even a sequence of vocalists. I just don't get, now if you had said, I think I would have said the much harder and much more challenging thing. Were you to replace Neal Schon?

I don't think you could.
I'm not saying you couldn't. I betcha I could find someone who emulates him so much, and you know what, it's just like there've been like any number of guitarists that have been right there on the verge of a very credible Jimi Hendrix. And I mean here is one of the most innovative, if you had to single out one frickin' guitarist that created such a special voice in a sea of guitar players I would probably single out Jimi. And now I've seen so many people do such a credible job of emulating him, but the key is being him and originating that voice. Carlos originated that voice, Clapton originated that style, and so now to come along it's, if you didn't invent it, to emulate it is far easier than inventing it. So I think that you could find somebody to mimic Neal Schon. There was a time when I thought that would be far more difficult than finding someone to emulate Steve Perry.

Yeah and there's always Josh Ramos isn't there?
Josh Ramos, yeah there's a problem. (laughter) I mean he's a sweetheart.

So Journey have found this singer - Arnel Pineda - and you know he's got an amazing Perry-like voice and you think that's a good move going back to the Perry sort of sound?
I think, you know I thought even when the Storm performed and they were on the Bryan Adams Waking Up the Neighbors tour, and playing all the arenas and coliseums I would here people in the audience going 'I didn't know Steve Perry joined the Storm' (laughter) or whatever just looking at Kevin Chalfant. Enough of a similarity in resemblance and a great voice and they really can't do an A/B comparison on the spot and determine the disparity or the nuance of difference. And so it's effective. It's very effective and I, you know when I go and see so many bands today I think they're as good or better than ever whether it's the Doobie Brothers or ZZ Top or Lynard Skynard and Lynard Skynard's had all kinds of people coming in and out of the band. Who's left? Maybe Gary Rossington and that's it? I don't know but they still sound pretty credible. It's the music, it's the name.

It's funny you should say that. I won't name names, but somebody suggested to me that it doesn't matter who the singer is. And I just thought for a band with such an iconic singer like Steve Perry that was a really unusual statement to make. Yeah, I would say it's more true than not.

If you can't have the original (who doesn't want to or whatever)…obviously time moves on, then get someone who can.
You're probably one of those devotees who took a long time to arrive at that conclusion and to move on and say you know, I think I can go ahead and accept a substitute.

I was actually one of the biggest champions for Steve Augeri and I thought Jeff Scott Soto was a fantastic idea. Plus he's a friend of mine…
Yeah, I liked Soul Sirkus. I went and saw him at the Filmore, I thought Marco Mendoza was a tremendous musician. I mean the whole band was really tight, very good, Jeff was a great performer. I liked his look, his performance wear, I saw him with Journey he changed his look so much he really, he's changed his look so much. You know it really just changed the vibe. When I saw him in Concord and they were so desperate for me to come and see 'em, then they call and they want my opinion and it's really a mistake because they never really, you know musicians, they really want cheer leaders, they want groupies and they want the fanclub routine and they know better than that with me. I've never been that for them. You know you hear the genuine, the true fan in me when I talk about Neal Schon as a guitarist. But hey you know I'm not gonna blow smoke up your ass and I'm gonna give you my honest opinion about a performance. And when I saw them I just thought wow, here's a band that hits the stage and it looks, you know, I wanna see my stars, my heroes descend from Olympus as Gods. Inaccessible, almost unattainable, you know, just out of reach. I wanna love everything about 'em, their wardrobe, their look, their everything and these guys came out in a t-shirt and jeans and they just looked like the monsters from the black lagoon. I mean really just like the roadies, very pedestrian, very pedestrian. Where they were capable of performing at a pretty good level, much better than the headliner that night, Def Leppard, but Leppard came on stage looking like stars and entrance and exit and look and image is hey, hello, it's a big fuckin' deal. You know, it's a big part of it and I think they really shot themselves in the foot that way. Then of course they chose the wrong material. The fact of the matter is that Jeff Scott Soto is not a tenor and so what the fuck? If Steve Augeri was struggling with these songs it's gonna be even harder for Jeff Scott Soto and it was.
And the thing is, the whole time that you were rooting and rooting and rooting for Augeri I knew that there was problems. Not because I was going to shows but because right at the beginning my company shot the Vegas show that was put out on Direct TV. And the original footage of that they insisted, you know, people at my company insisted that I come and watch. And I go, please I wanna come and watch Journey on video, what the fuck? And they said no you have to set and watch this for a minute. I go why, you know, it was like torture. So I sat down and then it was torture. I said what's going on here? I go man he's really, he's missing everything. He struggled so badly that night you can't believe it. There was hardly anything that could be saved in the lead vocal and the problem was to me at that particular time was Neal Schon was grimacing when he would miss these notes. I said man you can fix these notes in a studio but you can't fix the visual on Neal. And I'm like gettin' all sour faced because it's pretty sour. Neal has dog hearing and I said that to him too. I said 'you've got dog hearing I know you can hear that this guy's missing it'. And not necessarily, he doesn't know what's being fed in his earphone monitors and they don't have floor monitors.
So he needed what may have been a crutch in the beginning but became something he was leaning on much more heavily than should have ever happened. So it's just unfortunate and I guess from the vocal in Sweden he wasn't even trying to sing along in key and it was pretty bad. In the house it sounded great but in the recording room at the raw feed, canned feed, and so that was a bust. Ok busted, the party's over, this ruse is up, now you're gonna have to try to get somebody who can really sing so you get Jeff Scott Soto without the benefit of the same crutches and help that Augeri had. He was just quickly and after a few dates in a row he was raw. Those songs will get you. They're very difficult to sing. Playing them in the original voice is like murder on a voice.

One of the hardest catalogs in music without a doubt, I would think.
Yeah I think you're right and so there it is. That's a formula for problems and so finding this kid that can do it au-natural without help that's nice. That should have happened a long time ago.

Do you think Arnel's voice will hold out? He will be under the same road conditions as everyone else before him.
Well like I say it's a very tough thing. The road is grueling on a voice, that's the hardest thing. And if you get sick you get sick. You lose your voice and you've got to power your way through it. There's just nothing you can do about it. It takes X amount of time to recover and man, trying to go through and get through gigs when you have laryngitis is just the worst.

Oh I can imagine it would be awful.
Yeah it's so hard on a singer and just brain damage, traumatizing is what it really is.

I hear Steve's doing better now and I'm really pleased for that.
He had been in a band, I think it was maybe Tall Stories. They opened up for Mr. Big so I knew him well before this gig. He had asked me about, 'Oh Mr. Herbert I'd love to sing in Journey.'

Oh yeah, I heard that from lot's of people.

So he was like putting his hand up back then?
Oh sure and talking to Eric Martin. Ask Eric, he was buddies with Eric. Eric Martin would talk to me about him being a real candidate to do it.

Well he certainly was. Tall Stories are going to do a show in October, a live show in England - a comeback. So I hope he nails it. I hope he does real well.
So he knows you were a big supporter of his and a big fan?

Well yeah, up until the point where the message board chatter overtook everything else. I just try to stand in the middle of all these camps – there are a lot of possibilities for conflict when passionate fans congregate.
Yeah, well I'm totally out of that fight. I got no dog in this fight.

Well I'm glad to hear it but I'm really pleased to hear your thoughts on the new line-up.
You know I have no ill wishes towards those guys. I hope only for the best for them. I really hope this works out well with WalMart. Hey man they've struggled. It should, I cannot help but feel that they squandered and pissed away their place in history, their opportunity at induction into the Hall of Fame, and they seized defeat from the jaws of victory.

Based on not breaking away from Steve Perry earlier?
Yeah, you know I get the idea of 'how can you miss me if I don't go away' you know, but they went away for 15 years. And to live through a couple generations like that and a wholesale change in the way music is bought, sold, distributed, listened to and everything I mean you know it's pretty amazing that they have such depth of popularity. And you know they are definitive evergreen. And a definitive evergreen is an artist that sells far more in death than they did in life. Journey in '86 had sold 22 million records and when they resumed business in '98 they were somewhere around 70 million records. And they hadn't played a song or a show or done an interview or done a video or done a damned thing in 15 years.
And without any benefit of their presence or involvement or any exposure in the media they more than tripled their total lifetime sales. So that's an evergreen for you.
You see artists like Hendrix who really had to die for that to happen and here these guys are still on the planet but it's as if they got shot. I mean you know, they just fell off the face of the earth for so long and they lost all their momentum and their cohesiveness and their ability to maybe go beyond Raised on Radio and have future hits. Obviously, I don't know, did anything click on Trial by Fire? Did they sell any records with that thing? Their live greatest hits was put out because they didn't earn back their advance, I know that. They had to have the live greatest hits to pay money back and the Greatest Hits Live was a live record where the audience had been extracted. That was awful. That was soundly rejected by the consumers. I know that didn't work.

They had a small hit with When You Love a Woman.
When You Love a Woman, that got some airplay?

I got a little bit of airplay yeah.
But we're not talking about a gold album or anything?

I think Trial By Fire did a million copies in the end.
Oh really? I think just.

I think it just scraped over the million line, I'm not sure.
Well that's very good.

That's just from memory. I know Arrival only did about 250 or 300 thousand.
And that was the first one with Augeri?

Yeah, but by that time we had the internet screwing with everything anyway.
Yep, well the digital Pandora's out of the box. Somebody gets one copy of Soul Sirkus and the whole world has it.

Yeah, it's kind of insane isn't it?
It's kinda rough if you're a royalty recipient, intellectual property owner.

It certainly is. Just to get your take on that before we close off, where do we go from here in this digital age? Has the internet screwed everybody or just the major record labels?
I think it's in fact empowered everyone. What was started in an analog, mail order, pick, pack and ship world, artists like Ani DiFranco out of Buffalo now have the access to the digital world. I remember seeing, I think there a Maria Tequila on MySpace that has two million friends. One button she pushes and sends an email to all of them that she's gonna strip naked at Hollywood & Vine at 12 noon tomorrow, be there or be square, and you know two million people have an opportunity, or at least they know about it. They could forward it and you could have a huge crowd at Hollywood & Vine. I mean this is a fantastic tool set that's available and so if Journey's still maintained their active email list and had 600,000 names and growing, there's a business right there. I betcha Ani DiFranco doesn't have 150,000 names and there isn't a label in the business that could pay her enough money to leave her business model. I mean if she sells 150,000 records and netting twelve bucks a unit that's, what I have to sell on a conventional deal to make that kind of yield? And I have a direct relationship with my fans who are highly engaged. This is a fantastic concept and this is why American Idol is really brilliant. Because these simple concepts are not tough to get your mind around have been out of reach by most managers and most artists for so long, but it's about engaging. So when they go through these early trials of American Idol, and I don't even watch this fuckin' thing, but they have all the bogus performances and they kind of ferret out the good performers and then at a certain date that they have it distilled down to 24 or 12 or whatever they start inviting people to vote on your favorites. But they try to get you early so it's probably when it's down to 24. Then you get engaged and the minute you pick up the phone, not only you're making them money, but you're actively engaged with that artist and you're gonna stick with 'em and I don't care if it's Rueben Studdard or Clay Aiken or whoever, Kelly Clarkson. You're gonna go all the way, you're gonna keep voting and when she puts a record out you're gonna be at least one of the first three million to buy it. And their winners and their runners up and sometime people who get tossed out with five weeks to go are going multiple platinum. Jennifer Hudson left well before the finals and picked a Golden Globe, an Oscar, a Grammy and a platinum record.

Unheard of, unthought-of of isn't it?
Yeah and she goes from nowhere, from nobody, she couldn't sell out a phone booth, to all of a sudden, triple platinum, Golden Globe, Grammy, Oscar.

Amazing, it's really only the record labels that are getting screwed – and some of the cool indie retailers out there. It's sad to see that happen. Some of the major labels needed a reality check though.
They were charging way too much. If they had the Eagles double album I'd be $19.99. It wouldn't be $11.99. The motion picture business was selling multi-layered DVDs with letterbox and analog versions and director's cuts and talk-alongs and picture galleries and so much stuff for $14. You want a rare CD, $18. How long was that gonna last? These guys were idiots they got what they deserved. And you know Madison Avenue says if we take something like Hartz Mountain bird feed and we take it and do our typical advertising mix of media, print, radio, TV and so forth and we sell under a hundred million units we get fired. The record business sells 10 million units when we have research that shows there 300 million music systems in America, pre-MP3 and Ipod type players, there were 350 million before that, and you sell 10 million and you celebrate like you've changed the world? You know and it's just crazy lack of penetration into the market place and it's just a laughing stock. Nobody ever even bought media mixes. Nobody sold enough to justify a normal media buy. So it was just terrible.
The business has always been ripe for pickin' and somebody finally started pickin'. And it's really excellent for Journey to have this Walmart opportunity. This is the first chance they've really had I think to pull themselves out of the dark ages. Because in the old model what they did, if they did do those things even with Trial by Fire and Arrival, it just didn't have the feel or the presence of records that sold a million or 350. Boy, I can't feel it, is it in yet? There's just no presence to me. And there certainly wasn't any surge in their business and concerts. But do you know, I believe that Steve Augeri performed substantially more concerts with Journey than Steve Perry did.

Oh absolutely and he was actually in the band longer. What a phenomenal concept that was!
Yeah, there you go and so what's the liability of replacing singers? Well there's your answer. You know, and so if you had a really excellent one, if he really had, let's say this kid's voice, he [Augeri] certainly had a great look and you know he was good. He moved much better and was much more genuine. People don't realize that Steve Perry wouldn't even look at an audience.

Oh really, never eye contact, no way.

Well Steve remains a a very private individual to this day I guess.
Yeah, he sure does. That's fine with me, who cares? I guess you have contact on your board with people who would love to hear from him?

Oh of course they would, yeah.
They'd love to find out what's making him tick, what he's thinking.
You know, a voice is something, if you don't use it you lose it.
You know what, I tell ya, there's a lot of rumor about they're gonna build some palace for Michael Jackson in Vegas, I think he might have the same problem Steve Perry has.

Why, because he hasn't sung?
He hasn't sung since the '80s. And you know, it just goes away. It's a muscle, it's something that has to be exercised and trained and to get to that level of conditioning its hard work. And you know I think Steve Perry's really tried. When he had a solo career and his solo tour he tried to do it. I've heard that he's gone to the greatest vocal teachers and got the best help that you can get and it's just not there anymore.

So what can you do about it?
There's nothing you can do. So any other questions, I'm getting' tired?

Hey look, you and me both. Like I said I could talk to you for a week but today that's more than enough and I really do thank you for your time.
You know I just had my 60th birthday.

Did you really?
Yeah and I've got this big party I'm throwing up here on the coast.

Oh that's right Kevin said he was coming along to it.
Yeah, and Neal's gonna come and play and sing and all that.
I think it's time to get behind this new line-up and give this guy a shot and I think they're moving in the right direction.

I'm really glad we can speak really positively about Neal during interview because he doesn't get enough of that.
He doesn't man. Something has really gone wrong there and I feel bad that these guys, I mean they threw their own thing under the bus. Their own opportunity at greatness their own place in history, to have bands like Van Halen inducted into the Hall of Fame that were their own $500 a night opening act has got to fuckin' effect them. I mean no disrespect whatsoever to Van Halen and Eddie but in songs and content and whatever they're no Journey. So Journey has been slighted totally and the East Coast bias of the Hall of Fame when you have bands in there like Velvet Underground I think credibility is beginning to get strained.

And Madonna, give me a break.
Yeah exactly, Madonna oh my God, now there's a lady…
It's been great talking to you Andrew.

I really, really appreciate your time Herbie. Thank you sir.
Alright, you have a good night.

You too, thanks very much.

c. 2008 / Interview by Andrew McNeice March 2008 / Transcribed by Sherrie and
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