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 - [members.cox.net/mrcarty] - 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?
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 [www.syklopps.com]. 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…
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 [www.fanasylum.com] 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? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 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.