Sat
04
Mar

ALL I KNOW ‘Vanity Kills’ Deluxe Edition Out Now

Artist: 
Categories: 
MelodicRock Classics Label
ALL I KNOW are back!
Before the band move onto new recordings and new music, due at the end of the year, they will first revisit their acclaimed and long out of print debut album ‘Vanity Kills’, presenting it to fans once again in a Deluxe Edition CD, limited to 1000 units worldwide plus for the first time ever – 100 coloured LPs available directly from the band.
‘Vanity Kills’ made a huge splash when released via MRR in 2010, with the 1000 unit pressing selling out quickly.
Just who are ALL I KNOW?
What happens when 4 young guns go through their parents’ record collection ? There are those with bad luck who end up with LP’s by Jean-Michel Jarre, Samantha Fox or Nana Mouskouri. The more fortunate ones strike gold and discover classic albums by Def Leppard, Billy Idol, Van Halen or Poison. Back in the eighties these bands were all part of the hard rock wave coming over from the United States. All I Know pick up where these classic bands left off. On their first full length album “Vanity Kills” they wear their influences on their sleeves. Let yourself be swept away by blistering guitar-attacks, thundering drums and big choruses!
All I Know, from Kortrijk, Belgium, have been playing and writing since 2005 and worked during that time on their debut album, which was pressed independently by the band in 2009 and sold online or at their live shows. In early 2010 the band were selected out of 1000 bands for the final round of Belgium’s most important rock contest, Humo’s Rock Rally 2010, organized by one of Belgium’s biggest magazines, ‘Humo’.
A huge percentage of all successful Belgian rock bands have made their name through this contest. AIK did not reach the semi-finals, because according to the jury, no one is waiting for the next Bon Jovi! But All I Know proud to be the only band representing the genre and is sticking to its guns!
Despite approaching a number of well-known and smaller labels, the band could not secure a deal for a wider release of their album. Something which shocked MelodicRock Classics owner Andrew McNeice: “I was stunned the band had an album of this quality sitting on the shelf. I couldn’t believe that here was something I knew would have huge appeal to my own site audience and no one would take a chance on it. I took it up myself to shop the album to the labels I knew and when I couldn’t get them a deal either! I knew at that point it was time to do things myself. And from that point I knew All I Know would be one of the first bands to be released on my label.” The MRR label was subsequently sold and the new reissue label MRC formed.
The band took a break for a few years, regrouping now with a renewed focus on delivering quality melodic rock and reaffirming their commitment to play live, having already booked new gigs for the year ahead.
All I Know’s sound sees them mix up the best influences of Bryan Adams, Van Stephenson, REO Speedwagon and Bon Jovi.
All I Know ‘Vanity Kills’ Line-Up was: Ward Dufraimont (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Michaël Neyt (Guitar/Vocals), Amély Mondy (Bass).
The Deluxe Edition CD sees all material from the debut album recording and demo sessions wrapped up into one package, closing the chapter of this band’s history.
The CD track Listing is:
2008/2010 ORIGINAL ALBUM
01.  All Night Long
02.  Bad Boy
03.  Asphyxia
04.  Rain (2010 Beau Hill Remix)
05.  Turn Back Time
06.  I Need You
07.  Into Your Heart
08.  I Wanna Rock You
09.  Sweet 17
10. Teenage Queen
11. All The Way
12. Hope And Dreams
2022 DELUXE EDITION BONUS TRACKS
13. Only You (Compilation Track)
14. Consume Me (Compilation Track)
15. Running Away (Compilation Track)
16. My Time (2008 Outtake)
17. All Night Long (2007 Demo)
18. I Need You (2007 Demo)
19. Sweet 17 (Summer 2007 Demo)
20. Asphyxia (Summer 2007 Demo)
21. Make Belief (June 2007 Demo)
22. And Nothing But The Truth (June 2007 Demo)
23. Rain (2008 Original Mix)
As mentioned, the band are also pressing 100 hand numbered LPs in pink coloured vinyl for this special occasion. Released by the band themselves, under the Juvenile Records moniker, the masters have been sent for manufacturing, but due to worldwide delays, the exact delivery date is still TBC.
To pre-order a copy, contact the band at in_the_eye_of_the_storm@hotmail.com and via their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/alliknowofficial
Vanity Kills (Deluxe Edition) CD will be released via MelodicRock Classics April 29.
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Sat
04
Mar

ALIEN – Into The Future (Album Review, 2020)

information persons: 
content: 
70%
Release Date: 
2020
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
Score: 
70
Categories: 
Reviews

Legacy Swedish AOR act Alien deliver their seventh studio album here, the first to see them turn their traditional style on its head in an attempt to reach a new crowd.

So Alien have ‘gone metal’ here, albeit metal with a strong melodic edge and the unmistakable voice of Jim Jidhed reminding us of their true AOR origins.

I’ve seen some very mixed fan responses to this and my initial reaction was very negative. However, despite an absolutely horrendous production (yes, that issue again and a pretty consistent theme of the last 3 Alien albums), there are some great songs on here to enjoy.

I do think the guys are having a bet both ways, with the album split between the new hard rock sound and several lighter AOR songs that could have come from any previous album.

It’s a hard call – do you fully embrace a new sound with all the risks that entails, or do you try and do something different and mix in the old sound to try and keep old fans happy.

Hard to make a cohesive album with two different styles and I think that’s what holds this album back. Not to mention that Jim really struggles vocally on some of the heavier numbers, especially the painful to listen to What Are We Fighting For and Into The Future.

Of the ‘metal’ songs I really like the opening salvo of You Still Burn and Night Of Fire, the band don’t sound any better than they do on these two tracks.

On the other hand, ‘classic’ Alien can be heard with the more keyboard friendly Time Is Right, Freedom Wind and Fallin Way Down.


It’s a mixed album with mixed results and yes, mixed feelings. I think I’ll probably pick a few tunes here and there for separate playlists, but as a start to finish album, there’s something not quite right about ‘metal’ Alien and the production/mix is very muddy to say the least.

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Sat
04
Mar

ALIEN – Eternity (Album Review, 2014)

information persons: 
content: 
92%
Release Date: 
2014
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
Score: 
92
Categories: 
Reviews

Any Jim Jidhead record is a good record and to have the original Alien back together lifts expectations higher than normal.
Thankfully the Swedish AOR Gods deliver – big time. This album sees direct comparison to their hailed classic self-titled debut. They really seem to have recaptured the magic fans hoped for.
Pure Scandi-AOR, delivered with a strong production and layers of vocals over guitars and keyboards galore….it just doesn’t get better for the pink and fluffy brigade.
This is old-school AOR – mid-80s styled, with a good mix and some very catchy songs. Jim Jidhed sounds great, as does the rest of the band in their respective roles.

This is a very consistent album with enough differences between the songs to make things interesting. The tempo is largely up, aside from a couple of big ballads – I Believe and the stark In Truth are both excellent. The mid-tempo ballad I’m A Fighter also appeals.
Elsewhere around the album, highlights include the terrific opening In Love We Trust; the fast moving Unbroken; the classic AOR of Love Will Lead Me Home and the warmth of Summer Of Love plus the feel good Liar Liar.
The only song that doesn’t really strike a chord with me is the jangly keyboard driven What Goes Up, whose chorus and keyboard fill are both kinda of annoying.

The Bottom Line

Strike another one up for the Swedes. Surely it can’t keep coming without end in sight? Well, regardless of that, let’s enjoy these releases while we can. Quality like this helps fans of the glory days of the 80s continue without any need to move into the now. Welcome back Alien – nice to have you around again.

 
Fri
03
Mar

AC/DC – PWR/UP (Album Review, 2020)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Brendan O'Brien
Released: 
2020
Label: 
Columbia
Artist: 
Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

Proof that everything happens eventually, here’s a brand-new AC/DC album, designed to drop some rock n roll healing on a shitty year. Could this be the last ever new AC/DC studio album? Never bet against accadacca but given it has been 6 years since the last album, it’s entirely possible.

Having cranked the contents of ‘PWR/UP’ several times in quick succession, I wouldn’t say the band have delivered a career defining record befitting a grand exit, but they have exceeded expectations to deliver a very credible late-career record that I think will please most fans.

It is true that the guys could possibly have written this album in their sleep and there is no deviation from the style or delivery of the last several records, but there is something very comforting about new AC/DC tunes.

Twelve tracks at 41 minutes in length should give an accurate summary of the contents here. I am comfortable stating that the first 4 tracks are amongst their best in many a year. Realize is a superb opener, with Rejection, the single Shot In The Dark and Through The Mists Of Time all delivering great riffs and hooks.

Elsewhere it’s a pretty consistent run. Only track 8, Wild Reputation, drags significantly for me.

I do wonder how good this would have been with someone like Bob Rock or Kevin Shirley at the helm. The lack of urgency and a harder hitting sound is what I think it missing from latter day records.

Brian Johnson sounds as good as ever, which I’m really pleased about. He’s one of the good guys.

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Mon
27
Feb

SKID ROW – The Gang’s All Here (Album Review, 2022)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Release Date: 
2023
Released: 
World
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
earMusic
Artist: 
Score: 
94
Categories: 
Reviews

Skid Row make the smartest decision they have in decades, by adding the world’s best frontman/rock vocalist in Erik Gronwall, who’s natural energy channels the best of the band’s early years. It seems to have worked, with the band more discussed in recent months than I have seen since the 90s.

‘The Gang’s All Here’ is the band’s most natural sounding record and most energetic since the masterpiece that was ‘Slave To The Grind’, recapturing the vibe of their debut along the way.

And it seems the decision to return to their roots was an organic one, as the album was written before Erik’s arrival, but as if fortune was told, it is the perfect beast for Erik to do his thing with and sounds like a completely natural partnership.

The album rocks from start to finish, without repeating itself, with only the excellent 7-minute epic October’s Song slowing the mood down.

The production is sharp and chunky, everything I love about a great hard rock record and Erik just nails the vocals and the whole continuation of the Skid Row legacy.

Fan reaction has already been overwhelmingly positive so if you’re still on the fence, get off it!

I can already imagine how great the next album will sound with Erik’s full involvement. This album has breathed new life into a classic hard rock band.

 
Fri
17
Feb

FIRST SIGNAL - Face Your Fears (Album Review, 2023)

Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

Redemption all-round here! Harry Hess takes greater control over the First Signal project, the fifth album for the name, just one of the many Frontiers ‘project bands’, and instant rewards are reaped.

The last album ‘Closer To The Edge’ was as bland as they come. No spark and no energy, so Harry tells me he took far more control over this album, co-writing the songs and choosing the heavier direction. Daniel Flores is out and a trio of Italians come in.

The new team behind the music have delivered an album to rival the energy of the first two records. One thing that they do deliver which really took me by surprise, is a killer drum sound – really punchy and a hard-hitting performance which matches the energy of the songs, in fact, this is one of the heavier albums I have heard Harry sing in his career.

I have no idea who produced the album, as the press release and bio only covers the band up until the last album. There’s no actual info about this album at all. But credit to whoever it is.

It’s obviously not Harem Scarem in style, but it does have the great vocals of Mr. Hess, really going for it at his outer limit for range and rasp, yet still plenty of hooks and harmonies for everyone.

A great melodic hard rock record I’m pleased to say. Night and day compared to the energy and quality of the last record.

 
Wed
08
Feb

Herbie Herbert (2008)

Categories: 
Interviews




 

 

Herbie Herbert: One Man's Journey


Herbie Herbert is one of the music industries most colorful characters. For a period of time he was the #1 manager in the business, taking Journey – a band he put together with Neal Schon – to become a multi-Platinum selling stadium act.
And in taking the band to the stadiums, he also helped pioneer the way we watch bands in such settings. The video screens and high-tech productions that dominate tours today were developed by Herbie and the company he and Neal remain partners in – Nocturne – who are today behind tours by U2, Madonna, Metallica, Def Leppard and of course, Journey.
Herbie also broke Swedish hard rock act Europe in America, not to mention taking Mr. Big, Roxette and Steve Miller Band to more Platinum sales and sold out worldwide tours.
He is vocal in his opinions and calls it like he sees it, which doesn't always please some folks on the receiving end.
But few people have been in the position Herbie was in and when the chance to interview an industry legend presents itself you don't turn that down.
I have long followed the business side of the music industry, so Herbie's insights were something I was looking forward to hearing and he doesn't disappoint.
I do think this is a different interview than the infamous 2001 interview which was viewed by some as caustic in nature. And I'm pleased about that – but Herbie still has a number of things to say about the band he spent 20 years of his life guiding, some of which you may agree with, some of which you may not agree with.
There are some points within this interview that I clearly do not agree with, but I respect Herbie's opinion and the experience he has in this business to make those comments.
As was previously the case, Steve Perry remains in his sights as the band's number one problem. Why is this so? Well…one interesting comment from Herbie says a lot. In talking about the band, Herbie says: “I would just like to make my living and do what I think I can get done here. So from my point of view that got stopped and mucked up quite a bit. There was no reason for them not to continue in '84, '85, '86. they could have been a polished Grateful Dead and that was my model as a deadhead.”
I feel that Herbie saw his long held vision for the band altered by Perry and therein lies the root of the problem. Read the interview and make your own conclusions about the personalities that make up this story.
Journey has a long and complex history, with a number of different eras and different fans of those eras. It makes for an interesting world.
At the end of the day, I would like to hope that this interview could be used not as a springboard for new arguments, issues and debates, but rather as a piece that closes the chapter on the past – a glorious musical past that has left us with so many lifelong memories.

Without Neal Schon and Herbie Herbert there would be no band.
Without Steve Perry there would not have been that electric chemistry that helped deliver a catalogue of songs few artists could compete with, sung by a golden voice envied by all.
Without Steve Augeri the band may not have recaptured the imagination of so many fans, allowing the band to continue into a new era.
Without the fans…there would be no point.

Thanks for reading - Andrew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Good evening Herbie. Thank you for granting an interview. I know you don't do too many.
No, I don't.

I'm not sure, but has Kevin Chalfant told you anything about the website or myself?
Not really but I believe I've heard about it because if I'm not mistaken you guys are the ones that somehow in Sweden determined that Steve Augeri was singing to a hard drive.

Ah….well, I didn't have anything to do with that myself, but you are correct in that those claims appeared on my website's message board – posted by the sound guy from Sweden. Some chatter was already taking place and…heated debate continued as it always does on that board. The Sweden thing kind of took on a new life from that point onwards.
Yeah it did and I thought that was a healthy thing, that that came to light. Because, you know I think they dodged a real bullet there. They could have easily been reduced to Milli Vanilli quickly. What's unfortunate about that is Neal Schon's the real deal.

To generalize a little here – many big acts use samples and even shadow musicians behind the scenes to enhance the sound they are delivering. Why that need for perfection?
Well, because the money at stake on any given night is humongous and unlike motion pictures or television you can't say freeze or let's re-tape that or can we do that over or can we shoot tomorrow or whatever. Rock 'n roll is, always has been the most intense, high pressure, and if you're in that pressure cooker and you do get involved with drugs at all, then you're very quickly weakened. And you can't cut it or if you're as clean as can be there's a high level exposure. Every city you get to you gotta go to radio and retail and go to in-store appearances. You gotta have backstage meet and greets with all the record labels and the branch in that town and the various radio station personnel.
All the radio stations, you need their support in each market so you're pressing the flesh and kissing babies and catching the flu.
I remember with Steve Perry we had a four night sellout at the Reunion Arena in Dallas and he really was in rough, rough, rough shape and it was the one time when I had to sit down and go 'Steve', it's horrendous, this is why the pressure is what it is, but we would put in suspense the settlement on this, what at the time was an obscenely big gross in rock 'n roll and until we returned and played the postponed fourth date we couldn't settle because all the deals were really tightly negotiated predicated on four days.
They were extraordinary low deals but they were justified by the band playing four nights sold out in the round and all the ancillary income from parking and all would be frozen if he couldn't perform. And so, somehow he got through that performance and in those days, when that happened, the crutches hadn't been developed.
They hadn't come up with the Akai Samplers and the various technologies that would allow for it. But there was a famous lawsuit that happened in Detroit where it was discovered that a band were playing to just a big reel to reel tape machine out in the soundboard and there was a substantial award - a big settlement against them, a big judgment.

Against what band?
Against Electric Light Orchestra and Don Arden and Jet Records and whoever for basically doing a fake thing, a Milli Vanilli kind of thing.
Journey really, I can remember sitting down one day and putting headphones on and watching a video of the last concert with Gregg Rolie back in 1980 in Tokyo at the Sun Plaza. And being just astonished at how good these guys could sing. You know, Jon Cain was never a Gregg Rolie as a voice but he's been trying and working at it for frickin' years now. He tries to cover those Gregg Rolie songs and he marginally pulls it off and Deen Castronovo is such a frickin' franchise talent. Great singer, great drummer, tremendous talent and so they really could pull off serious vocals. They didn't need the crutches. With Augeri they did. They needed the crutches, they needed the help. He had trouble. It was rough. I never understood why they went with him. They could have gone with Kevin Chalfant.

You have been a champion of Kevin's over the years haven't you?
I really have. Of course he was in the Storm with Gregg Rolie and Ross Valory. And when, you know I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I was on a sailboat going between the Hawaiian Islands and then doing a saltwater fast and was gone for about two and a half months. The day after I got back they were roasting me for the benefit of Thunder Road [October 1993] and they'd put all these bands together that wanted to perform at this benefit and it was sold out and I didn't pick the bands or book it. Journey performed that night and I was stunned. And they performed with Kevin Chalfant. This is researchable because in Rolling Stone, Random Notes, that must have been '93, it said, and this was one of the most cutting quotes I've ever read where it said “Not even Steve Perry's mother would have missed him in the band.” Now that is deep. (laughs) I mean, if you're a writer and you think and say wow that guy really thought about that line.
I mean, he wanted to fuckin' play out a zinger there, ya know? (laughs) So yeah, and so Kevin was pretty flawless at all times and really could sing in that really high range. But, he did an album of Journey covers.

 


Yeah, that was last year – very good CD too.
Yeah last year and the thing is, I think the reason that he didn't get put in the band then is because, you know we're all, how old was Perry when he sang most of these songs, 30, 31, 32, 33, when you're in your 40s or 50's, forget about it. There's no chance, so Kevin was knocked down a half step. I'm not gonna go to a piano or guitar and try to figure that out. And he really intimated to me that this was done in the original key. Yeah, but barely, you know if you're a half step down from a major to a minor or whatever, you know, it's a significant change in the tonality and everything else. And for whatever reason, the band, Journey has always had an obsession with playing the songs in the original key. Despite the logic, the unavoidable logic, that if Steve Perry was still in the band, and I know that there's a giant public out there that would love nothing more, they're clueless to the fact that the guy can't sing anymore.

A number of people have suggested such a thing…
No, I said it in the one interview I did other than this one. No, what the hell, I said listen, here's what I want you to do. Go out there. There were so many people out there in Golden Gate Park for Bill Graham's wake. The Grateful Dead, Aaron Neville and all these artists performed and Journey performed that day. Journey performed, you take these songs and you get a tape of that and they took them down two whole steps. I mean, this is from E to A. They passed G to A, you know what I mean?
Knocking 'em down hard and Steve Perry's voice was all broken up. So, you know, forget about it. It was just so revealing. That was in '91 at which point that day I hadn't seen him since 1986 Raised on Radio and that was five years. And what an ugly encounter that was with Steve Perry that day.
That was the last time I ever saw him, Bill Graham's wake, and if I never saw him again it would be too soon.

You've certainly been outspoken about Steve Perry. Your 2001 interview, which was dubbed Castles Burning - [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?

Oh absolutely.
I mean now, who can do that?

I've got every one of his solo records. I think he's astounding.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (laughter) It really is true you know. He's just something else.

I've got a lot of questions for you Herbie and…
I'm sorry to just ramble on. Go on and ask your questions.

I didn't want to cover a lot of territory that Matthew's interview already did because, credit to him for getting that great interview online, but there's a lot since that point in time that's happened that I'd like to ask you about.
OK. I've been very, very retired and very, very uninvolved.

I think you keep your ear to the ground though right?
A little bit, yeah. I mean Neal will call me and tell me all the things he's doing and of course and way back in the very beginning when he first found this singer on YouTube he called me and had me listen to it.

Oh great, Ok, look I'll get to that in a second Herbie.
I wanted to ask you, just for the people, you know the younger readers of my site that don't know the Herbie Herbert legacy - you started off in San Francisco with Bill Graham who obviously was a legendary promoter.
How did you hook up with Bill?

We met at the Acid Trips Festival, I think in January or early February of '66 and just had various encounters when he had the original Filmore Auditorium and then at the Filmore West and we just became very good friends. He was like a second father to me and a mentor and he is the one who, when I asked him what I should do, having been offered a job by Johnny Winter and Steve Paul from Peter, Paul and Mary who had a big hit at the time - Jet Airplane - and their manager was Albert Grossman.
Bill knew both of those gentlemen and what should I do, and both offers started at $150 a week and in 1969 that was a lot of money, believe it or not. And he said, 'I think you should go to work for Santana'. And I said, 'Santana, why, they don't even have an album out?' And he said, 'well they're gonna have an album out' and he had just returned from Woodstock, which I didn't go to, and he said the world heard Santana at Woodstock, when their album comes out it's gonna explode, and he was of course totally right.
So I said 'What can they pay me?' And he said 'maybe I can get you $75 a week'. So I said, 'you're telling me to not even consider those other jobs for half the money with Santana?'
And of course, Bill goes “You asked, I told you, you owe me nothing.” (laughter)
So I took the job with Santana and loved it, just loved it. And I loved that man, then along came this little punk kid guitar player, Neal Schon, and there's a wild story about how that evolved and somehow Gregg Rolie said to the owner of a studio, yeah I'll help you produce some local club band and Neal was in that local club band. So it was fantastic. Gregg Rolie was always a joy to work with.

 

 

 

 


I've only had a few dealings with Gregg but he has always been very genuine.
Uh huh, and his band's great. He's doing fantastic. If you go and see his band play right now he lets you know that he was a very big part of both Santana and Journey. A very big component, and really the leader, you know. Musically, the band leader and it was devastating when he left Journey. I was fuckin' crushed.

And you covered that in the Carty interview. He'd just had enough at the time. Yeah, it was just, you know, bad things were brewing. He knew it and he didn't want to live through it. I think he felt that Perry was gunning for me from early on and I don't know why.

Yeah, so you started off with Sanata and moved through the ranks and then put Journey together and you were doing pretty well initially. Where did the desire to turn Journey into a bigger act come from?
After the first three albums, and by the third album the inmates were allowed to run the asylum. Meaning that Journey got to produce their own third album, Next. You know, there was a real cult following. They were like a jazz/fusion/rock kind of thing. We played with Weather Report, Majahvishnu Orchestra, Santana, and Robin Trower and bands like that. And it just went over perfect and I loved that original band and many people did. I think the first album in real time sold like 150,000 and the second album sold 250,000 and then the third album did 100,000 or maybe 150,000. So with that, and the thing that people can't quite keep in perspective, is where Journey was in that. All the other bands in their supposed genre had really come and gone. Boston, Foreigner, Styx, REO all those bands had their hits way before Journey had theirs. In fact some of those hits were from things borrowed from Journey. I think if you'll listen to I'm Gonna Leave on the Look Into the Future record, track 5 side 1, it's Carry On Wayward Son, by Kansas. They just lifted it. And if you listen on the third, Next, album to Nickel Dime, that's Tom Sawyer by Rush and they didn't modify it very much.

 

 

 

 


And that, I think, is the biggest song of their career. That's a pretty big career and so they were kinda left in the station when the train left. They were standing on the platform watching the tail lights of the caboose go wailing away in the distance. Then you look up and it's 1977 and they've toured all year, all through Europe with Santana and another big tour with ELO both in '76 and '77 and it just wasn't happening. And you look at the charts and its Donna Summer, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Disco Inferno by The Trammps. I mean it was as clear as ringing a bell that era was gone and basically Columbia Records said that. It's over.
So I was just in a complete scramble and they were gonna drop the act. So there was a scramble to do something to modify what we were doing. So I said we'll change it, we'll go commercial, I'll put in a lead singer and this guy that was in charge of artist development, Arma Andon had a singer that he liked that was managed by Barry Fey in Denver and that guy was Robert Fleishman. So we tried him and did a whole tour with him, with Emerson Lake and Palmer and even played stadium dates. And he was just very difficult to manage. And somewhere along the line I finally got a Steve Perry tape. I'd met Steve Perry numerous times, had thought about him numerous times. There were just certain moments. I mean when I was going to make the deal for Robert Fleishman in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge with John Villanueva we both looked at each other and I goes, 'Steve Perry. I still have never heard that fuck, but I have a feeling about him'. Then when I finally did hear him, I listened to him for about 60 seconds on tape and I tried to chase him down, but he's already left the music business. I talked to his mom and he was working in a turkey farm in Visalia pounding nails with his stepfather Marv on the weekends trying to pay back his debts.
He'd borrowed all this money from them while he lived in LA and put his bands together and put his demos together and did showcase after showcase to managers, to labels, to agencies, and nobody ever heard it. Nobody ever wanted it.

I don't get that at all.
I was pretty astonished by it. I got it in seconds. I got it, and so I wanted, and you know what? At that moment, when I heard it, I was thinking that and well it was really truth, Robert was pretty well in the band and Neal loved Robert Fleishman. They really liked him. He was just a poodle in heat to deal with as a manager. He was like (using whiny voice) “Oh everybody, would you clear the dressing room? That person smoking over there….” That kind of, you know, oh man please. If this is before he's got his first paycheck what's gonna happen?
So there was that side of it and so at that moment I just liked this band. I wanted to sign this band. It was called Alien Project. And I said I'll do this. I'm gonna make this happen. And from my first phone call, that very weekend, the bass player in that band died in a car accident which really left Steve Perry very fermished [messed up].
When I tried to talk him into coming up and spending a week with me at my house he couldn't afford to. I talked to his employer, got an ok, told him I'd pay him the money he was gonna lose, pay his expenses, he can sleep on my couch. He did all that and I started workin' on him and said ok let's forget the Alien Project. Let's talk about Journey. And it was not an easy negotiation by any stretch. He was afraid of Aynsley Dunbar not having a groove, being too white a British drummer with very minimal exposure to soul or R&B and not strong on the backbeat. I loved Aynsley, I still love Aynsley, great guy, intellect. You know, talent with an intellect, that's why I worked with Steve Miller for so many years. I like the resourceful type people, the Jeff Lynne's of the world. But you know at a certain point with Perry, Aynsley only lasted one record really, the Infinity album. Then we terminated him and brought in Steve Smith.

And that was the start of the hits era for the band…
Yes, in truth yes, their first top ten hit was Who's Crying Now from Escape. Although people want to swear up and down that Lights and Feelin' That Way and Wheel in the Sky and all these familiar songs, you know, the Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin', Anyway You Want It, and songs that got so Goddamned much airplay you got pounded by them but they really were never hits. And a lot of that airplay was subliminal. And a lot of it was not really subliminal it's called foreground music.
That was little discovery about these companies up in Seattle, Washington at the time, AEI Audio Environments Inc., and their lobby's loaded with all of Journey's platinum and gold because they played up nationwide like you can't believe on their in-house proprietary music systems. We did big promotions with all their people and access to Journey tickets and merchandise and meet and greets and things like that and oh my God the airplay we got from that was incredible. So every shoe store, shopping mall, restaurant from the Rusty Scuppers to Houstons, you know, there it is. Getting all that airplay, those are all gross impressions and they cume up to a level of recognition and familiarity that makes people really believe that those songs were hit songs. They were heard so much it just wasn't on normal, it certainly wasn't on contemporary hit radio which is how you get a hit single.

Yeah exactly, in the classical sense.
Anything and every kind of radio but that, you know.

You were credited over those years with taking Journey further than maybe they would have gone on their own as well as building the whole idea of a live touring circuit weren't you?
Yeah, it was kind of a sneak attack because when the industry is used to a certain methodology as to how it works and how hit bands work what kind of hit it takes on the radio to go platinum, what it takes in terms of contemporary hit, CHR they called it at the time, radio. R&R Parallel One stations was the bible at that time and we weren't getting any of that yet selling millions of records. This is totally beneath the radar and one of the other techniques was we would fashion the most fantastic radio spots that would emphasize our emphasis track that we wanted the most airplay on and we would run those. Sixty second spots back in the day when radio was cheap to buy. In the '70s it was cheap, cheap, cheap, and we'd pound those and you know those radio spots were airplay. They were cumes [accumulations], they were gross impressions and you know, they're proving that theory right now in the most recent Apple campaigns. The music today that they're using on the new Apple Ipod or the new Air [laptop] da-do-da-do-do and all of a sudden you're singing the song and that's the way it works. Familiarity creates comfort which creates a transaction. So that's what it was all about, how to cume up gross impressions of a band that is not radio friendly in a disco world.
In a disco world and another thing that was very effected was the artwork at that time. Creating a unique, highly recognized imagery within your target demographic so when they see it, so by the time we got to the Escape album it did not have to say Journey on it. And what I would suggest is, no matter how that lineup is perceived, if Jon Cain all of a sudden comes in and it's the classic lineup, OK, OK, but there was a bed there already a base of sales. They'd already sold 12 - 14 million records by then. Across Infinity, Evolution, Departure and Captured, you betcha. Look at all those records. I think Infinity's quadruple platinum, I would imagine Evolution is, I would think Departure's at least triple platinum and the double album, I know Captured is past double platinum.
A double album past double platinum and at a time when lots of live albums come out and no one fared that well, the Eagles or anybody. So they had a hell of a thing going and the way we said Escape was E5C4P3 and the way we wrote the band's name, it looked like Russian and a lot of people never figured out how you had to turn it on it's side to see it say Journey and that was only on the shrink wrap. There were some graphics on the actual album cover itself, but when we initially put it out it was just the egg with the scarab Escape vehicle busting out of it. That's it. Then they made us change it and put some stuff on it. We didn't need to. Blew, blew units out everybody knew what that was. It didn't need to have a name on it. Then of course, right then and there is when Steve Perry really wanted to muck with the formula. You know, he really wanted to put things through a lot of changes.

 

 

 

 


In the years you've had to reflect on that have you come to a definitive conclusion as to why he wanted those changes?
No, he'd send Sigmund Freud to the hills, screaming and rippin' out his hair. (laughter) He's a tough nut to figure.
Who knows, it's probably very petty jealousies or whatever. It seemed like he wanted, you know it was especially revealing to me when we had his solo album and I was managing him with Street Talk, and the song Oh Sherrie, and I mean I tell ya, he really had a gun to Journey's head right then. He had me, and I was just committed, I'm gonna make this happen because also as a manager it was going to be what I felt would be a very rewarding thing for me to know that in view of the failures of virtually every major artist coming out of a major group to have success on their own. The members of Pink Floyd, or Hall & Oates, or the Cars or any band that was huge. Aerosmith or any of theses guys, they do solo records and it's a dud. Phil Collins at that point had failed to go gold on Face Value and the one record that had come out as a solo record that had done extraordinarily well, virtually the same time, was Bella Donna, Stevie Nicks. She did triple platinum and we did more than double platinum in just America alone on Steve Perry's Street Talk. And I can tell you honestly, he denigrated me at every possible opportunity and said that I sandbagged him, that I fucked him, and I you know, and that the record of course should have been much bigger than Escape and showing total ignorance to the concept of branding and what we had built over so many years.
That was '84. We had incorporated Journey, or Nightmare to furnish the services of Journey in March of '73. So here's eleven years of building a brand and a business and he wants to eclipse it with his first release. And if he doesn't I have failed and even though there is a history of nothing but abject failure on solo projects.
So I don't know man, it's like fighting the impossible fight. I remember one time he phoned me at my house and just went nuts about Be Good To Yourself having been the first choice of a single off of Raised on Radio. And I said, it's a great song, it's a great production, it's great sound, it's Journey. That was the problem.
It sounds too much like Journey. Well too many of the other songs sound too much like a glorified Steve Perry solo record. You'll have to remember on Raised on Radio is when he had me remove Ross Valory and Steve Smith from the band. Of course that was completely ridiculous and I forced him to pay them as if they were there on the tour and everything.

Really?
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…

…In '94…
That was I guess very much a struggle. There were certain cities where he booked and calendared and then postponed, then calendared and postponed then ultimately cancelled and never played the market. Couldn't get well, couldn't sing, I didn't see any of that tour but I just heard that it was pretty rough.

Steve hasn't performed live since that point and has only recorded one album - Trial by Fire with Journey again.
Trial by Fire…I listened to that one time and not one lift off. Not one moment of this is gonna go somewhere. Monotone, monotone, I don't know what was going on with that. They really genuflected and signed all these agreement to try to supposedly get him to make a record and tour and I told Neal Schon that I swore on everything holy that he would never tour. 'He'll never do it; I promise you that, I'll bet my net worth'. He didn't take me up on the bet but I was of course right.

That was the last time that Steve was seen with the band. Just about every other band on the planet has reformed at some point since then, including many of them doing it now, but there is absolutely no sign of Steve Perry ever returning from the fray is there?
I really don't think so and to be honest with you I don't think it would be desirable. I mean just in a fantasy world. People want to remember back to a fantastic time when a great, there was a moment when surely Steve Perry was the foremost, contemporary vocal stylist in America. I believe that. Male vocal stylist, he was right there on point. Everybody loved that voice and he touched many people with songs, many of which that Jon Cain wrote like Faithfully and Open Arms. Man they hate it when I tell that story about Open Arms. You know about how they were fuckin' just denigrating Steve and just talking stink. He's in there trying to sing Open Arms with Kevin Elson, Mike Stone and I'm goin' 'he's singin' his heart out, he's tryin' to nail this fuckin' thing'.
I mean you know it was (whiney voice) 'Is that Perry Como, and its so frou-frou' and they're just teasing him awfully. I took Neal and Jon into the backroom and go 'What the fuck are you doin' man? He's obviously written a fantastic song.' Jon Cain goes 'He didn't write that, I wrote that.' And I was stunned. I just looked at him and my mouth dropped open, it go 'Just making your behavior all the more remarkable, unbelievable.' Sometimes man, you can write a brilliant song, (idiot voice) duhhuh, duhhuh, but if I asked you to think it might hurt you.

So they were in the studio giving shit to Steve while he was recording?
Totally giving him shit. I mean seriously giving him shit.

I don't get that.
Anti-inspirational to the max.

I guess Jon Cain and Neal Schon really have become the partnership that has held the band together over all these years.
Well I guess so. I really don't know about the inner workings and the chemistry of it. To me it's always been a situation where I felt that from way back that they should just move on from Steve Perry. I'm talkin' I wanted them to move on in '84.

I heard you wanted that. That would have been an interesting twist.
For them to allow him [Perry] to hold the band hostage, and the money in '84 and '85 and every year thereafter because that '86 money could have been just a real Journey tour with just a replacement singer and this kid they have now [Arnel Pineda] can sing that material right now in the original keys in a very credible way and there's no way Steve Perry could touch that.

I'm gonna come back to this in a minute… but right now, in '84, the mid '80s if they'd have made a break, a similar sort of break as what happened with Van Halen in '86. They brought in Hagar and did a left turn with their sound and they lost some fans but won some others - just like Journey did in '78.
Exactly, that's when they shifted to Sammy Hagar from David Lee Roth. Right exactly and that was a brilliant move and very effective and you know I made a solo record that you may have in your collection called Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve.

Absolutely, love it, for sure.
And you know, we know Sammy really well. He's one of our best friends, he comes to our birthday parties and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Oh I love Sammy. I'm an absolute diehard Sammy Hagar fan.
Yeah exactly, he's a great friend and of course we knew intimately. And of course I love the story of the '78 Journey tour with Journey, Montrose and Van Halen. The tour started on March 1 in Racine, Wisconsin 1978. And I said, 'Hey Neal, be sure to get a look at the opening band. I want you to go and see them and give me a call.' Then I got out to Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland, the big cities, Pittsburg, Philly, every time I'd say 'Hey Neal, you seen the opening band yet?' He goes, 'No man, I never get there on time. I'll do it, I'll do it.' When I finally get to New York, I'm sittin' in the lobby, Pat Morrow the road manager brings 'em in. He's taken them out to the NEW radio and the Sam Goody stores and all that and they got just enough time to grab their clothes and maybe a little bit of food and I say 'hey Neal have you seen the opening band' and he goes 'no' and I say 'give your room key to Pat. He'll bring your guitars and all your shit. You're going with me right now'. I took him to the theater. We were sold out 3500 people and I said let's just walk in and sit down. We walk in the front door and sit down and he looks around and says, 'Where's all the people?' I go 'the people don't come until very late. I mean hardly anybody sees this band'.
And even when we were done there was maybe a thousand people out of 3500 when their set was over. But when they started playing Running With the Devil and You Really Got Me and Jamie's Crying and all that stuff, and all the guitars Neal was just blown away. Blown away and he says 'man I gotta meet that guy, I gotta learn that stuff and I mean, you think he'll teach me that shit?' (laughter) I says 'man if you'll teach him some of those melodies you come up with'. He say 'whadaya mean'. I go, 'the man can't believe the melodies'. 'You mean he watches me?' I said, 'He watches your every note.' On this whole tour he hasn't missed a note you played and you haven't seen him once. So from then on he never missed a note. And they've become very good friends.

Ok, to jump to another point as far as touring – it seems that playing live is about the only way to make money in this business these days? The pressure is on a big tour.
Well now wait a minute.

Oh-oh.
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,…

WalMart…
…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.

Really?
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.

Wow.
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.

Really?
Yes, we pioneered this technology. We were, you know, that's my thing, production, so they had somebody right there. I'm managing, but I'm right from the back of the truck and I want to be on the leading edge. Just like Steve Miller was the first national tour to have in-ear monitors and it created a whole revolution. No monitors on stage, no equipment on stage. Everything off stage, just drums and keyboards and that's it. No speakers on stage, nothing, clean, clean, clean stages and I was certainly all about that in the Journey stage design. We carried our own stage and we were so oriented in sound, lights and production. We owned all that stuff, and you know, I'll tell ya, it's somewhat of a phenomenon that as egocentric as the music business is that other bands would unabashedly approach us for production services being so enamored and see these Journey tours and be so impressed that they would swallow their pride and come to us and ask us to do it for them.
Whether it was The Who on their farewell tour wanting their set designed and video on their '82 farewell tour or Loverboy wanting us to do the lights for them and just various production services, we must have had 20 concert halls pay us to build barricades like ours for them for their venues. Our stage and our barricades and the design and they were portable and they were put together and they were bullet proof. You could not bend or break these barricades and so you know, just good stuff like that.
I wondered, I've always wondered, I guess that Journey just didn't get that. It wasn't on their radar, it certainly wasn't a source of pride for them. And in '84 I came to find out that they had had a meeting with Joe Brown with a production sound company in England and offered to sell him Nocturne. And for what they basically hadn't been repaid. They invested two million and they recaptured a million two fifty of it and so they were outstanding, unearned three quarters of a million dollars. Hey, we were only a couple years into it at that point and they're earning back quickly and so the offered to sell it and that's when I said I'll buy it. That's just crazy. I'll buy it for that very same price. It does over 20 million a year you know. What were these guys thinking? Holy shit. Neal stayed in on Nocturne.

Yeah I though he did.
He's the only one that did and all the other guys must just be scratching their asses. What the hell, you know? And that was really Steve Perry that was the influence to say liquidate the investments, liquidate the real estate, liquidate the production company and he must have brushed a hundred million dollars off the table right there. And you know what? These guys should want to beat the livin' shit out of this guy. He cost them so much. He cost them so much. And cost himself so much and I've always said it's almost like he wants revenge and you know the old saying, 'if you want revenge dig two graves'.

Interesting. I guess Steve wouldn't be too happy about the guys re-recording stuff now.
He must have put up a fight to have that stopped. I think he probably did but I think he had to throw in the towel. What can you do? California is what's called a Right to Work state. They've never employed that strategy but it's as good and any you're gonna find. I mean they should have never, ever kowtowed to him in the slightest. I've never understood it but wow he sure carried sway with Journey, with Irving Azoff Management, and with the record company too. Impressive, I tip my hat. And all negative, nothing that would benefit or inure to the benefit of Sony, Columbia, CBS Records, whatever or Journey. As a matter of fact he just cost them money at every turn. So why, what's the attraction you know, what's the attraction here?

Nocturne sounds like a massive company these days. Is that early decision to buy into it paying off?
Nocturne is, we're buying two high definition, major investment right now for Metallica, one of our clients, who's gonna do such a massive stadium tour that we're gonna hopscotch complete productions. Mega-productions and so it's a business where we do a lot of reinvesting and if we want to maintain our market share and continue to be the #1 video company in music then we have to continue to invest but it's something that, the company went through it's first incarnation from '79 through 2001. Then we just kind of folded that down, refinanced and funded a whole new company and we've been doing fantastic, but we have to buy a lot of new technology. The whole advent of high definition basically meant all of our old MTSE standard systems were obsolete.

Ok so Nocturne's a sort of retirement investment.
Yeah, retirement, and not that it's not making money and it makes money, but a lot of the money that it makes is in assets build up and so core value of the company we have taxable assets without any cash so the company funds all of our taxes with increases in equity and gives us money too but it's not like it's making us rich.

And meanwhile Neal's still out there on the road doing what he does best.
Yeah well he, I saw a relationship that started out I think in Denver the first time that Neal Schon and Steve Perry sat down to write a song they wrote Patiently. That's such a great, great song. You go from there to Neal is doing the cocaine, drinking, fuckin' the chicks, doin' all the fuckin' things that Steve couldn't do as a lead singer. And then going out on stage totally hammered and playing perfectly. And then he'd go on a binge for a week, come into the studio hammered, and do all of his guitar parts, in that condition, on the whole album in the next two days and that's it. This guy, you know you take his album like Voices and I don't think Neal spent two whole hours on any track on that record and every single effect, everything you hear comes out that way on his guitar. The engineer has two stereo channels totally flat no EQ and all the effects, everything you here Neal does, on the fly, real time. The dude plays equipment every bit as good as he plays guitar. He's a frickin' genius with it and he just moves right through the whole thing and he'll play a couple bars, get it in his head, 'I got it, let's roll.' And he just rolls and sings the song. I'm telling you nobody can do that.
My dear, departed friend Don Pearson who owned Ultrasound, probably the best sound company in the world, and they invested so much money in this ultimate Meyer sound system, and was on tour with the Grateful Dead for years and years and years until of course Gerry died. And um, then he put that system out with other artists one of which was Andrea Bocelli. And on Neal's record Voice there was two Andrea Bocelli tracks and in front of 300,000 people in Hyde Park in London on that sound system he played those two tracks and Andrea Bocelli was back stage, and this was also a Nocturne tour, and he said 'Who in the fuck is that? He's doing my vocal and every nuance of my vocal.' How can someone do that, you know? Even the singers hear it. You know Bryan Adams toured with us on the whole '83 tour. He heard 'Everything I Do I Do For You' off of that record and said, 'Jesus, that's just fuckin' unbelievable.' Even the singers themselves, they just don't expect somebody to be able to play like that.

Like Neal?
Like Neal yeah, get that feeling, get that phrasing, really get that voice.

Yeah absolutely I agree, I agree.
So just to jump forward to wrapping things up in a minute because you've given me so much of your time and I appreciate that. Years ago could you have imagined Journey with a Filipino lead singer? It's quite amazing.

Well, I think I can see even a sequence of vocalists. I just don't get, now if you had said, I think I would have said the much harder and much more challenging thing. Were you to replace Neal Schon?

I don't think you could.
I'm not saying you couldn't. I betcha I could find someone who emulates him so much, and you know what, it's just like there've been like any number of guitarists that have been right there on the verge of a very credible Jimi Hendrix. And I mean here is one of the most innovative, if you had to single out one frickin' guitarist that created such a special voice in a sea of guitar players I would probably single out Jimi. And now I've seen so many people do such a credible job of emulating him, but the key is being him and originating that voice. Carlos originated that voice, Clapton originated that style, and so now to come along it's, if you didn't invent it, to emulate it is far easier than inventing it. So I think that you could find somebody to mimic Neal Schon. There was a time when I thought that would be far more difficult than finding someone to emulate Steve Perry.

Yeah and there's always Josh Ramos isn't there?
Josh Ramos, yeah there's a problem. (laughter) I mean he's a sweetheart.

 

 

 

 


So Journey have found this singer - Arnel Pineda - and you know he's got an amazing Perry-like voice and you think that's a good move going back to the Perry sort of sound?
I think, you know I thought even when the Storm performed and they were on the Bryan Adams Waking Up the Neighbors tour, and playing all the arenas and coliseums I would here people in the audience going 'I didn't know Steve Perry joined the Storm' (laughter) or whatever just looking at Kevin Chalfant. Enough of a similarity in resemblance and a great voice and they really can't do an A/B comparison on the spot and determine the disparity or the nuance of difference. And so it's effective. It's very effective and I, you know when I go and see so many bands today I think they're as good or better than ever whether it's the Doobie Brothers or ZZ Top or Lynard Skynard and Lynard Skynard's had all kinds of people coming in and out of the band. Who's left? Maybe Gary Rossington and that's it? I don't know but they still sound pretty credible. It's the music, it's the name.

It's funny you should say that. I won't name names, but somebody suggested to me that it doesn't matter who the singer is. And I just thought for a band with such an iconic singer like Steve Perry that was a really unusual statement to make. Yeah, I would say it's more true than not.

If you can't have the original (who doesn't want to or whatever)…obviously time moves on, then get someone who can.
You're probably one of those devotees who took a long time to arrive at that conclusion and to move on and say you know, I think I can go ahead and accept a substitute.

I was actually one of the biggest champions for Steve Augeri and I thought Jeff Scott Soto was a fantastic idea. Plus he's a friend of mine…
Yeah, I liked Soul Sirkus. I went and saw him at the Filmore, I thought Marco Mendoza was a tremendous musician. I mean the whole band was really tight, very good, Jeff was a great performer. I liked his look, his performance wear, I saw him with Journey he changed his look so much he really, he's changed his look so much. You know it really just changed the vibe. When I saw him in Concord and they were so desperate for me to come and see 'em, then they call and they want my opinion and it's really a mistake because they never really, you know musicians, they really want cheer leaders, they want groupies and they want the fanclub routine and they know better than that with me. I've never been that for them. You know you hear the genuine, the true fan in me when I talk about Neal Schon as a guitarist. But hey you know I'm not gonna blow smoke up your ass and I'm gonna give you my honest opinion about a performance. And when I saw them I just thought wow, here's a band that hits the stage and it looks, you know, I wanna see my stars, my heroes descend from Olympus as Gods. Inaccessible, almost unattainable, you know, just out of reach. I wanna love everything about 'em, their wardrobe, their look, their everything and these guys came out in a t-shirt and jeans and they just looked like the monsters from the black lagoon. I mean really just like the roadies, very pedestrian, very pedestrian. Where they were capable of performing at a pretty good level, much better than the headliner that night, Def Leppard, but Leppard came on stage looking like stars and entrance and exit and look and image is hey, hello, it's a big fuckin' deal. You know, it's a big part of it and I think they really shot themselves in the foot that way. Then of course they chose the wrong material. The fact of the matter is that Jeff Scott Soto is not a tenor and so what the fuck? If Steve Augeri was struggling with these songs it's gonna be even harder for Jeff Scott Soto and it was.
And the thing is, the whole time that you were rooting and rooting and rooting for Augeri I knew that there was problems. Not because I was going to shows but because right at the beginning my company shot the Vegas show that was put out on Direct TV. And the original footage of that they insisted, you know, people at my company insisted that I come and watch. And I go, please I wanna come and watch Journey on video, what the fuck? And they said no you have to set and watch this for a minute. I go why, you know, it was like torture. So I sat down and then it was torture. I said what's going on here? I go man he's really, he's missing everything. He struggled so badly that night you can't believe it. There was hardly anything that could be saved in the lead vocal and the problem was to me at that particular time was Neal Schon was grimacing when he would miss these notes. I said man you can fix these notes in a studio but you can't fix the visual on Neal. And I'm like gettin' all sour faced because it's pretty sour. Neal has dog hearing and I said that to him too. I said 'you've got dog hearing I know you can hear that this guy's missing it'. And not necessarily, he doesn't know what's being fed in his earphone monitors and they don't have floor monitors.
So he needed what may have been a crutch in the beginning but became something he was leaning on much more heavily than should have ever happened. So it's just unfortunate and I guess from the vocal in Sweden he wasn't even trying to sing along in key and it was pretty bad. In the house it sounded great but in the recording room at the raw feed, canned feed, and so that was a bust. Ok busted, the party's over, this ruse is up, now you're gonna have to try to get somebody who can really sing so you get Jeff Scott Soto without the benefit of the same crutches and help that Augeri had. He was just quickly and after a few dates in a row he was raw. Those songs will get you. They're very difficult to sing. Playing them in the original voice is like murder on a voice.

One of the hardest catalogs in music without a doubt, I would think.
Yeah I think you're right and so there it is. That's a formula for problems and so finding this kid that can do it au-natural without help that's nice. That should have happened a long time ago.

Do you think Arnel's voice will hold out? He will be under the same road conditions as everyone else before him.
Well like I say it's a very tough thing. The road is grueling on a voice, that's the hardest thing. And if you get sick you get sick. You lose your voice and you've got to power your way through it. There's just nothing you can do about it. It takes X amount of time to recover and man, trying to go through and get through gigs when you have laryngitis is just the worst.

Oh I can imagine it would be awful.
Yeah it's so hard on a singer and just brain damage, traumatizing is what it really is.

I hear Steve's doing better now and I'm really pleased for that.
He had been in a band, I think it was maybe Tall Stories. They opened up for Mr. Big so I knew him well before this gig. He had asked me about, 'Oh Mr. Herbert I'd love to sing in Journey.'

Really?
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.

Really?
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.
Bye-bye.

c. 2008 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice March 2008 / Transcribed by Sherrie and MR.com

 

 
Wed
08
Feb

Kevin Chalfant (2008)

Categories: 
Interviews




 

 

Kevin Chalfant: Flying To AOR Freedom.


Kevin Chalfant is another artist who should be listened to - as he has been there and done that and he isn't afraid to do it by himself if need be. This interview was done late last year - just prior to the MRF show in October, so forgive me for getting online late. But it is still very relevant and Kevin's new album is still very much a current release - so listen up!



Hey Kevin. I can't even recall the last time we did a formal interview.
It's been too long.

It's been probably since Running With The Wind.
Yeah, it could have been. I don't know if we did anything with any of the Two Fires stuff.

Maybe…yeah. But here we are now again!
Here we are. I was just looking through photos of when we were in Manchester and if it's all right with you I think I'm gonna post some on my website.

Oh yes please do. I don't think there's anything too incriminating there is there? (laughter) Not at all.

That was a pretty fun weekend wasn't it? [Gods Festival, UK 2002]
Oh my gosh, we could have just kept on going. I was talking to Jim not too long ago. We did a show together and we were just recalling how when we got to Liverpool it was like there was music in the air. We were just writing songs like crazy.

Yeah, I quite often bring the whole Liverpool trip up with Jim and also with Kelly Keagy because Gary Moon's a handful isn't he?
(laughter) Just a bit. I haven't talked to him, gosh, since then.

It's been a while for me too but hopefully we can have a bit more fun in October right?
That will definitely be the case.

I really appreciate your contribution in coming onboard Kevin. I think it's going to be a great weekend.
Well, it'll be some new memories and hopefully it'll be something that brings some support to the down under effort and keeps this music going.

I hope so. It's pretty tough out there isn't it? I mean for everyone.
It's brutal, very brutal.

What's your take on that?
Well, I see how it's affecting the people from the top to the bottom. From the way people just write songs, make records, everything down the line. How records are even being promoted and everybody's so conservative right now and it never used to be that way.
It used to be like full steam ahead with guns ablazin' and it's just not like that anymore.

Yeah, people are very worried and they're not taking the risks because they know there's not the chance of the sales.
I think, at least I can speak for myself on this, just making this record. Having a choice of releasing new, previously unreleased songs, it was just so overwhelming at that moment when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do and what was exciting me, you know. And we've been through this before as far as getting down to the production time and how many people you can involve in it that you really want to and it just made sense to make this record now. Because at one time it started out, well you know, if somebody wants to hear me sing a Journey song or two or something, maybe I'll put them as bonus tracks. Then it got to be, OK, well what tracks would it be?
I posed that question to people like; Let's say I'm entertaining the idea of adding a song or two from the Journey catalog on one of my records as bonus tracks, what would be your picks? Well it was just like a wildfire. All of a sudden the word got out that I was making a Journey record and all this stuff and I never really intended to do that.
But so many people came back like, 'Oh that would be awesome.' And 'I hope you do, here's what songs I would pick.' Then of course the band would get together and we said realistically what do we think we could do? Is this something that we would even want to do? And the band, we all looked at one another and said, you know it's not gonna hurt my feelings.
Then the next question was, what are the legalities of it? So once we had that all straightened out we just kinda said, well let's go, fine and you know what? It took the monkey completely off my back. Because trying to come up with new stuff and how do you top this guy and that guy and yourself to be able to do great songs that are proven hits and some songs that weren't necessarily hits by the radio standard but definitely in the deep cut of the fans we just pulled out as many of those, and you know we just could have kept on going. The list was like 25 songs deep and I said there's no way. I can't do a double album. I couldn't afford to pay them.

Exactly, well one of the questions I had for you is obviously the Journey catalog is about as deep as any band could get, so how did you pick the songs that you wanted to do verses the ones that really had to be done?
Well if you, I don't know, I guess Andrew it's not really fair for me to assume that you knew what we did as The Storm. I mean when we went out as The Storm and toured with Brian Adams and Peter Frampton and some of the people that we toured around with we fully exploited the fact that Greg was in Santana, and the guys that came from Journey and then the new stuff.
So it didn't make sense for me to cover anything from Santana because I kind of covered Steve Perry's parts with Greg. But so many people when we would go out and play, I mean I obviously didn't start out by going out and covering Journey songs live, but the thing that I do that maybe a lot of other bands that may have super huge egos or whatever, I listen to what people want to hear me sing. I mean, if you talk to fans. I have a lot of fans that email me personally like you and I do back and forth.
They feed me what I hope and believe is the truth. They don't really have a reason to lie. If they have the opportunity to email somebody that they look to as somebody that they like in music, if I were doing it I would say here's exactly what I would love to hear you do. That's what I took. I took those, you know, I mean, believe me there were other songs that were maybe from the newer catalog of Journey, the later stuff, that we tossed about but because we wanted to keep a little more drive in the sound I think some of the later on Journey stuff got a little softer. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I just saying in order to keep some fire underneath the sound with the guitars and the vocals and the harmonies and stuff, we wanted the more powerful stuff of their catalog.
So that kind of was the first basis that we picked. Then as we went along we went OK now what ballads do we do. Well, at the end I was starting to bring people in to listen to the rough mixes.
Family, friends, close people that I could trust that weren't even gonna leak that we did it and they actually keep it under their hats which was really amazing.

In this day and age that is amazing!
I brought in my youngest sister, the baby of the family. I closed the door and said I want to play you some stuff off my new record and I want to get your impression. So I'm playing it and she's like jaw on the floor going holy moly this is great but why are you doing Journey songs?
I mean they've already recorded them. And I said well that's true but again I have to go back to square two which is what do the fans who support Kevin Chalfant want to hear? And these, I don't know, maybe part of it was because there was so much unrest kind of in the Journey scene. Whatever that reasoning is, I just said, you know I'm not gonna allow, I'm a little bit different I guess maybe than just the other singers out there because I have had a long term friendship, kinship with these guys. And they have been very kind to me. I'm not sure if it's maybe because they say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (laughter) I don't know if I'm friend or foe, OK.
I'm kept pretty close as far as they seem to genuinely care about me by the way that they treat me, embrace me, talk to me, call me. I'm a friend so I was looking at it and saying, well when I look back 15 years ago and I'm touring, and it was all the Journey fans that were supporting us out there then. Nobody knew who the Storm was. They thought this was the closest they were gonna get to Journey. Journey was off the road. So those fans embraced me then and those fans are still embracing me. So I really did make this record to 1) say thank you to everybody, and 2) dedicate it to Herbie who I think, without Herbie's help, none if it would ever have come about.

Yeah, he was instrumental wasn't he?
Great guy, I still stay in touch with Herbie, I love him. He's, I don't know if I really want to call him retired because I think he's more active from his home in the business than he ever was, and probably making more money than he ever was because he's just a brilliant man. When he's been kind enough to invite me to his home on the Pacific Ocean, and I've been out there a couple times and just spent time, days with him and his wife just to relax and to sort through things. And you know, I told Herbie that I was gonna do this, and he didn't really say I should or shouldn't.
He just said, you know Kevin, there's no doubt about it, you can deliver the songs but if it's not right don't embarrass yourself. Don't do it. But you know, I think he wanted to hear it too. So anyway, when I brought me sister in to listen to the stuff, at first she was sort of scratching her head and didn't understand it. But by the time we got through like the fourth of fifth song she totally got it and she goes, there gonna love it. Then she says, OK, play Faithfully for me, and I said, well I didn't cut Faithfully. She said, “You're gonna release a record of Journey songs and you haven't cut Faithfully?” So I had to cut Faithfully. And Send Her My Love, those were the last two songs we cut.

Good choices.
Well, you know, I didn't want to be tunnel visioned and my sister, well, let me tell you this, she's not afraid to say anything to me, and though she paid compliments to me, she didn't understand why I had cut some of the songs that I did, and not cut others. So I had to get into that debate with her and she made complete, total sense. I said you're right. I probably avoided that song just because of the vocal challenge but it was in the end, it was bizarre dude. I thought how am I gonna mix this song and still be able to hold water with Andrew McNeice? (laughter) And out of nowhere I get a call from Beau Hill.

Ah, there ya go.
God sent me Beau Hill (laughter) to mix the ballads, you know?

You can't go wrong there.
It was just a beautiful Godsend and a reconnection of brothers and it was just beautiful. So we've been staying in touch too. So that was a great shot in the arm for me when I was the most tired at the end of the project.

He obviously knows exactly what to do with you and your voice from past experience.
He knows exactly. In fact, he knows so much that I already assured him that the next record would be with him. Well, there's no sense running from what I know is just a dead ringer.

What works, works.
That's right.

And you haven't read my review yet. It's not up on line yet but compliments to you. The mix and the production is the best since the Storm.
Thank you so much.

You know you and I have gone backwards and forwards about production.
Well, you know money can't buy Andrew McNeice, but it takes money to get it to a level where Andrew McNeice responds. That record, you know, I've got a lot invested in it. So anybody who says something positive about it I just about want to mail them something very exciting. I might have to send you something but I'm waiting to see what color that review comes in.

Thanks Kevin! I've always been a fan of your voice and the music. I think this is a really confident record.
Well, you know, listening back you were always right on the money with the records and the reviews, even though I didn't want to face that. As time went on and I got away from things and would go to work on other things, you were absolutely right. I mean just because I wanted to get on an airplane and come down there and pulverize you doesn't mean that I didn't agree with you after I had a chance to get away from it.

Well you wouldn't be the first, but (laughter) I hate that part of the job. I really do. Everybody anticipates the reviews and it's the hardest thing I do out of anything. Well, you know, something else has happened to me since those days. I get a lot of calls because I started a thing for kids here called the Pop Star Boot Camp.
And since I've been doing that I get a lot of calls from all kinds of different organizations around where I live to just come and be a judge, and judge talent, which is a hard thing to do. You meet strangers and they're just putting all their hope into that you'll love what they do and the hardest part for me is when somebody's pouring their heart out and somebody else gets up and pours their heart out, and you've got ten people pouring their heart out and they're all great somebody's got to walk away.
Some people are gonna be broken hearted, hate you, get ugly, you know it's all those things. So it's made me appreciate what you do more. You probably went into it with the best of intentions and then once you're into it you're so overwhelmed with the good, the bad and the ugly that I don't know how you stay focused.

It's hard to be honest. It's the same thing for you guys. It's hard work isn't it?
It is.

It's not what everybody sees on the surface. That's only 5% of it isn't it?
That's true, and that's why I think with the internet I have to say, I have had the time of my life. Managers have kind of always kept the artist at a distance from the public. And I was never one that OK, I'd get a ton of fan mail. If there was fan mail my managers would always kind of sift through that and give you all the 'attaboys- and all the 'I want to kill you' stuff went in the trash barrel. So when I actually, I've been on the internet since maybe '95 before a lot of people were even on there and it just really opened my eyes to how immediately you can have response worldwide.

It's insane now isn't it?
Totally insane.

And getting worse all the time, better or worse, I'm not sure which. Getting bigger, it's getting bigger all the time.
Well now you're turning into a record label. Melodicrock Records is probably the next big launch for you right since you're already kind of releasing records?

Yeah, I've done my own compilations but that's something I've always wanted to do. The hesitation is that I don't really try anything unless I think I can do it properly. I suppose, like yourself, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I like things to be perfect and I haven't decided that I can do things perfectly yet or will have the money to do it. That would be good.
Well, that's something that one person walking into your life can change. I know that. That's happened to me a couple times in my life. The first time with 707, Neil Bogart who had just come from Casablanca and he started Boardwalk. This guy just walked into my life and all of a sudden I was touring all over the world with songs playing everywhere. Then the second time that happened to me was with Ted Field with Interscope Records. And you know, I'm a strong believer in three times a charm so I haven't hung it up yet because things in life for me do come in threes.
So something is gonna happen for a lot of people again and I don't know if it's gonna be so much a resurgence but maybe just a new technology that's gonna change the level of the playing field a bit. There always has to be somebody in control. Have you noticed that? It all levels and that's the part of the business that's always made me feel like the people should have the choice of what the pecking order is, not the person who's doling out the cash or whatever. I just believe the people should have control of the pecking order.

 

 

 

 


I think the internet has definitely cut a few people's control for lack of a better term, hasn't it? (laughter) Also it allows you to release records independently doesn't it?
Yes it does and I've found it to be in some ways, I mean I'm sitting here in this studio and I'm thankful that I have the tools to work with, but you know everything that I purchased a year ago is already obsolete.
It's a constant battle and that what I think is maybe why I was like, I watched this battle going on with the free downloads and everything and I was trying to not be a part of it, not get involved because I didn't know where I even stood in it. But when, I believe it was the Ignition CD, I was just doing whatever I could to pull together the funds to finish that CD because the budgets are so lean for those kind of records that while I was still working on the songs, I hadn't even mixed the record yet, and somehow, I mean I don't know who released this to the hounds but free download sites already had the record.
I wasn't even done cutting the record and they were giving it away for free. And I'd taken a second mortgage on my house so you see, if people really do want to see you hang around it's sort of a, what you put in is what you get out. If you buy that artist's records he'll probably be back next year. If you try to get everything for free and feel like you're gaining something you're gonna end up with an MP3 player full of crap the following year. Maybe one or two decent CDs.

I totally agree. You've got to buy the artist to support the artist otherwise it's gonna dry up.
Totally and the other think I was gonna say is, you have hardly asked me any questions and I'm just spouting off.

I've got a couple of questions for you but keep going…
I wanna say that when we started first talking about the possibility of you doing a concert in the Chicago area, I got very excited and I'm very excited still about this because these are the kinds of things that I would love to be a part of with you in other locations of the world. OK, and the reason is, because there are areas, like in Japan, there're areas of the European community that I haven't been in where people would love to see my band and you're a help to me and I'm a help to you and that's kind of why this whole thing is happening.
We're lending our support to one another to keep it going and give people a closer view of the artists and the music.

Well I'm never closed off to any ideas. I can tell you that. I'm always looking for new ideas and new things to do.
I think at this point in time we have to. One thing I teach the kids when I'm working with these young artists, and when they first walk into the room you can see it, they're in groups, this group over here and that group over there. By the end of it there're all mixed and matched together because the whole time everybody that came in the room that I saw for the three days were all taught about the same thing and that's teamwork. You might be in this band this week, but next week you might be with the other guys and you're gonna find out who are gonna stay, who are gonna leave and who are gonna work together. That's kinda what I see here. I'm sure everybody's gonna go out wanting to blow each other off the map thinking it's all in good spirit and good fun but bottom line is that I've learned through working with Jim Peterik and the World Stage and some of those kinds of projects that man the energy in the room surpasses any kind of competition that's on the stage. It becomes a feast for the listeners. You rise above it and it becomes a team effort. It's really awesome.

Ok, so…a couple of questions for you. With the Journey record obviously you talk of Journey. Your association is long and varied with the guys. Is there a reason to put you in the hot seat? Has your name been in the mix to take over for them? You know they've gone through a couple of vocalists and here they are again!
Well as you know there's only one person or maybe two or three or four that could answer that question but I'm not one of them. (laughter)
I've always had an open relationship with them and I've been there to help them whenever I could. You know, sometimes my help was just to be at a show to give them energy when they were beat from the road. I would be there for them, no strings attached. I love them, I love their music, I feel fortunate that they let me drink from their cappuccino machine backstage (laughter) and hang out and have a great time.
You know, come on, if I ever got that phone call, and though I haven't I've been told on the internet that I have, so maybe they know something that I don't.
I'm just, I'm layin' low and doing my own thing and hey, who knows? It's not gonna be because I didn't want it or something. I would love to do it even if it was for a season.
I think the problem with, and you know I feel bad, I feel bad for Steve Augeri and Jeff because to have that and to lose it is like I tell people sometimes it hard for me to go to their shows because it's like going to see an old girlfriend.
You know, you fall in love again, and wait a minute, this is my wife sitting next to me (laughter) and she's enjoying watching my old girlfriend or something. (laughter)
I worked with them and now it's almost as if it's a conflict of interest or something. If I tried to so work with them it's almost like I would create trouble in both of our camps, so I really just keep my friendship open and I don't really ask anything of them other than 'Hey can you give me some tickets' once in a while and I just don't pressure anybody. It's just not worth it. And if they were in a situation, and honestly before Jeff got the role I thought, 'well maybe I'll get a call to do a fill-in spot, kind of like what he ended up doing to sing for a season. And do you know what? I would take it and cherish it, love it and when it was over I would still love them because I can't have anger for people I love. Even though I don't work with people, you know there are a few people that I can say that I wouldn't work with again, but that wasn't because I created that situation. They've never slammed the door in my face. They've never given me a reason to hate them. I can only be thankful that they've given me worldwide exposure. I've got nothing to complain about. I'm a blessed man.

Is Journey a band that could continue to rotate singers just because the songs have a life of their own?
Well so far they're doing pretty good at it. I can't see why they just don't take two or three guys out with them and then when one guy gets a sore throat they could work seven days a week. (laughter) I'd get on that team.
I've got no problem doing two, three nights a week. (laughter) I think it's like this man, it's what the fan wants, the fan loves, you know I love it. I wasn't able to see the band while Jeff was with them I had prior commitments the couple of times that I really could have. But whenever I would go to the shows I was in a position where, knowing I could pull off the job it's like I had to beat that monster in me down.
I got to know Steve Augeri and he's a great man and just a beautiful individual. You couldn't hate him. You can't hate him. I've had what happened to him happen to me where I'd be sick for an entire season. People would go oh he's washed up, and all this and that, and then you know once you've had a season of rest you come back and your stronger than you were. So I wish him the best. I hope he comes back.
I know Jeff's got a huge following worldwide and hopefully he'll land on his feet and move on. I have no preconceived notions of what's gonna happen. Nobody's called me to say 'Hey you wanna come join the band?' They're on vacation man. They have worked so hard that they just deserve to not even think about music for a while and have backyard cookouts. Let 'em breath for a while.

So the rumor that you were called in May to do that one show in Virginia was just a rumor.
Yes.

Aside from Journey, the Storm, there's always been a call for you to reform the Storm as because there was always a sense of unfinished business there wasn't there?
Well not by our choice.

Oh no, absolutely not.
We really had a long term plan, and again, having Herbie Herbert be kind of at the helm of that. Things started happening that were beyond our control if you look back at the timing. We had grunge music in America starting to kick in and then cop killer rap music kicked in and when you're at the end of an era of music, which is kinda where we were, but it could have kept going if this new introduction of sounds hadn't been put in place right at that crucial moment. I think, you know, a band like U2 could have still forged ahead and done that but our label kind of hesitated.
Like, 'I think we're gonna wait on releasing your second record,' If they would have kept it I think we probably would have survived it and got through it and we'd still be making records today. But because you had a label that was new and couldn't afford, well they probably could have afforded to take and have a few hits because they had a billionaire backer behind them but I think that the staff was in the process of regrouping and wanting to take more control of the company away from the owner and say we can do this on our own.
In doing that, I think because Beau Hill left the company and Jimmy Iovine sort of took the helm, I don't think that Jimmy Iovine wanted anything that Beau Hill had his hands on to succeed. I mean, that's the simplest shortcut verbally I can make on it is that why would this man want somebody else's work to succeed instead of saying 'Why don't I produce the next record?'. So, that's where it was. I have a loyalty to Beau. He's a great man. He helped me at a time in my life when I really needed that break. He heard it. He got it. He heard what Gregg and I were doing. The first two songs Gregg and I wrote were I've Got a Lot to Learn About Love and Show Me the Way.

Great songs.
You know, and starting there I think it could have gone to the stratosphere, but without having the backing and the support of a company to be your legs it's really hard to do that. I think originally your question was something to do with reforming.

Yeah, obviously it wouldn't be an easy or cheap thing to do, but could it happen?
I believe it could. I believe it's gonna take another Ted Field or Neil Bogart to make it happen because, well I don't know exactly what the numbers were but they were in the millions to break the Storm. And you know, just to make a record at half a million dollars and have the production sound of that record, I mean I think with this last Fly 2 Freedom CD we did a pretty good job of a sort of facsimile by doing some sound replacements and some things like that that brought it to a nice level. But if, let's say George Tektro and Beau Hill and Kevin Chalfant started that same record in the same room in a place like George Lucas's studio where the Storm started, it could even be better. I mean I don't want you to adjust my numbers down from that (laughter)
No, no, (laughter) but from the get go you know I would love to have the level of backing of a major music lover like, I mean Ted Field was a musician himself, Neil Bogart the same thing. These are guys who had enough clout to just get behind the guys that they knew had the juice to pull it off. I think Gregg Rollie, when he got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Santana, I think he took that as 'Hey you know what? This is what I'm most famous for. I'm in the Hall of Fame. I'm gonna go back to my roots'.
That's the record roots or those records that followed and it's the more Latin oriented music that he's back into. Not to say that he couldn't follow the same history path given the right financial backer to say well look following that same natural curve you went more into a Journey, split off into a little bit more contemporary rock. I don't know. Gregg's a businessman. He's a music genius guy, I had a great time working with him. Our relationship is still kind of an open book. We're not hanging out because he lives on one coast and I live on another, but I don't think he hates me and I certainly don't hate him. I think it's all workable so God only knows.

I know Josh Ramos would be there in a heartbeat.
Are you kidding me? He'd be delivering the pizza to that session. On the way in he's grab the pizza guy, take the pizzas and carry them in with his guitar. (laughter)

Oh, you've gotta love Josh. I'm really pleased he's coming along for the October show.
I am as well. He's a, he's contacted me several times to talk about songs and how we want to go about doing it and I'm like, you know Josh just practice the tunes and when you walk in there won't be anybody in your way. Don't worry. Just step back into your own shoes and go for it. It'll be great.

It will be great. I'll ask you a couple things about the show towards the end of our conversation. But back on the questions, I enjoyed the Shooting Star record. Is that just gonna be a one off by the looks of it?
Well you know, when I was approached to help them finish this record, Circles, the intentions were, like you know if there're some tour dates and I'm available then that would be great. So without getting into all kinds of business discussions, we made a deal and then when the time came to do the shows that had slightly changed and for me to be expected to do some things that weren't agreed upon, and I'm not saying it in a spiteful way, it's just sometimes that's just the way the chips fall you know.
It's all budgetary stuff and for me to be away from my business here it has to financially make sense. They weren't at that level to, you know we all had hopes that everything would be at a certain level, and because they're not a full time touring act, I think that caused promoters to look at it as a part time thing, or whatever, I don't know. The bottom line was that I loved all the guys.
We hung out together and had a great time. We even shot a video together and all that stuff. But you know, economically it has to make sense and I just can't afford to invest in a bunch of different bands. I can only afford to invest in myself.

Well, that's where you should be investing.
I do help other people you know. I'm trying to stay open to young people and help them develop the right skills when their going in because I figure 15 – 20 years down the road I still what people to say Kevin Chalfant once in a while. Even if it's in an interview saying the guy helped me learn how to sing right, or whatever. Fifteen or twenty years from now if they're still saying my name and it's not attached to a cuss word I'll be so happy. (laughter)

 

 

 

 

xx


I think you're safe. You've been getting a good bit of praise in the last few weeks for helping out Mr. Dennis DeYoung.
Well, I got another one of those calls like Shooting Star, because as people say 'If the shoe fits'. I heard from Tim his manager and I'd never spoken to Tim before, but Tim called and it was kinda funny because he said 'Is this Kevin Chalfant?' and I said yeah. 'The singer Kevin Chalfant?' I said yeah, 'Are you a singer that does studio singing?' (laughter) and I'm like 'What's the nature of this call?' (laughter) I thought it was a prank call at first, then he said Dennis DeYoung is gonna call you right back and I said, 'oh splendid'. I waited and about two minutes later Dennis called and we sat and told jokes to one another.

Oh I love that guy's sense of humor.
I had never met him, and this was really funny. This is a funny story. I went up to his home. He's got his studio in his home, and I got there and the first thing he did was throw the highest, most challenging song at me and I just nailed it. And he went OK, you've got the job. There's nothing higher on the record so it's all down hill from here. (laughter) I said, God I'm glad you caught me when I was fresh. So that kind of really inspired m because you know, when you look at a guy like Dennis who's now 60 and I've been listening to Dennis since I was in high school. I mean, he's a few years older than me.
I've always looked up to him and I've sung some of his songs when I was in the cover bands and whatnot, and I always thought it would be great to meet him. This was the funniest thing. When I got through singing the first couple, two, three songs, he said, 'I still don't know who in the hell you are. Who are you Kevin Chalfant'? (laughter)
So I had to talk about myself and this and that, and he goes 'I'm drawing a complete blank. Why don't I know who you are?' and I said, that's the problem. That's the problem. Kevin Chalfant has always been a part of a band. So it's time for Kevin to just be Kevin and my band's fine with that. They actually encouraged me. They said you know what dude, forget the band stuff man. It's been you. Why don't you just be you and we'll back you up. How many times do you actually hear a band say something like that?

Not too often.
Not too often, so I said if you guys are serious that would be great because they don't have anything to write on my epitaph at this point. (laughter)

I remember when I brought the show up with you, you said you'd love a chance to give my band a chance to show everybody what we've got, which I think was a fantastic idea.
You know, they're very patient guys. And I do a lot of stuff with Jim and I'm guesting with people and this and that, and every time I take my band out they just, if you took any one of us and put us in a room individually everybody would be yawning. But for some reason when you put us together, we've known each other all of our lives, we're just old friends that grew up together, that kind of thing, and we all played in different bands, but now we just kind of come together and it all fits. There are two guys in the band who actually sing as high as I do.
There are six mates altogether and everyone sings and two other singers in the band are actually lead singers, actually three. So there are four lead singers in the band and six singers total and it's a freight train. So we just love going out and we walk in like this junior league team playing against the major league. We just love coming in as the underdogs and playing and having a good time. And if we're having a good time, most likely the crowd is gonna love it. If we're having a rough night the crowd will have a rough night, so we don't take it seriously. We just have a good time and try to play at the level we know we can play, and relax.

You've got some big harmonies, I guess, in there.
Well, what you hear on the record is real. There were a couple of songs where one of the guys had to leave town for a family function and I had to bring in a couple of other guys just to get through a couple of the tunes, I don't remember, maybe Lights and something else, but other than that it's basically what you hear live.

Well, that's something to look forward to then.
It's a lot of fun. We have a great time. I love 'em, they're just good old boys man, and we laugh a lot. You know, when we started the Storm Gregg Rollie had one rule and I carried that same rule into this band, which is; If we ever have to have a band meeting we're breaking up. So everybody knows that if you do anything that would require a band meeting that means the band is going to break up. It works like a charm.(laughter)

I like it.
He's a genius, I told you.

The important question I guess is once the dust settles from this, where to from here?
I do have one thing that I probably will do before I get to the holidays. I'm gonna remix a lot of tracks that I've already previously release. But I'm gonna have Beau and some of the other guys, maybe George, I'm gonna have some of the songs that I feel like maybe got lost in the mixes remixed and I'm gonna do a kind of 'Best Of' and maybe put some new tracks to it. I don't have time to start a completely new project but I'm about 4 or 5 songs deep into a new record already and I'm going to maybe feature two or three of those in a compilation disk. So that'll give some new stuff and then some of the favorites too. And I'm even considering some of the songs that we play live. Storm tracks that I've changed the feel of to fit the band that I'm in now. So I might do some of that as well just to fit into the 'Best Of'.

That's all I pretty much had to ask you actually.
Well, um, we'll just say that I'm continuing to stay busy. I'm helping to produce some other artists, which I probably will still send you to look at and listen to.

Please do.
Some blues stuff and I know you're not a real country fan and you don't even have to put it on the website or anything but I'll send you some of the other product that I'm helping to just try to get a toe hold. I've got a power pop band that I'm working with right now. It's a cross between, I don't know if you're familiar with the All American Rejects and like Green Day, they're right in that vein and the singer is just fantastic.

That sounds kinda cool.
Very memorable song,

That sounds interesting.
They're really good and they're young. I think the youngest member is 17 and the oldest is 22 and they just blow my mind. They just woodshed and then when they come in they're like, they're going in and playing their parts one at a time and when it all comes together it fits just like a puzzle. It blows my mind.

And where do those guys come from?
The band is called Fickle's Lot. They've just got a huge following in this area. They will play for pizza parties. They will play anything. They're just doing it for the love and the excitement and to build up their fan base and it's working.

Well that's how it used to be isn't it? That's how Survivor did it.
Yes it is.

I think that's about it. I just wanted to basically promote the record. I suppose the one thing I didn't ask you is about the title, Fly 2 Freedom.
Where it came from?

Yeah.
Well it started out when I finally just connected with Dave he said, well you know I have a Journey cover that they never accepted and I don't know why they ever passed on it but it's pretty cool. And I said just send it over so he sent it over to me and it had the scarab on the bottom and I said well obviously I can't use that, but if we were to change, because it is like a tribute record, maybe we could change it to a different insect. Then I thought, OK, what is kind of translucent? Well I can't use a Japanese beetle because that's what the scarab basically is.
I said 'Oh, hey, how about a shit fly?' (laughter) A green shit fly and how fitting for me to use something like that. And he laughed and while I'm taking to him he's already on the internet looking for these green flies and it was just like an iridescent fly was the idea. We laughed so hard. So the record was actually just gonna be called Fly and then after I sent a preliminary drawing to my son in Nashville he writes back and says, 'You know pop, Herbie had planned on naming Raised on Radio, Freedom and they never used that title.' And I thought wow, Fly to Freedom.
So once we said, OK that sounds even better, Fly to Freedom, it's kind of funny because one night I was looking at it and I said wait a minute, I've got those “e's” there and I remember on Escape the flipped it over and turned the E into a 3 and the A was a 4 and all this and that? So I said to Wavid, just put the Escape kind of look to it. Because as long as it's a tribute record we can do that can't we, and he said absolutely. All of it in good fun, you know, just to be kind of fun and interesting and the fly is so ugly compared to the streamlined looking rock and roll scarab that they used that we laughed so hard.

Well…great record, and long overdue.
Well, I'm happy with it. I can honestly say that I can listen to it over and over and my blood pressure stays pretty level. And I can't say that for everything that I've recorded and you'll attest to that. (laughter)

No comment, no comment here.
(laughter)

 

 

 

 

 

c. 2008 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!

 

 

 

 
Wed
08
Feb

Rik Emmett (2008)

Artist: 
Categories: 
Interviews






Rik Emmett: No More Pink Elephants.

Canadian rock legend Rik Emmett talks over his vast musical career - Triumph to his collected solo works and the new Airtime project.



Andrew from MelodicRock.com Rik.
Hello Andrew.

A great pleasure to talk to you.
Well it's nice to talk to you too.

It's been too long. We did an email interview about many years ago or several years ago at least, but never a phone interview and I'm really pleased to touch base with you.
That's great, it's nice to talk to you too.

How are things? Where have I reached you, at home in Canada?
Yeah, I'm sitting in my studio and all is right with the world. The Toronto Maple Leaves hockey team has had a lovely victory this evening. Between interviews I was watching them play hockey and it takes me back to my childhood. When they win I feel good, when they lose I feel like something's not right.

Where about it Toronto or in the area do you live?
I live in Mississauga which is sort of a western bedroom community. It's a city in its own right.

Yes, I lived on Queen St. West in Toronto for about a year in '93.
Oh yeah?

Loved the place.
Yeah, Toronto is a fantastic city. I mean I've seen a lot of places and I'm always happy to come home. I do like my hometown. I'm a bit of a homebody kind of guy.

It's a great city. It's a big city without that big city presence or without the sort of intimidation isn't it?
Yeah, it's not bad that way. It's starting to get bad in terms of traffic. We're starting to have the same kinds of problems that every major metropolitan city faces in terms of traffic but it has a nice vibe to it. You sound like you're calling from Australia.

Yes.
I've never had the opportunity to travel there and I've heard some fantastic wonderful things about that, so one day I hope to come and visit there.

Yeah, absolutely. I thought we had you down to do some guitar clinics at one stage or a couple of proposed solo tours.
You know the thing that happened about, I guess maybe three years ago now or something, and Rick Wharton had set something up, and a guy had even sent a deposit to start booking the air fares, and then he just kind of disappeared. I don't know what happened. It was gonna be a solo thing and come down and do some guitar clinics, play some festivals and then the guy just literally sort of disappeared off the face of the earth.

Yeah, it happens. It's the industry for it isn't it?
Yeah, I guess. (laughter)

Well, you've got Airtime out, which is great. You've always been making music all the while but I suppose this goes back to your core audience doesn't it?
I guess if there's still a core audience around that acts like a core audience.(laughing) I don't know if that's necessary true after all these years. Certainly I know from the reaction to the record over the last little while that there were a lot of fans that were anxious that I would return to hard rock at some point and make a record that touched on a lot of the things that Triumph had done in its day and traveled around in that kind of ballpark and did those kinds of things.
So it's been fun and it certainly seems as if there's a lot more interest in this record than say in some of the smooth jazz or classical guitar things that I've done. I guess it's a much bigger audience again and so I realized oh yeah, Ok, there is something to be said for strapping your guitar on and turning your amp up to 11. It makes people notice it a little more.

What a position to be in to be able to have such a lengthy career and just make records whenever you feel like it basically.
It is a privilege. In some ways it's liberating and in other ways it's weird to have expectations placed upon you. I mean, I'm not complaining but it kind of strange that the way our world is in terms of stylistic kind of demographic shoeboxing, you know. You have to live in this pigeonhole. How dare you come out of that pigeonhole, you're not supposed to do that? When rock and roll sort of started to spread its wings and really take off during the 60s and 70s it did seem to have more of an eclectic kind of nature to it and a more embracing kind of progressive nature. Then slowly but surely the world became subdivided up into different camps. I mean it's not like the different camps didn't already exist but we live in an age now of a kind of niched demographic kind of marketing and it makes it a little hard to be an eclectic kind of person or artist or musician. But as you say, I am kind of lucky that I am the guy that used to be the guy so you'll indulge me a little bit and that's OK so now I'll indulge you back, so hear's some of the old stuff and here's some stuff that's in the vein of the old stuff. Maybe I'm twisting a little bit to my own ends, but don't worry I'm not gonna make it too uncomfortable for you. So there is a relationship that exists with your audience and with your past and with expectations place upon you so you cope with those and deal with them. It's part of the ongoing chemistry in the whole affair.


Airtime definitely touches on some of the old Triumph sound but you're also pushing the envelope forward a little bit which is interesting to hear.
I felt that we broke ground without making it too uncomfortable for fans that would be melodic rock and hard rock kinds of fans, and maybe even heavy metalish kinds of fans. But by the same token I think we sort of set ourselves up so that maybe we can move a little bit further afield next time. There's a tiny bit of progressive nature in what was going on on the Liberty Manifesto record so I'm thinking next time Airtime will be able to take a few more chances and have some adventures and then maybe people will kind of be a little bit more open minded about it.

I'm very happy that you're talking about next time. This one took a little while to get together. Was it the length of time recording the album or actually shopping a deal, because you didn't rush it did you?
No there were a whole bunch of things that played into it. I mean when we first started, when Mike and I first got together he was just after me to play some guitar on some things he was doing, different sort of recording projects that he had going in his studio where he was sort of functioning as a producer.
Then it was, well maybe we should write a few things together, and then I think Shotten had an agenda all along but he was very kind of subtle and moved at a slow pace pushing me along. I was a little reluctant and I'll admit it and I didn't necessarily feel any giant need to be making a rock record but he kept insisting that this would be a great thing, and it would be lots of fun and I should embrace this, and we'll start writing and it'll turn into something and then it was 'hey Rik you should sing these things' and I'm like 'oh no, you should sing them' then 'oh, no, no Rik you should sing it, people have been waiting to hear you sing rock for a long time'. So then I sort of got into the spirit of it and said 'I think I'll play bass guitar' so I tried a couple and I said 'Gee this is kinda fun do you mind if I try and play everything?'.
Of course it takes a lot more time to do that. You could get a much more competent player to play it in a shorter period of time, but you know I was now kinda getting into this whole homegrown two of us against the world kind of approach. But we went through a lot of stuff. Mike went through a divorce and the song Moving Day is about that. I wrote the lyrics about the fact that he was going through this very heavy time period where he's got two boys and it was rough.
He was having to adjust to becoming a single dad and dealing with that and the kids are away with their mom 3 or 4 days a week and he's coping with that. Then his brother committed suicide and that was a heavy duty thing that knocked a whole bunch of time out of the middle. Then my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer and he passed away back in September. So there was a lot of stuff that came up that was personal stuff and then there were the regular kinds of things that you mentioned like shopping the record. He started down the road a couple of times with a few different labels as we chatted and negotiated sending emails back and forth.
It's a different world now. My expectations of what constitutes a deal and even Mike's from his Von Groove days. You know people are not necessarily as willing to bank on the future and make as much of an advance as they used to and all of those kinds of things. So there was an education process that we had to go through, or I guess a re-education process about the state of the business.

Yeah, it's not real good is it?
No, no it's not healthy. And so, those things all took their time and the other thing was of course that the biggest concern for Mike and I at the bottom of everything was simply that the record be really good. We wanted to make it sound good and we wanted it to be mixed good so we had Ricky Anderson help us a lot. He's a guy, because Mike and I had done so much over-dubbing, lots of overdubs and lots of guitar harmony parts so the record ended up being very thick and we had lots of production stuff going on. So we needed somebody who had a lot of expertise in handling upwards of 60 or 65 tracks for a song.

Wow.
Yeah, so Anderson was very good at that and he helped us through that stage. Then I was going through this stuff where I was sort of having all of this reunion stuff happen with the Triumph guys. So that was knocking a hole in things. Then Gil was saying you've gotta come into the Metalworks and you gotta master here and you gotta use Nick Blagona so that added a little chunk of time onto the back end of it. That was something that just helped get the quality of what we were after to naturally I took advantage of that.

Oh you've got a great sound, absolutely.
Well thanks. Anyway, so that's the long answer. It was a kind of convoluted story and it did take a long time to get it done.

But now you've got the structure in place you can hopefully do it quicker next time.
Yeah and in fact, that's exactly, we've been kind of talking around it and I've been doing all these interviews and stuff and it's the logical question that everybody asks. Yeah, I do think we should be able to and hopefully we won't have all the sorrow and grief and horrible, terrible stuff that happened. I hope my wife won't divorce me. (laughter)

You've been together a long time.
Yeah, she's put up with a lot.


You remind me of, you know this gentleman very well, a very good friend of mine, Jim Peterik. Who is an absolute, I mean I love the man, he's just fabulous, but you know he's in the same boat. He's in this crazy industry but he's managed to keep a sane sort of family life on the side.
Yeah I think it's a question of, and like you say I know Jim very well, in fact's he's the guy who gave me the song title idea for the song Rise so he's got a little piece of that on the album.

Oh good, I forgot the writing credits.
Oh yeah, Rise was like, I'd sent him a couple of the tracks and he'd sent back some ideas and stuff, and I wasn't knocked out with the direction he was going. But he had a line in the lyrics for the song that became Rise about a phoenix rising from the ashes and it tied so beautifully to some of the subtext that existed in the record. Like Liberty is a song about post 9/11 and what do you do when you're trying to rebuild your whole concept of freedom and liberty and those kinds of things.
Of course there was also the subtext of me being the guy that used to be in Triumph and here I am returning to rock, so what am I trying to do rebuilding the whole phoenix from the ashes kind of thing. So that really hit home with me, that that was a really nice idea for a lyric. So I sort of stole that line and it became part of the chorus of the song called Rise and I thought it would be unconscionable of me if I didn't at least give Jim a piece of the tune because he'd kind of been the inspiration.
Anyway, I've gone and played in Chicago and played on some of his shows and things and yeah, he's a great guy. I think that Jim lives for the music. I doesn't live for anything else but how great the song can be and how great the music can be. And because he's a guy like that he's got a lot of integrity and personal humility because he know the music is this sort of infinite challenge and he's in love with that.
So I think when he found a girl and build a life with and have kids with and stuff that he knew he had something good and meaningful and true and right because he's a guy who understands that stuff. There're lots of guys in rock and roll who don't really have a grip on that. Their grip is more on the idea of wanting to be a star and wanting to have fame and fortune and all of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with that either. I'm not putting it down but it ends of being kind of a shallower kind of existence and those people tend to crash into one thing and burn, then crash into something else and burn, and crash into something else and burn……(laughter)

I see it, absolutely. You've got the European deal for this record with Escape, how is it coming out in Canada or the US?
We did that on our own. It's not like we didn't have some offers but we also made a deal in Japan with Marquee so it's out in Asia as well. And we did talk, again this goes back to your question about the length of time, there was a certain period of time when we had people saying, 'no wait don't got yet, we've got an offer, we want to make an offer, we really like you' so we say OK we'll wait, we'll wait and we waited.
Then when the offers came when I measured them against what I knew I could do off my own site in the first few months because I'd been putting out my own little records and I knew this one would do at least as well as one of my own little records. So then I realized, well the state of the business is so awful and so terrible that these guys can't do any better than I can do. They can't help me so I might as well just do it myself.
So that's what we've done. I put it on RikEmmett.com for sale through Maple Music and we've done great the first few weeks. We're moving some product and we're doing fine and the big thing of course is that I'm not indebted to anybody else. I own my own masters and we own our own publishing so it's ours free and clear. I mean, we've already made a license deal to have one of the songs in a movie, a feature film.

That's great. In Triumph you sort of came up or evolved through the whole traditional label set-up dealing with the same label for years but as a solo artist you soon diversified. You were one of the first people out there really using the internet to its full advantage.
I know there's been some stuff written about me and media things that have said that and it's nice to read that people sort of want to give me that credit but I don't necessarily see myself as to much of a pioneer because it wasn't like I couldn't see other people and get ideas from them and started saying 'ooh that looks like a good idea, why don't I try that?' I do think that for a guy in my position I might have been one of the first guys to say I don't think the old system works and I'm willing to jump ship right away and try something new because I don't want to be hanging around on what looks to me like a sinking ship. In a sense that goes right back into 1988 with Triumph.
I really did get a feeling that if it stayed the way it was, it was doomed. It was unhappy from the inside out, and it seemed to be getting unhappy from the outside in. The world was changing and grunge was starting to happen and the face of radio was changing and so much was going through a huge evolution.
Then of course the internet came along and that really started to change things. It's not like I couldn't look and see, say like the idea of doing network shows coming off my own website. That came from Patrick Moraz, the guy who'd been the keyboard player in Yes. I'd seen him essentially booking them so his brother was actually running a business off of Patrick's site. So I went 'well that's a clever idea why wouldn't I do that?' I could look at Ani DiFranco who had done an incredible job of setting up her own label and appealing to a certain small demographic and building her own independence. Loreena McKennitt had done it. She was a Canadian who was a Celtic harpist. A very small kind of humble beginnings almost like a busker in a way in playing small festivals and things. She built it into a huge kind of international thing pretty much on her own as an independent. So it's not like I couldn't look around and go hey there're other people doing this.
It's just a question I think of having the courage of your own convictions. You have to say 'look, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, I'll pay to make a record, I'll pay to manufacture it, I'll pay to try and market it and little bit and have my own website to do this'. Part of the giant deceit and conceit of the record business was that all of the pre-production, production, manufacturing, and marketing of a record, record companies could turn around and say 'well geez, I'm sorry artist, I know we sold a million records and we made 10 million bucks, but we don't owe you any royalties because it was just way too expensive to try and do this'.
Well in truth, over time it became clear there was a lot of monkey business going on with the way they did their accounting. They got to be the manufacturer, the banker, the accountant, you know, they got to be everything. When the scales started to fall from people's eyes they realized, hey, wait a sec. At the same time the digital revolution was occurring and it was getting cheaper and cheaper to make records all the time and now anybody with a laptop and a microphone can be a recording artist. It hasn't necessarily made things better in the sense that we've got so much better quality music out there. (laughter) There's just so much more music out there and a lot of it is pretty awful. Now it's hard to get heard through just the fact that there's so much competition and so much noise. It becomes more a question of marketing than a question of talent and ability. So who's gonna be a patron of this? Who's gonna help artists go through the learning phase of becoming a good artist, becoming a good writer, becoming a great recording artist by being able to spend a lot of time in the recording studio learning? These things are expensive propositions and there aren't any record companies anymore to do it. We've got a lot of people teaching themselves. I don't know if it's necessarily gonna result in a lot of great recording artists that the world gets to find and recognize, but let's hope it happens.


Yeah, I hope so too, but for an artist to have the longevity of Triumph or Led Zeppelin or any other band like that it seems a fair long shot doesn't it?

Again I think it's probably a numbers game. If you look back in the past and try and count how many bands actually got the opportunity to make their second album you would probably find that there weren't that many. There were a lot of acts that would make a record and they'd be dropped. You know, one hit wonders that came and went. The business constantly fed itself on that part of the paradigm too. It's not like it didn't exist. There were less bands in the 60s and 70s. There was less radio, there was less play listing, it was a narrower, smaller kind of a world.
Now it's widened out and there are so many demographic slices but now it's just as hard to break through to the maid stream of any one of those demographic slices and it's ultra-uber-competitive. Certainly the whole kind of paradigm has changed and yet the odds probably aren't much different. I'd venture to say that there are probably 10,000 bands that started today and another 10,000 that broke up. You know, because they make records and they tried to do it independently and spent all of their own money and all of their Uncle Louie's money and all of their Aunt Maybelle's money. Now that's it. Their patronage has run out and their own bank account is empty and they go yeah, we'll break up this band and we'll go see if we can't get something else off the ground.

Yeah, absolutely, I mentioned Led Zeppelin a moment ago and thinking of that, they say never say never on things. Does the induction of Triumph into the Hall of Fame last year help freeze hell over for you guys?
I think it's safe to say that hell has sort of frozen over in the sense that I never thought I'd ever talk to them again in my lifetime. It was eighteen years that I hadn't.

Was it that long really? Well, I suppose it is, yeah, wow.
Yeah, like it had ended very unhappy. So it had been a long time. Actually my brother getting sick and me going through the process of sitting with him and talking with him, I phone him every night and we'd have conversations on the phone. I mean, he was in a life and death kind of circumstance, so when you have those kinds of conversations with people they tend to get right down to the important stuff in a hurry. He would say to me when the invitation came, and it's not like those hadn't come along from time to time over the course of the years, but I'd always rejected them.
But when this one came along I said, 'well what do you think?' and my brother said 'well look, opportunity comes and knocks every now ant then, and life is short'. That was never a more poignant statement than when it came from him under those circumstances. And he said 'you've been carrying around a lot of negative baggage for a long time and this is an opportunity for you to put it behind you and move on and try and find something better. Move on to a better circumstance. You should try and take advantage of those opportunities because they don't come along all the time'.
So on my brother's insistence that was really why I decided to try and reconcile with Gil and Mike.
It was awkward. It was not easy at first. As I've said in many interviews since, there was more than one pink elephant in that room where we were sitting around having coffee. I think we were all determined to try and ignore them as much as we possibly could, and I even said to them 'Guys this will never work of we revisit any of the negative stuff, if we try to talk about it again, if we try to rationalize or justify positions that we took that'll never work. The only way this is gonna work is if we just move ahead from here and then if we do revisit the past we only do it to wax nostalgic about good things and talk about how much fun this was or how crazy this was'.
Then it didn't take us that long to get to the point where we could share stories where we were laughing about things that happened and anecdotes.
Because it had been a long history and it had been a good one. It had a lot of success and it had good things to be able to be positive and proud about. So once we got there, that made it easy to go to the actual award ceremony itself and then nothing but good vibes from that. Geez when you actually get into talking to media again and then we were in a room with old radio dogs and record company guys and you would have figured if we could put all of the heard and soul of all these people together we might be able to build one good one.(laughter)
These are music business guys after all. They're cynical and these guys are 'Integrity, what, I've never even heard of that word.' (laughter) But it was quite, it was something, really something to see all of them kind of giving a heartfelt standing ovation and some tears in some eyes and stuff. And I felt, geez, I never even realized that at this level with guys like this there was that much kind of respect and affection. Then of course you start doing media and you realize wow, even the media and then of course fans. They go, oh God, when are you gonna do it again and then the flood gates are open and here it comes. So we have sat down and talked about the possibility and the potential of what might happen in the future and there are some more of these kinds of industry event things that will arise in the future. It looks like, but I'm not at liberty to talk about them right now but I think some other things are gonna happen.
And then there are offers that are coming, and do we maybe want to play a one off here, do we want to do a couple over here, do we want to do a giant tour? Then of course because of Led Zeppelin and the Police and Van Halen and all these others who have had such huge interest, it seems like sort of a natural spin-off and people get interested in the possibility of a Triumph thing.
But Mike and Gil haven't played in such a long time and when we sat down to talk that was kind of a central issue. There's no point in us doing it unless when we do it, it resonates with energy and quality that existed when we first started and tried it as young guys. And we're not young guys anymore. So for Gil, at this age and stage of his life, he's got a young family that he's just, you know, second marriage, second wife and the kids are still young. You're not gonna want to go off on the road for a long time.
Plus he started this huge sound and light business that's a multi-million dollar thing and he's devoting all of his time and energy to it. Then he's got the studio still running and he's got a school in conjunction with that that requires a lot of time and energy. So he said look, I know these offers are coming in an people are talking about Memorial Day of this year, 2008, and I couldn't really even look at this until maybe Memorial Day of 2009 to give myself time to get back in drumming shape again. He hasn't played drums for almost a decade and a half or something like that. So that's the way that got left. We said ok, fine, we'll revisit it again on a time schedule where we might work up to May of 2009. (laughter)

That's cool.
Yeah, it was cool, and it was very, no pressure you know? No body was pressuring anybody else it was all just kinda like we don't have to do this, there's no need to do it. We would never want to do it just for the money but of course there'd be no point in doing it of there was none. And Triumph was a band that was always known for sort of large scale productions and very high quality kind of productions. That also became part of the conversation about geez, we're not just gonna try to throw together a few roadies and pack it all in the back of a van and show up and be the opening act for somebody. That's not gonna happen. So anyhow, that's the way it all got left.

Well, I'll look forward to the next part of that. Were you aware that the entire catalog's about to be re-released in Japan again?
I just did an interview with someone else that mentioned it. I was talking to Khalil who's the Escape Music guy and he was telling me, and he said that he knows who's doing there in Japan and he's a huge collector and it's coming out and he asked of I'd like to get it? And I went, yeah sure, but the truth of the situation, and I don't mean this in any negative way at all, but Triumph is like literally, none of my business.
I don't have anything to do with it. I got bought out of it and I don't participate in it, so when those things happen they're decisions that are made by Mike and Gil and they don't have anything to do with me. So here I am doing a round of promotion for the new Airtime thing and naturally people want to talk about Triumph but I'm not really out here in the market place again trying to promote Triumph. That'll be their job when these things happen if in fact they take much interest in it, but they seem to be able to come up with a new DVD or something every now and then. I know that when I'm signing autographs after gigs and things I get new stuff put in front of me and I go 'What the heck is this?'

That must be a funny feeling.
It is kind of strange. But I mean, I'm in show business. If I'm gonna let strange things throw me…

…you are in the wrong business.
(laughter) Yeah because something strange comes along about every five minutes.

Absolutely, look, well I just said the word myself, Absolutely, probably one of my top 20 of records of all time.

Nice, great.

A wonderful, wonderful record that I've spent many years listening to inside and out.
Well, I was proud of that record. It was the first big step after leaving Triumph and there were so things that I was trying to do to break out of the mold of being perceived just as a rock guy. There were some ballads and it was more of a singer/songwriter type record in some ways than your average rock band kind of record. It's funny, I remember when it came out how there were, because I was the guy who had left Triumph, there were some people in the rock community who didn't want that record to succeed. There was some jealousy and things here in the Canadian market that I had to put up with that I was the guy who betrayed the whole Triumph thing so, you know, screw me.
So there was some of that, and then there were changes that were happening at the time where rock radio wasn't really like it had been. There was the advent of the whole Seattle grunge thing starting to happen in a big way. That transition was occurring so anything that had that melodic kind of quality to it or classic rock kind of quality was losing it preeminence in the rock market. There was that big conversion occurring. So you know, whatever, I still think like, whenever I do acoustic shows there are a lot of songs off that album that I can just sit with an acoustic guitar and those tunes work fine.

I love the record. I really do. Stuff like Middle Ground meant a lot to me and still does.
That was the first song I wrote after I left Triumph. I remember playing it for an A&R man, and I don't remember if it was a demo or I just played it acoustically, and the guy was just totally unimpressed. He described it as a pronoun song. He goes, that's one of those pronoun songs. You're talking about yourself, me, this I, he, she, we and you. I go 'Really, OK, thanks a lot. Then I said, 'Do you think I could get a release from your record company so I'd be free to go and find something else?' And the guy said yeah, I think I could talk the record company people into that. I said great thanks pal.

And he's probably flipping burgers at this point.

Ah who knows, but that's the whole thing about it. The music business is a very strange, itinerant one. Over time the only way I got any widespread respect was just because I'd survived. That's really what it boils down to. If you can hang around long enough then people will go well geez there must be something good about it because so many others have crashed and burned or come and gone. I've done everything I can to try and promote them or make them successful but for some reason they didn't survive so this guy must have something. I don't like it and I don't know what it is but I'll give him his dues. Then you see that and in the end it kinda makes you laugh, but it is a very strange, itinerant kind of world. You kind of just go OK, I'll just keep kinda rolling along and take the punches when I get them and ride the waves when I can catch one.

Well you kept making records through the years do you have a favorite. I mean you've got Spiral Notebook, Swing Shift, you've got blues, you've got jazz.
I think what happens, I mean this is a relatively stock question and my relatively stock answer for it is, my favorite record is always the next one. My favorite song is always the next one. I'm an artist so that's the way I think. That's the way I feel. That's the way my DNA is constructed, you know? I don't really go back and listen to my old records much at all. I move forward and into new work, which is what fascinates me. I'm not fascinated with my own history. The more I kind of navel gaze on that basis the more my stomach starts to turn.

The less momentum you get?
Well that's part of it for sure. That's not to say that I don't respect and honor the past. I know that for my fans, they're the soundtrack to their lives that they find to be incredibly compelling and they want their own lives to have a substantial kind of meaning so they want me to have continuity with those songs. I understand that and I respect that. So this is kind of what happens with past records. Inevitably you get up on stage and you try different things and different times. There's a few song that kind of stick with you and they're great live so you keep playing them. And there are some songs that get air play so they're gonna stick with you because there are certain audiences in certain markets that have to hear them.
If I go to St. Louis by God I'd better play Hold On because it was a top 5 song there on both AM and FM radio so you go geez, you can't go to St Louis and not play that song, everybody expects to hear it. So when I go back into the past there're certain parts of the Allied Forces album from Triumph that are really good. I think the band hit its stride and did a lot of good things on that particular album. But we'd done some good things on the Just a Game album too.
So there're a few songs here and a few songs there then when I move up into my own solo career I go, yeah well you know, say off the Absolutely album. I hadn't heard Stand and Deliver in a long time and somebody played it on the radio when I was doing an interview one time and I went 'man I haven't heard that in a long time' and I thought that's got some pretty good stuff on it, that was a pretty interesting track. So I know there're moments. I thought the Ipso Facto album had some good things on it, you mentioned Spiral Notebook, I felt that was a record where I made big strides as a singer/songwriter.

That was the real departure, when I heard that record. I thought yeah, there's a change in direction here.
Yeah and a lot of people went, ooh God he got really soft. What happened to the rock guy? That had already happened for Ipso Facto, but then the record company said we can't put this record out. You have to go back in the studio and make some hard rock songs. We need some hard rock on this record. Then I'd gone back in and I'd done Straight Up and Band On, Do Me Good, Rainbow Man, so there'd been about 4 or 5 rock tracks that I'd done that got pasted into that record.

Interesting, yeah it kinda sounds like two different records.
Yeah I think it was three different records actually, because there was some jazz finger style stuff too like Woke up This Morning, and Transition, Calling St Cecilia, on there where you can see Spiral Notebook coming. You can hear it. You can smell it.

Yeah, Ipso Facto was the crossroads.
It kinda was. I've almost gotta have a soft spot in my heart for the Ten Invitations CD because that was the one finger style classical that I dreamed about even when I was in Triumph. For years and years I dreamed about doing a classical guitar record with nothing but finger style guitar pieces and that was what Invitations was. And that was the one that launched my own little label, my independence.

It was the start.
Then Swing Shift had some. Live I still play two or three things from Swing Shift almost every kind of gig that I do other than a classic rock on. Even then I'll throw in, like we did a classic rock one last week and I played Libre Animado off of Handwork and we did a band version of Three Clouds which gives everybody a chance to just blow their brains out. Like a sneak that stuff into the set now and I'll even tell the audience 'Look I've indulged you with Fight the Good Fight and Magic Power now you're gonna have to give me five minutes and I'm gonna do some of my own. I have been making records all these years folks'.

Anything you'd like to close with Rik?
Not really. I appreciate the fact that we've had a lot of support from you on your website. That's been a great thing.

Thank you, it's been a pleasure. I'm a long time fan.
I know that the record company guy tells me that it's important to have support of guys like you so I appreciate it and it was nice to chat with you.

Yeah you too Rik, it's been a great pleasure. Like I said, I came in on Thunder Seven to be a Triumph fan and went backwards from there and I've always traveled forward with you. It's great to talk things over.
Well, thank you very much.
OK Andrew.

Thanks Rik.
Take care now.


Within the interview, Rik gave mention to an offer on the table - well, as we now know that was for the Sweden Rock Festival Triumph reunion show. I updated this interview by getting back to Rik and asking him about this news:

How did the proposal of Sweden Rock come to you guys and why did this in particular appeal to you to do?
The Sweden offer came through an agent. It appealed to us because it was the first substantial offer, and it obviously came from a true fan, as well as a promoter with a track record, and we'd never been to Sweden, so it satisfied a sense of adventure and experiment.

How will you prepare for this show and it sounds like there could be a few more on North American soil this year?
We'll prep with a lot of rehearsal - the other fellows will really need it, to get back into playing shape. Whether or not there will be a few more anywhere remains to be seen. As far as I know, there aren't other firm offers on the table as of this writing: at least, no one has brought them to my attention. My attitude is - let's wait and see what develops. Let's have a lot of rehearsals under our belt before we start looking to far down the road. Maybe we should do one concert, and see how it goes, before we commit to booking months & months ahead.

c. 2008 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!/div>
 
Wed
08
Feb

Steve Lukather (2008)

Categories: 
Interviews




 

 

Steve Lukather: Here Lies Mr. Toto.


The self described road dog of melodic rock. Steve Lukather is one of my favorite people in this business and as has been the case with my previous interviews with the legendary guitarist - he once again lays it all bare, his heart on his sleeve.



Mr. Lukather! How are you?
I'm doin' OK, just one second here, I've just gotta fix one little thing.
OK. I'm feeding my dog right now.

Fair enough.
Now, here we go. Never a dull moment in family life.

I know it mate, I know it.
I've just gotta to put this up, hold on a second Drew, give me two minutes.
My whole house is being torn apart because we're remodeling. That and with the new baby it's kind of hectic around here.

How's she doing?
I wanted to save you for last so we could actually have a chat.

Thanks man, I appreciate that.
Usually it's just newspaper stuff promoting the shows.

Did you get through some good interviews?
Yeah, they got a shitload of them. More press than we've ever done in Australia. Ironically, as we're heading to the demise.
Hold on one second, I'm almost done. This dog won't eat the food unless I put a little cheddar cheese in there. She's a spoiled little beast, but we love her. (laughter)

So we were talking privately earlier about life on the road – how tough it can be…
I mean everybody's like God forbid anybody should have a hoarse throat.

When I was on the road with Jeff Scott Soto for a couple of weeks, it's a hard fucking slog.
It is man, and he's one of the best singers out there.

Yeah and I should have documented the hardness of it all but I had a tour to run because I was doing the tour manager thing, but you've been on the road for two years.
You're allowed to be bloody tired. By the time it's all done it'll be two and a half years on the Falling in Between thing.

That's amazing.
We're bringing a little bit more rock and roll set down this time, you know.

Good.
It's a lot of the same tunes, but with Sklar on bass because Mikey's still sick.

Yeah, that's too bad.
I wish I had better news there. He's still trying to recover but it's going very, very slowly.

Is he holding up mentally himself?
When I see him yeah, he puts on that, he doesn't say too much. I keep going 'how you doing man'.
It's a tough lot and you know…I'm looking around the stage and saying every single motherfucker's been replaced at least twice. (laughter)

Except you.
Except me, now you can print that.

Yeah, that's gotta be on the record.
Yeah, well c'mon, I'm the only one that's been there from day one and everybody else has been replaced two or three times.

We just can't kill you.
Well, I don't want to be killed. (laughter) It just kind of hit me all of a sudden and I started realizing, it's a fucking great band but is it Toto? I mean everybody's a motherfucker and I have nothing but love and respect, but is it Toto?

You still don't take yourself too seriously do you?
Well sure and that's another misconception that I'm all serious and don't get a sense of humor about all this shit. I get tweaked when people say things like I'm a coked out loser, yeah, and you can print that (laughter) but I mean, do these people know me? Have they ever met me or are they just making something of me having a hoarse voice and my voice isn't like it was when I was 20 years old? Hell is anybody's?

Nobody's you know, I don't think anybody's voice is the same.
Well I thought my quote in my email to you, which is usable, is that yeah my voice isn't as smooth as it was when I was 20 and neither is my ass. (laughter)

 

 

 

 


I'm getting a few wrinkles myself.
Well, you know what I'm saying, it's like c'mon, I've been doing this shit for 30 plus years. And you know when you're gonna get on the road, you get a cold, you can't help it. Both Bobby and I were kind of sick when we did the live show in Paris for the DVD that's coming out, but we fuckin' persevered. Then people come in there speculating that 'oh that's the reason see, they fixed all the vocals and made it sound all fucked up'. I didn't have time to do that, we were on the road.
McMillan's a genius man, he managed to make things sound bigger than they really were. When you've got a 5.1 mix you've got to fill in the holes. It's a big thing and when people remix this stuff in 5.1 they digitally enhance the doubles and the stuff like that. When we did the record all the background vocals were quadrupled for God's sake. We're not out there lip synching, but everybody's got an angle. Everybody's trying to bust your nuts. That sounds too good, or it sounds bad, or like 'is that real or is that fake?'
I mean c'mon, in the era that I grew up we didn't even…what does faking it mean? I learned to play before I made a record. So I think people are being a little too harsh. It's like they've got their jeweler's eye out looking for every little possibility. 'Oh yeah at 3 minutes and 42 seconds you can hear the pitch does like…blah, blah, blah.' Get a fucking life. (laughter)
Do you honestly think that we wanted to come back home after doing all those songs on a fucking tour then sit in a recording studio and listen to it and re-record it? Are you fucking nuts? I'd still be doing the overdubs if that was the case.

I'd think they would just enjoy the music and relax.
Right, I mean listen, when I have a minute I kind or peruse, you know I love the site, and I kinda check out what people are saying. I also check out what people are saying about other bands.
And there's some fuckin' harsh shit in there man.

Oh yeah, there is sometimes.
Oh man, put yourself in our shoes. I mean it's really easy to put down people and tear them all apart when you're sitting in your home, but what the fuck are you doing? (laughter) What are these people doing? Everyone's an armchair critic. Listen, you know we're not perfect.
Yeah, we're fuckin' a lot older, voices change, you don't run as fast as you used to, there's a lot of shit you just can't do that you used to be able to. I try to practice, keep my chops up to do the best I can. But what can I say?

And by the way, to clear up another misconception, David Paich and I have never been better friends than we are right now and I just got off the phone with him 5 minutes ago.

Fantastic.
And yes we will definitely be working together down the road on something or other whether it's Toto or not.

Great.
We went through a rough spot, like brothers do. I'm a very emotional; wear my heart on my sleeve kind of guy and I can tweak sometimes. I can get upset about things. And we never really talked it through. When he didn't talk to me about it my initial reaction was 'fuck you' and then it became this 'fuck you' fest.
Then we went out to dinner, just me and him, and we looked at each other, and we like hugged each other for about two minutes and at almost at the same time said 'I'm sorry'.
It was almost like a perfect double and then we sat down and we've been in close contact ever since. I've been confiding in him about my feelings about where this band is at, where it's going and if it should even go on, and he totally concurs with where my vibe is at.

I'm really pleased to hear that mate. That's great.
But listen, you get pissed off at people but when you've been friends for 35 years it wasn't going to last forever, c'mon. Everybody's speculating and yeah, sure I spout off a lot of bullshit but the written word never really conveys how one feels. That's the danger of e-mail and internet in general. Even when somebody's taking the piss out of me, maybe they were laughing when they wrote it but the way it reads was that they were serious so it's hurtful.

Yeah, you can't see the smile can you?
That's the whole thing. Unless you actually write it in like LOL, or Ha Ha Ha a statement is a statement in the written word. Sometimes it hurts. I don't care if people don't like the music or they don't like the band. That's their right. I hate this like 'Journey or Toto', you know what I mean?
Or like this guy sucks this guy's better, who's better Neal or Luke, you know that's stupid. Neal and I are dear friends man. I can't be more supportive of him or him of me. We're friends.
Fuckin' his son Miles is down there staying at my son's house. They're buddies. I mean this is ridiculous. People who don't know it make these horrible assumptions. Why do you have to be on one person's side or the other? Why can't you just dig both bands, or dig one, you don't have to slag off the other.

No, look mate. I've got so many favorite bands it's not funny.
But you know there's no such thing as the best at anything. Music is subjective. Art is subjective. Beauty is subjective. Do you think that when two ugly people are fucking they're saying 'Ha ha you're the ugliest person I ever fucked in my life?' No, of course not, they see beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Music is exactly the same way. (laughter) I don't like everything either but it would be horrible if I were to go off and slag off bands I don't like. It's hurtful. I know what it feels like. When somebody you don't know says you suck, you go 'Dude, you don't even know me.' If you don't like the music there's a nicer way to say it like, 'I don't really care for this kind of music, it's not my thing. Good players, I respect them, but it's not my thing.' You don't have to go, 'You fuckin suck man, you fuckin suck. You're the worst fuckin shit ever'.

You're coming to Australia again in March.
Here's the thing. The last time we went it was a big success. Yeah. Except for my poor guy John Howard man and his partner who took it up the ass from the guy that owned the fuckin' gig. He ran off with about $80,000 dollars.

I couldn't believe that.
Here we've got sold out shows and the cats are all ecstatic and they thought, great you made money, we made money, everybody's happy and all the sudden he gets fucked and I just felt terrible because I consider John a very good friend.

Yeah, absolutely John's a great guy.
Yeah, he's gonna release my solo record down there, do the promotion, you know. Then he believed enough to fucking throw down again to bring us down even after taking a beating like that. But I think he was learning, you can't trust people, you think you can, but you can't, not in this fucking business man. (laughter) Cats will suck you dick while sticking two fingers up your ass to get the cash you just ate. (laughter)
It's a shame to see good people go down but it was such a big success that they said let's break you out into some other markets. We're even going to do New Zealand.

Are you going to New Zealand?
Yeah, we're doing Auckland.

Oh fantastic.
As a matter of fact it's our first stop. That's someplace I've always wanted to see.

Auckland's awesome.
We're doing that, then we're coming over to do five or six dates I think you've got it there, I don't have it in front of me.

Yeah, I've got it here mate.
We're very excited about that, then we're running off to do a Malaysia and then we're going to do Japan with Boz Skaggs. So that's kind of fitting, then Paich is coming over to play with us in Japan.

Really? Oh that's great.
So it seems really fitting that we started out in Boz's band, Toto came out of that. Now we're ending this chapter with Dave back with Boz. It's bookends, you know what I mean? Then we're going to put this thing away for God knows how long. Two and a half to three years is a long time man. Everybody wants to do their own projects. Simon wants to produce records. As some cats get on they don't want to be on the road for eight months.

Yeah, exactly.
They're not like me. I'm a road dog. I'll live and die on the fucking road. That's who I am and what I am and I'm built for it. I mean physically built for it. I'll probably have a massive coronary in my room one night, but hey, what a way to go?

Only when you're 95 thank you.
Well, like I said, you know. I figure I've got this solo record coming out that I'm really proud of that's getting great reviews out of the box. I did a real video, a concept video.

Yeah, what song for?
The title track, Ever Changing Times.

Great song.
Thanks. I have no idea what it's gonna be about. We did it in Japan with a lot of green screens and stuff so there's gonna be all kinds of trippy shit going on.

I really like the artwork. The e-card kind of concept. It's simple, but I really love the colors.
I'm really proud of it. Robert Knight and Mary Ann Billens did all the photos. We did it out in the desert here.

Yeah, it looks sweet.
Conceptually I can't even tell you what perfect timing it was. I just says it all about my life. It's changed so much. I've mean from the beginning to now. Toto's been so good to all of us. Thanks to everybody out there for supporting us all these years. It's been an amazing journey, and amazing run.
Not to say that it's never going to happen again, but you know it's time to put it away for a while. We worked really fucking hard. Everybody wants to do their own solo things or take a break whatever. Everybody's got projects and stuff lined up. It's a great way for us to end up. We're all still friends. There are no bad vibes or anything like that. We're gonna go out and do it with a big smile.

 

 

 

 


So there's nothing planned for next year or the 30th Anniversary?
Oh no. No, no, no…nothing. The books are clean. Instead of the 30th it'll probably be the 35th Anniversary. (laughter) At that point who knows what's gonna happen.
I cannot predict the future. All I know is that we've worked very, very hard and everybody wants to do some different things.

That's fair enough too.
If you put yourself in my position with people saying 'well you ought to do the 30th tour next year', those people haven't done what we've just done. You be away from home for 2 and a half years and then say it. A lot of these guys in the band just don't want to do that. So, no, no, no, no, no not at this point.
I'm gonna go out and concentrated on my solo stuff and do some really weird, bizarre, obscure Toto songs. I'm gonna do songs off all three of my solo albums probably culled from the first, second, and the new one, maybe a track or two off the third one. And maybe some very interesting covers that I wrote for other people and/or did versions of. It's going to be a really kick-ass band. Everybody in the band in gonna sing including the drummer.

Who is the band? Have you got that lined up yet?
It's too early to tell. There'll be a few familiar faces and a few newbies. It'll be another world tour, so I'm gonna be out there working for a long time.

Well hopefully we can get some loop dates in Australia as well.
If all goes well the answer would be yeah. After we've made this contact with the Australian people again it would be a shame to lose that momentum. Big John says the shows are selling pretty well, but I won't really know until I get there.

Yeah I was gonna ask you about that because you have bigger venues.
I asked him about and he's goes 'no it's doing really well and I'm really happy'. If he's happy that means he's not taking a bath, so. I would not want to do that to the cat again.

Who could have predicted that was going to happen?
Well, like I said, we got all our money up front so he's the one that took a bath. We felt terrible and the time and said 'we gotta go back and make this right'. He's a good mate and we stayed in touch through all of that.

John's awesome and he just had a baby boy too.
That's right. Everybody's having babies.

All us old buggers.
Well, ya know what I mean, the dick still works for something. (laughter) For now. Yeah, for now and there's always Viagra after that.

Just to clarify Toto, this leg of the tour is ending, you're coming off the road and that's it for the foreseeable future.
Yeah. Like I say, we're gonna go out and give, it's like when you know it's the last lap you run real hard, real fast and give it you're all, that kind of the attitude that we're going in with. So it's not like we're gonna walk through the shows. This is a little bit more rock and roll set. We got rid of some of the ballads and all that acoustic stuff and we're gonna go out and rock.

Oh, I can't wait. I'm gonna have to make sure I'm there mate.
I'll get you over there one way or another. (laughter)

I'll come and see you in Melbourne this time, I think. That's closer for me.
We'll make that happen. When we get closer to it we'll be in contact.

Yes mate, of course. So this solo album is, congratulations again, we've talked a little about it you and me, but it's a fantastic record.
Aw thanks man, I appreciate that.

 

 

 

 


It's my favorite Luke album since the first solo album.
Thank you man. I worked really hard on it because I wanted to see if I could make a personal best at 50 years old. A lot of people say nobody makes a good record anymore, everybody's past their prime just going out and playing the hits, taking the money and going. I've read that so much about so many people and I refuse to believe that that's all I've got. You know everybody has their personal favorites. I mean is there gonna be another Africa? Probably not it's a different era, there couldn't be. But for me as an artist I needed to make a record first off that wasn't a fusion record. (laughter)
I kinda got that shit out of my system but I needed to do that for me. It was very selfish and very self-indulgent, but hey fuck it, you know. I've been playing Hold the Line since I was 19, I'm 50, do the math. I needed to go out and freak out. But I needed to make a real record, a real artist's record and Randy Goodrum's the guy that brought the concept, my old song writing partner. He executive produced the record and brought me to the Blue label. They're really behind the record, really gonna spend money, and these guys treated me like I first signed in 1977. I was wined and dined.
They love the record. They never said no to anything. They're writing checks for tour support. They did a nonrecoupable video and big promotion budget. And Serafino's working with me in Europe and again and he did such a fantastic job there. I'm really happy to be back there.
Then I've got big John down in Australia and another company here that's releasing it in North America. So I'm gonna go out and go for it. Give it all I've got. It's like, I'm not gonna do this when I'm 60. I'm 50 and everything's winding down. Everything's changing. Everybody's happy.
I wish everybody was healthy. I mean my brother Mikey's, it's just fucking me up that he's not getting better real fast.
It's like I said before, I'm the only guy that's really gonna go out and go for it right away. I have product and I'm putting together a great band and I got dates on the books. So I'm hoping that the record does well and I'll be able to build on that and stay out there for a while and get my own thing going on. I'm sure the other guys, well I've gotten emails that say 'good luck man, we're with you all the way'. God bless and we'll see each other again soon. I'm not making any official statement or anything like that. People are gonna read into it what they want. But after 30 years and the last 2.5 years on tour I've gotta take a break.

I can't think of another band on the planet that's been on the road for the last 2 years in this day and age.
It's a big world.

Yeah, but who else is doing it?
No one does the world like we do. A lot of bands tour every year in America.

It really shits me that Bon Jovi on their last album called it a world tour and the did I think a couple of dates in Canada and the rest in the USA and called it a world tour.
Well no, they do a big business in Europe. They were there. They're doing football stadiums.

I know they're doing OK, but it's not really a world tour.
No when we go on a world tour we do a World-fucking-Tour.

I mean Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, America, Europe that's a world tour.
Well, you know there are very few spots we missed. We were considering the “Let's find Osama” Mideast tour but that fell through. (laughter)

Well you didn't get to Tasmania so….
Hey, it's never too late. That's another thing with Toto. It took a huge overhead. There are so many people involved and it's a much bigger operation. I might be able to sneak into some of these places because I have a smaller operation. I'm not gonna need all those crew guys and all that shit but Toto is its own beast.

Absolutely, it's a big beast.
But like I said, we're all family. Everybody's come to this place where we see like, Ok man this is going to a great last run let's have fun with it. And whatever happens after that, happens after that. I'm not fucking Nostradamus, you know. I can't predict the future. Every time I have I've usually predicted wrong.

It's gonna be a great set of shows and the DVD about to hit any day now…
Yeah it's gonna be a month and when you see it man, it looks really fuckin' cool.

I can't wait to see it.
It looks like we're, it's just huge, there's a lot of people in the audience. The way it was filmed, you'll see the full production. With the 5.1 that's the way to do it. You need a big screen TV and a couple of beers or whatever you're into, and check it out like that. Then you'll see if everybody's faking it or not. Do you know how long it would actually take to go in there and redo the vocals and have it perfectly lip synched? I'd be doing that for the next 50 years of my life. (laughter)
So I mean come on, COME ON fellas. I don't want to dwell to much on that shit though. I like to make one blanket statement and just be done with it. All that does is open up the internet blog from hell. I want to try avoid anything negative if at all possible. I mean let me take the piss out of myself don't leave room everyone to come at me with a fuckin' chain saw.

An old buddy of yours is doing very well out on the road at the moment isn't he? Mr, Eddie?
Eddie V, I went to Staples and saw the show it was great. I was at the rehearsals too.

Everybody says it's great. You know for everything it took for this tour to happen there's been relatively no rumors…
Well I saw it at the Staple Center and there's 18,000 people, and man, they looked great, they sounded great, Roth was singing good, and the set list is the dream set list. And Eddie was playing great. You know, you hear stories about good night, bad night, I don't know man. The guy I know is really trying to give it all he's got. There's always gonna be somebody slaggin' him. 'Oh man he's lost it', they say the same shit about me man, the same shit about everybody. If the guy never did anything else again he changed the face of guitar history. Let him alone. He should be immune to people fucking with him. We're all getting older man, c'mon.

That's why I'm glad it's happening now, because it may not have a chance to happen in the future. It's going well enough that they've added more dates.

I think that's fantastic.
You know I love them, him and Al are like fuckin' soul brothers to me.

Absolutely, I hope they get down to Australia but I don't know.
Well if they get out to that side of the world don't be surprised. But I don't know. I haven't seen them since I saw them back stage before the show standing next to a very bewildered John Mayer.

Oh really?
Hell yes, I walk into the dressing room, which by the way's in like Def Con 5 security. Ed's in his own room and I just walk in and…[off the record…sorry!]

I'd like to see some of today's band still around after 30 years.
Exactly, walk in my shoes. Where are you cats gonna be in 30 years? If all you're relying on is Protools and eyeliner you're gonna be in deep shit real soon.

Well, anything else to add mate?
Geez, that I'm happy, tired but happy. The two dad's thing is pretty cool.

Yeah, how's she doing, good?
Oh, she's a beautiful baby.
She's growing already. It's a trip. It's a trip man you know, you're gonna go through all this shit again. I haven't done this in twenty years so I'm really like wow. My wife is thriving. She's just wonderful. She's a great mom already. I'm on the A-list with the in-laws because it's their first grandchild. It's gonna be the last for me but she does have a sister. (laughter)

Long as you're the first.
Right, you know what I mean?
But everything's going good man. I really want to thank all the really wonderful people. Thank you for keeping the shit alive on the site and for having my back and promoting the music, promoting the music for all of us, not just me and Toto but for all the guys that are still out there kickin' it. We're all out there bustin' ass man.
Don't pick on the old guys because someday you're all gonna be old. This is really ironic. It's like all the old reviewers that have trashed us are all retired or dead. So there's a new young breed that says Toto's pretty good so that's gonna do OK.

What did you do wrong? Nothing!
You know, all I did was play music. But you've gotta be honest. We were the band to fuckin' beat up. We were without question the most berated band ever in rock history. I'm still taking some for the fuckin' name man. I figure that just made it too easy for them.

I like the name.
It's a stupid name. (laughter) You can print that. (laughter) I hated it from day one but now I am Mr. Toto so what can I tell ya? (laughter) I can't shake it if I want to. (laughter)

That'll be on your tombstone mate.
(laughter) Yeah, exactly, here lies Mr. Toto. (laughter) And there'll be dog shit on top of it probably because that'd be the last fuck you, ya know. (laughter) A fitting end!(laughter)

That's a fitting end to an interview mate. I can't possible top that.
(laughter) OK mate I think that's very good.(laughter)

Oh good, OK.
(laughter) I like that idea, keep the funny shit, keep people laughing. They'll get a better idea of who I am because people think that we all take ourselves too seriously.

You're one of the funniest bastards I've had the pleasure of being with all these years.
Well hell man, like I said, I get the joke. There's the title of the interview.

I get the joke.
I get the joke, “Lay Off Me I Get The Joke”. See I'm hoping to get interview of the year again.

That'll have to be for next year because it's January. (laughter) We didn't do one last year.
That's right we didn't.

Well not formally anyway.
But we had a couple beers together. That's a good thing.

And that was fun wasn't it?
And we'll do that again.

Oh shit, that was the last time I was badly drunk.
Boy you are a cheap date!

[End!]

 

 

 

c. 2008 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice / Transcribed By Sherrie!

 

 

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