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THE JOURNEY ZONE

http://www.journey-zone.com




THE INTERVIEWS

2002


Janary 27, 2002: Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Jonathan Cain, and Gregg Rolie Uncle Joe Benson Interview

February 2002: Ross Valory JourneyMusic.Com Interview at the Hive

February 2002: Neal Schon The Pre-Grammys Interview with Alternate Music Press

April 2002: Steve Smith All About Jazz Interview

November 2002: The Magazine at Viceland.Com published two hilarious pseudo-interviews this month, one with former Journey and Grateful Dead Graphic Artist Stanley Mouse and another with Journey Lead Vocalist Steve Augeri. We're not sure if they're at all authentic (in fact we doubt it), but they're both fun reads.
  • The Viceland.Com Stanley Mouse Interview
  • The Viceland.Com Steve Augeri Interview

    November 17, 2002: The Journey Zone (then called Jrnydv.Com) Gregg Rolie Band Interviews
  • The Journey Zone Gregg Rolie Interview
  • The Journey Zone Michael Carabello Interview
  • The Journey Zone Alphonso Johnson and Ron Wikso Interview


    Janary 27, 2002: Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Jonathan Cain, and Gregg Rolie Uncle Joe Benson Interview
    Off The Record with Uncle Joe Benson (original air date: 01/27/02)
    Uncle Joe: Keyboardist Gregg Rolie and guitarist Neal Schon formed the Golden Gate Rhythm Section in June of 1973. They recruited Ross Valory on bass, a second guitarist name George Tickner and drummer Prairie Prince. They rehearsed for a good six months, made their live debut on New Year's Eve and then lost their drummer to the Tubes.

    This is your Uncle Joe Benson. Now a month later not only did the Golden Gate Rhythm Section have a new drummer in Aynsley Dunbar; they also had a new name: Journey. And a lot has happened to them since 1973. They added a vocalist to the line-up, started writing songs with lyrics. They managed to sell over 30 million albums and they've amassed 16 top 30 singles and played thousands of live shows. And today Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain give us an inside look at Journey Off the Record.

    Song: "Separate Ways"

    Uncle Joe: The story, Neal, as we start off here. Is the story true about Clapton and Santana?
    Neal: Yeah, I was 15 and I was hanging out with the Santana guys in the studio in San Francisco. And Clapton stopped by. He was a big fan of the Santana band. We jammed that night--I didn't really say anything even; we didn't talk. It was really late. I took off and went to sleep. The next day I came into the studio with the band again and I had a note there waiting that he left. He wanted me to go jam with him at Berkeley Community Theater. And so I talked a girl into driving me over there 'cause I was 15. I didn't have a car or a license. And she drove me over there and dropped me off. And I got backstage about 10 minutes before he went on. He invited me onstage, to come on. He says," I'm gonna introduce you as a good friend of mine about four songs into it and just come up and play the rest of the night." It was like a something I'll definately never forget.

    Back to "Separate Ways"

    Uncle Joe: You started out with Prairie Prince on drums.
    Gregg: Right. We were gonna be a rhythm section in the Bay Area. And it was called the Golden Gate Rhythm section. I think it was something like that, you know for 3 seconds. [laughter] We were going to do this so anybody coming into the Bay Area would have a band, you know. And we would play for them and do this thing. At least that's what we were saying to ourselves. And within, not . . . a very short time, we were writing our own songs and doing our own stuff and out looking for a drummer because Prairie went off with Tubes. And then Aynsley came into the picture.
    Uncle Joe: Where did you find Aynsley Dunbar? This guy had at this point, his credentials were . . .
    Gregg: Oh, yeah.
    Uncle Joe: I mean he had worked for Zappa and he'd already worked with Bowie at this point I think, hadn't he?
    Gregg: Yeah.
    Uncle Joe: So you didn't find him in the yellow pages. [laughter]
    Gregg: No, but, you know, we went through many people. We went through a lot of drummers. It's harder than you think, you know, to make that click with the type of music you're playing. And Aynsley could play anything. He could play two time signatures at the same time. You know, split his body in half--he really could. So that's how that happened.
    Uncle Joe: Robert Fleischman would be the first vocalist that you guys came by. You hadn't worked with one before. Was it a situation trying to get things . . . . figure out who was doing what. Or did Steve Perry come floating into the scene?
    Gregg: Fleischman was our choice, Neal and I. Because the guy could, I mean he could scream. I mean he could really get up there. He had the energy and all that. And he wrote pretty well. And, so yeah, he kinda got it and all that stuff, but he was a little too demanding on one show in Fresno. And Herbie had already, I think, had already heard about Steve Perry or he kept coming into his life, as he says. "God, this name keeps popping up in my life." And Fleischman made the mistake of making some demands on us. We were playing with ELP. And we decided as a group, to get over with that type of crowd, to do more of the old material first and then bring him out. Well, he didn't want to do that. And he said he wasn't going to go on stage. He made that mistake. And that was pretty much it. [laughter] That was it. There was none of that, you know, you can't make that kind of demand on a group of guys like that. We'd been doing this a long time.
    Uncle Joe: Maybe if you'd just started you could, but . . .
    Gregg: Yeah, sorry. And so that was that. And then Perry kept coming around. Herbie brought Perry out and he toured, he came along with us on tour as John Villanueva's cousin. You know, he just kinda snuck this whole thing in there. [laughter] And he was singing. He came up with stuff. And it just sorta developed. Backstage we would do things. It was cool.

    Song: "Anyway You Want It"

    Uncle Joe: When Steve Perry came to meet you in Denver, I believe, was the first time around, legend has it, Neal, that you and him knocked off a song immediately--"Patiently".
    Neal: Yeah, we did. We were actually rooming together and I had an acoustic guitar in the room. And I had this music brewin' in my head. And I just started playing it for him and he started singing immediately. And I think within a half an hour it was just written.
    Uncle Joe: Did this occur to you that maybe this was an unusual situation? That this doesn't happen to people very often?
    Neal: Well, you know, when something popped out of nowhere like that within the first half an hour, I definately knew that there was some chemistry there.

    Song: "Patiently"

    Commercial break

    Ross: Hi! I'm Uncle Ross. (laughter) with Journey Off the Record with Uncle Joe.
    Uncle Joe: The first time you played Infinity back in the studio, were you so familiar with the music that it was like--allright, fine, we got it. Let's go out on the road? Or was it like . . .
    Neal: It sounded so brand-new to me it took a while to soak in. You know, and make me realize, wow, this is really pretty cool.
    Uncle Joe: You did something then following that that's so pure rock and roll. You went on the road for 9 months, 178 dates.
    Neal: Yeah.
    Uncle Joe: And you all were talking to each other at the end pretty much.
    Neal: Yeah, we talked to each other for a long time. [laughter]
    Ross: Yeah, the station wagon tours, rental car tours, there was a Winnebago circuit we did. We came back with--it came back--we pushed it back into the lot missing both of, each of the two double rear wheels. So in other words, there are four wheels [laughter from all the guys] in the back and there were only two left. Oh, man. We ran that thing into the ground.

    Song: "Wheel In the Sky"

    Uncle Joe: You've already gone through two major changes within 12 months within the band, you as a musician seeing all this, but you have got to realize, my God, this is working somehow I've never quite seen before. Or was it like--here we go again.
    Gregg: The thing that I remember of that was that the Infinity Tour was called the "Infinity Tour" because it was for infinity that we were out there doing this. And it was really the band and the manager and our organization and the fact that the records were in the stores which was a big help, but we did a lot of this. We got on the radio through promotional things because we played there. We started a . . I mean, we beat it up. I mean we went through Chicago seven times. And each time it grew. So it was a real hands-on building process. So yeah, we noticed the change because . . . I better notice a change after all this! [laughter] I mean we did, we worked it. We worked it hard.
    Uncle Joe: Aynsley left after the Infinity Tour.
    Gregg: Right.
    Uncle Joe: Too much on the road? Did you know it was coming? Was it like one day, "I'm not coming back"? Was it Spinal Tap or was it just . . .
    Gregg: No, it was kinda, I mean, he wanted to play more. Neal's put this probably the best of anybody. He played a lot and he was used to doing Zappa and playin'. And we were toning it down. And so it wasn't working right. And it was really Perry's call, but it wasn't feeling right for him and so we went along with it.

    Song: "Lights"

    Uncle Joe: Now I would assume a few months into this the band has become tighter than it ever had been before because you're working on tighter arrangements and you're also now getting to know each other better with the singer, the dynamic and all that changing. Did it reach a point . . . or was it, you're just having such a blast or working so much that still that long tour, even though you were tired . .
    Gregg: It was more like light at the end of the tunnel. You know, it was hard work and we were watching it grow and becoming successful and reaching the goals that we were trying to reach. And at the same time it was like--I can't wait for this to stop for a minute, you know [laughter]. I'd like to breathe. But what continued on about Journey was we did that for 7, 8 months and then we'd go back, write, record, go out and do it again. And that went on, you know, for the next three years.
    Uncle Joe: Even the just next album, Evolution, the dynamic had to be different in the studio there. Because you knew what you were, there wasn't any question at that point.
    Gregg: Well, we cleaned up. We used Roy [Thomas Baker] again, but we didn't tape saturate as much and it got cleaned up some. We went after it a little differently. And, in fact, each progression on the next one on Departure we did less of that and in fact used his engineer, Geoff Workman. And didn't do it with as much layering. We went back to recording kind of less of that layering technique. But got a lot of the same sounds because the engineer was the same. The drum sounded the same and all that stuff.

    Song: "Just The Same Way"

    Uncle Joe: Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie and bassist, Ross Valory, recorded "Just The Same Way" for Journey's Evolution album. After a lenthy tour, Journey re-convened at the Automat Studios in November of 1979 and by March of 1980, the Departure album was finished and released. They immediately hit the road. When their world tour wrapped some months later, Journey lost yet anothe member. I'm Joe Benson. We'll hear about that line-up change coming up next on Off The Record.

    Commercial

    Gregg: Hi! I'm Gregg Rolie and this is Journey Off the Record with Joe Benson.
    Uncle Joe: So Journey came together in '73. I'm gonna guess that after 8 years or so, 4 or 5 of which are really intense, Journey is one of the biggest bands in America. Did you just reach a point where you were tired of it all? What prompted you to leave?
    Gregg: I really lost track of who I was. That was my problem. It's my own personal problem. You know, it didn't belong to anybody. And to, you know, come to grips with that and look at it and go--you know I've gotta cool out here. I drink too much--this is not cool. So I made that choice. And it's like, it's time to reel it back in. And it was that simple. And when I finished that last gig in Japan I swear to God, to this day, I look back and it was such a relief that I just walked off. And I was glad to have done what I did. I was glad to be in that band. Everything was cool, but I just couldn't do it anymore.
    Uncle Joe: Did you go into shock six months later?
    Gregg: No, as a matter of fact no. And everybody has asked me that. My God, you must have looked back, and they went on to do Escape and Frontiers and I say God bless them--they wouldn't have done it with me. You know, if Jonathan Cain hadn't come in there and helped them write and craft some of those songs, they wouldn't have done that. It wouldn't have happened. Because a band is about all the members involved. It's not about one guy.
    Uncle Joe [to Jonathan]: What kind of shock did you go through when, all right now, you've been asked to join the band. You know these guys have their shit together from ground zero because you've been touring with them. And you know they can play. You've known they had chops for years, but the first time you went into the studio to record with them, that had to be different than anything you'd ever done before.
    Jonathan: Yeah, it was . . . but they made it really comfortable though. I'd never been in such a first-class situation, you know what I mean? Our manager, Herbie Herbert, I mean, made me feel like--no worries. You know, and first thing I came up there he made sure that I was relaxed and I had a place to live and I had a car to drive. That was basically it--"Jon, no worries." And I used to say to Neal, "I got bills, Neal, what am I gonna do?" and he goes "No worries, you're--it's gonna be fine." [laughter] You know they just took all that away, off your shoulders and just allowed us to create and it was just like we never looked back. We just wrote and wrote and wrote. And the chemistry was just on fire, you know.
    Neal: Those were the wonderful days too, when we wrote and wrote and wrote. Then we went into the studio and we finished the record, then we gave it to our label.
    Jonathan: Yeah.
    Neal: Nobody heard anything until we were done. That was the deal that Herbie cut with the label.

    Song: "Who's Cryin' Now"

    Uncle Joe: Now, Ross, you'd been around the business a little bit at this point in time as well. Did you realize how special this was, this combination of songwriting and . . . .
    Ross: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean what's been described as this very steady, but sure process of getting all the ducks lined up in a row. By the time Jonathan came the organization had been honed and was ready for the ultimate success. And with the combination of the people we had at the time Jonathan joined --all the songwriting was there--all the necessary ingredients to complete the picture, especially, you know, for radio. And that's what put it over the top. You know, we began, Neal and I and the other folks, began in the early '70s, but I always had a feeling that all we gotta do is just stick with this and it will work. I had no idea that I was going to be in the same band, at the time, I had no idea I was going to be in the same band five, six, seven years later, but (laughs) look at us now!

    Song: "Open Arms"

    Uncle Joe: Did you reach some point while the band was fully functioning at this level that you began to think maybe you needed a break from the action because you'd been going so long. Or was it a year or so after things started coming apart?
    Jonathan: We paced it, I think, pretty well after I joined. It was always that couple, year-and-a-half window it wasn't , , , Escape was pretty crazy, but after I joined it was . . . Herbie had it down to a science. You guys are gonna take this year off, then your gonna go back in the studio. And I think after Frontiers was over then it was a long lull between albums. Of course, Steve Perry wanted to go do his solo thing and Neal was doing solo things. And you know that seemed to be where the water started getting murky, you know.

    Song: "Send Her My Love"

    Uncle Joe: Steve Perry calls "Send Her My Love", which he and Jonathan Cain wrote in a single afternoon, his favorite Journey song. And it was after the Frontiers World Tour that Steve Perry took a brief hiatus from the band to release his solo album, Street Talk. Journey did make their way back into the studio to record what would be their last album, Raised on Radio, but they did so without original bassist, Ross Valory, who retired before the serious session work began. Drummer Steve Smith also departed during the making of that album leaving Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain to finish the work with session bassist, Randy Jackson, and drummer, Larry Londin. After two long years Raised On Radio was finally released in May of 1986. Though it sold over two million copies and broke the top five in the album charts, its success wasn't enough to keep the band together and Journey officially called it quits after that tour ended. This is your Uncle Joe Benson and coming up on Off the Record, a Journey reunion and another line-up change.

    Commercial

    Jonathan: Hey everybody! This is Jonathan Cain from Journey and you're going to get the real scoop off the record with your Uncle Joe Benson.
    Uncle Joe: Let me zip ahead a little bit here in time. You got back together in '96?
    Jonathan: '96, right.
    Uncle Joe: Was it tentative at the time? Did it feel like, wow this could be something? What was it like?
    Ross: Well, it was a tentative reunion, but it developed into something that looked really solid and it looked like we had another chance to keep it together and continue. And we created this album which I think for me it was the best Journey album to date.
    Jonathan: It was fun, actually, you know.
    Ross: Yeah, it was fun, you know. Fairly relaxed. And there were plans, you know, for the single releases and the whole game-plan and to go from there and hit the road. And then things changed there. That sort of . . . it was cut short. Trial By Fire was cut short.
    Neal: Honestly, I have to tell you that I had a lot of fun doing it too and I had a lot of high hopes for, you know, us being back together. And hitting the road is what we all wanted to do. We wanted to go play live.
    Ross: Go play.
    Neal: But also, there was somethin' inside of me that was tellin' me--this is very strange. After ten years of nothing for him to call up and say "I wanna do something right now"--out of the blue, you know, after ten years. I was like--what's up with that? You know I was ready to completely move on and, and just do something . . . myself--whatever it was gonna be.

    Song: "Don't Stop Believin'"

    Uncle Joe: Now, Jonathan, you're quoted as saying "Neal just called me and wanted to get together and write some Journey songs." Neal said, "My guitar is talking to me and it's talking Journey."
    Jonathan: Uh-huh.
    Uncle Joe: Damn that's poetic! [laughter]
    Neal: It was like, you know, that's exactly what was happening every time I picked up the guitar because we had started up the machine again and, you know, it was Journey. It was coming out. I went into that focus, that area that, that only we go in and with these guys and I couldn't get out of it. So, you know, it was contagious.
    Jonathan: And you say--why not? It's your band, bud. You know what I mean. I looked at him and said "you and Ross are the daddios, so, I mean, of the whole thing" [laughter]. Why can't Neal, why can't Neal be in Journey, I asked myself. You know, why can't I be in Journey? And then I asked myself, well, hey, you know, two-thirds of that catalogue belongs to who? You know, and you think, well, wait a minute, we have . . . yes. We can do this. You know, and we will do this. The look that day--he was desperate to do it. He had this look on his face that "we're gonna do it". He was determined and I'm glad he did because . . . .
    Neal: I was flat-out pissed off. It had gotten under my skin that we were just like left high and dry. As far as I'm concerned, we've heard that it's the other way around, but as far as I'm concerned we were left high and dry and I didn't like the feeling of it at all. And I wanted to be able to do it no matter what. And I felt that we were much stronger as a band, every individual in this band is much stronger as an entity than any one individual.

    Song: "Faithfully"

    Uncle Joe: Journey is taking the first half of this year off and then they plan to hit the road again this summer. But you can at least catch guitarist Neal Schon at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards on February 27th. He's been nominated in the best pop instrumental album category for his recently released Voice album. Tune in at 8 pm on CBS TV or on your radio via Westwood One. Journey Off the Record is a presentation of Westwood One.

    Song: Neal's "A Song For You" from Voice.


    February 2002: Ross Valory JourneyMusic.Com Interview at the Hive
    Interviewer: Caryn Sinagra
    Original location: Journeymusic.Com

    CS: What's buzzing at the Hive?

    RV: The Hive is not always "buzzing". It all depends on who is around and how busy everyone's schedules are. Personally, I have not been busy at the hive since before last summer's tour. George Tickner had been doing some work there in my absence with Tim Gorman who has moved down a few doors to build his own studio.

    Tim Gorman is a writer, arranger, keyboardist that I worked with in the band called "V.u.". It was the group that I was in with Prairie Prince, Stef Burns and Kevin Chalfant. In my absence, Tim and George were collaborating on some projects together. Tim does arrangements. He also produces various artists that come to him. George had been working most part of last year in combining their efforts recording not only with ADATS but also using music software. In particular, the music software called PROTOOLS.

    The Hive began with George and myself and Steve Roseman. Steve Roseman is a pianist and writer. We've just been working on projects and the motivation or the general mood at the studio is more like a hobby. A solo oriented type of project. Several people getting together and just enjoying what they are doing and jamming. And in some cases, working on material that over the last four years has amounted to probably more than a CD's worth of material.

    We've never been in a hurry and the three of us had never learned how to engineer. We have been players so there has been quite a learning curve there. As we started learning how to use the recording system with ADATS the attention and the focus of recording techniques has now shifted towards music software. Using computers and computer hard drives to record the material rather than using the more mechanically oriented digitally audiotape systems.

    We've got a lot of material we have piled up over the years. I probably mentioned to the fans that we had hoped to get something done last year. Several reasons that did not happen was because when you go away for 3 / 4 months it's hard to just pick up where you left off when you come back. Not too long after I returned the September tragedy hit and we then went back on the road to do the Volunteers of America benefits in Atlanta and Dallas.

    When we returned I completely focused on tearing the studio apart and remodeling and rebuilding, redesigning with the help of our resident guru engineer Tom Size. Tom Size has his own studio and is a recording engineer and producer in our local area (http://pages.sbcglobal.net/tomland1). He's been responsible for guiding and providing the recipe for the design of the studio for the last three years or so.

    We rebuilt the studio. We completely gutted the place, emptied the room, piled the equipment up and proceeded to refurbish the entire place. New heating and air conditioning, new track light and with help from the master electrician, Allen Craft, redid the entire electrical system. We balanced clean power, repainted the place and reconfigured how the equipment was placed. It has been an extensive project, which began in late September, early October. The system was re-wired to be used with PROTOOLS (a brand name of the recording software). It's a whole new ballgame. We are now starting over, where as before we were learning ADATS (Analog Digital Audiotapes) at our own pace; we are now learning how to use PROTOOLS. As our own projects were proceeding we had to start over because of all the wiring and all the components that are in place and configured for that.

    CS: How would you classify the music from your projects?

    RV: The music is a collection of ideas that developed slowly over three or four years. Call it period music, various flavors of different parts of the world from different times. It's not the kind of music that is dictated by trend. It's eclectic. Every song is different and comes from a different influence. It's the kind of music that if one likes it now, one will always like it.

    It's hard to describe the music. It moves from song to song according to style, and has many different styles including country, reggae, jazz, classical, new age etc. Most of it is timeless. It is music that would sound good now or sound good in five years.

    A couple of the songs feature Prairie Prince on drums. Steve Smith joined us for three or four songs. We also experimented with violins and had horn sections on a couple tracks. Tim Gorman provided the orchestration arrangements for three songs. Many styles are incorporated into these projects.

    CS: Are the tracks entirely Instrumental?

    RV: For the most part now it is instrumental. The focus on this just a few people who have worked over the years on various ideas and various songs and slowly but surely it's coming together. Again the direction it is not a focused "career" direction.

    CS: Do you now have time to spend at the Hive?

    RV: Yes now that I am getting some time and things are starting to mellow out. Between moving boxes, selling a home, renovating the studio then buying another home. The moving that has gone on between those three areas plus moving boxes to storage or Goodwill. It has been a quit a circus. I was living in overalls. I haven't been able to be in the musical mode since I got off the road. It's been moving between one home and another or renovating the studio. It has been a lot of work, a lot of physical labor.

    CS: Where did the name "The Hive" come from?

    RV: George or I came up with the name. The name "The Hive" is just the name of the studio. There is no single project going on called "The Hive". I am focused now on the material that George, Steve Roseman and I have been working on over the years. Tim has moved a couple doors down and works on his projects. Steve has been working with a man named John Hernandez, which is the west coast Roland representative who is a fine drummer in his own right. So Steve and John have their own project that has been going on a couple years now. I am involved with that project also, it has been hit & miss getting my time often enough to work on that. I am helping them with bass parts.

    The Hive is not just one project. It's a bunch of things that are happening there off and on depending on who is around.

    CS: What does the future hold at the Hive?

    RV: I had told the fans that we were looking to have something done last year. We decided to take the time to clean the place entirely out and retool. We are starting over in terms of how to use the system differently. It's like going to school with all this.

    The key word here again is that it's been more of a hobby than a solo career. Not that a solo career isn't an attractive idea to me but I also don't have illusions about expecting it to be successful.

    CS: It sounds like it's more about the love of doing it than a career move?

    RV: Not only that, for the love of doing it but also to see something completed. There is a lot of stuff that has been piling up for a few years. It appears to be coming to completion, but it is not with the same kind of motivation as if you had management and a record label. Thirdly, for having those who are interested like friends, family or fans to hear it. We will take certain steps to see where these various kinds of music will take us in the music business. It may go on film, video, or soundtrack as that's tends to be more what the music tends to speak to. George has some ideas about taking some songs that aren't on our main list and collaborating with some other people to see what lyrical/vocal ideas will come.

    CS: Will there be some soundbytes posted for us to hear?

    RV: Soundbytes would be down the road. We don't have a website yet. Fans and other people definitely have interest in the side projects of the Journey members may possibly project more into it than what it is, or expect more from it than what it is. It's something we haven't been in a hurry with. As we are motivated, we probably will get a website up. Soundbytes then could possibly be down the line. Another way to describe this project is that it's not a "deadline" type environment. Several projects are going. There is another project that is my own music. I have material that's been piling up since the age of 9 or 10. As I am motivated to do so I may start to arrange and record some of these. I have my own compositional history to consider as a project.

    CS: Who was your major influence when you decided to pursue music at 9 or 10?

    RV: "Deciding to pursue music", that's a reasonable way of asking the question. I just was music, I grew up with music. My mother has been a major influence, especially when I was very young. She taught me and I was singing and playing ukulele at the age of four. I learned how to play piano and sing songs with my mom. I was always versed in music in one way or another so pursuing music, well I guess that's am I going to go to college or am I going to stay in a band?

    When I was in school I had other opportunities other than music. Science, medicine, biology, astronomy were other areas I could have easily taken an interest in. Music was the most natural and the most motivating for me. So I made the decision around age of 18 to pursue being a professional musician.


    Jrnydv.Com Interviews Gregg Rolie

    Date of Interview:
    November 17, 2002
    Interviewers: David Hamilton Golland, Svetlana Rogachevskaya, Kristin Gelato
    Location: The Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
    Gregg Rolie co-founded Santana in 1967 and went on to rock stardom with that band as its lead vocalist and keyboardist, most notably at Woodstock in 1969. Some of his biggest hits with Santana were “Jingo,” “Evil Ways,” “Oye Como Va,” and “Black Magic Woman.” In 1972 he left Santana, along with guitarist Neal Schon and manager Herbie Herbert, to found Journey, where he again found rock stardom. Despite the addition of lead vocalist Steve Perry in 1977, Rolie continued to sing lead on several songs, including “Feeling that Way,” “Anytime,” and “Just the Same Way,” and performed on the band’s signature live album, Captured. Rolie left Journey in 1980. Since his departure from Journey, he briefly re-joined Santana, recorded four solo albums, and helped form yet a third successful band, The Storm, with Journey alumni Ross Valory (bass) and Steve Smith (drums), as well as Kevin Chalfant (lead vocals) and Josh Ramos (guitar). Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Santana in 1998, Gregg Rolie is currently touring in support of his 2001 solo release Roots.

    This interview has actually been in the works for quite some time. Following the publication of the sensational interview by Matt Carty of legendary Santana and Journey manager Herbie Herbert (August, 2001), and a statement by Neal Schon at the Journey Official Online Forum in which he suggested that Gregg Rolie’s lack of interest is the reason why there probably won’t be a Journey 30th reunion (February, 2002), we felt at Jrnydv.Com that it was important to hear what Gregg had to say on a number of topics. We took pains, however, to ensure that we didn’t ask him so many of the same questions he’s been getting for the past twenty years. We did not ask him to discuss anything covered by his televised interviews from VH1’s Behind the Music: Journey (February, 2001) or by the Harmody.Com interview he sat for in June, 2001.

    We spoke with Gregg following his performance at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, on November 17, 2002. The show was a phenomenal return for Gregg to the East Coast. Special thanks to Scott Boorey and Jim Welch of Gregg Rolie Band Management for making it all happen.

    Gregg Rolie: [sitting down, noticing the laptop] Oh, one of these, huh? [Laughs.]

    Jrnydv.Com: Well, we don’t have a very good memory, so we’re using both devices to make sure we don’t miss anything.

    Gregg Rolie: That’s all right [laughs]. You and everybody else!

    Jrnydv.Com: I guess we’ll just start—first of all thank you for coming, and welcome back east. Is this the first time you’ve been back on the east coast professionally touring since you left Journey?

    Gregg Rolie: I came here with Santana—

    Jrnydv.Com: In the mid-eighties?

    Gregg Rolie: Oh, yeah in the eighties. And also with The Storm in the nineties. I can’t remember all the places that we played.

    Jrnydv.Com: You had a lot of dates scheduled originally on this tour that you postponed, according to your website, because of the D.C. Sniper?

    Gregg Rolie: Yeah, number one, one of the—that wasn’t all of it but one of the places we were scheduled to appear was right in the beltway—

    Jrnydv.Com: Springfield?

    Gregg Rolie: Yeah, and in fact, they closed the place down. Nobody would’ve come out anyway. They couldn’t afford us—for us to come down, and I wouldn’t have done it anyway.

    Jrnydv.Com: Would you say that you did it for the safety of your fans?

    Gregg Rolie: For the safety of my fans, my band—I’m not a target, but we can’t put people at risk—that’s not why we play music, I mean, that’s foolish. And so, what happens though is when you have a series of dates, and they’re all in small places, you only get paid so much. If two of them fall out, then logistically you can’t go to the others because it’ll—it’ll break the bank. So—one fell out here, one fell out there—pretty soon, they all fell apart.

    Jrnydv.Com: One of the factors you’ve mentioned in interviews in the past is the issue of lyric-driven music versus solo-driven music. This is obviously one of the major changes that took place in 1977 with Journey. In what direction would you say your music is moving at this point?

    Gregg Rolie: You know it’s like I—I feel like I’ve kind of taken both things and put them together. The song-writing ability that I gained being with Journey—it was a much more structured type of band. And putting it with the Latin rhythms—and any type of rhythm—I’m combining the song-writing ability with the rhythm, now I can actually do even more. And so it’s wide open. I can go anywhere I want, do anything I want. I don’t have to have just the Latin rhythm there, just this—I can do anything I want. But I will always lean more towards the groove. Even in the chorus part. It’s not about what note it’s on—I don’t care about that.

    Jrnydv.Com: How has your life changed since becoming a member of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame? Are there any responsibilities, official or unofficial?

    Gregg Rolie: No, not really, I mean—other than what an honor it is. I mean, if you would’ve told me that I was going to accomplish all this in my life when I started out, I would’ve said “oh yeah, sure.” So I feel very fortunate.

    Jrnydv.Com: You’ve mentioned that you’re doing Gregg Rolie Band at this time for the pleasure of it, not trying to get back into the top 40. You’ve also expressed some dissatisfaction with the current state of pop music. (Not that you were ever pop!) Would you advise young artists to do what’s musically right for them, and not be so concerned with the changing winds of popular culture?

    Gregg Rolie: Always. Always—I Just played with a college. We played for a college in Minneapolis. We got asked this stuff a lot by these young people. They came and we played about four numbers, with guitars and all, and we had a nice exchange. We got asked this question a lot—so I told them something I heard off of MTV off of a young guitar player—I forget the band, down in Florida—and he said “turn off the damn TV and go see a show.” Just support the people who are doing music. If they’re not good, don’t go to see ‘em. But go out and you know—turn that crap off! Television is—I mean, everyone is being spoon-fed stuff—it’s only there to sell tires…and ties…and radios. I mean MTV started out to be a music station. What’s on there now? I mean it’s a joke. My kids think it’s a joke and they’re seventeen years—they’re teenagers.

    Jrnydv.Com: I can’t imagine your kids not being hip to that sort of thing.

    Gregg Rolie: Oh, they’re just like—it’s silly stuff—but all over. It always goes in cycles. There’s stuff that’s—you know of course there are some good things on there, you know, I can’t say that it’s all horrible. But for the most part, they don’t want it on.

    Jrnydv.Com: What type of programming on MTV would you like to see?

    Gregg Rolie: More music! Just more music! You know, forget all the—the game shows and crap. I mean, what’s that about? And VH1 got a little better but it’s getting funky, too. It’s all about their television shows and to call it music television is kind of a joke. I mean, they gotta’ give it a different name. [Laughs.]

    Jrnydv.Com: Television television.

    Gregg Rolie: Yeah! [Laughs.]

    Jrnydv.Com: What has been the effect of the road on your family life, your home life? How do you balance rock stardom with a marriage, and with fatherhood?

    Gregg Rolie: I actually quit Journey to have a family. And I got out of the whole game for a lot of years. Now my kids are getting old enough to go, you know, “Dad, why don’t you get out! Get out of the house! Go away!” You know, they’re—they’re grown kids, they’re—

    Jrnydv.Com: Teenagers?

    Gregg Rolie: Teenagers, and they are who they are now, their heads, you know they had a real good family life with me being home all the time, and so now I get to go out and travel a little more. I’m not gonna’ hit the road like I used to, though.

    Jrnydv.Com: I see we’re running out of time so we’ll just ask you one more question.

    Gregg Rolie: Okay.

    Jrnydv.Com: The big one. Is there a possibility of a thirtieth-anniversary event for Journey?

    Gregg Rolie: You know I don’t see it. I just—I don’t see it. But I’ll never say never. But I don’t—truthfully, I don’t think so.

    Jrnydv.Com: Is it because of Steve Perry?

    Gregg Rolie: Yeah. Steve’s a problem [laughs]. I mean, I don’t know what’s up with that guy. You know? I mean, technically he’s a great singer—you can put this stuff down. He’s a great singer—he was there, I mean, when I was there he was there every night, I don’t know how he kept up with it. I mean, I don’t know how we kept up with him. After twenty years, I didn’t really stay in touch with him. But, I can’t say. I mean, you’d have to ask the other guys, they’ve had more contact with Steve Perry and I don’t think they’re very happy with him.

    Jrnydv.Com: By thirtieth anniversary I guess what I mean is George Tickner, Prairie Prince, yourself, Neal Schon and Ross Valory—the original lineup.

    Gregg Rolie: Oh, well that, I don’t know about that. I doubt that. I really—I really doubt that. You know everybody—another point about it is that everybody’s really gone on to do other things. Sometimes you just can’t go back. Not because of adversity between the members, I mean, you know there is that, but not because of that. It’s like a lot of groups. You just can’t go back and do it. You can’t go grab that fire again and go do it. It’s a multifaceted answer, you know? But I don’t think so.

    Jrnydv.Com: Mr. Rolie, thank you very much for meeting with us. Great job tonight.

    Gregg Rolie: No problem. You got it.

    This transcript copyright 2002 The Journey Zone. All rights reserved.

    Jrnydv.Com Interviews Michael Carabello

    Date of Interview:
    November 17, 2002
    Interviewers: David Hamilton Golland , Svetlana Rogachevskaya
    Location: The Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
    Michael Carabello is a founding member and the original conga Player of Santana and has performed and recorded with The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Bonnie Raitt, Neal Schon, Narada Michael Walden, Eric Clapton, Steve Smith, Chick Corea, and Al Jarreau. In 1998 he became the first latin percussionist/conga Player inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for Santana.

    Michael Carabello: You guys are into Journey? [Journey guitarist] Neal [Schon] is my best friend. We hang out—Neal and I—every morning for coffee. When he joined Santana he was fourteen—and they roomed him with me. When Neal came in that’s when things really changed for Santana.

    Jrnydv.Com: Who’s better—Carlos or Neal?

    Michael Carabello: [without batting an eyelash] Neal.

    Jrnydv.Com: How so?

    Michael Carabello: Neal has got a great ear. He’s very creative. He can play any type of music. He’s not specifically into any type of music—he can play anything. Carlos only has a few cords—he just plays three chords. Basically Carlos is a great blues player. He has his own signature. But Neal is versatile. I recently worked with Neal for a couple of albums. We did Abraxas Pool [with original Santana members Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve, and Jose Areas] and he’s on my CD Live at the BB Club.

    Jrnydv.Com: How has your life changed since becoming a member of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame? Are there any responsibilities, official or unofficial?

    Michael Carabello: My only responsibility—I have a drum school too. [Former Journey drummer] Steve Smith and I started it about four years ago. Basically we teach kids and adults how to play regular acoustic drums. I also teach handicapped kids how to play drums. I teach parents how to play drums with their handicapped kids. A little prodigy of mine is a Brazilian girl who’s eleven. That’s my responsibility—as far as the Hall of Fame. To give back.

    Jrnydv.Com: Who haven’t you played with that you want to play with?

    Michael Carabello: Steely Dan. I’ve played with a lot of people. It’s hard just thinking of somebody. A while ago I wanted to play with Sade. And Steve Winwood.

    Jrnydv.Com: What’s next for Michael Carabello?

    Michael Carabello: I just finished a new CD. I am enjoying this thing with Gregg. I recently did a gig with Journey [Konocti Harbor, California, August, 2002]. I’ll probably be getting with Neal and writing another CD. I’m working on a film. I am writing a book on my Santana experiences called Drum.

    Jrnydv.Com: When do you expect it to be published?

    Michael Carabello: In another year or so. I’m also working with my girlfriend, Rebecca Hale, doing music for an upcoming film about stock cars. There’s footage of Formula One racecar drivers. And me and Chepito [Jose “Chepito” Areas, original Santana timbale player and father of Gregg Rolie Band timbale player Adrian Areas] are making a DVD of drums. I’m off to the Bahamas in December with Rebecca.

    Jrnydv.Com: Vacation?

    Michael Carabello: Yeah.

    Jrnydv.Com: What do you think of the new Journey lineup?

    Michael Carabello: I like it. I was never a real fan of Journey. The drummer [Deen Castronovo] is a mother f—r on the drums. He’s far and away the best monster drummer. I’m looking forward to working with him in the future.

    Jrnydv.Com: Well, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

    Michael Carabello: Sure. If my friends come looking for me, tell them I am going to my room.

    This transcript copyright 2002 The Journey Zone. All rights reserved.

    Jrnydv.Com Interviews Alphonso Johnson and Ron Wikso
     
    Date of Interview:
    November 17, 2002
    Interviewers: David Hamilton Golland, Svetlana Rogachevskaya
    Location: The Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
    Alphonso Johnson is an internationally acclaimed bassist and Chapman stick artist. A summary of his many touring and performing credits includes Santana, Weather Report, The Crusaders, Bob Weir, Chuck Mangione, George Duke, En Vogue, Wayne Shorter, Sergio Mendes, Tony Williams, Joe Williams, and Gregory Hines.

    After establishing himself on the LA music scene, drummer Ron Wikso did recording sessions and tours with Cher, Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Foreigner, David Lee Roth (Van Halen), The Storm (replacing Journey’s Steve Smith), Randy Meisner (The Eagles), Denny Laine (Paul McCartney & Wings), The Moody Blues, Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon), Ted Nugent, Jimmy Barnes, Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, and many others. Ron has toured all over the world.

    Jrnydv.Com: How did you guys first meet Gregg Rolie?

    Alphonso Johnson: I first met Gregg when we were doing a tour with Santana, the 20th anniversary tour.

    Jrnydv.Com: The 20th anniversary tour—you were working with Santana at the time?

    Alphonso Johnson: That’s right.

    Ron Wikso: I first met Gregg in his garage. It was awesome. That’s when I played for him for the first time. Now we play together and we’re good friends.

    Jrnydv.Com: Mr. Wikso, you’ve worked with a wide variety of people, from George Burns to Ted Nugent. Can you share with us a little experience of what that’s like? Any funny stories?

    Ron Wikso: Wow!

    Alphonso Johnson: Tell him the George Burns story!

    Ron Wikso: The George Burns story was actually--I only played with him once. He was playing a gig in L.A. in Danny Thomas’ House. You believe that? And that night I played with George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr., Danny Thomas—all those people were at that gig. Anyway uh…you want a funny story? My God…when I was in Foreigner I played at Nudestock…that’s funny.

    Jrnydv.Com: Nudestock?

    Ron Wikso: You’ve heard of that? It was at a nudist colony.

    Jrnydv.Com: Was all of Foreigner there?

    Ron Wikso: Yeah we played there…a lot of naked people in the audience. It was very strange. And a couple naked people were on stage—but not the band.

    Jrnydv.Com: Mr. Johnson, who haven’t you played with that you want to play with?

    Alphonso Johnson: I wanted to play with Miles Davis, and obviously I didn’t play with him. He already got some great bass players. Wow. There were a lot of artists I wish I could’ve played with. I really wanted to work with Freddy Hubbard. I would’ve liked to have toured with Phil Collins; I was very happy that I did get to record his first solo record. I don’t have any regrets. My plate is full.

    Jrnydv.Com: Mr. Wikso, is there any chance that we’ll hear anything new from The Storm any time soon?

    Ron Wikso: Well, there are a lot of people who ask us that and—right now we’re just working at—you know, Gregg and I are involved in this band, and we’re really just trying to concentrate on this. That doesn’t mean that we won’t do something in the future but right now it’s not like really right on our minds. Maybe—if a really good opportunity presented itself then maybe we would.

    Jrnydv.Com: What’s next for you guys?

    Alphonso Johnson: Hopefully we can get this band off the ground and maybe start doing more dates. Right now I’m doing three—I’m basically playing with three groups. I’m touring with Gregg Rolie, and Wednesday night I’m going to be in New York with a singer that I’m co-director of called Rhian Benson.

    Jrnydv.Com: Where’s that going to be?

    Alphonso Johnson: We’re playing at S.O.B.’s. And then Saturday I’m playing in Chicago with Steve Kimock Band.

    Jrnydv.Com: When you say you’re trying to get this band off the ground, where do you want the band to be, let’s say in a couple of years?

    Alphonso Johnson: This band? I don’t think it matters. I would just like to see the band stay together, and have fun. As long as we’re having fun. If we could play a club, a stadium—it doesn’t matter.

    Jrnydv.Com: The size of the audience doesn’t matter?

    Alphonso Johnson: No, no. I mean—we’ve all done that already. We want to play where we’re appreciated, in a nice setting like this, where people can enjoy it. [The Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun casino, where this conversation took place, has about 200 seats.]

    Jrnydv.Com: So it can be small, anything just so that the people can enjoy you?

    Alphonso Johnson: Yeah, that’s right. If people enjoy it, they get it.

    Jrnydv.Com: Mr. Johnson, Mr. Wikso, thank you very much.

    Ron Wikso: Sure thing.

    Alphonso Johnson: Oh, my pleasure. Glad you could make it.

    This transcript copyright 2002 The Journey Zone. All rights reserved.


    Last Updated 15 July, 2009 (DHG)