THE JOURNEY ZONE
January 8, 2003: Robert Fleischman Exclusive Interview with the Journey Zone
January 8, 2003: Neal Schon MelodicRock.Com Interview
February 28, 2003: Worlds Apart Tribute Band Exclusive Interview with The Journey Zone
March 2003: Neal Schon Melodic.Net Interview.
March 4, 2003: Up Close with Kevin Thomas of Worlds Apart
April 2003: Neal Schon Interview with Guitar World Magazine
May 2003: Steve Smith Modern Drummer Interview Excerpts
May 2003: Kevin Chalfant Streator Times-Press Article
May 16, 2003: Steve Smith Interview with the Journey Zone
June 2003: Gregg Rolie Interview with ClassicRockRevisited
June 2003: Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain Interview with JourneyDigest.Com
June 11, 2003: Jonathan Cain Interview with ElectricBasement.Com
June 11, 2003: Neal Schon Interview (Source Uncertain)
June 26, 2003: Josh Ramos Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
July 2003: Randy Jackson Interview with JoJoWright.Com
July 4, 2003: Kevin Chalfant Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
July 4, 2003: Ricky Philips Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
The Journey Zone Speaks with The Storm and The Gregg Rolie Band in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and E-mail Follow-up, August 2003
August 7: Kevin Chalfant in person
August 7: Josh Ramos in person
August 17: Ron Wikso by e-mail
August 21: Kurt Griffey by e-mail
September 26, 2003: Neal Schon Interview with Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 3, 2003: Jonathan Cain Interview with San Bernardino County Sun
November 4, 2003: Steve Perry FanAsylum Interview
Neal Schon MelodicRock.Com Interview
Date: January 8, 2003
Journey guitarist Neal Schon is a man who is never fan from the musical headlines and 2003 should be no different. Neal recently spoke exclusively with me about what lies ahead for Journey, Planet Us and his own solo work.
First there is the current Journey release - the EP Red 13. It seems the band is pretty happy with the way it has turned out. "I think we've gotten great feedback for what type of EP it is. It was never meant to be a commercial item, just some cool new tunes to add to the live show....and they've been going over great."
"When we put this out, we didn't intend for it to be sold in stores. We were just going to sell it on our website and at our shows exclusively. The distribution deal gave us a chance to test the waters for other products that we'll have coming out."
There was talk of the next Journey release being another EP, but Neal says that has now changed; "We tossed around the idea about putting out another EP, but management was not so fond of it. So a full album would be in order some time, I would imagine, after our next tour."
"I think things are going to start getting interesting here. The new band is really starting to gel. It will be somewhere where we've gone with Red 13 and the hooks of our old classics....we'll make a nice melting pot."
A new Neal Schon solo instrumental album has been on release schedules for some time, but the good news is that it's not far off. It still has to be mixed, but then will be ready to go. "Gary Ciremilli, who mixed and produced Voice, is mixing this CD. Right now the working title is called Eye On You, and it will be available through Higher Octave. So as soon as it's mixed and mastered I assume they will release it."
But what of the planned Sony Music planned, career spanning Best Of compilation? "I've been so damn busy writing that I forgot to write a song for myself. Right now it's up in the air with who John Kalodner wants to sing the song."
"I spoke to John before the holidays and he said it was still on. So I guess as soon as I write a tune, we can start finalizing the order and the songs. It's pretty interesting listening to it....I have got to tell ya. From Santana, through almost every record I've been on."
Possibly the main Schon project for 2003 is Planet Us, the group featuring Neal alongside Journey's Deen Castronovo and Van Halen's bassist Michael Anthony and former singer Sammy Hagar.
Recording of the album is underway; "We are supposed to start around the 9th of January. I've been at home writing and demoing material for the guys to check out. We were going to try to get started to early in December, but, when Deen came into town, he had a terrible bacterial infection in his finger and was not able to pound the skins. But I just spoke to him and he's ready to go."
"I spoke to Mike Anthony and he's also ready and so is Sammy....should be cool! I've got some nice tunes brewing. And yes, it will be a full CD - a conceptual CD."
In between active recording duties, Neal continues to write new music. "Who knows where they will all end up but they're flowing out of me right now so I figured I should lay them down. I've written a couple of things for Paul Rodgers and Bad Company. I also got an interesting phone call form a friend of mine, Paul Pesco, who's working with Shakira. He wants me to write some Latin rock guitar songs for her. I guess she's looking for more of a guitar driven record. So this all could be very interesting, and fun, how this all will pan out."
I would be remiss in not asking about any possible plans the band might have for European live dates. It's still possible says Neal; "We want to go, we just need to get a decent offer. As I have been saying in all of my other interviews, we'd love to open for Bon Jovi or Toto. Promoters have to come to us though. I know the band is game."
Neal Schon Melodic.Net Interview
© 2003 Kaj Roth, Melodic.Net
They are the Kings of rock, the gods of AOR and the rulers of majestic melodies: Journey are to many like the Bible is to Christians…a way of life! Still rocking as good as ever, Mr. Neal Schon leads the way towards new frontiers and when he called me up, he was in a real good mood talking about everything from Journey to Planet Us, Steve Perry to Hardline and his dedicated work on his solo albums as well as the life of a father!
Kaj Roth: Hi there Neal, I’ve been waiting for this call for some time now but I know you have been busy!
Neal Schon: Yeah, I´ve had a lot on the plate, working on a lot of different projects …and boy, for some time I did like about a months work of interviews, most of them in Europe and then I needed to take a break from it because I was tired of talking.
Kaj: I can imagine you were but anyway, I would like to say congratulations on your birthday Feb.27th maybe a little late now…..
Neal: Thank you, I appreciate it……I’m not celebrating my birthdays anymore. I’m getting too old…..
Kaj: The next year it will be the big 5 0.
Neal: Another ten years….
Kaj: How are those magic fingers of yours holding up these days?
Neal: Actually, they are working very well, I did a live radiobroadcast last night (March 12). on Rockline and it was with Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Dean Castronovo
Kaj: About Planet Us now ….to me it sounds like the supergroup of the Millennium with Journey and Van Halen folks spiced with Satch, I mean 2 axemasters in the same band, will you have room for each other?
Neal: We’re gonna make room for each other…I mean, I’ve known Joe for a long time, and, bottom line, I love when Joe’s playing and he feels the same about my playing and we really do sound completely different. You know I think it would be a problem if we both played exactly the same but we don’t and when I and Satch play together, we’re two completely different personalities there so I mean to listen to someone like him play, I’m not opposed to let him shred because I love the way he plays. And I have been playing by myself for so many years, the last guitar player that I’ve played with in a band was Carlos Santana
Kaj: That’s a long time ago!
Neal: I really enjoyed that when I was playing with Carlos, it’s nice to hear somebody else take on something once in a while and it refreshes the way you’re gonna look at things and the way you’re gonna approach things
Kaj: Yes, Joe Satriani is a very different guitar player from you!
Neal: Well, Joe is like the teacher, he was a guitar teacher so he knows everything about what he’s doing where myself was taught by ear and I know nothing about what I’m doing (Neal laughs)
Kaj: But nobody calls him the magic fingers, we call you the magic fingers!
Neal: (laughs more)All I can say is that it’s gonna be a very exciting project, it’s gonna be sometime before we all can get to it because we’re all committed for another year right now like I’m doing a tour with Journey and then I’m going back into the studio with Journey for A full length CD and Joe is committed through out the year and so is Sammy. We’re gonna get to this but I’m sort of glad that it didn’t push back a bit more because now that Joe is in the picture with us, I wanna have more time to actually sit down with him and write, we wanna write a lot and I think that’s gonna be the key aspect in this project to make it successful as we absolutely want to have the right type of material and I think that we need to experiment a bit. I mean, anytime you bring a new member into the band it radically changes things, It takes sometime to settle in for Joe
Kaj: So when will the recordings take place?
Neal: After the Journey tour this summer I’m going in the studio with Journey and Joe is busy and Sam is busy through September and so it would have to be sometime after that, I say it’s about a year away. Well like I said, in the meantime when we are available to get together, we’re gonna hang out and we’re gonna write, we’re individually gonna write and I have already written. I have been working in my studio here at the house and I wrote 3 CD's full of material for Planet Us, I wrote a shitload of stuff for Journey and in the midst of it, I ended up recording a bunch of instrumental stuff and I listened to it yesterday and I’ve got one brand new instrumental record that is coming out on Higher Rocks as soon as it’s mixed that’s been done for a couple of years already so that’s not even out but I have two more in the can that are completely different from each other. It’s been great being home and working in the house.
Kaj: I read sometime ago that everybody who has been working with you like to call you a workaholic!
Neal: I don’t know if I’m so much of a workaholic but I definitely feel like I was put on this planet to play music and to make people feel good and that’s what I get off the most on like I love performing live more than anything. I like making records but I love playing live and I think I never get tired of that, believe me I am completely burned out on traveling. I mean, I take a bus over an airplane any day now. We have numerous airplanes that have problems because they’re old and it’s kind of freaky to fly anymore
Kaj: And I was freaked out to fly even when it was kinda safe before Sept.11th!
Neal: I went to Atlanta, Gibson and I are working together again on a guitar and I went to Atlanta to demonstrate a new digital guitar that they have on CNN.
Kaj: So is there one in your collection now?
Neal: No, they’ve got ways to go on it, I’m actually trying to get them to hire me on the side to help them develop this thing because they definitely got ways to go but the idea is very cool but what I was gonna say is that when I was coming back from Atlanta and I got on this airplane and we go up for about half an hour and all of a sudden smoke started coming in the airplane from below and so the pilot turns around, he goes to Atlanta and there was something about the landing gear too, it was a really rough landing. I’m getting off and I told one of the representatives for the airline…I said,-it smells like rubber burning off the wire and it was an electrical problem
Kaj: It must have been a pretty scary experience?
Neal: Yeah, and then they were like…..hang out here for a while and we’ll check it out and we’ll get you back on the plane and I went –No fxxking way!!! I booked down and took the next flight out on a different airplane and they were flying me first class and I just went cold and said –I don’t give a shit, I won’t get back on that plane
Kaj: So when you will be out touring with Journey, there will be less flying from you guys?
Neal: I take a bus, you know I take a private bus, they’ve got some really great buses these days and I take my family out with me so it’s pretty much like I’m moving home. We have a bed so we’re sleeping in the back and there’s a shower, the set up is very cool.
Kaj: Yeah, and I read about you have a baby daughter now and her name is Aja, was she born last April or?
Neal: Her birthday is April 29th, I love kids and this is my fourth kid
Kaj: Does that make any difference for you being a rock star when everything changes having a baby?
Neal: Well you know what, the last couple of months has been kind of rough on sleep. She’s been teasing and stuff when we had a crib up here in our master bedroom, so we don’t have to get up so much in the middle of the night, but last week we’re both like reached the end of the rope so we needed some sleep so I wanted the crib downstairs in the baby room, so I broke it down, reset it up down there and now she’s like she’s sleeping through the night, I don’t know what difference it makes but you know…
Kaj: The thing about little kids and babies is that they teach you to be patient!
Neal: Oh yeah
Kaj: about this digital guitar, it was like 20 years ago when you played on a synthesizer guitar on the H.S.A.S album!
Neal: I still use synth guitars, most of my guitars are all set up with Hex pick ups so I could use it or not use it, I haven’t used it with Journey for years when I am playing live. I just prefer to have more of a true guitar sound with not any other things following because we have a keyboard player, so I don’t like to step on his shoes with synthsound. My guitars are set up to where I can use the regular guitar, I have both sounds separately.
Kaj: I have always thought that Jonathan Cain were more of a piano player and uses mostly strings in the arrangements
Neal: It’s sort of going there in the past years because I think that he’s feeling that the synthesizers always had a dated sound. There’s so many cool new synthesizers out there, like I have been recording with a Korg aTriton I love this keyboard, I’m sitting at home and I am playing keyboard and I’m writing on it and I’m recording with it, it’s sounds amazing I mean there’s some really cool stuff in there like backward sounding loops.
Kaj: How many guitars do you have in your collection?
Neal: I must have like about 60…….I had about 150, I ended up selling a lot of the stuff that I just wasn’t using even though I was really collecting for a while.
Kaj: Where do you keep them all?
Neal: I got like a warehouse
Kaj: How many do you play on?
Neal: Well, I play on them all from time to time, I pick ´em up for different projects. They all are completely different and I have a lot of really unusual pieces and some of them are not so unusual. I have a lot of Les Pauls, a lot of Stratocasters, a lot of Telecasters…….some of them are varied custom guitars and stuff made for me that I’ve modified so they all really do sound different.
Kaj: There’s not too many pictures of you with a Stratocaster on!
Neal: Actually there are quite a few, you know I’ve been playing a Strat in Journey sets for a long time, there’s a few songs that I prefer the Strat on, I love Stratocasters but I like all guitars….in my studio yesterday I recorded with a Telecaster and I loved it.
Kaj: I think that Gibson is more fat sounding!
Neal: Absolutely, the Telecaster is very bright but if you play something funky like I was yesterday it sounded awesome.
Kaj: About yesterday when you played with Joe, Sammy, Michael and Dean; How was it?
Neal: I got to tell you, one of the coolest things about the band beside the musicianship is the singing ability, oh my god! You know our drummer, Dean, who’s playing with us, has an amazing voice, he's a lead vocalist in his own rights and he actually sounds more like Perry than anyone I have ever heard; he’s got an amazing range. Sammy still has it, he’s never lost his chops and Michael Anthony is completely incredible, he is far the highest singer I’ve ever heard in my life and his voice is so strong and so loud that last night …and we were playing very loud in this studio that they were broadcasting from, because the bass and drums were playing so loud, Dean is a very loud drummer! So I had to turn up to hear myself and so did Satriani and we must have been playing about 150 db´s in there but I could still hear Michael when he walks up to the microphone and I could hear his voice over all that noise and all the music it was like…. I heard him clear as the bell
Kaj: He’s got a very high pitched voice!
Neal: And perfect pitch, he’s like a synthesizer
Kaj: All those times when Eddie Van Halen didn't bother to go to the microphone and David Lee Roth were doing the jumps, Michael Anthony would still stand strong at the microphone doing his thing!
Neal: -I’m sure a lot of people know it but I tell you what man, he was a big part of the sound of Van Halen, I mean it wouldn’t be the same without Ed or anyone of the guys but Michael meant a lot to that band
Kaj: I’ve seen them twice, I’ve seen them both with David and Sammy but the saddest thing is that I haven’t seen my favorite group Journey once!
Neal: Well, you know what, I have been trying to provoke promoters over there and in every Interview that I’ve been doing in Europe lately everybody’s going –are you guys trying to come or are you ever gonna come? And I’m like, we need to get an offer from somebody, we have never got an offer to go over there and we’re absolutely gonna lose our asses, you know what I mean. We wanna play and we don’t wanna hold up anybody because we haven’t traveled over there for a lot of money or anything like that but if we can just like get over there and get paid for our expenses, everybody’s happy with that but we need to get an offer from a promoter otherwise I mean, we just can’t show up and say –we wanna play!
Kaj: Have you heard about Sweden Rock Festival?
Neal: I read about it on the internet
Kaj: It’s a pretty respectable festival these days, they’ve got Whitesnake, Yes, Jethro Tull and Queensryche among the performances this summer and I think if they could offer Journey to come over here and play next summer, you would surely play in front of 30,000 screaming fans from all over Europe because everyone who loves Journey would come!
Neal: You see this is what I would like to do to ya, I would like to play a sort of festival thing because you know we haven’t played in Europe forever, last time I think was when we released Infinity with Steve Perry and before that we went on tour with Santana but that was really it and I would like to get in front of a lot of people even if it’s only a few shows, to go over there and play for a massive crowd. We would love to play, we just need to get an offer, I’ve been really pushing the envelope there for journalists and people like yourself to try to help and provoke promoters to call us
Kaj: Well if we’re getting back to Planet Us, you recorded two tracks last year called “Vertigo“ and “Peeping through a hole“ and one of them was supposed to be featured on the Spiderman Soundtrack but didn’t get there, what happened?
Neal: I still think that a song would’ve been perfect for that movie but what happened is that we were trying to get the song basically placed in the movie, you know like when the credits go out, it would be like the main song and the guy that was in control of the music of the movie said that it was not gonna be any rock music at all in this movie. We were like,-that’s stupid and then they had already had about 20 songs on the Soundtrack and they thought our song was too heavy
Kaj: That’s the problem with Soundtracks these days because in the 80´s, the songs were really in the movies but nowadays they aren’t!
Neal: You know nowadays it it’s all usually crap for soundtracks, there are very few soundtracks that go out that are even successful
Kaj: I read that Hagar said in an interview that the Planet Us album will be a concept album but will the music be heavier than we’re used to hear from you guys?
Neal: It’s gonna be heavy, I can tell you that but I think it also gonna be very diversified. We have the musicianship to be able to play any type of music that we want so I think we’re gonna experiment a lot and there’s gonna be many bashes of this band musically, I don’t think it’s just gonna be one thing, it’s definitely gonna rock. Anything that we have ever done so far rocks very hard but I don’t think that Sammy Hagar is quite the ballad ear vocalist, he’s very much of a rocker. Joe and I were talking about it and we’re gonna try to take him to some new areas
Kaj: I’m really looking forward to that album when it’s done!
Neal: So am I, if we ever get to it…. (Neal laughs)
Kaj: Well, if you're looking for song titles, I’d like to give you a cool suggestion: why not do a song called “Crime Stompers" like the first band you were in?
Neal: Christ!…(laughs a lot)….where did you get that from?
Kaj: When I got into Journey Fan Club, I got this biography of you and there it said that your first band was Crime Stompers.
Neal: That was it, we had like this little logo on the drum with a couple of bats flying around, somewhere between Batman and I don’t know what.
Kaj: So that was before Santana then?
Neal: I think I was playing guitar there one year when we had that band and we were terrible……..
Kaj: If we get back to Journey now, I would like to congratulate you about the honorable Event of getting a commemorative plaque in the rock´n´roll walk of fame at the California music awards April 25th,how does it feel?
Neal: It feels really awesome since we’re a San Francisco band and there’s less than a handful of people that has been inducted in front of the Bill Graham Civic and about Bill Graham, I was very close to him…….he was like a second father to me and I met him when I was about 12 years old when I first played with BB King at the Filmore in San Francisco and ever since then we had a relationship and so to be next to Bill on a plaque you know….I think Santana, The Grateful Dead, Metallica... and John Lee Hooker was also a friend of mine who was there, so it’s an honor
Kaj: I think it’s about time, it must have been something you have been waiting for?
Neal: It’s gonna be interesting who shows up, we've absolutely invited everybody from the past, present and the future there to show up
Kaj: Well, Journey will be a part of the “Rocking the arena“ summer tour with Styx and REO Speedwagon, will Journey headline or will there be a different headline from town to town?
Neal: You know Kevin Cronin from REO, I’ve just read something that he had said on the internet that we said that we’re gonna be….each band will be flip flopping and changing positions from night to night which is completely untrue. Our manager came to us….it’s so weird, I’ve turned out to be this big malicious devil, that has a tremendous ego and all I will do is close shows, people are saying on the Styx site, the REO site…….but we’re completely the opposite, I don’t have a problem to ever opening up for anyone and I even said in an interview that I would love to go to Europe and open up for Bon Jovi because they’re big over there, or Toto or whoever….. This is the management call, where they say –No, Journey is always the headliner and you guys will never do anything but close and we say –Ok, because you're my manager and you tell me what to do so it’s not a Neal Schon call, it’s the manager call and we are closing the show every night and REO and Styx are gonna be flip flopping, opening positions every night
Kaj: How many shows will there be?
Neal: I believe it’s gonna be like 50 and depending on how the shows go, we can add more
Kaj: Will you play a greatest hits set including new stuff or will there be any surprises like Songs you don’t usually play live?
Neal: We’re gonna mix it up again because I’m gonna be recording every show live every night and we’re actually thinking about doing this a….you know how they set it up now where you can record every night and you can actually sell that performance right after the show on a CD
Kaj: Yeah, because you haven't released a live album with Augeri yet, there’s only a live DVD concert available
Neal: Actually I only wish that we only made DVD’s again because that DVD sold very well because people don't have that many duplicates, they can’t burn it yet. There are DVD burners but not that many people own them. I’m thinking to myself that we should just always do DVD’s
Kaj: This year will be 30 year of history with Journey since the start ´73,are you planning On doing something special for an anniversary, like releasing unreleased stuff?
Neal: To tell you the truth, there’s not a lot of stuff in the can, there isn’t. We got a tremendous amount of videos from live performances, everything from me playing with the band with Albert King, from me playing with Buddy Guy in a blues club in Chicago and tremendous amount of footage from the beginning to now and we’re getting ready to take a look at all that stuff. I would love to actually put together a double DVD set with the whole history of the band!
Kaj: It would be awesome to put fill up a whole DVD or like you said in 2 parts with 30 years of history!
Neal: You might even need 3 discs, there’s so much stuff….
Kaj: One for each decade?!
Kaj: I think it would be super cool if you could rerecord old classics from the 3 first albums with songs like “On a Saturday Night" and “She Makes Me Feel Alright“ because the production on those albums doesn’t sound too good these days?
Neal: Oh, I know…actually I was going back to listen to any of our old stuff for a long time and I was like…..God!, these records reek, they sound terrible, they’re fxxking awful. Like no wonder we never sold any records…(Neal laughs)
Kaj: But there are still some good songs like “On a Saturday Night"!
Neal: I didn’t really think about “Saturday Night", I haven’t gone back that far. We’re bringing out some other songs that we haven’t played in a while, some more Augeri songs that we really never played a lot in concert and from night to night, we’re gonna slide them in different slots because I wanna get a live DVD out and I don’t want it to be the 2001 DVD. Of course there will be different performances of some of the same songs but I wanna add a lot of different stuff to it.
Kaj: Something that I miss with Journey’s sound since Gregg Rolie left are the duets on songs like “Feeling that way“ and “Just the Same Way", haven’t you thought about doing something like that with Augeri?
Neal: We have been playing those songs where Jonathan does an admirable job of singing those songs
Kaj: So you don’t wanna take that part?
Neal: Well, I do wanna sing and we’re talking about the next record because I haven’t opened my mouth for quite some time, a sort of like I have been making some demo’s at home and I’ve sung on it ,my voice is sounding I think as good as it ever did or better but I don’t have an amazing voice by any means. I listen to the radio today and I’m like….I can sing half as good as half these people here or as good as these people
Kaj: Your voice is like a piece of a puzzle thinking of the song “People and Places“ that you sang on “Departure“, that is Journey…the sound I wanna hear!
Neal: We’re talking about it, to use some different voices a bit more. I was talking to Gregg Rolie, what I’m trying to do is put together something a year after next and make it like a Journey Festival where we play outside venues. I’m trying to get Gregg Rolie involved, the original Santana percussion section and get Planet Us to play and Journey and we just mix it all up. We can play some early stuff from the Rolie era and then we can play the Santana stuff that I was involved with those guys.
Kaj: Yeah, and you did this thing with Rolie called Abraxas a few years ago!
Neal: It never quite got off the ground, we had a record that was made at my studio.
Kaj: I think you were a bit too early because now Santana is bigger than ever so you should’ve done that album now instead
Neal: -We were about a year early…..(Neal laughs),it’s like the case with a lot of stuff that I do sometimes, I don’t know…..my timing is way off!
Kaj: When can we expect a new Journey record then?
Neal: We’re gonna do one probably next year, when we get off tour this summer we’re probably gonna head right into the studio and continue writing and recording
Kaj: So this time It’s gonna be a full length album?
Neal: We messed around with the EP idea and said about, let’s just keep doing EP's but I read too many posts by people they want a full length CD
Kaj: How are the sales going with Red 13?
Neal: I have no idea what the sales are in Europe but Frontiers seems to be happy, they want us to do more so you know, we have Red distribution here in the United States. They have been doing a great job to get this record out, from what I hear the biggest problem with Red 13 is keeping it in the store. Because your big store is like your Wal-Mart and Best Buy and all these bigger stores that sells big chunks of records. They only order what they wanna order, it’s not like the old days where you put out a record and everybody’s gonna have it, you know what I mean. They just buy the Top 10 records from the Billboard magazine or whatever it is but the good news is when it’s in the store….it doesn’t last long. But if people can’t see it, they can’t buy it.
Kaj: At first you planned on only selling it on the concerts….
Neal: We were just gonna sell it through our website and I wish that we had just done that because that’s what we’re trying to get people to do right now. We’re trying to get more people to our website!
Kaj: I think Todd Rundgren is only selling his records through the net and it’s kind of the new thing now when you have to go to the website to order the album
Neal: It’s the only time that the artist is really taking care of money wise. Unless you get a huge singer or Mariah Carey or whoever you wanna bring up, they’re gonna get millions and millions of dollars to front that will be recouped if you sell records but they cannot get it back out of you if it doesn’t sell so it’s not worth it to do a major deal anymore because frankly it’s got worse and worse and worse how huge companies take care of their artists
Kaj: Those who got major deals, if they aren’t selling millions of records they will be dropped!
Neal: You know what I see going on anymore, well we had a long relationship with Columbia and actually for me, much longer ´coz I was with Santana as well from 1970,so from 1970 to 72 I was with Columbia Records while Clive Davies was still there and when Journey started we got our deal with them so I’ve been there forever. They were really great to us for many many years but industry just change so dramatically and sales are down and they don’t know quite what to do anymore. They don’t share long terms relationships with artists anymore because they just go for the flavor of the month whatever is hot like right now. I mean, that’s why you see so many bands pop out of nowhere and then they’re gone because they move on to the next person
Kaj: In these days bands do not last long, they last for a year or two and then they’re gone
Neal: That’s what I mean
Kaj: You have found a new sound with Steve Augeri even though the major part is still classic Journey sounding but I think you could never have done a ballad like “Walking away from the edge“ with Steve Perry, do you agree?
Neal: Steve Perry was an amazing singer and I hope to hear from him again. I hope that he puts out a solo record because I know a lot of people miss his vocals and everybody blames me for him not being in this band but I just gotta laugh at it because it really wasn’t my decision for him not to be in this band. He did not wanna do it and there has been a lot of people that have speculated and said well it’s because I couldn’t stand a competition with Perry and this and that and all this bullshit but we have just traveled to different places. He never really liked to play that much rock´n´roll even when we did our double live record “Captured“ in Detroit, that’s probably the hardest this band has rocked even if I think it sounds dated when I listen to it now. Progressively we got softer and softer and great music is great music but I still like to rock and it was very hard to get it going
Kaj: One of Steve Perry’s biggest influences were Sam Cooke and I have never Heard Cooke until a year ago when I borrowed this Greatest Hits collection
Neal: Were you amazed of how much stuff that he actually kept in his pocket
Kaj: I just sat there and didn’t know what to think because I thought I heard Steve
Neal: -(sings)Oooohh, my my my…..I’m telling you what, if Sam Cooke was alive (Neal laughs)….I know that he will be rolling in his grave, it’s so funny. I got to stop going to these websites ´coz it makes me crazy but I’m sort of addicted to it because people were always talking such crap about me and the band right, so I read the stuff and sort of laugh at it, how Steve Augeri is stealing Steve Perry’s moves and I’m thinking to myself…they don’t even know what they are talking about because they’re not really Perry’s, they’re Sam Cooke’s!
Kaj: I have always liked the more odd songs with Journey like “La raza del sol“, “Rubicon“ and “Can’t tame the lion“ more than the others and it’s a bit of your trademark but unfortunately not good in the commercial aspects
Neal: I love playing this stuff too more than the other stuff but when we play it live and people look at us like we have 4 heads, they just don’t get it
Kaj: They’re kinda like the greatest songs you have ever done
Neal: If we ever get to Europe and we get to play there, I think that a lot of that stuff is more based on an European audience, the European audience will get it
Kaj: I think too, when we’re talking Journey here, lots of people want to hear “Mother, Father“ and “Rubicon“
Neal: We’re gonna be playing Mother Father in this year, we played it a few times, not the last tour but the tour before that and I love playing that song and actually we pulled out Rubicon and we tried to play it but Steve was having some problem with it so we’ll give him another try at it
Kaj: I read that in your younger age you were a big Clapton fan but what do you like to listen to today?
Neal: Oh, god…what have I listened to lately? To tell you the truth, I have been recording myself so much and when I’m recording and writing I don’t like to listen to anything because I’m sort of in a mood of trying holding in on what I’m holding in on and I don’t like to be influenced bysomething else and all of a sudden I will be playing something that somebody else wrote or something similar. But I turn on the radio from day to day and turn it off…..(laughs)…it’s like ever since Clear Channel here in the states has bought all the radio stations, they have all the venues and now I hear they are going for the record industry where they actually are going to make records and signing bands. That’s why you hear the same crap on every radio station.
Kaj: Are you aware of that there are so many bands doing your thing like tribute bands and Hugo and Frontline and I can mention a dozen bands!
Neal: Yeah and they just keeps on coming, I think it’s flattering. Hugo was actually a singer that…..when we were looking for a new vocalist, we considered checking him out and then I saw pictures of the guy that completely freaked me out. I heard that he was pretty talented but it was just too weird, he looked exactly like Steve Perry and I just thought that it was too weird. The guy didn’t get a fair chance to even try out with us since I hear he’s very good but I just thought if we get somebody new it’s gonna be hard enough for people to accept him no matter who he is but I said that look exactly like him. For people that didn’t know that we got a new singer, I mean I don’t know what the guy sounds like live, I heard he’s very good but it was a little too strange.
Kaj: Hugo is better when he’s not trying to sound like Steve Perry, like on this album called Open Skyz that is pretty far away from Journey and he sings really great on that album But when he does this Journey sounding stuff, it doesn’t sound as good
Neal: John Kalodner was our A & R guy at Sony for the Arrival record, when he came up and told us about Hugo, he played me a couple of tracks and I don’t even know from what record they are from but I didn’t think that he sounded that strong. It was pretty Journeyesque material and I didn’t feel, well I just didn’t hear it….
Kaj: Well if you think about that you have had Steve Perry in the band with a really fat sounding voice like on the “Frontiers“ album, nobody has that kinda voice
Neal: No doubt he’s an incredible vocalist. I look back at stuff that we try to do now and him and I always argued and fought a lot about what type of material that we’re gonna do but you know, we came from different roots musically, I was keen on blues and all the whole English movements when they first came out with Jeff Beck and Clapton and Hendrix and The Who and all those great bands. That’s where I was always coming from and that wasn’t necessarily where he came from and now I look back at it, I felt like well we should have just stayed more in the room of Separate ways for Steve Perry. He likes the R & B thing and that’s where he really sounds better on. I go back and listen to all the records and I think that he sounds much better on, of course the ballads but I think he sounds more better on the R & B based stuff
Kaj: The best albums in my opinion are the early ones from Infinity up to Escape
Neal: Infinity is still one of my favorite albums that we did
Kaj: I really love the Trial by fire album too even if it had too many ballads on it
Neal: I tried to listen to it the other day again and I was like falling asleep….(Neal laughs), I take that one into my baby’s room when she’s getting tired
Kaj: Yeah, you can play it to your baby daughter and then she will sleep tight
Neal: Actually I’ve got this solo record that mothers have come up to me and told me that the only thing that keeps her child to go to sleep is my “Beyond the thunder“ record and I don’t know if that’s a compliment but I’ll take it
Kaj: It’s kinda more laid back but looking at all your solo albums, they all go in different Directions like the Schon/Hammer albums were pretty riff based rock and “Late Night”“ was more of a progressive record, are you experimenting a lot?
Neal: Wait till you hear this new stuff that I did, I just did like a Miles Davis whacked, like techno electronic but whacked, it sounds like Witches Brew only really electric. When I finish that, I’m gonna probably have Dean to come on and play some real drums but I played everything else like the trumpets through my synth, and I play the Sax and I play the bass, I play the keyboard and I had like a lot of fun. Completely just screwing off and going with the flow, I haven’t had anything in mind at all and there’s another one in the can that sounds completely different than the one I’m speaking about, it’s very melodic but it’s rocking too, it’s got a mixture of Santana and some techno stuff ,there’s some really good music on there and jammin´ stuff too like heavier guitar stuff but melodic at the same moment. I’ve got like about 3 different records that sounds completely different and I keep searching you know, I like to feel like a painter and I’m actually starting to paint again
Kaj: When can we see the light of day of one of those albums?
Neal: I wanna get this other one out that’s been done for a while and right after that one comes out, I’m just gonna keep coming with them, I got like 2 more in the can right now and I have been talking to Jan Hammer, I’m trying to get him off his butt ´coz he’s been so freakin' lazy. Jeff Beck can’t get him to go out on tour and I’ve been trying to get him to do a record with me and he’s so discouraged with the state of the music industry but I would love to work with him again to do another record like what we’ve done in the past
Kaj: Untold Passion is a classic record
Neal: I love Jan Hammer, I think he’s one of the most brilliant musicians that I have ever played with, he was just an incredible talent.
Kaj: When you listen to that record, it feels like Jan Hammer is bringing all those guitar riffs out from your body that you have held inside for many years
Neal: It was really funny, way back before Steve Perry was in Journey. We were opening some shows before Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer and I’ve known Beck from before but I had always listened to Jan Hammer before I knew Jeff Beck. With the Mahavishnu Orchestra, I never missed one of those concerts if it was somewhere close by or I could fly to go to see that, I just love that band! It completely messed me up, it was like a spiritual experience to see those guys and listen to them. I loved Jan Hammer and John McLaughlin and everybody else who was in that band but I started really watching when Jan was doing solo-wise. The first seven days, the record that he put out by himself and I was like glue to that. He had such brilliant melodic sense, it was very classical but very unique
Kaj: He has done this album called Black Sheep where he uses no guitars and plays on only keyboards and drums and the synth sounds just like a distorted guitar
Neal: Oh I know, he is such a wailing player and I gave him one of my Hewitt Amps that has been modified when I did this album with him and he sounded more like a guitar. What a guy to work with, I mean both albums that I did with him was because I had a 2 weeks break in between a Journey tour and instead of taking those 2 weeks off and go on a vacation or some thing, I was like….I got the time, I’m going to Jan’s house because I loved working with him. So I was flying to New York and just sit in that studio all day, we’d like do a song a day, he was playing drums and we had Colin playing bass. We sort of organized and arranged it and he got on the drum set, sometimes just guitar and drums, sometimes Colin were playing the bass too and we did the basic tracks. Then Colin would be off in the other room, writing lyrics and Jan and I would be overdubbing, by the end of the day I’d be singing….something that I don’t even know what it is, you know both projects I walked in with absolutely no songs. Jan had some instrumental ideas but there was nothing for me to sing, so everything was kinda written on the spot and those albums like Untold Passion was written, recorded and finished in 2 weeks. The same way with “Here to Stay“, on the 2nd record we had a lot of disagreements at the time I was playing a lot of commercially oriented music so I felt like…-If I’m gonna do this I’m wanna do something that I’m not doing in the other camp and that was the reason I did that. I never did it to try to get on radio or anything like that, it was more of an artistic Thing and I wanted it to keep it like that. Jan wanted to have commercial success so that’s why the 2nd record sounds different to the new one, it’s still alright but I prefer the first record more.
Kaj: There’s a great ballad on “Here to stay“ titled “Don’t stay away“ that I would love to hear you play live!
Neal: I should’ve gone out on tour with him, I had a break when Steve Perry wanted to take a hide and take off for 10 years, I thought it was gonna be like for a year but we ended up not playing for 10 years.
Kaj: Did you ever do a show with Jan Hammer?
Neal: No, I would love to get on stage with him, he’s such a maniac, he makes me play.
Kaj: Well have you heard the new Hardline album titled 2?
Neal: I haven’t listened to the whole thing, I just listened to a few clips that were on Melodicrock.com and I thought it sounded decent. I didn’t think that it had the edge like on the first record though
Kaj: There are some guitars missing, maybe it’s because of you
Neal: Josh Ramos, it’s so funny with the history of this guy, he always ends up where I’ve been! Everybody calls him like a Neal clone. So when I listen to him play I think he’s an excellent guitar player, he’s more of a shredder, he tries to play the melodic stuff but I don’t think he’s got the “feel“. To play a simple melody and really make it talk is not so easy. That was what Joe Satriani was talking to me about…..he said, your style of guitar playing sounds so very simple but it’s not so simple to make it have soul and feeling
Kaj: There’s a lot of difference between the productions of those two albums too, “Double eclipse“ has a major rocking sound that is missing on the 2nd!
Neal: I’m not sure where they’ve recorded the record but I’m sure it was not in the facility that I had that I was able to use for the first record. A & M, one of the best studios with the biggest room for drums, I got an amazing guitar sound in that room and first of all just sound-wise it sounded completely amazing as it went in to tape. So when you’re getting a sound like that you could do no wrong unless you have crap for songs. It’s too bad ´coz I think that record could have done very well but right after it was released Nirvana was a hit, then it was just nothing but grunge on the radio. That was like bad timing again, I’m either early or late…(Neal laughs) Some of these days I’m gonna get it straight
Kaj: Are you still in contact with Johnny Gioeli?
Neal: No we had some falling out on personal issues. I read a lot of stuff that he said about me in European magazines where he basically was saying that I ripped off his songs and used them on Arrival and you know, it was so far from the truth and we got into legal matters. He was saying that he was gonna sue me, yadda yadda yadda, this and that, but he didn’t have much to stand on because none of it was true
Kaj: It’s a pity when it happens
Neal: We went out on tour, and you know I have probably played every freaking place you can imagine in the United States in my career, every little club to working your way up to the bigger places. I think every building that I go back in and I go..-Oh, I remember this place in 1983 or 1979 or I remember who I was playing with and we played a lot of places with Hardline which was really hard on my ears because it was a loud band and Dean Castronovo was our drummer that I have been playing with forever and one of the loudest drummers I have ever played with. So you have to bring the volume up so you can hear yourself over the drums and my hearing took a beating playing in those small places. And about Johnny, we had a good relationship but when we got on stage he didn’t wanna take any advice, he was running out of gas a bit and I said..-I think you need stand still a little more so you got some air left to sing He was like fxxk,-don´t tell me what to do! It was not a working relationship, he just felt like he knew everything, he would do what he wanted to do and it didn’t work for me, it felt like I was in a different league and I was! I was a lot older, I had played with a lot more people and it was sort of a joke when we got out there Live
Kaj: Thank you for this interview and for being a part of the greatest inspiration in my life namely Journey
Neal: Oh, thank you, that’s unbelievable…...bye Kaj
Jrnydv.Com Exclusive Interview with Worlds Apart, The Journey Tribute Band
Date of Interview: February 28, 2003
Date of Publication: March 6, 2003
Interviewers: David Hamilton Golland, Svetlana Rogachevskaya
Location: Rohdes Ringwood Inn, Ringwood, New Jersey
Transcription Method: A hand-held tape recorder and a laptop computer were used. All five band members and their manager were interviewed simultaneously. Questions are as written, not necessarily as asked. Stammering, expletives, and unintelligible words in answers have been omitted. In all cases we have tried to make this as accurate a representation of the interview as possible; Jrnydv.Com apologizes for any unintentional errors but cannot be held liable for any indemnity resulting therefrom.
Worlds Apart is:
Lead vocals: Dan Gagliano
Lead guitar: Kevin Bryan
Keyboards: Kevin Thomas
Bass guitar and vocals: Steve Gerraputa
Drums: Tim Szlosek
Click HERE to view the Picture Gallery.
Jrnydv.Com: We’re speaking with Danny Gagliano, Kevin Bryan, Kevin Thomas, Steve Gerraputa, Tim Szlosek, and manager Frankie Poli of Worlds Apart. You’re all die-hard Journey fans?
Kevin Bryan: Yes.
Jrnydv.Com (to Kevin Thomas): I’m looking at you because I’m waiting for a “no.”
Kevin Thomas: I’m not a die-hard—I like Journey. When I first met these guys I knew about three songs. I knew “Don’t Stop Believin,” you know I could play that one—
Jrnydv.Com: “Open Arms” and “Faithfully.”
Kevin Thomas: Yeah—those three. And “Lovin, Touchin.” You got it. I was more into heavy metal when I was growing up. You know like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Billy Joel is my idol.
Jrnydv.Com: Okay. Hometown hero.
Kevin Thomas: And I was like a big Journey fan. Not a fanatic but—I liked their whole thing.
Jrnydv.Com: And now? How do you feel about Journey now?
Kevin Thomas: I like when we play. When I hear a song on the radio I go “OK, I’ve heard this song already.” But when I do it here, we make it so good that it’s enjoyable.
Jrnydv.Com: So it wasn’t enjoyable on Escape back in ’81?
Kevin Thomas: No, in ’81 it was enjoyable. I wore out the Arrival tape on my Walkman.
Jrnydv.Com: Steve, tell me how you came up with the name “Arrival” for your band ten years ago.
Steve Gerraputa: Well, OK, the keyboard player and I came up with it at the same time, which is weird. He was going by—there was an ABBA album called “Arrival” and I had just written down like 20 different names, and that was one that I thought was cool, and it was on my list, and he was like “Arrival! I came up with the same name!” And I’m like “I like the name” and he said it was an ABBA album and I went “Awwww…”
Jrnydv.Com: You had no idea of course that Herbie Herbert had always planned to name a Journey album “Arrival.” But this was back before you started your band—
Steve Gerraputa: It was ’93. ’92 we actually started.
Jrnydv.Com: How’d you feel in 2000 when they released it?
Steve Gerraputa: I was like “they stole my name! That’s my name! Holy crap!” I actually thought it was great. You know here I am in a Journey tribute band and my old original band was called Arrival. So it totally made sense.
Frankie Poli: Steve of course is the webmaster—he can put anything and everything on that website!
Jrnydv.Com: I noticed! Five pages of pictures! Nearly wore out my printer when I was printing out my notes today!
Steve Gerraputa: Well I offered them all to do that, but they didn’t send me any pictures.
Danny Gagliano: I’ve been a big Journey fan since I heard “Don’t Stop Believin” way, way back, and the look fit, and I’m also a big Hugo fan. I mean, he came out to one of our gigs, and—
Steve Gerraputa: We were listening to his CD on the way to the gig!
Danny Gagliano: Yeah, on the way to the gig!
Steve Gerraputa: And I was like this guy’s great! And they told me he was in Valentine and I was like I remember those guys! They were from Long Island, and I grew up on Long Island.
Danny Gagliano: Yeah and we’re at this gig, and we took a little break, and this guy comes up to Kevin and says “Kevin, there’s a guy in the corner over there who looks just like Steve Perry!” So he comes and tells me and I’m like standing thirty or forty feet away and I’m just like “That’s Hugo!”
Jrnydv.Com: You’ve met Steve Perry?
Danny Gagliano: Yep.
Jrnydv.Com: How was that?
Danny Gagliano: That was great. A friend of mine said he was gonna’ be at a radio station by my house, and I’m like “Oh, so what?” you know? “What’s the chance of us getting down there?” So we showed up, and he was in there getting interviewed, and he came outside, and signed some autographs, and I was speechless! It was like meeting Santa Claus or something!
Jrnydv.Com: And you were already fronting a Journey tribute band at the time?
Danny Gagliano: No, back then I wasn’t. I was looking, searching, I couldn’t find a band. You know I found a great guitar player but I couldn’t find anybody else. And then one day a guy calls me up and says “I’m in this Journey tribute band, and I’m not really into it, it’s not my thing, but if you want, I’ll give them your number.” So I’m like, “Would you please?” And he gave Tim my number and Tim called me up and he was like [in falsetto] “Yeah we got this Journey tribute band!” He said come down at 9:00, and I showed up at like 8:30.
Jrnydv.Com: Let’s talk about your technique. When you guys do your harmonies, as it says on your website, you actually do all of the harmonies that Journey does, you don’t skip on the harmonies. Is each of you doing the part of the harmonies that your corresponding Journey band member sings in Journey?
Kevin Thomas: Actually, no, it’s just whose range fits the actual line. We’re not emulating Jonathan Cain or Neal Schon or Ross Valory, we just take the part where each of our ranges lies.
Jrnydv.Com: Wherever the part fits for the individual?
Kevin Thomas: A lot of times I sing the one above Dan, Steve goes one below, and Kev[in Bryan] goes one below that.
Jrnydv.Com: How many hours a week do you practice?
Tim Szlosek: In the beginning, we practiced individually and together for hours and hours. You know like every day it was—
Steve Gerraputa: We were practicing twice a week for a while.
Tim Szlosek: We would practice twice a week together, and then personally I was playing every single day.
Jrnydv.Com: How many years ago was this?
Tim Szlosek: A year and a half. And before you can even get together, put things together, you have to spend all your time at home—
Danny Gagliano: It’s about eighteen years for me.
Tim Szlosek: —before you can even get it together. You have to know what you’re doing before you can even walk in that studio.
Kevin Thomas: Yeah we wanted to make sure that everyone knew their part first. Then when we got to the studio, it was just a matter of putting it all together and pulling the strings together rather than “Oh, I don’t know that song yet,” you know, that would’ve wasted time. We had homework assignments, basically. We started going over this song, that song, this song next week—go over that part.
Jrnydv.Com: When it happens that somebody comes back and hasn’t done their homework, who judges?
Kevin Bryan: We judge ourselves.
Kevin Thomas: No one is slacking.
Tim Szlosek: We all want to do it. That’s the key. The key is we’re motivated and if you wanna sound good, you have to do your homework. Now it’s not like in grade school where you have another 7 or 8 tests coming up, where you can make up for it—you can’t make up for it. So you have to be ready when you come in because you’re disappointing the other four guys.
Steve Gerraputa: And we’re paying for the rehearsal studio. Twenty-five bucks an hour.
Danny Gagliano: The journey tribute should be able to rehearse for free, you know?
Jrnydv.Com: Who decides what songs you’re playing this week? Who decides the repertoire?
Kevin Thomas: We decide before the end of the rehearsal—next week we’re gonna try this, we’re gonna try that—you know. A lot of the homework was not so much the parts but a lot of the harmonies. Because that’s like one major entity of Journey is their wall of harmonies.
Steve Gerraputa: Kevin would write out each part you know, note-wise for each of us to sing, and we could practice that part at home.
Jrnydv.Com: You would have a vocal rehearsal as well.
Kevin Thomas: We’d do it like, alright, let’s do the vocals, and we’d turn our instruments way down just so we’d just have a reference point, and we’d sing the parts over and over again.
Jrnydv.Com: When you had a rehearsal, who would work as the coach?
Kevin Bryan: Kevin is the harmony guru.
Jrnydv.Com: So you all read music?
Kevin Thomas: I read music a little bit mostly, by ear, you know I read the notes. I used to a long time ago but now I don’t anymore.
Frankie Poli: Danny reads comic books and coloring books. (laughter)
Jrnydv.Com: You guys have some gripes with Danny?
Worlds Apart: Naah! / [jokingly] Wouldn’t you?
Jrnydv.Com: Danny, are you the youngest guy in the band?
Danny Gagliano: I don’t think so! I just look young.
Jrnydv.Com: So Kevin on keyboards is the youngest. Kevin on guitar, what’s your real age?
Kevin Bryan: My real age? Oh you didn’t like the 38 with the question mark? [laughter] I’m actually 46.
Jrnydv.Com: So you’re younger than every member of Journey except Deen Castronovo.
Kevin Bryan: In some ways I’m younger than the guys standing in this room.
Jrnydv.Com: How has your life as a band changed since you met Frankie?
Kevin Bryan: We got a bunch more gigs. We can kick back and relax and not take care of the bar owners and club owners. What time we gotta be there—the correspondence, we can sit back and just show up and play.
Tim Szlosek: And he does a great job, by the way.
Steve Gerraputa: We wouldn’t be where we are now—definitely.
Tim Szlosek: Absolutely.
Jrnydv.Com: And you’re expanding into other states now—you were only in Long Island before you met Frankie?
Tim Szlosek: Well, we’re from Long Island, and we were just in Pennsylvania, and Utica—
Kevin Thomas: We were gonna be in Rhode Island next Saturday.
Jrnydv.Com: Yes, let’s talk about The Station tragedy in Rhode Island. Obviously it hit you like a ton of bricks like it did everybody else in the country—
Kevin Bryan: Absolutely. We were getting ready to do a gig that day.
Steve Gerraputa: We were playing that night—
Jrnydv.Com: You still played that night?
Steve Gerraputa: Yeah, we did. We wanted to try to play for a couple of hours and raise some spirits.
Jrnydv.Com: And how did you feel knowing that you guys could have been there performing, and then—not that you guys use fireworks or anything—and then the house comes down on you, I mean that thought probably really brings it home.
Steve Gerraputa: Watching on the news it just looked like every other club we played, you know it had the same feel, so to me personally, all day I was really just whacked out, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I was—
Kevin Thomas: Dan said something on the mike that night in dedication to Great White.
Jrnydv.Com: The guitarist passed away as well.
Kevin Thomas: Wow I didn’t know that.
Jrnydv.Com: Yeah, and I think it was 119 dead at last count.
Steve Gerraputa: But still it’s just—our posters were up in there and these people, the thought that the last thing they noticed was our poster it just—it gives me the chills.
Jrnydv.Com: And this is your first gig since then?
Steve Gerraputa: Second. We played that night.
Jrnydv.Com: But I mean your first gig since that night.
Steve Gerraputa: Yes. Yeah.
Jrnydv.Com: Did you look for the emergency exits when you came in here?
Kevin Thomas: Absolutely. Right by the keyboards.
Jrnydv.Com: And that’s not something that you used to do?
Kevin Thomas: No, not at all.
Jrnydv.Com: What do you think of the other tribute bands? Are you in competition with them?
Kevin Bryan: Yes, Yes we are. There’s other guys that are alright. Escape was nice, Separate Ways was a bunch of nice guys. The one band that gave us a lot of heat or a lot of competition was Evolution, cause they got hooked up with Hugo, and he knows a lot of people. He plays the big rooms.
Kevin Thomas: Yeah, cause he’s got albums out, and instantly it’s “Hugo is doing a Journey tribute.”
Steve Gerraputa: We’ve met with those guys, they come to our shows, we’ve been to theirs. We e-mail each other, you know, “How’s it going?” Real friendly as far as that goes. But on Back Talk, the bass player was trashing Journey, Joe Cumia—
Jrnydv.Com: The bass player of Evolution was trashing Journey?
Steve Gerraputa: Yeah—more or less Steve Augeri.
Danny Gagliano: He saw them at the Brookhaven ampitheatre and he said Steve Augeri was lacking the charisma that Steve Perry had—
Steve Gerraputa: And he went on to say like—“Not that Steve Perry was any prize on stage either!”
Jrnydv.Com: So why are we all here?
Steve Gerraputa: Exactly! And this was right on Journey’s website. So to me, being that we’re big Journey fans, also, we’re doing this as a tribute to Journey. That’s our goal. We’re doing it so people who love Journey who can’t see them all the time can come in and pretend like maybe we’re them for a little while, and it makes everybody happy.
Kevin Thomas: As opposed to Danny who acts like him all the time!
Frankie Poli: And we do it for the women too.
Jrnydv.Com: I know that you all have lives, you all have jobs—how important is this band? I don’t want you to rate this from one to ten, but how important is this in your life? If Frankie were to tell you “Guys, I can get you not two but ten gigs a week,” would you leave your jobs, would you—
Kevin Bryan: Oh, in a minute!
Danny Gagliano: For how long?
Jrnydv.Com: Well, let’s say for a two-week tour. I want to know how this fits into your schedule. How far do you wanna go with the band, that sort of thing.
Kevin Thomas: As far as Frankie wants to take us! It’s a weekend fun thing. You know we like the music a lot, we grew up with it. Right now it’s a weekend thing for us. And it’s just fun going up on stage. I mean we all have our jobs, we have families—I’m the only one who doesn’t have a family. And I don’t have any kids.
Jrnydv.Com: Tim is due in May, and his lovely wife…
Tim Szlosek: Tricia!
Jrnydv.Com: Tricia. Congratulations to Tim and Tricia.
Tim Szlosek: Thank you.
Jrnydv.Com: Those of you with families, how do your families react to everything you’re doing here?
Kevin Bryan: My daughters have encouraged me to get back into music.
Jrnydv.Com: How old are they?
Kevin Bryan: My two daughters are 21 and 22. They did nothing but encourage me to go back into it while they were growing up, and ever since I’ve gotten back into it I’ve enjoyed it and I haven’t put the thing down. I’ve been playing at least an hour a day.
Steve Gerraputa: My nine-year old daughter loves it. She came to one show—a benefit we played—and she learned every song on Journey’s Greatest Hits. She’s been playing piano for about five years now. And my wife is a singer, so she’s very encouraging. I have a studio in the house, a grand piano—my life has always been music ever since I was like 8, so it just fits.
Jrnydv.Com: What can we look forward to tonight? Any surprises? Anything like “Mother, Father?”
Kevin Bryan: You got it!
Tim Szlosek: Don’t tell him!
Kevin Bryan: What else do you want to hear?
Jrnydv.Com: Well, I’d like to hear some pre-Infinity stuff, but you’re not going to play any of that, right?
Kevin Bryan: No.
Jrnydv.Com: Anything from post-Perry? Frankie said you guys consider doing that sometime.
Kevin Thomas: We did “Higher Place,” but it was a room-clearer.
Danny Gagliano: I’d like to do “All the Way,” “With Your Love”—I mean, I love them, but—
Kevin Bryan: There’s a little surprise in there you’ll catch. It’s a non-Journey song.
Jrnydv.Com: “Oh Sherrie?”
Danny Gagliano: Yeah.
Jrnydv.Com: OK, well, thank you guys very much.
Worlds Apart: Thank you.
This transcript ©2003 Jrnydv.Com. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Frank Poli.
Up Close with Kevin Thomas of Worlds Apart
March 6, 2003
Kevin was kind enough to send us an e-mail updating us on his other work:
"As you could see from the bio on our site you could see I've been around music all my life, my mom was always playin music and my Dad has been a drummer since he was 16. I started playin in 2, 3 and 4 piece cover bands when I was 21. Didn't sing that much if at all (too shy) and knew a few tunes. After doing it for such a long I've learned tons of songs of finally came out of my singing shell. Now I'm singing half the night with songs ranging from Billy Joel (my favorite) to AC/DC to the Goo Goo Dolls. Thats my weekend fun !! Rock and Roll, tons of people, free beers......and you get paid!!
"As for the original project...I've been writing tunes with my friend/guitar player John for quite some years. We've played together or separately in many different cover/bar bands (and an original band years before). In the garage studio in Brooklyn we made a few demo tapes of out tunes, after our band Pangaea split up, never really went anywhere with it but we enjoyed, creating, producing and recording these tunes. After a while we amassed a bunch of tunes and decided to make a CD, calling our original self titled CD and our new coverband......27 WEST.
"We're still goin stong with the 27 WEST cover project but the original thing seems to be a bit slow due to lack of time cuz of the damn day job! I'm still tryin to make a new CD with some of our new and other tunes, if time wasn't so tight. Hey, check out the site for our dates....www.27westmusic.com.
"Thats all I could type, my fingers are tired from playing Journey tunes."
Neal Schon Interview with Guitar World Magazine
"Steve Smith: Confessions of an Ethnic Drummer"
Excerpts from the article by Modern Drummer Magazine
by Bill Milkowski, May 2003 issue
In Part 1 of his interview with Bill Milkowski, which appeared in the May issue of Modern Drummer, drummer and scholar Steve Smith addressed the idea of being what he calls a “US ethnic drummer.” This second installment, which details more of Smith’s playing experiences past and present, picks up where he left off, bemoaning the loss of creativity and individual personality in modern day drumming as the pop world turns with increasing frequency toward having drummers emulate the “perfect” beat of drum machines.
MD: There was a moment in time, and you have to go back to the ’50s, where pop music had all this very expressive drumming happening on records. Think of Earl Palmer’s bass drum intro on Fats Domino’s hit “I’m Walkin’.” The hook of that tune came from the bass drum, which kicked off the track. Drummers could make creative choices like that on those sessions, which revealed their unique personalities. Nowadays, as you say, drummers have been relegated to simply emulating drum machines and so their playing is devoid of any personality.
Steve: True. One of the measures of a good drummer today is that all your hits sound exactly the same and that you’re consistent and perfectly in time. I don’t see that so much as progress, really. I see it as a skill. It’s a necessary skill for today’s music business and I can do it. I play on pop records so I can draw on that skill, but it’s not a natural or fun way for me to play music. I do it as if I’m a house painter and somebody tells me, “Paint my kitchen red.” I’ll go in and apply a coat of red paint to the walls. I don’t feel like an artist at that point, I’m just following orders. And if somebody wants me to play a track on their record I’ll go in and do it, making sure that all the snare hits are the same and the time is real even. It’s a skill, but it doesn’t feel like what I aspire to do as an artist.
MD: So this is the prevailing aesthetic in the pop music of today. But what about when you were playing with Journey? Was there more room for expressiveness from the drum chair in that band?
Steve: For me, that was a time when I was investigating and exploring and partaking in that whole rock experience, and at the time I felt a combination of restriction but with some creative license. I had come from playing with Jean-Luc Ponty and big band jazz and people like that so it was a big shift for me to play one beat for the chorus and another beat for the verse and have to stick to those rather than playing a time feel that was constantly varying. That was definitely a new concept for me, but I tried to be as creative as I could within those parameters.
So I really started to get into that idea of developing that skill, yet it was before the time of click tracks and drum machines so there was still the concept of the band developing a pulse together with time being relative. It wasn’t absolute as it is now with click tracks. You developed a pulse so the band could play together with a nice feel. And when we made records we tried our best to play with real good steady time and feel, and the records hold up today and still sound good. But if you analyze them against the perfection of today’s standards you’ll hear a chorus will speed up a little and a verse may slow down a little. The music breathes, it flows. All pop music up until sometime in the mid-’80s or the early ’90s had that flow. Since then, virtually everything is done with a click. But with a group like Journey I had some freedom and also restrictions. So it was a bit of a balance. But still, it was never my everything. I didn’t feel like it expressed all of who I was or am as a musician.
MD: How would you look back at yourself as a drummer when you just got the gig with Jean-Luc Ponty and were getting your career started? What was your vocabulary like at the time and how have you grown since then?
Steve: When I auditioned for Jean-Luc Ponty I was a seventh semester student at Berklee. I was twenty-two-years old and my focus was big band jazz. I toured for a couple of summers with a trumpet player named Lin Biviano, who was a lead trumpet player for Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson and had his own band in the style of the Maynard Ferguson big band—the small big band he had at the time with two bones, four trumpets, three saxes, and a rhythm section. We toured the East Coast and the Midwest with that group. I played a lot of big band and I also played a lot of free jazz at the time in a Boston group called The Fringe. I had played a little bit of bebop with (clarinetist) Buddy DeFranco and also played locally in Boston in a pop-funk band with bassist Neil Stubenhaus that played at the Ramada Inn six nights a week. But at the time I met Ponty, I didn’t really play much fusion.
I had played a little bit of fusion with (guitarist) Jamie Glaser and (bassist) Jeff Berlin. And then there was a band I played with called Baird Hersey & The Year Of The Ear, which was kind of fusion. So I didn’t have much experience playing fusion but I had heard it and seen enough of it to get a handle on it. And I was able to get the gig with Ponty because I read well. He put a lot of charts in front of me, I mean, odd times and some very difficult music, and I could read everything. I think he saw that I had the potential to do well but it took me a long time to really do that well with the band.
MD: It seems like it must’ve been a very disciplined gig.
Steve: Yeah, I was more of a jazz drummer than a fusion drummer at that point, so things were sort of…a little more separated. I was a good straight-ahead jazz drummer and I could also play sort of pop-funk drums, but I didn’t do much of both together. So that Ponty gig put them both together for me. That gig was literally fusing those two styles so I very naturally developed the ability to play fusion. I have a video of me playing with Ponty from the first couple of months. I used a little Gretsch drumset. I didn’t have a double bass kit back then. He asked me to get a big double bass kit “like Billy Cobham’s” so that’s when I got my first Sonor drumset with two 24" bass drums and three rack toms and two floor toms. Then I worked on that style, consciously emulating Billy Cobham and Narada Michael Walden, who were my favorite drummers at that time. I especially loved the way that Narada Michael Walden played with Mahavishnu, especially on Visions Of The Emerald Beyond.
That Ponty gig was a big transition for me and that was the doorway into being a rock drummer, because once I got the double bass drumset I really started operating at a different dynamic—playing loud, playing hard, which then led me to eventually playing with (guitarist) Ronnie Montrose. I left Ponty at the end of ’77, and by early ’78 I moved to LA and auditioned for Ronnie Montrose and Freddie Hubbard in the same week and got both gigs, so that was a real turning point in my career. It was like, “Okay, I can play with Freddie and do the straight ahead thing or play with Ronnie Montrose doing something like a Jeff Beck kind of thing.”
MD: This was just after Blow By Blow?
Steve: Exactly. Ronnie had just put out an instrumental record called Open Fire, which was in that vein, and for the tour he wanted a fusion drummer. So that made sense for me to play with him because I wanted to play a little bit more of the rock thing. It just seemed interesting to me at the time. But geez, I would’ve loved to have played with Freddie Hubbard, but I had to make a choice and I just somehow had the feeling that I could always do that or something like that. So for me, playing with Ronnie Montrose was a more unique opportunity.
So I took that gig and that ultimately ended up leading to Journey because we were the opening act for Journey. And then I wanted to see what that was like…playing with singers. So there I was playing with singers and songwriters and rock players, but to me they seemed very good at what they did so it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Neal Schon played great guitar and Gregg Rolie was a great B-3 player and singer and Steve Perry was a great singer and I liked Ross Valory’s bass playing. It just all made sense to me. And my chops were slowly developing and adapting to each situation.
I’d have to say that I had the potential to do well in each situation but I needed to develop into the gigs. But it’s not like I feel today. As you say, I can go into something and have a large vocabulary to draw upon. I didn’t in those days. I was just building it. I’d get my foot in the door because I had enough musicianship to do that, but then I would exploit the situation and learn as much as I could from it. I was learning about rock drumming from hanging out with rock musicians and playing with rock musicians. I was learning about fusion drumming from hanging out and playing with Jean-Luc Ponty, (bassist) Ralphe Armstrong. Allan Holdsworth played with that band for a minute and appeared on the record Enigmatic Ocean. I was thrown into situations and I was learning by doing and developing a vocabulary, researching the drummers that did it in each setting.
When I was with Journey I was listening to everyone from Charlie Watts to investigating how Nigel Olsen played ballads with Elton John. In some ways, Nigel was an inspiration for my playing on some of those Journey ballads. He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but you know, he was somebody that I checked out and really liked how he approached the music.
MD: So you’ve always had an analytical ear?
Steve: I guess so. And I would do a certain amount intuitively, just as a response. But then there was the studied thing too that I would get into, seeing how other guys did it and then adding their ideas and licks to my thing. And then the next really big thing that happened for me was leaving Journey and playing for Steps Ahead. That was really jumping in with both feet playing with great musicians like Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Darryl Jones, Victor Bailey, and Mike Mainieri. But again, I think I had the ability to get my foot in the door but I didn’t go in there and do this great job from the first minute. I really worked my way through it, worked my way up through practice, through listening to recordings, studying and hanging out with the players.
Kevin Chalfant Streator Times-Press Article
By Wanda Micklos
Deep in the heart of downtown
Grand Ridge, population 560,
musician Kevin Chalfant works in
The building was once known as
“The Village Roost,” a well-known
local restaurant; it now feeds
Chalfant’s music appetite.
In his office he is surrounded by
autographed pictures of musicians,
framed photos of Trisha Yearwood,
The Storm, Journey, .38 Specials,
The JuJu Kings and Jenny Way. A
large, tri-fold board is filled with
photos of John, Paul, George and
Ringo, with a drumhead sporting a
signature of the Beatles’ original
drummer, Pete Best, in the middle.
He sits in a high-back, maroon-colored office chair with an Elvis Presley clock
quietly ticking behind him.
Chalfant, a 1973 graduate of Streator High School, is the lead singer for Two
Fires and The Storm, and will soon be going on tour throughout the United
He’ll be traveling “basically from Wisconsin to Colorado, then on to
California,” he said.
Written on a message pad sitting in front of him was a note about a concert
being planned for later this year for his band, Two Fires, in Colorado. A
return phone call must be made to confirm time and place.
Throughout the summer he is booked under both names, Two Fires and The
Storm. Some places want one group, some another, he said, explaining the
musicians are the same people, but the music differs in their sets.
Chalfant will be sharing his voice with as few as 500 people and as many as
20,000. The venue includes headlining shows in clubs, fairs and festivals. “It’s
all fun ... playing for people who want to see and hear you,” he said.
The entire group will be traveling on the tour bus Chalfant recently obtained.
The silver and blue coach, the “Silver Eagle,” fondly nicknamed “The Sugar
Shack,” is parked nearby his studio in Grand Ridge.
“We laugh, sleep, and watch movies while traveling,” he said.
Chalfant is still in the process of confirming dates and locations for the tour
with performances beginning to trickle in for June and escalating through the
The original group of The Storm, with three musicians from the
world-renowned band Journey, toured from 1992-1993 with Bryan Adams
and Peter Frampton. “Then the music scene changed,” said Chalfant. “Rap
music was the rage,” so it (the group) put it (music) aside for awhile.”
Chalfant lived in California for 13 years prior to relocating back to his roots
with his partner and wife, Judy, and their three children. His oldest is now in
the music business with Sony Music in Nashville.
“It’s kind of interesting how rock and roll has changed quite a bit. It’s quite
diverse,” he said.
The Storms’ last CD was released in 1993, releasing other songs on a
compilation disc after that, he noted.
One such record is “The Day America Cried” with the song “The Sum of Our
Hearts,” inspired by a young boy, Raleigh Crouch of Streator, who died from
a rare form of cancer. The CD was released after the September 11 terrorist
attacks in America. Another song on the disc is “Waiting for the World to
Change,” by Chalfant and The Storm.
Chalfant performed in “Breakfast with The Beatles” at the House of Blues, in
a concert where everyone had some type of connection with the Beatles.
“I was one of the local Chicago area guys who worked with the sponsor of
the show ‘The Rainbow Foundation’ before,” said Chalfant. (Rainbow
Foundation helps children and families in crisis.)
As it turned out, it was held the day after Beatle George Harrison died.The
host was Sam Leach, the Beatles’ original promoter from Liverpool, England.
Chalfant was the opening act, performing the Beatle tune “Oh, Darling.” He
was surprised to discover that his performance was on major network news.
Performing in this event whetted his appetite to get back into performing after
The Storm died out.
Two Fires first recorded in 1999 where Chalfant hired some “great studio
“Records don’t just happen. They are constructed like a house,” needing a
good foundation, he said. He also said making a record is one aspect of
music, with performing another.
He plans to “knock the chunks off the band” by performing live at “The
Lounge” in Peru on May 31.
“You can lose touch with your listeners if you don’t see the people face to
face,” he said, adding “it’s like building a new race car that never gets on the
Chalfant is ready to get back on the “track” and is taking the band back on
Local musicians performing with Chalfant’s new group are Streatorites
Michael Gardner, Chuck Giacinto and Randy Hatzer. Other local musicians
include Timmy Higgins of Tonica, Mike Higgins of Oglesby and The Storm’s
original guitarist Josh Ramos from Pismo Beach, Calif.
Jrnydv.Com's Interview with Steve Smith
Date of Interview: May 16, 2003
Date of Publication: June 3, 2003
Location: The Bottom Line, Greenwich Village, New York City
Interviewers: Dave Golland and Svetlana Rogachevskaya
Steve Smith occasionally passed a hand rapidly over his bald head as we spoke. But the most striking thing about interviewing him was how direct and straightforward he was. Steve Smith looked me in the eye as he answered each question--quite impressive. Unfortunately, as with our Gregg Rolie interview last November, we didn't have all that much time. In this case, we spoke before the gig, and Steve had to go and get ready to perform. But we're getting better at asking the questions most important to our readers and following up incisively. We look forward to speaking again with Steve the next time he comes to town. As a token of our appreciation, we presented Steve with a Jrnydv.Com laminate identifying him as an "Honorary Editor."
Jrnydv.Com: Let’s start with some background and technical subjects. How have your experiences at Berklee come into play during your career?
Steve Smith: Well, going to Berklee gave me a foundation that I built on to have a career. I had a foundation before Berklee as far as studying privately. When I first started playing I started with private lessons, and that gave me a great foundation to then go to Berklee. And I’d played a lot of gigs locally when I was in high school and junior high school, but going to Berklee was the finishing school that I needed in order to become a professional musician—and it also helped me get my start in the music business, because the other students that I met helped me to get work—yeah, everyone was helping each other get gigs.
And are you today in contact with the same people from your class?
SS: I’m in contact with a lot of the same people.
Is there a liberal arts base there as well, or is it strictly a music school?
SS: It’s a music school. Strictly a music school. But you could get a degree, a Bachelor’s degree, and there were academic courses, but nothing else besides music [as a major] is offered.
What is your opinion of public education in regards to music and the arts in the United States, and how does it compare with the rest of the world?
SS: Well, I can’t compare it to the rest of the world. I really don’t know what they do in other countries. Music education is virtually nonexistent in the public school systems. Which is just really unfortunate. It would be great if they did have a strong music education program that focused on US music. That’s one thing that I’m very interested in and I think in our own culture, we don’t generally know the roots of our own US music. We take a lot of things for granted, as far as what we accept what we hear in music, and people in general are pretty un-informed. Not just non-musicians, but many musicians as well. Most people really don’t have too much knowledge of the background of what shaped US music.
When you say US music, you mean—
SS: All the music that comes from the United States is really unique to the world. It started essentially from slavery in the United States. Because before that, there was no music in the United States other than what the different immigrants brought with them from Europe or Africa. But there was a melting pot, something that happened in the United States because of the meeting of European and African music. The ingredients came together in all the countries that had slavery. Like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Trinidad, and every one of them developed a completely unique new music.
Do you discuss any of this in your clinics?
SS: It’s all in my DVD [Steve Smith Drumset Technique and History of the U.S. Beat, available through Hudson Music]. And in the United States it had a particular sound when it took off. And this is what we completely take for granted. Musically the blues, and then jazz, and then from jazz, rhythm and blues, and then eventually rock’n’roll. And soul, and funk, and everything that came out of that. It’s all sequentially developed. Even country music—it’s all coming from the same root.
Do you think if your instrument was not drums you would understand these things as well? Because you’ve obviously benefited from the fact that yours is the one instrument that is common throughout all these genres. Would you have researched these things had you studied saxophone or piano?
SS: I think if I studied those instruments, and I approached them the same way that I approach the drums, I would have still done some sort of historical research. Because if you play the piano, most piano players start with classical music. And the reason is that’s the roots of the piano. The piano was invented around the time that this kind of music existed, so the original repertoire was classical. So it makes sense to learn that. And then you work your way forward in time. I just take the same approach with the drums.
My studies brought me back basically to the end of the 1800s where the drumset was invented. The snare drum and the bass drum were already invented, and they were used separately in marching bands. But it wasn’t until the end of the 1800s that the bass drum pedal was invented, and that was the beginning of the drumset. So I take my study back to that point. I think it would be awesome to offer that perspective in schools. But sadly, it’s not. As a result, we have people that are completely influenced by music that’s in the media and in the culture, and they have no way of knowing how to judge it. They only judge it really if they like it or they don’t like it in the moment. And it’s not based on anything.
Only by what they feel right then and there.
SS: Yeah, right then.
They don’t know why—
SS: Right. And they don’t have anything to compare it to. Since I have a lot to compare it to, most of it sounds pretty bad. Because I know what makes good music and good musicianship. And so when I hear what’s being passed off as music, it’s pretty poor. Really at this point in time in music, in the music business, the main thing that people are selling are fashion and looks in videos. The music really doesn’t play as much a role anymore.
You know, that’s interesting in that we were watching American Idol and we thought most of them were lousy most of the time. Yet they seem to get millions upon millions of votes every week.
SS: Well don’t doubt yourself, I’m sure they are lousy!
Did you put your kids through public school in San Francisco?
SS: Well actually my daughter just graduated from Novato's San Marin High School, a public high school. My son went to a private school, and my daughter did for a little while, but she didn’t like it, so she wanted to go to public school. So no, they didn’t really get any music education.
I’m sure they got a lot from you!
SS: Yeah, they did. They get a lot just from what I listen to around the house or what I talk about. They know a lot.
What precautions do you take to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome?
SS: I don’t have any issues with carpal tunnel syndrome because of the way that I play. My technique is well developed. It’s just that when I play, I play very relaxed and I don’t hurt myself because I try not to break any of the rules—meaning the natural laws that govern the body—physics. And the reason people have carpal tunnel is because they have bad technique. It’s that simple. There’s nothing wrong with their genetics, or their joints, or this or that. It’s all because they’re holding the sticks too tight, they’re hitting the drums too hard, and they’re breaking the rules of physics. In other words they’re not allowing action-reaction. It would be as if you took a basketball and you jammed it into the floor instead of dropping it and letting it bounce. Most drummers in today’s culture—it’s like taking a baseball bat and smashing it into the ground, absorbing all the energy, all the shock. And they’re hurting themselves. That’s not a very good way to play the drums, obviously. People are mystified by it—it’s so simple! They break sticks, they break heads—even cymbals—it’s because of poor technique, which is not allowing the stick to rebound off of the drum, off of the cymbal, which—if you had good technique—you would naturally do. Good technique really just playing relaxed and allowing the stick to bounce, and not forcing things.
It seems that many are just so focused on how they look, and not how they sound.
SS: If they’re focused on how they look, they’re not thinking about their technique. It’s true! They might go for so much of a showmanship look that they’re not doing something that’s really—technically—a good thing to do.
Okay, let’s get into some Journey-related topics. Do you know anything about the circumstances surrounding Aynsley being fired?
SS: The only thing I know about Aynsley leaving the band is that the band wanted a different feel. It seems pretty simple to me. It’s that they wanted a drummer that was more compatible at that time with Steve Perry’s rhythm and blues background.
And you’d studied extensively the background, getting ready for the job?
SS: I had a natural ability to play the feels of US music simply because I was brought up in the United States. It’s as basic as if you’d want somebody to play Cuban drumming, you don’t ask somebody from the United States to do it. You get somebody from the culture.
But you specifically had gone back and listened to Sam Cooke?
SS: I studied the music of the past, sure, but it also very naturally was something that I could do. To play the music of my culture. And so even though I have a jazz background, it might look strange that I then chose to play rock. But the best rock drummers in my opinion all have jazz backgrounds. Because that was the original way to play the drums. And then rock came later. So I followed the same path that most of the early drummers followed—whether the drummer for Elvis, D.J. Fontana, or Mitch Mitchell with Jimi Hendrix or Ginger Baker with Cream. They were jazz drummers first, and then the played rock. And that gave them a certain ability on the instrument, and a certain feel. And I had that same background, but I also was playing the music of my culture and my times, and so I was able to play with an R&B-ish feel, if that was necessary. And I think that was the issue. Aynsley’s feel wasn’t really what Steve Perry liked. He wanted more of a rhythm and blues kind of feel. So somehow they found that I filled the bill. I could give Steve Perry the feel that he wanted. I could interact with Neal in a jazz-rock sort of way which he was into. And it was easy for me to play with Ross and Gregg—it just all seemed to work out.
Let’s talk about why you left Journey in 1986. Many argue that it’s necessary nowadays, in order to add musical special effects to live shows, like enhanced vocals and multiple keyboards, to have a click track. Have your feelings on the click track issue changed at all since the Raised on Radio period? Are you warming up to the concept or do you still feel that it’s making you paint a house rather than be an artist? My understanding is that during Raised on Radio you and Steve Perry butted heads because he wanted to work with a click track.
SS: When I play on pop tracks and work on a pop album, I do that with the conception of pleasing the producer. And I do it, and it’s not something that I love to do for my main musical experience in life. But I do it because I can do it and I’m paid to do it and it pays well. And it has a certain challenge that I like, but then it’s not what I want to do with myself as a main diet, as a main thing.
So you’re not using it with Vital, obviously.
SS: No, we don’t use anything like click tracks live. We sometimes use them in the studio. The point isn’t the click tracks. It’s just the idea of playing pop music is really what I’m talking about, whether you use the click track or not. But most of the time everyone uses a click track. But the main thing is the timing has to be so precise, which I can do, but there’s something about the mentality of so much focus just being on timing, and not on interaction, not on spontaneity. And I understand the genre no longer supports that kind of musicianship. Early rock’n’roll still supported that jazz-type aesthetic, that listening and answering interaction.
Call and response.
SS: Yeah. And when you listen to Cream or Hendrix or Led Zeppelin or any of those you would still feel those aesthetics going on. Now it’s like computer music. It’s just like everyone plays his part, they put the pieces together, and you have your product. That, to me, feels like building a house. It doesn’t feel to me like organically making music. So I don’t choose to live my life doing that. So I will do it from time to time because it’s challenging and it pays well. It’s simple. But what I really want to do is play with high level musicians, where I can improvise every night.
The issue with Steve Perry wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to play with a click track as I couldn’t play with a click track well during that time. It was new for me, a new experience. I’d never played with a click track. And you have to develop the skill to play with a click track and I had yet to develop that skill. And I did develop it later, within a couple of years, ‘cause then I focused on it because I needed to develop that skill to be a professional working musician, because It’s an industry standard now. Back then it was completely new. And I couldn’t really do it. It felt real uncomfortable. And so basically, what Perry did was, instead of abandoning the concept—because we had played a lot of records without a click track and we could have played that record without a click track, but Neal and Jonathan and Steve were very focused on fusing that new technology into the music. Hindsight, they’ve all said it wasn’t the greatest idea, because when we talked about it later, they’ve all said it would have been better to just play organically with the band and let it live where it lived.
But the problem was they wrote all the music with the technology. And that was a big shift—a paradigm shift—of how we did business. We used to write organically. But that record was written in Jonathan’s music room with machines—without Ross and me there. So by the time we came into it, it was hard for us to get ourselves not only invested but physically into it to the point where we could own the parts. It was the first time that they had written for us. And we didn’t have the skills to do what I can do now. If that happened now, I could go in and play it and it would be fine. But I didn’t have those skills developed at that time. So after a while, the easiest way for them to make the record was to get professionals for whom this was old business—this was comfortable for them. And that’s when Steve brought in Larrie Londin and Randy Jackson. They had done a lot of this already. You know, I’m to the point now where I’m doing that. You know, they have me come in and play, and the poor drummer sits on the sideline. So I know what that’s like, and it’s a drag in a band situation. It really was the end of the band at that point.
It was just three guys writing and two session players.
SS: Yeah. And when we did the Trial by Fire record, we did it organically as a band. Cause we’d learned that that’s the way we worked the best. And even though Jonathan and Neal and Steve had some ideas, they didn’t demo them. They brought the ideas in organically so we—Ross and I—could get a foothold in from the very beginning, of what our contribution was going to be. Because that really was the strength of that band, that everyone had a good personality, a musical personality, that we could offer something that would be superior to what somebody could think of as a drum beat. So they left it open so that we could go in and help create the music. And that was a great idea and I thought it was successful, and that it worked really well.
But I loved working with Steve Perry. He’s just a fantastic singer. And he really had great time, great feel, and a really soulful voice, and I always loved working with him as a musician. He was one of the greatest.
Have you kept in touch with him since Trial by Fire?
SS: No, I haven’t. I did for a little while but then we just sort of fell out of touch. After the VH1 thing we talked a couple of times and that’s the last time I talked to him.
What did you think of Behind the Music?
SS: I thought the first one was horrible—the one-hour version. The one and a half hour Director’s Cut I thought was pretty good. But the one-hour version I thought was really bad.
Were the Behind the Music episodes historically accurate, or were they overly representative of a single perspective?
SS: I didn’t think they were that accurate. I’d have to see it again to remember what it was that was not really right. There were a few things that were not really right. [at this point SS turned off the tape for a moment, and we talked off-the-record, then continued.] You know, we get into too many details, they made it sound like we didn’t want to wait for Steve Perry. And that was not the case. We were willing to wait for Steve Perry.
Are you talking about ’97?
SS: Yeah. Yeah, that—
So you were willing to stay with the band, then?
SS: Well, the concept as I gathered it in those days wasn’t to have an ongoing band. I’m not interested in that.
You were talking about a reunion tour?
SS: Right. That’s what I was interested in. and everyone was really interested in—it’s like the Eagles, the way they did that, like a one-year comeback. I mean I don’t want to do this anymore. That’s not what I’m into. But I would do the one-shot thing. And everyone was willing to do that. The only thing we needed was some kind of commitment from him, that he really wanted to do it. And that never happened. And it finally became obvious that he didn’t. But he just would never really say it.
Did he really have a hip problem?
SS: Absolutely. He really did. But there was never a real commitment from him to do it. And so it finally got to the point where, the way I see it, those guys wanted to work. They wanted to carry on. So they made the decision to carry on without him.
What singers have you liked working with the most, in your whole career?
SS: I haven’t worked with that many vocalists. I’ve worked on their albums. I mean, the guy in Savage Garden’s a great singer [Darren Hayes]. Mariah Carey, Bryan Adams, Tina Arena, this singer from Australia that’s really good. Zucchero, like “sugar” in Italian. He’s a great singer, like a blues singer. And it’s interesting working with all these singers. Most of them I never really play with, because I’m just playing the drum tracks either before or after they’ve sung. The one singer that I did a country record with was Ray Price. He’s a very good country singer and he actually did a country record where everything was live. That I loved. Because it was organic. Nothing was laid down other than the whole band. The whole group played live. That was really prime. And there’s an energy that goes along with that. There’s an intensity because you can’t make a mistake. And everyone knows that they can’t make a mistake. It’s not like when you’re overdubbing, when there’s a lot of room for error. You can screw up and it doesn’t matter, because you can go back and fix it. But this creates a certain kind of creative tension, when everyone’s playing, and there’s like twenty-five people in the room—there were strings and horns, and a rhythm section and everyone had to get it right.
How do you feel about Journey tribute bands?
SS: I think it’s a great thing, because it keeps the music alive.
Do you have any advice for tribute band drummers who want to emulate the Steve Smith Journey sound?
SS: One word of advice is if you’re going to learn the drum parts for the Journey songs, start with the recording, but then change it.
Be original, be organic.
SS: Yeah, play what feels right for you to play. I think that the parts that I played on the record, I didn’t even stick to those parts live. Some of them I did, but a lot of them I didn’t. So after awhile it doesn’t feel all that great to just keep playing the same parts over and over. Be creative. Because that’s the way I would do it. I mean if I was playing in a band, I wouldn’t be playing all those parts exactly the same every night.
What do you think of Deen Castronovo?
SS: Well that’s the same advice I told Deen. I love Deen. He’s a great guy. He’s a very good drummer. Really, I love his drumming. And I think he’s done an amazing job of learning all of my parts. But like I told him, even I wouldn’t be playing all those exact same fills from the record. Loosen it up, man! But he’s a great drummer. He really is.
Can we expect a new Vital Information album anytime soon, and are there any more albums in the works for the Tone Center label?
SS: Well there are two new Tone Center records coming out in the next few months: Buddy’s Buddies: Live at Ronnie Scott’s, Set One, and then a separate one, called Live at Ronnie Scott’s, Set Two. So those will be coming out soon. At some point there will be a new Vital Information but I don’t know when right now. We’re so busy with touring. And then when this tour’s done, everyone’s going off and doing tours with other people. Frank’s going out with Chick Corea, Tom’s going out with Billy Cobham, and a lot of things are going on that I don’t know when we’re going to do it. But eventually we will.
It’s great that you’re doing that tour diary. I think it lets the fans feel what it’s like to be going all over Europe and paying overweight charges and all your eight o’clock lobby calls. Thank you for doing that. And thank you very much for speaking with us this evening.
This transcript ©2003 Jrnydv.Com. All rights reserved.
Gregg Rolie Interview with ClassicRockRevisited
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: June 17, 2003
Date of Original Publication: June, 2003
One day as I was going about my daily duties of keeping Classic Rock Revisited alive and well I received an email from Ron Wikso. Ron is a well respected member of the classic rock community and has played drums with the band Foreigner. Ron took a moment to invite us to do a concert review of the Gregg Rolie Band as they were playing a West Coast gig and I have a reporter named Dan Wall who keeps me up to date with the concert scene from that part of the world. Ron was a fan of the site and scores major points for self promotion!
Once I saw the name Gregg Rolie I knew I had to interview him. I grew up a huge fan of Journey and later discovered the seductive sounds of early Santana, of which Rolie was a rounding member and lead singer on some of the biggest hits Carlos & Company ever had. Below is the transcript of our conversation. Gregg spoke openly and honestly about the early days of both bands and discussed in detail why he left Journey. We also talked about what is was like to play at Woodstock and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Gregg is in once and should end up being elected again once Journey is paid the respect they deserve.
Gregg has a CD titled Roots that is a throwback to the Santana days. The album deserves a listen as it actually is very, very good. "Give It To Me" is among the top songs in his catalog and considering his repertoire consists of "Black Magic Woman" and "Anytime" that is saying a lot. Check out this interview and then check out www.greggrolie.com to get a copy of Roots.
- Jeb Wright, June 2003
Jeb: I really have been enjoying Roots.
Gregg: I have gotten some rave reviews about it. I have a small label so it is limited in scope to how many people know it is there. Everywhere it has been played I get the same response. It is growing but it just takes some time.
Jeb: You have REO’s Dave Amato on lead guitar.
Gregg: Ron, my drummer is a friend of Dave’s. Ron told me that Dave could play this stuff and it turned out that he played it great. Dave kept asking me, “Are you sure you have the right guy?” He was not used to the amount of playing on it. REO does not do the same amount of solo work and it is totally different material. In that way it was much like me going from Santana to Journey. It was like going from night and day. I had to rethink the way I did music -- that was later on when it got into all vocals and less solos. When Journey started it was a lot easier to comprehend for me but then it got more difficult. He was having the same kind of flash.
Jeb: I have met Dave every time he comes through with REO. I saw his name and then listened to the CD and was really impressed with the ease he played this style of music.
Gregg: He really did pull it off well. His acoustic work was terrific. It was different for him but he has told me that he is glad that I pushed him to do it. He is just a great guy as well.
Jeb: Classic Rock Revisited will promote this new CD even if it is not totally new. It is damn good and people should know about it.
Gregg: It is new to a lot of people. That’s the way to look at it. Only ten to fifteen thousand people have heard it so it is still new.
Jeb: The title Roots shows that you are going back to your pre-Journey days. A perfect example is “Give It To Me.”
Gregg: We thought that track was going to be good. As I wrote it I knew it had a thing. As you are writing songs you tend to think one is going to be better than the other and then it turns out the other one just smokes the one you thought was going to be good. This was one of those type songs. We knew it would be good but when we put the horns on it and started doing other things it just started popping. When I put the heavy flange on the vocals the song really stood out.
Jeb: Were you consciously trying to write songs for the title of the album or was the title an afterthought?
Gregg: Roots really has more to do with my approach to the music than it does with the style of music. When I started out with Santana we played anything and everything. We would play it and we would try all of it. Later, we would decide what fit and what didn’t fit. I approached my music for that album the same way. I first started out to do a completely acoustic album. “Domingo” was played on a keyboard and not on a guitar. The whole album was going to be acoustic. It was going to be really low key.
I went to the Hall of Fame induction and played with the whole Santana band and it was a lot of fun. When I got back from that I started writing all kinds of stuff and I just let it fly. At that point I named it Roots and everybody thinks it is going back to my roots with Santana, which it fine. It really is not that way at all.
Jeb: Some of that could be because of the song “Give It To Me.” That sounds like Santana.
Gregg: It is really on steroids, isn’t it?
Jeb: I kept moving the track back as I kept listening to the thing over and over.
Gregg: (laughs) Well that is good.
Jeb: Do you even know how many records you have sold in your career?
Gregg: I don’t know, something like 60 million. It is pretty phenomenal. I have been very fortunate.
Jeb: A lot of people in your position get guilty of throwing something together for the strong fan base and selling a few thousand units but your album is not like that at all. It is a complete piece of music. This is a well-written and well-produced record but our society is such that only a few thousand have heard it. Does that drive you nuts?
Gregg: It is just the nature of the beast. I think the industry is killing itself. There are more lawyers and accountants running around than musicians. There are only a handful of music people left in the business that can hear their way out of a paper bag. There is one very legitimate aspect to all of this and that is that it is a very contemporary game. It is a young man’s game. Those are the breaks. I wasn’t screaming too much when I was doing real well with Santana and Journey as a younger man. It is pretty hard for me to sit here now and yell and scream about it. However, I really do think the industry is chocking itself to death and closing off the biggest buying public in world history.
I love playing live and I have a great band. I am going that way with it. We sell our Cds at our shows. I am not after a major label deal. I would much rather go play live anyway. If you put a good show together with a few good bands and people are going to show up.
Jeb: How do you stay focused and objective within the songwriting process? You are a professional musician so you can easily write something good. How do you differentiate between something that is good and something that is special?
Gregg: It is so hard to answer that question. You almost have to get feedback from other people. Songs that I may just go nuts over others overlook. I may like a certain musical aspect or a certain groove within a section of the song and the whole rest of the tune may not be very great. In general, I do have a good sense of it all. I have always liked popular music. I have never looked for the real ethereal type of music because I get bored with it. As I songwriter I am always looking for something that will snap your head back. If I get one out of ten then I figure I am doing great. You can’t really tell what is good and what isn’t.
I will give you a good example. When we did “Anytime” in Journey we put down the musical track but we decided that we would have to cut out some of the musical track because it was so expensive to record. We had to cut some back because we had 16 tracks and we only needed 10. We almost cut “Anytime” off the record. The music track on it’s own was okay but it really didn’t do anything. We put the vocals on it and the whole thing just turned out to be phenomenal. It is my favorite track on the whole album. Until you are done you just can’t make that judgment. In Journey, way back when Neal and I put it together was way different. There were way more time signatures and various other things. It became a vocal band and that was not our focus. We listened to the music track and it was simply okay but it didn’t move us much. We forgot the vocals were the main part.
Jeb: Did you leave Journey because they were getting too commercial?
Gregg: I left Journey because I had built two bands up and I had lived out of a suitcase to long. I wanted to start a family. I was done with the road. I really hated it. I have now turned that around, huh! Being a gypsy is a young man’s game. A lot of people can make that their main focus and that is all they want to do. There had to be more for me to fulfill my life. I opted out. I wasn’t happy there. It was more for me than for anybody else. I now have a great family. Now they are always throwing me out. They go, “Go out on the road Dad. It’s about time you left so we can party.”
When I listen back to some of the stuff from Evolution I can see the differences now that I couldn’t see then concerning my perspective of playing and the way that Perry would sing. I can see that it was never going to mesh. We came from different styles and a totally different place. On the song “I’m Crying” I play organ the way that I would play it for myself and it just doesn’t match his vocal very well. I listen back to it now and I can see that is was not going to go on. At the time I thought it was great but now I don’t. They just don’t match up. They are both good ideas but they just didn’t mesh on that particular song. I can’t say that about 90% of it because it meshed well. There is a bluesy feel to it. When I left and it turned into Escape -- which is great but it is just not me.
Jeb: Journey went more pop after that. It got so pop later on that everybody but Steve didn’t like it any more.
Jeb: I always thought that you must have had more integrity and that you didn’t want to sell out.
Gregg: They call it selling out and all that but if it was that easy wouldn’t everybody sell out? That is just a cop out. A lot of people like the heavier stuff we did and that might be there outlook about the whole situation. Journey went after something was all vocal and was totally based up on vocals. They wrote some really good material during that time period. It can’t be taken away from them so more power to them.
Jeb: Going way back, what where you doing before Santana?
Gregg: I was going to collage in the bay area where I grew up. Santana got started from a friend of mine who heard Carlos play at the Fillmore on Tuesday, which was local night. He heard him and then he went and found him. Carlos was working at a place called Tick Tocks, which was a hamburger stand in San Francisco. He told him that he had a friend who played keyboards and that he had to come down and jam. He came down to Mountainview, which is 20 miles south. We played in some guy’s garage until the cops came. We ran off when they showed up. Actually Carlos was first to run off. I don’t know if that was habit from living in the mission district or what but he beat feet into this tomato patch. I followed him and that is where I actually met him, sitting in that tomato patch. From there we started Santana. We sat out there until the police met. That was back in 1966 or 1967.
From there I was going to college and I kept thinking about the band. When I was at school I was thinking about the band and when I was with the band I was thinking about all the schoolwork I wasn’t doing. I had to give up one of them and it was a pretty easy choice.
Jeb: Was music your major or were you going in a different direction?
Gregg: I was going to be an architect.
Jeb: How do you tell Mom?
Gregg: They were very much like myself or I am like them. They never discouraged me. I went to my Dad and I said, “I don’t know what I should be doing?” He looked at me and said, “How old are you?” I told him that I was 18 and he laughed at me and said, “You’re 18 and you are worried about what you are going to do with the rest of your life? You are going to make many changes. Go out and give yourself a time limit. Pursue what it is you want to pursue. Don’t do it halfway. Do it or don’t do it. If you want to go to school then I want you to go to school. If you want to be in this band then go do it.” It was advice. It was very cool. It is also very accurate. Look how many careers people have nowadays. If you have just one career then I think you are a loser. You have to be able to do more than one thing.
I told him I would go pursue it for five years and then I would go back to school and become an architect. I would have been cool with that. It took off in three years and I never looked back.
Jeb: Did Santana start out the usual 4-piece band and then grow or did you have a more eclectic approach from the beginning?
Gregg: It was bass, keyboards, two guitars -- it was the guy who went and got Carlos in the first place. His name is Tom Frazier. He was going to be the lead vocalist. We also had drums, keyboards and congas. There were no timbales when we first started. That configuration changed. Tom wasn’t as serious as the rest of us so he left. We didn’t have a vocalist so I became it. Somewhere along the line we went through some percussionists. For a while we were a five piece. It ended up being a six piece with Chepito playing timbales.
When Santana started out people thought we were nuts. We had conga drums and all this stuff and a lot of people thought we were crazy trying to go out and play and get signed. They are probably working in Alaska at a filling station about now.
Jeb: They made that career change you were talking about.
Gregg: (laughing) When I look back a Santana I am very proud. It was very unique. It was a melting pot of rhythms and ideas. It is not Latin, rock, jazz or blues. It is all of the above and it was all created by a bunch of guys in the bay area. It is really just Santana music.
Jeb: What kind of an experience was it playing at Woodstock?
Gregg: As I look back on it now it was the mother of all videos. There were no videos then. There were only television shows with musical guests. There was no music television. Now MTV is ruining things. It is getting like Shindig was when I was a kid. They have game show hosts on there now. It is really pretty funny. Woodstock was different.
We flew into Woodstock in a helicopter and everyone was amazed but me. I really wasn’t because I had nothing to draw from. It looked like ants on a hill. It just didn’t connect for me. We played and I looked out. We had played for ten thousand people before so when you play large gigs and you look out all you can see are hair and teeth anyway. What grabbed me is when we drove out that night. It was amazing. There were endless people. If I had driven in then I might have been really scared and never made it. If you had a spot in Woodstock you had a career and Santana was right in the middle of it. We had a long piece and it set the whole thing in motion and we really took off.
Jeb: So there was no taking of the brown acid?
Gregg: No. I remember hearing the announcements though. “Child being born in the tent. Named her Paisley!”
Jeb: This lead to Abraxsis.
Gregg: The Abraxxis album is the favorite album that I have ever done. It still has legs. There are pieces on there that are just incredible.
Jeb: I would consider that album to be among the top rock albums ever made.
Gregg: It has been voted that by Billboard and all kinds of people. They all say it is in the Top 100. “Black Magic Woman” is among the Top 100 songs as far as most airplays.
Jeb: That’s pretty impressive.
Gregg: Yeah, when we did it -- I kind of remember how it was. We were just trying to do our music the best we could. We wanted to make our music feel.
Jeb: Who chose the song?
Gregg: I chose it. It took me a while to convince everyone that it would be a good song for us to do. Fleetwood Mac had done it and it had not been out too long. I just knew I could sing it and I just love the song. I am a big fan of Peter Green as well.
The way we used to practice was that whoever showed up started playing and whoever filtered in played on whatever was there. I kind of made myself first a lot. I used to start playing it and they would go, “Don’t you know anything else?” One time in Fresno we did it at a sound check and it really clicked. We had never approached anything unless it connected for people in some kind of way. This time it connected with Carlos and he said, “Man, what was that?” and I go, “That was that thing that I have been playing for a year that you hate.” He had never really heard the song because I had just played the changes. He came up with the front-end arrangement with the little keyboard ditty -- that was him. He came up with that little line. I would have never put that B in that D minor. He threw it in there and I thought, ‘Are you kidding?” That is just the way we did everything. When they brought “Oye Como Va” in I wondered what I was supposed to do with it. I was listening to the Rolling Stones. That ended up becoming one of my favorite organ parts of all time so you just can’t be closed to things.
Jeb: You sang that song as well didn’t you?
Gregg: It was a group vocal but I sang on it. You can hear that Norwegian/Spanish vocal in there somewhere.
Jeb: Did you speak Spanish?
Gregg: Just the swear words. I learned a foreign language like everyone does -- all the worst words first.
Jeb: I spoke Neal Schon a while back and he said that he met you and would not quit hanging around until you let him into Santana.
Gregg: He was about 15 years old when he played in the club called The Poppycock. They really went out on a line because he was so young. We stayed there until like 3-4 in the morning. The band was called Old Davis. I could not believe the way this 15-year-old kid could play. It was like Clapton on steroids. He amazed me. We started hanging. I brought him around when we were doing Abraxis. He was still in high school. I always wanted to see a guitar player with Neal’s style play with Carlos but it was not my place to say anything. We had a guitar player and we were a democratic band. It would have been pretty insulting to the guitar player if I had said anything. Finally, Carlos goes, “What would you think if we had Neal come in?” We had jammed with Neal for hours and hours. Carlos liked the idea of having harmony guitar parts.
Jeb: At what point did you and Neal start thinking of leaving Santana?
Gregg: Santana feverously fell apart from too much to soon. None of us were on the same page, musically, any longer. Without getting into too much detail, it was just not going to fly. I quit playing music and went up to Seattle and started a restaurant with my Dad. I got a call from Neal and Hebie Herbert, our manager. They asked me to come back and play so I went and played with them for a couple of weeks. It was really just going to be rhythm section for the bay area or so they said. I don’t know if that was really the intent. Within two weeks we were writing songs and we became a band.
Jeb: It was that simple.
Gregg: It was that simple. I wasn’t doing anything and they asked and I said okay. It started getting really good. We had a guitar player named George Tickner who played things that were really different. Neal really dug it. He soloed all over it. It was very colorful. It grew and went through the changes that bands go through. We ended up being a reliable entity.
Jeb: Is the old story true that there was a radio contest that named Journey?
Gregg: Toby Pratt named us. The names were so awful from this real contest that we ended up using a name one of our own guys who worked in the office came up with. We had this contest so we couldn’t tell people we didn’t choose one of their names so we made up the name Toby Pratt. It turns out there was a real guy out there named Toby Pratt and I think we ended up having to give him something. The whole thing kind of backfired. We had names like Hippiepotamus and Rumpled Foreskin. There was an endless amount of bad names so Journey became it.
Jeb: People tend to forget that there was that Journey sometimes.
Gregg: The success of the later half of the band kind of makes the early days overlooked.
Jeb: Was it Herbert who came up with the idea for Perry?
Gregg: It was between him and the label. They had a vision that we needed a front man. To Sony’s credit, which was CBS Columbia Records at the time, we got a few shots at putting albums together. You don’t get those kind of shots nowadays. You get one or two and then you are done. The story I know says that the record company demanded that and that Herbie found somebody. Everybody was cool with it. We had a guy named Robert Fleishman first but he didn’t work out. Herbie had a tape of Steve Perry. At first Neal and I were like, “This guy is really singing. We need someone who is screaming. This guy is crooning.” Herbie just said, “This is your singer so get used to it. You guys are wrong.” History has obviously backed up what he said.
Jeb: Perry must have clicked with you at some point.
Gregg: We were backstage doing stuff after Robert had left and Perry was there. Things just flew out. Him and Neal were writing songs that were great. “Patiently” was one of them. It was really good. It just had a thing. It was one of those things where you either know it is there or not. It was pretty obvious. It was too hard to deny it.
Jeb: You got to come up out of the 60’s and experience the rise of the counter culture clear up to its pinnacle Woodstock. You also got to come out with another band and experience the stadium scene. From your perspective, how was one different from the other?
Gregg: I think there are a couple of ways to look at it. Santana was during the era of building the very industry that Journey was a part of. We were in the beginning stages of that. Look at the PA system at Woodstock in comparison of where it went. It was in its infancy. At the time it was state of the art. Actually there was not even the term ‘state of the art’ when we did that. There were good speakers and bad ones and that was it. The whole industry kind of followed suit. It became much more sophisticated. It became a huge business as opposed to good business. It became more organized and business like. In Santana we all got together and had a ton of fun. It was so loose. The organization skills were not there yet. Not many people even sold t-shirts at that time. You could say that there was then a huge growth curve. Otherwise it was playing music for people. That part stayed the same. The industry grew leaps and bounds.
Jeb: If you had to choose which band would it be. That is actually an unfair question so I will say this: I have followed your entire career and I would guess you would give a nod to the Santana years over the Journey years.
Gregg: Do I like that better? It is a real fair question. I like them each for various reasons. When I did Roots and I just started letting it fly, what music came out? It was that stuff. It is who I am and it is what I was weaned on. I do have a tendency to lean that way. There was a time where I would have told you that I would have never played with another conga drummer as long as I lived. When I quit Santana I had had enough rhythm. Years later what am I doing? I love it. There is a thing about the rhythm and then simplicity that has driven me since I was a kid. It is more innate for me. There are parts of Journey that I love and there are aspects that are equal. There are different accomplishments with both groups that I had been lucky enough to experience in one lifetime.
Jeb: I was born in ‘66.
Gregg: Me too!
Jeb: Now we have covered that!
Gregg: Aw, crap!
Jeb: I grew up with Journey. I remember back in 1982 when MTV came out and they used to play Closet Classics. One of the songs they used to play all the time was “Black Magic Woman.” I remember thinking that looks like the guy in Journey.
Gregg: It was the best-kept secret at CBS. There are so many people who don’t know that I sang all those songs. A lot of people don’t realize I was the lead vocalist in that band. After the band broke up is when Carlos became the leader of that band. It was about the guitar after that. To his credit he has done that for 30 years. I don’t think I could have played the same stuff for 30 years. I am glad that I did other things. I am really glad that I went on to do Journey. I got to play a whole different style of music. When I take the songwriting skills that I learned in Journey and put them with the rhythmic gut wrenching stuff room Santana then I think I got the best form both of them. That is now how I approach my songwriting. It not only has to be good; it has to have that stuff in it.
Jeb: Carlos Santana VS Neal Schon… Who do you prefer?
Gregg: It depends on the song. They are both great. Carlos always had this knack… Carlos is such a pure guitarist that if he only had his fingers and some nylon strings you would still know who he is. Neal on the other hand can play anything. He is more of a technician. He is better at the melodic stuff then he would like to give himself credit. I think that is really his forte. He likes to burn but he has a real knack for melody. Even within the burn there is melodic stuff in there. Go back and listen to the album Gringo I put out. It has Carlos and Neal playing back to back on the song “Fire At Night” and you tell me, which one is better.
Jeb: Can you ever step outside of yourself and really look at all you have accomplished? What haven’t you done?
Gregg: I have never written a Top 10 hit. No wait -- I have never written a # 1 hit. If you are talking about living life then I have lived it large. I have done it good.
Jeb: Can you ever step aside and say, “I was at Woodstock. I have a ton of Gold & Platinum albums. I am in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.”
Gregg: I have never looked at it that way. We just put a short promotional video together that has a lot of the aspects of my life on it. I was looking at it and I went, “Jesus, I have done a lot of stuff.” I just don’t look at it that way. I am always just looking for the next note or the next good song or the next gig. Anybody who gets successful takes it a day at a time. It is not such a design thing. I have been really lucky.
Jeb: What is it like to sit up on the stage of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and play a song?
Gregg: It was pretty cool. I almost didn’t go.
Jeb: Why wouldn’t you go?
Gregg: I was busy building a hot rod. The guy I was building the car with told me that I really should go. The guy that really talked me into it was Ron Wikso. He says, “I don’t know Gregg. There are a lot of people who get a Grammy buy very few people are going to get into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. This is a pretty big thing.” He was absolutely right. I am glad that I did go. The most important thing was that I would not have written the Roots CD if I didn’t go. I had a ball doing it. It was fun to play there. It was also scary. We were playing to 3000 seats filled with the top people in the industry.
Jeb: You guys were elected before it was even cool to be elected!
Gregg: I was really honored by it. To think that you in there with guys like Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones. I would have never thought I would get to be in anything like that in my life. When I look back at being a teenager and loving playing I would have never thought about anything like that. To be one of those guys is pretty lucky.
Jeb: What are you going to do when it comes around again?
Gregg: I’m not even going to think about it. I am just going to go on about my life. I am enjoying what I am doing. I have a phenomenal band.
Jeb: Will there be another album out soon?
Gregg: We will always come up with new stuff but right now we are just going out to play. I want people to hear this music and the only way they are going to hear it is if I go out and play. Radio is too tight and too expensive. To sit and bitch about it is not going to do me a bit of good. If somebody does not want to play it on their radio station because Procter & Gamble told them not to then we will just take it to the streets. The band knocks people out.
Jonathan Cain's Interview with ElectricBasement.Com
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: June 12, 2003
Date of Original Publication: June 11, 2003
Journey has been to the mountaintop, leapt over it, and
come out standing more times than most of their
contemporaries combined. In the summer of 2003, a full
thirty years after their initial formation, Journey is ready
to make the leap yet again. You simply have to admire
the incredible drive that this group has.
Take Journey's most recent studio offering, "Red 13," for
instance. Conceived as a simple EP to fill the space
between full album projects, "Red 13" is a Pandora's
box of riffs and rhythms meshed and mashed with deeply thoughtful lyrical passages delivered
so emotionally impactful that it easily rates as some of the best work to be branded with the
Journey trademark. Within "Red 13's" twenty-five minutes exist all the sonic credentialization
required of a group continuing to ascend along an already incomparable artistic arc. If you have
witnessed the band performing live in recent years then you already know that the live show
maintains that same high standard. Journey is every bit as vital today as it has ever been and
shows no signs of ever reversing course.
Though Journey are intent to leave further sonic imprints on contemporary Rock and Roll, this
summer the group has joined up with both Styx and REO Speedwagon on what is easily the
best Classic Rock package of the season. In the early days of this traveling Hit-fest,
Journey-man Jonathan Cain found a free hour to phone in and give some insights on the tour,
the record, and his group's place in both the history and future of Rock and Roll.
DAVID LEE I know that you are calling to talk about the tour with REO SPEEDWAGON
and STYX but your publicist sent me this EP that you had out a little while back. . .
JONATHAN CAIN Yeah, that has been out for a while, a little while anyway.
DL It is an EP but about as long as a full album of music was in the good old days of
JC Yeah. We just thought that rather than making a big ol' formal record we would put this
together. We had these songs and we thought that they all kind of fit together in a cool way.
That actually came out as a sort of pre-qual to the tour that we did with Peter Frampton and we
thought that the fans would like to hear something new. We had done "Arrival" and basically
had done everything that the record company had really wanted us to do and Neil just wanted
to do something that he wanted to do so we just kind of Rocked.(laughs) We did it without
worrying whether it was going to be commercial or not.
DL Beside having done it all by yourselves it sounds like you, personally, were having
a really good time with it, I mean, that intro piece is all you and I haven't heard you do
anything quite like it for a long while?
JC I think that as a unit it was just good for us to come to some common ground and we all
had a great time. We got to jammin' and I think that Neil was especially hot. I played more of
an engineer/listener role and there is a lot of Neil on there obviously. I did feel strongly about
one song and that was "Walking away from the Edge." That was kind of a cool song for me to
write and I think that it said a lot about substance abuse and things like that. Not that we
wanted to be writing these big, political songs but that one, it was like, I had some friends that
has some hard battles with it (drugs) and it was kind of neat to hear that finally get finished. It
was just a demo that I had hoped would end up on the "Arrival" album and it didn't end up there.
I thought that it was a cool song and I just loved the vibe of it so it was kind of nice to see it
finally come out.
DL So though it was a heavy topic it was still a fun piece to do?
JC The band had fun, I had fun, there was no pressure at all on anything. It was easy and fun.
DL You used the word"fun" a lot and I think that it is really obvious that you guys are
having fun in the band now which I am going to guess wasn't always the case in the
past? The "Raised on Radio" tour for instance, you all seemed very stiff on the shows
that I caught from that tour.
JC It was exactly that, I mean, I really missed the other two guys and it was just one of those
things where you make some mistakes along the way and that was a huge mistake, to go out
there without those two guys. It is great to be able to look back and say, "Yeah, we were wrong
about that." It was kind of out of my control then but I think that we are in total control of our
destiny now, in a big way. It is cool and we are real fortunate to be able to still make music and
it is our core fans who support us. It is like we get another life or something so it is very good
DL And this tour, it seems like everyone is past the point of high career tension in their
JC This has been an interesting challenge to play with two other bands and making the whole
thing work. I think that it has brought a new respect for what we all do, you know? It is a deeper
respect for what we all do and for what we have all accomplished over the years. I certainly
have a greater respect for REO and Styx and for what they and their fans are all about.
Yesterday I was playing golf with REO's bass player, Bruce, and he said, "I still have your
songs in my head!" (laughs) I got a kick out of that because I had to admit that I had a few of
their songs in my head too!(laughs) It is very cool!
DL Between the three of you, what is it like sixty huge radio hits or something?
JC Oh yeah, no filler in any of the sets, that is for sure.
DL Is there occasion for various musicians to jam on this tour?
JC There is not enough time. It is so packed. I mean, everybody wants to do their thing and
unfortunately we haven't got there yet. There is a lot of music to be played and it is not one of
those loose festival things, we have got curfews and unions and these halls are pretty strict
about getting on and off the stage so. Again, unfortunately, it just doesn't work. We did have fun
at a VH1 Classics jam session that we did in New York. We played each other's music and
that was fun. We jammed on some old songs and did each other's tunes acoustically,
unplugged I guess, and that was a good way to start the tour, it really was. Unfortunately I don't
think that they are going to air that because it was just sort of an informal taping and they didn't
even know that it was going to happen at that point but we all got together and played three
songs each, like, "Wheel in the Sky" and then we did "Blue Collar Man" and then "Keep on
Rollin'" and then we jammed on some Stones songs and it was pretty good. That certainly
broke the ice and like I said, I think that it was really a good way to get to know each other
before we actually set out on tour. Styx is out promoting a new record and we are interested to
see how they are going to do that.
DL Yeah, "Cyclorama."
JC Yeah, on Sanctuary. You see, we are at the point where we are going to kick back and see
what the next move is as far as our music is concerned.
DL Journey hasn't sign to Sanctuary, did you?
JC No, no but we are certainly interested to know what happens there because any time you
have a band of your ilk that does stuff like this you will want to sit back and see the results and
that is what we are doing. I know that there have been things where labels have given bands a
lot of money and the record companies haven't done so well because of the whole process that
goes on. I think that the answer is going to be, not a lot of front money, you don't take the
money up front, you just make the best product that you can and then the trade off is the
promotion. The days of front money are kind of gone, I think. That is fine too because bands
like us, we work for a living anyway, you know? It is nice to have a record company that
believes in you, that is more important than anything really. I think that all successful bands
realize that. Creed was a good example of that, I mean, look of the tremendous job that they
did for that band. That is quite an accomplishment for an independent label.
DL Why not release your own records directly to the public?
JC You have to look for the right company really because it takes and army to make it happen
DL It has to be doubly hard with the fact that no one ever retires anymore, everyone is
still out there and there are more and more new bands crowding the scene every day?
JC Yeah, there is a lot of music out there and it is available in every way. Every time you turn
around there is a new way to get it like this new Apple thing. You just wonder where it is all
going. It certainly has changed a lot, the strategy and stuff. You have to look at it all and say,
"What can we do to be a little different?" You have to reinvent yourself constantly but then to
what degree? At the end of the day this is what you are and that is the hardest part, where to
draw the line. The band Journey has always sounded like Journey because of the people
involved and we have managed to continue evolving. We are less of a Pop band now than we
were and I think that we have finally realized that we are a good Rock and Roll band and we
DL As you sit here in 2003 you are married and have kids and have success, is it a
completely different place that you need to draw inspiration from for a song as
compared to when you first started out in this business?
JC It is just the art of communication really. Take the song, "Walking away from the Edge," I
felt very strongly about those ideas and the idea of choice and being able to stand up to
demons and temptation and just the frailty of human nature. It is stuff like that where you really
feel that you have something to say and whenever I feel that I have something to say, that is
when I start writing. You recharge your battery and you wait but then when it is ready to come
out it is almost like grapes on a vine, when it is ready to come, it comes and that is where I am
DL Continuing on with the grape analogy, has their been a farmer that you have
worked with that helped you know when those grapes are ready for the picking?
JC I see what you are going for, good question, I guess that the thing that you would wonder
about is that when you are hot and you are really on a roll but then things just kind of come to
a halt, you wonder what would have happened if you just kept on going. You sit down and write
a song with somebody and it is a pretty good song and then that is it. You move on but you are
always thinking, "Well, what if we had taken that for another week? What if we hadn't
stopped?" I have had writing experiences like that and that is what I wonder about. "Could I
have dug a little deeper?" There is that sort of Lenny Kravitz thing, you know, "Once you dig in.
. ." that is probably the only time where I would say, "How much did I really have going on with
that guy? Was there more we could have done?" Certainly when you are on your own and you
are writing your own songs you get in that groove and something just says, "That is enough."
Or something comes up and you just have to stop and you go back and it is tough to find
where you were. I know that when I did a solo album back in '96 I just started writing songs
about who I am and then Steve Perry called me back into Journey and we did that. The whole
thing seems like a faded memory to me now. It is like, "Well, what ever happened to that
thing?" When you get into a mode and are focused, each time it is different and you write
different kinds of things.
DL For example?
JC Well, when I wrote songs for that album the songs were totally spiritual and heartfelt which
was different from some of the other things that I have written but I still loved them. People have
told me that they enjoyed them and that is what it is really about. I have been in smooth-Jazz
land for the last four or five years myself, God knows why I went there but there I am, and so it
was sort of a calling, the music calls you and you go. I played the piano until I was blue in the
face and did have a lot of fun and didn't have to worry about coming up with a hook or a lyric or
a this or that, it was coming right out of my heart and through the keyboard and that was a
great experience. I have experimented with a lot of different stuff. I wrote a Christmas song last
year for my daughter's school and had a lot of success with it. I always wanted to write a
Christmas song and now I have got one!(laughs) I think that it is a great song that could, some
day, be a standard. So, I am accomplishing little things that I have wanted to do. I recently did
a Disney tribute album. You know, growing up as a Dad I have sort of admired the movie tunes,
especially the animated love songs, they are classics and I spent the whole summer doing
that. When you have to watch "The Lion King" twenty times you end up falling in love with
some of this music so everything from "Cinderella" to "The Emperor's new Groove" is on there. I
really dug in and found some new things and it was a big challenge for me musically. It is not
all the same kind of thing and I think that it helps you grow and when you go back to what you
really do it is all fresh again.
DL Do you have a particular piece that you have struggled to finish over the years? A
piece or a project that you just have never really felt was complete enough to call it
JC I am sure there are a few lying around that I would have to go back and listen to. I rewrite
songs that I believe in constantly, over and over again, until they say something to me. In those
kinds of things it is like they just didn't hit me the first time but yet you say, "I have a great idea
here so I will go back and hit it again later." You know, great lyrics are hard to come by. It
seems to be the hardest part for me and I admire people like Stevie Nicks who can just whip
them out one right after the other. Don Henley is another one but then again I do hear the
stories about how they struggle too and they are just as bad as I am!(laughs) I like to complete
things, I don't leave a lot of stuff lying around. I stay on it and stay in the hunt so I work hard
and try not to let things slip away. I just found a song that I started writing with John Waite
about fifteen years ago and it was jut covered by Mickey Thomas of Starship, it was just a
demo for the Bad English record. So, you know, the beauty of that is that if it was never
finished then it would have never seen the light of day and I have got hundreds of songs just
sitting there. That is the scary part, you have these songs completed and done and no one has
recorded them and that is why I always go back to my solo records to at least get them out
there and give them a chance to be heard. My latest idea is that I think that I am going to do a
disco version of "Open Arms."
DL (Laughing) Seriously?
JC In Spanish! It is going to be like a Salsa thing, I think that it is going to be great. I woke up
one morning and thought to myself, "This could be a hit!" Mariah Carey recorded a version of it
in Spanish and it was this beautiful translation and so I have this new keyboard and it sounds
like a Disco box and I am going to stick it up and see if I can't get someone to demo it for me.
Don't be surprised if you hear it on dance radio.
DL I will dust off my disco ball immediately!(laughs)
JC We heard "Separate Ways" and "Who's Crying Now" already! That is the other thing, you
are constantly trying to keep your catalog rolling and hustle the songs that you have but you
have to make sure that they are being represented in all of the right places.
DL Music is a different kind of art form where people other than the original artist can
come along and change the artwork. I mean, you wouldn't think of anyone making a
living by painting over another artists canvas in some way, how do you feel about the
versions of your songs that have been done by other artists?
JC It is great. It is flattering. "Open Arms" has been recorded now by Colin Ray and Mariah
Carey and "Faithfully" has been recorded by a couple different Country artists and Faith Hill
sang it when she first came out and then it ends up on American Idol as well and sold 100,000
the first week! Cha-Ching!(laughs) Here I am beating my head against the wall and then I am
getting royalty checks so thank you very much! Yeah, you know, half the battle is just showing
up. Would "Open Arms" be a hit today? I don't know. Some of these songs that were hits back
in the day you have to wonder if they would have even seen the light of day today. I certainly
think that there were some great songs on "Arrival" that never even got looked at, why? What is
up with that?
DL No turntable guy in Journey!(laughs)
JC Yeah! I don't know but like I say, I am grateful and feel fortunate that I have had the career
that I have had and I look forward to seeing the next phase. You have to make the next phase
happen and be open enough when the time is right but for now we are happy to be out here
representing our catalog with two other fine bands. I miss my family, sure, but hey this is what
we do. The fans are cool and loyal and we thank them for that.
DL It has always seemed that you guys genuinely do care about the people who are
listening to and buying your music, the placards that you put up in front of shows
announcing who is playing in the band for instance, a lot of bands don't do that kind of
JC When you are coming out here and doing business you are selling a product and you are
representing a product and it would be like selling a cereal and not putting what is supposed to
be in it in the box. You have to be forthcoming in letting people know that Steve Augeri is the
singer for Journey and I don't feel any sort of thing like, it is a bummer that we have to do that. I
don't know what the word would be but I certainly don't want people to feel fooled. Here is the
flip side to what you just said, do you want people walking out and demanding their money
back? No, but they will if you are not forthcoming with what the trip is. I have been to see some
really old bands like The Platters and The Coasters and yeah, the originals are not there but do
I like it any less? I mean, the original guys are all dead!(laughs) Do I still like the music?
Absolutely! Are the Temptations still the bomb when they perform? Sure they are and do you
know why? Because they have a standard of excellence that was maintained on their records
and if you went to see the Temptations in Las Vegas I will guarantee that they will kick your
butt. That is their legacy. Will there be a Journey when we are all dead? I don't know but I can
only hope that our songs are still around. They have lasted this long so we will see but it is a
testimony to the energy of the whole thing and it is up to us, I guess, to steer the band in the
right direction. Back when I joined the band there was a high musical standard set by these
guys and I had always thought that Journey had a lot of soul for a Rock band. People will ask
me "Why do you think that Journey is still around?" and my answer is that we are a Soul band.
We are more than a Rock band, we are more than a Pop band. Soul, to me, is making music
that seems effortless, a sort of pure soul that you can hear in our records. When Neil plays the
guitar it is effortless and when Steve delivers a lyric it is just there, he sings from his heart and
that is Soul, to me. I think that Journey always had that. We had it on the records and I
continue to preach it out here with these new guys. We are a Soul band. When we all walk out
onto the stage I want Deen Castronovo and Steve Augeri to walk the talk and to represent an
R&B spirit and I think that is how we walk.
Neal Schon Interview (Source Uncertain)
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: June 13, 2003
Date of Original Publication: June 11, 2003
Neal Schon Takes Five
Songs and a secret from man on a journey
He was a musical child prodigy, soloing with Santana while still a teen. Guitarist Neal Schon, 49, went on to create Journey, a band as commercially successful as it was critically disparaged for ushering in the arena rock era. Not content to have his living room lined with gold and platinum albums, Schon co-founded Bad English and cranked out his own string of solo discs and collaborative projects with the likes of Jan Hammer. He kept returning to Journey, however, and is now leading the band on the road with support from Styx and REO Speedwagon. Pop music critic Gemma Tarlach spoke recently with Schon about how that wheel in the sky keeps on turnin' more than 30 years after he first set foot on stage.
Q. You've got the tour with Journey, the new EP "Red 13," a few solo albums in the pipeline and a supergroup spin-off, Planet S, with Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and others. What do you see as your most important project these days?
A. My main project is having fun every day. And living (laughs). But right now, my main musical project is Journey. I'm not done with it. I've got some great ideas about things I still want to do with the band.
Q. Great ideas? Like what?
A. It has to do with a DVD, and that's all I can tell you. The idea is so cool that I'm afraid if I tell anyone, someone else will get to it first. I want us to be first. We were the first band, you know, with a sponsor. Budweiser was our sponsor, and critics completely nailed us. Now, if you don't have a sponsor, people are like, "Why don't you have a sponsor? You must not be big." The EP is another experimental piece, musically and to test the waters on how we could distribute our music. I don't know about CDs anymore. I don't think anyone is selling many CDs anymore, unless you're on "American Idol." But I also wrote the four songs (on the EP) with a harder edge, something new to play live. Everything else we'll play are greatest hits fans know already.
Q. You're playing those greatest hits, night after night, year after year. How do you satisfy yourself creatively onstage while still giving the fans what they want?
A. You just try to play to the best of your abilities. Of course it's not as fresh as it once was. The audience keeps it fresh for me. They want to hear that, you give it to them. But I could do without playing those songs, believe me. From night to night, I play the same songs but never the same solos. I would have gone nuts a long time ago if I played every song the same every night.
Q. With Styx, REO Speedwagon and Journey all on the bill, what can fans expect at the show?
A. Full sets from all three bands. Styx and REO flip-flop who goes first and do 70 minutes each, then we close the show with an 80-minute set. When we go out by ourselves on the road we play 2 1/2 hours - that's easier, maybe not for (lead singer) Steve (Augeri) to sing, but for me to play. I get time to warm up. This way it's like being in a boxing ring. You get hit after hit after hit. You've got to come out swinging or else. We're also filming and recording every night of the tour.
Q. Really, every night, huh? Does this have anything to do with that DVD idea of yours?
A. (long pause) I really can't tell you. It's top secret.
Josh Ramos Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: July 1, 2003
Date of Original Publication: June 26, 2003
10 Questions with Josh Ramos (Ramos/Two Fires/The Storm)
Guitarist Josh Ramos is about to unleash his band, Ramos with their debut album due on Frontiers - a crackin' melodic rock album for the summer! He has also been involved with Two Fires & The Storm with Kevin Chalfant and appeared on last year's Hardline album. (Thanks to John at Cargo for passing the questions on)
> 1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)
Well, I,m just excited that my C.Ds all done, it was a pretty long year, anyway I,m starting to do shows with Kevin Chalfant, he recently acquired the name (The Storm) Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory and I gave him the permission to use the name for shows, we,ve been playing back east, Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana,etc, it,s been going really good.
> 2. What has been the highlight(s) and low point(s)of your career to date?
The high points have always been when I,m playing live, and recording and touring with The Storm, or Two Fires, or HardLine, the low points are when I,m not playing and everything is in limbo, that sucks
> 3. How did you first get into the music business? Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Well, first of all, I love music, and playing the guitar, I remember as a child going to church and listening to the guitar and bass, that was heaven to my ears, even before I started playing I knew that thats what I wanted to do in my life,be a musician, as I kept playing, refining my art, I started playing in bands, one thing led to another, my band LeMans out of Chicago caught the ears of Mike Varney, who,s responsible for discovering Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine, etc, he was putting together a 2nd Album of the best unknown guitarists, I got ahold of him and sent him a tape of my band, he liked what he heard and put us on the Album, then we moved to San Francisco and started opening up for major bands, I soon left LeMans and started playing locally around Marin County, a town north of San Fran, Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie,Carlos Santana, all these Rock stars that I looked up to live there, Neal would come and see me play.
Soon I joined The Storm, Gregg and Kevin were working on songs and they needed a guitarist to do the parts, I had worked with Kevin in The View, this other band that he was working with, I came down and laid down some guitar tracks on the song (Show me the Way) from the first Storm C.D,, Gregg loved the way I played, he said it reminded him of Neal, because we both play with a street feel, after a couple of weeks after recording my tracks I get a call from Gregg saying that we have a meeting with Beau Hill, vice President of Interscope records, and Herbie Herbert, Journeys Manager, I thought I was just helping Gregg and Kevin with there demos, but apparently they wanted me in the Band, so the rest is history, so basically Mike Varney, Kevin Chalfant Gregg Rolie, Herbie Herbert all had a hand in my success.
> 4. The new album Living In The Light, is just about to be released. When did you decide to go out under your own name and how did you assemble the line-up?
I,ve always wanted to record a solo C.D, it,s been a dream of mine for a very long time, finally after recording with Two Fires, Robert Fleischman, Hardline, I was ready to do my own thing and make my dream of recording a solo C.D a reality.
I knew I wanted to use Atma Anur on drums,he played in Journey for a while, I always use drummers that come from a fusion background, meaning progressive music, because they play with more excitement and play what I hear in my music, Russ Greene came from a Journey tribute band, so I knew he could play like Jonathan Cain, Micheal T Ross who I play in HardLine with played additional Keys, Stu Hamm, I was able to get because he sometimes plays with Atma, he had asked if he could play on my C.D, I could,nt beleive it, I was thrilled, Stu plays on (Tell me Why) and (Winds of Change)I love what he plays in the intro of that song,he,s an amazing player.
Scott Snyder, the bass player on the rest of my C.D is a friend and plays in the same band Accomplice as Micheal T Ross, he,s also a good player, and finally Mark Weitz, I started with a different singer but it did,nt work out with him, finally after many auditions I found Mark, actually during Mastering for the 2nd HardLine C.D the guy that was mastering the C.D suggested a friend of his that we should check out, he was right, Mark just blew me away, thats the kind of voice I pictured in my head when I was writing my songs, I,m really happy at the way everything worked out.
> 5. Could you take us through a few highlights on the new album please?
well, The fact that I have written and recorded my own ideas is a highlight, and all the things I have learned in the past, working with great producers like Beau Hill, and Nigel Green on the 2nd Storm C.D, as far as writing, what to play, and what not to play, and the fact that sometimes less is more, things like that.
> 6. Were you at all tempted to use Kevin Chalfant as the vocalist in Ramos or did you purposely want to create something different to Two Fires/The Storm?
Exactly, I wanted it to be different than both those bands, other wise it would have just sounded the same, I needed my identity and my creativity to come thru loud and clear, and it also helps to work with other people, can you imagine if actors always worked with the same actors, thats what I mean.
> 7. Will the Storm ever get back together again? I know many fans miss that band!
I know that Gregg Rolie is busy with his band who also includes Ron Wikso, the drummer in The 2nd Storm C.d, called The Gregg Rolie band, and Ross Valory is a full time member of Journey, that leaves Kevin and I, and like I said before Kevin and I are working in a different incarnation of The Storm. I would love to have that band together again, but I don,t think so, maybe if there was a huge outpour of fans out there wanting us to get together, and the money of course.
> 8. Two Fires what has been the highlight of the two albums released so far? Do you ever get frustrated that its almost impossible to take the band on tour or do you prefer being studio based?
YES, I get very frustrated at the fact that we have never toured, we,ve only played The Gods fest for those 2 years, I don,t know what happens, I always thought that when you release a C.D your record company helps you get a tour together to promote your C.D, but thats never happened with us, and then I read about all these other bands on tour in Europe, I just don,t get it, maybe someone out there can help us.
> 9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?
I live in a very beautiful area, the ocean is right there, I love to go on long drives and visit winerys and just enjoy life, I also do voiceovers, I,m trying to do some more of that kind of work too.
> 10. Message to your fans...
please live your life as if it was the last day of your life, take it all in, because it,s gone all to soon,hope to see you all someday on tour, Josh
Randy Jackson Interview with JoJoWright.Com
Date of Republication at Jrnydv.Com: July 5, 2003
JoJo: Ladies & Gentlemen in the studio...Randy Jackson
Randy: Yo, you, what's up party people, what's up.
JoJo: The deal with Simon and you, is it like a real tension or not?
Randy: Listen, we go in and out. I just talked to him on the phone, we're cool right now. But if he says something crazy, he's been saying a couple of crazy things that's kinda been getting on my nerves. He's got this whole weight thing going on.
JoJo: This huge show, American Idol, when you first started doing it, any idea it was going to be so massive, out of hand?
Randy: Dude, I never thought. I don't think any of us ever thought. We thought, let's do this show, we don't know, it might be cool. Could have a little fun, maybe, maybe not. We were really just kind of checkin it out and then, whoa, I guess the industry needed something man.
JoJo: The round of contestants you had overall, good talent in the U.S., weaker than you thought?
Randy: The first show I thought the talent was weaker than I thought it would be. I think better people came out this time, so I think, on the whole, talent's better this time but we saw 60,000 people.
JoJo: What's the most people you saw in one stop?
Randy: We would get to see the top 200 in each city and we had other associate producers go out and see a cross section of everything else.
JoJo: So some of those people we saw you guys talking to on tv that were really bad, they were in the top 200? Like that dude who was singing like Enrique?
Randy: Yeah, he was rough dude. He came back to L.A., can you believe that? He changed his hair, just moved it up. I was like d**n, what's going on?
JoJo: What was he thinking? How did he get in the top 200 though, hate to see 203!
Randy: I think...you've got to get a good cross-section.
JoJo: What about that chick that showed up singing "Baby Got Back"? It was entertaining...I don't know what was in her head
Randy: You know what it is, I think people come up and say 'listen, I need to be unique, I need to be different, I need to like wow the judges, you know. I need to do something hot.' And they think "Baby Got Back" is hot, I don't know where she lives, but whatever
JoJo listener Laura from Calabasas: What's the funniest thing that happened on American Idol off camera that we haven't seen?
Randy: Last night was pretty hilarious for me. After we finished taping the live show, this Mom came up to Simon and kind of cursed him out, let him have it. I think it kinda shook him for a second.
JoJo: Does he get that alot?
Randy: You know, he thought she was just coming up to say hi or whatever, but she kind of let him have it.
JoJo: After the auditions, especially after the first one when they didn't know what to expect in the auditions, things we don't see on tv, anybody ever try to dive across the table?
Randy: When we were in Atlanta and it was just Simon and I, I think there were quite a few people that were trying to maybe come at the table. In fact there was one dude I thought I was going to have to take out. He kept coming up to the table and we were like 'dude, back, back' and he kept coming closer with this angry look on his face.
JoJo listener Amber: I wanted to ask who you thought, without the wild card contestant, has a pretty good chance of winning American Idol?
Randy: I think its hard. I think we've seen some pretty good people. This week coming up is going to be good and I think there's going to be a lot of good wild card people. Of course, Ruben's definitely one of the favorite....but I think we'll see. I think somebody's still going to come out of the shadows that nobody thought was going to do it and make it happen.
JoJo: Who did you think was going to win it last year about this same time?
Randy: Well listen, we all had this thing going on, Simon & Paula always say 'no it didn't happen', when we were in Dallas I remember Kelly because we switched seats and I actually sang for her...I thought she was good and I thought she could definitely go all the way if she worked on her confidence 'cause she didn't have it when we first saw her. I thought her and Tamyra would definitely go all the way.
JoJo: Where is Kelly's project at right now? Where's the album at? It's way overdue
Randy: I think it's coming along pretty good. I hear that it's almost done. Her and Justin's been working on this movie in Miami; 'From Justin to Kelly', so that's almost done and I think they're working on the soundtrack from it.
JoJo: What's happening with Frenchie?
Randy: She's still with 19 Management which houses American Idol which is Simon Fuller's management company. I think they're going to take care of her and give her a deal. She's really good and I think she'll be fine
JoJo: That's cool
Randy: Yeah, I always say if you get that much exposure and you've got it goin' on, things will happen for you
(50 Cent's "In Da Club" finishes playing)
Randy: Love that 50 Cent
JoJo: Would you have signed him?
Randy: Definitely dog. 50's hot, 50, Dre, Eminem, come on how can you lose?
JoJo: This dude, not only is he on American Idol, big dude in the music industry. I'm just going to talk you up a little bit here. Responsible for signing a ton of people, working with Mariah - that's a huge name right there. What's going on with Mariah, what's your involvement with Mariah?
Randy: I produced about 4 songs on the new record and I've also been consulting for her forever and her musical director. When I was doing A&R at Columbia, I was an A&R guy for 3 or 4 records....now we're working on the next single which is "Bringing on the Heartbreak"
JoJo: And you've actually played in bands before, toured with bands
Randy: I've worked on like 1200 records - *NSync, Journey, Springsteen, Dylan, Elton John, Aretha, Celine
JoJo: What did you do with Elton John?
Randy: Played bass
JoJo: Did stuff with the *NSync fellas too?
Randy: Yeah, mostly on record 'cause I was a studio musician, like a session guy. Except for the Journey thing, I toured with the band and worked on the record for the last 3 years of the band.
JoJo: How did this American Idol thing happen?
Randy: A friend of mine, my agent, said 'hey listen, we're staring this show, the show is coming over here, you think you might be interested in doing it 'cause I know a couple of the guys on the show that you know so you should come and check it out.' And I was like 'dude, I can't do no tv dude. TV's all corny, cheesy, music never works on tv.' I went down and checked it out and met Fuller, Kyle, Nigel, all the guys and I really got on with them and really liked them and it sounded like it was something fun to do....I signed on baby, I'm happy, no regrets. I feel so blessed.
JoJo: Randy, thanks for hanging out. Everything good?
Randy: Dude, so good man, so good
JoJo: Raise your right hand and say 'I'm coming back to hang with JoJo before the end of the show"
Randy: 'I'm coming back to hang with JoJo before the end of the show"...I swear
Kevin Chalfant Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
Date of Original Publication: July 4, 2003
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: July 5, 2003
Kevin Chalfant is the vocalist with Two Fires, who have released two albums so far, the latest being 'Ignition'. He was also vocalist in the Storm, which also featured ex-Journey members Neal Schon/Ross Valroy/Greg Rollie and is a bit of a classic! He can also be heard singing on 'America Greatest Hits Live', the live CD just out by Jim Peterik & World Stage. A truly great voice.
1. What are you currently up to?
I have a new touring group called Two Fires. We are doing Midwest dates. You can keep up with Two Fires by visiting http://www.CliqueRecords.com I am also producing several new artists, Jenny Way, Aria Skye, JuJu Kings, and David Bowling.
2. Who were your influences?
Several: I must say that Herbie Herbert has left quite an impression on my musical carreer. He taught me that you are only as big as the effort that you put forward. Also, Gregg Rolie for showing me kindness and direction. Jim Peterik for helping me hone my writing skills. I have some other important people that I can credit for making a difference in my life. Lorretta Condon was my first grade teacher and neighbor. She taught me to sing at a young age. Dorothy Benckendorf for helping me grow closer to God. My wife Judy and my children Jayson Joel and Melinda for being my inspiration to keep movingforward.
3. Which band would you like to see reform?
The Original Storm.
4. The Storm is a classic album and rightly so. Are there any unreleased tunes? Any plans to re-release the CD with bonus material?
That has been discussed. There are unreleased tracks yes.
5. You do a great version of Survivor's 'I Can't Hold Back' on 'Rock America'. Who decided on who sang on what? Was this a one-off or are there possibly more shows in the future?
Thanks for the compliment. I told Jim which Survivor tunes that I liked and we decided together. Yes, I have a gig slated with Jim Peterik in October. I just spoke with Don Barnes of 38 Special a couple of days ago at his Ottawa Illinois show. He is a great guy. He is going to try to make that show as well.
6. How do you find time to write so many classic tunes? Have any ever been covered by other artists?
Thanks again. They come to me from outerspace, I guess. Cher has covered "Who Ya Gonna Believe" on her Love Hurts CD. Mickey Thomas covered "Keys To the City" on a greatest hits CD. Axe covered "Love Changes Everything" on a ballads CD. I like writing with seasoned writers, then taking them to the band already constructed for execution live or on record.
7. Any plans to bring Two Fires over to the UK/Europe? I would imagine it's cost that puts a lot of US bands off, although Z Rock and The Gods have been very successful with a large band line-up.
I enjoy Europe very much. I have participated in several godfest's. We came in 1999 and 2000. The problem is that the business has changed and it takes a promoter with deep pockets to make a show come off right. Lights, sound, travel, hotels, food and profits are needed to make such a trip possible. In the past, Godsfest would not pay groups for the show, just part of the travel and accommodations.
8. Who would you like to work with in the future?
Paul McCartney, Steve Smith, Jeff Beck, Gregg Rolie, Brian May, Jim Peterik, The Dream Team.
9. What was the last thing you read?
My ProTools Manual...why?
10. Message for your fans...
Fans are my most valuable resource. I can not stay in music for a day without "real fans". Real fans buys records and merchandise and come to shows. Listeners download for free. Real fans stay in the loop to support artists. Keep supporting your favourite artists, they need you...you know who you are!
Ricky Philips Interview with GetReadyToRock.Com
Date of Original Publication: July 4, 2003
Date of Publication at Jrnydv.Com: July 5, 2003
Ricky Phillips has played bass with the Babys (who also featured Journey's Jon Cain and John Waite) and Bad English, who had US top 10 singles and two great albums out in the late 80's/early 90's. He has also worked extensively with ex-Toto vocalist Fergie Frederiksen and appeared as session man on many albums (inc. Coverdale/Page).
1. What are you currently up to?
Learning material for a Ronnie Montrose tour in November, finishing mixes, learning keyboards for Creedence shows in New Zealand, writing songs for a couple projects, starting to write the score for a short film and pleading with my dog to stop digging holes.
2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?
Highpoints? Their are too many to list really. No bullshit... I feel very fortunate to have played and shared musical ideas with so many incredible musicians. All the guys in The Babys, Bad English and sessions with so many others. Playing and Creating music is its own reward and there is a silent brotherhood which comes as a direct result. I enjoyed talking with Jimmy Page about the old Yardbird days and wild adventures with Led Zeplin as much as I enjoyed the months we played music together. There are so many more great things that have happened to and for me as the result of my involvment with music that I am forever indebted. The only lows are when good things come to an end...and they all do.
3. The Babys - how did this band start out? What was the highlight of your time in this band?
Jonathan and I joined the band after they moved to the States from England. That was the first taste of success I had experienced with a recording band. We were constantly working, whether it was in the studio or on the road. We were a very close unit. The highlight was being on stage together. We rocked. .
4. You were a member of the 'supergroup' Bad English, which featured fellow Babys' member John Waite. Why do you think that Bad English had the success that the Babys didn't?
It could have been the record company or management or timing...probably a combination...hard to say. I think The Babys were much hipper than Bad English. Lets face it, although a killer band, Bad English was a flavor of the month band. It fit in with everything going on at the time while The Babys had its own little niche. Which went against the New Wave and Punk music of the time.
5. You did a very good album, that does get sadly overlooked, with ex- Toto singer Fergie Frederiksen. How did this collaboration come about?
I've actually done two albums with Fergie. The first was called Frederiksen/Phillips and the second was Fergie's solo album "Equilibrium" which I produced. Fergie and I had done a few unsigned projects together and enjoyed the camraderie. We were approached by Magnus Soderkvist to do a CD as a duo for Empire Records. We were both in between bands so it sounded like a great idea. I had been writing songs with no home for them and We'd been wanting the opportunity to do a CD together so this seemed perfect.
The Frederiksen/Phillips CD was a studio project for most people but Fergie and I have worked and colaberated together on material for 14 years. We still do. Remember there were some 20 musicians and singers who joined in on that record.
6. Any band you would love to play in? What artists would you like to work with still and who have you enjoyed working with most?
I wish I could have worked with Jimi Hendrix and Phil Lynott. They were very influencial in my twisted development.
7. You are currently producing and working with some new artists. Could you tell us some more about them and your future plans in this area?
I'm always looking for new artists.
8. Outside of business, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Golf has been a constant throughout my life. Walking on green grass and focusing on your game takes the world's troubles away for a few hours
9. The last thing that you read?
The warranty on my new NIKE driver.
10. Message for your fans...
Don't do what I do
Kevin Chalfant Live Interview with Jrnydv.Com
Interviewers: R. Gray, D. Golland
Date of Interview: August 7, 2003
Date of Publication: 02 September, 2003
Jrnydv.Com: What are some of the reasons behind your usage of the name The Storm?
Kevin Chalfant: Well, you know we have to go back to 1991. We (the band) had a list of our top 10 names and the band kept changing the list of top 10 names. One night, it was just one of those rainy Northern California nights, we had one of those huge storm fronts come in, and we were watching television. My oldest son, Jayson, said, "You know, Dad, what would be a good name for the band?" And I could hear the rain behind me, and as he said it, it gave me chills a little bit, because he said, "A good name for the band would be The Storm." And we didn’t have that on the list yet, but it was just weird because he said “the storm,” at that moment I looked up and heard a huge BOOM and saw lightning, and went, "Hmmm, that sounds pretty good!" So I got on the phone and called Gregg and it just kind of came to that.
Jrnydv.Com: So what do you plan to do now that you have the rights to that name?
KC: I don’t own the name myself, the partnership still owns the name; I have rights to use the name just for touring. You know, right now I have actually talked to the members about re-releasing the CD’s and maybe, if we can ever get on the same page, in the same town, maybe cut another track or two, that’s about the most we’ve talked about. But you know, doing it and saying it is a lot of times, you know, out of the way. I just felt it important to keep the name alive on the streets. We will also be doing tour dates as Two Fires.
Jrnydv.Com: Can we expect to hear a new Storm CD?
KC: Let me tell you this. I really doubt it right away, because as you can tell, and as Gregg said, his whole focus is back in Latin music, and you know what, the man doesn’t have to apologize. I respect him, I have so much admiration for him and he’s always treated me like a human being. I’ve been in bands with people that don’t treat you like a human being and I know the difference. So, you know, he really doesn’t have that desire right now to do a melodic rock record. After my set, on stage, I walked into his dressing room and he said "Man, I have a song I want to play for you." He said, "I know I’ve played this for you before, because I have a female version and a male version," and as he was telling me about it, I remembered the song—because you know, it’s funny, but "Show Me The Way" was actually an early 70's Journey song idea Greg had, that Steve Perry did not want to pursue. I mean he played the track and it was something that, I guess Steve just wasn’t interested in singing, you know? So we took the song that he had and we wrote this tune that ended up being "Show Me the Way." I don’t recall if "I’ve Got a Lot to Learn About Love" or “Show me the Way”—well, one of those came first, but those are the first two that we wrote as a writing team. Those two had the most radio success. Both of those songs were the biggest singles and I thought to myself, "Man, we’ve got to do some more writing," but it’s so far away from what we’re all doing right now, you know, it’s so easy for him to do Latin, what he’s doing. To do what I’m doing now, he’s really got to think about it and he’s married to his own group now, you know? Actually he’s—he’s—
Jrnydv.Com: He’s 82 now, right?
KC: (laughs) Yeah, he’s only 82! Well listen, Bob Hope went to 100, so he’s got 18 years left! He can do a lot in 18 years though. (Smile.)
Jrnydv.Com: Anyone who has heard of Clique Records can tell that you have a passion for producing new talent—like Patti Jo Timmons, Rhonda McAlpine, Little Bo & The Peeps. What new talent should we be looking for next from Clique Records?
KC: I have a young lady, who’s 19, her name is Jenny Way. Jenny has been accepted to Berklee School of Music in Boston, and we are working on her record now. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done, because it’s a lot of dance, jazz, and percussion, that kind of stuff, and it’s just taking some time, because one of the people that I’m working with on the record, Alby Odum, tours quite a bit with his group (he plays in a Christian band called Daniels Window).
Another project that I am doing is with a band called "The Other Side," and it’s really like a retro-70's record. It’s very cool.
Jrnydv.Com: You’ve produced a blues act called the JuJu Kings, would you ever consider performing or recording the blues yourself?
KC: Yes, my roots are in the blues. I’m actually negotiating right now about doing another Two Fires, or a solo album.
Jrnydv.Com: Do you think Josh would be up for it?
KC: Yeah, I’m sure he would be. I’m sure he would be. You know he’s got a new record—I’m not sure if it’s already out or soon coming out—but it’s really good and the songs and the singer really sound good, so I wish him the best. I also tossed another idea around a little bit, too. Actually I was talking to Herbie Herbert and he suggested that I record a traditional gospel and blues CD, and yeah, I haven’t done it yet, but that would be so cool.
Jrnydv.Com: Tell us about the young boy who passed away and the charity contribution you created on a CD as a tribute to him.
KC: It’s called “The Sum of Our Hearts.” I wrote that song with Jim Peterik. The song is about a little boy who lost his fight with a rare form of cancer. The boy was the son of these two people I grew up with in my hometown of Streator, Illinois. Their names are Peggy and Buddy Crouch. Their son Raleigh was only about 3 years old—I think he died like three days before his 4th birthday. It was really, really hard to see someone that young, that sick. It was shocking to imagine it. To go through that. But they are really strong people and they wouldn’t say they are, but they are, and they survived it and they have given birth to a little girl since then. Raleigh has an older brother, William, but the night that they laid him to rest, they got in the car and drove to the Rainbow Foundations Benefit for Raleigh near Chicago—And the night that he was laid to rest, they came. That was the hardest thing for them, but they came. The Rainbow Foundation had a banner made, and a local artist painted a portrait of Raleigh. I swear it was three-dimensional; it was like he was there in the room with us.
Buddy & Peggy totally had a good time that night, as strange as it may seem. They knew that this was in honor of their son. Some of the performers that came were Don Barnes and LJ of .38 Special, Jim Peterik of Survivor and Ides of March, Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger, Van McLean of Shooting Star (himself a cancer survivor), and others. They were dancing, and it was all for their son, in memory of their son, and you know, when you’re in the middle of performing, you’re trying to do your best—I was ill that night, as I recall; I believe I had a cold or the flu or something, but I remember them saying just how awesome it was. They were looking at the stage and singing—[sings “Rockin into the Night”]—and dancing, and the contrast was so bizarre to see and by the end of the night they were just partying, and they were so happy. I guess once it sunk in, that it was such an honor to have all these families dancing and singing on behalf of their son. Well, that really meant a lot to them. So that’s a reward that money can’t—I mean, you could have just sent them a $100,000 check, but it wouldn’t have meant as much, I don’t think, you know? I’m very proud of being a part of it.
Jrnydv.Com: Many of your fans are surprised to learn that a young man like yourself is a grandfather. First of all, congratulations! Secondly, what’s your favorite part about being a new grandfather, and has your new role influenced your music in any way?
KC: That sounds so funny, doesn't it? Geezer rock! Well let me tell you, my wife and I have been together—actually in January it’s been 30 years. We were just stupid kids out of high school when we got married, but we must have known something that everybody else didn’t know because everybody else said "no way," and they even tried to make it not work. But when we had our oldest son, Jayson, I think Judy was only 18 or 19 years old. We just literally talked about it, you know. It would really be cool, I know it wouldn’t really be any easier but it seems easier to have a family when you’re younger, so that when you have your grandkids, you can still play football with them and you’re not all tired out. We just flew out to California to visit a couple of friends of ours—and I kinda’ just joined the Alan Parsons Project to sing lead for some of his tour—so we went out there and stayed with some friends, and my wife, my daughter, and youngest son Joel went. We had one rehearsal on Friday night and then we did a show on Saturday—
Jrnydv.Com: Oh my Gosh!
KC: Yeah! That’s what I said! And so the whole time we were in Seattle, we were like shopping saying “Oh, wouldn’t Matthew look good in this,” and we were just turning into mushy old grandparents the whole time, but it’s great, you know. I was just thinking about this today. I know a lot of people in this business that gave up a lot, who thought they had to sacrifice their family, and you know, I don’t put people down because I’m only living for my own life, or whatever, but I think that has actually been the strength and backbone of my entire life and career. You know, with this career you’re in, you're out, you’re in, you're out. The first album I recorded that was released by a major company was in 1981—that was 707—and then The Storm in 1991, and then we started doing the Two Fires thing in 1999, and then we had done stuff in 2000 and 2001, and I just said, “You know, I can still sing a little bit, I want to get out there and do something with it,” so that’s why we started the label and the band up again—I mean it’s not really a label, but it’s a family of people that kind of like working together and we know when it’s time to come together. I still have to do the daily trench work of getting the guys together and you know—I love that—because sometimes I've got so much work to do that I sit down in a chair and say “Oh man, I can’t keep doing this,” but then the song comes out and then it’s all worth it.
My grandson is Matthew Kevin. He’s two-and-a-half, and he loves to hear grandpa’s records all the time too. Good kid, with good ears too, huh? (Smile.)
My parents worked at Owens Illinois Glass Container Factory, and actually that town, Streator, was the glass container capital of the whole entire world, from the ‘40s through the ‘70s. I don’t live in Streator now. I live about 10 miles from there, in Grand Ridge, where my wife is from. We purchased her grandmother’s house, when she passed away while we were in California, and basically, you know, things changed and we returned to Illinois and built a new house and recording studio.
It was just time for us to move on. Both of my boys were born in Illinois, in Streator actually, and my daughter was born in Vallejo, California. So she really didn’t know our family. We would call people in California “Aunt” and “Uncle,” you know? So we just got to a place where we just wanted her to know who her real blood people were.
Jrnydv.Com: You mentioned that you are working with The Alan Parson’s Project?
KC: Well, I did a show last fall, with Jim Peterik at the World Stage, and Johnny Van Zant was supposed to be there, but he had to cancel at the last minute Alan flew in to round out the show. Alan asked me if I would like to do some shows with The Project and I said Yeah!
Jrnydv.Com: Why aren’t YOU the lead singer of Journey right now?
KC: You know, there’s a lot of people asking that question, but I can’t tell you the reason. I did a Thunder Road benefit with them in San Francisco in ‘94, and it was a Herbie Herbert Roast, to benefit inner city kids. But I mean, you know, I love those guys, and for whatever reason they make their decisions, I have learned to live with it. I mean, if you want to keep your friends, don’t judge them. I won’t say anything bad about Journey, because they’ve only been givers to me, and really the first guy in Journey that I met when I lived on the west coast was Jonathan Cain. In 1981, he was working with Keith Olsen with his (then) wife, Tané, and when Tané got sick with a sore throat or something, Keith produced our 707 single “Megaforce” and that’s where I met Jon. Jon and I became good friends, so I visited the band on the road for a few shows, and in time I started meeting the others. I ran into Gregg Rolie probably two or three times in the mall and stuff, and he’s the most open, lovable guy. I mean you can just walk up to him and start talking and he’ll chat with you.
So, I guess there may have been a conspiracy. After I met Ross, and Ross was kind of removed from the band that he actually helped form, he started introducing me to all of the friends of the Journey family. I think indirectly there was a conspiracy for Gregg and I to start working together because I was getting invitations from Herbie and from some of the guys to come to 49er games to sit in the box, so I said Okay, and “Hey, there’s Gregg again” and “Hey there’s Gregg’s brother,” and “Jim is that you?” “Hey, go Niners!”
You know, we had a great time and to make a long story short here, we did the show and it was to honor Herbie, and I love Herbie, I would throw myself over a mud puddle for Herbie, and I’ve said it many times. And I know there’s a lot of fans who don’t like Herbie and there’s a lot of fans that love Herbie, but what he did to launch that band—I mean, when you’re in the trenches with him to learn what he did and how hardly anybody else even knows what to do compared to what he did—I just really admire him and so I wanted to do the gig because I felt I owed him that honor. The Storm played that night and then the guys said, “Well, Steve [Perry]’s not showing up for the gig,” and well, it’s always been Herbie’s dream to have all of the players get together and play again, and I said, “Are you kiddin’ me? YES!” And I would do it again today!
But just to be asked was honor enough. But then when I got into the rehearsals, well it was amazing. It was surrealistic. I mean I just moved from little Illinois, to the big California city, and now a gig on stage singing with Journey—wow! How cool is that!
I’ll share one other thing with you. A lady had told me once about dreams and I actually claimed a dream that I was performing with Journey. And Honest to God, when I was on stage with them, I was back in that dream. I know it sounds bizarre, or a really weird thing, but I was standing there and I saw Neal walking towards me, and Ross, and that was what I claimed several years prior. This was like years—probably like 10 or 11 years before it happened, honestly. I am still waiting for the Paul McCartney dream to happen. (Laughter.) It’s gonna’ happen! I just know it’s gonna’ happen! (Laughter.)
I didn’t add this part but really, I became a Christian and there are times when I fall flat on my face. In the past, I have let anger get the best of me. People have asked me “Wow, how did you get that voice and who did you train under?” And really, you know, God gave me this talent and I recognize this talent, but I don’t claim the talent as my own. Before I go on stage, I pray that I will not make a fool of myself. It’s a talent that He gave me for His purpose, whether it’s to help me or my family or to help other people through a tough times. That is the soul in my voice.
[At this point Mike Carabello (Gregg Rolie Band, founder of Santana) walked into the room]
Carabello: Hey, Kevin! Be sure to let them know you learned everything you know from me, okay?
KC: Hey, I was just getting to that! I was just talking about God! (Laughter.)
Jrnydv.Com: To continue with what you were just saying, we just interviewed Josh and the common thread here seems to return to religiosity in music. In your position as a producer, would you consider producing a Christian rock act?
KC: Well actually I have produced three bands like that. My keyboard player that plays with the band live, his name is Chuck Giacinto, he and his wife Lynette, who was here tonight, have a band called Final Quest. A Christian pop and rock act. We’ve worked together in the studio quite a bit.
Then I have another group that I worked with Brent & Casey Mitchell and that band is called Forever Sunday. They’re a man and wife team. Both groups tour together as one big crusade.
Another artist is David Bowling and his group 7 Eyed Stone, a Christian Alternative band. David is a young John Lennon.
I don’t finance projects, they finance their own projects, because then that brings in respect and commitment, and I know that you’re putting your heart in it, because when you put your money on the line—I mean, I’ve helped people and I’ve offered to help bands from all over the country and there have been people who have come and gone. I had a band once from Germany and I really got burned by them. I think that they thought Germany was way far away from here or something.
Jrnydv.Com: What do you think of Journey today? Do you miss Steve Perry?
KC: I’m not going to say this in a negative light, or in a positive light, but people wonder why Steve Perry doesn’t want to do anything—but you know what? He’s been so verbally abused—and I mean I’ve said this many times: I don’t know what Steve’s impression of me is, or what he thinks of me, but I only have admiration for the guy and I’ve met him two or three times and he’s never ever said a single word to me, you know? Journey is still an awesome band and Steve Augeri works his butt off up there, but yes, I do miss Steve Perry. Many people have compared me to Steve Perry, but I will say that if you go to Streator, Illinois and ask people “Does Kevin Chalfant sound like Steve Perry?” Well, they will probably say that Steve Perry sounds like Kevin Chalfant! He —Perry—definitely got out of the blocks a lot earlier than me, and I admire him a great deal. I didn’t have the intention of joining his band. I moved out and joined another band, and things happen, you meet people and one thing leads to another—they saw an opportunity and I saw an opportunity and we both just took advantage of that. But there’s a lot of people that miss that guy, and I’m one of them.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that in all due respect, I am not going to say anything negative, but when I go to the Journey shows—I miss Steve Perry up there. I mean, I know these guys and I love ‘em like brothers. I just saw them in Chicago and I thought they sounded the best I’d heard them with Steve A. to date. I mean they seemed to really be gelling as a band again, and Steve Augeri is finally finding a place for himself in the sound. He’s a sweetheart and I love the guy, but I have to be honest—there’s times when I’m listening and I go, “hmm?” I mean, come on, Steve [Perry] wrote it, Steve Perry sang it, and he just does “himself” better. Maybe I am just too close to the fire and maybe no one else sees it or hears it like I do. I probably couldn’t do it any better than Steve A, so why be so critical. Well, Journey is not just one of those fly-by-night rock bands. They are probably America’s version of the Beatles. Try touring the Beatles without Lennon or McCartney. It just isn’t the same. I know it and the band knows it too. I guess at their stage in the game, they have to weigh out their options. Tour without Perry or not tour… that is not a hard decision. Steve Augeri is a talented guy. He is giving it his best. I credit him with that. I don’t know if I should even go there, I don’t know if I really should be saying this stuff. It isn’t my place to say any of this. You asked me for the truth in my mind and there it is. You know that I love you guys!
Jrnydv.Com: What’s it like having worked with members of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame? Do you think you’ll ever become a member yourself?
KC: You know, I remember when we were writing the second Storm album, when Gregg and I went out riding around in his Camaro and we would drive, and drive, and drive until we would come up with stuff, and it was funny because—and he’ll remember this, he’ll remember—I said, “You know something, Gregg? I just thought of something,” and he said “What’s that?” And we were driving along and I said, “I’m riding in a car with a future Hall of Fame member.” Gregg cocked his head back and said, “I thought we were writing songs,” and I said, “Well, stop and think about this a minute”—this is when his kids were really young—and I said, “Imagine this, Here’s Sean and his wife years from now at the Hall of Fame,” and they walk up and Sean says, “Hey look kids! See, there’s grandpa right there. That’s when Grandpa was really huge in the music business. Now, he’s in the Hall of fame.” Well, we both had tears in our eyes; we were both tearing up and Gregg says, “What the heck are you trying to do, make me wreck the car?” But years later, when Gregg went into the Hall of Fame, my wife and I found out the hotel they were in and we sent him flowers and I wrote up a poem for him. [Kevin choked up a little here.]
You know, people don’t have the right to judge other people’s lives—they only have the right to judge them on their musical ability. But if they ever have a new category to get into the Hall of Fame, like “Sang with way Too Many Bands,” or something like that, well, I’ll be a shoe in, a dead ringer—and I’ll take that! (Laughter.)
Jrnydv.Com: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the our readers?
KC: Can I end by saying that everyone has their own opinion, about everything. We make decisions and then we live with them. Journey doesn’t seem to be complaining about their lives too much, do they? Live and let live.
Jrnydv.Com: Thanks very much for taking this time out with us, Kevin. It was a true pleasure to speak with you.
Josh Ramos Live Interview with Jrnydv.Com
Interviewer: D. Golland
Date of Interview: August 7, 2003
Date of Publication: August 30, 2003
Jrnydv.Com: You have a new album out right now called Living In the Light. Tell us a little bit about that.
Josh Ramos: Well, it’s my first solo album, and I’ve been wanting to do a solo CD for [a long time], I mean, since the beginning of the Storm I always wanted to do that, and now this is a good chance. I went to Serafino from Frontiers Records, I asked him if I could do a solo CD and he goes, "Well, finish the Two Fires CD Ignition first, and then after that we can discuss a solo CD," so that’s how it happened.
Jrnydv.Com: How’s it working out for you so far?
Josh Ramos: Great, I’ve been doing interviews from Spain, Sweden, and you know, France, all those…all those places…
Jrnydv.Com: : Do you anticipate more popularity for it in Europe than in America?
Josh Ramos: Yeah, because really there are no [American] radio stations playing this stuff, I mean even Journey has a new CD out and I’ve never heard it on the radio, you know, and it’s too bad that radio has to be the way it is in the United States, you know? I mean there’s so much money put into an artist, they just pump that artist and they buy airwaves and they buy magazine ads and everything like that. But for people like me, who are trying to put something positive out, well, it’s pretty hard because we have to go to Europe and Japan to be heard and continue with what we’re doing.
Jrnydv.Com: There appears to be a real religiosity in your lyrics.
Josh Ramos: Yes, very much so, and when I write music, I like to write something that makes people think, to touch a person whether it be a guitar solo, or something that I said, or just anything. My main focus is just to touch something inside, to come from the spiritual side of it. I wanted to write something powerful, something that people can learn from and—you know, maybe say “Oh yeah, I’ve felt that way before,” or “I know what he means by that” or just something that can maybe open up their minds in some way like that.
Jrnydv.Com: Now that you and Kevin are using the name The Storm, what can we expect your input to be, and can we expect another Storm CD?
Josh Ramos: You know I don’t think so, because The Storm basically was Gregg, Kevin, me and Ross, and I mean we had different drummers, we had different members of the band like Ron Wikso, but the nucleus of the band has always been, you know, Gregg, Kevin, me and Ross. Ross is with Journey now, Gregg is, of course, doing his Latin thing, and he’s really, really into that, so that leaves just Kevin and I, and we had been performing under the name The Storm for some shows, with different musicians. But we used the name so we could get some bookings and get some show happening and all that, but I really don’t think that there’s going to be a third CD unless there is, of course, someone that had incredible money and stuff that would be willing to say, "Hey listen, I’m going to flip the whole thing, I’m going to give you guys blah blah blah— maybe. But right now, I don’t think so.
Jrnydv.Com: In that case, you’d want to get Gregg and Ross back into it?
Josh Ramos: Yeah. Definitely. Well, basically, Ross yeah, but I mean, yeah just even Gregg and Kevin and me would suffice and stuff, that would be the best, you know, if nobody else could be in it, at least we could do it without Ross and I guess we could just get somebody else.
Jrnydv.Com: I’d imagine if Gregg were doing it, you’d have Ron?
Josh Ramos: Yeah, yeah....
Jrnydv.Com: But we shouldn’t be holding our breath for any of that, right?
Josh Ramos: Right, exactly.
Jrnydv.Com: I’d like to just get some more background info on you. You’re from the west coast originally?
Josh Ramos: Originally, I’m from Chicago.
Josh Ramos: I was born in Puerto Rico and came here [Chicago area] when I was a little kid and lived here, and that’s where I started playing guitar. I had bands here, I had a band called "LeMans", with another guitar player—Derek Friga, who was in a band called "Enough’s Enough," and we put something together and Mike Varney heard us on the west coast and he wanted to put us on a compilation CD that he had and then after that we recorded a whole album and then most of the band ended up moving to San Francisco and doing shows out there. But yeah, that’s where I live now, and actually that’s where the Storm started too, out there...
Jrnydv.Com: Because you had already been living out there?
Josh Ramos: Right, Kevin was living there, Gregg was living there, yeah.
Jrnydv.Com: Do you consciously pattern your musical style after Neal Schon?
Josh Ramos: Not necessarily. He was one of my influences as a kid. I used to love Santana and Neal, and I started out listening to him, I mean I don’t sit down and practice his licks, I just really listen to what he’s doing and then I incorporate some of it into what I do, but I have so many other guitar players that are just like, Gary Moore, Holmesworth, and I am influenced a lot by a lot of different guitar players.
Jrnydv.Com: Do you come from a musical family?
Josh Ramos: Not really, no. I am the only guitar player. I actually come from six brothers and four sisters, but the closest brother to me, we started playing guitar together but he stopped, and I just kept going. I mean, at an early age I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, just play. Yeah.
Jrnydv.Com: Tell us about the song “Magic.”
Josh Ramos: "Magic" is about life, and you could acquire millions of dollars and cars and women and mansions and all that, but at the end of your life when you’re on your deathbed, what is it that you really want to take with you, you know what I mean? It’s love.
Jrnydv.Com: You’re lucky when you have it.
Josh Ramos: Yeah! So that’s what that whole song is about. Do you have the CD—I mean, have you heard it?
Jrnydv.Com: Yeah, Frontiers Records sent us a demo. What do you think would be the most important thing you’d like to tell your fans that is not in your bio?
Josh Ramos: Just that, you know, life is very, very important and very special and we’re all very lucky to be invited to this planet and to live in this world, whether it be music or art, or anything else, it could be something beautiful. Everybody has a life but somehow people want to be remembered in some way, and to leave something that is meaningful and everlasting... basically that would probably be the thing.
Jrnydv.Com: Well, Josh Ramos of the Storm, Two Fires, and currently of—the Storm, thank you very much. Looking forward to seeing you again out on the road.
Josh Ramos: Thank you very much.
Ron Wikso Interview with Jrnydv.Com
Question Writers: D. Golland and R. Gray
Date of Publication: August 17, 2003
1. The last time we spoke, you said it was unlikely that you and Gregg would be doing anything with The Storm because you were focusing on the Gregg Rolie Band. But you also said, “…if a really good opportunity presented itself, then maybe we would [do something again with The Storm].” Now, as you know, Kevin is using the name of The Storm. Would you consider doing something with The Storm at this point?
Well, again, to quote myself "if a really good opportunity presented itself, then maybe we would..." The thing is though, what is a really good opportunity? The answer is pretty self-explanatory - a lot of money to make a record, do a tour, make some music for a soundtrack or whatever - but what are the odds of something like that being offered to The Storm, a band that, unfortunately, only had a moderate amount of commercial success and is not really that well known?
If you consider the difficulties that bands from that era are encountering in the current marketplace, most of whom have much more established names than we ever did, you can see that it's not terribly likely. And that doesn't mean that I don't think we were good enough, it's just the way it is in this ridiculous business. In fact, I think that, in many ways, we were as good or better than a lot of other bands that achieved more commercial success. It's just that the timing wasn't right for us and we never got the amount of publicity and money put into us that some other acts got.
A lot of people have told us things like "Eye Of The Storm" was 'the record Journey SHOULD have made' (in reference to their comeback album, "Trial By Fire"), inferring that it was way better than their record. Some of the people who said that were people who were very well respected in the music business and who even have a fair amount of power...several of them know, or have done business with people from both bands. It was also reflected in a lot of reviews that I saw on the internet and other places. I personally know someone who wanted to play it for one of Journey's current managers (who they happen to have a relationship with) so that he could hear the difference and compare it to what they considered the sub-par Journey material that has come out in the last several years. The point is that, because they're Journey, they can get away with more and still get it out to the public in a bigger way than we could with The Storm, simply by virtue of the name they established for themselves which, of course, was no small feat and well deserved after all the years of touring and recording they had done.
In the end it's all just opinions and hype anyway. There's an old saying - 'opinions are like ***holes...everyone's got one'. But that doesn't mean that everyone is necessarily entitled to an opinion on every subject, even though everyone thinks they are. For example, what's your opinion on Nuclear Fission? Maybe you're an expert on the subject but I sure as hell don't have one, nor am I entitled to one, because I don't know a damn thing about it! And neither do most people.
So many people have opinions about bands, their members, what they're like, how the music is made etc., but they have no clue regarding any of the facts or behind the scenes BS that goes on that they never hear about. They meet someone once, hear them give an interview or go to their concert and think they know them. How can you take those opinions seriously? Oh well, I guess it's just the way it is.
Some people like certain bands or artists no matter what they do or what they put out. I'm sure there are lots of Journey fans who would go ga-ga for their version of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" but you'd really have to question that if you were being at all honest. It's weird because, with music and the arts (TV, Film etc.), everybody has an opinion and it's not necessarily based on any kind of defined degree of excellence or quality. Lots of times it's just because they like the artists sense of style or whatever and it has nothing to do with talent.
At least in sports, you can set yourself apart to some degree by actually being the best. You know, Pete Rose got the most hits in history of baseball. Period. Love him or hate him, it's an indisputable fact. It's a lot tougher in music. Most people agree that The Beatles were the most influential band in Rock & Roll history but there are plenty of people who don't agree. And there's no changing their minds.
I'm obviously somewhat biased but, even so, I would have to agree with the assessment that "Eye Of The Storm" was a better album than a lot of what Journey has put out since their comeback, taken solely on merits. For that matter, I also think that "Roots" and "Abraxas Pool" are way better than most of what Journey or Carlos Santana has put out recently...and I like a lot of it, especially some of what Carlos has done. Bottom line is though, the name "The Storm" does not carry the same weight as the name "Journey" and I believe that if you did a blind, completely unbiased listening test between "Eye Of The Storm" and "Trial By Fire", never having heard material from either band and not being told who was who, "Eye Of The Storm" does stand on its own merits. If it had been released in 1986 instead of 1996, it might have been a whole different story for The Storm as a band but it's too late for that. Oh well...
Anyway, getting back to the original point of your question (sorry for going off on a tangent like that!), of course I would consider doing something with The Storm if it was really worth considering but, as of yet, nothing like that has come along and Gregg and I are really enjoying the work we're doing with the Gregg Rolie Band, which is taking up most of our focus at this point.
2. Are you a part-owner of the name "The Storm?"
Yes, the name is owned by the 5 band members (me, Gregg, Kevin, Ross and Josh) and whatever business there is to deal with as it relates to us, is taken care of by our manager, Scott Boorey. We all had to sign something allowing Kevin to use the name on a limited basis.
3. I understand that you were supposed to be the original drummer for Bad English. How did you first meet John Waite, Jonathan Cain and Ricky Phillips, and how is it that you were replaced by Deen Castronovo in that band?
Well, this was a bit strange but, essentially what happened is, Ricky Phillips (who is a friend of mine) called me to ask if I'd be interested in playing with the band (it wasn't even called Bad English yet - I think they were considering the name Full Circle - in fact, I'll bet I still have the original demo tape that we started working from) and he invited me to San Francisco to play with them while they auditioned guitar players. I guess this was technically my audition too but I was the only drummer there so I played with all the guitar players that were auditioning. The guitar players that auditioned, over a period of 2 days, were Dave Amato, Stef Burns, Pat Thrall and Andy Timmons.
After that happened, they chose Andy as the guitar player and it was decided that the band would move down to LA to begin rehearsing for real. The band that started rehearsing in LA was John Waite, Jonathan Cain, Ricky Phillips, Andy Timmons and me. We were working in a studio in North Hollywood, having a good time, hanging out at Casa Vega after rehearsal and all was going well.
I had to go back to New York for a friend's wedding one weekend and, when I returned, I was informed that Neal Schon had been calling and was 'interested in the project'. This was AFTER he had already turned down being involved because he was working on a solo project. I guess, when he realized the solo project wasn't really taking off, he reconsidered being involved (i.e. he was bored and needed something to do). Of course, the management company thought it would be great to add him to the band because of the name recognition he brought from his days with Journey (there would now be 2 ex-Journey members and 3 ex-Babys members) so he jumped on board, replacing (and kind of shafting) Andy.
The other thing that I found out was that Neal wanted to work with a drummer that he knew, and that turned out to be Deen Castronovo. I wound up having to go down to the studio and get my equipment out of there after Andy and I were fairly unceremoniously relieved of what we thought was our new gig. Then, to add insult to injury, they decided they weren't quite sure about Deen and asked me to come back and play with Neal. As I recall, they also asked several other guys to come and audition at that point but they eventually settled on using Deen in the end.
It's water under the bridge now but, at the time, it was a bit of a drag. In the end though, it probably worked out a lot better for me because I went on to do quite a few other things that I probably wouldn't have done if I'd wound up staying in Bad English.
I'm still really good friends with Ricky (in fact, I'm working with him this week on a project) and I think Deen's a great guy (I got to know him a little bit after all of that stuff happened) and a great drummer so at least they didn't replace me with a hack!! :-)
4. Did the connections that got you involved with Bad English play any role in your getting called to audition to replace Steve Smith in The Storm?
No, my only connection to Bad English was Ricky. My being called to audition for The Storm came about from a number of other sources. I was originally referred by Pat Torpey (drummer for Mr. Big, who was managed by Herbie Herbert) and I believe Steve Smith also put in a word for me (I knew Steve somewhat because I used to share a house with a bass player named Tim Landers, who was the original bass player with Vital Information and a childhood friend of Steve's).
I also got a referral from Mickey Curry (drummer for Bryan Adams) who, when he heard I was up for the gig and he knew that The Storm was going out as the opening act for Bryan Adams, called Bruce Cohen (Bryan's manager) to tell him he should call Herbie and tell him to hire me! :-) That was really funny because Scott Boorey called me and said "who do you know that you could get a referral like that?!!".
I also heard that Deen put in a word for me too. I'm not sure if that's true and I'm not even sure how that would have come about but, if it is true, maybe he felt like it would be a nice thing to do after the whole Bad English debacle...I don't really know.
5. What (if anything) would you like to say about current or former members of Journey?
The only guys I know fairly well are Gregg Rolie and Ross Valory. Gregg is one of the greatest guys you could ever want to meet. He's really honest and straight-forward, extremely talented as a singer, keyboard player and songwriter and he's as soulful as they come, playing his music with honesty, passion and heart. I've had the great pleasure to get to know him over the last 13 years and I consider him a good friend as well as musical collaborator and business partner. He's been one of the bright spots in my life and career.
Ross is also a really good guy. He's really funny, in a wacky kind of way and he's great to have around because he keeps things pretty light-hearted. It was a blast touring and recording with him in The Storm.
I only know Steve Smith somewhat from the times he spent at the house I shared with Tim Landers and some other chance meetings (we're both Sonor Drum endorsers, we both played at Herbie's roast etc.). From what I know of him, he's a nice guy and I do think that he's one of the best drummers I've ever heard, from the standpoint of versatility and sheer ability.
I don't know Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Robert Fleischman, George Tickner, Aynsley Dunbar, Mike Baird, Larrie Londin, Bob Glaub, Randy Jackson, Praire Prince, Deen Castronovo or Steve Augeri (did I miss anyone?!) well enough to make any kind of comment on. I've played with some of them, met most of them and I've heard a lot about some of them from Ross Valory, Gregg Rolie, Herbie Herbert, Scott Boorey, Ricky Phillips and quite a few other people who do know them but I'm not about to go into any of that here...I'd be here all day!
6. What (if anything) would you like to say about Herbie Herbert?
I have nothing but respect and admiration for Herbie. I think that what he says, especially when it comes to all things Journey, is usually pretty right on. He's a brilliant guy, an incredible businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur and opportunist, he loves music and he's passionate about it. He's made a lot of things happen in this business and he's done well by a lot of people.
From what I know, he was as passionate about Journey as anyone ever could have been and, if it weren't for him, I don't think they would ever have gone as far as they did, regardless of how much talent they may have had (and they obviously had plenty). In this business that is not the only necessary ingredient and in fact, it could be argued that it's not even a necessary ingredient at all (just look at acts like Milli Vanilli).
He was the driving force and anyone who has ever benefitted from his leadership and business savvy should consider themselves extremely lucky. I've heard that from many people, including Gregg, Ross, Pat Torpey and others who have continued to benefit to this day, from what he set up.
7. What would you like to say about Gregg Rolie?
Well, I pretty much answered this one earlier but again, great guy, great talent, great friend. Everyone should be lucky enough to know him and it amazes me when people have been that lucky, don't value the friendship, partnership and sincerity of guys like him and Herbie.
8. What are the three rules of being in the Gregg Rolie Band?
1. If you're an ***hole, you're fired.
2. No band meetings. If we have to call a band meeting, it means the band is over.
3. I can't remember the third one...I'll have to ask Gregg what it is! :-)
As you can see, it's pretty loose in our band, especially when I can't even remember the third rule! I mean, how hard is it to remember three rules? That's pretty lame of me I guess, huh?!
Anyway, we're in this to have fun, make some great music and convey those feelings to our audience. It is not a chore, it's not boring and nobody is forcing us to play. We don't get pissed off for no reason and take it out on our crew or each other. We love what we do and, from everything we've heard from the people who've come to the concerts, it shows when we play. Life is hard enough so we don't want to make this a drag...especially Gregg, who really could just retire if he wanted to.
This is about doing it for the love of it...it's the real thing. It's what we all started playing music for in the first place. The band is like a freight train and we really dig making it go. Imagine what it would be like if we ever practiced or played a whole bunch of shows in a row so we could get tight!! :-)
9. Tell us about the experience of co-producing Roots.
Well, it was fantastic...in fact, as Gregg will tell you, I instigated the whole thing! Gregg and I had a lot of fun making the record and it was a very creative process. We did it at our own pace and we experimented on various things. It was also a great learning experience for me in the sense that I had the feeling that I was learning about some of this music from one of the main guys who was responsible for creating the original sound of Santana (as well as Journey).
A lot of people forget that the original Santana was a band of equal guys. It wasn't just Carlos and a group of sidemen working for him. In fact, many of the people who were around then will tell you that Gregg was really the leader of that band and, in making Roots, I got to see how intimately he knows that music, along with some of the influences that he brought from his days with Journey and The Storm.
I think it's really evident, when you compare "Roots" to a lot of the current Santana stuff, that Gregg was WAY more responsible for the sound of Santana than he's ever been given credit for. I mean, if you look at the last 2 Santana records, all Carlos did, for the most part, was play guitar. On "Roots", Gregg wrote the songs, sang the songs (lead and background), played keyboards, produced the record, helped mix the record and even helped engineer the record. A lot of people think it's a better record too but, again, we don't have the Santana name, the big publicity machine and all those promotional dollars behind us.
10. Now that "Roots" has been out for two years, is the Gregg Rolie Band looking to go back into the studio again? If so, will you co-produce again?
Well, we're just concentrating on the live thing at the moment, which takes plenty of energy and is a bit more important to us in terms of being able to sustain the band for a number of years.
Essentially, as far as "Roots" is concerned, we still consider it to be new in a sense. There are a lot of people who still haven't heard it (it's not like we got a ton of record company support or radio airplay!) and we still sell a lot of them at the gigs because people seem to really like the tunes from "Roots" that we play in the live show. Given those things, there really is no reason to do a new one at this point. It would just cost us a lot of money, time and effort to make and then we'd have 2 records that weren't getting played on the radio! :-) It's a sad state of affairs in the music business, isn't it?!
Anyway, although we have not talked about it at this point, I imagine that, if we were going to make another CD, we'd probably do it in a similar way so I suppose there is a good chance I would co-produce it with Gregg again...you never know!
11. The move back into the latin rhythms is definitely Gregg's "Going Home." Where does your musical Journey fit into that? Had you planned on playing this sort of music at this point in your career, or is it just where your friendship and collegiality with Gregg has taken you? A combination of both, perhaps?
I suppose it's a combination of both. I have played latin influenced music before (I went to Berklee College of Music and I've played a lot of different styles, including Jazz, Latin, Country, Big Band etc., besides the rock stuff that I'm more known for) but, if I had not been a friend of Gregg's, I doubt I would have been playing in a band like this at this point in my career.
I'll tell you what though, I'm sure glad I am because it's without a doubt, the best band I've ever played in on many levels (the level of musicianship, songs, the quality of the hang when we're not on stage, the way the business is handled etc.). I know Gregg says that it's the best band he's ever played with too and, if you consider that he was a founding member and integral part of 2 of the biggest bands in the history of Rock & Roll (Santana & Journey), that's quite a statement!
12. Who else are you working with besides the Gregg Rolie Band?
I'm mostly freelancing, doing various sessions and occasional gigs with different people. You never know who's next!! :-)
13. We understand that you are currently raising two step-children and are about to adopt a third. Tell us about fatherhood, and what goes into the adoption process. Has being a family man forced you to make adjustments in your professional life?
Well, of course, having a family requires certain adjustments in anyone's life, especially the life of a musician, which is anything but typical! I can't just go out to hang at a club whenever I want and I can't just go and work on some music if I need to watch the kids or whatever. But life is not one dimensional and I'm lucky to have the opportunity to have some great kids in my life that I can hopefully help to achieve their goals and a great life of their own. All 3 of my kids are really cool (even when they can't stand me because I'm the DAD) and I think they will grow up to be great people in their own right. They each have their own talents in different areas and it's cool to see them developing and finding their way.
The adoption process is a bit of a drag because of all the requirements and legalities that you have to deal with...they make you jump through a lot of hoops! But, whenever I think of where my son might be now if we hadn't adopted him, it boggles my mind and lets me know that it was all worth it. It's so cool to watch him grow up, learn and thrive in his new home. He had been in 5 different places by the time he was 2 (he's 3 now and we've had him for 11 months) and I can't even imagine how hard that must have been for him. I hope that we've been able to bring some stability to his life and that he will continue to thrive here. He's a great kid and he deserves it...his biological parents have no idea what they're missing and I couldn't even imagine life without him at this point.
Thanks again Ron.
You're quite welcome.
Kurt Griffey Interview with Jrnydv.Com
Question Writer: D. Golland
Date of Publication: August 21, 2003
1. How did you first meet Gregg Rolie?
I met Gregg through Ron Wikso. Ron and I were working together in another band (World Classic Rockers) and
after the roots album was done, they wanted to start playing live. Dave Amato, the guitar player on the Roots album, was supposed to be the guitar player but was to busy playing with REO. Gregg was booked to do the KLOS Mark & Brian radio show in L.A. and then 4 or 5 club dates in San Francisco. Dave was available for the club dates but not the radio show so Ron asked me if I would be interested in doing the radio show and maybe any dates that Dave couldn't do. Ron introduced me to Gregg and we did the Mark & Brian show and also some dates later after the ones with Dave. The band seemed to just click so Gregg asked me if I wanted to be the guitar player full time.
2. What is it like to play Neal Schon's parts in the Journey numbers you and Gregg do with Kevin Chalfant?
Playing the journey songs are great. I listened to Journey growing up but I never played any Journey before. It's a great addition to the show and the people seem to really like it.
3. You didn't appear on "Roots." If Gregg decides to go back into the studio to do another album, do you expect that you'll play guitar on the next one?
I did not play on the "Roots" cd. It was recorded before I ever met Gregg. However, I will definitely play on the next one.
4. The move back into the latin rhythms is definitely Gregg's "going home." Where does your musical Journey fit into that? Had you planned on playing this sort of music at this point in your career, or is it just where your job with Gregg has taken you? A combination of both, perhaps?
The latin thing is not anthing I've done or ever planned on doing before, but it feels comfortable to me and I have blast doing it. I'm used to doing different things from rock to country, pop, jazz, and blues. You just adapt and try to make it your own the best you can.
5. What was it like to work with Sam Kinison? Toto’s Jeff Porcaro?
I didn't know Sam Kinison well, but as vulgar and abrasive as his routines were, personally he seemed to be a very compassionate, caring person. I used to do a house band gig in Malibu at the Trancus bar and Sam used hang out there alot. We also performed at the Sturgis bike rally in South Dakota. He brought Jimi Hendrix impersonater Randy Hanson along to jam with after his comedy routine.
As far as working with Jeff Porcaro, I didn't. I worked Bobby Kimble and Fergie Fredrikson of Toto. Bobby was always the life of the party. He is one funny m!$#%^&*^$#%er. He's got such a soulfulness to his voice that even if he is having a rough night hitting all of the notes, he still sounds great.
Fergie was the singer that replaced Bobby. He sang on the "Isolation" album. He's a true rocker. He can sing antything. We worked together for four or five years. Great guy. Golf junkie!
6. Who else are you working with besides Gregg Rolie Band?
Over the last seven years I've been playing with The World Classic Rockers, an all-star band that has featured such artists as Randy Meisner (The Eagles, Poco), Denny Laine (The Moody Blues, Wings), Spencer Davis, Michael Monarch and Nick St. Nicholas (Steppenwolf), Bobby Kimble and Fergie Fredrikson (Toto), Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart), and Bruce Gary (The Knack). I also recently did a recording session with country singer Ty Herndon.
7. Who haven’t you played with, that you would want to play with, and why?
Paul McCartney. He was my childhood idol. The Beatles were one of my biggest reasons for doing what I do. The first time I saw the movie "Hard Days Night" I thought "this is too cool."
8. What’s next for Kurt Griffey?
I think my future is going to be songwriting and film scoring. I recently scored some short films and I think I might have a knack for it. I have been invited to write for a major motion picture. Now the question is, can I write anything they like. We'll see.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Interview with Neal Schon
Interviewer: MELISSA RUGGIERI, TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Date of Publication: September 26, 2003
Date of Re-publication at The Journey Zone: October 4, 2003
As far as Neal Schon is concerned, the current musical landscape is a wasteland of flavors of the week.
Radio is "programmed down to every last inch, so there's no freedom for people to play what they want to play," and record companies are interested only in artists they can "put out there, make their money back and then move on."
Schon has witnessed the transformation of the industry with the eyes of a veteran. In 1970, he joined Santana at the tender age of 17, then formed Journey in 1973, leading the band's early prog-rock days with his winding guitar work.
After racking up 18 Top 40 hits and more than 50 million albums sold with Journey, Schon has earned the right to comment on just about anything music-related - and he does.
For starters, he isn't much impressed with any of today's chart toppers - with a few exceptions.
"John Mayer is exceptional," Schon said this week from Michigan. "I love the fact that the guy is so talented. He's a great lyricist, a great musician. I think Jason Mraz, the kid with the hat, he's another one who's good. I just listened to the new Jane's Addiction album because I liked the single so much, and the album reminded me of 'Tommy' from The Who. It's great. Anything that goes back to a place that was a bit more musical is fine by me."
Schon's oldest son, 15-year-old Miles, is already taking after Dad with the ax and is burying himself in the recordings of Led Zeppelin and Cream. Schon happily reports that as Miles walks the hallways of high school, "he just doesn't see what people are getting from 50 Cent . . . and neither do I."
Journey fans might have been surprised to hear that the band is coming to Innsbrook tonight, considering it recently wrapped a summer excursion with Styx and REO Speedwagon. Though many promoters feared they'd lose money on the triple bill of classic rockers, Schon and his peers felt more than vindicated when the tour grosses arrived.
According to concert industry trade magazine Pollstar, the outing averaged about $380,000 per show, more than tours with a similar number of dates by Peter Gabriel, Matchbox Twenty, The Allman Brothers Band and Brooks & Dunn, to name a few.
So why not head back home to California and take a break now?
"I guess we didn't have enough!" Schon said with a laugh. "Now we have a chance to stretch out a bit, do our own thing."
Indeed, on this two-week Journey-only tour, the band is performing about 2½ hours per night, allowing Schon and the gang the opportunity to pull out oldies such as "Mother, Father" (with drummer Deen Castronovo on lead vocals) and "Precious Time" (with keyboardist Jonathan Cain on harmonica).
Schon also plans to revisit his Santana days with a rendering of "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" and says the band will play tunes from every album except the first three.
Rounding out the Journey lineup are original bassist Ross Valory and singer Steve Augeri, who joined the band in 1998 after a final falling-out with original crooner Steve Perry.
Though Augeri looks and sounds the part of Perry to a frightening extent, Schon realizes that not every stalwart Journey lover has willingly accepted Perry's replacement.
"There are some die-hard fans who will follow us anywhere. Then there are the other fans who only want to know about the '80s Journey. Then we have brand-new fans. It's amazing to look into the crowd and see these 14- and 15-year-olds coming to see the band for the first time and being blown away by the musicianship," he said.
Schon says he's been trying to get in touch with Perry to discuss business - such as the possible release of a bootleg DVD from 1983. So far, he hasn't received a response.
More currently, this incarnation of Journey recently released the EP "Red 13," and the band is ready to begin work on a concept record, an idea the group has discussed for a couple of years.
On the Journey Web site, www.journeymusic.com, fans can download the instrumental track "Showdown," a song Schon wrote before the war in Iraq, when "I had this ugly picture in my head about what was going to happen." Proceeds go to the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which benefits veterans from all wars.
Those who head out to Innsbrook tonight can expect a fury-packed evening. At least that is what Schon is promising.
"I'm playing like a demon now, because we've been playing so long," he said. "I always figured we'd have our heyday and go away. But we definitely made our own etch in stone. And it's pretty freakin' cool, man"
San Bernardino County Sun Interview with Jonathan Cain
Interviewer: Michelle J. Mills, Staff Writer
Date of Publication: October 3, 2003
Date of Re-publication at The Journey Zone: October 4, 2003
It's been 30 years of records and roads for rockers Journey, who will join Yes and Foreigner with Lou Gramm at Arrowfest 2003 Saturday in Irvine. Although the band disbanded and regrouped and has gone through several lineup changes, its signature sound has remained true.
Keyboardist Jonathan Cain credits Journey's staying power to this sound, which he calls "soulful music with a conscience and a heart," as well as the fact that the group works hard to make their efforts seem easy.
"We make records that sound effortless," Cain said. "Because there" s no struggle there on the records, they still go down like chocolate milk to me. They still sound good because they had a pretty neat sound to them. The other thing is that Journey always worked a lot and they were good to their fans.
"And also, we have songs that were pieces of their lives and memories that have been imbedded in those songs."
Journey's current lineup includes vocalist Steve Augeri, guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Dean Castronovo and Cain.
Cain grew up in Chicago. He was playing accordion at age 8, piano at 12 and was in several rock bands in high school. He attended the Conservatory of Music at Roosevelt University, using his talent at playing everything from polka to rock to pay his way through school. At 18, Cain landed his first record deal, which led to a minor hit and a spot on the "Dick Clark Show."
Carving out a life as an artist and songwriter can be discouraging, even with early successes. Cain also tried his hand in other occupations.
"I had day jobs. I got kind of sick of the music business for a while and I went and I sold stereos and I worked as a warehouseman, a forklift operator, and that kind of stuff. I came back to music through songwriting, back into the band things and then the Babys auditioned some people in " 77," Cain said.
In 1979 the Babys joined Journey for their "Departure" tour.
"Neil and I hit it off, we actually were pretty good buds in the end, we would go out and jam in the local clubs together and Neil and I especially would play a lot out and about. I got a call that summer saying that Greg Rolie, the former keyboard player, was going to retire and that I had the job. That was that," Cain said.
Cain has found that he has two different voices when writing for Journey and himself.
"You write for the Journey fan and you write for the Journey sound, so you" re looking for Neil and the background vocals and the high keys and more of the signature things," Cain said. "You" ve got to design them with that in mind and also the lyric has to be a Journey lyric, something with some positive, hopeful message.
"When I write for myself, I write about my kids, about my family, about my heart, it" s a different thing. But 'Faithfully' was one example of a song I wrote for myself and ended up on a Journey record. I actually wrote it about being on the road with Journey, so it was kind of cool that it got accepted as a Journey song because it's probably the biggest song that I wrote by myself that was the most successful."
Another Journey hit, "Open Arms," began as Cain's song for his first wife during their wedding. He played it with just the choruses and the music, later Journey members helped add the verses and other touches that made it a fan favorite.
Cain has a studio at his home in California and self-releases smooth jazz records. He also writes and directs the Christmas pageant at his children's school in Novado each year which raises money for the school district.
"We do all kinds of international Christmas songs with the kids; we teach them Hawaiian, Kwanzaa and all that sort of stuff. They learn songs that I write and then we record them and we put the CDs out and sell them to their parents and then we sell CDs on my Web site too," Cain said.
Cain and his present wife, Liz, have three children, 7-year-old twins, Weston and Liza, and a 10-year-old daughter, Madison. Weston plays drums, Madison sings and plays piano and Liza sings and dances.
Even if he's out on the road, Cain finds time to pursue his hobbies -- skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, tennis and golf.
After three decades of making music, Journey still is looking to the future. In December, the band will release a compilation video of all the Journey videos ever made.
"The videos are pretty funny, they" re hysterical -- the really bad hair; Beavis and Butthead poking fun at Journey videos. They're really funny, but there's good stuff in there," Cain said.
The group is also considering trying something new when they return to the studio, such as a concept album, a rock opera or returning to their soul roots. But they still have their fans ever-present in their minds.
"It" s always great to play Orange County, we have tremendous support there. It's almost like coming home. The fans are great and we can't thank them enough. Rock and roll is alive and well in Orange County. We're going to bring them one hell of a show," Cain said.
FanAsylum Interview with Steve Perry
Interviewer: Lora Beard
Date of Publication: November 4, 2003
Date of Re-publication at The Journey Zone: November 18, 2003
Checkin' In With Steve Perry
We spoke with Steve to make sure he was okay and not affected by the California wildfires. He gave us a quick update on what he's been up to recently.
Lora: The fires that are raging through Southern California are so devastating. We've all been worried about you. How are you doing?
Steve: The northern part of San Diego where I live is safe from the fires right now although it hasn't stopped everyone in this area from feeling the frightening impact of these wildfires. I really hope the fires get under control soon for everyone's sake.
LB: Our thoughts and best wishes definitely go out to everyone down there. Stay safe! On a happier note, there is going to be a Journey's Greatest Hits DVD released soon. How did this come about?
SP: Around July of this year, I got a phone call from John Kalodner asking if I was interested in overseeing the production of a Journey Greatest Hits DVD. This would include many of the music videos that Journey has put together and some live performances. Immediately, I thought this was an amazing idea, but there would be logistical problems to overcome. Though the visuals are great, the audio of today has far surpassed the original sound on those tapes. All the tracks have been digitally remastered, some of which came from the Essential CD. Between Michael Rubenstein on the east coast and myself on the west coast, all the old, original audio tracks on the videos were replaced with the digitally remastered tracks. Now the old videos have an incredible, fresh, new sound that they never had before. John Kalodner wanted to make sure it was the best product it could possibly be with today's technology and these videos have never looked or sounded so good. I must say though, in watching the old videos, I was amazed that my hair was ever that long (laughs) since it's been short for awhile now. Many of those videos were done at the beginning of the video era and it's interesting to see how much things have changed since then.
LB: How did you guys decide on the track listing?
SP: There were many videos that obviously needed to be there, such as "Wheel In The Sky," "Faithfully," "Separate Ways," "Lights," and "Open Arms." Then there were some we wanted included such as "Just The Same Way" and "Feeling That Way," with Gregg Rolie and I sharing vocals. The DVD is a nice blend of what was available and what needed to be on the first package. In the beginning, there was some difficulty with an executive at the record label~not John Kalodner~over creative problems that I did not give in to. It was suggested by this executive that only a photo of the Escape line-up be used on the back of the DVD to represent the music within. I fought for and was insistent upon the back cover having myself, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Steve Smith and Aynsley Dunbar represented. Randy Jackson and Michael Baird are also listed with icons next to their names because they were involved in the Raised On Radio videos. There are icons next to each player so you can see who plays on every video. It was not appropriate to put one photo on the package, as it didn't represent the legacy of Journey. I will never forget the early times with me, Neal, Gregg, Ross & Aynsley in two Chevy Caprice four-door sedans following each other across the country with Dr. Brown (road crew) right behind us is a bob-tail truck, full of equipment.
LB: Did the other band members have input on this DVD?
SP: John Kalodner told me he was in contact with Jon & Neal to make sure that their input was received just as he received input from me.
LB: What about the live footage on the DVD?
SP: I've always known that Neal was a big fan of the Houston Summit shows. He and I have always felt that the performances were qualitative enough to be released just as they were. With that in mind, "Anyway You Want It," "Who's Crying Now," "Open Arms," "Stone In Love," and "Don't Stop Believin'" were included from that concert. "Who's Crying Now," "Anyway You Want It" and "Open Arms" were not remixed, as the live multi-tracks could not be located. What I did find was the live video and the live stereo two tracks of those songs. Those stereo two tracks have also been digitally remastered. The amazing thing about it is, that those tracks sound more live because there is more live audience in the mix. (pauses) It reminded me of how great we all were together. Two other live tracks come from the Raised On Radio concert at the Mountain Aire Festival in 1986 with Randy Jackson on bass and Michael Baird on drums and another, "I'll Be Alright Without You," is from the Raised On Radio concert at the Omni in Atlanta, GA.
LB: How did you decide on the cover?
SP: John Kalodner wanted the Greatest Hits CD cover to be on the DVD cover. I suggested that we put "DVD" in the red sphere at the top and "1" in the blue sphere at the bottom to give it a new identity. I wanted "Greatest Hits 1978-1997" included and I also requested that all the members' names be on the front cover so that everyone knows who is in this package. David Coleman was the art director and he has done many of the Journey covers; he assembled the DVD in such a way that it made beautiful, creative sense. This project started in July and it took quite a bit of time to assemble and go through all the film and the audio to make sure the digitally remastered tracks were in their proper places. For me, it's been another one of those reflective, emotional journeys that is sometimes difficult to talk about.
LB: We can't wait to see it. What is the release date?
SP: Nov. 25.
LB: Now that the DVD is finished, what have you been doing?
SP: Sometime in September, I received a letter from actress Charlize Theron. It was addressed personally to me, typewritten on two pages, and signed by Charlize. I'm looking at the letter right now to refresh my memory because it's a very heartfelt letter about a film that she seriously believes in. The film is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute in Florida who, after being on death row for 12 years, was executed a year ago this month for the murder of seven of her johns. With child abuse in her past and living with the dangers of a prostitute's life, circumstances became more life threatening and her survival became everything. I'll read you on of the paragraphs from Charlize's letter to me, "The film entitled 'Monster' is very close to my heart and is on that I recently produced and co-starred in with Christina Ricci. It was written and directed by Patty Jenkins, an extremely talented woman who, like me, is a music lover and a huge fan. Patty originally wrote the script with "Don't Stop Believin'" in mind for one of the key scenes as it is so evocative of the time and place and is a song that is tender and rebellious at the same time. The song's heart speaks to the soul of this story." I could continue to read you more from this letter as it is written in a most personal, emotional way from Charlize and Patty's genuine wish to get the song for their film.
After we spoke, they sent me a copy of the film and I understood exactly what they were talking about. When Jon and I wrote the lyrics for "Don't Stop Believin'," ot was always about "street light people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the night." The lyrics have a connection to the film in a way that I can't deny. At that time, I asked my publisher to contact Neal and Jon with the hopes that they would allow the song to be used. They graciously approved.
I was invited to go up to L.A. to watch them dub the song into the film. I had the pleasure of meeting Patty Jenkins (writer and director), Charlize Theron (who plays Aileen) and one of the most brilliant music composers I've ever met, B.T. The music of this film is so emotional and powerful that B.T. has inspired me. They asked me to hang out as long as I wanted...so I did. A month later (laughs) we were hanging out everywhere together. I loved watching the intensity of the creative process between Patty, Charlize, and B.T. From time to time, Patty asked me what I thought about certain pre-recorded music in the film, so I presented her options from different artists, past and present. I really enjoyed participating in this side of the project. Later Patty and B.T. insisted on giving me Music Consultant credit. I was stunned.
Patty is one of the most passionate, creative people I've ever met. I watched her closely and she refused to settle. She always kept reaching for what she believed in and as a result, she has made a very powerful film. She wrote the screenplay based on interviews with many of Aileen's friends and Aileen herself. Patty went to Aileen's hangouts and read many of her letters. Before I first saw the film, I wasn't sure who the character was. The moment I saw Charlize come on the screen, I knew exactly who she was playing. The transformation is amazing. This whole thing was an experience I will always remember and it's a film I'll never forget.
LB: When is the film being released?
SP: It is released in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York on Dec. 26 and there is talk of adding Chicago. In January, it will be released in other areas and theaters.
LB: Who else stars in the film?
SP: Scott Wilson and Bruce Dern. Bruce Dern plays one of Aileen's closest friends who helps her get through the hard times. Scott Wilson plays an innocent person who wishes to help Aileen but circumstances change everything.
LB: It sounds like a film that we'll definitely want to check out. It's so fitting that they were able to use a Journey song for the film that obviously meant so much to them. Thanks for letting us know you are doing okay and filling us in on the DVD and the upcoming film. We'll talk soon.
SP: As always...with you, Lora, the pleasure has been mine.
Last Updated 15 July, 2009 (DHG)