Everybody knows the basic outline by now, the story of What Happened To Journey: Frontman Steve Perry departed during the band's late '80s heyday, returned and left again. The remaining members eventually settled on Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, chosen largely on the strength of his YouTube Journey covers, as a Perry replacement.
The band has released two discs with Pineda (including the recent "Eclipse"), and both have done improbably well: The addition of Pineda has opened up international markets, and, of course, the inescapable success of "Don’t Stop Believin'," famously featured on the "Sopranos" finale and on "Glee," has made the band a cultural touchstone, something unthinkable even during the Perry Years.
In honor of the band's Jiffy Lube Live show on Sunday night, Click Track checked in with guitarist Neal Schon to talk about life in Journey, Version 2.0.
You're the only member to have played on every Journey album. Are you the band's resident historian?
[Laughs] Something like that, yeah. I started back in '73, and [bassist] Ross [Valory] is still here, but he came and went in the middle.
Does it feel weird to be the one constant? Do you say things like, "Back in my day, on this album, we did it this way?"
I can if I want to, but I try not to, you know? We try to move forward.
Is it all still fun?
Yeah, absolutely. It's what I love to do, you know? The traveling isn't as fun, the planes. But our audience is there, stronger than ever. That's a blessing.
When you look at the faces of the audiences, do you see a lot of younger people who were brought in by "Don't Stop Believin'?" What's it like out there?
It looks like three to four generations. There's a lot of younger people out there. A lot of our really young audience has come from "Glee" doing our song. I think before that they never knew we existed. They [then] dug into our catalog and discovered the band, rather than the "Glee" version. It's really wild how things have opened up again. "Don’t Stop Believin'" being the most downloaded song of the 20th century, that's a wild card right there.
Of all your songs, if I'd asked you 15 years ago, would you have picked that one to have had such an impact?
Thirty years ago, actually, we did the song, and I remember coming out of the studio and I turned around to everyone and said, "That song's going to be huge." And it wasn’t at the time. It didn't do badly, but it wasn’t a Top Ten single as some of the other songs were off that record. And so to have it bounce back thirty years later is pretty wild.
Do you think "Glee" had a bigger impact than the "Sopranos" did?
I don't know about bigger. They were both huge…It's the song that just refuses to stop giving, you know? I wish it would move onto another one right now. [Laughs]
Do you think it has brought along a new generation of fans that [because they] didn't grow up with Steve Perry as the lead singer, aren't as invested in the way things used to be?
Even our older fans welcomed Arnel. Certainly he had some huge shoes to fill, and we've done well with Arnel since second one.
Does Arnel still feel like the new guy to you?
Well, he's not so new new right now. I think he's — this record is very much one of his own. It's a strong record for Arnel. "Revelation," the record we made previously, we stayed a little safer musically. We maybe re-wrote some of our older hits, moved the chords around, moved the melodies around.
This new record, we tried to go into a new area, like we did in '81 with "Frontiers." This new record, I very much feel like it's our new "Frontiers," and I believe it's gonna have long legs ... even though it's not getting played and we're not all over MTV because we don't make videos, and they wouldn't play us if we did have videos. It takes time to get things out there. Hopefully not thirty years from now, like it did with "Don't Stop Believin,'" but people will become aware of the new stuff we have out there.