Neal Schon open to Journey reunion with Steve Perry — but only if Arnel Pineda stays, too

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Journey had been through a string of lead singers since Steve Perry’s mid-1990s departure before finally finding chart success again with Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer whom founding guitarist Neal Schon discovered on YouTube.

2011’s Eclipse, Journey’s second album with Pineda, became its second straight Top 20 album, debuting last year at No. 13 on the Billboard 200. Eclipse, which refocused Journey’s sound on the furiously inventive guitar playing of Schon, also was a Top 40 hit in five different countries — including Sweden (No. 14), Japan (No. 18), Switzerland (No. 24) and the UK (No. 33).

That follows tenures by Steve Augeri (1998–2006), and Jeff Scott Soto (2006–07), as Journey tried to recreate the magic of their hitmaking years. Perry joined just before their fourth album, 1978’s Infinity, which became Journey’s first-ever platinum-selling release. 1979’s Evolution included their first-ever Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 single, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin.'” That was followed by 1981’s Escape, a nine-times-platinum charttopper that featured a trio of Top 10 hits. 1983’s Frontiers sold nearly six million copies, and generated four Top 40 hits; while 1986’s Raised on Radio, sold more than two million copies and produced four Top 20 singles.

But, by then, Perry had already released a smash-hit solo album, and the band fell apart. Journey returned to blockbuster sales in the mid-1990s, but the reunion was short lived.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Steve Smith talks about reuniting with Neal Schon — and just how underrated that initial fusion-inspired edition of Journey still is.]

Schon now says any possible return for its platinum-era former frontman would have to include Pineda, as well: “I don’t think there’s anyway not to have Arnel at this point,” Schon tells the Huffington Post.

It wouldn’t be the first time Perry returned after a length time away from Journey. There was a decade, after all, between Raised on Radio and his reunion with the early 1980s-era Journey lineup for 1996’s Trial By Fire. Schon suggests that any subsequent detente might signal the final curtain call for the band, founded in the early 1970s by Schon and original keyboardist/songwriter/producer Gregg Rolie in the wake of their departure from Santana.

“Who can say never? You can never say it’s never going to happen,” Schon says. “Maybe ten years from now? Six years? Who knows? But if that situation ever came up, I think it would be the both of them. And I think it would be at the point where it’s a farewell tour … and we’re done. That’s the only appropriate way to go about it.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Journey. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

NEAL SCHON WITH STEVE SMITH, “THE CALLING” (2012): This new instrumental is interesting because Steve Smith showed up just as Journey took a turn in the late 1970s from its more fusion-informed early period toward a platinum-selling arena-rock formula. Still, you always got the sense, as he subsequently moved deeper into the jazz roots of his youth, that Smith might have been a better fit for the early Journey records — when co-founding guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Gregg Rolie and bassist Ross Valory indulged themselves in a looser, free-form rock amalgam. “The Calling” makes good on that notion, as Smith joins Schon for the first time since their mid-1990s reunion as members of Journey.

JOURNEY – ECLIPSE (2011): In many ways, the initial cuts on Eclipse recall the wide-open heavy fusion of the the band’s original Gregg Rolie-era records, a period when guitarist Neal Schon pulled and stretched his muse. At the same time, singer Arnel Pineda possesses a second-act Steve Perry-sounding penchant for soaring expectancy. For age-old fans, that often makes this album the best of both worlds, a musically dense recording in the style of the band’s underrated 1977?s Next, and a loud one, but at the same time one that doesn’t completely abandon the visceral mainstream pop sensibilities that defined the band’s subsequent hitmaking period in the 1980s.

ONE TRACK MIND: JOURNEY, “FEELING THAT WAY/ ANYTIME” (1978; 2011 reissue): A new Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was, in some ways, more interesting than Journey’s initial best-of compilation — if only because its songs haven’t necessarily become ear-wormingly familiar. Perhaps the most potent examples are these twin 1978 gems from Infinity, Journey’s first project with Steve Perry. His appearance would immediately transform an interesting, if often unfocused jam band — co-led by Santana alums Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon — into a hit-making juggernaut. This album easily became the band’s biggest seller to date, as Journey moved toward a tighter focus on songcraft.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GREGG ROLIE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SANTANA AND JOURNEY: Gregg Rolie, a 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has learned a lot about himself since taking fame’s exit ramp to start a family almost 30 years ago. He’s put into perspective the work done as a founding member of Santana, a stint that saw Rolie co-produce the group’s first four albums beginning in 1969. The bluesy B-3 stylist then added to an overstuffed resume that already included an appearance at Woodstock, leaving with Neal Schon to launch Journey. There, he helped craft a series of 1970s recordings that set the stage for that band’s arena-rock supernova moment in the 1980s.

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