Over his last few years with Journey, Arnel Pineda gets a lot of credit with fans for having recaptured the high-flying vocal pyrotechnics of the band’s platinum era with former vocalist Steve Perry. But it doesn’t come easy.
Pineda, a Filipino-born singer-songwriter, has been Journey’s frontman since 2007 — but, more recently, he’s seen the band graduate back to marathon arena-level concerts. That’s forced changes in his diet (“no more meat … no more ice cream … no more beer, no more wine,” he says), sleep patterns and, most particularly, his vocal approach.
Pineda was announced as Journey’s new singer on December 5, 2007, and debuted in early 2008 during a concert in Chile. Journey then released Revelation in June of 2008, debuting at No. 5, and played the Super Bowl XLIII pre-game show in 2009. Eclipse followed in 2011, becoming Journey’s second straight Top 20 hit with Pineda. With every new success, Journey has seen its fanbase reenergized, Pineda says.
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: As former lead singer Steve Perry contemplates a comeback, he jokes about the pressure of living up to past successes with Journey: ‘It’s an opportunity to suck.’]
As the band retook to the road for another round of 2012 shows, Pineda talked to LiveGigAsia about the way that’s changed his life. (Complete upcoming Journey tour dates are below.)
“There are vocal lessons that my vocal teacher taped for me that I have to follow every other day, so my voice and my larynx, and my muscles will always be in place,” he tells LiveGigAsia, in a newly posted interview. “You know how high Journey songs are, and I have to be able to put on a good show while running and jumping and singing the songs for almost an hour and 45 minutes.”
The set lists, which Pineda says are typically built collaboratively by co-founding Journey guitarist Neal Schon and longtime keyboardist Jonathan Cain, reflect an understanding of how difficult their lengthy hit-packed shows can be on a vocalist.
“They agree on what’s really going to hit people the most, what will make them want for more,” Pineda says. “So, me, (drummer) Deen Deen Castronovo and (co-founding bassist) Ross Valory are just in the background. They might ask me, ‘Arnel, is your voice going to be OK tonight? Can you hit the high notes in the first part?’ Then they’ll have you rest in middle and then go right at their heart again at the end part of the show.”
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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Journey. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
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.
SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: NEAL SCHON – THE CALLING (2012): Schon reunites with former Journey drummer Steve Smith, and they recapture much of the sound and feel of the band’s platinum era — mixing in arena-rattling tracks like “Carnival Jazz” and “Back Smash” with the soaring pop-balladry of “Six String Waltz” and “True Emotion.” “Blue Rainbow Sky” emerges from a Jimi Hendrix-style riff into something that sounds like a newly unearthed track from the Escape sessions. But there’s also a cool jazz-rock underpinning, something that allows Schon to explore further out along the edges of his craft in a way that his main band’s brand of mainstream rock almost never does anymore.
SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: FORMER JOURNEY DRUMMER STEVE SMITH: Smith is in the midst of a flurry of activity surrounding the 30th anniversary of his jazz group Vital Information. The first VI album appeared in 1983, even as his tenure with Journey reached its chart-topping zenith. Smith eventually left to pursue jazz, his first true love, and is commemorating that with the release of three albums over a two-year period. We just had to ask, though, since Smith played in both Journey eras: Which did he prefer, the Gregg Rolie or the Jonathan Cain editions?
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.
Dates and venues for Journey’s ongoing 2012 tour with Loverboy and Pat Benatar:
24 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
25 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
27 Pelham, AL Oak Mountain Amphitheater
28 Lafayette, LA Cajun Dome
31 Kansas City, KS LiveStrong Sporting Park
1 St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fair
15 Mt. Pleasant, MI Soaring Eagle Casino
19 Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center
21 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
22 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
25 Hamilton, ON Copps Coliseum
26 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
28 Bangor, ME Waterfront Park
29 Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center
2 Norfolk, VA Constant Convocation Center
3 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
5 Mobile, AL Bayfest
6 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheater At Lakewood
9 Little Rock, AR Verizon Arena
10 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
12 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater
13 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
30 New York, NY Barclays Bank Arena
2 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
3 Manchester, NH Verizon Center
5 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
7 Columbus, OH Schottenstein/Nationwide
8 Evansville, IN Ford Center
10 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
11 Fort Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial
13 Moline, IL iWireless Center
14 Sioux City, IA Tyson Center
16 Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center
17 Green Bay, WI Resch Center
19 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
24 Grand Praire, AB Crystal Center
27 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
28 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre
30 Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome
1 Kelowna, BC Prospera Place
3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
4 Victoria, BC Save-On Food Centre
7 Las Vegas, NV Planet Hollywood