‘We didn’t kick Steve out; he walked': Journey's Neal Schon still hopes to rebuild friendship with Perry

Though Steve Perry has been out of Journey for 15 years, band co-founder Neal Schon says he’s never closed the door on their friendship.

The two don’t speak, he admits to Matt Wardlaw in a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, without there being some kind of intermediary — be that management or a lawyer. But Schon insists the relationship, forged in the late 1970s and cemented as Journey become a platinum juggernaut in the 1980s, can still be saved.

Schon founded the band with fellow Santana alum Gregg Rolie, and Journey recorded a series of fusion-inspired albums before adding Perry in 1977. The addition of keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who replaced the retiring Rolie, put the last piece in place for a series of early 1980s chart triumphs.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Hall of Famer Gregg Rolie goes in depth on classic songs and some deep cuts, too – including Journey’s “Anytime” and “Someday Soon.”]

Perry would continue with the band until 1987, then return again from 1995-98. But when Perry couldn’t tour behind their 1996 reunion smash, Trail by Fire, the two camps split. Journey is now fronted by the Filipino-born Arnel Pineda, who has helped the group’s two most recent projects become Top 20 hits on Billboard.

Meanwhile, Schon is set to issue a new solo album titled The Calling on October 23, 2012, and it in fact includes a reunion with another bandmate from Journey’s biggest-selling era: Drummer Steve Smith. That’s another sign that Schon holds no ill will to former members of the band — including Perry. After all, Schon reminds: “We didn’t kick Steve out; he walked.”

Schon continues: “I hope that someday, that we can get to the point to where I can pick up the telephone and I can talk to him without talking through management and attorneys,” he tells Wardlaw. “I still don’t quite realize why we can’t just talk one on one, for whatever reason, just to say hello — not to pressure anybody to do anything or anything like that — it wouldn’t be like that, just in a friendly manner.”

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

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.

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: 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?

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! 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.

Upcoming dates for the 2012 tour featuring Neal Schon and Journey, appearing with Loverboy and Pat Benatar:

SEPTEMBER
25 Hamilton, ON Copps Coliseum
26 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
28 Bangor, ME Waterfront Park
29 Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center

OCTOBER
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

NOVEMBER
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

DECEMBER
1 Kelowna, BC Prospera Place
3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
4 Victoria, BC Save-On Food Centre
7 Las Vegas, NV Planet Hollywood

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Deborah

    Neil is a liar. He’s the one Journey should kick out. He called Steve names in previous interviews and gives him no credit for any of their success. The real reason Steve Perry quit Journey was because of health not because he didn’t like him. And they were auditioning vocalists to take his place before Steve could make a decision about his surgery, so Neil is not telling the whole truth. Anyways, Steve has said that he is working in earnest on an album and just signed a publishing deal for new music. Neil needs to grow up and call Steve and apologize for what he has said about him. Steve has nothing to be sorry for but Neil and rest do.

    • Mike Slowik

      Health issues ? You buy that sound bite? He was touring the world when he used his hip excuse. Just not singing. Steve Perry lost Neal and the band 200 million dollars I would call him names as well. As far as giving perry credit how many times can he say Perry had the ball we gave it to him. Look at the life of Steve Perry hide and go seek. Working on a cd for 20 years that will never see the light of day or night, His new deal was for the back catalog Don’t get excited. The worst fan friendly celeb that’s Steve Perry just look at his website Oh I forgot he does not have one

  • Mike Slowik

    You don’t talk Neal because Perry is a sick man, His head is on backwards. In one day out the next. In Steve Perry’s world all that matters is Steve Perry not his fans and certainly not his friends because he does not have any.

  • Mark Saleski

    wah, wah…working in earnest…wah, wah…

    maybe Steve can get together with Dennis DeYoung for a nice vegas review or something.

    wah.

  • Ga Smith

    Maybe, just maybe if Neal sings “Anyway” back to Steve, he might talk to him then. Really whats Neal want to talk to him about anyway… GET IT….
    He’s full of DONKY DUST…LOL

  • Michel

    Went to see the concert in Ottawa. Boy oh boy, Arnel Pineda needs to go. This guy can’t sing. He’s ruining the band. Get rid of him asap.

    • Purple

      Are you kidding me?! There must be some serious problem wiht your ears or you are just stuck in the past. Journey has moved on and Arnel does an excellent job! Get over it.