Neal Schon has his own opinions about how a planned reunion of the early 1970s lineup of Santana should unfold. He wants to return to the loose, improvisational feel of their classic collaboration Santana III.
“I really feel that, if we compile the material — or Carlos comes up with the material, whatever he wants to do — we can go in and knock it out,” Schon tells Paul Cashmere of Noise11. “That will keep it inspired, and not too rehashed or too thought out.”
Carlos Santana confirmed earlier this year that he’d like to see surviving members of the group reform, specifically mentioning Schon, Gregg Rolie, Mike Carabello and Michael Shrieve. The group was rounded out by Jose “Chepito” Areas, who stayed with Santana through 1980, and the late David Brown. Carlos, who even lightheartedly referred to the project as Santana IV, said he hoped it would arrive by 2014.
“Evidently, he’s very serious about it,” Schon says. “I’m quite excited about the whole project. It’s not really like you have to recreate anything. Just go back to what they were, even before I joined them as a sideman.”
Schon, who dropped out of Aragon High in San Mateo, California, to pursue a career in music, appeared as a teen-aged sideman on 1971’s III, which went to No. 1. “I didn’t have a license yet, a driver’s license,” Schon says.
By the time 1972’s follow up Caravanserai arrived, however, the Santana band lineup was already in flux. Eventually, Schon would leave too, forming Journey with Rolie. They were managed by Herbie Herbert, one of Carlos Santana’s guitar techs.
Members of the Santana band, including Schon, Rolie, Shrieve, Areas and Carabello, previously reunited without Carlos in 1997 for the album Abraxas Pool. Alphonso Johnson, a 1980s-era Santana member, replaced Brown for that project.
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