‘He’s actually a musician’: Neal Schon on Journey’s relationship with producer Kevin Shirley

Producer Kevin Shirley has worked with every Journey lead singer going back to Steve Perry, and there’s a reason for that: “He’s very, very musical,” says band co-founder Neal Schon.

Shirley first hooked up with Journey on its final date with Perry, 1996′s Trial by Fire. He oversaw Steve Augeri’s debut releases with Journey, 2001′s Arrival; as well as current singer Arnel Pineda’s first album, 2008′s Revelation — and the band’s most recent effort, 2011′s Eclipse. Shirley also mixed Greatest Hits: Live, concert recordings dating back to 1981 that saw release in 1998.

“Most producers that I have worked with in the past,” Schon tells Classic Rock Society, “they’re musical in the sense that they know how to get something out of you and they know what sounds right. But he’s actually a musician, and he’s studied music. It comes in very handy a lot of times, when you’re still not certain about a song, with the arrangement — he’ll always have great ideas. He’s very easy in the studio, and fast to work for. My only problem is, he doesn’t listen to me when I tell him I want to hear a little more of my effects cabinet!”

Since 1996, the only other producer that Journey has worked with is Kevin Elson, who returned for 2005′s Generations after having helmed albums during the band’s platinum-era hey day from 1980-83 — a period that included Departure, Dream, After Dream, Captured, Escape and Frontiers.

1978′s Infinity, Perry’s debut with Journey, and 1979′s Evolution were overseen by Roy Thomas Baker, best known for his work with Queen. Their 1975 self-titled debut was produced by Roy Halee, of Simon and Garfunkel fame.

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