‘We’re all playing at a different level': Neal Schon at work on three albums with Journey connections

The prospects of another Journey album remain unclear, but that doesn’t mean guitarist Neal Schon is sitting idly by. In fact, he’s working on three projects, all of them with Journey connections.

The first is the long-awaited Santana 4, which will also feature Gregg Rolie. Schon and Rolie originally split from Santana to found Journey in the early 1970s. Now, they have returned to fold, collaborating with Carlos Santana for the first time since Schon joined the band as a teen-aged wunderkind. “It’s fun to get back with Santana,” Schon tells Fractal Audio Systems. “It’s full circle for me.”

Schon has already completed another instrumental album with Steve Smith, as well. Smith, drummer in Journey from 1978–85 and then from 1995–1998, was part of Schon’s 2012 solo effort The Calling. This new album will also include keyboards from Jan Hammer, who Schon worked with in the 1980s. “It’s going to be a double CD,” Schon says of this collaboration with Smith and Hammer.

“It’s truly epic and stretched-out. Instead of having a bunch of songs, there are complete suites of music. It’s very organic, like a live record. It’s jammin’ — the thing is on the ceiling, man. I think we’re all playing at a different level. I’m excited for that one to come out.”

Finally, Frontiers records will be releasing So U, which finds current Journey drummer Deen Castronovo joining Schon and bassist Marco Mendoza for a trio recording.

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