‘Just a bit more organic’: After Journey tour, Neal Schon plans another solo project

Even as Journey continues its well-received tandem tour with Steve Miller and the Tower of Power, Neal Schon has one eye on a suddenly vibrant career outside of the group.

The just-released So U is Schon’s second solo release in as many years, and there’s another disc on the way, he tells us. Schon only released two albums apart from Journey in all of the previous decade, 2001’s Voice and 2005’s I on U.

Schon says his next album will find him returning to a group featuring Steve Smith, Igor Lin and Jan Hammer that contributed to 2012’s The Calling. Smith was a member of Journey with Schon from between 1978-98. Schon released two early-1980s albums with Hammer, as well.

“Steve and I definitely hook up on a different level these days, you know?” Schon says in an exclusive SER Sitdown. “We’re writing together. This stuff that we just recorded is on the ceiling, compared to The Calling — and I loved The Calling, musically. This record is just a bit more organic. You can tell it’s built for playing live — which is what I intend to do. I don’t know when I’m going to have time to tour, but definitely when I get off tour with Journey this year, I definitely planning on doing a live DVD. I want to mesh everything that I’ve done, solo-wise, together into one DVD.”

Schon has been recording at Fantasy Studios, “where I made a lot of the biggest records I ever did with Journey,” he says. “They treat me great over there; I feel like I am at home — and I’ve been pretty much living in there lately. There’s been a lot of music coming out of me lately.”

So much so, Schon adds, that this next project might in fact end up as a double album. Meanwhile, Schon’s been at work on a long-awaited reunion with the early 1970s-era lineup of Santana — on top of his on-going collaborations with Journey.

“Those are my roots, where I came from — blues fusion, and a bit of jazz,” Schon says. “I’m kind of going back to where I started, and trying to move forward with it, rather than repeating stuff that I’ve already done.” As for the name of this forthcoming record? “I think of calling it Vortex,,’ he says. “That’s the nickname that Carlos has recently given me.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso