Journey

Drummer Deen Castronovo loves life.

In addition to his band Journey just finding a new lead singer, Castronovo is doing an interview while driving the streets of San Francisco in his new car.

"It's a beautiful day," Castronovo says while at a stoplight in his BMW M6. "And I'm talking to you. I usually don't get to do interviews, because the others want to do them. But I got this one. And I'm not letting it go."

The good vibes continue as he talks about Journey's new front man, Arnel Pineda.

"I remember when we were looking for a replacement for Steve Augeri," says Castronovo. "(Guitarist) Neal (Schon) didn't know where to start. We all wondered if we should tap into the Internet and find Journey tribute bands. It was crazy. But we found the guy."

The band found Pineda, a native of Manila, Philippines, through YouTube, Castronovo said. Schon had seen videos of Pineda covering Journey tunes and contacted the person who posted the videos.

"It was crazy," Castronovo said. "When he finally realized that we wanted him to audition and that it wasn't a joke, he did. And he blew us away."

The band members were worried about Pineda's personality.

"We were worried about how he would fit in," Castronovo said. "I mean, it's one thing to be able to sing the song, but another to get along with everyone else."

Luckily, Pineda was exactly what the band needed.

"He is the most humble and nice person I have ever met," Castronovo said. "And sure, he can sing the old, staple Journey songs, but on the new songs, he rips!"

Castronovo said finding Pineda is the end of the lead-singer search for Journey, which hit the big time with lead singer Steve Perry in the late '70s through the '80s. In the '90s, Perry rejoined for a reunion album, but then he left again. In 1998, Steve Augeri, singer for a band called Tall Stories, took the Journey gig, only to be let go nearly 10 years later. For a short time, Jeff Scott Soto sang leads, as did, by the way, Castronovo.

"I did some of the songs that needed to be done," said Castronovo, who sang while playing drums. "But now, I don't think they need my voice. Arnel can sing it all. It would be like having me play the drums if Steve Smith was still in the band." Speaking of Journey's former drummer Smith, Castronovo said the band's former drummer is one of his best friends.

"I always tell him that I rip him off every night," Castronovo said with a laugh. "Every stinking rhythm he's played in Journey I have copied."

In addition to a new singer, the band — Castronovo, Schon, Pineda, bassist Ross Valory and keyboardist Jonathan Cain — has released a two-CD, one-DVD collection called "Revelation," which is exclusively available at Wal-Mart. The first CD features 11 rerecorded Journey classics; the second CD is 11 new songs, and the third is a live DVD. It was released last month. The collection is produced by Kevin Shirley, who produced the reunion CD, "Trial by Fire."

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"It is amazing to hear the songs that have become so much a part of people's lives redone," Castronovo said. "And I think they'll like the new songs, as well. This, by far, is the best we have done. I'm proud of all the albums we have done, but this one is very special." Castronovo has made music with Schon for 20 years. He hooked up with the guitarist during Journey's lull and formed Bad English. Then he took two years off to play with Ozzy Osbourne and found himself back with Schon for the revamped line up of Journey.

"Peter Criss of Kiss was the drummer I wanted to be like when I was a kid," Castronovo said. "And then I saw Kiss one year when Rush opened for them. Rush blew me away. Neil Peart (Rush's drummer) and Peter had the same amount of drums, but Neil played them all. And that's only added fuel to my drumming desire.

"And I've been doing it every since. I don't know of any other job I'd rather, or should I say, I can do. Life is good."

If you go

What: Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick

Where: USANA Amphitheatre, 5400 South and 6200 West

When: today, 7 p.m.

How much: $25-$125

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com