The journey through life is often a tightrope routine of balancing the old with the new, remembering where you came from but not losing sight of where you’re going. This dichotomy is what has been at the forefront for the past six years with the aptly named band Journey.
Not many people remember that Greg Rolie was the original voice of Journey, mainly because his successor was known as “The Voice” — legendary singer/song writer Steve Perry. Perry’s successor, Steve Augeri, was not able to live up to Perry’s success and his eight years with the band didn’t bring much of a splash, causing founding member Neal Schon to go on the hunt for the next big thing for the iconic band.
After an exhaustive search and not finding what he was looking for, Schon came across a YouTube sensation in the Philippines, Arnel Pineda. Schon reached out to Pineda and after a few live auditions with the band, Pineda was extended the opportunity to join Journey.
The band will be performing live at USANA Amphitheater on Thursday, July 17, beginning at 7 p.m. and will be joined by the Steve Miller Band.
This chapter of the band's journey has proven to be exactly what Schon was searching for. With their hit song "Don’t Stop Believing" being featured in the final scene of the HBO drama "The Sopranos" and with the TV series "Glee" also performing a rendition, Journey has connected with a new generation of fans. And with Pineda’s voice so strikingly similar Perry's, it has allowed the band to walk the line of performing what fans grew up loving and getting them hooked on the new stuff as well.
“Wow, ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ it's funny. ... When we were in the studio, when I listened back to it before it was actually all mixed, I thought to myself that this song is going to be a huge anthem," Schon said. "And at the time it was a big song. There were a lot of big songs on the record, though, and some were bigger than ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ So to have it resurge and become like this national anthem, world anthem, it’s really wild. And no matter where I am, no matter if somebody plays it, no matter where, everybody sings it."
Schon said thanks to the song being featured on "Glee," the band has now attracted a new wave of young fans. "We have a lot of kids in our audience."
Trying to bridge the gap of eras has never been an easy task, and reinventing the wheel is always a tall order. And that’s why Journey isn’t even going to try.
“For us to try to reinvent the wheel in this band is really not the thing to do,” Schon said. “I think the thing for us to do is what we always end up doing — is when we actually get in a room and we hang out for a while, the juices just start flowing and we start remembering what we do together so well. And it’s just like an automatic thing. It’s not something you have to try to do.
“And Arnel is a very diverse singer," Schon continued. "He’s able to sing anything. And so I feel like the sky’s the limit of where we can go with this guy. We can (go) to our roots and things that we had success with before. We can move in new directions, we can do whatever. And I think at this point we have so many great songs that we’ve written — and we have like our greatest hit that people demand to hear — that I feel that we convey very well every year that we’re putting in new stuff and we’re moving things around and continuing to grow as well as carry our catalog.”
Still, there are fans who prefer to live in the 1980's and relive the glory years.
“Any time you change one person it’s not the same," Schon said. "It doesn’t mean it’s not good, though. And so I mean people that are into the past will forever stay in the past. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a healthy thing for me or for anyone else that is here right now. And so we’re moving forward into the future and I think we’re doing quite well."
As for those who are "just in love with the past," Schon said, "What I suggest to them is that they just move on. I mean, if you don’t like us for who we are right now, then just don’t bother, you know. Find your new love and take it as you will. I mean, we’re completely fine where we’re at."
There was a little buzz earlier this year when in an interview, Perry mentioned he was in talks with the band about a reunion. But it's not a topic of conversation with Schon and the members of Journey.
“As far as Arnel goes, he’s just a completely awesome human being and singer, amazingly talented," Schon said. "I mean, he’s sounded amazing since he came into the band, and I think when Steve had mentioned that was when somebody put him on the spot and asked him."
Schon says that at the time he and Perry had been communicating via email, "just saying, 'Hello, I hope you're well,' and all that." But there was no discussion about playing together live.
"Then he sort of, he opened the door and shut the door," Schon said. "It wasn’t anybody but him that sort of created all that media for a second. And so we did want to reassure fans that no, Arnel is not going anywhere. He’s still right here with us."
With Pineda firmly at the helm, Journey made a few changes to this year’s tour — changes that should satisfy fans both new and old.
“We went through a lot of material in the two-and-a-half weeks we rehearsed (for the tour), and rehearsed a lot of new stuff with Arnel from the two records we’ve done with him as well as our greatest hits," Schon said. "And we went back to a lot of the original arrangements, because they’ve sort of drifted through the years. ... So I think basically we are going to play more songs in the set and keep the jamming down a bit."
Beginning in the era of vinyl and progressing through CDs and now into the digital age, there is one element that has proved to be successful for the band.
“The whole music industry has sort of faded except for live performances," Schon said. "I think the one thing that remains the same is live performances. So that’s why we’re still here doing this. I mean, it’s like one thing that can’t be hacked and one thing that you absolutely have to show up live to be able to do. And so I still love it. I love performing."
Jonathan Boldt is the Deseret Connect Preps Editor generating content for both DeseretNews.com and KSL.com. He can be reached at [email protected] and you can buy his new book at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EYMOF9W/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_mv6jsb19AG2