News Column

Journey's Neal Schon on upcoming performance at First Niagara Pavilion

June 15, 2014

By Scott Tady, Beaver County Times, Pa.

June 15--BURGETTSTOWN -- Imagine the classic-rock hits you'd hear June 27, when Journey and Steve Miller Band co-headline First Niagara Pavilion.

"Fly Like an Eagle," "Don't Stop Believin'," "The Joker," "Any Way You Want It," "Take the Money and Run," "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin,'" and more will surely get fans singing along in a concert that begins with a third San Francisco area act, Tower of Power.

Journey guitarist Neal Schon, the band's lone original member, gave a conference call phone interview recently to discuss Journey's tour.

Excerpts of what he said:

What will the show be like?

Schon: We went back to a lot of the original arrangements because they've sort of drifted through the years, and got back to (the) record versions. So basically we're going to play more songs in the set and keep the jamming down a little bit more.

Feel any special vibe from outdoor summer concerts?

Schon: We do this almost every year and it's sort of like the norm for us to play these outside festivals -- we call them the BBQ pits -- and it's a lot of fun; the weather's great, the music's great, audiences come out in droves, and it's going to be awesome. I think it's a great lineup.

What's it like seeing "Don't Stop Believin'" take on a new life?

Schon: It's funny, when I listened back to it before it was actually all the way mixed, I thought to myself that song is going to be a huge anthem. 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 Believin'. So to have it re-surge, and become like this national anthem, it's really wild. And no matter where I am, if somebody plays it, everybody sings it. And so, very cool. We've attained very young audiences, too, with like "Glee" hammering the tune and redoing it. We have a lot of kids in our audience. I look out and I see about four different generations.

What's the motivation for this tour?

Schon: The whole music industry has sort of faded except for live performances. There's no more music stores and really it's just like downloads. I sort of miss being able to walk into a music store and look at albums and CDs and see who's on it. Everything is so digital and it's just the way of the world right now. But I think the one thing that remains the same is live performances. So that's why we're still here doing this. 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.

How's the evolution going with singer Arnel Pineda, now in his seventh year with Journey?

Schon: He's just a completely awesome human being and singer; amazingly talented. He's sounded amazing since he came into the band. And so we did want to reassure fans that no, Arnel is not going anywhere. He's still right here with us. He's like a saint on tour; I mean there's no drinking, there's no partying, he has to eat correct foods. He does that out of the respect for the band and wanting to bring his Grade A game to the show.

What would you say to someone who thinks Journey was superior years ago, when Steve Perry was singer?

Schon: I think we're doing quite well and there are always people that are just in love with the past and cannot move on from that. And so what I suggest to them is that they just move on. If you don't like us for whom we are right now, then just don't bother. Find your new love and take it as you will. We're completely fine where we're at. Arnel brings a lot to the table. I think he's like a heck of a performer. Nothing is ever going to be the same and so the people that jump on the wagon and say, 'Well it's not the same; it's never going to be the same,' of course it's not going to be the same. It's not supposed to be. And life isn't supposed to be. How boring if you were to stay exactly the same all the time.

How has Journey endured?

Schon: Because we basically work our butts off and we tour every year and have new audiences come in all the time. We're claiming younger fans. And also I think mainly, we just got it right. We wrote a lot of really great songs, the three of us; myself, (original singer) Steve Perry, and Jonathan Cain.

Your favorite Steve Miller song?

Schon: He's got a lot of great songs. "Fly Like an Eagle," you know, that's an obvious.

Are audiences different now?

Schon: Audiences have changed and I have to say it's for the better. They keep getting younger. Not that our older fans are bad, they're still there, but I'm looking out and I'm seeing four generations of crowds now. And so it's just spread out more and the demographics are like from 7 to 8 up into 60 to 65 or even older.

What's the future hold?

Schon: I'm constantly talking with the Journey guys about going in the studio later this year when we get off tour to have a new record for next year. When we actually get in a room and we hang out for awhile, like we just did in rehearsal, 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. 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 stay to our roots and things that we had success with before. We can move in new directions. We can do whatever.

At this point we have so many great songs that we've written and we have like our greatest hits that people demand to hear that I feel that we convey very well every year. We're putting in new stuff and we're moving things around and continuing to grow as well as carry our catalog and let everybody that worked on that catalog benefit from it, even though they're not on tour as we are.


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Source: Beaver County Times (PA)

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