A Side Trip Or Journey's End?
Journey's Neal Schon and rocker Sammy Hagar are fronting a new band together. What does this mean about other obligations?
Oh please! You're not going to ask me about my future with Journey, are you?" a decidedly irked Neal Schon sighed at a recent press conference in San Francisco.
Well, of course several dozen reporters did ask that question. Taking a deep breath, Neal began slowly:
"Alright, but let's just do this once. No, I'm not leaving Journey to do this project with Sammy Hagar. It's a project that Sammy and I have talked about for a long time and thought would be fun to do. It will probably be, I mean it is, hard rock and roll. It's different from what Sammy does on his own, and different from Journey's sound. As you know from talking to other members of Journey, we have All been very busy with other projects. Steve (Smith) has done a solo album. Jonathan (Cain) produced and wrote an album for his wife. All of us wrote and performed a song for the motion picture Two of a Kind. We're writing for the next Journey album and planning our upcoming videos and tours. What Hagar and I are doing together in no way takes away from my work with Journey. As we've all tried to say many times we think our extra work outside the group adds to Journey's strength."
Rumors Even Hotter!
Ever since the announcement that Neal and Sammy Hagar were fronting a new band, all hell has broken loose. Naturally any and all Journey break-up rumors were recirculated with new energy, not to mention the onslaught of misinformation concerning Hagar's rock ambitions.
"Neal and I inked a record deal with Geffen months ago," Sammy explained recently. "We'd been practicing together for a long, long time. What we realized we wanted to do was take these practice sessions to our fans, play live in public and share some of the music we were enjoying so much. What happened from there is pretty simple. The concerts which were extensions of our sessions, were taped. We did about a dozen live shows, five in San Francisco and several more in Texas. We just brought a lot of tape equipment and put down what we were doing. I'd say our sound together is in the Zeppelin-Rush mold."
According to Journey's manager Herbie Herbert, who co-manages Schon with Hagar's manager Ed Leffler: "This will be the first time for a live LP from a new band to precede a studio LP.
The group is rounded out by bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve.
"Michael Shrieve used to play with me when we both were members of Santana, during the band's early years," Neal remembers. "I was into rock and blues and Carlos was beginning to head in a more jazzy latin direction. We saw the writing on the wall. We knew that we had to get out and do something that we felt more comfortable with. We wanted to make more progressive music, something we could really sink our teeth into instrumentally."
Rocking All the Way
As for Journey's present situation, Neal is candid: "Sometimes I get a little annoyed with the limitations of our style, but I like money, so selling millions of albums soothes my troubles. But I must keep experimenting with the guitar, that's why I continue doing outside projects. Starting this band with Sammy is very, very exciting. We're playing real heavy metal rock and roll. I can't let Journey be my whole musical life!"
Sammy, too, has been a real energy machine these past years. Headlining tours and opening dates with ZZ Top, has kept him in perpetual motion.
For me there's only one way to rock—all the way," Hagar teases. "I think Neal and I have stumbled on something very special, and very us. The concerts have been rejuvenating for me, and I think they've brought something new to Neal as well. As for our future together, we've left things fairly loose. We both have a lot of pressure from our other projects. But I know neither one of us has any intention of letting our work together end with this one album and one concert tour. No, you're going to be hearing from us."