Journey's Odyssey

Toronto Sun, Showcase section, S11
Author: Lisa Robinson
Transcribed by: Steven Lake

Journey is back after three years apart, years rife with rumors of how band members couldn't stand one another. After 10 albums and phenomenal touring success, Ross Valory (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) left the group (to be replaced on Journey's current toured bass player Randy Jackson and drummer Mike Baird), and the remaining members rallied with a Top 10 LP, Raised on Radio, and a four-month U.S. tour that has been the band's biggest to date. The remaining members are lead singer/songwriter Steve Perry, who had a huge solo success with his LP Street Talk two years ago, guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jon Cain.

LISA ROBINSON: Journey is touring now after three years. Did you miss it?

STEVE PERRY: I definitely missed the crowds and some of the fun. But now we'll be touring for some time. We're having fun, the tour is going well and the shows are going great.

Q: Was it difficult for Journey when Ross Valory and Steve Smith left? Did you think of disbanding or, especially with your solo success, going out on your own?

A: we had a lot of problems within the group that we couldn't resolve, and we decided to go our separate ways. I did my solo album and there was really no reason for us to get back together, except that Jon (Cain), Neal (Schon) and I wanted to get back together and just check it out. It's really hard to explain what finally came down but we did get together to do an album, and resolved some of our problems. The other two members of the band didn't even want to go on tour or get back into the whole thing. They hadn't played the kind of music that we were playing when we left off; Steve was playing jazz, actually, and Ross wasn't playing at all. When we got back together we had three. Jon and Neal and I had always kept our chops up, and I had done a solo album, so we were ready to roll. But they weren't, so we decided to continue without them.

Q: Steve is playing jazz with the Brecker Brothers, but what is Ross doing? Are you in touch with him?

A: No. We have nothing to say to each other.

Q: There were many personnel changes over the years with Journey. Did that make their leaving any easier?

A: It made it easier because we cut things much quicker. It was a fresh experience. We looked very hard for the right players to replace them, and it gave the band a fresh identity.

Q: The three of you wanted to continue...

A: Well, Jon Cain called me and said he wanted to do another album. I really didn't want to do it because there was a lot of unfinished business. There is music and then there's music business. Music is always the thing that keeps you together, the music business is always the thing that breaks you apart. People tend to think that this band is just rolling in dough. Well, I've got news for them--we spend an awful lot. It's a very expensive thing to tour, to build a stage and gear up for a tour. A lot of financial things had to be straightened out. Also, at that time I was losing my mother, who passed away last December. So there were a lot of life decisions that I was concerned with, because I have a personal life also. Plus, I knew I could make a solo record and have a great time doing that too, and have more control over my life. So I was just wondering which way to go with it.

Q: You fight so hard to get to the top in rock and roll, and then, when it happens, many bands break up.

A: Talking about all this stuff is like singing about architcture; it really is too difficult to put into a cohesive version of what it took and what it takes to keep it going, and what it took to get it here. An awful lot of it is just going in with the music, gut-level trusting in music, and that's what I do best.

Q: Why hasn't Journey had a sponsor on this tour?

A: I personally didn't want to do it. We had every offer from Pepsi to Coca-Cola, and I just didn't feel like doing it right now. I don't exactly feel like being the wrapper that covers the burger. I am a singer. I've worked all my life to be a singer, my life is my voice, my music, my writing--my emotion is tied to that. I don't want to lessen that and, in my opinion, it cheapens my craft to have me be a plain white wrapper around this cheeseburger. I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to allow you to stick my fit picture on cans. I have to be true to myself.

Q: Journey wasn't going to release a video to accompany this LP. Now you have released a video to go with Girl Can't Help It, one of the hits from your new album. What happened?

A: That video is from a longer documentary we filmed at the first show of the tour that we're talking about airing when it s finished. It's all life, not one of those staged "live" things, but with 23,000 people up in the hills of California. It was fun.

Q: Do videos take away from the mystery of the song?

A: That's exactly my feeling about radio--it still has mystique. I think the visual medium is frightening, but I love videos. I think they're great. I watch them and I want them to be interesting, but when I hear the song again I know the first thing I think in my mind's eye is the video. I have lost my ability to fantasize the music, and I would rather leave with a fantasy. I know this is the video generation, but I still believe in fantasy and mystique and the power of radio to allow you the freedom to completely fantasize what the song means to you. The original place in my mind where the songs come from is a very pure fantasy spot. It's a visionary place that allows just a little bit of a story to be conjured up in someone else's mind just by listening to it on the radio. I think that's wonderful. I think that's magic, and that's what got me into the music business. That's what got me to write songs.

Q: Are you going to do another solo album?

A: I hope so, sure.

Q: You produce Journey, you're the voice of Journey, what is it you are able to do on your solo albums that you are not able to do musically with Journey?

A: It's really not easy to put into words, because it's just two different things. I have more control on my solo albums, but I don't really like to have that. I like to let the people I work with come up with a lot of the strength and te options--in that order--for me to be able to make a st work weigh together creative people and we worked well together.

Q: You're having a good time?

A: I'm having a blast.