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Journey from the Philippinesby Jeff Maisey - Port Folio Weekly
August 12, 2008
When Journey guitarist Neal Schon was scouting for a new singer last year he accidentally came across a video posted on YouTube. The clip featured Arnel Pineda of the Filipino band The Zoo. He was singing cover songs from some of his favorite rock bands like Queen and Journey. Impressed by Pineda's voice, Schon had the vocalist flown to America for an audition.
"The quality of the performance was amazing," said Journey bassist Ross Valory, who called from a tour stop in Florida. "I was surprised as anybody with what I heard."
In December 2007, Pineda was announced as Journey's new frontman and he immediately joined the band in the recording studio for a new album. Revelation is a 3-disc set. The first CD features 12 new tracks, including "Never Walk Away." The fresh material was written before Pineda came onboard. The second disc is a rerecording of 11 of Journey's greatest hits ranging from "Stone in Love" to "Lights." While Revelation also supplies a DVD of vintage Journey concert performance, redoing the classic hit songs seemed a gamble to Valory.
"That could have made us or broken us depending on how it turned out," he said. "But we had Arnel appear at just the right moment."
The band also had a significant retail giant backing it.
Released on June 3, Revelation sold 196,000 copies in its first two weeks and debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Like the Eagles' recent chart topping CD, Journey's multi-album set was sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores.
"It's the new ballgame," said Valory. "It's a shift from the way things used to be with the record company and their distribution ability. Wal-Mart has such a large coverage in the way they sell in volume, along with all the other things they sell like toothbrushes. This was something we were approached with by our common management with the Eagles. It's a trend that's proven to be quite successful."
Valory said the band enjoyed revisiting the old tunes in a studio setting.
"As you play a song for years and years it tends to mutate," he said. "We made sure we went back and listened to the old recordings so our parts would be close to the original renditions."
Interestingly enough, Journey seems to be almost as popular as it was in its heyday when Steve Perry was singing "Don't Stop Believing," "Wheel in the Sky," "Open Arms" and "Faithfully." Nearly every show on this current tour is selling out. The folks at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater have been extremely pleased with advance ticket sales for Journey and are anticipating a crowd of 18,000. Ross Valory attributes the fan enthusiasm to Journey's impressive catalog of hits and the excitement of their newest member.
"Arnel does bring this magic and charisma to it," he said. "Some fans came in with a bit of curiosity and skepticism but he's won their hearts over. But also, wherever we play in the world Filipinos appear (in the audience) for these performances. Even in Chile there was a Philippine contingent of fans."
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