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Still believin': Journey faithfully stays the course as a rock 'n' roll legendby Mike Thiel - The Post-Crescent of Appleton
July 14, 2011
The early '80s smash and modern day classic is the highest selling digital song not written in this century and still holds its ground as a top digital seller in the midst of current Billboard hits. Maybe its relevance has been revived because of recent placement on TV shows such as "Glee" and "The Sopranos;" however, there's also just something intangible about a timeless hit.
Cain, 61, said the hit song was created in an improv session. He then mentioned he initially wrote the lyrics for "Faithfully" on a napkin, creating yet another of the band's dozen-plus hit songs.
The Chicago native never lost his swagger, even through the departure of original Journey frontman and famed vocalist Steve Perry.
Instead, Cain and his remaining band members searched for new vocalists, most recently settling on Philippines native Arnel Pineda - a singer the band discovered on YouTube in 2007 - who has strikingly similar vocals to the band's original lead man.
Pineda's vocal punch has reignited the pioneers of arena rock as they continue to tour Perry-less, hitting Rock USA in Oshkosh Friday night, still in the good name of Journey.
There are select bands from the '70s and '80s (i.e. Van Halen, Def Leppard), including Journey, that can still play major venues 30 years after their "heyday." How is that possible?
I think it has to do with the fans...They grew up listening to us and they want that music again because they're not satisfied with the other stuff that's out there. Britney Spears and Lady Gaga ain't cuttin' it. Know what I mean? It's not a diet for everyone...Maybe they're reliving some of the good times in their lives when they come. We all have the little mid-life crisis thing and your favorite songs you grew up listening to make you feel good...I think the bands are still great performing bands. They all know what their fans want. They're very professional and they can all play, unlike a lot of bands today. You hear their records; then you go see 'em live and you go, that doesn't even sound close.
How do you feel about the resurgence that Journey's experienced with a younger generation?
It's like a shot in the arm. It's adrenaline...We've been seeing younger fans over the years anyway, but having your song in "Rock of Ages" and "Glee" and "The Sopranos," it fuels interest. We've been seeing the kids come with the parents, though. We put this band back together in '98 without he who shall not be named (Steve Perry), and we saw that right away. The parents were bringing their kids to the shows, so we've always been sort of a family-oriented rock act to go see. They knew there wasn't gonna be any expletive language. We're not F-bombin' on the microphone and stuff like that. It's no Sammy Hagar show...
I don't know how many times I've seen parents bring their kids to our shows, going, "This is a rock show. This is my kind of rock.'' And the young girls are bringing their moms because their moms confessed they never could come see us because their parents wouldn't let 'em come...So it's basically a daughters hide your mothers tour (laughs).
You wrote the main melody for "Don't' Stop Believin'." At that time, did you think that riff had the potential to become one of the greatest piano riffs of all time?
You know, we backed into that song. I brought the chorus in. It's something my father used to say to me. It was his war cry when I was starving in L.A. and he was in Chicago sending me money to hang out. I had fallen on rough times there for a while and I needed a little pep talk and he used to say, "Jon, don't stop believin'. Remember? We said this was gonna happen for you." The greatest show for me was when I came back to Chicago with Journey and we played that song live. (My father) was there with a look in his eyes like, (expletive) he did it. It came full circle for my pops and me...
For that song, I thought, "Well I think (Steve) Perry will get this. I think he'll like this melody.'' So he said, "These chords are great. Let's just make a verse out of 'em, and Jon, you just play the piano like you do and then I'll sing something.'' So basically that verse is just the chords with me doing my Jonathan Cain thing...Really, truly that was a magical year for me. I made my first million dollars and a No. 1 album. It was just mind-boggling to say the least. I remember every second of it. (Laughs.)
Journey never toured to support the 1996 album "Trial by Fire." Do you think the band missed out on something there?
Yeah, we missed out on about 35 million (dollars). (Laughs.) Yeah, we did. Sure. It was unfortunate. Just one of those circumstances. We couldn't put our finger on it. Steve (Perry) had these health issues that wouldn't leave him alone and they were pretty debilitating. He was in pain one week, and then he's OK, and then he's in pain, and it was just comin' and goin' all the time. Neal (Schon) and I were just, whatever. We make this album, it sells platinum, we get nominated for a Grammy and then we're told there's no tour. There's no nothin'. So we sit and wait for two-and-a-half, three years, make the call and say what do you wanna do? We've gotta do something and (Perry) said, "I don't wanna do anything," and that's when Neal looked at me and went, wait a minute. We can't do this. This is not how it's supposed to end. You and I wrote two-thirds of these songs. We have a certain amount of ownership, so let's investigate. So we did. We went off, tried different things. The two of us really just got in my studio and wrote for three months solid. We just wrote songs 'cause we wanted to make sure that we still had the writing part to make Journey happen. We lifted our heads up after three months of writing and had 20 songs that sounded like, guess who?
Do any of the band members keep in contact with Steve Perry?
We have tried and tried to reach out to him and we get crickets. It's all through the managers and lawyers right now, but we wish him the best. He's been agreeable to most projects that come through, and he's a silent alumnus, I guess.
How long do you expect to keep touring and making new albums?
I look at the Rolling Stones and say, if they can do this, we can do this. It's just gotta be fun and you wanna feel like you mean something out there. And thanks to all this great stuff from the little song that could, it's really helped us out a lot. We're grateful and humbled by it all really and glad we made it.
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