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Believe it: Journey still a huge draw
by Ed Condran -
August 15, 2011

There were myriad popular songs recorded during the 20th century. But Journey crafted the No. 1 song of the century, according to the Nielson Company.

The veteran pop-rockers received a plaque commemorating the mark on "The Today Show" in late July courtesy of the success of their uber anthem "Don't Stop Believin.'"

"It's amazing," drummer Deen Castronovo says. "It's just an incredible accomplishment."

Perhaps what's most amazing is that Journey, which will perform Saturday at the Susquehanna Bank Center, is alive and well. When vocalist Steve Augeri (who had replaced Steve "The Voice" Perry in 1998) had throat problems that prevented him from performing, Journey's journey appeared to come close to ending.

"We didn't know what we were going to do," Castronovo says while calling from Cleveland. "It didn't look good. We just couldn't continue with any singer."

While cruising the Internet in 2007, guitarist-songwriter Neal Schon stumbled onto Zoo, a Filipino Journey cover band that included vocalist Arnel Pineda.

"We were floored by Arnel," Castronovo says. "But we didn't know if the clip was doctored. We called him in and he was better than he was on YouTube."

The band viewed Pineda as the perfect fit and the Journey faithful has re-embraced the group, which is often performing to packed sheds nearly 30 years removed from its heyday.

"It's something we don't take for granted," Castronovo says. "We know a lot of bands that hit like Journey did during the '80s but are playing to 700, 800 people but we're selling out 80 percent of the amphitheaters we play."

The band is touring behind its latest album, "Eclipse," which dropped in May. "Eclipse" is a straight-forward guitar-driven prog-rock album.

"Neal said that we weren't going to do any ballads this time," Castronovo says. "He said Journey has enough ballads and we have a really rocking Journey record. It's pretty raw. It's mostly made of songs done in the first take. It's a very immediate Journey album."

The new songs are delivered along with old favorites, such as "Faithfully," "Anyway You Want It" and, of course, "Don't Stop Believin.'"

"We can't leave the stage without playing 'Don't Stop Believin'," Castronovo says. "Fans love that song more than anything else. We just played it last night in Detroit and when fans heard the 'born and raised in South Detroit' part, they went ape crap and that's a great thing. I hope that we'll be playing 'Don't Stop Believin' for a long time."

Castronovo believes the band will be together as long as Pineda is part of the act. "If he leaves, we're not doing this anymore," Castronovo says. "We're not looking for another singer. We couldn't find anyone like Arnel again. But he's with us and it's a great time for us."

Journey, which also includes keyboardist Jonathan Cain and bassist Ross Valory, noticed a big bump in sales after "Glee" covered "Don't Stop Believin.'"

"Because of 'Glee,' that song has been downloaded more than ever and we see more teenagers at our shows than ever," Castronovo says. "It's incredible. Everything has been going our way lately."

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