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Legendary rock band still following its journeys
August 29, 2011

The lyrics of "Don't Stop Believin' " - the ubiquitous, and arguably, most famous, anthem from legendary rock band Journey - now might be more poignant and real for the band. It has survived almost four decades, which have included break-ups and hiatuses after its changes and challenges, and numerous member replacements.

Filipino Arnel Pineda - who became Journey's lead singer in 2007 - especially personifies the inspirational story about hope amid struggles told in "Don't Stop Believin.' " Pineda had been a homeless young man on the streets of Manila, after his mother's illness left his family deeply in debt and without a home. Yet, he somehow built a singing career performing with several bands in the Philippines. Journey - which is bringing its Eclipse Tour on Saturday to the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown - discovered Pineda when they saw videos of him singing Journey songs with his band, The Zoo.

"What impressed me the most is just the person he is," drummer Deen Castronovo says. "I just love the guy, and fans love him. That's a huge thing. For awhile, everybody was skeptical.

"He just had to be himself," says Castronovo, of Salem, Ore. "You can spot a phony a mile away. That man, when he sings, it's from his heart."

Now, Journey is enjoying re-inventing itself, and drawing in a whole new generation of fans - many of whom are teenage fans of the hit Fox show "Glee," which made a cover of "Don't Stop Believin' " that became a big hit. Journey's latest album - "Eclipse," which was released in May and available exclusively at Walmart - has garnered good fan feedback, and includes classics and new songs that are edgier and more intense, Castronovo says.

"So far, so good," he says. "We're really proud of the record.

"The cool thing with Arnel and this band, in general, is that we can go in any direction, instead of staying in the Journey format we've always had," Castronovo says. "It's still Journey, but it's got a little bit of a bite to it, and it's a little bit darker."

Classic Journey songs from the '80s remain such enduring favorites - particularly "Don't Stop Believin'," which appears all over pop culture, at sporting events and more. The message is inspirational and happy, Castronovo says, particularly for people like Pineda, who are rising above bad circumstances.

"Spiritually, what a great message," he says. "It's just a positive song with a great hook and a great melody.

"You look at what's going on in the world right now," Castronovo says. "Man, all we've got is faith. We've got to believe that somehow, some way, it's going to turn around."

Castronovo, like Pineda, isn't one of the original members of Journey, which got its start in San Francisco in 1973. The group includes two original members - Neal Schon (guitars, backing vocals) and Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals) - and Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), who joined in 1980.

Castronovo - who has played in other bands including Bad English - joined Journey in 1998. This band has been the pinnacle of his aspirations: Castronovo had been a passionate Journey fan, and said that Journey or Kiss would be his dream band.

"I pinch myself daily, and I don't take it for granted," the energetic Castronovo says. "I am so fortunate to do what I do for a living. It's a dream come true."

His excitement and enthusiasm stays with him on and off the stage, he says.

"I'm like this all the time; they have to feed me candy to get me to calm down," Castronovo says, laughing. "Life it too darn good to be sad and depressed. The glass is half full all the time."

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