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Journey drummer ready to rock at homeby Kyle O'Brien - The Oregonian
October 14, 2011
Journey drummer Deen Castronovo has played to fanatical crowds from South America to Europe and all over the United States, but he's eager to get back to the place he has called home since childhood - Keizer, Oregon.
Castronovo took over for longtime Journey drummer Steve Smith in 1998 after successful stints with acts such as Bad English, Ozzy Osbourne, and Steve Vai, but he cut his musical teeth in the Beaver state, where he'll be playing Wednesday. Journey appears at the Rose Garden with fellow '80s hitmakers Foreigner and Night Ranger.
"I've been on the road for nine months...I miss my kids, my fiancee, my cats, my home,"said Castronovo on the phone from a tour stop in San Diego.
Castronovo grew up a rocker, influenced by bands such as KISS, which he calls his Beatles. He set his sights on being a rock drummer early on, and depended on his school system and teachers to help him get there. An early mentor was famed Portland drummer Mel Brown.
"My mother would drive me up to Portland to take lessons from him every week," he said. "He tried desperately to get me to read music, but I just wouldn't do it. Finally he just said, let's trade fours...He's one of the greatest drummers of all times, in my opinion. With him I learned a lot about how to play and relax."
Castronovo came to prominence with Portland heavy metal band Wild Dogs in the early '80s. He wound through the metal scene and met Journey guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain in the super group Bad English.
Schon asked him to join Journey shortly after original lead singer Steve Perry left the group.
"When I joined, the first tour was bleak. We were lucky to get 1,500 people a night. Lots of fans thought there was no Journey without Steve Perry. We had to re-educate people that it's the band and the music. It built slowly, but now we're at 15-20,000 fans a night."
Castronovo is amazed at the longevity of Journey's music, especially the signature tune, "Don't Stop Believin' ", which has sparked renewed interest after being featured on "The Sopranos," "Family Guy," "Glee"and just about every karaoke list in America.
"Obviously, Journey songs are hooky as heck. We have fans from 6 to 75 years old,"he said.
The band is touring in support of its latest recording, "Eclipse," which features songs from current lead singer Arnel Pineda, Schon's YouTube discovery from the Philippines.
"He's really won over the fans. He belts it out," Castronovo said.
Castronovo is most excited about returning to Keizer, where he helps out the local Boys & Girls Club through his Journey to Music room, a place kids can play and record music.
"It was a simple little plan for kids to play music, but I got tons of letters saying their kids' grades have improved, they stopped using drugs...it's changing lives, and I didn't even think about that part of it," he said.
Castronovo even plans to have Journey come play a fundraiser to keep music in Salem-Keizer Public Schools.
"If there's one thing I want, it's to help the schools do good things," he said.
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