An interview with the author Neil Daniels

JOURNEY is just about the most talked about AOR act right now, with a new album to be released. The veteran melodic rockers' career has been given a new boost recently, and their classic song "Don't Stop Believin'" is the most downloaded song in the history of Itunes. The time seems to be right for a book about the band, and what do you know - Neil Daniels has written one! We discussed the book with him.

What or who prompted you to write a book about Journey?

Well, it was basically now or never. I didn’t think there was a likelihood a publisher would ever commit to a biography of Journey and with the whole Glee thing and the band’s massive success with Revelation I knew it was perfect timing. I’d tried a couple of years before when Jeff Scott Soto was in the band to get my idea commissioned but didn’t get any interest from publishers. I think it’s a massive triumph to get a book published on a band like Journey as publishers are very prejudice towards this kind of music. How many biographies do you read on AOR/melodic rock bands that aren’t self-published? Books that you actually see in Warterstone’s and HMV etc? Anyway, I hooked with an agent in London who happens to be a bigger Journey fan than I am and he was integral in getting me this deal with Omnibus Press. I guess publishers would be interested in the official Journey’s story but how truthful would it be? That’s something to think about…

What's your own relationship with the band, have you been a fan for long?

My relationship is purely that of a fan. I think they’re not only the greatest band of their ilk but a criminally underrated one too. I mean, Neal Schon is surely one of the greatest guitarists in rock history? I think so. They are musicians first and foremost and I think the musicianship on every album is a damn sight better than that of most rock bands. They’re better musicians individually and collectively than, say, the Rolling Stones. Journey were also the pioneers of stadium rock, which they don’t get credit for. They have crafted some of the most perfect rock singles (and albums) you’re ever likely to hear. The themes they sing about are universal.

Your personal favourite Journey album & song?

Hmmm… tough question. To be honest I think their weakest album of the AOR ones (post Infinity) is Trial by Fire; to me it seems muddled and lacks focus and above all else, it just doesn’t rock. I think their most underrated album is Raised On Radio. It has three of their finest songs (‘Be Good To Yourself’, ‘I’ll Be Alright Without You’ and ‘Girl Can’t Help It’) and I’ve have given it a fair amount of space in my book; also because it was an album that basically broke up the band so it’s an important one. By that point Ross Valory and Steve Smith were no longer in Journey and the line-up was not longer the classic Escape incarnation. I guess my faves would be Escape and Frontiers. The latter has the edge which Escape lacks and it rocks more but Escape has some killer tunes. Perry sounds amazing on both albums and Schon’s guitars are at their finest. Also, how can you forget those gorgeous keys from Cain? Of the post Perry albums, well, Revelation was awesome.


You've done a lot of research for the book and a lot of interviews. Did it all go smoothly or were there some bumps on the road?

Before I signed the publishing contract I got in touch with most of the ex members and aside from two of them they all agreed to interviews and then they backed out. I won’t go into it but if you read between the lines you can guess why. It put me off a little but Herbie Herbert, Robert Fleischman and Jeff Scott Soto chose to go ahead, three absolutely integral members of Journey’s history. So with that I knew I could get a story together on the band. There are others involved whom I interviewed but those three helped pull it together for me. Herbie was great and if you’ve read the interview he did with Andrew McNiece at you’ll know how honest he is; but he is super intelligent, articulate and has amazing memory recall. He was great to interview; I must admit I was very nervous when I rang him at his home but he was very friendly. JSS is just a cool guy as everyone knows in AOR/melodic rock circles and I’ve built up great communications with Robert whose band The Sky are set to release their debut album.


Did you talk to any of the current band members or Steve Perry?

There’s a bonus chapter on Steve Perry’s solo music and I got to interview the likes of Michael Landau, Bill Cuomo and Russ Miller. I wanted a chapter on Schon’s solo career too, which would have included Bad English and Soul SirkUS but there was a contracted word count so there was no room for the Schon chapter; he’s done a hell of a lot of stuff outside of Journey. Some might criticise me for that but it is a book on Journey after all and I could have gone crazy and included Cain’s solo stuff too. And what about Gregg Rolie’s solo stuff as well? He’s still an important player in Journey’s history. I do mention The Storm and Bad English etc but don’t go in-depth but like I said, the book is specifically about Journey from 1973-2010 though I do lay the foundations pre ’73 with Santana. So the story really begins with Santana around 1969. To understand the foundations of Journey you have to know a little bit about Santana and Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon’s history with the band. Journey formed in 1973 and the story of Journey is told in chronological order right up to 2010.


During your research, what would you say were the most surprising revelations you found about the band?

Urm, well though I knew Herbie did not especially like Perry but I didn’t realise just how much. Sure, Herbie has never taken credit away from Perry as a singer but as a person I don't think Perry comes across in a great light. I think there were deep divisions within the band with Perry on one side and Cain and Schon on the other; and I think one reason why Rolie left was certainly to do with Perry. By the time of Frontiers it seemed that Perry was in charge of the band and that totally manifested itself with Raised On Radio, which does not sound too dissimilar from Street Talk.


The hardcore Journey fanbase is pretty fanatical, some of them are called "Perry Jihadists" and so on. Are you afraid that they'll come after you if some of the things in the book don't please them?

Oh, without doubt I’m sure I’ll get some emails from Perry fanatics once the book is out. I got some from Bon Jovi fans when I did the A-Z book but I’m not sure some people realise just how crazy Journey fans are. They really do love their band, don’t they? Bering a fan sometimes goes a bit too far though, I think. I think Perry still holds some people (women) totally spellbound even to this day. I guess for a lot of women he was their childhood idol. But it remains his voice that still captures the attention of so many people.


Now that you've become quite familiar with band and its' history, please describe the following current or former members of Journey in one sentence:

I’ll do one line with short sentences. Ha…

Steve Perry

Unique voice. Amazing stage presence. The greatest AOR singer ever. Just brilliant.

Neal Schon

Criminally underrated. Phenomenal player. Absolutely amazing at what he does.

Jonathan Cain

Absolutely integral to the success of Journey. Great player. Great songwriter.

Steve Augeri

Should be given more credit. Unfairly treated in the end. Very good AOR singer.

Arnel Pineda

Great singer. Best of the post-Perry ones. Better front man now than 3 years ago.

Gregg Rolie

Hugely gifted. One of the key players in Journey’s history.

Ross Valory

Deceptively talented. Underrated. Very important in Journey’s history.

Deen Castronovo

Fantastic drummer and singer. Monster player. Love this guy!

Steve Smith

Only one of the greatest drummers ever. Everyone knows that.


"Look Into The Future"... what do you think that the future holds for Journey?

I’ve thought about this recently and I think Pineda maybe has a third album left and then there’ll be another new guy. I just can’t see him lasting too long. The Journey back catalogue is too demanding and their history shows that. I don’t believe for one minute there’ll be a reunion with Perry so people need to forget that and move on. I reckon they could make huge sums of money if it did happen but it’s a dream. Nothing more.


What does it hold for you, any new book projects in the pipeline you could talk about?

 Yeah, I’m working on an illustrated bio of Iron Maiden which will be a really cool full colour hardback coffee table type book. It’s out next spring. There might be a couple of print on demand books; perhaps a fictional rock novel. Not sure yet. My website has just been updated so please check out

interview by Kimmo Toivonen,  

11 April 2011
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