It was January 22nd -- Steve Perry's birthday. His plans for the day included a production meeting at the office with Jonathan, Neal and the road crew, then a session at the recording studio to finish up the new album. While Steve was busy in the meeting, we organized a surprise party for him just down the hall. Everyone had a great time, and Steve was blown away by all the wonderful cards and letters he received for his birthday from many of you -- he had quite a bundle to carry out to his car!
When the party was over, we spent a few quiet moments with Steve as he reflected on his personal feelings about the event of the past year, his role as producer of the Journey album, and his plans for the future...
Force: Why don't we start by talking about the new album. How has it been producing a Journey album?
Steve: Great! It's been challenging, real challenging. Jon helped me a lot during the last few weeks on some of the vocals; he co-produced some of them. I think we have it listed on the album as "additional production by Jon Cain." So, Jon's been doing the vocals with me now, and like I said, it's been a real challenge especially when the band had problems in the studio in June. Jon, Neal and I decided at that point in time, that we either going to continue to be Journey or there wouldn't be one, so we went ahead and pulled ourselves together as a three-some. The three of us had always written the songs anyway, and since we were the writing force of Journey -- keyboards, guitar and a voice, we decided to finish the album and be Journey. We then added a rhythm section with a couple of bass players and Steve Smith actually played on a couple of tracks.
Force: How do you feel about the album now that it's nearly completed?
Steve: The album is great! I feel really good about it. I'm so glad that it turned out sounding so much like Journey... it really does. There's some stone cold Journey sounds there.
Force: Are you looking forward to getting back on the road?
Steve: Oh man, am I! We were talking about the tour today. I'm looking forward to it a lot. We go out sometime in June, and we're going to do America, possibly Japan, and we are also discussing some other things.
Force: When is the album actually due out and what is the title?
Steve: The album is due out in April sometime, and te first single will be released shortly before the album release. The album is called "Raised On Radio"
Force: Any idea of what the first single will be?
Steve: That's hard to pick right now. CBS will help us choose the first single when we are back in New York. It could be 'Radio' or 'The Girl Can't Help It' or 'Suzanne'. It's too hard to say right now.
Force: Regarding the upcoming tour, have you guys settled on a new drummer or bassist yet?
Steve: No, we're going to do some of that in New York and some of it here. We've got three guys right now for drums and probably about four guys for bass that we're looking at. We haven't settled on anyone yet. We're going to play a bit in New York with this one guy and then come back here to start rehearsals around April. We're going to run some people through really quickly as we do have some people in mind.
Force: Projecting into the future, do you see another Steve Perry solo project soon?
Steve: Right now I don't know when or why or how come. It's too far ahead. I just want to go on a long Journey tuor and play some music again. I'm really looking forward to the tour cause I haven't really been onstage in a long time. It's been a couple of years at least since the band went out... three years in September.
Force: Congratulations on your Grammy nominations! How does it feel to be nominated?
Steve: God, it's amazing! I'm so excited. I was nominated for my participation in 'We Are The World' and I'm in there for single ('If Only For The Moment, Girl'), and possibly for the album of the year. I think there's also a category for 'Best Performance By A Group or Duo'
Force: That must be really exciting. Are you going to the ceremonies?
Steve: Yes! I've got my tuxedo coming in, with tails and everything. Speaking of tails, we're discussing selling a t-shirt at the Journey concerts that has tails... it's black and a t-shirt, but it has tails. We were talking about that at the meeting today.
Force: Last time we talked we discussed your Mom's illness and her passing away in December. That had to be an awful strain this past year trying to do everything else and having your mother so ill.
Steve: To be perfectly honest with you, that was a strain the entire year. It was difficult to do the album just because of what happened with the band... then we cut the album and ended up scrapping most of it except for two or three cuts, then we re-recorded the album again but with different people, and all the while I was trying to deal with my mother getting sicker by the day. She had been sick for quite a few years, but the last year was a year that I don't mind not seeing around anymore. That one can go. It was a strain, and it still IS a strain for me. Today is my birthday, and it's not the easiest day, you know. This was a day that we were here together, it's the day she got me here, and this is the first time I've ever been without her on my birthday. It's a hard one-- it's not easy. And it was not easy for her, her sickness, as it was not easy for me with the pressure of the album and the pressure of producing it. It was a conscious decision by the band to have me produce it; they wanted me to do it. It really wasn't anythng else like some people thought. It wasn't that Steve Perry was coming back into Journey to change things. It's the other producers that we were afraid would change the band's sound. I was for making the band sound like Journey and I think the album will sound like that. the band has changed a lot because we now have the freedom to use different rhythm sections, bass and drums, with any songs that Neal, Jon and I write. That gav us a more creative direction and freedom, but it was also a challenge on it's own... but it was much more of a strain because Mama was getting progressively more and more ill an then, on December 4th, she died. She died on her mother's birthday, which was peculiar because her mother died two days after my mother's birthday.
Force: I know it was really tough dealing with alot of the press as they were spreading all the rumors about Journey, saying 'why is the album taking so long, etc' when they didn't understand what was going on.
Steve: I think that's what should be said now. It was a very difficult year for the band alone, not to mention that the lead singer of the band was going through an awful lof of emotional bleeding and I'm just glad now that Mom's not being hurt, tortured or humiliated anymore, so that's great. I could be selfish and wish she was here, but I wouldn't want to put her through that... not that there is anything I could do about it anyway.
Force: Would you like to comment now on your break up with Sherrie?
Steve: Sure, I think it's time. I think the Force members would like to know and this is a good place to surface it versus "Entertainment Tonight."
Force: That happened in 1984?
Steve: It was in June, it's been about a year and a half. She and I were kind of in and out, but by the time 1985 hit, it was history. That's why I say 1985 was a difficult year for more than the three reasons, because I was going through the emotional stress with my mother, wishing that Sherrie was there. We were good for each other, but not right for each other and then, again, not good for each other but right for each other. I know that's hard to explain, but it's very easy to be truly in love with someone but not be able to work it out. It happens every day, but it really had never happened to me. I never really and truly, from the bottom of my heart, fell in love with someone like I did with Sherrie, and I believe that the same goes from her side... and it always will. I think that when you do love someone, you never stop loving them, you just have to deal with it. That's rough. It's just something that you have to face, and it's maybe just not the right time or maybe it's just not right at all. But the hardest part is that, once you do fall in love with someone, you're there... and if you pull out, then you never really were in love with them. That's what I think personally for myself at least. And it makes it very difficult because I deal with it on a daily basis. Not one day goes by that I'm not thinking about her or wishing that I could see her, but all the while knowing that seeing her isn't the best thing for her or me because it just stirs up some complex emotions that I'm just not wanting to look at right now. It's very difficult, so I would just want to add that Sherrie was a very special lady for me and she meant an awful lot to me and ... (pause) it just didn't work out for us.
Force: Well, it's been a couple of hard years on you. Has there been anything...
Steve: Wonderful? (laughter) There you go, let's talk about the positive now!
Force: How about your new hobby, helicopter flying?
Steve: Well, I'm still flying helicopters, but I haven't done it in a while. It's really a blast! I was flying down to see Mom; while I was working on the Journey album, I was having these people fly a helicopter up here. I had actually set it up so that I could fly down to see her once in a while, but I wanted to get that connection so that at the drop of a phone call, I could get there quickly if I had to.
Force: Did you fly yourself?
Steve: Yeah, I piloted the helicopter, but I wasn't alone. I had a pilot with me. Hovering isn't easy, taking off and flying is, but coming in and hovering is difficult. The thing I really like about flying is there were a few times with this pilot when we'd be flying around and I'd say, "God, look at that peak over there... put her down there" and he'd set it right down, turn it off and we'd hang out in the snow. It's just so free to be able to get to the peak of a mountain that might take you a good hike of maybe two days, and you just land on the mountain.
Force: Well, that pretty much answers the questions our Force members have. Anything else you'd like to say to them to wrap things up?
Steve: If there was one thing I could say to the fans, it would be for them to protect their lives, protect their health, protect themselves from things and people who might want to take those things away from them. Then you can live, enjoy music and live your life to a much better degree, things that can hurt you, whether that's drugs, too much booze, or too much of anything. Just protect their lives because it's a precious gift that they've been given to be somewhere they've never had a chance to be before and to be here and to have an opportunity to see alot of things and to try to do things with and for their families and themselves. It's just very important to protect themselves from thing that can hurt them. I just hate to see people get all screwed up. It sure changes your life when certain things happen to you... you've got to respect your life a little bit, it's a special privilege that people take too lightly, until it's gone or until it's damaged. If you damage yourself or hurt yourself, you just wish you could be back where you were when you thought you were unhappy.
Force: Any New Year's resolutions?
Steve: Yeah, to eight-six 1985! And I'm going to try to have a really, really great time on tour. I'm looking so forward to the tour that you can't belive it. I can't wait to travel around the country playing in arenas with Journey again. It's been too long! And just to stay healthy so I can have fun... that's pretty much my resolution!