Although Journey has been together for the past five years it is only recently, with the addition of lead singer Steve Perry and the release of their 4th album, Infinity, that they've begun to attract national attention.
Known as an 'instrumental' band with a dynamic stage show - featuring the talents of guitarist Neal Schon, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, Ross Valory on bass and Gregg Rolie on keyboards - Journey is making a concerted effort to appeal to a wider audience.
"This album is absolutely more accessible," says Gregg Rolie. "That was one of the prime reasons we decided to emphasise vocals, we wanted to broaden our audience but we didn't want to lose the following we already had so the logical choice was a more tune-oriented album. We still want to do solos, but the focus is on the songs.
"Having a lead vocalist join the group was a natural progression for us," he adds. "We weren't looking for that intensely but we talked about it for a long time and one day, when our manager Herbie (Walter Herbert) came in and asked us if we wanted to try it, we said 'sure'. It was that simple.
"Even with Steve in the group, I'm singing just as much now," (Rolie shares leads with Perry and sings lead on their latest single, Anytime.)
The choice of Roy Thomas Baker (best known for his work with Queen) to produce their last album was seen by some as an attempt to change their image and develop a more commercial approach. But after the experience of producing their last two albums (Look Into The Future and Next), Gregg is quick to point out the advantage of having someone else handle production.
"It can become a little tedious. There's a lot of work checking things out and it's easier to have someone there who'll tell you when you have to do something again. You can get bogged down with your own work when you produce yourself. You get too close to it."
The group is pleased with the album and is planning to work with Baker again in the future. "It would be silly to change horses in mid-stream," says Gregg. "The next album will be pretty much in the same vein with a little more up tempo material. I think people like that and we do too."
Talking with the members of this band, it becomes clear that they're serious musicians who are enjoying their success.
"We were never discouraged," says Gregg, "because every time we've gone out on the road, there's been growth. We've learned more about each other, the music and the industry.
"Journey is a democratic situation that will last because everyone is a little older now and more aware and that's the only way a band can work. Everyone has their own musical taste and their own ideas but we've learned how to use them to improve the group."
Although they spend almost 10 months a year on the road, Rolie doesn't mind the hectic life: he likes playing onstage and thinks of it as "a very necessary part of music".
"I'm sure that I'll eventually have a more normal life when I'm not travelling so much. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life, but I do want to do it for about another ten years
"This is what I always wanted to do play rock and roll and the musicianship in the group is really excellent. To be in a band where everyone wants to do the same thing is really great."
As for solo projects, Rolie says: "I'm totally into a group effort because I think it's the best way. When you get a bunch of good musicians together whose ideas coincide and who understand that it's not one man's show, it's really terrific.
"I'm not interested in doing any solo projects right now. The best vehicle for my music is Journey; to do anything by myself would be kind of frivolous. We are all pretty much in agreement. It will happen at a later date for each individual, but right now the focus is on Journey."
© Hit Parader, December 1978, Charlton Publications Inc.