Cyndy: Do you want to talk about your album?
Lora: Let's see. We need a deep meaningful question here. (pauses) So tell us, Steve. How's your album coming?
Steve: (laughs) Wow!! What a unique question! (laughs) Well, I've got a lot of songs written which I'm really pleased with. Now I'm looking for a producer because I don't want to wear all the hats this time.
Lora: Did you scrap the material you had been working on before?
Steve: Well...no. Nothing has been really scrapped. It's more of an addition. I needed some more vital elements that were missing before and I think I've got those elements now. What I'm trying to do now is put together a band. I'm looking for people to record and also players to transition through that to tour. There are some great musicians out there who don't want to tour because they make a hell of a living just having the freedom to do a few albums, stay at home, and they don't have to get on a tour bus and tour. I should make something pretty clear here. I haven't been sitting in a studio all this time. I haven't turned into a cavernous, in-the-dark mole that sits there and agonizes over things. The opposite is true. I haven't been in the studio that much. I occasionally write with some people and then I live my life. I'm pretty open about writing with different people. It isn't like I have selected certain people who I'll write with and that's it. It's like people who paint. You have to paint across four, five and sometimes ten different things before you get something you really like. You and Cyndy know when it comes to shooting pictures, you can do a whole photo session and you might only get one shot that really stands out. That's the way it is with anything. I'd love to sit here and tell you that (in LA Valley dude accent) "Gosh, I'm so prolific that everything I write is fabulous!" but I'd be lying and you'd know that anyway. (laughs)
Cyndy: You must get a lot of feedback writing with different people.
Steve: Oh yeah, that's exactly why I like it. They come up with great idea. I'm a band guy. That's why Journey worked so well. I need people to get a good start on something or give me a chord or two and then together we are on our way. I think two heads are definitely better than one when it comes to that.
Lora: I know you're writing and doing your album right now, but have you ever thought about entering into another side of the music industry? Maybe management?
Steve: I wouldn't mind doing that except I think that it would take a lot of time. As a manager, I wouldn't have the patience for kids who aren't focused and who aren't serious. I think that a lot of people want it but aren't willing to pay the price and go the distance. I got very fortunate because I was motivated, but a lot of great breaks happened for me, too. When luck comes, you better have your best suit on. You have to find people who are serious but also have talent.
Lora: You seem to really enjoy writing.
Steve: There is something really special about meeting someone you've never written with before and music becomes the common denominator. You may never want to spend Christmas Eve dinner with this person or even meet them for coffee, but there is a certain musical camaraderie you both have and you come up with something where there was nothing. It's really a wonderful feeling.
Lora: Did you get a chance to see Nuno's (Bettencourt, from the band Extreme) little brother and his band?
Steve: No, I didn't get a chance, but I do know that he's got a band called Flesh. I want to do that sometime. I had a great time working with Nuno.
Lora: How did you two get together?
Steve: Randy Jackson told me that Nuno Bettencourt was a great guitar player and I had heard about him too. I asked Randy if Nuno's name really was Bettencourt and he said, "Yeah it is" and I said, "You know that's a Portuguese name" and he said, "Yeah, he's Portuguese." I finally got a number on him and called his mom. I left a message for him because he was on tour with Extreme. He speaks Portuguese and so do I, so we started talking and became friends on the phone. He came to town and we got together and started a song and the next thing you know we were planning when we could continue that. Finally he had about a week off and I flew to Massachusetts and we hung out. We went to a little studio and got some musician friends of his, some really good players, too, and just started coming up with some ideas. We recorded two songs. It was fun because we worked all hours. It was one of those cram kind of things. We started in the morning, worked until six the next morning. Nuno is a wonderful player. He's fresh, very creative and a very knowledgeable songwriter and producer. I'm really amazed that he knows as much as he does considering how long he's been in the business. He acts like he's been in the business ten years longer than he has. I like the band a lot. It was Nuno, Gary (Cherone, Extreme's vocalist) and myself that got together. Gary did the lyrics by phone. (laughs) Nuno and I were on the West Coast and we got Gary on the phone on a talk box and did the lyrics to this song. We recorded the song and it's a great tune. There is another rock song that we did which is not quite finished, but the track is done and all I have to do is put in a few words. He does this amazing solo on it. I might end up keeping this, I don't know yet. It's too early to tell. I just know that he's an amazing guy and I see a lot of promise for the band Extreme because they are so diverse. They remind me of the diversity Journey had when we first started. They are the only band I can think of right now that have the ability not just to perform but to write and sing diverse musical styles. I remember when Journey first got going, that was one of the things that everybody thought we were cursed with. In the end it was the thing that became the most important.
Lora: Is Nuno a Journey fan?
Steve: (laughs) Yes. He knew the songs that even I had forgotten about and exactly how I sang them. He has wonderful things to say about Neal. He really appreciates everything that Neal did in the band. He calls him the note bender. Neal has the ability to soar certain notes and bend them to the point where they are really, really exciting. I think Nuno and Neal have met before in a night club situation and exchanged mutual admiration for each other.
Lora: Do you get people telling you that you and Nuno look alike?
Steve: When I look at him I think he looks like me when I was younger. He's got that same kind of exuberance. I've said it before, but he's a wonderful guy. He's doing some really nice things for his family. He's that kind of person. I think he's the most musical player I've met in a long time and I'm sure that everyone will be seeing more of him and Extreme in the future.
Lora: We've gotten a lot of mail lately asking if you're married.
Steve: No, I'm not married.
Lora: There are a lot of people who think you are secretly married.
Steve: Really? No, I'm not. I'm still single and enjoying the aspects of single life. These days it's much more limited, of course, which is an intelligent limitation, I think.
Lora: Believe it or not we still get calls and mail asking about your health and your supposed fight with throat cancer.
Steve: You're kidding? I thought that rumour was dispelled years ago. I can tell you how it got started though. My mother was very ill and I was taking her to all kinds of clinics. She had a lot of neurological problems because of strokes and things like that so we would always be in x-ray wards, CAT scan wards and places like that. People wouldn't see her, they'd see me and they'd but one and one together and get one hundred and ten. One time I'll never forget, my grandfather called me crying on the phone because he had gotten a phone call from a friend of his who had seen me at a medical centre. The rumour got started that I had throat cancer and that I was in the x-ray ward. He was crying and so upset saying, "Why didn't you tell me?" and I said, "Grandpa, I don't know what you are talking about." I explained to him I was there with Mom and even then he didn't believe me. So, to dispel the rumour again, to my knowledge, God willing I know what I'm saying now, I don't have anything wrong like that. I'm sure people wonder what happened to me. They think I fell off the face of earth because they used to listen to me sing and all of a sudden I'm not around anymore. A lot of things have happened in my life and I think I had to let the music business go and step away from it for my own sanity. After losing my Mom, things in my life changed and then Journey sort of went it's separate ways. My personal relationship at that time fell apart. All at once it sort of happened. I realized some big changes were coming, so I had to go my own way. That meant turning my back for a while on a lot of things...not just singing, songwriting, touring, and making records, but a lot of things.
Lora: Do you think you could ever stop singing?
Steve: (pauses) I doubt it.
Lora: It's that time of year again when we ask you if you have a New Year's resolution.
Steve: (pauses) Time just flies. One of my biggest fears is going back to work at the pace I used to keep because time would go by too quickly. But man it goes too quickly anyway! It does go quicker when you are travelling daily and touring, but it doesn't go much slower when you're not doing that either. (laughs) We talk all the time but here it is a year since we talked about New Years resolutions. Wow. (laughs)
Lora: You seem very happy.
Steve: Thanks That's very kind of you. I do get blue especially around the holidays. I don't want to dwell on it but my family is all past, the ones that raised me, so the holidays are a reminder of what things aren't anymore. Now I'm really getting into another place with that and I'm really grateful for what I have now. It helps me move forward. I do feel happier now. As we talked over breakfast, I'm trying not to repeat too much of my old behaviour in my life. I want to try to move on and try some new things. I think we all deserve to grow in spite of ourselves.
Lora: What would you like to see happen in 1992 for Steve Perry?
Steve: (pauses) You know, that is out of my hands. I believe there is a certain rate that things happen in people's lives and they can no more excel them than they can slow them down. I know from past experiences that when I try to hurry something up I inevitably make some bad decisions. When I try to stop something because I don't want to deal with it, that too, is a bad decision because it eventually haunts me. There is a certain rate of my personal growth and my career growth that I'm going to have to adhere to and go with. I hope that doesn't sound to vague. It's meant to be specifically...general. (laughs)
Lora: When you go out to a club, do you get recognized?
Steve: Yes. Sometimes I forget. I know you think this is not true. I'm unaffected by it now and I live a life like everybody else does. I walk into a place and people remind me.
Lora: Like today?
Steve: Like today. You saw it happen. When Little Richard was leaving the hotel and one of the guys in his band came up to talk to me. He knew my tune; he liked "Foolish Heart". That was so great. I went to a benefit for Randy Rhoads at a place called Sharks which used to be the old Vertigo in downtown L.A. I went down there and I was reminded again. Because of the way I pull my hair back now, I think most people don't recognize me. They expect me to look like I used to but it still happens. I'm really pleased that it does, I really am. Sometimes I'm shocked by it because it catches me off guard, I'm not expecting it. (laughs)
Lora: When you go out, do you get asked to jam?
Steve: I try not to do that but I'll tell you who really helped me want the power of a band behind me again was Nikki Sixx (of Motley Crue). Nikki asked me to come to rehearsal one time. It was Nikki, Tommy and Mick. They were writing some new songs for Mick Mars' wife Emi. I went down there just to sort of hang and we started jamming. I hadn't done that for a while. Those cats play loud!! (laughs) I mean Journey was loud, but these cats really get in it. The room was a little small, too, and it was filled with sound. Tommy drums are so incredibly large, they sound so pronounced, it's wonderful. Then there was Nikki's bass and Mick's guitar was screaming. We jammed on an idea and then we did a cover tune. I think we did "Stand By Me".
Lora: Oh, no! Are you serious? (laughs)
Steve: (laughs) Yeah, Motley Crue and Steve Perry doing "Stand By Me." (starts singing the intro to the song) It was like "bo-bo-bo, pow. bo-bo-bo,pow! It was just exploding. (laughs) It was big. We had a great time.
Lora: That's such a beautiful song. You guys did it on the Raised On Radio tour.
Steve: It was pretty to hear Jon's keyboard and Neil's guitar on that one. Jon had a string patch in his keys with Neal's guitar and they learned the melody exactly the as it is on the original song. It is a beautiful string melody and with a guitar playing it with power, it was really wonderful.
Lora: I remember at the last show in Alaska you did a big jam and played "Reach Out".
Steve: We played all kinds of tunes. That was the last show and it was my birthday, as I remember. We had never been to Alaska so we went ahead and booked Anchorage. We went from Hawaii to Alaska, from t-shirts and shorts to twenty below. We didn't use our own stage for those shows. We just flew our basic equipment in. We didn't bring lights or stage because that's the way they work it there. It was so much fun because the garage vibe kicked in and it was so loose.
Lora: I remember you went running down the stairs on the side of the stage and out into the crowd.
Steve: Did I? Oh yeah. It was near the end of the set. It was fun.
Lora: When you're on stage, did you ever focus in on just one person?
Steve: I usually blanket the whole crowd in my mind. I see everybody at once. I don't usually target on person. Occasionally I really enjoy picking certain people and singing to them. That's fun. O the last tour there would be women showing up who were in their late twenties to mid-thirties and they already had kids. These kids were eight, ten, twelve years old. Some of them were crying during songs like "Open Arms" and I would be watching them cry and thinking, "What's going on?". It was so amazing to me.
Lora: Parents always felt comfortable bringing their kids to a Journey show.
Steve: Yeah, I don't think I was going to eat any chickens or kill a small puppy on stage. That really wasn't my groove. (laughs)
Steve: So Cyndy. You've been awfully quiet. What is the one burning question that you've always wanted to ask me? We've known each other for eight years now. There must be something you want to ask?
Steve: Come on. You're telling me that for eight years there's not one question that you kind of want to know? (laughs)
Steve: Gosh, I'd better turn this recorder off and save the tape. (laughs)
A few minutes later, turns tape back on.
Steve: Okay...(points the recorder at Cyndy) GO!
Cyndy: (laughs) I can't deal with the pressure.
Steve: Oh, wow! I'll have to remember that and use it. I can't deal with the pressure. (laughs) It's rolling.
Lora: There's going to be a big blank spot in the newsletter. (laughs)
Lora: To avoid white space, we'll change the subject. You have a rather strange relationship with some local personalities. How did you first get involved with Mark & Brian (KLOS morning guys).
Steve: It was a couple of years back and somebody told me that they had been listening to KLOS. Mark & Brian were talking about the last Journey tour and said they went out to Atlanta to meet Steve Perry but I didn't show up. I left right after the show. They saw me backstage but my hair was so long and my nose was so big that when I turned around really quickly, my nose almost hit them in the face and my hair almost whacked then as I flew around. (laughs) They said I was some kind of d*** or something. So (pauses) I thought, "What are these guys doing to me?" Actually I can see how they would get that opinion because before a show I've got my clothes on and I'm getting psyched up and I have things to think about. I don't want to prance around and go, "Oh, how are? Nice to meet you." I didn't know Mark & Brian were going out there anyway and I didn't know who they were at the time. Anyway, after the show I left. So a friend heard their show and called and told me what they said on the air. I got their number form CBS records and called and surprised them. I said, "So I'm a d***, huh?" And they started laughing and they started telling me the whole story as I've just told it. We started talking and the next thing you know we were having a great time. They were busy busting my chops and I was busting theirs and it started a relationship that to this day we still have. They have pulled some stunts on me, but that's their character. They do that to everybody. I've seen them do some outrageous stuff. I remember when Wayne Gretzky first was here in L.A., they somehow got his number and called him. Woke him up. "Hey Wayne, babe. How's it going, Mark & Brian, KLOS. So Wayne, what do you think about California?" And it was Wayne Gretzky. (laughs) So I don't put anything past these guys.
Lora: You did a song for Brian's birthday.
Steve: I was working at the time with Randy Goodrum and we decided to do a little tune. It was done to the melody of "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby," and old fifties song. In the middle I did this rap where I said, Brian, you should have never been named Brian. You should have been named Dick because Brian....you are one." (laughs) Then it goes back into "Happy, Happy Birthday Brian." They went nuts. They loved it. And they kept jacking me up. One day a friend called to tell me they said something like, "Stephen Perry must be recording everything including John Phillips Sousa by now." (laughs) They think I've been in the studio all this time, which I haven't . They are really great guys and they've been in their own loving, caring, mischievous way, really supportive of me.
Lora: Did you ever work at a radio station?
Steve: When I was seventeen I thought a radio station was good place to come in contact with the record business. Back then you had to have a third class license to be a d.j. and then you could work certain hours. I wanted to get into that so I went to San Francisco to try to take my test with the F.C.C. You had to study for the test and learn all kinds of equations, and you had to have a slide rule and the whole deal. At the time I was about as bright as a pink plastic soap dish on a slide rule so I flunked the test, I did want to be a d.j., though.
Lora: You do have a nice voice though.
Steve: It's funny you'd say that because I used to pretend at home on the tape recorder, and I'd lower my voice. Actually I still play around like that. You've heard my phone machine stuff. I do those characters on my phone machine.
Lora: Yeah, they're great. Sometimes it gets me laughing so much I have a hard time leaving a message.
Steve: It's fun creating voices. I might be using my voice for a cartoon character. I have a friend who did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he might do a full length cartoon feature, almost like a Disney thing. His name is Gary Proper and he's the gentleman who owned the comic book, originally. He also manages Gallagher. He's a nice guy. He wants me to consider doing a voice for a character. I'm excited about that. I think that it would be a fun thing to do. It would be hard work but it would be fun to come up with a voice for a character like that.
Lora: Would the character sing?
Steve: That's interesting. (laughs) More than likely he would pull that one on me, wouldn't he? He'd say, "By the way do you think that the flying schmoogie could sing a song right about now?"
Lora: A lot of people confuse Steve Perry, the movie producer, with you.
Steve: Yeah, I know. People say, "I know what Steve Perry has been doing. He's been executive producing movies. He did Lethal Weapon 1 & II and the Last Boy Scout." Sometimes it really helps getting a table. (laughs) I got a hold of his number through a friend and called him. We talked for about a half an hour.
Lora: So he knew you were Steve Perry, the singer for Journey?
Steve: Yeah. He told me sometimes it helps HIM to get a table. (laughs) He's been involved in some great things and I think he's making Lethal Weapon III now.
Lora: For several years now you've been sending out Christmas cards to all the Force members explaining that you have donated to charities on their behalf. This has blossomed into Force members wanting to make donations as well. Is that something that you had hoped would happen?
Steve: I had no intention of people donating to the certain causes that I donate to. It was a real shock, and a very pleasant one, when you called and told me that you were getting mail with checks to these different foundations. I thought that it was incredible and I remember asking you to keep a list of these people and to make sure that the checks got to the foundations. You were just telling me this morning that you are already getting phone calls from people want to donate this year. I just want to thank all the Force members who have taken it upon themselves to do that. It was never my intent, but you have done a wonderful thing. In my search to be involved in charities, I make sure that I'm not wasting my efforts and money on things that people never actually get to benefit from. I really want something to be done. These organizations are very reputable and do get the job done. This year if there is anybody out there who did it last year and wants to do it again, or maybe didn't do it last year but wants to now, there are details on how to do that in this newsletter.
(He goes on to tell how to donate to certain organizations and where to send them. They list people that donated that previous year)
Once again your donation was very much appreciated. I hope you had a great holiday season and you have my best wishes for a great new year!
Epilogue: (several weeks after we did the interview with Steve in L.A., we got a call from a Force Member with a pretty strange observation, so we had to call Steve for confirmation.)
Lora: What's this I hear about you being on the corner of Sunset and Highland, standing at a safe distance, in front of your burning car?
Steve: (laughing) Well, I was driving around Los Angeles in a car that was a gift from my grandfather when he passed away, It was a classic '74 Coupe Deville...a huge Cadillac. It was affectionately named the Love Lounge because it was so big. It was one of the last land whales.
Lora: Cyndy and I can attest to that!
Steve: Yeah! You remember very well. When we did the interview, we drove around L.A. in it. Anyway, I was driving up Highland on December 30th and I was stopped at a red light at Sunset waiting for it to change. Somebody yelled, "Hey, you-re on fire!" I saw smoke but there were three lanes there so I looked around and figured it was somebody else. Then I see this smoke coming out of my hood. I had some simple little problems with the leaking of the power steering fluid and things like that, but I had no idea it was more serious. I assumed I had a little fluid on the exhaust manifold. I parked on the right hand side of Sunset Boulevard facing east. By then the flames were coming up the hood and it was turning from white smoke to black smoke, so I jumped out of the car and ran. I really thought it was going to blow up. I ran about a block down the street and just had to stand there and watch it burn. There was nothing I could do. I wanted to put it out. I had an extinguisher in the trunk but I had just filled the tank with twenty-five gallons of gas and I just didn't want to stand there next to an exploding car. It was a powerless feeling. I just couldn't do anything. So I sat there and watched it burn. It's totalled.
Lora: That's so sad!
Steve: I know. We all had fun in that car, didn't we? I really, truly enjoyed that car. I drove it around L.A. for a long time and I loved it because it was so huge and comfortable on the freeways.
Lora: There's no chance of getting it fixed?
Steve: It's hopeless. If you could see it. (laughs) It literally burnt down.
Lora: You're lucky you didn't get hurt!
Steve: Really! While it was burning, I was walking around in circles in front of a social services building and this little short Hispanic lady comes up to me- she couldn't have been taller than my hip - and she says, "Don't worry, God take care of you." I looked at her and said, "Pardon me?" because she caught me off guard. I was just standing there watching my car burn and the fire department hadn't gotten there yet. By the time they got there it was really full blown flames and black smoke for miles. She looked at me and said, "Don't worry. You're okay. That's what's important. You can get another car, but you .. you're okay." I looked at her and said, "You're right." And I hadn't thought about it. It hadn't crossed my mind because I was just thinking about saving my Love Lounge.
Lora: You had a lot of memories in that car.
Steve: A lot of memories because it was given to me by my grandfather.
Lora: Not exactly a great way to close out the year!
Steve: That was definitely a big closer on 1991! (laughs) Well, at least you guys got to cruise in the Lounge before it was gone.
Lora: We feel honoured now.
Steve: (laughs) Yeah, because there will be no more cruisin' in the Love Lounge again. Long live the Love Lounge!
© Journey Force Newsletter, 1992 - Lora Beard and Cyndy Poon. Transcribed by Marsha.