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Joe Benson: Steve Perry's first musical memory took root at the age of 3 when he saw his parents perform in a community theater production at the local civic center in his Central California home town. He also has a vivid recollection of being 7 years old walking around the house singing along to the radio. And of course there's the moment a few years later while riding in his mother' s T -bird that he first heard Sam Cooke sing "Cupid", and decided on the spot that he should be a singer too.
Hey, this is your Uncle Joe Benson, and Steve Perry more than accomplished his childhood dream. He went on to front one of the biggest best-selling stadium rock bands of the late 70s and early 80s, Journey. With Steve Perry at the helm, Journey sold some 40 million albums, and played hundreds of live shows. And today, Steve shares some of his extraordinary legacy as he takes us through the new Journey Greatest Hits DVD 1978 to 1997, it's Steve Perry's Journey Years, Off The Record...
Just The Same Way
JB: It's your Uncle Joe Benson, talking with Steve Perry here Off The Record. The new DVD, Journey Greatest Hits DVD 1978 through 1997, all of this material features you and Greg Rolie on a few tracks, but this is all with you.
Steve Perry: Uh huh, Yeah.
JB: Material that you wrote, sang.
SP: Yeah, songs that I wrote and I was a lead singer on. Uh, that's the period that I was in the group, '78 to '97, and uh, these DVD performances are old music videos and some of them are LIVE performances like the Houston Summit Shows. But they are really, really some great performances by this band, even the music videos are kinda fun, but yes they are in the time period that I was the lead singer of the group.
JB: Before we get into the technical end of it, where'd you find all this stuff, how'd you come up with this?
SP: Well, it's a compilation of music videos that we did way back as far, I believe, as '78 with some of the first ones, up to some live footage is done at the Houston Summit shows, and some other interesting stuff that's kinda cool. Um...
JB: '78 was way before MTV, so Journey was..
SP: That's right.
JB: ...you were filming? You were recording?
SP: We were starting to get into the media of making videos before people knew what the hell they were...
JB: Uh huh.
SP: ...like "Lights" was one of the first ones I remember doing, and that one's on this one. It's interesting to watch, it really is, I mean it was a time where we knew this thing MTV was starting, it wasn't in every city, back when the days when ya know when Sting was their poster child, "I Want My M - Tey- Vey"
SP: Ya know, I mean, that's how they launched the whole thing. It slowly but surely became one of America's, ya know, huge things. And we were just in the beginning stages of trying to figure out what that is. We never did anything like this before, so some of them are fun to watch and for me personally, some of them are a little painful to watch (laughs).
JB: The live material, most of this has never been seen before.
SP: I don't think anyone has seen the live material. Although the Mountain Aire part of it was aired on CBS once, and that was it. Uh, but the Houston Summit, I think has never been seen before, and there's some fun moments in that.
JB: Before we go back to the old videos that were shot in '78 and on up, just this live stuff, that had to be a relevation to you.
SP: Ohhh..you have no idea. (laughs) You have no idea. It truly was, um, it was exciting and it was difficult because, ya know, it's no secret that I'm no longer in the group, and the group's touring without me, and uh, ya know I was asked to put this together by John Kalodner, and I knew that I would be walking through a plethora of emotions.
JB: Uh huh
SP: Ya know, and um, I did it and it's difficult because, sometimes ya just forget how good the band was when we were all together back in that era with that focus and mission that we had as opposed to what seems to be happening in our lives now. Ya know? Cause life changes everybody, ya know, families, kids, things change, but ya know, it just brought back focus that we once had as a group and how important it was to each and every one of us to be as best as we could be. And you can really see it in the live takes because I'm telling you, they are 100% live, there's nothing fixed on these tapes, I'm telling you, and there's, there's some problems on the tapes, but that's because they're just live, and I didn't want to go back and fix nothing, 'cept to bump them up digitally fidelity-wise to some really good sound quality.
Who's Crying Now - Live Version
JB: I know when you are living in the moment, and that's really what is going on, 'cause you guys were working incredibly hard...
JB: ...incredible schedules, living in the moment, you probably didn't realize the, uh, vocal pyrotechnics you were pulling off.
SP: (Laughs) Those acrobatics?
JB: Those acrobatics, and at the same time how the band was so locked in playing off each other, no one was going through a roll, this was actually playing off each other.
SP: Yeah, that's so true. Ya know, Steve Smith was one of my favorite drummers I've ever had a chance to work with. And there were times where, because I was a drummer, I really would call on him to do certain things for me, and he would do certain things for the song, and between the two of us, there were just things that were hit off of, and sang around, and played with, and he was trying to be, um, I don't know, he was kinda the conductor of the band, but I was definitely into helping him conduct the band and asking him for certain things to do that so that it would give me an opportunity to hit off some of the things he's guiding the band through. Ya know, he was my favorite conductor...
SP: ...it was a magic moment, it really was a magic moment being in that band. Those live DVD performances, I think, show how much fun we were having.
Stone In Love - Live Version
JB: That's a live version of "Stone In Love", from the Houston stop on Journey's 1981 Escape world tour. You can see and hear that footage on the new Journey Greatest Hits DVD, 1978 to 1997. There's also live concert material of the band doing "Girl Can't Help It", "Don't Stop Believin'", "Any Way You Want It", and "Be Good To Yourself". I'm Joe Benson, and coming up next, Steve Perry remembers his first live shows with Journey, and puts some perspective on his current relationship with his former band mates. Off The Record will be right back.
JB: When you started off in '78, Greg Rolie had been the primary singer through most of Journey's career, and you two worked off each other, there's some incredible stuff just from the Infinity album, the first time that you worked together, how "Feelin' that Way", where things back and forth, and that was captured here on the video as well.
JB: Was that a revelation to you looking back in your memory?
SP: Oh Yeah, well that was how I used to come on stage when I first joined the band, you know...
SP: ...oh yeah, the first time I joined the group, they had their own set of music that they would play, for about, I would say, a half-hour. And it was based on the music that was prior to me coming in the group...
JB: Uh huh...
SP: ..we had lost our sound mixer, because he wanted to become a recording engineer, so he left the tour, and we didn't have anybody right away, so I went out there and got the mix up, with the beat, with the P, with the PA guy, I got the mix up, I got ya know everything set up during sound check, so all I had to do was walk out there with my levis on and my tee shirt with my long hair and unmute my mike then run around and change my clothes. And then Greg Rolie would be starting, "Opened my eyes to a new kind of way" and I just stand in the wings and I'd would grab my mike and I'd walk on.
SP: I get, ya know, that happened quite a bit, quite a bit, I'd say for that first tour.
SP: Yeah. That's how they brought me into the group on the stage with a song that we shared vocals on.
JB: So what kind of, uh, interaction did you have with the other members of the band when you were putting this together.?
SP: Well, John Kalodner originally called me and wanted me to produce this thing, and I said, well, I don't know about producing it, but I'll, ya know, I'd love to be totally involved in it because it would be something I could really sink my teeth into, the cover, and all these tracks being re-synched and re-mastered, and so I did the work on it, and he's the one who said, I really think Steve, that you ought to take production credit cause you've done everything on this, you've been working hard on it, and I said, Only if the guys are ok with that,. And he phoned them, and they said they were fine with that. He assured me that their input was always being brought up to date with what I whatever I was telling him I was doing. Ok? Including the songs I thought originally should be on there, and John and I would go back and forth with, maybe we should have kept this one on there and well no, maybe not that one, so I just took it as sorta an understanding that he was in contact with the group cause he told me he would be. So through John, the contact was always there.
JB: Of the 18 tracks on the Journey Greatest Hits DVD, 1978 to 1997, of the studio tracks on that, which one was the biggest revelation? Like, I didn't remember this, oh my God.
SP: Ya know, I think "Faithfully" for me was the most emotionally difficult. And although they all had a special place that they hit, ya know, but "Faithfully" was the most difficult I think because when I was touring with the band, that was the time that that video came out, and my mom was, uh, just lovin' that song to death, and it is such a great video showing us on tour in the buses, and going through city to city, and she really loved that. And, it just reminded me of that whole period of time when we were all together and things were a lot different then.
JB: Jonathan Cain wrote "Faithfully" for his wife, while Journey was touring supporting the Escape album. It's now one of the 18 videos on the Journey Greatest Hits DVD, 1978 to 1997. This is your Uncle Joe Benson, with former Journey Frontman, Steve Perry. And when Off the Record returns, Steve's candid revelations about this time with Journey and the emotions that surfaced during the production of the DVD. Plus we'll hear how he feels about the installation of the Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that will bear Journey's name next March.
SP: Hi, I'm Steve Perry.
JB: And this is your Uncle Joe Benson.
SP: Welcome back to Off The Record.
JB: So how much of a rush was it for you in putting together the Journey Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997, to be back in a recording studio again, all the stuff that goes on, the energy, or was it just like visiting, ummm, well you can't go home again but what was it like?
SP: Yeah, well, it's tough, it's just tough, because I, you know I, I go through a complete set of feelings that I try not to feel most of the time to be honest with you. I, I have to tell you that, you know this whole arc of, of change that's gone on in the last 5 years or so, ah, since we originally got back together and ah, decided to do the Trial By Fire record to where we are now, you know, and then I lost another relative, I, and I'm not here to tell you that I'm the only person that goes through these emotional changes, I'm not saying that, but what I am saying is that I process it in my own way, you know, I don't process it as easily as some people, I just don't, and I have to walk through things differently because ummm, kind of on the time frame of when that gets processed, or not, if that makes sense, and so it's been difficult emotionally to continue to, to walk through all this stuff, and when I, when I did this project, it resurrected all those feelings, and more, especially the ones of 'My God, we were sure great!', you know, and you don't think that when you're in it, 'cause you, y'know, you think you.
JB: You don't realise that when you're in it.
SP: Yeah, I mean you're too caught up, at least I was too caught up in 'Oh my God, I held that high note too long last night, I'm gonna have to watch out 'cause I need it tomorrow too, you know, so I'll hold it back a little bit tonight, and I would really worry about stuff like that so I could have it tomorrow or three days or four days in a row, I mean those are some of my focuses and at the same time I'd have a good time and not blow it out for tomorrow, you know, so you're in a different place, you know, than people think sometimes.
Send Her My Love
JB: In 2004, Journey is going to get a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. It's kind of surprising you guys didn't have one back in the early 80s, maybe the record company wasn't willing to step up with the fee. But this is a different situation now, you must have some thoughts on this. Recognition from Hollywood.
SP: (laughing) I have so many thoughts I can't get into it! I mean it is just a Cluster-F word of thoughts. Ummmm.
JB: There's been many permutations of the band.
SP: Yes, there's been so many incarnations of this group, as there is right now another one, and maybe as there always will be, you know, more. I don't really know except that I just can't see how ah, all the members shouldn't be at some level admired for their contribution, but ummm, the big question is whether I would show up or not and, you know, I gotta tell you, the honest, honest feeling is that ummm, I just don't know if I want to do that, it's not that I don't think I'll show up at the star someday and take a picture with ah, standing on it, and ah, look at it and have a moment of reflection to myself, or how hard it was to possibly see that happening in my lifetime, but whether or not we stand together anywhere again has got to be difficult for me to say.
JB: Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", originally recorded for Journey's 1983 Frontiers album. It was co-written in a single afternoon by Steve Perry and keyboardist Jonathan Cain. The duo introduced the song to the rest of the band during a soundcheck on the Escape tour, and the group performed it live for the very first time that same night. Now you can hear a fully remastered, remixed 5.1 Surroundsound version of the song on the Journey Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997. I'm Joe Benson and coming up next Off The Record, Steve Perry shares his "Monster" experience with actress Charlize Theron, and reveals what's changed about the celebrity side of his life.
JB: This is Off The Record, it's your Uncle Joe Benson speaking with former Journey singer, Steve Perry. Haven't seen a Journey song in a movie for quite a while, but you were approached with one last year.
SP: Journey gets approached all the time to put some of these masters in film, and, ah, it's a group decision, y'know, either all agree or we don't agree, that's kind of the way it's set up.
JB: Uh huh
SP: A request came in for a new film, written by Patty Jenkins, and directed by Patty Jenkins, and she and Charlize Theron wrote me a letter and ummm, requesting that I at least consider this one scene in the film called "Monster" that they're finishing, to use the song "Don't Stop Believin'" and it was always what they wanted for it, it was what they edited the ah, film to...
SP: And umm, she had this scene in mind with that music when she wrote it and the whole thing in her mind just couldn't be anything but "Don't Stop Believin'', and ah, the letter sort of explained all that, just like that but even more emotional from Charlize personally to me, so, I was moved by the letter and I returned the phone call, talked to Charlize for a while, and ah, then Patty came on and we talked for a long time, and they said could we just send you a piece of the film so you can see what we're talking about. So they sent me a piece of the film, and once I saw it, it was just, you know, it was as if, you know, when Jon Cain and I sat down to write the lyrics to "Don't Stop Believin", I mean, it really was always about streetlight people living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the night. It really is about that. And that's just such a huge cross section of all people with all sorts of desires and all sorts of emotional hungers, and it struck me because it was all about that. It was the first time I'd seen almost a literal translation. So I called back and said could I come down and, you know, meet you, and talk to you guys about it. Meanwhile I'll, through channels, try to contact the guys, and you know, after they got the message that I thought it was really great and I think on my recommendation alone they were willing to allow it to be in the film, and so I went down and sat while we dubbed it into the film, got to be involved in one more little emotional equalisation of tweaking, add a little highs, a little bottom, 'cause you're dealing with the sub-woofers that you can help, and enhance it a bit more, so I got into that process with the mixer, and so, it really is an amazing scene. It happens about the first twenty minutes of the film.
Don't Stop Believin'
JB: You were in the biggest band in the world, the most successful band in America, not only commercially, but artistically. You were at the centre of that; because you were in the centre, you could see everything going on around you perhaps at that time, you've been ah in a winners' circle situation at the Winston Cup Race.
SP: (laughing) With you!
JB: Hundreds and hundreds of photographers around.
SP: They're looking at you, they don't need me!
JB: Yeah, it's a wonder you didn't walk off with the trophy.
Both laughing... inaudible comments...
JB: You know it kinda looks like Jeff Gordon.
SP: (laughing) Yeah!
JB: You know, you were in the middle of that, and then you were at a movie premiere, where again, there's a lot of focus but not necessarily on you at that point in time, was the energy?...
SP: I don't need it, I don't need that, I really don't, and I think that's one of the things that people wonder why isn't he out there running around. Well you know, it took me a long time to ah, detox from really needing that, you know when I first got going I really had to have it all, and then you know I re-entered the earth's atmosphere of my life...
SP: ...you know, and now I don't need it like that. I really enjoy being around people who are doing it. I was literally walking with umm, Patty's ah, grandmother, I was escorting her grandmother through the premiere, Patty was walking in front of getting all the photos, I was just so fine with that. That's fine with me. I just respect their time and, you know, their focus, and it's everybody's time when it's their time, you know what I mean, their sound.
Wheel In The Sky
JB: The Journey Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997 is in stores now. Off The Record is a presentation of Westwood One and was written and produced by Stacey Ferran.
Transcribed by Kate and Jan.