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Interviews   

JOURNEY’S ENTHUSIASM


There is a little bit of James Kottak (Scorpions) in Deen Castronovo from Journey. Not so much for his exuberance as for his enthusiasm for his artistic life. Both of them were once kids who dreamt of gaining a living through music and concerts. Up until today they still haven’t forgotten that kid and they will be forever grateful to their lives and their fans. So how can they not be as positive as ever about existence? That is a unanimous state of mind for the members of Journey as described by Deen: “We are a positive and happy band!”. Journey definitely have reason to be so happy when you take into account all of the media attention surrounding their reformation or the new found strength between the band members and even Arnel Pineda’s incredible dream from the distant Philippines coming true by becoming their lead singer.

According to this, the interview does not contain any cynicism, finger pointing or intellectualisation but it does contain a thorough analysis of their success. It is simply a discussion with an extremely friendly character with who you can easily enjoy childish enthusiasm which you would usually find irritating. It’s nice to have a dose of positivity from time to time, within a music scene where bands are obliged to be “mean and ugly” as quoted by Deen.

« To see Arnel is coming from where he was, as a homeless kid and moving up in the ranks to be the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands in America, it shows you how anything is possible. »

Radio Metal: Hi Deen, how you doing ?

Deen Castronovo (drums): I’m doing good! I’m just waking up, having some coffee and watching the news! (laughs)

Ok ! And what’s up on the news?

Oh, all I’m seeing is that Osama Bin Laden got shot. It’s about this that everybody is talking about. There’s not a lot here to worry about. It’s raining constantly.

Do you know that in France some people think Bin Laden didn’t actually really die and that’s all a kind of manipulation?

Yeah. You know, I don’t know (laughs). That’s the problem. We’re kind of “left in the dark”. all of us here in America. We don’t know what the heck is going on so, they tell us one thing and then we hear the conspiracy theory saying that he wasn’t shot… Who knows? (laughs) I’m just gonna play music!

What do you think about them throwing the body into the ocean?

Yeah it seems a little strange… All of it seems a little strange, that’s what I’m saying, sometimes you can’t trust government. You don’t know! You know, we’re left in the dark just like everybody!

Ok, so let’s start for real the interview with some musical questions. In the video presenting your new album, you declared that many things came to you at the very last minute. Was this improvisation thing a new experience for you?

Not really, I mean, for me, when I come in, the usually give me demos, of the songs they’ve recorded or written and I have to come in, listen to the songs and come up with some cool drums beats and fills and stuff. So for me, it’s pretty easy like that. I have done most of my records like that, records that I’ve recorded. With this last Journey record, it was a lot of fun because everybody had to do what I’ve been doing. You know, just come in, let’s start slamming this stuff out right away, and then record it. So it came out pretty cool!

This experience has visibly filled the band with enthusiasm, so can we expect you to go further in that direction, to do jam sessions during a concert for example?

Always. That’s the cool thing about the band, is that we can go anywhere, and in any place, anywhere and the musicians in this band are stellar. So we can always go in and just improvise and have a good time, and that’s usually what we do. You know, Neal wants to solo a little longer, he’ll, you know, wave his hand like “I’m going to go for a while”. (laughs). So we go! It’s very cool!

« The metal thing and that kind of music and those kinds of bands, they need to be more “mean and evil” . That’s cool, I like that stuff as well, but Journey’s never been that kind of a band we’re very upbeat and positive. »

The first single is called “City of Hope”.. Is this a real city?

It’s the Philippines, Manila. It’s about Arnel’s [Pineda, Vocals] hometown, so he wrote the song around that, it was very cool.

The hope theme is very present in this album with titles such as “City of Hope”. , “Chain of Love”. or “Anything is Possible”. Where does all that hope come from?

(laughs) That’s a good point! You know, to see Arnel is coming from where he was, as a homeless kid and moving up in the ranks to be the lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands in America, it shows you how anything is possible. There’s another one right there, you know? That would be the whole theme. It’s all about spirituality and oneness, and how Arnel has come and gone from nothing to mega-stardom now. It’s very cool, it’s a good thing.

Do you think that rock and metal artists write too many dark lyrics nowadays, and so you released an enthusiastic and positive album?

Yeah, that’s the way Journey has always been. It’s always had been about hope and faith… The metal thing and that kind of music and those kinds of bands, they need to be more “mean and evil” . That’s cool, I like that stuff as well, but Journey’s never been that kind of a band we’re very upbeat and positive.

« I feel like we are going in the same direction, as a band now. Well before we were going in the same direction but, everybody has their own ideas. […]It’s great to see us moving in one direction as a band and be able to be one together »

When a band releases a new album, it is always very euphoric but for eclipse I have the impression that you felt much more that euphoria. The band even declared that: “I’m in love with this record, which I haven’t said about for one of our albums for a long time”. What does this album have that the other doesn’t?

Well, you know, I think the band as a whole has improved and gelled more with Arnel, from the previous record that we did. He’s just fit right in and he takes command of the stage. Now he’s writing songs as well. It’s a joy to have him; he’s a fantastic singer and a great person. I feel like we are going in the same direction, as a band now. Well before we were going in the same direction but, everybody has their own ideas of what they wanted to do and what needed to be done, but it’s great to see us moving in one direction as a band and be able to be one together, it’s great. We are closer that we never been, as human beings and as musicians. I think it’s just what Journey is, we can always move from one record, different directions, we can go anywhere, and that’s the great thing about the band. So that’s we’re trying to do, trying to surpass everything we’ve done.

When he arrived a few years ago, there was a racist controversy about his Philippine origins, and yet he was neither the first person with a different skin color in the band, why was there a controversy? That’s strange! Do you think rock fans are more racists with Asian people?

That’s a good question, people can be very cruel. That’s the sad part. The great thing is that Arnel just have risen above it. He just comes and does what he does; he sells the songs, and does what he needs to do there. It’s like it is all over the world, some people aren’t going to like you. You know? You just gotta rise above it. As long as you’re serving the people and you’re being kind and loving everybody… People can always been mean and naysayers. As long as we’re not, we’re doing OK.

Is it thanks to him that you could tour the Philippines and Asia?

It’s incredible, we’ve done Japan before, but we never went to China before, and we’ve never been to the Philippines, so it was incredible! The crowds were amazing, that was very cool for us. I think yeah, it’s thanks to him since he’s from the Philippines, he was in a band, and they definitely wanted to see it. .. We went over there in, I think, 2008, 2009, one or the other, when we did the DVD, in Manila, it was incredible, it was like 30,000 people.

Since there’s almost no one left from the original line-up, except for 2 members, how does the current line-up feels about the proggy and jazzy influence of the band in the beginning of its career?

We love that, that’s an integral part of the band. We don’t really playing a lot of those songs from the first few records, but we still enjoy all the music that the band is recorded and performed. It’s pretty cool, we’ve got over a hundred songs we can play on any given night. There’s a large catalogue to choose from.

« A lot of bands that were brought up on the MTV/VH1 scene, they were here yesterday and gone today. That’s the sad thing, they really had no fan base ‘cause there were so many bands out there that were just thrown out. »

It seems like there is a classic rock revival and bands like Foreigner or Journey are returning to the forefront. How do you explain that? Why now?

Cause most bands now, they suck! (laughs). No… Personally, what I believe is that Journey was built upon touring and radio. And that’s a big part of why we’re still doing well. A lot of bands that were brought up on the MTV/VH1 scene, they were here yesterday and gone today. That’s the sad thing, they really had no fan base ‘cause there were so many bands out there that were just thrown out. Radio, people had to like it in order for you to tour. So, we have a bigger legacy than most of those bands, it’s pretty cool.

Foreigner and Journey have very similar media profiles, you are both important bands but nonetheless outsiders compared to the media success of big bands like Bon Jovi for example. Do you feel close from Foreigner for this very reason?

You know people are enjoying the ‘80s music and Journey’s music and Foreigner’s music. The kids are starting to discover it. I mean, Bon Jovi always been very big and I believe the reason is, it’s because they have all original members with the exception of, I think, the bass player. You’ve got Jon Bon Jovi still running that show. That’s cool. If we had Steve Perry, it probably would have been a lot easier in the beginning, when we first started out. Thank God, you know, we got our talent. We plugged away for years and years, and now we’re back on top again, it’s great!

Interview conducted by phone in May, 2011.

Transcription : Lucas

JOURNEY’S Website : www.journeymusic.com



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