Eighties music wouldn’t have been the same without Journey. One of the biggest bands in rock history, Journey has earned 19 top-40 singles and 25 gold and platinum albums with such power ballads as “Any Way You Want It,” “Faithfully” and the still-popular “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Journey formed in 1973 in San Francisco and has gone through a number of changes, including a seven-year disbandment in 1989. The group is now on a two-year tour for its latest album, Eclipse, and will perform at Cruzan Amphitheatre on October 13. Bassist Ross Valory, an original member of the band, talked with PBI about Journey’s popularity and direction today.
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“Don’t Stop Believin’” could be considered your signature song. Why do you think it’s had such staying power?
It’s the universal message in the song. Even in good times, people have bad times. Given the times today, people relate to its simple message. It means the same to everybody: to pick ourselves up another day, and do it again.
Journey has gone through a lot of transitions over the years. How would you describe where you are as a band today?
Journey has for sure withstood the transitions—basically the reforming of Journey without some original members. We rebuilt and reintroduced the band to a great amount of acceptance and success. The music is still popular, people bring their kids and grandkids to see us and teens discover us as “retro fashion.” Journey is performing as well as ever!
What are you guys like off the stage?
What you see is what you get! We’re the same off stage as on. That’s reflected when people meet us on the street.
What do you do to stay sane while on the road?
You’ve got to balance the odd road hours with normal activities, whether it’s sleeping, eating, exercise, yoga, golfing or shopping. For me, balancing the input is important. I can get to my room after an exhilarating show yet still feel I need some brain food. Slingbox is fantastic; I can watch all the TV I want, in any time zone. I love science, history and related subjects. PBS, the Military Channel, Nova—there’s plenty of that on TV that suits me.
How is Eclipse different from your other albums?
Neal [Schon, lead guitarist] put a lot of energy into Eclipse. It was his idea to revisit some of the other styles we are known for. Since 1998, like on Arrival and Generations, for example, there were songs similar in style to the hits of yesteryear, especially in the ballad department. Now it’s a different time, and songs don’t have the same impact—like that “first kiss” song you’ll never forget. ... There’s no format for it yet. It was an attempt to look at other ways to express ourselves in our songs.
There are a ton of Journey cover bands out there. If you were a cover band, who would you be?
The most interesting tribute band I’ve seen was on the road with Heart, in New Orleans. It was Midget KISS. If you took members from various tribute bands and coached them, they would be really good.
Me? Well, Frank Zappa’s son has already done whom I would want to cover. But I haven’t got the time, anyway!
*Photo by Travis Shinn