Ross Valory and Journey's 'Cinderella story'
Hard to believe it has been 35 years since a group of jazz-fusion musicians came together in San Francisco to create a group they envisioned as a back-up band for local artists, only to end up as a phenomenon we know as Journey.
But even their humble beginnings -- and historical indifference from critics -- can't hide an impressive run of commercial success that includes nearly a dozen top 20 anthems and worldwide album sales surpassing 75-million.
These days, the band is perhaps the biggest feel-good story of 2008, re-energized by the new album "Revelation" and the addition of Arnel Pineda, a Philippines-born singer whose pipes are eerily similar to legendary Journey frontman Steve Perry.
So imagine the total honor it was to talk today with bassist Ross Valory, one of two remaining founding members. Here are some highlights from the interview. (Look for the full podcast this weekend.)
Does it surprise you that Journey's not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You've been eligible since 2000.
Ross Valory: "I'm not surprised at all. ... I don't lose sleep over it. It's all politics. Without being either negative or positive about it ... sooner or later it's gonna happen. I have a feeling it's going to happen sooner, but I'm still not going to hold my breath."
Does having Arnel Pineda onboard now finally put to rest the questions about Steve Perry returning to the band?
"With the fans and the public, yes, that does put it to rest. ... Even if we hadn't found Arnel, it would not have been any more likely than it has been since 1996 that [Perry] would return to the band."
Did Journey really find Pineda using the Internet?
"Neal Schon, our guitarist, was cruising the 'Net literally late one night, and literally in the 11th hour of completing our lineup for doing the record ... and he was at YouTube and he just typed in "Journey singer" or "Journey vocalist," and there he is, watching this guy sing these songs... He couldn't believe it."
What was your reaction when you heard him sing in person the first time?
"Goosebumps. ... And that's the way it was for all of us."
It makes for a nice fairy-tale year for you and the gang.
"It's a Cinderella story. ... Even Rolling Stone, which has never liked this band, has a story. ... And that's not to be glib or superficial. It's just the perfect story for a band's comeback."
-- Journey plays the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa on July 30 along with Heart and Cheap Trick.