Clearly, the relationship between Schon and Steve Perry is closer to that of a extended one-night stand that went on for too long, then ended badly, than one between two dudes who happened to be in a band together for a while.
In conversation, the members of Journey jokingly refer to Steve Perry as “He Who Cannot Be Named,” like the evil wizard in the Harry Potter books. Later, I ask Schon about this, after reading an interview with their former manager in which it is alleged that Journey are somehow legally enjoined from speaking on the record about Perry.
“Oh, y’know,” Schon says. “There’s no legal issue. We just try not to. I mean, I didn’t say anything inflammatory. I didn’t talk about how he still gets paid like a motherfucker even though he shouldn’t be. It’s stuff like that I’m not allowed to talk about. He sorta just bitches and moans and whines about everything. And he just assumes that every time we bring up his name, that we’re sayin’ bad things.”
When Steve Perry’s name comes up, poor Arnel must slink out of the room. Clearly, there’s some emotional baggage lying around the Journey offices. And Journey’s fans are playing the part of the family members who don’t quite understand why the couple broke up.
I ask people to tell me their Journey stories; I ask people what they think of Pineda. I give out my e-mail address. Within minutes, my in-box fills up with e-mails–angry, passionate e-mails.
I hear from a few thick-and-thin super-fans, from plenty of reasonable people ready to give Arnel a fair shake, and even a few early Pineda converts. But I also hear from people frustrated by the band’s -inability to hold on to a lead singer and from people who resent the band for continuing on at all. But mostly, I hear from people who have not stopped believing in Steve Perry. They compare him to Elvis, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and God. They describe the post-Perry band as “a second-class rendition of Journey.” They send me all-caps e-mails–Steve Perry really brings out the caps-lock in people–that begin “IT HAD BEEN BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION THAT YOU ARE LOOKING TO WRIGHT AN ARTICLE ABOUT WHY JOURNEY IS NO LONGER JOURNEY BUT NOTHING MORE THEN A TRIBUTE BAND TO THE BEST SOFT ROCK BAND EVER.” They send me photomosaics of Steve Perry created out of many, many tiny little pictures of Steve Perry.
On the other hand, Perry’s moved on, and clearly doesn’t have time to keep tabs on Schon.
“I only know that they’ve been through three guys,” he says, “and I’ve never heard any of them. I stay away from it, because it’s really none of my business now. We have children together, which are the songs we wrote, but that’s about all.”
Obviously, Schon and Perry should consider hugging out their difficultie–perhaps on a very special episode of Dr. Phil. Until then, however, enjoy “Foolish Heart”. Oh, Neal and Steve, can’t you hear each others’ hearts calling? You’ve been wrong before. Don’t be wrong anymore.