He’d endured a very public falling out with Jonathan Cain over politics and religion and then fired the band’s longtime rhythm section. If Journey were going to survive, it started by rebuilding things with Cain.
“We found out that there was a lot of miscommunication that I felt was coming from management. The divide-and-conquer situation was going on,” Schon told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “They were saying I said things that I didn’t say. I heard it had happened with other bands from guitar techs that I had been with. It was happening in the Van Halen camp between Eddie [Van Halen] and Sammy [Hagar]. I was just like, ‘I’m seeing the same scenario.'”
Schon and Cain began writing together as Journey reached their commercial zenith on 1981’s Escape, sharing composing credits with singer Steve Perry on favorites like “Don’t Stop Believin,'” “Only the Young,” “Be Good to Yourself” and “When You Love a Woman,” among others. But they’d devolved into open squabbling over Cain’s 2017 visit to the White House with bandmates Arnel Pineda and Ross Valory.
Schon worried that the photo op – which was arranged by Cain’s wife, Paula White, who was acting as spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump – appeared to be the kind of political endorsement that could potentially divide their fan base. The impasse grew to the point that Schon considered creating a new Journey lineup.
Then fissures opened elsewhere, as Valory and Steve Smith sided against Schon in a legal battle for control of the band. Schon realigned with Cain and Pineda, then replaced Valory and Smith with Randy Jackson and Narada Michael Walden. Jackson’s connection to Journey goes back to a session for “After the Fall,” from 1983’s Frontiers; he later worked on 1986’s Raised on Radio and the supporting tour. Walden wrote and produced Schon’s latest solo record, Universe.
Schon said he started to zero in on Journey’s deeper issues, even before the new lineup gelled through a series of virtual sessions. The result was a split with manager Irving Azoff in order to sign with Q Prime.
“I felt like they made it seem like I was an outcast, even though this was a band that I started,” Schon added. “Azoff actually said to me, ‘Why don’t you quit?’ at one point. I said, ‘I’m not quitting. I’ve been here all my life. Why don’t you quit?'”
The dam broke with Cain after Azoff’s exit, Schon argued. “Once we got past all the crap and we talked everything out, we found out that a lot of it was just BS and we were actually good,” Schon said.
“Him and I are still very tight as songwriters,” he added. “There’s still magic there. He’s still creating amazing music – even without me. But us together, we create something that really sounds like Journey.”
Schon said the first studio album from this revived edition of the group is slated for release later in the year with a worldwide tour to follow.
“I’ve got butterflies about the vibe I’m getting or what it’s going to be like when we put our show together. We’re not just going to play the same old show. We’re going to be adding a lot of new stuff,” Schon said. “My fingers are crossed that everyone is going to get the vaccine and feel good and get back to it. I’m just so looking forward to playing with the new band.”
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