Journey have shared the title – Freedom – and track listing for their next album. But other than “The Way We Used to Be,” which was released last summer, don’t expect to hear much else from the LP during the band’s just-started Freedom Tour 2022.
With the album not due out until early summer, keyboardist Jonathan Cain tells UCR that the group plans to keep the other 14 tracks under wraps for a while.
“You kind of want to let the album simmer a little bit and get into the ears and minds of people before you start [playing it],” Cain explains. “You want to let it come out and breathe in the marketplace and get reactions, too. I think it’s always cool to get that. I remember when we did Arrival [in 2000], Napster kind of dumped it out on the fans and the fans reacted and, boom, we had all these reactions to our music, and we learned a lot from it. I think we’re gonna learn a lot when [Freedom] is released and watch how people respond. I think it’s gonna be interesting.”
So what can we expect from Freedom, the band’s first studio album in 14 years? “It sounds like a Journey record,” says Cain, who worked on the LP remotely from Nashville and Florida, with guitarist Neal Schon and Narada Michael Walden in Northern California and Arnel Pineda adding vocals.
“It’s a lot like [1981’s] Escape, and then it goes beyond Escape. We have all the elements. Some of it’s really raw and really rock ‘n’ roll, and I think we have the classic ballads. We really tried to stay true to what we do best, and that’s just write good songs.”
Still, the new album is far from formulaic. “There are some surprises,” Cain admits. “We step out a little bit, which is cool. We did that on [1983’s] Frontiers a little bit. We did that on [2011’s] Eclipse. Narada and Neal really let loose together. A lot of the jams were kind of free-form, so Neal was working hard and I was there for him, and we worked together through the whole thing. The songs came from all kinds of places, creatively. But I think it’s just a combination of everything Journey has been. To get back into Journey was really fun, even if it was file-sharing.”
Listen to Journey’s ‘The Way We Used to Be’
Freedom will feature artwork and design by Jim Welch, who was part of the vintage Journey brain trust on classic albums such as Infinity, Departure, Evolution and Escape. Bob Clearmountain mixed the set.
The Freedom Tour 2022 currently has dates booked through May 11; Toto are opening all the dates after Billy Idol dropped out for health reasons, which gives Cain and Toto’s Steve Lukather a chance to prep for the wedding of their daughter and son, respectively, in December.
Cain says plans are currently being made for after Freedom‘s release, including “a really cool show in August” that he can’t reveal specifics about yet. Next year, meanwhile, marks the 50th anniversary of Journey’s formation, which will likely spur some sort of celebration.
The activity comes on the heels of a couple of turbulent years for Schon and Cain, during which they sued, and were countersued by, former members Ross Valory and Steve Smith. They also changed management. An “amicable settlement” out of court was announced last April, though the Journey lineup has been shifting since then; Walden and bassist Randy Jackson, announced as members in 2020, are no longer part of the roster, while longtime behind-the-scenes second keyboardist Jason Derlatka is now a full-fledged member and Deen Castronovo, fired in 2015, is back on board.
“We were going to try the Narada thing – he did a terrific job on the album – but it didn’t quite pan out,” explains Cain, who also released a new faith-based solo EP, Oh Lord Lead Us, with a full album also due later this year. “Deen’s really added a lot, a great energy. He’s in a really good place now, and it was just one of those things. When you start playing the old Journey stuff, there’s only a few cats on the planet who know the little nuances. We toyed with the idea of two drummers for a while, and we just decided Deen was the right way to go at this point. And, of course, his voice is fantastic. We’re glad to have him back.”
So Journey are firing on all cylinders again as far as Cain and company are concerned — which makes it easy to roll their eyes at incidents like an inebriated Andy Cohen‘s declaration that “It’s not Journey without Steve Perry!” on CNN following the band’s performance for ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
“It’s not the first time,” Cain acknowledges, recalling an incident on NBC’s Today when Journey, in the green room, heard the program’s hosts say the same thing off-camera. “You’re always going to have those people. Steve Perry certainly was a huge part of the architecture and the sound and all that, but Neal and I believed in 1998 it wasn’t about one guy, it was about the music and the fans. We bet on that, and we’ve been proven right. And you can’t diminish the performance of the night [on New Year’s Eve].
“I think we threw it down out there in Times Square, and there’s no denying how good the band was. People can say what they want, but it was a triumphant night for Journey, and a lot of people called me and said, ‘Holy moly, you guys kicked it,’ ’cause we did.”
Journey Albums Ranked
Journey have been through their share of incarnations over the past four decades.