It has been quite a journey for Journey. Since it was formed in 1973, the band has sold more than 80 million albums, with 19 Top 40 singles, but has also been through numerous personnel changes, including four different lead singers, and even went their separate ways for an eight-year hiatus.
However, its fans have never stopped believin’, staying on faithfully and embracing them with open arms everywhere they go.
Calling from Tokyo, Japan – the band’s latest stop in its Journey 2017 World Tour – bassist Ross Valory said that while he never doubted Journey would succeed, he never imagined it would last so long either.
“The band is more successful now than it’s ever been, and it’s hard to believe that it has existed for close to 45 years now! Being in a band that has evolved in so many different ways, with different members and different approaches to music over the years … it’s unbelievable,” said the 68-year-old Valory, who was one of the original members.
It’s a journey that will bring the band to Malaysia for the first time on Feb 11, where it will play in Selangor.
“It’s our first time in Malaysia, and it’s going to be interesting. This’ll be something new for us, a completely different audience,” he said, adding that the band usually tailors its setlist when playing in a new place.
“It’s important for us, when in a new place, to play songs that will be more familiar (to the audience). So, for the most part, the concert (in Malaysia) will have a lot of greatest hits.”
The band’s current line-up comprises Valory, Neil Schon (lead guitars), Steve Smith (drums), Jonathan Cain (keyboards) and Arnel Pineda (lead vocals).
Schon and Valory are the only original members of the constantly evolving band, which even had former American Idol judge Randy Jackson as one of its members at one point.
Pineda has been Journey’s lead vocalist for the past 10 years, and is the band’s fourth official lead vocalist after Gregg Rolie, Steve Perry, and Steve Augeri.
Perry sang lead during Journey’s most commercially successful period in 1981-1983, when it produced hits like Don’t Stop Believin’, Open Arms and Faithfully; and according to Valory, he was the singer who set the standard for how Journey’s music is represented.
“Steve Augeri also did a very fine job of representing the music, but unfortunately, he had physical problems with his voice and had to step down. He did a wonderful job for eight years,” said Valory, who described Pineda’s appointment as a “dream come true” not only for him, but also the band.
“Arnel, like those before him, takes the part and owns them. People are happy that he sounds like Steve Perry, or has his style, and can sing the songs the way that they remember them. But he also makes those songs his own.”
A decade ago was also the time Journey’s popularity soared (again) after its songs, most notably Don’t Stop Believin’, were featured in the hugely popular TV shows The Sopranos (2007) and Glee (2009).
This sudden surge in popularity gave the band a second wind, with its 13th studio album in 2008 (and its first with Pineda), Revelations, debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.
It was later certified platinum, their first since 1996’s Trial By Fire.
“In terms of our popularity, we are actually so much more popular now than we were 10 years ago. Business has definitely been much better for us. It has certainly improved our ability to travel as well,” Valory said, adding that Journey’s music through the years has mostly evolved in terms of performances.
“The material has not evolved per se, most people know our music by the greatest hits.
“The way the band evolves is the way we perform those hits. We have subtle changes in the arrangements, the intro … it’s a matter of rearranging it without losing the magic and essence of those songs.”
But would he ever get tired of playing Don’t Stop Believin’, Faithfully and Open Arms?
“Absolutely not! Those are three songs I will never get tired of playing, ever!” said Valory, laughing.
The Journey World Tour 2017 will be held Feb 11 at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam in Selangor at 8.30pm. Tickets are available at http://ift.tt/1bNLODv. For more information, call 03-9222 8811.