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Journey’s Neal Schon Doesn’t Mind Being in a ‘Classic Rock’ Band

Travis Shinn

Journey guitarist and founder Neal Schon is in a good place. “We’re lucky in the sense that we have great songwriters within the band,” he says on the phone from a tour stop in Europe. The rocker is talking to Noisecreep about ‘Eclipse,’ Journey’s recently released 14th album.

“There’s a million outside songwriters that we could work with, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose of being in a band. A lot of people are saying that they love ‘Eclipse,’ but that it doesn’t sound like a typical Journey record. I don’t really agree with that. If you listen to ‘Frontiers’ [1983] and this new album back to back, they complement each other,” says Schon.

‘Eclipse’ is the second Journey album to feature Filipino vocalist Arnel Pineda. Schon discovered the singer on YouTube in 2007, when a fan uploaded a live performances of The Zoo, Pineda’s ’80s cover band. “I love what he’s done in this band and apparently a lot of other people do too because we’re doing great business right now. The tickets are selling great in the States, like they always have, but it’s happening all over the world,” says Schon.

Watch the official ‘Eclipse’ Tour trailer

Noisecreep asked the guitar great if he felt comfortable with the AOR [album-oriented rock] tag Journey has been labeled with throughout their near 40-year career. “I don’t have a problem with it,” he says. “Back in the day, AOR was the cool place to be. We broke on AOR radio stations way before the pop ones accepted us. When it comes down to it, AOR means classic rock. I love it when people call us classic rock.”

In the last few years, Journey have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts. Whether it’s their anthem ‘Don’t Stop Believin” being all over television and radio, or their sellout tours with fellow vets Def Leppard, the California rockers are riding high on a wave of success not seen since their early ’80s glory days. But how does Schon perceive the current state of the music business?

“The music industry has changed so radically throughout the world,” he says. “I feel bad for newer, unknown artists who are trying to come out with music and get noticed. It’s almost impossible right now. We’re in a different situation because we have a long history of hit songs and albums under our belt. We’re the lucky ones, the survivors. But yeah, it’s brutal out there for newer artists.”

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