Long-lived rock bands have enough internal problems without real Politics — with a capital P — getting in the way.
Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain’s trip to the Trump White House (along with the band’s singer and bassist) irked Journey founding guitarist Neal Schon — and he let the world know via Twitter. Talk about a family feud.
Did they kiss and make up?
No and yes, Cain said in a recent interview.
Schon agreed: Things aren’t copacetic, but they’re on tour together again.
Cain, 68, called from Detroit to tout his new memoir, “Don’t Stop Believin,’ ” and Journey’s first tour of baseball stadiums, which comes to Target Field on Friday. He not only talked about Trump and Schon but also about “The Sopranos” and his phone call from Prince when the Minnesotan was concerned that “Purple Rain” might have been too similar musically to Journey’s “Faithfully.”
Schon, 64, phoned a few days later from Denver to discuss similar topics — as well as an unreleased record he made with two Minnesota musicians and a forthcoming solo instrumental album recorded with Grammy-winning producer/drummer Narada Michael Walden.
So it’s time for he-said/he-said.
On Cain’s relationship with President Donald Trump
“I’m not close to him. I met him casually before he was president in New York. It’s my wife’s relationship. (His wife of three years, Pastor Paula White, has been called Trump’s spiritual adviser.) My wife has known him for 18 years now. I know him just through her.
“I don’t go golfing with him. We know each other. He respects what I do. I respect what he does. I’m a big fan of his golf courses. He saved golf, man.”
On what upset Schon
Schon wasn’t told about the planned White House visit by any of his bandmates or the group’s managers. “I didn’t appreciate that [as] a founding member,” he said.
So, after the visit received mainstream media coverage, Schon expressed his displeasure on Twitter.
“Everybody has their own right to believe what they want to believe in on their own time,” Schon explained. “Something we’ve always agreed in the Journey camp is there should be no political connection and no religious connection because our music is worldwide music. Once you put a tag on something, religiously or politically, you’re going to lose fans.”
On whether Cain and Schon have kissed and made up
“I wouldn’t say that,” Schon said, “but we’re doing better than we did before.”
“No kiss,” said Cain. “We hugged and shook hands. He’s my brother.”
On the state of their relationship
Schon: “I think it’s much better than it’s been in a long time.”
They’re two pros who’ve known each other for more than 40 years. So Schon is putting aside past and present differences, he said, “because the music is bigger than personal feelings.”
Cain: “We reset our friendship. I respect him and he respects me. We had a misunderstanding, a bump in the road and we’ve since moved on for the sake of the tour and the fans.”
On deciding whether Journey or Def Leppard headlines on their current joint stadium tour
Their respective managers figure out which band is bigger in which market. In the end, they each close about the same number of shows on the tour.
Said Schon: “It doesn’t make any difference to me. For me, opening a show is fine because everyone is in their seat ready to go and we can get to the next city faster.”
On when Cain found out ‘The Sopranos’ were going to use Journey’s 1981 smash ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ’ in its final episode in 2007
The band was approached about the possibility a year in advance by showrunner David Chase. He even sent a couple of pages of the script.
“David Chase had a lot of opposition from producers. They didn’t want a song by Journey,” Cain recalled. “He fought for it and won.”
Cain kept the news to himself and his family was surprised when they watched the show with him.
On the impact of ‘The Sopranos’ on Journey
“It gave us another 10, 15 years, at least,” Cain opined. “It was watched around the world by all age groups. It redefined the song somewhat. Some of those lyrics hit home a little better.”
Said Schon: “To have it be an anthem now, it tells me we have a much younger audience out there and it’s getting younger all the time. It’s one of the biggest downloaded songs in history.”
On looking for South Detroit, which is mentioned in lyrics to ‘Don’t Stop Believin,’ ’ which Cain co-wrote
“We can’t find it. It’s in Canada. It’s Windsor, that’s what they tell us,” joked Cain. “We just sing about it. It’s a magical place where a small-town girl and a city boy end up going on that midnight train to anywhere. It’s an imaginary fantastical place.”
On comparing Arnel Pineda, Journey’s singer of the past 11 years, with heyday singer Steve Perry
Said Cain: “They are both amazing tenors with incredible ability to shift gears and soar. They have similar timbres. But I think Arnel has a little edgier, smoky voice. A little more rock singer, if you will. Steve was a little more rhythm and blues.”
On their relationship with Perry
Neither Schon nor Cain has talked to Perry since Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. “I miss him,” Schon said.
Said Cain: “He has a very private life and likes it that way.” They communicate through lawyers when it comes to publishing and licensing of songs.
On rumors of Perry doing a solo tour
Schon saw on Instagram that Perry’s solo album is coming out in October. “If he is doing a tour, I’ll be one of the people there,” the guitarist said.
Said Cain: “He should be singing. He was born to sing.”
On why Cain wrote his memoir
“It’s not any official Journey biography. I wrote a book to encourage and inspire.
“They told me I couldn’t make it [in the music business]. I was selling stereos and then I was on the road with Journey. How did that happen in four short years?”
On what Schon thinks of Cain’s memoir
“I was pleasantly surprised about a lot of the older stories that included myself and the rest of the guys. It brought a smile to my face. All in all, it’s a positive thing for all of us.”
On if Journey is going to make another album
“There’s talk,” Schon said. “I’m not interested in making a record through e-mail and files from a computer. We’ve made records like that before. Nothing beats when we sat in a room together and tossed ideas around. If they want to make an organic record, I’m down.”
Schon would be satisfied with just releasing a song or two every year. “That would be plenty to let people know that Journey is moving forward.”
On Prince calling Cain to see if the keyboardist thought “Purple Rain” was too similar to Journey’s ‘Faithfully’
In the fall of 1983, Prince’s managers sent a cassette of “Purple Rain” to Journey’s music managers at Columbia Records. The rock star wanted Journey’s opinion on if he had unintentionally copped some licks from Journey’s “Faithfully.”
Schon: “Yeah, it’s similar. I looked at it more like maybe he was influenced by the way I was playing guitar on that song and the way the chords were descending. It wasn’t close enough to worry about it.”
Cain also recognized some similarities in the cadence of Prince’s whoa-whoas, chord changes and Schon-like guitar sound. He concluded: “It didn’t sound like ‘Faithfully’ to me at all. So I said I have no problem with this.”
So they get Prince on the phone to talk to Cain, the sole writer of “Faithfully.” The Minnesotan offered to change the chords.
“I said, ‘Don’t do no such a thing. You don’t have to worry about us,’ ” Cain recalled. “He said, ‘I’m coming to San Francisco, so I’ll get you tickets.’ ”
That night in Journey’s hometown, “Prince looked at me in the front row and threw me a tambourine and I caught it,” Cain said. “Classy guy. The fact that he even cared to call me was pretty remarkable.”
On Schon’s never-released record with former Prince singer Rosie Gaines and the Twin Cities rhythm section of drummer Michael Bland and bassist Billy Peterson
They recorded five tunes in the late 1990s in Schon’s Oakland studio (formerly Larry Graham’s place). The group was dubbed Black Soup Cracker.
“It’s rock ’n’ soul,” Schon said. “Rosie sounds like Aretha Franklin doing AC/DC. The grooves were like Band of Gypsies [Jimi Hendrix’s band]. Michael Bland was like Buddy Miles with chops. I think there’ll be a day when I put together a boxed set and I’d like to include it on something like that.”
On Schon’s upcoming solo instrumental album, ‘Universe’
Schon asked Walden to write him a record. Walden played drums, synth bass and keys and “he sang the melodies he wanted me to play on guitar.”
Said Schon: “The only way I can describe it, it’s me playing with an orchestra and an ass-kicking drummer and rhythm section.”
Schon thinks “Universe” will be released either late this year or early in 2019.