A Journey Back

The rock group Journey (Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain and Ross Valory) have been joined by new frontman Arnel Pineda. Journey/MySpace

Journey has sold more than 70 million records over the years. Now the band is hoping to make the journey back to the top of the charts with the help of a new recruit. John Blackstone has "A Summer Song":

After thirty years, isn't this too much?

"No, it's not enough," Neal Schon told Blackstone. "We keep looking for more, you know."

They sound just like they did in their 1980's heyday - same licks, same lyrics - but Journey is back with an unlikely lead singer they found … in the Philippines.

"I saw the people, it's like humongous people!" said Arnel Pineda of his first gig with the legendary group. "Like, 'Can I just go home and you know, just give me a ticket back to the Philippines'?"

Forty-year-old Pineda isn't going back home any time soon. And starting next week, he'll be seeing a lot more crowds like this one in Las Vegas when Journey embarks on a worldwide tour … a new journey.

"It's all brand new with this new friend," said bassist Ross Valory. "But it's also like we've returned to where we left off at the same time. It's just easy and comfortable.

"We got the magic back," he said.

Valory remembers Journey in its stone-washed denim, pin-up prime, selling out stadiums and scoring eight multi-platinum albums … all on the soaring tenor of singer Steve Perry.

But when Perry needed a hip replacement in 1996, the band says it waited well over a year for him to have surgery. When he didn't, they replaced him.

It was a split that remains painful, says Schon.

"I've been trying to call him for a long time and he just does not wanta speak. And so we go through channels. We have to go through attorneys, which is really a drag. I'd love to just be able to pick up the telephone and say, 'Hey how ya' doin'? Are you comin' with new music?' I'd love to hear his voice again."

And Journey's fans treasured Perry's voice, too. The two other lead singers who joined in the past decade never captured the Perry magic.

So last summer, when the band's 1981 signature hit "Don't Stop Believin'" closed the much-anticipated finale of HBO's "The Sopranos," viewers were left wondering not only what happened to Tony but, "What ever happened to Journey?"

Deen Castranovo said he was driven nuts by not having a singer and being able to go out on the road. "I couldn't take it. I was goin' crazy."

In desperation Neal Schon hit the information super-highway, searching for a voice that could take Journey into the future by doing justice to its past.

"I think what we were looking for was the legacy sound," Schon said. "It's a tenor voice, you know, with soul and emotion and able to sing a ballad."

Where did he find that voice? On Youtube.

After two days of surfing, he stumbled on a video of Arnel Pineda singing with The Zoo, a cover band in the Philippines, mimicking everybody from Sting to Led Zeppelin.

But when he did Journey's "Faithfully," it was a revelation.

Schon picked up the phone immediately and called keyboardist Jonathan Cain.

"It was 12:00 at night," Cain recalled. "I had a couple of glasses of wine in me. And I was like, 'You gotta be kiddin' me, Neal, right now?' He goes, 'Right now, go to the computer!'"

"Go!" Schon laughed.

"I went," said Cain.

Pineda couldn't believe it when he got a phone call from his American idols: "I was like, 'Are you really Neal Schon? Can I see you on webcam?'"

Schon asked Pineda to fly to the U.S. for an audition. But when he applied for a visa, Pineda didn't expect to be auditioning for the immigration officer, too.

"So you go in and tell them, what?" Blackstone asked. "My reason for going to the United States is …"

"An audition for Journey," Pineda said. "And they went like, 'Really? Journey, as in Journey the band?' And then he asked me if I happened to know 'Wheel in the Sky.' Of course, I know that. And I just sang it right away, and everybody there looked up at me. They were so surprised - 'Woah, what is he singing for?'"

"Anyway, it helped the paperwork come along," Schon said.

Journey's stamp of approval came almost as fast. The band says it knew right away Pineda possessed not just the voice, but the emotion and soul their songs needed. What they wouldn't discover, until later, was why.

"Since I was five years old, when my mom was still alive, she would just call me," Pineda said. "And we would listen to the radio with Barbra Streisand and Karen Carpenter, and she would ask me to sing with her."

His parents were both tailors, and Arnel, the oldest of four boys, always knew when his father walked towards him with a tape measure, it meant new clothes for another singing contest.

"No! No! No! No contest for me!" Pineda laughed. "I hated it because I'm so shy. I can only sing really loud when I'm beside my mother."

But Pineda's mother died when he was just 13, after a long illness that left the family bankrupt. Arnel ended up homeless, sleeping in a Manila park, collecting scrap metal to get enough money to eat.

"For three days I have like a piece of biscuit in my pocket with me," he recalled. "I have to keep it really warm because in three days, that will be my food."

It wasn't until he was older, crooning in Hong Kong nightclubs, that he realized his mother had already given him the only thing he needed to survive.

"She taught you to sing," Blackstone said.

"Yes," Pineda said, crying. "I think it's her voice that carried me all through this pain that I've gone through. And having her with me, she'll always be the biggest, my biggest influence. She taught me to be brave. She taught me how to fight in the world. She was everything to me."

"She's gotta be pretty proud of you right now," Blackstone said.

"I think so," he agreed. "I think so."

Ironically, the man they hired to keep Journey just the same has changed them in ways they couldn't have imagined.

"Arnel makes me a better guy, just knowin' him," Cain said.

"Amen," concurred Castranovo.

Journey's new CD, "Revelation," arrives this week. The three-disc package includes 11 brand new songs, and 11 re-recorded classics, plus a live DVD of a concert in Las Vegas - one heavily attended by Journey's newest fans.

"Journey rocks!" shouts one Filipino boy.

How hardcore fans receive this new Journey remains to be seen, especially those for whom Steve Perry will always be the voice.

"He set the bar high," Valory said. "He's left us with a very highly-valued legacy of music. And the way I think we all feel now is, we have someone to honor that with."

And their Filipino frontman's not just singing those Journey songs, he's living them.

"Just don't give up," Pineda said. "I mean, don't stop believin'."
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