Former JOURNEY Vocalist STEVE PERRY Says Response To His Comeback Has Been 'Overwhelming'
This past Wednesday (August 15), former JOURNEY vocalist Steve Perry was interviewed on ”Trunk Nation”, the SiriusXM satellite radio program hosted by Eddie Trunk. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the initial response to his comeback:
Steve: ”It’s just overwhelming, to be honest with you. Who knew? I didn’t know. I’ve been isolated for so long, I just didn’t pay [enough] attention to know that. But now, I’m a social media kind of guy. [Laughs].”
On the inspiration behind his new solo album, ”Traces”:
Steve: ”I really did go away and wait for the wheels to touch down and just let it all go, with a conviction that if music came back to my heart, great. If not, I had already lived the dream of dreams, honestly. What more could I have ever been a part of bigger than what we did together? I was okay with just moving on into the ether of my life. Then I met this girl named Kellie Nash. I met her though Patty Jenkins, a friend of mine who is the director for ’Wonder Woman’. She’s just a very soulful writer/director. I’m hanging out with Patty, and she’s doing this thing for [the cable television network] Lifetime called ’Five’, which is about a woman who has breast cancer. She has all these people around her actors who have cancer, because that’s how Patty rolls — she likes to get this authentic sort of environment for her actors. One of them happened to be this girl, as the camera’s going across this patio scene in the hospital, I said, ’Patty, stop right there. Spool back. Who’s that?’ She said, ’Oh, that’s Kellie Nash. She’s a Ph.D. psychologist. She had breast cancer.’ I said, ’Wow.’ There was something — I don’t know what it was. Something rang the bell in my heart. I had not felt that probably ever like this. I said, ’Do you have her email? Would you send her an e-mail that your friend Steve would love to take her to coffee?’ She said, ’I will, but there’s something I should tell you first. She was in remission, but it came back in her bones and it’s in her lungs, and she’s kind of fighting for her life.’ At that moment, I decided, ’Maybe I should change my mind about this.’ My head said, ’You don’t need to get into this, and get to know somebody and lose some more people.’ Then my heart said, ’Bullshit. You send that e-mail.’ I listened to my heart and sent it. She got back to me a couple of weeks later, and then we talked on the phone. I think the first time we talked on the phone, it must have been four or five hours. Then we went to dinner, and we were inseparable after that. There was a connection I’d never experienced before. She passed away about five years ago — lost her to the disease. The thing is, one of the times we were together, she said, ’Listen, I need to ask you a favor. You need to make me a promise. If something was to ever happen to me, promise me you won’t go back into isolation, for I think it would make this all for naught.’ We were living in New York for a while, doing some treatment that was only available out here. I was playing some of my [song] sketches for her, and we were walking back from treatment one day and she started singing some of the sketches — rough sketches of songs that I’m working on. I’m going, ’What is that? That’s one of my songs.’ She said, ’I don’t know — I just like it.’ I needed that kind of confidence from someone like her. It just stuck with her, the music… After I lost her, I went through a couple years of serious grieving, and a lot of crying. I was trying to stop crying, but I had this incredible therapist who told me, ’I want you to cherish the grief. There will come a time where you won’t be able to access it as deeply as you are now. I think it’s good for you to cherish this moment,’ because as humans, we do slowly climb out of the depth of the grief if you allow yourself to go into it. You never get over it, but it gets better. As as result of that, I think what she gave me back was a deeper broken heart than I ever had before, and from that came happy songs and R&B songs and rock songs and some sad songs. The album has a real beautiful blend of different moods.”
On some of the notable musicians who contributed to ”Traces”:
Steve: ”I always wanted to work with Josh Freese on drums, so he played on ’No Erasin”; he played on ’Sunshine’s Gray’. I love Vinnie Colaiuta. He’s got a relentless pocket, so he played on a lot of the music. Since I’m a drummer, I have a little bit of a propensity to lean toward great drummers. I wrote them all with some people and some alone. John 5 and I wrote ’Sunshine’s Gray’. He came up with the title, which I loved.”
On building a studio in which to record the album:
Steve: ”I’ve always wanted to have a full-fledged, absolute, qualified, loaded studio, so I built a great room. I kind of patterned it after some of my favorite rooms, especially Motown. It’s got a great drum room. We’d go in there — we’d start at 10 in the morning, and we’d stop around 6 or 7 every day.”
On knowing when songs are ”done”:
Steve: ”You can keep on polishing the varnish off of anything or the paint off of everything, especially now with Pro Tools. The trick is to know when it feels great, so what I tried to do, I started these songs with lots of loops to write them with, or even clicks. Then I turned around and put real musicians on them. Those real musicians brought such a unique feel and pocket to it, [and] that became the template to keep reaching for more of that. Once a foundation, I think, of a drum pocket and a rhythm section is established, you know what does and doesn’t fit in an overdub sense. It will tell you, ’That works’ or ’That don’t work.’ It’s not rocket science if you listen, if you pay attention.”
On whether he plans to tour:
Steve: ”I’m talking about that with some people right now, but right now, my biggest emotional commitment is to the idea that it took a long time for me to just find my love for music again, and write music that I’m passionate about and sing music that I’m passionate about. There were moments in the studio where we would be working up a track or working on a mix, and I would actually get goosebumps on my arm. I’d say, ’I can’t get that anywhere else but here.’ I realized I must have found my love for this again, because it’s resonating with me again.”
On what he’d like to say to his fans:
Steve: ”I don’t know if words would cover it. It’s a little overwhelming, the response, in a wonderful way. I just don’t even know how to put it into words. I know this is going to sound really naïve, but I really did let it go to the point where I didn’t even pay attention. I had to let it go to walk away from it. I had to really turn my back on it all so I could leave. Now, it’s becoming clear to me that I guess they never left me.”
”Traces”, Perry’s first solo album in more than two decades, will be released on October 5 via Fantasy Records (a division of Concord Records/UMG).
”Traces” marks Perry’s first solo album since 1994’s ”For The Love Of Strange Medicine”, which was certified gold in the U.S. for sales in excess of half a million copies.
Perry’s final full concert with JOURNEY took place in early 1987. He later rejoined his bandmates for a brief performance in 1991 to honor late concert promoter Bill Graham. He also appeared with JOURNEY when they received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2005.
Photo credit: Myriam Santos