The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world









Journey is ‘that’ band from the Seventies that just won't go away. Fondly remembered by millions of Americans from their glory days in the early eighties; and impossible to resist ever since thanks to ‘that’ song 'Don't Stop Believing' never really going away.


These days thanks to some great placement on programs such as ‘The Sopranos’ and 'Glee' it’s ‘that’ song again that keeps the flame alive (The song is still the best selling download ever on i-tunes).


The thing about Journey though is that they have always been rather good at what they do. From soaring ballads like ‘Open Arms’ and ‘Who’s Crying now’ and ‘Faithfully’ to some great rockers:  Melodic Rock never sounded so good.


The good news for fans is that since their reformation the band has consistently produced great new material too and their last two albums with new vocalist Arnel Pineda on board ‘Revelation’ and ‘Eclipse’ as simple stunning.


All this makes Journey the ‘guilty pleasure’ you don’t have to feel guilty about…


We got to speak to founding member Ross Valory on the eve of the 2013 tour and what a charming man he was, even if his Scottish accent leaves a little to be desired…







Mark: Hi, Ross, how are you? When did you arrive in Australia?



Ross: Well we got in yesterday morning, after having flown the entire organization in from Los Angeles. So we had yesterday and today to catch up with you people, and interviews for our forth coming Australia and New Zealand tour.



Mark: That’s fantastic, it’s taken you nearly forty years to get here!




Ross: Well, there was an opportunity in 1982/3 to come over, but it just didn’t happen, so in view of that, so many years later, I feel fortunate and I’m sure the band feels fortunate to come out here.




Mark: It’s great that a band like Journey, who some of us have loved for so long, are still out there producing great new music.
Ross: I’m glad you’re aware of that. The music that we have been producing since 1998, when we reformed, some of it has got some notice in certain areas of the world, and of course the legacy of our most popular music remains popular, on the airwaves, so to speak, and here we are!!




Mark: The tour kicks off in Brisbane on the 26th February, and before that there’s a date in New Zealand, have you got much free time in between shows?




Ross: Well, we have a few days here, but we won’t have a lot of free time once the tour starts, as most of our days off will be spent on plane flights. But we are going to enjoy our time here in Sydney, it is a beautiful place and there is a lot to see, and there are a lot of friendly people.




Mark: Yes, it is a great place, we moved over to Perth from Sydney a few years ago. It’s also a bay city, like where you guys are from, San Francisco.




Ross: Neil and I are from the San Francisco bay area, and Sydney reminds us of that, in that it’s metropolitan, there’s a beautiful harbor, and there’s a great mixture of different people from different places and cultures. Of course the food and the apparel reflect all that. It’s a little more tropical, you don’t have humidity in California!




Mark: Yes, I remember San Francisco, as having a “biting” wind coming off the bay!!




Ross: Yes! The popular American novelist, from the last century, Mark Twain, said one of the coldest winters he’s met, was the summer in San Francisco!! The weather and the ocean current travel down from Alaska, so on the coast you’re subject to fog and cool weather, but I live across the bay and inland. Where I live in the East bay, it has more of a seasonal affect, hot, dry summers, and cold, wet winters. There’s such a change in climate, depending on how close you live to the ocean, and I’m sure it’s the same here.




Mark: As a founder member of Journey, and thinking back to when it all began, when Journey sounded different to what it does today, what were your hopes for the band back in the early days?




Ross: Well, first to establish ourselves, as we were all members of different bands so we pulled together in what was known as a “Supergroup” at that time.  Super groups could throw an album together and go on one tour and then they might walk away. For us there was a certain stigma, in that people would wonder if it was a one shot deal. Our hopes, in answer to your question, were to continue, and hold together and be a band just like a super group and that’s what we did. We’ve been going for so long, most of our expectations have been met, and in the beginning it was intuition that this would be a lasting effort, and that's what it is to this day. Forty years later, I mean Journey had an early history and played a different kind of music, the first three albums were a fusion of rock and roll and other influences, extended solos with vocals, from Greg Rollie of Santana, and then we bridged a gap, and went to more popular waters, with Steve Perry joining the team, and us having two singers which gave us more variety with arrangements and more popular tunes.  By the early eighties Journey had already established its signature, and the passion that everyone remembers and knows us today as. And here we are today, finally in Australia!




Mark: That’s right, and you’ve pretty much played everywhere in the world.




Ross: Not, pretty much everywhere!! We have not played in Eastern Europe yet, and in Asia we have only played the Philippines and Japan, we’ll be doing Singapore on this tour. We did play in Macau a couple of years ago, but we have not really played much in Asia. We haven’t been to Korea, Taiwan or Thailand.




Mark: It must be exciting though for a band like Journey, who has been around for so long, to get out and visit all these new places?
Ross: It is exciting, but I must say that we really haven’t been to a lot of places that people might think we’ve been to. It took us 30 years to get here, but here we are! We are adding a few more pins to the world map!!




Mark: That’s the main thing! My only complaint is that you are not headlining above Deep Purple!!




Ross; Well, it’s a co headlining; we just get the first shot, that’s all!! I think it’s going to be great; I love the combination of music, and I think the chemistry’s right for the audience. I must admit we have never performed with Deep Purple, there may have been a festival with multiple headliners, but I do not recall having played with them before. So, it’ll be a first, and of course doing it in Australia.




Mark: My wife is an absolutely huge Journey fan, and I’m taking her to the tour here and then we are going over to the UK to see you with Whitesnake and Thunder.




Ross: You are doing the right thing my son!! Great, that will be fun, Whitesnake are a big thing over there. We’ve done festivals with them before, and we are looking forward to it.




Mark: One of the things you did recently which was quite interesting, was you appeared on CMT Crossroads with Rascal Flats, was that enjoyable?




Ross: It was unique for us, a rock band with a country music band. In looking at some of the styles of music, and some of the songs that are well known to people like “Wheel in the Sky” and “Lights”, these are basically in their form influenced by country music. We had the opportunity to do Crossroads last year, but it didn’t work out with the timing of things. The producer of Crossroads is also the producer of the CMT music awards, so we ended up doing that, which was truly a first, having a rock band close the country music awards! Then, as you mentioned we did proceed, not long ago in New Orleans, surrounding the Superbowl, we did the crossroads thing. They were wonderful people, and great musicians, we all got on really well, so we are looking forward to a handful of performances that we have booked together in the US in summer. There will also be a second country act opening for us, so the marketing approach will be a country setting, and so we will see how that works out.




Mark: It’s great that you are going out and doing new things. One of the bands you are involved with, outside of Journey that I loved back in the 90’s was “The Storm” who you did with Kevin.




Ross: Yes, Kevin Chalfont, that was a wonderful experience, a great band, but unfortunately, as the saying goes, nothing but the real thing makes my bell ring!! That is a Steve Miller quote. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get arrested, you’re a member of Journey, but you’re not Journey, we had a great tour that we did with Heart, and a tour with Brian Adams.




Mark: It’s a shame, as Neil has probably done similar things as well.




Ross: Yes, Neil did Soul Sirkus, and the thing with two brothers from Pennsylvania.




Mark: Hardline.




Ross: Yes, and some of the things that Dean Castronovo has done, he was in Hardline also. Mark, I don’t want to cut this short, but I have a face to face interview, in fifteen minutes, and I have to get my hair and makeup done!!




Mark: May I ask you, one final question?




Ross: You may.




Mark: What is the meaning of life?




Ross: What is the meaning of life, Monty Python. “What is your favorite color” (in a Scottish accent)! The meaning of life is not unlike the movie, Groundhog Day, being in the same situation in the same place every day, ad infinitum, and so you get the chance every day to make the world better, so the meaning of life is to make a difference, in whatever, simple or grand way, you are either capable of or destined to do.




Mark: That’s wonderful; it’s been a pleasure to speak to you.




Ross: I hate to cut you short, but I hope to see you and your wife at the shows, you are doing the right thing, my son! Thank you, take care.






Ross was interviewed by Mark Diggins February 2013



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