JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon's long-awaited new solo album, "Universe", will finally arrive next month. The effort, which was produced by current JOURNEY drummer Narada Michael Walden, has been in the works for several years.
Earlier today, Schon tweeted out what appears to be the "Universe" LP cover, and he included the following caption: " Coming early December". He added in a separate tweet: "There are some interesting covers on here as well as originals written and produced by Narada Michael Walden Jimi /Prince / John McLaughlin / Stevie Wonder / Beatles / and Journey. There's some very healing music for this Christmas".
In a 2018 interview with Michael Cavacini, Schon stated about "Universe": "It's very melodic, powerful and majestic. There's also some fusion on it. We did some cover tunes, but most of it is written by Narada. He produced it and played the hell out of it, on drums. We got his bass player, Buddha, playing on it. It sounds really solid and it's probably one of the best-sounding records I ever made. Kudos to those guys. His drum sound is just phenomenal. And the guitar sounds great. Everything just came together. It was an easy project for me because I didn't have to worry about writing material. I just let him take me in a different direction."
Regarding how the project came together, Schon said: "I went to [Narada] and I said, 'Write me a record, man.' He had enough free time and he said to me, 'You want me to?' I said, 'Yeah.' I figured he'd come back to me in a couple months and play me a couple tunes. Instead, he called me four days later and he had seven tunes written and I was, like, 'What?' [Laughs] I thought for sure that maybe some of these songs had been sitting around for somebody else and they got shelved and he goes, 'No, man. I just wrote all these right now.' He's very prolific, fast and on-the-spot like that. It's very cool."
On the topic of the "Universe" recording process, Schon said: "For my particular record, [Narada] sung the guitar melodies in certain places where he wanted the melody played. It was funny because I didn't know that's what he wanted. When he played it all for me, I was blown away. I thought it was outrageously cool. I said, 'Let me go wrap my head around it.' I went back to my house and got comfortable with all the arrangements. I thought the melodies he sang were just a guide for me to mess around with. The first day of recording, I start playing and he's, like, 'What are you doing?' [Laughs] And I go, 'I'm playing, man.' He said, 'No, man. You've got to play that melody.' And I responded, 'Oh, you want me to play that exact melody?' It was a learning process for me in that sense. It turned out really great, so I didn't mind being the student. There's always way more to be learned."
Schon founded JOURNEY in 1972 and has been the only consistent member, having participated in every album and tour to date. He is a Grammy-nominated guitarist, songwriter and vocalist who was also a member of SANTANA and has performed with a variety of other acts, including BAD ENGLISH, JAN HAMMER and HSAS. He has released 10 solo albums, including his latest, "Vortex". His guitar style has been described as soulful and melodic, admired by such fellow legends as Eric Clapton and Prince, who reportedly asked for Schon's blessing to release "Purple Rain", which echoed a similar sound to JOURNEY's "Faithfully".