NEAL SCHON Says His Bandmates Thought He Was 'Crazy' When He Decided To Hire ARNEL PINEDA To Sing For JOURNEY

August 18, 2022

In a new interview with Brazilian journalist Igor Miranda, JOURNEY guitarist Neal Schon was asked what it has been like to work with singer Arnel Pineda for the last 15 years. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Arnel is just a gem. He's more amazing right now than he was when I first found him in Manila 15 years ago, when he was homeless and he was in dire straits. I was searching for the new singer for JOURNEY and I chose YouTube to look all over the world for the singer. When I heard his voice, I knew that he was it — with no other thought. It hit me emotionally in my heart. I went, 'That is the voice. He is the voice. I know he can do it.' And so I stuck to my guns, with a lot of resistance from many — from within the band and from management. They all thought I was crazy. I said, 'I know I'm right. So get him over here.' We got him over. And he proved that I was right again."

Neal continued: "The show we just played the other night, he sounded phenomenal through the whole show. We finally got his in-ears sorted out; we've got a great mixer in front now. It sounds like a record every night. And he's sounding phenomenal every night. And he's very excited about some of the new direction that we took that allows him to show how creative he can be without having to emulate our other albums, which is a requirement for any singer that would come into JOURNEY. It's either that or you throw away all your hits that you ever had. And what do you do? Start from ground zero again? It doesn't make sense.

"So I knew when I found Arnel that I had found a true chameleon like no other singer I've ever heard. He is amazing. I love him. He's a true warrior."

Born in the Philippines, Pineda has been fronting the legendary rockers since 2007 when Schon discovered him leading a Manila cover band on YouTube. A vocal doppelganger for JOURNEY's longtime vocalist Steve Perry, Arnel has helped put JOURNEY back in arenas once again. But some fans were not happy about the addition of Pineda, complaining about his ethnicity and dismissing his voice as a "copycat" of Perry.

Pineda and Perry finally crossed paths when JOURNEY and its former singer shared the stage at their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2017. While accepting the award, Steve spoke warmly about his former bandmates, as well as the man who replaced him. "I must give a shout-out to a man who sings his heart out every night, Arnel Pineda," Perry said.

Although Pineda did not get inducted with his bandmates, he did get up and join them at the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, singing "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Lights".

Four years ago, Perry told SiriusXM that he didn't perform with JOURNEY at the Rock Hall ceremony because he is "not in the band. I haven't been in the band for quite some time," he explained. "Arnel's been in the band for almost 10 years, I think. He's a sweet kid — he's a wonderful kid. He sings his heart out every night. It's his gig."

As for meeting Pineda before the induction, Perry said: "There was something endearing about the way he looked at me. He was meeting, like, a grandfather. [Laughs] He's got the gig. It's his gig. He's doing great."

Pineda has overcome a tremendous number of obstacles throughout his life, including the loss of his mother at a young age, homelessness and borderline starvation, making him an inspiration and providing hope for millions of people around the globe. Blessed with the ability to give back, Pineda mobilized his team to join the battle against poverty and its ensuing havoc on Philippine youth.

Photo credit: Erik Kabik

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