Neal Schon says that "five new songs" are "in the making" for the next JOURNEY studio album.
JOURNEY's most recent LP, "Eclipse", was released in May 2011. The Walmart exclusive debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 13 — eight spots lower than the band's previous album, 2008's "Revelation" — which also went on to hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart.
Schon discussed JOURNEY's plans for new music during an appearance on Thursday's (June 18) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation". Speaking about how he has been spending his coronavirus downtime, the guitarist said: "It's been a crazy year, and many, many changes to come. And [I'm] just staying busy. The best thing I can do is stay busy, stay healthy and write music. And so I've been taking advantage of this time off. We had already taken a year off from touring. We were expecting to tour this year and it didn't happen. And so [I'm] writing music, coordinating a lot with Jon Cain [keyboards] and Narada Michael Walden [drums] and Randy Jackson [bass] and Arnel [Pineda, vocals]. And we are off and running, man. We have, like, five new songs in the making right now, and hopefully a single coming out in July sometime."
According to Neal, he and his bandmates "have not yet been able" to get together in person to work on new music. "Arnel has been in the Philippines, and there's a whole bunch of hoops that you have to jump through for him to get over here, with quarantine and everything else," he explained. "I've been working in the studio here, 'cause Narada lives close by, and I'm working at his studio and I'm laying down tracks with live drums and guitar, much like I've done with many, many records. And so it's a comfortable situation for me. I like playing with guitar and drums, and it's a great way to create, especially rock. And I've created many records like that, going back to Jan Hammer. So we're in a good flow right now. And Randy is recording his parts in L.A., Jonathan is recording his parts in Florida, Arnel is recording his parts in the Philippines. And it's a virtual record right now. But I am looking forward to getting together in the same room… In the meantime, I feel like we should just continue doing what we're doing and creating new music. I feel by the time that we actually get out, we could possibly have two new records done."
Asked when fans should expect a new JOURNEY single to arrive, Schon said: "The first song that we recorded, Arnel had just finished vocals on it, I believe, yesterday. And so now we're gonna get it into the mixing stages. Hopefully, I think sometime in July — sooner or later in July."
Neal also talked about JOURNEY's recent lineup changes, with bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith having been replaced by Jackson and Walden, respectively. In early March, Schon and Cain filed a lawsuit against Valory and Smith, who have been members of JOURNEY on and off since the band formed in 1973, claiming the two attempted a "coup" in order to gain control of the JOURNEY trademark.
"There's not a lot that I can actually share openly right now, as we are in legal right now," Schon said. "But I do feel very confident about my position and position that we're taking, having not agreed with a lot of the changes that they were trying to make come down.
"JOURNEY is a name… The name in itself says it all," he continued. "It means movement. And we've had many, many lineup changes throughout the years and survived that. And so I feel very confident in where we're going and what we're gonna do. And I'm very excited about the new music. That's more what I'd like to talk about, because we haven't gotten there yet. There's nothing really I can say legally that will do anybody good, especially us right now, before we actually get there."
Asked about his desire to keep producing new music when most of his classic rock peers are content to just hit the road and perform their greatest hits, Schon said: "It's something that's in my DNA. I need to know that I'm moving forward and not just being stagnant and resting on the laurels that we have already. Of course we're gonna go out, we're gonna play greatest hits, but there's many, many ways to scoop up and make the show better. And also, I think if you're gonna create new music, it's gotta be different. Look at THE BEATLES — they didn't recreate the same song over and over and over. And that is where my head is at — I don't wanna recreate a song, or that's in the same vein as a song that we already have, that we're already gonna be playing; I wanna create what we don't have, that I feel that we can use in our set to completely become that much stronger than we are."
The new JOURNEY lineup performed a socially distanced version of "Don't Stop Believin'" for UNICEF USA's virtual event "UNICEF We Won't Stop", which aired on May 23 on MSNBC.
JOURNEY was supposed to launch a North American tour with THE PRETENDERS in May, but canceled the trek amid the COVID-19 pandemic.