Neal Schon says that JOURNEY will start releasing new music in early 2021.
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 SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". Speaking about how the recording sessions have been coming along so far, the guitarist said (hear audio below): "Given that the pandemic has been going on and we haven't all yet been able to be in a room together, it's going really, really amazing. And we've got, like, 13 new tracks in the can that Arnel [Pineda, vocals] is now singing on. But the band is on fire, man. I'm excited about this record. And I believe we'll start releasing things after the New Year.
"We have new management now that has come into play, and they've been amazing to work with — Q Prime [with] Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein — and they have quite a team put together, which I think they've proved themselves throughout the years. And they get it.
"I know last time we spoke, I thought we were gonna release a single a lot earlier, and then this all came down and they wanted to push it back a bit, and it makes sense," he continued. "So we're gonna release a single, another single, a few months after that another single, and then hopefully by then, near the end of '21, we'll be back on tour when everything gets up and running again.
"But yeah, I think the band is on fire, man. It's been really pretty much either Jonathan [Cain, keyboards] working in his studio, sending us a track, and then we're overdubbing on it, or it's Narada [Michael Walden, drums] and I playing live together, which is working quite well — just drums and guitar. And then we send it to Randy [Jackson, bass] and to Jon, and then have Arnel on it. So, it's coming together, man. For being a virtual record, it sounds amazing."
On the topic of JOURNEY not being able to record in one room together this time around because of the pandemic, Neal said: "We're kind of spread out, so in order to get together, everybody has to fly in, you have to go through the quarantine. The whole thing, it just doesn't make sense — for right now anyway. We intend to, definitely, before we get going, obviously, we're gonna rehearse and put a new show together. And I'm talking brand new show — we're gonna stick a jamming show together. And we'll have plenty of time to hang and probably document a lot of the rehearsals so we can have somewhat of a new documentary to put out there with the new record."
Asked how much of the new JOURNEY material has already been recorded, Neal said: "We have, like, 13 songs, and they're not all finished yet. So by the time we get them to that place, then we'll decide… I would think at least seven or eight of them will remain, and then we'll finish writing what we feel is missing after that, after we decide what we're gonna stick together. But I'm really pushing to go for a diverse record, like we did with 'Escape', that has a lot of different elements to it, musical elements. And we dip back into some heavier, R&B-type rock, like 'Separate Ways' kind of vibe, with Randy and Narada, because the rhythm section is just solid. It sounds amazing."
As for who is producing the new JOURNEY album, Schon said: "We're kind of all doing our parts individually. Narada had a big part in working with Arnel. Arnel has had some great experiences working with Narada vocally — getting the vocals fitting in the right place. And he's had so much experience doing that throughout the years, and he's amazing to work with. He's always very up and energetic and very supportive, and so Arnel has had a great time with him. So that's been a blessing, man. Because of the way that it's being put together, I'd say that the band is producing the record as well — 50-50, you know."
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.
Asked if the legal issues with Valory and Smith have been resolved, Schon said: "It's not resolved, and we're trying to figure it out. I can't really talk much about it, like last time, but we put a more-than-generous deal on the table for them to take and accept, or not. If they don't accept, then we're going to court. And I feel very solid about our case. So that's where it's at. I'm willing to take it to the mat, all the way, for something that I've worked my whole life on.
"The way things went down was really not that kosher," he continued. "I mean, what should have happened, rather than them trying to take over at that point, was to call us up and say, 'Hey, let's sit down and talk about this.' Instead it went a different way. And both myself and Jonathan didn't appreciate it."
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 in May 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.