STEVE PERRY Opens Up About Leaving JOURNEY: 'I Was Like A Wrung-Out Sponge'
August 15, 2018
Earlier today (Wednesday, August 15),former JOURNEY vocalist Steve Perry was interviewed on "Trunk Nation", the SiriusXM satellite radio program hosted by Eddie Trunk. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On leaving JOURNEY:
Steve: "The reason I left is because I was just truly burned out. My love for music was getting really, really questionable within my heart, and I kind of had to stop. There was no easy way to stop, leaving the mothership that I had so loved and worked so hard with the guys to build. It was tough. I didn't tell nobody — I just kept working, and then all of a sudden, it just kind of hit the wall, and I said, 'I can't do this anymore.' The band looked at me like, 'What?' I'm sure there was no way to drop such a bomb on the fans easily, but I just had to stop and just get out for a while. So I did, and once I stopped, I realized I had to be okay on my own, in my own terms, without the love and the adoration and applause. I kind of wanted the wheels to touch down, to be honest. I had to decompress... where you can be okay being yourself and that's enough. Being in such an amazing ride like we were on is like circling the earth in some satellite, then all of a sudden, it's just time to come through and land. There was no easy way to come through the earth's atmosphere without burning a little bit.
"I went back to my hometown in Hanford, California, and I just hung out in that town with old friends, drove up and down Main Street, saw my old house where I was raised, just tried to reconnect. I had a Harley-Davidson I used to keep in a storage unit, and I used to go out on these country roads — back in those days, you didn't need a helmet — and I would just drive that Harley on these one-lane, old country roads, and just let the wind blow and try to get some wind in my face and think about things.
"I had to let go with a conviction that if music was to come back to my heart again, that would be fine. If it didn't, I had already lived the dream of dreams, honestly. We had accomplished so much as a group together. I had to let it go completely to see what would happen. I was like a wrung-out sponge — there's no juice left in me.
"When I was a kid, I loved music more than anything else. It saved my life. When I can play those old 45s and get into those songs and listen to those rhythms and those voices and that songwriting, it was a place I could go to when my family was breaking up at the time, my mother and father. I'm an only child. I lived in the fantasy of those 45s, so I brought that with me when I joined the band, and brought that love for that, and when it started to leave me, I got scared. I'm not complaining — I want to make that clear — but you don't have to look too far to see people not survive in the music business. I'll speak for myself — there was some extra-stimulative behaviors going on back in the day. I could have kept going with those exterior assistance behaviors, but it wouldn't have filled the hole that I knew was going, so I had to just literally stop. There's no easy was to do it; I just had to do it. I went to baseball [games]; every summer, I'd go to the fair; I would go on vacations; I'd go to movies; I'd do the things everybody else does. I needed to just get back to a [normal] life and let that be enough."
On JOURNEY's induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:
Steve: "When I walked out there, that was a real thrill. They had a whole worked-up thing — they had a big teleprompter, and I said, 'F that.' I pulled out my piece of paper. I says, 'I got some things to talk about here,' and I just sort of did my thing. The fans, they were so wonderful.
On not performing with JOURNEY during the induction ceremony:
Steve: "I'm not in the band. I haven't been in the band for quite some time. Arnel's [Pineda] 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."
On meeting Pineda:
Steve: "There was a gentleman who we recently lost named Harry, part of the management team. Harry was there with me, and he said, 'Steve, listen, I don't know if you know, but Arnel's running up and down the halls. He heard you're here, backstage.' I said, 'Well, where is he?' He said, 'I think he's outside.' I said, 'Okay, I'll come out.' I walked out and he was there, and he comes up to me... 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."
On whether he regrets singing in such a high range with JOURNEY:
Steve: "You don't think about it when you're doing it, because you're young. At that point in time in music, you kind of had to get in the outdo-the-next-kind-of-cat mode. There were so many of us trying to climb to the top of the heap, so to speak, as who's going to be the one who can really belt it. There were so many great singers — the cat from TOTO, the cat from SANTANA, the cat from SURVIVOR. So many different singers with these high voices, and I'm thinking, 'Okay, watch this.' We were all competitive. I just kept pushing myself for greater heights. I just really wanted to keep outdoing my own capabilities. I may have set the bar a little high at this age. [Laughs] I probably could [sing it today], but I may have to drop a key here and there. I'm okay with that."
On JOURNEY's legacy:
Steve: "There's so many of our graduating class of our era who did the same thing. For whatever reason, we were just so fortunate to write the kind of music together, and the synergy that happened at that point in time when we were together, had a unique thing unto itself. That band was a great band. When we were together back in that era reaching in that era for the emotion of that time, I think we were really, really accomplishing something we didn't even know we were doing. Maybe that's what's a little timeless about our music — our sincerity to want to be the best band at that point we could possibly be."
"Traces", Perry's first solo album in more than two decades, will be released on October 5 via Fantasy Records (a division of Concord Records/UMG).
"Traces" marks Perry's first solo album since 1994's "For The Love Of Strange Medicine", which was certified gold in the U.S. for sales in excess of half a million copies.
Perry's final full concert with JOURNEY took place in early 1987. He later rejoined his bandmates for a brief performance in 1991 to honor late concert promoter Bill Graham. He also appeared with JOURNEY when they received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2005.