11/19/03: Steve called to let us know he just taped a segment of Off The Record with Joe Benson (Arrow 93.1 FM). The segment will tentatively air Dec 14 on the Westwood One radio network. For updates, please visit Uncle Joe's great website: www.unclejoe.com
Checkin' In With Steve Perry
(Nov 4, 2003)
We spoke with Steve to make sure he was okay and not affected by the California wildfires. He gave us a quick update on what he’s been up to recently.
Lora: The fires that are raging through Southern California are so devastating. We’ve all been worried about you. How are you doing?
Steve: The northern part of San Diego where I live is safe from the fires right now although it hasn’t stopped everyone in this area from feeling the frightening impact of these wildfires. I really hope the fires get under control soon for everyone’s sake.
LB: Our thoughts and best wishes definitely go out to everyone down there. Stay safe! On a happier note, there is going to be a Journey’s Greatest Hits DVD released soon. How did this come about?
SP: Around July of this year, I got a phone call from John Kalodner asking if I was interested in overseeing the production of a Journey Greatest Hits DVD. This would include many of the music videos that Journey has put together and some live performances. Immediately, I thought this was an amazing idea, but there would be logistical problems to overcome. Though the visuals are great, the audio of today has far surpassed the original sound on those tapes. All the tracks have been digitally remastered, some of which came from the Essential CD. Between Michael Rubenstein on the east coast and myself on the west coast, all the old, original audio tracks on the videos were replaced with the digitally remastered tracks. Now the old videos have an incredible, fresh, new sound that they never had before. John Kalodner wanted to make sure it was the best product it could possibly be with today’s technology and these videos have never looked or sounded so good. I must say though, in watching the old videos, I was amazed that my hair was ever that long (laughs) since it’s been short for awhile now. Many of those videos were done at the beginning of the video era and it’s interesting to see how much things have changed since then.
LB: How did you guys decide on the track listing?
SP: There were many videos that obviously needed to be there, such as “Wheel In The Sky,” “Faithfully,” “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Open Arms.” Then there were some we wanted included such as “Just The Same Way” and “Feeling That Way,” with Gregg Rolie and I sharing vocals. The DVD is a nice blend of what was available and what needed to be on the first package. In the beginning, there was some difficulty with an executive at the record label~ not John Kalodner~over creative problems that I did not give in to. It was suggested by this executive that only a photo of the Escape line-up be used on the back of the DVD to represent the music within. I fought for and was insistent upon the back cover having myself, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Steve Smith and Aynsley Dunbar represented. Randy Jackson and Michael Baird are also listed with icons next to their names because they were involved in the Raised On Radio videos. There are icons next to each player so you can see who plays on every video. It was not appropriate to put one photo on the package, as it didn’t represent the legacy of Journey. I will never forget the early times with me, Neal, Gregg, Ross & Aynsley in two Chevy Caprice four-door sedans following each other across the country with Dr. Brown (road crew) right behind us in a bob-tail truck, full of equipment equipment.
LB: Did the other band members have input on this DVD?
SP: John Kalodner told me he was in contact with Jon & Neal to make sure that their input was received just as he received input from me.
LB: What about the live footage on the DVD?
SP: I’ve always known that Neal was a big fan of the Houston Summit shows. He and I have always felt that the performances were qualitative enough to be released just as they were. With that in mind, “Anyway You Want It,” “Who’s Crying Now,” “Open Arms,” “Stone In Love,” and “Don’t Stop Believin” were included from that concert. “Who’s Crying Now,” “Anyway You Want It” and “Open Arms” were not re-mixed, as the live multi-tracks could not be located. What I did find was the live video and the live stereo two tracks of those songs. Those stereo two tracks have also been digitally remastered. The amazing thing about it is, that those three tracks sound more live because there is more live audience in the mix. (pauses) It reminded me of how great we all were together. Two other live tracks come from the Raised On Radio concert at the Mountain Aire Festival in 1986 with Randy Jackson on bass and Michael Baird on drums and another, “I’ll Be Alright Without You,” is from the Raised On Radio concert at the Omni in Atlanta GA.
LB: How did you decide on the cover?
SP: John Kalodner wanted the Greatest Hits CD cover to be on the DVD cover. I suggested that we put “DVD” in the red sphere at the top and “I” in the blue sphere at the bottom to give it a new identity. I wanted “Greatest Hits 1978 – 1997” included and I also requested that all the members’ names be on the front cover so that everyone knows who is in this package. David Coleman was the art director and he has done many of the Journey covers; he assembled the DVD cover in such a way that it made beautiful, creative sense. This project started in July and it took quite a bit of time to assemble and go through all the film and the audio to make sure the digitally remastered tracks were in their proper places. For me, it’s been another one of those reflective, emotional journeys that is sometimes difficult to talk about.
LB: We can’t wait to see it. What is the release date?
SP: Nov 25.
LB: Now that the DVD is finished, what have you been doing?
SP: Sometime in September, I received a letter from actress Charlize Theron. It was addressed personally to me, typewritten on two pages, and signed by Charlize. I’m looking at the letter right now to refresh my memory because it’s a very heartfelt letter about a film that she seriously believes in. The film is based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute in Florida who, after being on death row for 12 years, was executed a year ago this month for the murder of seven of her johns. With child abuse in her past and living with the dangers of a prostitute’s life, circumstances became more life threatening and her survival became everything. I’ll read you one of the paragraphs from Charlize’s letter to me, “The film entitled Monster is very close to my heart and is one that I recently produced and co-starred in with Christina Ricci. It was written and directed by Patty Jenkins, an extremely talented woman, who like me, is a music lover and a huge fan. Patty originally wrote the script with “Don’t Stop Believin” in mind for one of the key scenes as it is so evocative of the time and place and is a song that is tender and rebellious at the same time. The song’s heart speaks to the soul of this story.” I could continue to read you more from this letter as it is written in a most personal, emotional way from Charlize and Patty’s genuine wish to get the song for their film.
After we spoke, they sent me a copy of the film and I understood exactly what they were talking about. When Jon and I wrote the lyrics for “Don’t Stop Believin,” it was always about “street light people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the night.” The lyrics have a connection to the film in a way that I can’t deny. At that time, I asked my publisher to contact Neal and Jon with the hopes that they would allow the song to be used. They graciously approved.
I was invited to go up to LA to watch them dub the song into the film. I had the pleasure of meeting Patty Jenkins (writer and director), Charlize Theron (who plays Aileen) and one of the most brilliant music composers I’ve ever met, B.T. The music of this film is so emotional and powerful that B.T. has inspired me. They asked me to hang out as long as I wanted….so I did. A month later (laughs) we were hanging out everywhere together. I loved watching the intensity of the creative process between Patty, Charlize & B.T. From time to time, Patty asked me what I thought about certain pre-recorded music in the film so I presented her options from different artists, past and present. I really enjoyed participating in this side of the project. Later Patty and B.T. insisted on me giving me Music Consultant credit. I was stunned.
Patty is one of the most passionate, creative people I’ve ever met. I watched her closely and she refused to settle. She always kept reaching for what she believed in and as a result, she has made a very powerful film. She wrote the screen play based on interviews with many of Aileen’s friends and Aileen herself. Patty went to Aileen’s hangouts and read many of her letters. Before I first saw the film, I wasn’t sure who the character was. The moment I saw Charlize come on the screen, I knew exactly who she was playing. The transformation is amazing. This whole thing was an experience I will always remember and it’s a film I’ll never forget.
LB: When is the film being released?
SP: It is released in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York on Dec 26 and there is talk of adding Chicago. In January, it will be released in other areas and theaters.
LB: Who else stars in the film?
SP: Scott Wilson and Bruce Dern. Bruce Dern plays one of Aileen’s closest friends who helps her get through the hard times. Scott Wilson plays an innocent person who wishes to help Aileen but circumstances change everything.
LB: It sounds like a film that we’ll definitely want to check out. It’s so fitting that they were able to use a Journey song for the film that obviously meant so much to them. Thanks for letting us know you are doing okay and filling us in on the DVD and the upcoming film. We’ll talk soon.
SP: As always…with you, Lora, the pleasure has been mine.