Steve Perry Won't Stop Recording, but Touring Is Another Story

Steve Perry Won't Stop Recording, but Touring Is Another Story

'I'm No Spring Chicken,' Says Ex-Journey Singer, Who Is Working on New Music at 'Own Pace'

S teve Perry knows "it's been a long time, for sure" -- since 1998, actually -- since the world's heard any new music from the former Journey frontman.

But after "navigating" Journey's new "Greatest Hits Vol. 2" and a vinyl reissue of his 1984 solo album "Street Talk," Perry tells Billboard.com he's planning to get to work in earnest in a studio he's just finishing in his southern California home just north of San Diego, which he says will have a control room and "a tracking room about the size of Motown."

"I'm finishing that room up and I've written a whole bunch of ideas and directions, all over the map, in the last two, three years," says Perry, who was with Journey from 1977-98. "So I plan on getting in the studio at some point and start trying to track these things and see where they go."

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There's no formal timetable, however. "I don't want it to have pressure," Perry explains, "because I'll worry about it sucking, and then what am I gonna do? I've got all this pressure... that I just don't want on me, so I've allowed myself the ability to sketch and write as I go, and I'll do it at my own pace."

Perry adds that he'd also "love to" play live again but adds that, at 62, "I'm no spring chicken. The same arthritis that ate up my left hip that finally got replaced hasn't stopped there... And touring is a lot of work. I'm impressed when I see people like Eric Clapton out there. Gee whiz, Eric, give me a break! It's amazing. I know it's gotta hurt somewhere."

While the new music is in idea form, Perry happily traipsed through the past with the reissues. He says working on the Journey hits set -- a 17-song sequel to the 1988 "Greatest Hits" that's sold more than 25 million copies worldwide -- "was one of the most wonderful and emotional experiences I think I've had thus far, probably more emotional than putting together the original 'Greatest Hits.' At the time we threw that 'Greatest Hits' together because it was kind of like a given, but then to be able to see all the other great song and pick them and really listen to them a lot...and as a result of that realize what a great band we were, I just think the older I get the more I'm able to look back at the forest now, because I've certainly walked out of the trees."

Perry says his relationship with Journey these days is "civil through channels. We really don't have a lot to say to each other at this point. We have certainly for years now gone our separate ways and we're all living different lives. They've got their singer and they're working and they're happy and everybody's fine."

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Would he consider a one-off reunion for something like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? "I don't know," Perry says. "I'm not a big fan of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's just a personal thing, not an ego thing. I think that, honestly, Journey doesn't need to be in the Hall of Fame. With everything we accomplished...we've had our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you know? It's in the hearts of the people out there and their experiences and their memories of what we did together and how we all had the time of our lives with the music that we loved to perform and they loved to hear. I really don't want someone to qualify it any more than that."

Also don't expect to see Perry visit "American Idol," despite judge and onetime Journey bassist Randy Jackson's many invitations. "I have simply said that there's just a side of me that could not judge anybody singing," Perry explains. "It's not who I am. I don't want to be that person."

Meanwhile, Perry remains "truly stunned and grateful and amazed" at the enduring success of 1981's "Don't Stop Believin' " -- and reveals that he nearly kept the song from its iconic use in the 2007 series finale of "The Sopranos."

"Jon (Cain) and Neal (Schon), the other writers, had approved whatever they wanted to do, but I said, 'Well, I do care, and I want to know how it's used.' If somebody got whacked, I didn't want to do that with that song, " Perry recalls. The show's producers initially refused to tell him, but three days before it aired they relented, swearing the singer to secrecy -- though they didn't tell him about the famous cut to a silent black screen.

"They did tell me nobody was getting whacked, so I said yes," Perry says. "The cool thing to me is that Tony Soprano digs Journey. He thumbs through Heart and Tony Bennett...and you assume it's gotta be Tony Bennett. Then all of a sudden Journey starts, and that was very cool."