Neal Schon is hoping that the strong chart debut for the new Santana IV album — No. 5 on the Billboard 200 — will be the impetus for some more live shows for the reunited group.
The troupe — which includes original members Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve and Michael Carabello as well as Schon, who joined in 1971 — has played just four shows together, including a March 21 date that was filmed and recorded for subsequent release. There have been talks of more shows, and Schon, for one, is chomping at the bit to see that happen.
“Definitely. I think that’s just completely inevitable,” Schon tells Billboard. “It’s like The Force has risen again. There’s so many people who want to hear it, and what I’m hoping is that management opens their minds and eyes and sort of listens to the demand that’s out there. There’s a lot of fire, a lot of legs and a lot of people who want to see us all over the world.”
Schon says he’s also willing to put aside Journey, which he and Rolie formed after Santana split in 1972 (Rolie left in 1980), in order to facilitate more of the Santana shows. “It’s something I really want to do, so maybe we (Journey) take a hiatus for a year,” Schon says. “Arnel (Pineda, Journey’s singer) would like to take some time off, so instead of doing two years in a row of hard Journey, maybe we do one year and we give it a rest and let it sit for a second. Sometimes when you come back it’s really fresh. So put aside some time for me next year because I’m going there and I’m going to do it. It’s a no-brainer for me. It’s something I have to do and it’s something that’s truly got some legs.”
Journey will be on the road extensively this year, with the Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason during the summer plus a Memorial Day Weekend gig at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Journey plays with Santana on Aug. 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and also at the San Francisco Fest on the Green on Sept. 4 at AT&T Park, and Schon views those as opportunities to bring his two bands together once again, perhaps mixing sets throughout the shows to present a chronological history of the music, from Woodstock-era Santana to Santana IV with both bands trading sets on stage.
“That was my vision, but it hasn’t quite come down like that,” Schon says. “Certain people were just like, ‘I don’t want to see this happen’ — in our camp, so I’m very kind of disappointed with what could’ve been and what I still know is what the audience wants to see. But I think the heat is getting turned up because (‘Santana IV’) definitely kicked ass.”
Santana IV, which was released on the group`s own Santana IV Records label, also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, and No. 2 on both the Rock Albums and Top Current charts. “It’s always great when you’re just having fun and doing something that’s very natural, that you haven’t masterminded or said, ‘If I do this, it’s gonna be perfect,'” Schon says. “We just kind of did it out of fun, and it’s even more fun when people accept it the way they’re accepting it.”
With plenty of ideas left from the Santana IV sessions, Schon and the other members have also expressed hopes for recording again — with even more new material to add to the pot. “when I listen to all the facets that are in that band, rhythmically, and what you can do, I have so many endless ideas,” he explains. “You can go anywhere with it — you can go blues, you can go Latin, you can go Caribbean, you can go all African, you can go Cuban. Some bands, when they’re really in tune, it’s just like that. I think it’s a combination of the people that make the chemistry that just things erupt out of. That’s definitely what we have here.”