Gregg Rolie’s good pal and musical boss Ringo Starr gives an assist on “What About Love,” a rocking track with a Gary Glitter beat from Sonic Ranch — Rolie’s just-released first solo set in 18 years — whose video is premiering exclusively below.
“The message really comes from playing with Ringo,” Rolie, a co-founder of Santana and Journey and a member of the All-Starr Band since 2012, tells Billboard. “He’s been relentless on ‘peace and love’ forever. He’s been saying it for years, and he’s right. I just took it a step further and did it a little stronger. The song is like, ‘Hey, wake up! What ABOUT this?'” The video, meanwhile, was directed by Rolie’s son and frequent musical collaborator Sean Rolie, mixing candid studio and performance footage — some of the latter with the Journey spin-off Journey Through Time — with car imagery. Check it out here.
“I didn’t want to go on the same path where I’m in the studio and ‘Here’s my fingers on the faders, here’s me with headphones…’ which is kinda where guys my age (72) kind of go,” Rolie explains. “I wanted to do something that was alive, so Sean helped me with that.” He laughs as he adds that, “It’s different for me. I sent it to my old Journey manager, Herbie Herbert, and he said, ‘This is a great video. Did Sean help you with this?'”
Rolie — who recorded Sonic Ranch at iconic Texas studios such as the Tornillo facility that inspired its title and Arlyn Studios in Austin — was somewhat taken aback to realize it had been 18 years since 2001’s Roots, though he had released a live album and an EP during the interim. “I just got busy,” the singer and keyboardist says, noting his All-Starr Band schedule as well as Santana IV, a reunion of much of the original Santana lineup that released an album and played a handful of shows during 2016. “I hadn’t planned on taking this long; Someone had to tell me it’s been 18 years but I’ve been busy as I could be. So I’m glad it’s out. I’m proud of the music. And I’m doing even more now.”
Rolie is, in fact, working on new material with former Journey drummer Deen Castronovo and bassist Marco Mendoza (both part of Journey Through Time), his son Sean and with Yayo Sanchez, the 26-year-old Kiss Guy who became a viral sensation jamming with Foo Fighters. Three songs are already done, Rolie reports, with more on the way. So it won’t be another 18 years until his next solo album, he promises.
“I’m really energized right now,” Rolie says. “This record’s just out and I’m ready to move on to the next one. It’s like what the Beatles went through; While they were putting one out they already had one in the can for the next thing. I’m kind of following that route and it’s great. I think the doors are wide open and there’s no rules anymore, so I’m just gonna get in there and make all the music I can.”