The members of Journey are hoping that if they’re inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, current singer Arnel Pineda will be able to go in with them.
Journey received its first Rock Hall nomination earlier this month, and Pineda — the Filipino native who’s been fronting the group since 2007 — was not on the list of members getting a nod (nor was original drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who played on Journey’s first four albums).
“That’s wrong, y’know?” keyboardist-guitarist Jonathan Cain tells Billboard. “I don’t think it’s fair. There is no Journey without Arnel right now. He certainly has learned his stripes. He’s been with us longer than any lead singer has consecutively stayed in the band. He’s given us 10 years straight, not running off or doing this, doing that, just being The Guy. So that’s worth something.”
Member induction controversies are nothing new to the Rock Hall. Just look at recent flaps over who was inducted for groups such as Kiss, Deep Purple and Chicago, among others. Most recently, former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese voiced disappointment about not being included in that band’s nomination this year. Cain indicates that if inducted, Journey will lobby for Pineda’s inclusion but isn’t sure how effective it can be.
“We have no control of it; It’s just the politics of it all,” Cain notes. “What are you gonna do? You’re just gonna accept what’s given you in this situation. But I think it’s a significant oversight, for sure, and maybe they’ll reconsider when they think about it.”
Of course, Journey itself has long been considered a significant oversight by the Rock Hall, and that’s made the group’s first-ever nomination this year a significant development. “The fans are stoked. They’re very, very excited and they’ve been very supportive,” Cain says. The group is actively campaigning for the fan vote that’s being conducted via the Rock Hall website. “I think a lot of fans don’t realize they can vote, and that’s why we’re trying to encourage it,” Cain says.
The band itself is taking a wait-and-see attitude as voting is going on. “It’s been a little bit of a wait just to be nominated,” says Cain, who recently released a faith-based solo album called What God Wants To Hear. “We just had to be patient. I figured it would come around. We’ve never been the critic’s choice; They bashed us in the ’80s and every album we put out they just pretty much laughed at, and so much of that Hall is writers, critics. But what we’ve done over the years is quietly just continued to be relevant, so maybe they weren’t right about us. It’s funny, ’cause every one of our opening acts, it seems like they’re in the Hall of Fame, starting with Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, Steve Miller, Heart. It’s pretty funny, and I’m happy for all of them.
“But I think everybody [in Journey] is thrilled to be nominated. There’s no doubt it’s a great honor, for sure. If it doesn’t happen next year it’s going to eventually happen. I’m confident God’ll make it happen.”
A Journey induction, of course, brings about the prospect of a reunion with frontman Steve Perry for the first time since 1998. Perry has been mum about the nomination, but Cain says he’d be welcome. “I can’t really speak for him in that regard, but certainly the door’s always been open for him to join us any time he wants,” Cain says.
Journey is largely off the road for now but is planning to tour again in 2017. Cain says the group is “looking at” making a new album, its first since 2011’s Eclipse, and he acknowledges that What God Wants To Hear has “really tuned on my creative juices…that will probably lead me to the next Journey record. I was sort of stuck for a long time, creatively.” But other factors will have to be negotiated before the group hunkers down to record.
“The business is just really disheartening right now,” Cain says. “It costs so much money to make a CD. They’re almost cost-prohibitive, and you’re lucky if you can break even at this stage. You’re really only doing it for the fans. I do think we have another album in us, but we’ve got to tighten up as a band and get our direction sorted out first. I think the last record we made was kind of a departure from what I think people want from Journey, so direction-wise we’ve got to get on the same page before we move forward. Once we do that, I think the songs will start coming out.”