Last week, Steve Perry released his first album in nearly 25 years. To celebrate Traces, the singer stopped by the Billboard office to discuss why he took time off from music, what inspired his record and whether a return to the stage will follow.
Speaking with Billboard’s Associate Editor Lyndsey Havens, the former Journey frontman explained that when he decided to retreat from the spotlight, it was out of necessaity — even though he knew his fans would be disappointed.
“It was something I had to do because I had lost my passion for the music that I love so much and I wasn’t gonna just keep going with some empty sort of connection,” he says. “I didn’t know if it was gonna come back, to be honest with you. So, I just kept going and then years go by and the further away I got from it, the more I thought I’ll just keep going that way.”
Perry also explains how love and loss inspired his new album, saying, “I purposefully walked away years ago and the easiest thing for me to do was to not let my heart experience anything remotely close to trying to touch that emotional side of me.”
He then met Kellie Nash and, as Perry says, she changed his life. At the time, Nash had already been diagnosed with breast cancer. They were together for a year and a half before she died, and Perry spent the following two years grieving.
“I found myself with not only just a broken heart but an open heart,” he shares. “And from that came rock and roll. Came happy songs about reunions and also some couple of loss songs.”
The singer also discusses the process of writing and recording the album, revealing that because he wanted creative freedom he personally paid for and built his own studio and booked his own engineer, without any management or record label.
As for what’s next for the musician, Perry says with a laugh that he needs a vacation, and after that, he will start thinking about planning some live shows.
You can watch the full video interview with Steve Perry above.