buzz by Jay Amabile Not many bands have enjoyed the longevity of Journey.They’ve been everywhere for 30 years now. Let’s go down the list:They’ve sold 75 million records worldwide, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even had their own video game for Atari! They’ve also been referenced on “The Simpsons,” and “The O.C.” Their new album Generations, is in stores, and they’ll be performing at the Beacon Theatre on Nov. 22 and 23. If I can catch my breath I’ll relay you my conversation with bassist Ross Valory who welcomed me with (I can’t resist) “Open Arms”… AW: Hey Ross! RV: I hate to hold you up but I was doing another interview with a U.K. publication. It’s always intriguing doing overseas interviews. Yeah, it’s great to listen to their accent. Rawt then, diddly pib, I’ll make a cup of tea! Anyhow, thanks for your patience. Thanks for doing this. I’m Jay from The Aquarian. The fact of the matter is…I am an Aquarian, so I’m ready to rock! That’s a coincidence. Isn’t that like TOTALLY far out dude…whoa, this is awesome, man! Ha ha! I want to say congratulations on 30 years! In some ways, it doesn’t feel like 30 years, but then when I stand on the stage, with Neil… Feels like it was yesterday. Yeah, in many respects. Here’s a funny story: I was in class and all is quiet. All of a sudden a girl’s cell phone rings and her ringtone blasts ‘Anyway You Want It.’ You’re on ringtones, commercials, and on tv. How does that feel? Well it’s been over so many years that that has been the case. It’s not as though I’m immune to it but it’s something I’ve gotten used to.Seeing ‘Anyway You Want It’ for the Ford truck commercial, ya know, and there’s certain appearances on ‘The Simpsons’ and sitcoms. I have to point out that I do count my blessings on this. We’re in the third round with a Journey career, eight years running, which is the longest standing incarnation of the band. How does it feel over 30 years? It feels great, everyone’s healthy, we’re still innovating, still charged, still have a very energetic performance. And you’re bringing it to NYC in support of the new album Generations. We’re coming to the Beacon. That’s a tradition. Think of all the people that played on that stage! Definitely. On the album, you sing ‘Gone Crazy.’ All the members get a crack at singing on the album but this one sounds the most exuberant. Well put! I’m still amazed at my place in the music of the band as a vocalist.I could never have imagined before last year that I would be the blues guy. I’ve been immersed in the blues for years. My first rock bands were soul music. When everyone else was doing Beatles and surf, I was in a soul band in the mid-’60s. Of course, they could dance to our music, mashed potato, ya know! Having played with Steve Miller, having helped form and perform in the Sy Klopps blues band, and of course hanging out with Neil Schon for 30 years who is steeped in blues influences, it couldn’t help but rub off, but I never thought I’d end up singing blues with Journey! ‘Gone Crazy’ is a fun song and given our ambition to be energetic on this album, we decided to go for the boogie. I’ll be boogying at the Beacon! I’m enjoying it greatly and it’s a lot of fun. As a player, there are definitely other favorite songs like ‘Out Of Harm’s Way.’ That’s a track on the new album inspired by the war in Iraq. How does Journey remain positive when things seem so bleak? There are varying degrees of political view within
Ross Valory of
That’s The Way You Need It
Many musicians are fed up with the music industry. What gets under your skin the most about the business? It has been under my skin for a while, in terms of how everything is so monopolized and formatted. What’s on the radio has been determined by some database, controlled by a large conglomerate; there’s not enough free-form radio. It’s all now so formulated and precise and demographic oriented that there’s a lack of spontaneity there. That’s irksome. For instance, for our music, there are hundreds of classic rock radio stations that have been playing our popular hits for years but when it comes to new Journey music, ‘We’re sorry, we don’t play new music.’ It’s hard to find a format that fits the music when we put out new stuff. In this case, we have a song ‘Place In Your Heart’ that’s going to radio.We’ll just see what happens. That’s my favorite track. Well thank you! We’ll see if we can make a dip that way.The band’s success in the last eight years has been based on concerts.We’ve done very well with that. When you left in ’85 before Raised On Radio, Randy Jackson from ‘American Idol’played bass. Is he just a big pile of hot air, dawg? Randy was and is a fine musician and I’m playing a lot of those songs he performed or recorded even though I probably had most of the songs already digested and formulated with the change. There is always something to learn. When you get lemons you make lemonade, so that’s basically what I did. There’s a lot to learn from just seeing somebody else playing with Journey even though I don’t think image-wise it fit. It worked for the time but the whole thing just fell apart not long after it.Then it just ended for 10 years or so. In retrospect, I don’t think I missed that much. Everything was already disintegrating at that point. It wasn’t fun but I had other things to do at that point. You’re a busy guy. Are you hooked up to an I.V of Red Bull? For 30 years I’ve been making my own coffee! Busy guy! I knew intuitively that I’d be busier the second half of my life. For years, Journey fans have been wondering what does Ross do in his spare time, musically? I’m proud to announce I’ve entered a solo career and I started up my website rossvalory.com. VTR and No Nation are both being released on my site.That’s part of the energy, aside from the coffee, is that I’m a busy guy. It’s nice to be able to take advantage of my association with a known rock band to test the waters with other material far away from the musical style of Journey. Did you have any crappy jobs before you got into music? I was selling frozen steaks in the warehouse district of San Francisco, that’s probably the crappiest. I was raised in a family of building and construction. I cleaned a lot of windows, hauled a lot of lumber, did some brick work, and layed cement. In 1998, Journey were featured on the Armageddon soundtrack. Let’s say Journey are playing in NYC. News comes in that an asteroid is about to hit New York. Do you continue playing and rip into a never-ending version of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’,’ or go up into space with Bruce Willis and try to save the city? Ha ha! I’d head for the river! And throw my suitcase on the river which is full of light clothing. I’d use my bass for a paddle, and paddle on my suitcase down the Hudson! Ha ha.Thanks for the interview, Ross. You’re welcome. Thank you!
PHOTO BY MARK WEISS.
the band, understandably, but there is something about the lyrics that speak of the personal life of the soldiers (men and women) over there. It’s basically
4 ARTS WEEKLY NOVEMBER 16, 2005 www.theaquarian.com
a recognition of their efforts and of the commitment to do what they’re doing regardless of the politics. And it’s a prayer that they come home safely as well.
Journey will be performing at the Beacon Theatre in NYC on Nov. 22 and 23.
Ross Vallory of Journey Interview by Jay Amabile originally published in The Aquarian, East Coast Rocker