No. 7

A friend recommended I check out this documentary on the band Journey and their latest comeback with a new singer. I saw previews in advertisements but otherwise would not have had interest to watch this movie had it not been for his recommendation. However, I was pleasantly surprised and glad I took the time to watch, finding it iconic, informative, heartwarming, and fun. Up until now, my interest in Journey had faded since the departure of singer Steve Perry, one of the greatest voices in rock history. It is a shame Perry did not return to the band, but nice to see the band resurrect themselves and continue on with their success.

"Don't Stop Believin' : Everyman's Journey is an inside look at Journey's rise to stardom from the 70's. The size of Neil Schon's 'fro should have been an indication of how huge they would become, filling arenas as a major touring band. The documentary first touches on the bands rocky road transforming from a jazz fusion band to a pop radio band in the late 70's. Journey released their first album, self-titled, in 1975 and in 1996 released their second album Look Into The Future". Nether album had notable sales. Journey released their eighth and biggest-selling studio album, Escape, in 1981, selling nine times platinum to date. It went to number one on the album charts that year, and included three top-ten hits. Journey's next album, 1983's Frontiers, continued their commercial success, reaching No. 2 on the album charts, selling nearly six million copies. The album generated four Top 40 hits and Journey had become one of the top touring and recording bands in the world. After Frontiers, the band fractured and everyone was off doing solo projects, there was talk of reunion of the years. In 1995 the Escape and Frontiers lineup (Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory, and Smith) reunited to record Trial by Fire, released in 1996, but plans for a subsequent tour ended when Perry injured his hip while hiking in Hawaii in the summer of 1997, and could not perform without hip replacement surgery which he for some time refused to undergo according to the 2010 VH-1 Special Behind the Music :Journey.

In 1998 Journey replaced singer Steve Perry with Steve Augeri, formerly of Tyketto and Tall Stories who became the singer for Journey for eight years. Augeri suffered from a chronic throat infection, lost his voice, and left Journey in 2006. Jeff Scott Soto singer for Talisman took his place for the tour 2006-2007.This led to a confusion between the Steve's where rumors surfaced that Steve Perry's departure from Journey was due to throat cancer. It was Steve Augieri who suffered the throat problems. Journey members Jonathan Cain and Neil Schon began a long search for a new singer. The search went on and at a desperate time of deciding to give up, Neil Schon stumbled upon a You-Tube page containing a cover band called The Zoo from the Philippines who were performing Journey songs. The singer Arnel Pineda had the pipes Schon was looking for, so he contacted him and offered an audition with Journey. At first, Pineda thought it was a prank, but soon realized the offer was for real.

Arnel Pineda, was a poor Filipino who admitted to drinking himself to rock bottom. He turned his life around by becoming a singer in a cover band and supporting his family through meager wages. When he was offered the audition with Journey, no one was sure he was right for the job. The band was unsure with his being so far away in a third-world country and Pineda himself was unsure he could pull it off. Pineda was flown to California where he met with the band in auditions. The first days were slow. The band began having doubts Pineda was the one, but he quickly got better each day as he became more comfortable. He was offered the job. One can only imagine the anxiety this guy must have had to be flown to another country, placed under the spotlight of audition with this famous band, and becoming singer for one of the worlds biggest bands. It clearly was a whirlwind, you can see it in his reactions. Neil Schon claims that for Journey it doesn't get any better than Arnel Pineda, that aside from Steve Perry, Pineda is the best singer he's worked with other than Paul Rodgers (Bad Company). That's certainly saying something.

The band immediately began preparing for an album and major tour, which turned out to be one of their biggest tours ever. For this documentary, film crews followed the band on the road for a year while they were promoting the Revelation album, the first tour with Arnel Pineda as the new singer for Journey. Pinela describes how much anxiety he had over the first live show he did in Chile 2008 in front of 18,000 fans. Everything began moving in slow motion, but then the adrenaline kicked in when Pineda took the stage with the energy of Bruce Dickinson or David Lee Roth on steroids. The band was afraid he wouldn't have enough air to sing properly, but he managed to pull it off. While he was asked to tone it down, the band knew from that show Pineda was the perfect frontman. There were concerns that Journey fans would not except Pineda, given his heritage, and while most fans accepted him with open arms, he was not without being attacked with racist comments and bullying online. He seemingly won over the hearts of Journey fans. He has many Steve Perry-like qualities, he sounds like Perry, has long black hair like Perry, and is thin like Perry. The story of his rise from poverty and alcoholism to living the America dream as a rockstar with one of the greatest rock bands ever is heartwarming. Pineda remains humble, still living in the Philippines. He said " You gain, you lose, you gain, you lose, its the cycle of life." While he now lives in a large house, he has used his fortunates to better his community. Pinela has become become a national hero for the Philippines. His addition to the band Journey has further expanded the bands international exposure. Arnel Pineda says "I am living a fairytale now. For me it's like its really not happening, it's like I'm just dreaming." It only becomes real for Pineda before the show starts and he is confronted with the pressure of the show and the fans.

The documentary shows the difficulties of being a singer of such range, under the pressure of performing constantly, and staying healthy. Pineda fights a cold during one show, and is variously seen throughout the film drinking tea with honey, taking Vocalzone tablets Throat Coat supplements, various Throat Sprays , and vitamins to keep himself healthy on the tour. It's no longer sex and drugs, its sleep, lozenges, and rock 'n roll for this band. In 2012 the Tribeca Film Festival premiered this documentary titled Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey, directed by Ramona A. Diaz. Hear Pineda belt out such hits as "Seperate Ways", "Open Arms", "Anyway You Want It", "Faithfully" and "Don't Stop Believin'". After more than three decades of rocking out, Journey still have a great sound and are creating great music. They have 14 albums, two now with Arnel Pineda as singer : Revelation (2007) and Eclipse (2011).

The only thing missing from this film is Perry making a cameo congratulating Pineda, as if passing the torch. Perry was an iconic singer, deserved of every praise and memory. Neil Schon said it best in this documentary " Steve Perry's shoes are some big shoes to fill." No question, Pineda practically fills those shoes. He is no Steve Perry, but he's real close, and he brings a flair of his own vocal style to the band. As much as Pineda should be fortunate that Journey found him, saved him from rock bottom, and took him to the top of the rock, Journey should be thanking Pineda that their careers have been extended another decade or more. The story of Pineda and his rise to fame with Journey is a feel good story, one you should experience for yourself.

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