Singer Steve Perry
The incomparable Steve Perry, formerly of the band Journey, stops by the show to discuss his return to music and new album, “Traces.”
Listen to part one of Jim’s interview with Steve Perry by clicking here!
JB: It’s the Jim Brickman Show, ang gosh, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time…really, this singer is a legend. Many many many singers wish they were born with this voice. I’m talking with Steve Perry, he’s with me this morning with a big announcement. How ya doin, Steve?
SP: I’m doing well, Jim, it’s nice to talk to you! It’s been a long time!
JB: I know that you took a little bit of time for yourself [away from music], were you taking a break from the business of music or from the…
SP: Something that, by the way, you know about, Jim–
JB: I do! Or the music business? You know what I mean?
SP: I know, I know. Isn’t that the truth? There’s music, and then there’s the music business. Two different animals, and they soehow try to coexist, and they can be difficult. I think that I was totally burnt out, Jim. Sine I was about five years old, I loved music. And when I got into the band Journey, it was a dream come true, and I was able to put my passion and love ito songwritig with the boys and recording and singing these songs. Somwhere along the line, after we had attained some very fortunate success, I started to lose my love for music, and I was really worred about it.
Back in the eighties, we all started to replace, I think, our passion for things with… external behaviors? Shall I say? And I…gee, I just was thinking that it was going to go down a bad path if I continued that, and it wasn’t gonna fill my passion for music, so I did a very unpopular thing and I just stopped.
JB: I totally understand. At a certain point, you’re traveling all oer the world, there’s huge expectations, and many of us fall prey to not only this type of addiction to music, but anything else that crosses your path.
SP: Well, yeah! And– I have Soothe Vol. 1, by the way, it’s on my phone, I love it– that was, when I left the group, the only thing I could listen to, Jim, was beautiful music. I didn’t want to hear nobody sing, cause I was, I guess, a little PTSD and roadburned about music. A little bit damaged about it.
JB: I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are all really happy that you’re back. Steve Perry is gonna stay with me and talk about his new album, Traces, and his first single since 1994.
Listen to part two of Jim’s interview with Steve by clicking here!
JB: I know one of the brand new songs we’re going to hear from the album is called “No Erasin'”, tell us a bit about that song.
SP: “No Erasin” is about going to a class reunion, running into somebody you used to know back in the day, in the high school, and having that connection again. Even though your lives are different, and you’re in different places now, you still have that old connection. You go outside to get away from the crowd, and sit in her car and talk, and you drive out to a palce where you used to smooch back in the day and, you know, get in the backseat of her car and haev a couple of smooches, but mainly some laughs and talk about the times. And just reconnect! When the time has passed…there is some magic in those high school years that never leaves us.
It’s about the fans, too. There’s… some of the feelings in the chorus of the song are about [how I] can’t erase that feeling, either.
JB: So tell me a little bit about what you feel that your plans are, other than one day to the next, unlike most of us! When you think about the brand new abum, do you see more music and performing in your future?
SP: I have so many songs I’ve written now that are sitting on a drive… when I started writing, the gates opened up and I have a lot of music. As far as performing, we’re talking about that, but right now, it took so many years for me to find the honest passion for me to be able to record a record, write, arrange, mix… it’s been such a project of love and commitment that this is kinda where I’m all at right now.
JB: Tell me a little bit about if people want to get a hold of you, they want to write you about the new song, they want to share with you their feelings about how passionate they are about their music, where can they find you?
SP: I was just about to say… steveperry.com! Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, everything.
JB: Congratulations on the brand new album, Steve.
Head over to TheJimBrickmanShow.com for the extended version of Jim’s conversation with Steve Perry!
More about Steve Perry
Those are the fitting first words Steve Perry sings with tremendous soul and conviction on “No Erasin’” — the life-affirming anthem that opens up Traces, his first solo album in nearly a quarter century due out everywhere October 5th. It is a rousing start to the most personal and emotionally powerful work yet from this legendary singer-songwriter who earned global fame as the voice of Journey before going on to significant solo success as well.
By any standard, Traces is an inspired and expansive work that has indeed been a long time coming. Yet in a very real way, Traces marks an extraordinary and welcome return to form that Steve Perry himself long assumed he would never make. Big and bold, yet intimate and revealing, Traces is not the sound of a veteran rock star dipping his toe back in the pool, but rather an artist who has reconnected with his music in a new way that surprised even Perry himself.
“The truth is, that I thought music had run its course in my heart,” Perry explains now. “I’d had an amazing time in an amazing band, and then the chance to express myself as a solo artist too. But I had to be honest with myself, and in my heart, I knew I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.”
Burned out by the exhaustion and excess all too common in the music business Perry made a fateful and, in his mind, necessary decision to step away from the business of music in the late Nineties. And to a remarkable degree, he never really looked back.
“For a long time, I could barely even listen to music,” Perry recalls now. “My last show with Journey was in February of 1987. Then one day, it hit me that I couldn’t do this anymore. I felt as if I had to jump off this merry-go-round — this big beautiful mothership that we had all worked so hard together to build.”
The Journey mothership proved to be one of the most highflying, influential and successful vehicles in rock history, as reflected by the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April 2017. Perry made a rare public appearance at the ceremony to graciously thank his bandmates and their fans. “I thank you so much for all the music we’ve written and recorded together,” Perry said that night in Brooklyn. “It will be forever in my heart.” The classic hits Perry sang and wrote with Journey — including “Open Arms,” “Separate Ways (World’s Apart),” “Lights,” “Who’s Cryin’ Now,” “Any Way You Want It,” and the famously enduring “Don’t Stop Believin’” to name just a few — remain wildly popular around the world to this day.
Yet, even with that long legacy of success, Traces continues a musical story that goes back even further than Perry’s transformative time with Journey. Since his childhood growing up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Perry’s love of music had become the driving passion of his life, ultimately taking him to remarkable heights, both artistically and professionally. But instinctively, Perry knew the time had come to try another path in his life’s journey.
Paradoxically and — to many, perhaps inexplicably — Steve Perry, one of the defining voices of our times, had himself stopped believing. And so, he did the only thing he thought he honestly could do. “I stopped singing,” Perry explains, “and I started living life on its own terms.”
And that — it appeared for the longest time – might have simply been that. It took the love and the loss of one extraordinary woman to fully open up Perry’s heart to the idea of once again sharing the music that was in his heart.
In 2011, through his good friend, film director Patty Jenkins – who famously featured Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in her acclaimed 2003 film, Monster — Perry met Kellie Nash, a PhD in psychology who was bravely battling breast cancer. Over the next few years, Perry’s life was forever changed by the experience of falling deeply in love. “I’ve had a few relationships, and they all changed my life,” Perry explains. “But when I met Kellie, it was the next level of change that was required for me to have a complete heart. It’s as if sometimes a heart isn’t complete until it’s truly broken.”
When Nash passed in 2012, Perry was indeed heartbroken, ultimately though, he was moved to fulfill a promise he had made to her. “When Kellie was very ill, she made me promise not to keep isolating myself anymore,” Perry remembers. “Kellie taught me many things in our time together, but one of them was that it really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. “
Gradually, Perry began to revisit early sketches of songs, some of which he had shared with Kellie, and some like standout tracks “Most Of All” and “In The Rain” that were written before they had ever met – but somehow seemed to foretell their love story and its profound impact on his life.
“This was not about seeking closure or moving on, but about taking it all with me, about feeling it all, and expressing it all in hopes that it might move and help other people too,” Perry explains. “She told me one night, ‘If something happens to me, promise me that you won’t go back into isolation because I feel that it would make this all for naught.’ In the years after her passing, that conversation never left me, and my love for music slowly returned.
Working in his studio in California, Perry and his engineer and co-producer Thom Flowers eventually got to work. “We started going through my demos — these musical traces that were left behind, and slowly decided to bring a remarkable group of musicians together.” Here too, Perry made the artistic choice not to isolate himself any longer.
“At first, I sketched some of this material with electronics in my computer, but eventually we needed to keep these songs real,” Perry explains. “That meant letting musicians come in and bring their hearts and souls to this music. Every musician on this album made a musical and emotional contribution to what it’s become. Vinnie Colaiuta, as one example, doesn’t just play drums – he plays music; he just so happens to be playing drums when he does it. Everybody who played or co-wrote these songs with me helped make this album possible.”
Remarkably, Steve Perry’s iconic voice, with time and experience, has never sounded more soulful. “I’ve always considered my voice a work in progress,” Perry says with a warm laugh. Singing can be a consistent unpredictable situation. The reason is your instrument isn’t fingers on strings, or fingers on keys or drumsticks in your hands. Your instrument is You.”
The album’s lead track “No Erasin’” is a kind of an emotional homecoming. “That song is about going to a class reunion in the farm community where I was raised,” Perry explains. “Literally speaking, it’s about coming back into contact with someone you haven’t seen in a long time in a location where you used to hang out and make out, but metaphorically, it’s about the audiences that I’ve not seen in years, and being in the back seat of their car once again.”
Another of Traces’ stand outs, “Most Of All” was co-written with Randy Goodrum — with whom Perry had penned “Oh Sherrie” and “Foolish Heart,” among other songs, on his successful first solo album, 1984’s Street Talk. “Most Of All” was written two or three years before I met Kellie. Because it’s about losing someone you truly loved, I never played the demo for her. In our hearts, we thought the power of our love might be the thing that turned on her immune system to help in that quest. So, I was afraid to bring that song’s sad energy into our world. As a result, she never heard this song. That’s when it hit me; the song was about Kellie even before I ever met her. And it’s definitely about her now.”
“I’m a huge romantic and 100% ‘in’ when I’m in a relationship. ‘Say What You Mean’ is about wanting someone to love me with
every fiber of their being…to be as sure of our love as I am.” – Em
“I’m realizing how similar (theater and music) are and its all using the same tools….and vulnerability” – Veronika Slowikowska
…a seeker of the soul with a playful, rageful, raw abandon who has found a way to drown-out the demons of the past with an undeniable expression of the voice.