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Journey's New Album, New Frontman

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Journey's New Album, New Frontman

Journey's New Album, New Frontman

Journey's New Album, New Frontman

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91054543/91054494" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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New Journey singer Arnel Pineda performing in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In advance of Journey's new album, Revelation, which drops Wednesday, Bryant Park Project Producer Dan Pashman looks at Arnel Pineda, the band's replacement frontman.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

OK. Those of us with discerning taste in music know that tomorrow is a big day. That's because Journey - that's right, Journey - is releasing a new album. It's called "Revelation," and it's the band's first album with their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda. It includes three discs, one of new music, one of new recordings of Journey classics featuring Pineda at the mike, and a DVD of a March concert in Las Vegas. The story of how Arnel Pineda came to be Journey's lead singer is pretty darn amazing, but not necessarily unique. It turns out he's the latest in a long line of super fans who got to live their dream by becoming the lead singers of the bands that they idolized. Awhile back, producer Dan Pashman told Alison Stewart and me all about the proud lineage.

DAN PASHMAN: The first time we witnessed this phenomena was in 1997 when Tim Owens was hired to replace Rob Halford as the frontman for Judas Priest. And Owens had been in a series of Judas Priest cover bands before he got the real gig. Oh, by the way, a quick side note, Owens was also in a band called Brainicide at one point. I just thought I should mention that. I was thinking we should have a BPP segment called Brainicide.

ALISON STEWART, host:

All right.

PASHMAN: I don't know what that will consist of, but I'll work on that.

STEWART: It sounds like killing your brain. I don't know. You might want to start thinking about that one.

PASHMAN: Yeah. So two Judas Priest fans videotaped Owens in his role without his knowledge, videotaped him in the Priest cover band, and they got the tape to the real band and the group eventually hired him and gave him the stage name Ripper Owens. So I thought we'd do a quick audio comparison here. Here's Judas Priest performing their classic song "Breaking the Law."

STEWART: The name's Ripper now. Like, I can't - OK.

PASHMAN: You're not Tim anymore. You're Ripper. So this is them performing their classic song "Breaking the Law," live back in the '80s, with the original lead singer Rob Halford.

(Soundbite of song "Breaking the Law")

Mr. ROB HALFORD: (Singing) There I was completely wasted, out of work and down. All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town. Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die...

PASHMAN: All right. So that's the original, and now here's Priest performing the same song live in 2001, with Ripper Owens at the helm.

(Soundbite of song "Breaking the Law")

Mr. TOM OWENS: (Singing) There I was completely wasted, out of work and down. All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town. Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die...

PASHMAN: Pretty close. Pretty close to the real thing.

STEWART: It's close. I prefer the Halford.

PASHMAN: Yeah.

STEWART: I do.

PASHMAN: Well, if it's any consolation to you, Ally, I should add that Rob Halford did return as Judas Priest's lead singer in 2003.

STEWART: I feel better.

PASHMAN: But the tale of Tim Owens sounds like a story, you know, kind of fit for Hollywood, and it was. And four years after he got that job, Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston starred in a film inspired by Owen's story called "Rock Star."

STEWART: I'm embarrassed. I saw it.

PASHMAN: Yeah. In the theater?

STEWART: Yes.

PASHMAN: Oh, man. You're busted. That film had the tagline, the story of a wannabe who got to be. Here's a clip of the trailer.

(Soundbite of movie trailer "Rock Star")

Unidentified Man #1: You know what the sickest thing is about you, little man? You fantasize about being somebody else singing somebody else's songs.

Mr. MARK WAHLBERG: (As Chris "Izzy" Cole) Oh. Maybe if I get really lucky, I'll get to grope and listen to Air Supply and wear jackboots like you.

Unidentified Man #1: What's wrong with Air Supply?

Unidentified Man #2: We're auditioning for a new lead singer.

Unidentified Man #3: The good Lord has given you a hell of a voice.

Unidentified Man #4: Do you want the gig then?

PASHMAN: All right. So that was "Rock Star," and now moving onto 2007, the heavy-metal band Anthrax took a cue from Judas Priest and named their 31-year-old personal trainer and part-time singer from Long Island their lead singer. You know, that's where you find most Anthrax fans, in the gyms of Long Island. His name is Dan Nelson, and he met Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano on MySpace a few years ago. One thing led to another, and now Nelson's the lead singer of Anthrax, and actually, when he got that gig, his friend gave him a DVD of "Rock Star" as a gift.

STEWART: That's a good friend.

PASHMAN: Right. So the story continues, and all this leads to my personal favorite super fan on the list, the best story of a wannabe who got to be. And now we all know and love the band Journey. Am I right?

MARTIN: (Singing) Don't stop believing...

PASHMAN: That's right. You know what I'm talking about Rachel. Their guitarist, Neal Schon, was searching for a lead singer to replace estranged frontman, Steve Perry. So where would anyone look in that situation? Obviously, YouTube. So...

STEWART: Just a cornucopia of talent.

PASHMAN: Right. Exactly. Well, it took him days. Neal Schon spent days on YouTube and was almost already to give up when he came across a Filipino band called the Zoo that performs original music and covers, especially - you guessed it - Journey covers. Their lead singer is a guy named Arnel Pineda, who's been called the Filipino Steve Perry, which is just about, I think, the greatest compliment you could ever give someone.

MARTIN: Yes. I agree.

PASHMAN: You guys agree? And this guy is pretty amazing. Now first, just in case anyone out there forgets what the original Journey sounds like with Steve Perry, let's first hear a quick clip of their classic hit "Don't Stop Believing."

(Soundbite of song "Don't Stop Believing")

Mr. STEVE PERRY: (Singing) You're just a small town girl, living in a lonely world.

PASHMAN: All right. So that's the original. Now here's Arnel Pineda, the Filipino Steve Perry, with his band the Zoo, performing the same song on YouTube.

(Soundbite of song "Don't Stop Believing")

Mr. ARNEL PINEDA: (Singing) You're just a small town girl, living in a lonely world.

STEWART: Ow! I like it, Arnel.

Mr. PINEDA: (Singing) Let's hit the midnight train going anywhere.

PASHMAN: That's pretty great, right?

STEWART: That's shocking, because I love Steve Perry.

MARTIN: I think he's saying Oh, Sherrie.

PASHMAN: Right, so Pineda got an email from the Journey guitarist and he thought it was a hoax, so he ignored it. But then his friends said, hey, you know, what if this is real? This could be your big break? You know, so Pineda wrote back, and eventually he got the gig, and now he's on tour with Journey. And if you want to get an idea of just how faithful he is to the Steve Perry sound, we're going to fade in the original version and play them together layered on top of each other. Take a listen.

(Soundbite of song "Don't Stop Believing")

Mr. PERRY and Mr. PINEDA: (Singing) I'm singing in a smoky room. Smell of wine and cheap perfume. For a smile they can share the night. It goes on and on and on and on, yeah.

PASHMAN: Oh. We are rocking out in the studios. So to all you musical super fans out there, "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" players alike, I say to you, don't stop believing. This could be your story.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh! Twice the Steve Perry. Twice as nice!

STEWART: It's so good. OK.

MARTIN: We do have to add this, though, Dan. There was a little asterisk attached to this story.

PASHMAN: Fair enough.

MARTIN: Involving a reality show.

PASHMAN: Right. In 2005, there was a reality show called "Rock Star," also called "Rock Star" and it was to find a lead singer of INXS, but we kind of ruled that kind of a different story. It's not the same as a super fan being plucked. And one other quick aside, in my research for this piece, I found out that there's a Journey Island in Second Life. They have a Journey Island.

MARTIN: Really?

PASHMAN: Yeah. I mean, you wouldn't have guessed it, but you know...

MARTIN: I am going there. That is incentive for me to get in on that world.

PASHMAN: Put that in your pipe and smoke it, REO Speedwagon.

(Soundbite of "Don't Stop Believing")

Mr. PINEDA: (Singing) Some will win. Some will lose. Some were born to just sing the blues. Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on and on...

MARTIN: That was BPP producer Dan Pashman with Alison Stewart and me, and as we said, Journey fans rejoice, the band's first album featuring Arnel Pineda as lead singer comes out manana.

PESCA: But whenever I hear this song, I think "The Sopranos" is going to end, and I get sad all over again.

MARTIN: All over again. Stay with us. The final Democratic primary is upon us. Montana's up. We'll learn more. This is the BPP from NPR News.

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