Interview: Deen Castronovo

Deen, I hope you don't mind having a word now?
No problem.

You're a hero to many out there, you know? Earlier on in the tour you stepped in and carried a show for the guys…
Well you know I look at it this way. Jeff, and I'm being dead honest, is our hero right now. If it wasn't for him this tour would have never taken place and we're thankful. You know I love Steve very much, but I'm thankful that Jeff stepped in and has kicked major ass.
If it wasn't for him dude...he's our hero. Right now he's our hero, Neal and him. Yeah, I'd be sittin' at home fighting with my wife (much laughter). And you can print that…(more laughter)…

I love the way, I mean Jeff, he's everywhere, with everyone. He's engaging everyone…but you and him especially, you guys seem to have a little thing going there.
Well you know, Stevie was kind of on his own. He didn't really interact with me as much as he probably wanted to. He was more, you know, doing his own thing.
Jeff man, I respect him so much as a singer and as a performer and its fun. I work off of him. We have fun together.

Yeah, I could see you guys laughing and that.
The thing was with Stevie…Stevie was busy working the crowd. He didn't really pay attention to me much and I'm like, I'm up there like doing my thing. But Jeff comes and visits. I love it when he comes up and visits. I'm lonely up there Andrew. (laughter)

Yeah, I'm watching the video screen on Dead or Alive and I'm like, he's got his mic in your face and...
I enjoy him. He's so much fun to watch and he does play off of me, we play off each other which is really cool. And I play off of Neal of course and when Neal's smiling and he's happy I know we're good. You know, if Neal's not happy usually the band's not doing so well.

The man looks very happy out on the stage.
He's content now. I think for the first time in many many years. And it's nice, it's nice to see.

Last night….amazing up there….Jonathan with his fist in the air I'm like, 'Wow, he moves!'
Yeah, yeah, everybody is enjoying themselves and its good. I just hope Stevie gets better, and God bless him, you know.

Last time I did an interview with you, we spoke about you doing the lead vocals for the first time and you were like, 'oh man it's great but scary as shit and…'
It's very scary. Did you notice how the eyes are closed? (laughs)
Yeah like, "I love my drum kit"…(laughs)

Oh yeah. Then three nights into the tour you were like, out at the front for like several songs mate.
It scared the crap out of me bro, and I was glad not to do it. I was glad not to.

How was it though gettin' through that one night.
It was the scariest thing I've ever done.

Oh yeah. I remember I lifted my hand once and it was shaking and I had to put it back down…(much laughter)…It scared the bejesus out of me. I'm not a frontman. I like drummin'.

Yeah well, you do that pretty well, man.
So far, so good.

I saw your drum stool with the little thumper under your seat.
That thing is great. What that does man, it's for, I have no bass response when I got the ears on, nothing. So what that does, I got Ross in there, I got my kicks and my toms in there, so when I'm hittin' I can feel it. It comes through my entire body, it's great.

So, back to that show - you came to the rescue on that particular night.
I helped Stevie out as best as I could man, he's my brother.

Of course. Have you talked to him since or...
I haven't.

I guess since you're busy, you're on tour and...
Yeah, he hasn't called.

(Deen to Neal Schon, who has stepped into the room: Have you talked to Stevie at all dude, since the tour?
Neal responds: Not since he came to the show in New Jersey.
Deen: Yeah, that was the last time we saw him was in New Jersey.)

So, no I really haven't spoken to him, but like I said, I wish him the best.

Of course you do.
He's a brother.

Yeah, yeah he was with the band a lot of years.
(Neal: Eight years man, that not a short period of time.)

Absolutely…You still love singing your two leads?
I love those songs. They're hard with the passing of my father-in-law. It's been really rough, but dude yeah... Those are my favorite songs.

I'm speaking honestly from the heart. I had a tear in my eye because you have so much soul when you're singing those tracks. Honest to God. Amazing.
I appreciate that very much.

I'm sure the rest of the crowd was the same.
You know, last night in LA I was tearing up. I could see that. It was hard. I was thinking of my Dad, and uh, I kinda had to catch myself and get focused instead of losing it.

And the second half of Faithfully. You're pounding that kit. You're pounding like a devil but singing like an angel. I don't know how you do that.
You know, it's a gift from God and I do not take it for granted. I'm so fortunate to do what I do and I don't take it for granted. I'm very blessed.

Do you see… I mean, you get awesome feedback on the Internet message boards and stuff. Do you read that? Do you read a lot of the fan feedback?
Jeff tells me and Neal tells me, but I don't want to read it. If I see something bad it'll break my heart. It really will, I'm that sensitive.
Neal knows, Neal knows things just hurt me to the bone. Like, the other night we found out that while we were doing Who's Cryin' Now people were actually going out to the concession stands. I was like, 'do you think that was because of me?'

No, absolutely not. It's because you've got the first seven tracks that are brutal, you've got BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! and then the band hits them with a mid tempo track. It's one of my favorite tracks.
It's mine too but...........

But it's for sitting back in the car or relaxing to more so I think.
Yeah, but for me, when I heard that, I was like, you know what, let's do something else. We'll do I'll Be All Right. But if I see something negative about me bro, it breaks my heart, it really does.

I generally see something negative about everyone at some point or another, because you can't please everyone all the time, but I really have never seen a bad word about you and I swear, I swear on my life.
I read one, one time that said, "The drummer was trying to sound like Steve Perry which I thought was sort of lame". (laughs)
I thought, who do you want me to sound like, f**kin' Chris Cornell? Come on, I'm gonna sound like Steve Perry because, for one, Steve Perry is and always will be my favorite singer of all time.

One of mine as well, absolutely.
He's Godlike to me, he can do no wrong. And as a kid that's how I learned to sing was learning the Journey songs when I was eleven.

But, hello, while you're singing a Perry song are you supposed to sound like David Lee Roth?
Yeah, but when the guy said I was lame, it just broke my heart and that was it. I never read the boards again. I stopped, like, I'm done. I'm not reading this stuff.

I've personally never seen anything bad, and everybody, you get a review and it just seems like everybody seems to make a point of Deen and the ballads.
I love 'em, and you know what? I'm grateful that Jeff let me do it.
Jeff has been very kind to let me sing and it doesn't faze him because, you know, Jeff's and amazing vocalist. He can sing anything. He smokes me under the table, he sings me under the table. I'm the Perry king, I'm the Perry clone dude because I grew up with Steve. He was my favorite.
(Jon Cain comments: He's so humble this guy...)

That's why I'm trying to get across to him that's there's so much love out there for him.
I'm very blessed. You know that Jon, I'm very blessed to do what I do.

Well these guys are very blessed to have you.
Oh man, don't tell me that.

(Jon Cain: Well I discovered him, OK? (much laughter) It's a joke. I sang background with him when I knew he could sing in Bad English. The first time I heard him sing was in the studio and he sang. I said 'Deen, do you think you can hit this note', and he said, 'oh I think I can hit that note' and then we did the The Best Of What I Got backgrounds and we smoked it.
Deen: I can remember all those guys in the control room high fiving Neal.
Jon: I looked at Neal and said 'the son of a bitch can sing'.
Then he started singing soundchecks. Because Steve would like be gettin' a massage so we didn't have anyone to do the vocals. So he would test on the drums and then come out front and check the lead mic. So the we started doing Open Arrns.

Andrew: He should have been the singer on the third Bad English album!
Deen: OOOHHH that would be cool, it woulda sounded like Journey.
Jon: That would have went over good with John Waite.
Andrew: I did an interview with him about a month, six weeks ago, not great…
Deen: I read the interview. He didn't sound too happy did he?
Andrew: Oh man, there's even a worse one on another site in Europe and I reckon the interview went about five minutes. He's just givin' you nothing, he's bored.
Deen: You know, I love him. He's one of my favorite singers of all time.

Ok Deen, I think that's about all I needed. Obviously you've had a great tour?
This has been the most successful, I think the most fun tour we've had. Honestly, since the very first one we did with Steve Augeri and I'm having a blast. And all the Def Leppard guys are great people.

I'm on their shit list big time.
That's what I heard man. You can't please everybody, just like you said.

I'm glad you're having a blast, it shows. You know I'm the biggest fan of Jeff there is around.
I know dude. You are a champion for this band and we appreciate that. You have no idea.

I love you guys, you know.
And we appreciate that, you have no idea how much we appreciate you.

I'm honored to be here.
You have gone to bat for us so many times.

Yeah well, why wouldn't you!
When Soul Sirkus came out and I started reading the site. And then I saw that you were doing a Journey web board. I've only seen it a couple of times, like I said, I'm afraid to look because I never know what they're gonna say bad about me or whatever. I just stand back you know. But it's great.

[Break in recording…]

You know what happened to me in Atlanta. Two people, a wife and a husband; I was singing Open Arms and they came right to the front of the stage and they pointed at me and did like this (makes animated hand gestures) you know, like I was lip syncin'.
Oh I got upset.
I found them in the crowd. I had my sister go out there and find them. I said, 'you think I was lip syncing'. The guy said 'yeah dude, you sounded just like Perry. That wasn't even your voice, that was Perry'.
I said, come back stage, I want you to meet the whole band. With all the guys from Def Leppard. I said you pick five Journey songs. I'll sing in front of you, OK, is that a deal? He says 'yeah'. I take him and his wife, go back there, he goes 'Open Arms'. Nailed it. He looked at me and said 'Faithfully'. He started getting sheepish then.
I did Faithfully, BOOM. He says, 'I am so sorry man, I had no idea'. I said, 'you go on a website, any website and you tell them that I do not lip sync. I have never lip synced. I will NEVER fucking lip sync'.
Tell them. I said 'any other ones?' He says, 'no dude, I'm so sorry. I am so sorry'. I said, 'no come on pick another one. Come on, I'll do any of 'em, come on, let's go'.
He was so embarrassed, he was so fuckin' embarrassed because he and his wife were up there going 'you're lip syncing'.
You can go on record with that – you print that!

c. 2006 / Andrew McNeice &