Interview: Neal Schon

Just thought I'd get your take on things over the last few months.
A lot has gone on, you know, a lot has gone on and it was either, like we go home and pull out of the tour, or we call up a friend of mine to come out and that's what happened. We all just decided to go with the latter part of it and I think it's been a great thing. I mean, it's been all uphill from then on, and it seems to be like meshing and clicking very well.

You've gotta be happy with the reaction.
Completely. What I've been blown away with so far is that nobody has seen him with us before. It's the first time they've seen him with us and they're reacting like its friggin' Perry in the '80s or something, you know. I mean it's like pretty sick (laughing).

It's the amazing energy you know…
The energy's like, he's so contagious. I found that out about him when I worked with him in Soul Sirkus, the energy is completely contagious. That's flying all over the stage now. Everybody's got like new life. The whole band has got new life. It's a brand new band. The way management's looking at it now is this is a brand new band. It's insane.

And you can do anything.
We can do anything. We have no restrictions at all. I mean with Jeff and Deen singing you got two guys that can sing the whole that complete set by themselves. With both of them it's insane what we can do.

Last night Jeff sounded amazing.
I thought so too.

His voice is so big.
To bad he got so rained on man. I was like, I almost went down a couple of times man.

You did? I noticed you and Ross pretty much stuck tight.
Yeah, it was just like being on ice. You know, it was like really, really slippery.

But he recovered well didn't he? He didn't even skip a beat.
I love the fact that he took his shoes off. (laughs)

Yeah that was funny. I've never seen that before. (laughs)
I've never seen that before ever in my life, and I go 'friggin perfect man'.

That sums Jeff up though doesn't it? He finds a way for the show to go on.
He's a primitive guy man. There's nothing spoiled about him, he's real, he's just real.

Yeah, he just, he works it out, he works it out. Whatever needs to be done.
He gets it done.

The early reviews said that when he first took over you were really jazzed and the rest of the band were kind of like figuring him out, but now the reviews are like you're all jumping on stage.
You know, it's like anything new. It takes a while to digest. I think he hadn't sung anything like our material in a long time. I mean his solo projects are surely not like that and our Soul Sirkus stuff wasn't either. I think he got back in the groove of the songs and started singing the songs, started actually re-learning them. You know, taking control of them and absolutely delivering. It takes time. They're not easy songs to sing.

You've got the hardest catalog in rock 'n roll.
Yeah, I would say so.

I talked to your step-dad Les after last night's show and he says, "I've seen every show, I've seen everything and I haven't seen the guys hoping like that since the '80s." That's amazing.
I honestly think that it's the best we've ever been right now.

Honest to God. Out of everything we've done in the '80s. I'm excited about the future now. Where before I was getting a bit stifled. That's probably the reason I started the other band with this fella. I just felt like the brakes were kinda on, the governor was on the motor, the brakes were kind of on. We did well with Steve Augeri while he was up and running, but when the voice goes there's no more songs. Our songs are all built around vocals, and so we had to fix it. It was a really ballsy move, but I think it was the right one.

Yeah, absolutely it was.
And promoters, you know, management and the promoters were freakin' out like in the beginning when we were talking about what was gonna happen.

You were gettin' some heat?
I was like, you know what? Don't worry about it. I know this guy can pull it off. And so, the very first show he comes out, has a 10 minute sound check, no rehearsal at all. And friggin' gets a great review in the Washington Post the next day. They said that he sounded as good or better than Perry. (laughs)

Yeah, you gotta love that.
Yeah, I mean, you know I'm like see. No it's like, you know, it's cool because, I don't know, I think we're like turnin' up the heat a notch every night.

Yeah, I can't wait to see it tonight, you know, with a dry stage and shoes on.
Well they left the carpeting down on the stage tonight in case it does rain.

Yeah, very cool. So um, next year? New record hopefully? Or Jon said earlier maybe wait, sort of work on it next year?
You know, um, we're playing Europe in March. We're gonna do those dates, and they may possibly add some more dates and then see what happens. Then after that I'm planning on, I'm building a new HD studio, state of the art studio. In my new house right now in Minneapolis I've got a big room. It's a great room, cement floor. For drums and guitars I love a cement floors. So we'll probably cut drums and guitar and bass there, or Ross can do it a Jon's house if he wants to do his bass there. Jon can do his keyboards at his house, Jeff can do his vocals at his house. We're gonna make a great sounding record. So I've been writing, I've got a lot of ideas already. So far everything that's been coming out of me right now is all melodic, it's real melodic. I haven't really been thinking about rock so much cause that's gonna come out easy.

You need to do that, I mean, Soul Sirkus was a rock, you know, little side step wasn't it?
Yeah, so I'm concentrating more on hooky choruses and you know, making it really melodic, giving him something to sing on.

Well, he'll sing anything you throw at him won't he, so...
Yeah, definitely, yeah.

That's very cool, and management are excited, they're on board now?
Irving Azoff was the happiest I've ever seen him last night. [Hollywood Bowl show]

Yes. All three guys were there last night, Irving was there, Baruck was there.

I saw John, I missed Tom [Consolo].
Yeah, they all loved it.

Great, great stuff.
It's the second show Irving's seen with Jeff. He was just like, 'man, you guys gotta get in the studio and make a CD'.

We're gonna do it. So I would say that when we get back from Europe we'll start writing. I'm writing now but...

Yeah, start collectively hammering down.
Yeah, and start getting some tracks laid down. Then uh, then we'll go back to Europe in the summer, you know and play the festivals like we did last year…

Good move.
…and uh, probably stay out of the United States for all next year.

Well you pretty much covered all your bases this year. You've been around three times now haven't you?
This is our eighth year in a row too. We need to go away. (laughs) You know they can't like you if you don't go away. (laughs)

You'll leave them wanting more after this tour.
Definitely. By then you know, we'll come back, have a whole campaign sort of put together and we'll have a new CD that we'll be workin' the whole time we're off. You know what I mean, and lettin' some momentum build up. We're gonna definitely do some videos. Live videos....

Yeah good.
Like we used to do with Perry in the old days. All the other bullshit that they put out like Separate Ways and all that crap was just such crap. Our stage videos were always live, live videos. Like even I'll Be All Right or any of that stuff was really live.

That'll be cool.
And so, you know, I'm lookin' forward to that and stickin' out some real stuff.

Very cool, great stuff, thanks Neal.

c. 2006 / Andrew McNeice &