Despite many of you probably thinking this was going to be another routine Q and A, and considering that Jonathan had already stated there were things he 'Could not discuss', I think the interview you are about to read will surprise you.
Jonathan was quite open and honest with his answers, and I think let a few things slip over the course of the interview. At least, for once, we now know where things stand with one of the great bands of the era.

So how are things!
Oh, pretty good.

Journey is still regarded today as the cornerstone of the AOR genre.
People have said that, and we are flattered that people are still enjoying our music, and it's pretty cool that the records are continuing to do well.

Congratulations on Trial By Fire.
Yeah, we like that very much. It was kinda a labor of love. We just got together and wanted to do it the way we thought we should do it.
We thought there was a kind of a void there.

I think it's a great album.

Something I did notice about the album – everybody gets to shine somewhere.
Yeah, we tried to do that. We really thought about featuring everyone this time.
You know, everyone has played so much on their own, as solo artists, it seemed almost like we had to go that way.
And yeah, I don't think there were too many solos. There was a lot of guitar solos on this record, but Neal had a lot to pay.

They blended in so well. And you had a couple of fantastic keyboard/piano solos.
Thanks, yeah. We had a really good producer this time in Kevin Shirley.
He was stunning. He had a lot to do with the arrangements, and we worked hard with him.
We were done with the basics in about two and a half weeks. It was pretty amazing.
It was all live, we played live at the site. We had these isolation rooms for the drums, and guitars and keyboards even. But we could see each other and played live. Most of the record you hear is live.
The overdubs are just little things here and there. You know, like backing vocals and a lot of the vocals.
Steve kept some of the things we did live.

Disappointed you haven't been able to tour on the back of it?
Yeah, it's been frustrating for us. It's because of unforeseen events. Sort of like the hand of God comes down, and has hit Steve with arthritis in the hip and in the neck.

What actually happened to Steve?
Well, it (the arthritis) just really attacked him. And it has taken his hip and swollen it up and the joints and everything else.
So that's really it. He has gone for therapy to try to get better. To have surgery would really be ideal, but I don't think he's ready for it to go to that extreme.

That is pretty drastic.
Yeah, and you know, it's not getting better. It's like Eddie Van Halen needs it too.
The only way he will go out is with a real hip, so go figure.
If you really want to do it bad enough, you know, you get it done.
It has been over a year now, and he hasn't gone and got it done. And It's his body and we can't say anything about it.
It's frustrating for us, because we were sort of left at the alter with the dress on.

That's what I am hearing.
Yeah, frustrating, but it's an act of God, and what are we going to do.
We are just disappointed that we missed out on some great opportunities.
The album is just part of it. Just a small part of it.
We could have sold four times the amount of records. It came out, then nothing much happened.
We just didn't want to disappoint the fans. I think, number one is that we knew there were a lot of our friends waiting for us to come, and I think that is the most disappointing thing.

A major part of the e-mail and feedback I have received is why hasn't anyone been able to find out what's going on.
Well, he hasn't come forward. You know, we tried to get him to come forward with some television and talk about the problem and what he is going through. Just share it with everybody, tell the fans what's up and come out and sing a little bit. Sit on a stool or something, and tell people what's going on.
We had an opportunity to all these television programs and he passed on all of them, the American Music Awards and everything.
It was really sad.
We all wanted to do these things, but we couldn't. that's the end of that, and I don't know what we are going to do now.

That's the rest of the questions. What's next?
We are in limbo really. That's all I can tell you.
We are all doing solo projects, and you know, everyone is just moving on with their life.

It took me about 6 months just to get that out of Irving Azoff!
Everything has been really secretive.
Well, we have been waiting for something to resolve, and see what Steve should do. But you really can't force somebody to go that way.
There is enough pressure on him as it is. You know, the record company has put the pressure on him. We just leave him alone.
We feel sad for him, but jeez, what are you going to do?
It's his life, his body, his thing.
You go to a certain point, and go what do we do now?
We are going to have some meetings and so forth.
But there has been talk about possibly a live compilation from '81 to '87. Some of that stuff. The stuff the box set didn't get. There was a lot of neat stuff just sitting in the can. People have been asking about live Journey, so we thought we could do that.
Sort of put that out in the interim, and maybe we can come up with a plan.
That's probably what's going to happen next. We are moving towards that.
I don't know what else to tell you. It's frustrating.
I have another album coming out in Spring, that's a new age album.

Is that 'Songs In The Key Of The Heart'?
Yeah, actually we changed it. It's called 'For A Lifetime' and we are just fixing to get the cover ready.
It's a wedding album for lovers and so forth. There is an instrumental version of Open Arms, it's really tender kind of romantic piano music that I have collected over the years, for my friends.
I am playing at a wedding New Years Eve, for a friend of mine. I have been doing this for fun over the years, and have written a bunch of songs, and I thought it would be a lovely kind of souvenir to have out there.
So we are putting that out, that's going to be exciting. Neal's got something coming out, I think it's called 'Piranha Blues'. It is a combination of guys. It's Prairie Prince an Ross Valory and he's got a blues singer from LA.
I have just mixed that here at the studio, and that's going to be on his own label, or an Internet thing. And I am supposed to do another solo vocal album.

Great, I love 'Back To The Innocence'.
Thanks, it will kinda be like that. That is going to be on a little label called Mystic, distributed by BMG.
The Steve Smith is on the road with his new album. I haven't heard it yet, but I know it's probably really good. That's a jazz album. He's touring now with that.
I think that may be out or about to be released.
We have all been pretty busy really.

There sure is some talent in the band isn't there?!
Yea, it's a pretty good band! We just keep busy. I was trying to get a jazz tour together with Smith and Neal. But Neal wants to play the blues, so he is going to do that.
Then I will probably promote my wedding CD.
Actually South Africa wanted me to come and play, so I am not sure if I am going to do that.

That's almost as far away as Australia!
Yeah, that's a ways. I wanted to hit Australia. Maybe one of these days I will get a chance to get there.

Can I throw a big question at you? I have heard you may be looking for a new lead singer.
Is that right? You heard that already?

Yeah, I have.
That is unbelievable. You know, right now, we really can't say, because there is so much stuff up in the balance. And Steve hasn't really signed off yet. So until he really decides that he doesn't want to.
We still want Steve number 1, and we are just giving him a little bit of space here to see what he wants to do.
So that's really the truth, in the interim that's what we are doing.
We owe it to him and ourselves to give him a little space and check it out, and if he's into it, and really wants to come back.
And if he doesn't, we will face those consequences.

You will have to go on maybe?
Well, everybody has worked hard to make this band a success and we feel the music is powerful and has a lot of life left to it. I feel that, the band still feels that.
If the band sounded old and tired, it wouldn't even be a consideration, but the band sounds so darn good. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.
We'll see.
Ultimately, it will be Steve's choice to carry on or not with the band.
We are hoping that's what he decides to do. But it is something you don't want to rush.
That's funny that the rumors are out already.
At this stage in the game, we are hoping he changes his mind.

Okay Jonathan, thanks very much for taking the time out to talk.
Nice talking to you, take care and thanks for calling.

What I haven't printed here was a little side conversation where Jonathan asked if I had seen Kevin Chalfant's web site and did I know where he could find it.
Indeed I did, and have since passed to him Kevin's website and his e-mail address. Interesting!