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Journey’s Neal Schon Reveals Plans For Two New Solo Albums

Mike Coppola, Getty Images

When Journey wrapped up their latest album ‘Eclipse,’ guitarist Neal Schon still had an itch to make more music. Conveniently, a break in the action allowed him the time to knock out enough material for two new solo albums.

As Schon told Ultimate Classic Rock during an interview this past weekend, the two albums, including one that reunites him with his former Journey bandmate, drummer Steve Smith, are very different. Schon calls the album he made with Smith “one of the most rockin’ records I’ve made.”

“I’m proud of the record, but I kind of winged it. I walked in and I didn’t have anything prepared at all. I just had an open slate with a bunch of paintbrushes [in the form of] guitars and amplifiers.”

Here’s how the album was created — Smith would come in and lay down some initial tracks for Schon to work off of. “And then I’d say ‘can you go have lunch or something for half an hour and then come back and I’ll be done.’ So I’d map it out and put a rhythm guitar down, arrange the thing the way I heard it in my head and then Steve would come back and he’d listen to it.”

“He’d write down my arrangement and then he’d go out and replay the drums to my new arrangement and a click and play it like it was a full band playing. He’s just amazing like that. And then I went back and I replayed some of the rhythm guitar [parts], some of them I kept. And then I’d start playing solos, even without bass, just freelance soloing and then I played the bass on it to go with the solos, so it came about in a different kind of way, but when you listen to it, it sounds like a really connected trio with keys here and there.“

Keyboardist Igor Len completed the lineup on the sessions for the first album, which also features a guest appearance from Jan Hammer on a couple of songs. Schon is offering a free download of ‘The Calling’ from the forthcoming album at his website.

But the story doesn’t end there: after wrapping up that album, Schon got together to record with Journey bandmate Deen Castronovo and bassist Marco Mendoza for another album that he’s mixing currently.

Clearly enthused about the collaboration, Schon calls the recorded results “slammin’” and says “it’s a power trio, really tripped out like late ‘60s/’70s, but modern too in some areas, with all of us singing. I’m singing lead on some tracks, Deen is singing lead and Marco is singing leads. (Night Ranger‘s) Jack Blades helped write almost all of the lyrics on the record with myself, Marco and Deen.”

Release plans are still in the works for both albums, but buoyed by the success of the video for Journey’s latest single ‘Resonate,’ Schon is contemplating taking a similar path by making a video for ‘The Calling’ to help draw attention to the new album he recorded with Smith prior to its release.

Schon will appear with girlfriend Michaele Salahi at the first-ever ‘How To Be A Reality Star’ event on June 23 in El Paso, Texas.

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