Journey is in the midst of a public rift, just months after their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Founding guitarist Neal Schon has taken aim at long-time keyboardist Jonathan Cain on social media, even as the band continues a previously announced tour with Asia. They memorably disagreed about the direction of Journey’s last album, and on whether they should record a follow-up, but these comments point to new fractures within the band.
“I want to be elevated by whom I play with, not feel like I’ve got cement shoes,” Schon said yesterday via Instagram. “If anyone is unhappy they are not running my band; then they should leave.”
Schon started the band with Gregg Rolie after they left Santana in the early ’70s; Cain joined in 1980 when Rolie left to focus on his family. Already platinum-level artists, Journey then reached arena-rock megastardom on the strength of songs written by Steve Perry, Schon and Cain like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Faithfully” and “Be Good to Yourself.” Perry’s late-’90s exit eventually led to Arnel Pineda‘s current tenure as frontman.
More recently, Cain has established a tandem career in solo faith music after marrying Paula White-Cain, a minister who delivered the invocation at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Schon indicates that this has become a point of contention.
“I’ve stated how I felt about mixing religion and politics and how our music is not of one religion – Democratic or Republican,” Schon said in the same Instagram update. “This is and has been an issue with me Mr. Cain and his now wife since he married. I’ve had to fight this whole time to protect the brand I built with Steve Perry, way before Gregg and I picked Cain to replace himself when he wanted to retire from the road back then. Well frankly, I’m tired of having to defend all by myself. [Fellow co-founding Journey member] Ross [Valory] is no help.”
Cain appeared to address the issue last night. Pineda also offered an inspirational message this morning, though the latter could be directed toward those who’ve suffered a weekend terror attack in the U.K.
By then, Schon had already asserted his foundational role by changing his Twitter handle to “Neal Schon’s JRNY.” “As Jon Cain said to me when we started to rebuild: You have keys, and you are the primary member,” Schon said yesterday. “Convenient amnesia; I still have the keys.” He also retweeted a series of fan messages underlining his arguments. “I’m not the problem,” Schon added, in another tweet.
Journey’s most recent studio effort was 2011’s Eclipse, a more guitar-oriented effort that debuted at No. 13 but failed to replicate their million-selling success of 2008’s Revelation, also with Pineda. Cain made it clear that he felt the musical shift was a mistake in 2013 – calling Eclipse “a departure. It was Neal’s ‘I wanna do one this way once’ — and so we did. We did a heavy, rock n’ roll record. And it kinda wasn’t received very well here in the states.”
Cain later said was unsure whether they should ever record another full-length album, sparking a great retort from Schon in 2015: “It’s like pulling teeth,” he said. Schon has since shifted his focus, working with both present and past members of Journey on solo albums and a reunion with the early-’70s lineup of Santana.
How all of this ultimately impacts the future of the band remains unclear. Schon is hinting at changes down the road, including a possible reunion with former Bad English bandmate John Waite.
“I continue to grow and be completely creative and want to take the band Neal Schon’s JRNY on an exciting new trip musically,” he said, via the earlier Instagram post. “Yes, we will always have all hits to play, but there must be musical growth also. I also need to surround myself with people that care as I do.”
If Neal does decide to put Journey on hiatus and collaborates with Waite, I know one person who’d make that collaboration phenomenal, former Journey drummer Deen Castronova.
What do you folks think? Do you think Neal has a point? Should they work it out? Should Cain leave? Lets hear your thoughts! Sound off below!