Steve Perry Interview
KZHT 94.9 FM, Salt Lake City, UT
February 16, 1999
Transcribed by Stacey
ZHT: From Journey, Steve Perry.
ZHT: What's up Steve? How are ya?
SP: I'm doing pretty good.
ZHT: So I understand you've got a cold, huh?
ZHT: No, I thought Lee said you had a cold.
SP: I don't know what was going on about...
ZHT: Ya know how those record reps are. You just can never can
trust them Steve.
SP: They always say anything to get it done.
ZHT: So how you been? This is kind of an honor to be talking to you
because ya know, growing up I was a big Journey fan.
SP: Ah, that's really kind, Thanks.
ZHT: I gotta ask you ‘cause I've always wondered this, I guess it's
when you came off of touring about 10 years with Journey...
ZHT: Back in ‘87, you kinda disappeared for awhile, can you tell me
what happened to ya? I mean I know you came back but there was a long
time when nobody knew what had happened to Steve Perry.
SP: There was a lot of things that were hitting me all at once, ya know. I think some adult stuff started to happen to my life, that I didn't like too much. Like my relationship with my girlfriend was falling apart and that was 5, 6 years worth of our lives together. And that was because of my commitment to Journey and the touring schedule was truly intense. I started to watch my mom get worse and worse and then finally uh, she got real, real sick. So what happened was I stopped for another reason too, but I was just burnt, I was just toasty, ok. I hadn't stopped since I joined the band in the early of ‘78.
ZHT: Ya know, I can see that with you because I got a chance to see
you when I worked in Jacksonville, FL. We had you in town for our
radio station there. Back in ‘94/'95, and like I said, I've always
been a fan, but I've never had a chance to see you when you were with
Journey. So I saw you, ya know, go up there...
SP: On the solo tour.
ZHT: On the solo tour, and man, I'll tell ya, you really, really get
into it from start to finish. So I can see, I guess, year after year
after year I can see how that would take a toll on you. ‘Cause you
really, really get into it. A lot of singers, ya might see them where
they might get into one or two songs but you really show, and you can
feel that emotion and it comes out in the music.
SP: I don't know what it is about me but when I get in front of people I become this hyperdrive, uh, you know,..um... I can't explain what happens but it takes me to this altered state. When I'm off is when I realize how actually sprung I am, when I walk off stage. I don't realize when I'm out there. Ya know I'm a pretty high energy guy anyway, but when I'm out there, you're right, I like to go. Ya know, I like to do it. Between songs I don't sit back there and have myself a drink, I walk up to the edge of the stage and have a conversation with the audience. I love performing. I really do.
ZHT: Like I said, you can hear it in the music. But like I said, I
got a chance to see you for the first time back in ‘94 and you can
really see it too.
SP: Oh, thanks Frankie. That's kind. I wish I could've met you back there but I guess we didn't get a chance to hook up.
ZHT: No, we sure didn't. And it was busy. We had listeners back
there and I thought ya know, it's the listeners before the staff, so
some of the people on staff got a chance to meet you .
SP: Did you come back stage?
ZHT: No, actually I didn't because we had, it was really kind of
hectic for that show. So like I said the listeners kind of did it and
only a few select staff members that went back there.
SP: Oh, there's bitterness for sure.
ZHT: Ha, ha, ha, not with you, believe me. Just some of the people
that I worked with that kinda showed a little ah...
ZHT: Yeah, a little seniority. And pulled that whole power trip on me.
SP: That's called being "kicked to the curb" Frankie. (More laughter...)
ZHT: So, can I ask you, is your mom ok?
SP: No, she finally passed away.
ZHT: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.
SP: And it was right in the middle of the making of the "Raised on Radio" Journey album. I was producing it and singing, uh, I was singing the album and she finally passed away. I was coming home on weekends, and then helicoptering back to San Francisco and helicoptering to her house on the weekends. I did that for the entire album and then finally she passed. That's when, that summer we did the "Raised on Radio" tour with Journey, uh, that she had already gone, yeah.
ZHT: That's weird because I've had this conversation with my wife.
And, I've been in radio for about 10 years, and granted, it's not the
same thing what you do, but it's very similar in certain ways. But I
mean, that's a big fear with me. My parents are back in Detroit,
their getting a little older. Uh, and that's kinda a big fear that I
know, down the line, unless I'm there, doing radio in Detroit, my
hometown, I'm gonna have to face that somewhere down the line, ya know?
SP: You know Frankie, it's ok to have absolute fervor and passion for what you love. And it's ok give it all your commitment and go for it with something you can't even put into words. But remember when adult things like your parents getting ill and possibly passing, or surprisingly passing because you haven't been around them, happen to you. When those adult things happen to you, you're gonna wish that you would've spent a little time.And so it's not a bad idea to occasionally, ya know, just stop the merry-go-round for a second. And that's what happened to me was ya know, I got off that Journey tour and I was toasty. I said I gotta quit. Ya know, I went back to my hometown and I got my motorcycle out of storage and I cruised around the central San Joaquin Valley, which is nothing but country roads, small towns that I grew up in. And I just had to reflect on what had happened. It didn't hit me until I was by myself, on my motorcycle. I mean, you know, ‘cause you're going, you're going.
ZHT: Yeah, oh I know that rut and that's why I was wondering if you
were sick when I asked you originally in the beginning of the
SP: Oh, very, very similar. Very similar. High energy.... (couldn't understand the rest of the sentence.)
ZHT: Let's talk a little bit about, you got the new album. It's a
greatest hits, but you got like five new singles on there.
SP: Actually, there's nine, but technically there was four of them that had appeared in either other countries or somewhere else on a B-side of a single. So technically I couldn't say they were unreleased, but the truth is, there's nine unreleased things on the Steve Perry Greatest Hits that just came out. And the nine released, uh, most of them are from an album that was supposed to be the follow up album to "Street Talk", my first solo record. Then "Strange Medicine" was supposed to.., but, uh, the middle album between "Street Talk" and "Strange Medicine" didn't happen. I recorded it, but due to some political confrontation I was having with the label it didn't come out. So it sat in the vault. And I'm so proud of that record and I'm proud of those songs and it's on this greatest hits CD. Plus I'll tell ya, the demo that got me the gig in Journey, that they listened to, is the last song called "If You Need Me, Call Me."
ZHT: Yeah, I listened to that yesterday.
SP: That was the demo that got me the gig in ‘77.
ZHT: How cool is that? So you just kinda wanted to share that with
SP: Yeah, I wanted to give everybody, and I wrote it in the liner notes, I talk about what happened.
ZHT: Now, are you going to be touring by yourself anytime soon?
SP: Ya know, I don't know yet. I'm four months almost on the other side of surgery and I'm doing really great. I'm walkin' around now without a cane. So I'm getting stronger everyday. So now I'm just sort of focusing on continuing that process. Then I think I'd love to go back to work. I sure miss performing.
ZHT: I kinda have been mentioning the past couple days that Steve
Perry's gonna be on the show and all the women in the building, they
all do the same thing, they let out that "ohh", that sigh. Ya know.
SP: Well, ya know, I love Salt Lake City. I recently, I do road trips with my girlfriend. We just sort of fly to an area and we rent a truck, a 4x4, and we cruised the whole area. ‘Cause I toured forever, but never got to see these areas. So recently we flew into Salt Lake City and went right up to Wyoming, to Yellowstone and came back around through Utah, went all through, and then we went to Sundance. We just did all kinds of things in the Utah area. It was beautiful.
ZHT: So how cool is that? So you were just in town for Sundance
(referring to the Sundance Film Festival back in January)
SP: We were in town... ah, no, we went to Sundance, ya know the ski resort. I was about ah, about 4 months ago.
ZHT: Wow, so are you a big skier at all then?
SP: Well, no, ah no.
ZHT: I didn't know if you came...
SP: There was a rumor that I hurt my hip snowboarding, so ya know. (laughter)
ZHT: How did you hurt your hip then?
SP: Well, I'm a big hiker and I love hiking. So it was during a hike that it just sort of wore through. I didn't realize that something had worn through in there and it had to be repaired. It's kinda complicated, but it's been repaired.
ZHT: Ok, how ‘bout this, I've heard rumors about Journey. You guys,
kinda, maybe, getting back and doing a little touring. Anything?
SP: What's that? No, you're hearing rumors I don't know about.
ZHT: OK, I just thought maybe you could give us a little inside scoop
on that or anything.
SP: No, a ya know, those guys, ya know January ‘98 I had a conversation with Jon Cain and Neal Schon and they basically wanted to know when we were going to tour. I said look "I'm in the hands of my surgeon at this point and when he says he's ready to fix me, he'll fix me." They were wanting to get going, so they replaced me with somebody and I waited for the words with my surgeon. So the following October, actually the first of November, I went into surgery. So they went their way and I went mine. That's kind of where it is.
ZHT: Kinda "separate ways" huh?
SP: Yeah, separate ways, yes it is sir. But I want to tell you something though and I mean this in all honesty. I don't regret one day of being in the band and working with Neal and Jonathan. I don't regret it. You know, bands can be the most exhilarating, the most wonderful thing, and they can also be the most difficult thing. Not one person is a day at the beach in a band, ok. So, I mean, that's just the nature of bands I think. I'll just tell you I'm very proud of all the music and all the tracks that we recorded together and the albums. There's nothing that I don't hold anything but praise for our accomplishments. And all we wanted to be by the way something that was timeless. That's what we wanted to be.
ZHT: I still have my Journey "Greatest Hits" CD in my Jeep that I pull
out every once in a while.
SP: Then I probably owe you money, then more than anything.
ZHT: Now Steve, real quick before I let you go, going back to "Street
Talk" with "Oh Sherrie", who was that? Is that you're girlfriend now
or was that a girl, or what's the story?
SP: That was "Oh Sherrie". She was a real person, Sherrie. She was my girlfriend for about six years. That song was written in the Los Angeles area. It sort of had a mixed feeling about things that break us up but the things that hold us together. When the song was done I gave her the song writing royalties because it was about her and ya know, she was a real person. Yeah, we did break up though but which you know that happens.
ZHT: Steve, when you're in town again, you and your girlfriend,
promise me you'll come by, or at least try to come by the station
because we'd love to have you on the show.
SP: I would love to do this live. If we could sit there and take some phone calls that would be great.
ZHT: We could do it all morning, I guarantee it.
SP: That would be fun.
ZHT: Thanks again for being on the air with us, we'll talk to you soon
SP: Thanks Frankie.