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Journey are heading to the LG Arena, BirminghamJonathan Cain

Neal Schon at Wolverhampton Civic Hall in 2008Arnel Pineda and Neal SchonEclipse

Jonathan Cain will be playing guitar more on this tourhttp://www.expressandstar.com/entertainment/2011/05/31/journey-interview-cain-looks-forward-to-birmingham/

Journey is the band that didn’t stop believing. Ian Harvey talks to keyboard player Jonathan Cain about the band’s upcoming Birmingham concert, their new album and that song.

When Journey, Foreigner and Styx take to the stage at the LG Arena on Sunday, it will represent the ultimate dream ticket for many rock fans.

These are three giants of the melodic rock world (also known as AOR or adult-orientated rock), between them responsible for almost 300 million record sales.

They are also bands who each feature a new singer and for whom fortunes are on the up after the grunge era looked set to have put paid to their aspirations.

Jonathan Cain, on the phone from the States, is clearly excited to be bringing Journey’s full arena show over to the UK, promoting the band’s 15th studio album Eclipse, which was released this week.

“We always enjoy meeting our fans,” says Cain. “Basically the UK fan club – www.journeyrock.co.uk –  have been very tenacious and supportive and really have helped. They’re awesome. Their energy is appreciated over here.  They were the reason that we got there in the first place.”

While still full of Journey’s melodic style, Eclipse is more guitar-driven than some of the band’s albums, and Cain is excited to see how fans respond to that.

“We have classic Journey, which tends to be pop rock, and then the new songs will be the balance of the rock side. So you have this maybe heavier, rawer sound mixed in with the classic hits.

“And it works really well. We tried it in South America where we played a two-hour show and played four or five of the new songs in the context of the greatest hits and I think it works exceptionally.

“People have really embraced it and we feel that in the UK that it’s one of the places that we can play the new music and it will be appreciated. It’s not like going to Vegas and you look at that crowd and think ‘They’re not going to get this’.

“I think that the listening ability of the European rock fan is much deeper. He goes for the detail and wants to get the content and is hungry for that content.  They’re very good listeners in Europe.”

Despite a hiatus after their lauded frontman Steve Perry left the band, Journey have continued to tour and record with a variety of singers including Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto and now Arnel Pineda, a singer from the Philippines whom the band discovered on YouTube singing Journey covers with extraordinary accuracy.

The band has seen its fortunes turn around quite astonishingly in the past few years in a large part after their perennial 1981 hit Don’t Stop Believin’ was featured in the closing moments of the last episode of The Sopranos and particularly after a new generation discovered the song via Glee.

It is now, officially, the most downloaded song in history. So what is it about Don’t Stop Believin’ that so resonates with music fans?

“Perhaps because it gives you permission to dream,” replies Cain.

“That’s the only way I can describe it. It has a hopeful tone to it and in certain times it resonates.

He explains how the song was born after he was drafted into Journey.

“I brought that chorus in, right up to the line ‘streetlight people’.

“When I was in my 20s and struggling to make it in LA my father always used to say: ‘Don’t stop believing Jon. You’ve got the goods, hang on in there, something will happen’.

“So when I got the Journey nod I thought I would bring them his idea.

“And they added to it. That’s what you do in a band. You take one piece and you connect it with another piece. So when Perry heard the chorus it was, ‘Oh why don’t you do the same tune but we’re going to break it down, so just play the piano thing like you do, with those chords, and I’ll see if I can come up with something’.

“Ross Valory created the signature bass line, Perry came up with some great vocal melodies over it and off we went. It was very much an ‘improv’ kind of creation.”

And did you have even the slightest clue what that song would become?

“We didn’t. We thought it was a lovely song and it definitely was kind of dramatic. With the piano starting, I think it has a particular colour to it. It wasn’t just one continual blast.

“When we recorded it, it was done pretty quickly. I remember Steve had to leave with just the basic track done and he came back the next week and sang the vocal in three takes. We did the background vocals and that was the end of it.”

Journey’s message of hope continues with the release of Eclipse, an album that, according to Cain,  Neal Schon, the band’s leader and guitarist has been wanting to make for a decade or more.

“It’s a raw rock album. It’s guitar driven. Neal said early on ‘I want to go with this. Will you go with me?’ I said, well lyrically it’s got to be profound, I don’t want to put out any old stuff. If we’re going to go in this direction, it’s got to be to some mystical place, like Zeppelin did with their music.

“Neal came to me with this conceptual idea, the Hindu interpretation of life as an endless circle. So I started doing research on the internet and writing ideas down. And I really liked the concept, you known for a band that sings about hopeful things.

“Without being  religious, I believe in a universal god, and I like the idea of the endless circle. I’ve always dabbled in the metaphysical belief. I was meditating and performed yoga and I always noted this wonderful high energy and I wondered how can I trigger this peace of mind and this happiness?

“I thought this is something that we should look at, maybe with this album. With the conflict and turmoil that we face every day in our society sometimes it’s good to see how you relate to the universe and god.

“Neal had some ideas and it encompasses physical, spiritual and metaphysical ideas which go really deep, without being too ‘heavy’ about it.

“I was able to craft some very sensual lyrics. Neal allowed me to write these lyrics. He’s a Buddhist, he’s a spiritual man, he likes the idea of eternal peace – that  conflicts can be resolved. I said this is what we should be singing about, not about chasing women around.

“When we finished these songs and we learned them and started singing them in the studio it was like ‘Oh, I was right!’ This was something different.

“But to me it’s an album that is not a one-listen record. You need to listen through it a few times. It’s very complex musically, it has many layers to it and there’s something different every time you listen to it to pick up on.

“Journey has always been a communion between the pop side and the rock side. This is the rock side. We’re really sticking our rock side out into the universe without relying on the pop end of things . . . I can write those songs all day long.”

This tour will also see Cain step away from his keyboards and play more guitar on stage than ever.

“Because there’s so much guitar on this album, live I have to be the rhythm guy.  I’ve had to learn these songs for Neal and support my brother.

“And you know what, he’s supported me all these years and stood behind me and my songs, my ballads and this is my payback to him. I like to play guitar. This is kind of a turnabout for me and he’s very proud of this album and so am I. It’s truly a testament to our brotherhood together, this album.”

And what about the fact that there’s a relatively new face fronting the band (this is Pineda’s second album with Journey, after 2008’s Revelation)?

“You know what, the music’s bigger than all of us,” says Cain. “The music speaks for itself. It’s timeless and no matter who sings it, as long as you’re bringing the genuine timbres and tones . . .  you want to give the people the best you can be.

“That’s why when we found Arnel and we heard him sing we thought ‘This guy is unique to himself as an artist.’ Now when you see him he’s just cool, you know. He’s evolved.”

A large part of that evolution Cain puts down to the massive concert that Journey played in the Philippines, introducing Pineda as their frontman there for the first time.

”I think a lot changed when he sang the big concert in Manila. Singing for his homeland and getting praised as the hometown boy, the man of the hour. It celebrated his achievement of being something, coming from the street and making something of himself.

“He’s quite a legend over there and after that show, he understood what it was about.

“Now he goes on stage and every night he’s the lead singer of Journey, no question. It takes a lot of time to fill those (Steve Perry’s) shoes. And his voice now  . . . it’s like being a stock car racer and you go into the Nascar. And Arnel has this great race car, he’s a great driver and he just needed to learn where to put the gas and where to get off the gas.”

So finally what about the dream ticket of Journey, Foreigner and Styx on the same bill?

“It’s going to be friendly. But it’ll be a real competition, as always, for bragging rights,” laughs Cain.

You’d better believe it.

See also – Foreigner interview – Kelly Hansen can’t slow down

* Journey, Foreigner and Styx play the LG Arena, Birmingham on Sunday June 5, 2011. Tickets are £40 plus booking & transaction fees.

Stage times:
Styx – 7pm-7.45pm
Foreigner – 8pm-9pm
Journey – 9.30pm-11pm

Read more: http://www.expressandstar.com/entertainment/2011/05/31/journey-interview-cain-looks-forward-to-birmingham/#ixzz1O7lxFJRh

Syria’s Assad facing dissent over Deraa crackdown

Protesters are seen holding placards during a demonstration in Douma townhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110428/wl_nm/us_syria

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis Khaled Yacoub Oweis 35 mins ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced rare dissent within his Baath Party and signs of discontent in the army over violent repression of protesters that a rights group said on Thursday had killed 500 people.

Two hundred members of the ruling party from southern Syria resigned on Wednesday after the government sent in tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where a six-week-old uprising against Assad’s authoritarian rule erupted.

Diplomats said signs were also emerging of differences within the army where the majority of troops are Sunni Muslims, but most officers belong to Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The Baath Party says it has more than a million members in Syria, making Wednesday’s resignations more a symbolic than a real challenge to Assad’s 11-year rule.

But along with the resignations last week of two Deraa parliamentarians, they would have been unthinkable before nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations flared last month.

Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood called on Syrians to take to the streets to demand freedom ahead of the main Friday prayers, while the Interior Ministry said citizens must not demonstrate without a license in order to protect “the security stability of the homeland.”

In a declaration sent to Reuters, the Brotherhood said: “Do not let the regime besiege your compatriots. Chant with one voice for freedom and dignity. Do not allow the tyrant to enslave you. God is great.”

It was the first time that the Brotherhood, whose leadership is in exile, had called directly for demonstrations in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations against Assad’s autocratic rule erupted six weeks ago.

Criticism of Assad has intensified since 100 people were killed in protests last week and tanks rolled into Deraa. The United States says it is considering tightening sanctions and European governments will discuss Syria on Friday.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on Thursday for international sanctions on Syria over the crackdown and said the United Nations should send a special envoy to investigate the killings.

But a European push for the U.N. Security Council to condemn the crackdown was blocked by Russia, China and Lebanon. China said on Thursday that Damascus should resolve its problems through talks, while Russia said Syrian authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the killings.

One diplomat said soldiers had confronted secret police at least once this month to stop them shooting at protesters.

“No one is saying that Assad is about to lose control of the army, but once you start using the army to slaughter your own people, it is a sign of weakness,” he said.

“The largest funerals in Syria so far have been for soldiers who have refused to obey orders to shoot protesters and were summarily executed on the spot,” another diplomat said.

The upheaval could have major regional repercussions since Syria straddles the fault lines of the Middle East conflict.

Assad has bolstered an anti-Israel alliance with Shi’ite Iran and both countries back the Hezbollah and Hamas militant groups, although Syria still seeks peace with the Jewish state.

CLASH NEAR LEBANON BORDER

Syria has blamed armed Islamist groups for the killings and accused politicians in neighboring Lebanon of fomenting violence, allegations they have denied.

Around 1,500 Syrian women and children crossed into northern Lebanon on Thursday, witnesses said, fleeing gunfire in the Syrian border town of Tel Kelakh. It was not clear how many people were hurt in the clash but Lebanese security sources said the army had stepped up patrols in the area.

Assad sent the ultra-loyal Fourth Mechanized Division, commanded by his brother Maher, into Deraa on Monday.

Reports from opposition figures and Deraa residents, which could not be confirmed, said that several soldiers from another unit had refused to fire on civilians.

The official state news agency denied the reports.

Gunfire was heard in Deraa on Wednesday night. Water, electricity and communications remained cut and essential supplies were running low, residents said.

Rights campaigners reported shooting and arrests on Thursday in Zabadani, about 35 km (20 miles) southwest of Damascus.

The Syrian rights group Sawasiah said the death toll in six weeks of protests had risen to at least 500.

“We call on civilized governments to take action to stop the bloodbath in Syria and to rein in the Syrian regime and halt its murders, torture, sieges and arrests. We have the names of at least 500 confirmed killed,” Sawasiah said in a statement. “The shelling of Deraa is a crime against humanity.”

Turkey’s intelligence chief met Assad on Thursday as part of a delegation sent to Damascus to suggest reforms to help end the uprising. Assad lifted Syria’s 48-year state of emergency a week ago, but opposition figures said the death of 100 people in protests the next day made a mockery of his move.

Syria has been dominated by the Assad family since Bashar’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, took power in a 1970 coup. The younger Assad kept intact the autocratic political system he inherited in 2000 while the family expanded its control over the country’s struggling economy.

Assad’s decision to storm Deraa echoed his father’s 1982 attack on the city of Hama to crush a revolt led by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people.

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi, Writing by Dominic Evans, Editing by Jon Boyle)

Devastating spring storms destroy Ala. family

By PHILLIP RAWLS, Associated Press Phillip Rawls, Associated Press 33 mins ago

 

BOONE’S CHAPEL, Ala. – The home Willard Hollon had shared with his son and granddaughters is gone now, as is the one where his daughter lived, both twisted from their foundations by a tornado and tossed into the woods nearby. The storms that devastated the Deep South destroyed his family, too: Willard, his son Steve and daughter Cheryl all were killed when the winds roared through.

The storms that smacked the Midwest and South with howling winds and pounding rain left 17 people dead in four states, including the Hollons. Steve Hollon had recently retired from the Air Force and moved into his father’s home with his wife and two daughters while they remodeled a home of their own up the road — he had come to this small community about 25 miles from Montgomery to be closer to his dad.

Henley Hollon lived across the street from his brother Willard and had come outside after the storm passed to make sure everyone was all right. The winds whirled, the lights went out and it all lasted less than a minute, he said. All he saw were a set of wooden steps and flowerbeds, the blooms still on the plants as though nothing happened. An American flag once displayed outside Cheryl’s home had been draped over a tree branch about 100 feet away.

“When I shined the light out there I could see it was all gone,” Willard Hollon said.

Click image to see more photos of Deep South storms

Hymnals still rested on the pews at the nearby Boone’s Chapel Baptist Church, even though the walls and roof had blown away. Tammie Silas joined other church members to clean up the debris and came upon two photos of the Hollon family.

“This is all they’ve got left,” Silas said as she clutched the pictures.

Willard Hollon’s wife, Sarah, his granddaughters and Steve’s wife all survived.

A neighbor, retired Alabama Power employee Don Headley, echoed what others in an area accustomed to nasty weather and the threat of tornadoes had said: When the storm bore down on them, they thought the worst had already ended. He had been on his patio and thought he and his wife were in the clear.

“The rain was just in sheets. There was a big bang. It sounded like something was tearing off my roof. Limbs were rolling off the roof,” he said.

The noise ended in less than a minute, and Headley went back out on his patio. Where he had been standing moments earlier a two-inch wide limb was now driven through the patio roof, he said.

Autauga County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Sedinger said seven others were hurt in the area, including a firefighter injured during rescue operations.

Seven people were hurt in the storm, including a firefighter injured during the emergency response, Sedinger said. He said the storm hopscotched for several miles, leaving some areas devastated and others untouched.

In Alabama’s Washington County, about 50 miles north of Mobile, a mother and her two children were among those killed, said county coroner Rickey Davidson. A woman in her 30s and two teenage boys died when the storm demolished a double-wide mobile home in the Deer Park community.

The woman’s husband survived and was in the hospital, he said. Winds had thrown things 100 yards from where the home had stood.

“It was not a pretty sight,” Davidson said.

Another death was reported in Mississippi’s Greene County, said Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. He did not have further details, and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.

In Marengo County in west-central Alabama, four separate tornadoes hit over the span of about five to six hours, emergency management director Kevin McKinney said.

A state of emergency had been declared for the whole state, and even the first NASCAR race of a busy weekend at Talladega Superspeedway was postponed.

Tornadoes first started touching down Thursday in Oklahoma, where two people were killed before the system pushed into Arkansas and left another seven dead, including three children.

The worst damage in Oklahoma was in the small town of Tushka, where two people were killed and at least 25 hurt as the tornado plowed through the town of 350.

Back in Boone’s Chapel, Tammie Silas reflected on the fate of her church. The sanctuary was gone, though a school wing and gymnasium survived the storm. The sanctuary had been too small for Sunday morning services anyway, she said.

“We’d been talking about building a new sanctuary,” she said, “and God said, ‘OK.'”

___

Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham; Chuck Bartels and Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark.; Nomaan Merchant in Bald Knob, Ark.; Kristi Eaton in Tushka, Okla.; Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss.; and Jeff Martin and Jacob Jordan in Atlanta contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110416/ap_on_re_us/us_severe_weather

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