Intervju med Deen Castronovo i Journey!
Som gammalt fan av Journey hade jag hoppats på ett snack med Neal Schon eller Jonathan cain, men det blev istället trummisen Deen som nu lirat med bandet under 10 års tid.
Deen var en glad trummis som var ute och körde i hemstaten Oregon, vilket nästan gav honom böter.
Vi snackade bl a om nya plattan, favorittrummisar, Jeff Scott Soto och en del annat.
Deen: Hey Niclas, how are you buddy?
I´m good! How are you?
Deen: I´m sorry I was a little late. I was in the rest room and didn´t hear the damn phone!
Where are you? Are you in New York?
Deen: No, I´m in Salem, Oregon, my hometown and I´m actually driving right now, which is against the law, but I´m gonna do it anyway! Screw ém! (laughs)
Thanks for doing it! Ok, first of all, another great album! How long did it take to come up with the title “Eclipse” and what about the numbers one and three in the title?
Deen: The thing with “Eclipse” is that it was gonna be called “Resonate” and then before that, it was supposed to be called “Tantra”. Neal changed it every time and I like “Eclipse”and the logo on the record is an old throwback to the “Escape” logo and that´s where I think that came from. When Neal´s got his mind set on something he just goes for it! And he knows what feels good, so he goes for it!
Right! Sound wise I think it´s quite similar to “Revelation”. Was that the plan, to try and work it into that same kind of sound?
Deen: I don´t know about sound wise, maybe sonically it was, but I think we went into a musically different direction. Neal wanted it to be more guitar driven. Neal is not really a balladeer, but Jonathan is the balladeer writer. Jonathan kept coming up with some great rock songs, like “City of hope” and “Ritual”. Some of the harder rock songs on the record are Jonathan´s. He stepped up to the plate. No ballads and more rock, which is great!
Are you doing like another Wal-Mart deal, like you did with “Revelation”? Anything like that?
Deen: Yes we are! We have our deal with Wal-Mart.
Is that with bonus tracks or anything like that?
Deen: I think there´s a bonus track in Europe and a bonus track in Japan, but I´m not sure which one it´s gonna be. I was told that in Japan it might be “When you love a woman” in a live version, but we´re not sure yet. It kind of came down to the line where they asked us to do a bonus track and we were like “We´re on the road! We can´t do a bonus track while we´re on tour!”. (laughs)
It´s a great record! Do you like it, bro?
Yeah, there´s some good stuff on there. I love “City of hope”!
Deen: Dude, that´s a monster, isn´t it?
Deen: It´s about Arnel´s home town. It´s about Arnel´s experiences in Manila and it´s “City of hope”! It´s a very, very spiritual country. We went there and it was probably the best experience I´ve had in my life! Staying in Arnel´s home and seeing the park that he lived in, because he was a homeless kid for a while. My god, bro! Did he rise from the ashes like a phoenix! And now he gives money to the Arnel Manila Foundation, to feed the homeless in Manila.
“Revelation” was huge and you sold a lot of records with that one. Do you think of that with this new album, that you wanna do just as well or even better?
Deen: That was the whole title´s name, “Eclipse”. We wanted to eclipse the last record. We wanna move forward and that´s great with Neal and Jon´s vision of it. We have an idea of where we wanna go, but we can honestly go anywhere musically. I´ve never been in a band where we try different genres and try different styles. It´s really a great band musically. These guys are the best. Hopefully this record will eclipse the last one.
When did you start writing for it and was there any stuff left over from “Revelation” or was it just a clean slate and starting all over again?
Deen: Clean slate and started over. I think Jonathan started writing in January of ´09, I think it was. But I didn´t hear any of that stuff till I went down in May to record it. I listened to it brand new and “Son of a bitch, this sounds like a great record!”. We´re all very happy with it. Wait… Oh the cops are coming to get me! Oh my god! I´m gonna get busted! Oh my god! Anyway, hold on… keep going! (laughs) I swear to god, he saw me talking on the phone and pulled right off! I swear to god! It´s a $300 ticket. Can you hear me? Keep going! (Deen was on his cell phone and driving during the interview. Editor´s note)
Oh yeah! How do you all work on a song from the first idea of it to the finished product?
Deen: We take one song at a time. We listen to it a couple of times, we check a couple of things out and we try a few things… Oh he´s not going after me, he´s going after somebody else! That´s awesome! Go ahead! (laughs) We would take one song and listen to it in the studio and Kevin Shirley was our producer and we´d try a couple of things, like what drum sound I´d want and so on. We record it two or three times and we usually picked the first one.
What has Arnel brought to this album? Does he come up with song ideas as well?
Deen: Yeah, actually “To whom it may concern” is Arnel´s song with Neal and he wrote the lyrics for “She´s a mystery” and a few other things. Arnel is a… I mean, the kid can write music man! I wish I could! (laughs) I´m a drummer. I bash on shit, that´s what I do!
What´s the plan for the setlist? Are you thinking about digging out some old stuff that hasn´t been played for a while?
Deen: Well, we always stay with what we call the dirty dozen.´, which are the 12 biggest Journey hits, all that stuff! Usually we have over a 100 songs that we can choose from, so we might try some new stuff. If Arnel has a rough time singing or something like that, we usually throw in “Rubicon” or something like that, that is not too demanding on him. But it´s great! We have all these songs that we can choose from and it´s fantastic.
Any plans for you singing any special songs on this tour?
Deen: Well, usually do “Mother, father” because everybody likes that one and hopefully “Keep on runnin´” as well, but the last couple of night they let me do “Who´s crying now”. We´ll see! It´s Arnel really, if he feels a little rougher or tired, we´ll throw in just a couple of extra songs just to give him a break. That´s great! I´m like the quarter back. (laughs)
That´s something I´m really amazed of, playing drums and singing with that strong voice you have! That´s gotta be really exhausting?
Deen: The funny thing is, since I´ve done these songs for so long, I know exactly when to breathe, I know exactly how much air I need to get to get those songs out. Usually the drumming is like autopilot. I´m concentrating on singing the best I can and if you don´t, the fans will crucify you! I´m not even close to Steve Perry, nobody is! He´s a god and always will be, but I do my best and I try to bring the songs out as close as I can to the original, but of course I´ll never be Steve Perry, but I wish I was! He was an icon and still is an icon. One of my big influences. It´s just where you place your breathing and the drums take the backseat.
Have you heard about this Journey book that´s out?
Deen: No, what Journey book?
It´s an English writer and he´s written a lot of books and he´s got this book out.
Deen: Have you seen any of it yet?
Nah, I´ve just seen the cover and it´s supposedly good, but there´s no interviews with any of the current band members and not Steve Perry. He´s just talked to a lot of people around the band, but he usually writes really cool books.
Deen: Let me know where I can get theta when I´m over in Europe! I wanna snag that!
Have you stayed in touch with Steve Augeri or Jeff Scott Soto?
Deen: Steve Augeri once in a while. He´s really busy now and he´s got his own thing. Once in a while we call him and chat. I love Steve! Jeff Scott Soto we really don´t talk to at all. We were told he was gonna write a book and spilling the dirt on Journey and I was like “Dude, c´mon!”. We don´t talk to the guy. He sued us after he left the band and you do not sue Irving Azoff! He´s the god of managers on this planet, and he did, which wasn´t smart. It wasn´t smart. Needless to say I don´t talk to him at all. I wish I could talk to Steve Perry. I´ve only met him once and he was very cordial, but oh my god if I could just sit there. Steve Smith I talk to all the time. He lives about 200 miles from here in Oregon and hopefully I get to see him sometime and let him beat the crap out of me on drums, because he´s a god as well! My favorite drummer of all time! (laughs)
What if Steve Perry would knock on the door and say “I wanna do a song with you guys! We could do a duet with Arnel!”. Would you guys do it?
Deen: Oh I would do it, but I don´t think he would do it! He´s not interested and he doesn´t like us very much and I understand why, you know. What happened with the band him and basically he started this legacy and I´m just lucky to be riding it.
Ok. Are there any plans for coming back to Sweden and do additional dates after Peace and Love?
Deen: I´m not sure! Right after the European tour, we get home on July 15th I think, we have seven days off and then we start the American tour. We probably won´t be back until next year, if everything goes well.
With the last tour you did really, really well and it´s kind of funny because everywhere you read that it´s a tough climate for touring and a lot of bands not making it and have a hard time selling out places, but apparently Journey is doing big business these days.
Deen: Na, it´s been good bro! It´s been very, very good! We´re very fortunate.
What kind of inspirations and influences do you have? What kind of drummers did you grow up listening to?
Deen: Like I said, Steve Smith, but my very first influence was Neil Peart, Peter Criss, Steve Smith, Terry Bozzio and all those guys. Just incredible! Then I listen to a lot of metal drummers. My favorite guys now are like Gene Hoglan, Joey Jordison who´s a freaking animal and a lot of those guys! Dave Lombardo I listen to a lot.
A guy like Peter Criss, he´s gotten a lot of flak and especially since he did the reunion tour with KISS. Would you consider him being a good drummer?
Deen: He was good for KISS! Ringo Starr wasn´t the best drummer in the world, but he was right for The Beatles. It was perfect for KISS. I was seven years old when I was introduced to KISS and it fucked me up, man! “Holy shit, that´s what I wanna do when I´m older! That´s it!”. I knew I was gonna be a drummer as soon as I saw that. Then I saw Rush open up for KISS and it was like “Who´s that guy? Oh my god!”. Neil Peart, scary drummer! For me when I was a little kid, “Wow, he´s got all these drums and he plays them!”. (laughs)
Are you still living in Oregon?
Deen: Yes sir! Been here all my life and will not leave. I´ve got kids here and my mother and father and my whole family lives here. I wouldn´t wanna live anywhere else!
And the rest of the guys, are they in LA?
Deen: Jonathan is in Nashville now, Neal lives in San Francisco, Ross is close to San Francisco and Arnel´s in the Philippines.
Man, it can´t be easy to just get together and jam?
Deen: Well, when it´s time we get down to the rehearsal place and we go tear it up days on end. It´s really no problem. Thank god we´re successful enough that we can all live in different places and do what we need to do.
Is it true that Journey is playing Italy for the first time?
Deen: Yeah dude! You know, I spent ten months in Italy back in 1996 with Vadco Rossi. You ever heard of him?
I believe I have, yeah!
Deen: Dude, we played five sold out nights in San Siro, Milan. It was the most incredible, freaking thing! 100.000 seats every night. I spent ten months over there and I met cousins I´d never met before, family members and my father was there. Heavy man! I can´t wait to go to freaking Milan! It´ll be awesome! I´m gonna propose to my girlfriend there and they´re gonna fix something really cool with the show. She´s gonna be weeping! (laughs)
Awesome! Well, I thank you so much Deen! It was great talking to you and of course, drive safely man!
Deen: (laughs) Dude, you know it! As soon as we´re done, the phone is going down! Thanks brother!