The Negative Impact Journey Had On Neal Schon’s Career
Although he is now making the headlines with legal battles and conflicts with his bandmates, Neal Schon has had a successful tenure with Journey. As the band’s longest-serving original member, Schon has seen Journey’s ups and downs and enjoyed the peak of their career. With his talented guitar playing and backing vocals, he contributed significantly to the band’s commercial success.
Besides his commitment to Journey, Neal Schon pursued solo endeavors, especially when the band took some time off. Toward the end of the 1980s, creative differences within the act led to lineup changes and conflicts. After the conclusion of the Raised on Radio Tour, Journey went on a hiatus. During this period, Schon focused on solo projects like Bad English and Hardline and collaborated with various artists.
Around the mid-’90s, Schon found time to work on new music efforts that would end up as 1995’s ‘Beyond the Thunder.’ The album saw the guitarist explore different music styles and featured songs that sounded way different than the music he made with Journey. At this point, Schon realized the band had a disadvantage on him as a solo artist: He felt Journey limited his creative output.
Speaking to Gary James after the release of ‘Beyond The Thunder,’ Neal Schon admitted that he made the album when he was in a melancholic period for not playing rock and roll for a time. He said that he had a side with jazz leanings, and the album was the first step toward what he actually wanted to achieve. Schon then expressed eagerness to explore other genres like jazz because all he had been doing with Journey was rock and roll.
Following that, Neal Schon explained his ‘After all these years, I can honestly say that I’m just now learning what I’m doing’ remark in the album’s liner notes. According to the guitarist, he explored different sides of his musical talents and noticed his willingness to grow and learn during his time away from Journey. Moreover, the musician also discovered he hadn’t yet shown off his full potential.
Here is what Neal Schon said about ‘Beyond the Thunder’:
“I was in a real melancholy sort of mellow state when I did it. I wasn’t playing rock and roll. This type of stuff comes out of me when I’m away from the road and away from rock and roll for a while. Stuff I do when I’m around the house. You know, I’ve never made a record that was that mellow. There is another side of me that is going more in a jazzy vein, and that is more of a commercial version of where I’d actually like to go.
I’ve got the rock and roll thing going on with Journey and everything else I do in the rock and roll vein, but I’m interested in opening new genres for myself. The jazz format seems to be where I’m heading. I’ll always have my rock/blues roots, and I’ll always play that. It’s a thing I like to do live. But I see myself doing these other types of solo records as well. It’s a completely different thing. It’s creative for me to go somewhere completely different.”
Asked about his remark in the liner notes, Schon said:
“You know, I was very confused when I read it myself. I think I was trying to say that I’m finally getting a grip on all the different sides of my musical abilities and coming to terms with that, not just stifling myself and staying in one place. I’m learning that I do have the ability to grow and learn a lot more. I think what I’m saying there is I don’t feel like I’ve peaked out at all and that I have a lot of places I can go musically.”
So, Journey’s hiatus made Neal Schon realize that there were many things left for him to explore, and his musical talents needed to grow and flourish. Apparently, Schon felt restricted while making music with the band, which was a disadvantage for him as he wanted to open new genres for himself.