Steve Perry Says There Was No Easy Way to Quit Journey
Steve Perry said he knew there was no easy way to quit Journey when he realized the time had come in 1998, and recalled how his high-pitched singing was a result of competition with other lead singers of the era.
He’d been out of the public eye for nearly two decades before beginning to make one-off appearances in recent years, and finally confirmed the release of a new solo album, Traces, this week.
“The reason I left is because I was just truly burned out,” Perry told Eddie Trunk on SiriusXM (via Blabbermouth). “My love for music was getting really, really questionable within my heart, and I kind of had to stop. There was no easy way to stop, leaving the mothership that I had so loved and worked so hard with the guys to build. It was tough. I didn't tell nobody — I just kept working, and then all of a sudden, it just kind of hit the wall, and I said, 'I can't do this anymore.' The band looked at me like, 'What?'
“I’m sure there was no way to drop such a bomb on the fans easily, but I just had to stop and just get out for a while. So I did, and once I stopped, I realized I had to be okay on my own, in my own terms, without the love and the adoration and applause. I kind of wanted the wheels to touch down, to be honest. I had to decompress ... where you can be okay being yourself and that's enough.”
Perry recalled returning to his California hometown and spending time riding his motorcycle on “old country roads” while he took time to “think about things.” “I had to let go with a conviction that if music was to come back to my heart again, that would be fine," he explained. "If it didn't, I had already lived the dream of dreams, honestly. We had accomplished so much as a group together. I had to let it go completely to see what would happen. I was like a wrung-out sponge — there's no juice left in me.”
Perry said he’d chosen not to perform with Journey during their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because he didn’t want to get in the way of the band's current singer, Arnel Pineda. “I haven't been in the band for quite some time,” he said. “Arnel's been in the band for almost 10 years, I think. He's a sweet kid — he's a wonderful kid. He sings his heart out every night. It's his gig."
Asked about his high-pitched vocal delivery, Perry noted it was a product of "that point in time in music." "You kind of had to get in the outdo-the-next-kind-of-cat mode," he said. "There were so many of us trying to climb to the top of the heap, so to speak, as who's going to be the one who can really belt it. There were so many great singers — the cat from Toto, the cat from Santana, the cat from Survivor. So many different singers with these high voices, and I'm thinking, 'Okay, watch this.' We were all competitive. I just kept pushing myself for greater heights.”
He also admitted that he "may have set the bar a little high at this age. I probably could [still do it], but I may have to drop a key here and there. I'm okay with that.”