Taking a cue from the title of Journey's fifth album, keyboardist Jonathan Cain said the band is in constant "Evolution."
"Journey has always been about change," Cain said during a phone interview while making a stop in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
"Back in 1974, the band was about fusion and progression," he explained. "It wasn't until the late '70s and early '80s that it became a pop-rock band."
Journey — Cain, guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Deen Castronovo and singer Steve Augeri — will play the Delta Center on Tuesday, July 31. Show time is 6:30 p.m. Also on the bill are Peter Frampton and John Waite. Tickets available through Ticketmaster or by calling 325-SEAT.
Cain, who joined Journey in 1981 — just in time for the No. 1 album "Escape" — said the obvious challenge of being Journey today is the absence of vocalist Steve Perry. "The post-Perry Journey basically had to start up again from scratch.
What people forget is that Journey was Journey before Steve Perry, and it will continue after Steve Perry."
Journey formed in 1973, when Santana roadie Walter "Herbie" Herbert decided to form a band around Santana guitarist Neal Schon. Herbert recruited Santana singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie, Steve Miller bassist Valory, Tubes drummer Prairie Prince and Frumious Bandersnatch guitarist George Tickner. Later he snagged drummer Aynley Dunbar and vocalist Robert Fleischmann to join the lineup.
Four years and three albums later, the band featured Steve Perry, of Alien Project, on the vocals. The 1978 album "Infinity" went multi-platinum (selling more than 1 million copies). In 1979, drummer Steve Smith from Montrose replaced Dunbar, and "Evolution" went multi-platinum. Then came another multi-platinum release, "Departure."
By 1981, Cain had joined, and "Escape" was well on its way to being the most successful Journey album. And "Frontiers," released in 1983, capitalized on "Escape's" success.
But by the end of that tour, Journey was getting old, and intra-band conflicts marred the recording of the follow-up album "Raised on Radio." "There were fans dying to see the band but couldn't," said Cain, who cited Elton John, Beethoven and Little Richard as his main musical influences.
After a handful of solo albums from Schon, Perry and Cain, the band decided to regroup. The result was 1996's "Trial by Fire."
But the tour never happened, due to Perry injuring a hip during a rock-climbing accident. Since then, Perry and the band have been in an ongoing feud, which left the band off the charts and out of the studio for four years. "We couldn't sit around and wait for (Perry) to call us whenever he wanted to tour again," said Cain. "So we did it ourselves."
Cain, Schon and Valory recruited drummer Castronovo — who played with Cain, Schon and Waite in Bad English — and auditioned a slew of vocalists. "Steve (Smith) was happier doing his jazz band and clinics," Cain said about Castronovo's appearance in Journey. "I just talked with him the other day, and he is having so much fun."
The big challenge came in replacing the trademark Perry tenor. Enter former Tall Stories vocalist Steve Augeri. "(He) had big shoes to fill, but he's doing just fine," said Cain. "It's nice to have the band back, even though we've had a time getting the new album out."
The band's 15th release, "Arrival," was first unleashed in Japan because of scheduling conficts. "We just couldn't line up a launch for it," Cain explained. "We wanted to make a splash, and Japan seemed like the best place."
Cain penned the Journey songs "Open Arms" and "Faithfully," and he says that writing for this album was a breath of fresh air. "Usually, when I write, I like to look for a love song that gives different points of view. When (Perry) and I started writing together, he wanted songs that were haunting — loves that never die but follow you around. I wanted to get into the deep psychological love affair that looked at the concept from both sides of the coin, the male and female, so that everyone could relate to it."
Cain says the song "Forever Love" (on "Arrival") is one of his favorites of those he's written. "It's a song that has its own voice that is very cinematic. It was the song I've been trying to write for years."