A new documentary called Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey starts this Friday at the Seattle International Film Festival. It’s a documentary around the story of how the band, faced with finding a replacement singer after Steve Perry turned down a reunion, found an unlikely replacement in the form of Arnel Pineda, the singer of a cover band from Manila in the Philippines. KZOK was sent a “screener” on DVD, and assigned in true Siskel and Ebert style, two of our biggest Journey fans to watch and review it: Stacy “Crazy Mama” Ireland and Scott Vanderpool.
Scott: I liked this movie.
Stacy: Are you s***ting me Vanderpants? You hate that band! You told me Steve Perry’s voice sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Scott: C’mon, I grew up on manly rock like The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin. Anyhow, it’s not really so much about them as it is about the story of Arnel and how guitarist Neil Schon found him on YouTube when they were about to give up. And he can sing Zeppelin! He did a pretty good Robert Plant with his Philippine band The Zoo.
Stacy: Lie face! Scott, I don’t know who you’re trying to snow, but you’re not giving us your take “Faithfully“.
Scott: Well it’s not about me, is it? People like this band, and it’s a cute little movie…a real inspiration to anyone who’s best shot in life is working in a third-world sweatshop, sewing Nikes, who also happens to have an awesome voice and gets discovered and made a millionaire. What’d you think?
Stacy: My take is kudos to Neil and Company in finding a lead singer who not only sounds better than Steve Perry, but has also gone through drug and alcohol rehab and two wives before joining the band, so they can get all that crap out of the way up front.
Scott: Journey were one of the biggest bands in America when they went their “Separate Ways” in 1994. They still own half of San Francisco. Lights runs on a continuous loop in the Oakland Airport Chili’s when the lights are going down on the city across the bay. They sing that song at Giants games. Pretty weird seeing a bunch of dudes with Fidel Castro beards singing Journey at the World Series, with Steve Perry crying on the big-screen.
Stacy: It takes a lot of money to live life at that level. They must have run out. But they did reunite with Steve Perry…
Scott: Not for long. Who was their singer when we did that Magic Bus trip to The Gorge with Nate?
Stacy: Steve Augeri, I think. But they booted him in 2007. Everyone I talked to said he didn’t sound enough like Steve Perry. They hated him. I’m glad Nate went and not me.
Scott: So anyhow, they wanted to tour again in 2007, and couldn’t find a singer. The whole band scoured the interwebs, and were aware of just about every Journey tribute band in America, even Kevin Hammond’s band Hairmaggedon who do a fine version of Wheel In the Sky.
Stacy: Then Neal Schon gets a tip, and checks out this band from Manila on YouTube. This guy had been homeless since he was a teenager, sleeping on park benches, collecting bottles for money. Then he started singing at 15…at a Shakey’s Pizza Parlor for god’s sake. He won some big Philippine Rock Wars competition. His band got to go to Hong Kong in some other band contest, but they were disqualified from winning because they didn’t do original songs. But they’d won it with the fans…with a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Scott: They still have Shakey’s pizza parlors?
Stacy: They do in the Philippines. Anyhow, the guy’s got great pipes. Maybe he should have started at Pizza and Pipes. Neil was blown away by their cover of Faithfully. Sent him an email saying “How’d you like to be in the real band Journey?”, which at first he thought was a joke. Flew him to San Francisco to try out. The rest of the band were amazed. Ross Valory goes “Well, can he speak English?” It’s a real Cinderella story.
Scott: So how many thumbs, Stace?
Stacy: I give it one full thumb. It’s all about a guy livin’ the dream.
Scott: And he doesn’t stop believin’ does he? I give it a thumb and a half, and you know how I feel about this band.
Stacy: That’s two-and-a-half thumbs. Not bad at all.
Scott: And you don’t have to be a Journey fan to like this movie. But it wouldn’t hurt either.
Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey starts this Friday at the SIFF Cinema (The old Uptown Theater in Lower Queen Anne near Seattle Center), and runs through Thursday March 14th. For details, check the SIFF website. http://www.siff.net/cinema/detail.aspx?FID=261&id=46074