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New wave of popularity for American rockers
New wave of popularity for American rockers

Glee might have been responsible for putting the words to Don't Stop Believin' on the lips of thousands of teens but American rock outfit Journey first released the song in 1981.

While it only cracked the Top 10 in the UK and US, post-Glee in 2011 it was the top-selling catalogue title on iTunes, having sold somewhere in the vicinity of five million digital copies.

"I didn't know what was going to happen when I was told the song would be in a TV show," Neal Schon says.

The Journey guitarist, who co-wrote Don't Stop Believin' with Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, says the show was also going to cover a lot of other material.

"I thought it could be really crass and removed myself from it," he says. "But a lot of other people felt it was going to be good.

"Sure enough, it became a huge show.

"They ended up doing their version of five of our songs. The song went No. 1 and we hit a whole new generation of kids."

Now those kids are coming to see Journey play live, which is something the 58-year-old father of five never expected.

What he likes most is the number of young guys who are coming to see the band and have picked up a guitar because of Don't Stop Believin'.

Filipino singer Arnel Pineda has handled vocal duties with the band since 2007 and is Journey's third lead singer since Perry quit in 1998. The Australian tour alongside Deep Purple will mark 40 years since the rock outfit formed in San Francisco.

Schon's only son is a "struggling musician" and has often asked his dad when he's going to give it all up. Not a chance in the short term, he tells 23-year-old Miles.

"You have to pay your dues and that's something I have seriously done," he says.

"It's coming up 40 years with Journey but I started with zero and have built a fan base with a catalogue of work and rebuilt it along the way too."

The axeman has a theory - you're only as good as your last performance or album. He has enough platinum albums at home but says they aren't hanging on the walls. They're sitting in the attic because he doesn't want to look at them.

His pedigree is impressive. Schon has made his own albums, worked with numerous bands and artists including, famously, Bad Company and Santana, as well as his regular gig with Journey.

"They are all a great achievement but I know that I don't need to impress anyone," he says. "What's important is what I do every new day. Each time I can do something new and get it out there, I see that as an accomplishment.

"That's most important to me, not resting on my laurels.

"A lot of people live in neutral. I like to keep moving forward."

One of his mottos is now less partying and more playing. He's been there, done that and apparently he'd now rather spread the word of music than "be 10 toes up or a good-looking corpse".

"I want to spread the word about our music. I'm probably in better health than I ever have been. I eat well and exercise and get plenty of exercise on stage every night," he says.

"My fiancee is with me on the road and that's a workout too," he says alluding to socialite and model Michaele Salahi, a former star in reality television series The Real Housewives of D.C. to whom he proposed in October.

"Sex is, of course, the best workout of all. There's no end in sight to that."

'My fiancee is with me on the road and that's a workout too. Sex is the best workout of all. There's no end in sight to that.' Neal Schon