Excerpted from "Deep Groove News"
SPIN Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 1

Steve Perry - A Taste of Strange Medicine

What are your plans for 1995?  (Ron Helman/Boise, ID)

I'll continue to tour, starting January 10th and going through the middle to end of March.  We are talking about going to Japan at the end of March.  I would also love to go to Europe; that's something that I think would be a really great experience because it's been so long since I've been there.

Touring seems like it would be exhausting.  How do you stay healthy on the road?  (Kristina Taylor/Long Beach, CA)

That's a good question.  I have to take care of myself when I'm on the road because I spend two hours running around on stage every night, sometimes five or six nights a week, and then there's all the traveling and lack of sleep.  I have to eat really well.  One of the biggest things that helps me stay healthy is getting enough sleep and staying away from people who are sick.  That is difficult to do.  Sometimes people think I'm inaccessible or I'm isolating, but the truth is I'm just trying to stay healthy.  People will come up to me, sniffling or coughing and they will want me to give them a kiss.  (Laughs)  And it just can't happen, if I get a cold I'm down for a week and then the shows are off.

In preparing to go on tour, do you shop for your own clothes?  (Liz Van Gunten/Lima, OH)

In this situation I just pulled out some comfortable stuff I had in the closet.  I've got my favorite pair of boots, the jeans I like the most, and a couple of tee shirts and that's about it.  I end up wearing the same thing on stage a lot because I feel the most comfortable in it.  It's like a tennis pro or someone in track who has their lucky pair of shoes.  I've got a certain combo that I like.  I do shop once in a while for new stuff, and I just recently had someone pick me up some different things.  I've become a big fan of hiking boots, lately.  I don't know why.  They're just so comfortable.  It feels like you are walking with a mattress under your feet.  That's why I wear them on stage and I have a pair on right now.  I feel comfortable in jeans and hiking boots, so that's why I wear them on stage.  That's who I am. As for my coats with the tails, they are made by a gentleman in San Francisco.

What is your favorite song to perform live?  (Kay Hansen/Cal City, CA)

(Long pause).  Hmmmmm, I don't know.  Each night is different, it depends on what kind of a mood I'm in.  It would be like if you saw more than one show, one night would probably be your favorite because of how you were feeling at that time.  That's the way it is with me.  It depends on how I feel that night. 

What do you do on the road to relax?  (Liz Van Gunten/Lima, OH)

There is no relaxing on the road.  (Laughs).  Today is a day off and one of the things we're going to do is take the bus and go and check out some of the interesting things in the area.  For the most part, I stay in my room with my humidifier running on 10.  In this cold weather, you have to run the heater and the heater takes all the moisture out of the air.  When that happens my voice goes, so I try to stay indoors and get rest until the night. 

So you have plans to make appearances on any talk shows?  (Marguerite Enderle/Ridley Park, PA)

I have been asked to do some very wonderful talk shows, but it depends on scheduling at this point.  The tour is tight that I don't know if there is time.  It might happen later when the tour schedule opens up a bit.  I know that Saturday Night Live and Letterman have asked, and that's a great opportunity to be asked to do these shows.  As I said, it's a question of scheduling and we'll have to see what happens. 

During the fade out on "Young Hearts Forever" Lincoln plays a few riffs from Thin Lizzy's "Boys Are Back In Town".  Is there any significance as to why you put this in your song?  (Steve Beckett/St. Paul, MN)

On one of the earlier Journey tours, we were playing Florida, the South and the East coast with Thin Lizzy opening the show.  Phil Lynott, (the singer, songwriter, and bass player for Thin Lizzy) and I became friends and we used to hang out a lot.  I always loved his singing.  I think he had one of the most unique voices around.  You probably won't hear too much of his material around not because there isn't a lot of radio that will play it, but I can hear his influence in certain groups out today.  For example, the singer for Counting Crows.  I hear a little bit of that talk-poetry-singing going on with him and that is exactly what Phil Lynott would do except he would do it even deeper.  So I think Phil touched music and he appears in many places. Unfortunately, he's no longer with us, and as a tribute to him, we went into a few riffs of that song at the end of  "Young Hearts Forever".  I started to sing like he does at the end when I say "She was an old flame of mine, I remember, I remember."  That's the style he had so I started to mimic his voice as a tribute to him.

"Anyway" seems to have been written about your relationship with the members of Journey.  Was that a difficult song to write?  (Cathie Biebel/Carol Stream, IL)

Yes, it was difficult to write.  It was also difficult to put on the record, but I included it for no other reason than me wanting to say how things were from my side of the street.  In my mind, the relationship in certain managerial areas was the most strained even though the relationship between the members of the group was strained as well.  I felt the song was something I needed to say.  It's only about my part of it, my side of the street.  I'm not pointing a finger anywhere except at me.  If someone else wants to talk about their side of things, they'll do that when it's their time.  "Anyway" is about my participation in some of the things that we did to each other as people.  Whether it's a band relationship or a working relationship, sometimes in your day-to-day routine of life, you have a tendency to snap at people and growl at people and bite people.  Then there are other days when it's absolutely sunshine and blue skies.  So, for the days when there was snarling around the water bowl amongst us all, this song just needed to be sung for me.  I particularly like it because it was written at a time when I couldn't talk about it.  That's why the song describes a situation where the guy says, "Anyway, what was I saying?  Anyway, I seem to have lost my place again."  Haven't you heard people consistently start to tell you something that you know they want to tell you, and then they'll stop and go "Oh, anyway."  They do that because you are getting too close and they're not really ready to talk about it.  At the time I wrote the song, I was not ready to talk about it as much as I am now.

On the liner notes for Strange Medicine, it says "Mom, I continue my promise".  Can you share that with us?  (Joan Evans/Little Rock, AR)

(pauses) The promise started on the Raised on Radio record.  At the very bottom it says "And this one's for you Mom, I love you."  That was where the promise was started.  It had something to do with Journey but it also had nothing to do with Journey.  It was a deeper promise and I can only say that sometimes they can't be shared because that would break the promise.  In this case, it's a promise that can't be broken. 

Alex Cain, the guitarist from Suck who was touring in the Sass Jordan Band, told us to ask you about "The Bird" incident. 

Alex told you to ask about that?  (laughs)  He's a great guy and a great guitarist.  We became friends on the road.  So*.this happened in Texas.  Paul, Moyes, Alex and I were all walking down by the river of San Antonio where all the restaurants and everything are, and I noticed this little bird on a lily pad in this pond.  It looked like it had taken on too much water.  We were trying everything we could think of to try and get this bird out of the water because it couldn't get back on the pad and we were afraid it was going to drown.  We spend quite some time there.  We had brooms, sticks, anything we could find to reach it.  I even went and got a music stand from a nightclub and we tried to stretch it out to reach that bird, but it just didn't work.  It got to the point where it seemed like maybe it was just the way it was supposed to be.  Everything we tried failed.  Everything we did was just about a foot away and we couldn't reach him.

After a while, we all decided it was over and he looked like he was on his last groove, so we left.  We went up to a Mexican restaurant and met up with Bobby (tour manager) and some others and ordered food.  We were sitting there talking and I looked around and noticed that Paul and Alex weren't there.  I asked where they were but nobody knew.  Well, a while later, Paul came back and sat down and I asked him "Where's Alex?"   Paul says, " You're not going to believe this, but he got so frustrated about that bird that he went back, took off his clothes, went in wait deep into the water, got the bird, and put it on the side of the bank.  He's back at the hotel changing now."  (laughs) I couldn't believe it.  Alex just decided he was going to follow through and he did it and it was incredible.  I just kept shaking my head and thinking what a great person he is.  That's just Alex.  That's who he is and I'm glad I got to know him.

Well, we now know you like birds.  How do you feel about cats and/or dogs? 

There was a time in my life when I was strictly a dog person.  Then I met Sherrie and she had two wonderful cats, but at the time I met them, I didn't think they were very wonderful at all.  (laughs)   At the beginning, I didn't like those cats.  I was interested in her.  (laughs)  But those cats won me over.   The first one that stole my heart was the Siamese cat, Toshka.  I'd be sitting there and she would jump on my leg, then turn her head to her right ear and put it on my knee.  Then she'd reach around the front of my knee with her paws and hold on, and her back legs would be sprawled across my thigh, dangling down.  She looked like a lion does when it lays on a tree branch.  And she would just lay there.  If I tried to get up, she would let me know she did not want me to move.  (laughs)  It would be like, "No, I'm not done sleeping".  (laughs)  Out would come the claws and then the meow and I'd be like, "Okay, I won't move."  I just fell in love with that cat.  Sometimes I would lean over and bite her ear, and then she would run away. (laughs).  It was a deep communication between us.  Anyway, the other cat was Tonja and she was a black Manx and the only cat I've ever know that would allow you to pick it up by the stomach.  She would roll over and you could grab her fat stomach and pick her up.  Her legs would go all directions and she would just lay there, totally happy.  (laughs)  She loved it.  So, obviously, I love cats now as well as dogs.  There is nothing about those two species of animals that I dislike.  They are just so wonderful.

How did the Deep Groove tee shirt design come about?

We were rehearsing for the tour and we were all joking around and poking fun at a lot of things.  I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back, Paul was trying to set me up.  He drew this character on a white piece of paper.  It had the big nose, the hair was slicked back, it had a smirky smile and a little dot for an eye.  Lincoln came around five seconds later and took the pen and put the finger in the nose, because people, dare I say, will pick their nose on occasion and I guess I'm no exception.  (laughs)   So I saw it and I started laughing and everybody else was already laughing.  They didn't think anything of it, but I said "I want to keep it", and as time went on, it dawned on me that I liked that drawing and it would look great on a tee shirt.  I approached our tee shirt company to do a sample.  I came up with the name 'deep groove' because it seems like my whole life at this point is a deep groove.  It's like having your finger up your nose to about the third knuckle.  (laughs)

We got a lot of nice feedback on the Christmas card we sent out for you, which was a variation of the Deep Groove design. 

Yeah, everybody I heard from loved it.  They thought it was fun.  Only my accountant thought it was a bit adolescent, I said "Oh, be quiet. (laughs) Thanks for sharing that with me." 

Accountants aren't supposed to have a sense of humor.  And speaking of a sense of humor, there's a rumor going around that you have had hair extensions.

(laughs)  I've heard that rumor and I have news for you, girl, it is not extensions.  My hair is one length from the top to bottom, and it's all my own.  I haven't cut it in a very long time. 

So, just how long does it take you under the dryer (laughs).

I don't use a hair dryer, ever.  Years ago I had one but I had it bronzed and I don't use it any more.  I wash my hair and pull it back with a hair tie and I'm gone.  I have to comb it about twice a day.  Every morning I comb the knots out of it from sleeping and I comb it after I do a show and before I go to bed.   Otherwise I'd wake up with dreadlocks.  (laughs)  They are fashionable but I don't want them right now.

Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

Just that I really appreciate all the support everyone has given me through the years and I look forward to seeing you out on the road!

SPIN Newsletter 

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