1. Hello Neil, please introduce yourself to the public.
Hello! Well, as you know my name is Neil Daniels; I live in a small-ish town in the North West of England sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester. I’ve been writing books on rock and metal for the past several years now. 10 books in total ranging from biographies of Judas Priest, Robert Plant and Journey to reference books on Linkin Park and Bon Jovi to the autobiography of original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins and four print on demand books, which are collections of interviews with musicians and rock writers. The All Pens Blazing books have done quite well. I write for the AOR mag Fireworks and have also contributed to various magazines, fanzines and websites over the years. It’s all noted at my website www.neildaniels.com
2. How did you think to write this book for Journey?
I wanted to begin writing a book on Journey when JSS was in the band but Journey’s profile just wasn’t big enough to interest a publisher… and then Glee happened. Since Glee and the huge success of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ Journey has become a household once name again. Omnibus saw the potential and commissioned the book with the help of London Literary Agent Matthew Hamilton who is a big Journey fan. It was great timing really and a great coup for fans. I mean, a book on a band like Journey would never have happened otherwise. Publishers are often snobbish towards AOR and melodic rock believing it to be unfashionable and unpopular. How wrong are they? AOR might not be what it was in the 80s but it has undergone a huge resurgence of interest.
3. Did you have any support from the band members or their management?
Sadly not. I had contacted various former members of Journey and many of them agreed but backed out having told me that they were told by the band not to cooperate with a writer on an unofficial book. I hate the term ‘unofficial’ but it does get used a lot; official books, I find, tend to be sanitized version of events. I didn’t let their lack of cooperation deter me; I still had interviews arranged with the likes of Herbie Herbert and Jeff Scott Soto and a wealth of research from various sources so I carried on with the book. The Journey story is such an epic and complicated one which meant the research was immense.
4. How long did it take so as to write this book and what was the process for gathering information about the subject?
It took just under a year. I started by conducting interviews and gathering research which I arranged in chronological order and then I created a huge timeline of events to lead me through the band’s history. I wrote the barebones of the book and built the research into it. Although Journey formed in 1973 readers do need to know a little bit about Santana prior to ’73 which I wrote about. I realize I won’t please every fan but hopefully most people will enjoy it.
5. Is there any bibliography about the band?
As far as I am aware there are only two English language books on Journey; one from the 80s by Robyn Flans and a recent print on demand book on Steve Perry.
6. Did you find any difficulties or barriers that prevented you to write this book?
The biggest difficulty tends to be time constraints so you have to manage your time effectively and set targets for yourself in order to have the book finished by the contracted deadline. I wouldn’t say there were any barriers as such but I really would have liked to have spoken to more former members but that happens a lot with writers who are researching the history of a certain band for a book. You have to move beyond that and get around it. There is a lot of research out there and done correctly, a compelling narrative can still be written. Historians write books on Churchill and he’s dead so he obviously can’t be interviewed; those writers use research that is already out there which is the only way a book can be written. If a band won’t talk, you use the available research but from a different angle than previous attempts. You have to make it as original and compelling as possible regardless of any barriers that you face.
7. What was the reaction of the publisher, Omnibus Press, when you told them about your idea of writing a book for Journey?
They were keen because of the success of Glee and ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ but if it wasn’t for that this book would never have happened. There’s no question about that. This book despite whatever people might think of it good or bad is really one of a kind. They’ve done a great job with the production; the cover looks fantastic like an old Journey album sleeve and the two photo sections are really great.
8. What are your expectations from this book in personal and commercial level?
I’m very pleased with it. Maybe if it sells well there will be future updated editions and I can add my aborted chapter on Neal Schon’s solo music which was just too long for the final manuscript. You can never really tell if a book is going to sell well. There was a lot of interest in some of my other books but I have yet to have a bestseller. There’s been a lot of interest in this one but that doesn’t mean it will sell. We’ll see…
9. Would you like to describe us each chapter of the book?
The first chapter covers the years 1973-76 and then it goes to: ’77-’80, ’81-’83, ’84-’87, ’88-’94, ’95-’97, ’98-’04, ’05-’06 and ’07-’10. There is a foreword by Andrew McNeice of Melodicrock.com and an afterword by Jeff Scot Soto, an extensive discography, a ‘Where Are They Now?’ bit which briefly covers the careers of ex Journey members and a chapter on Perry’s solo music.
10. Which are the highlights of the book and what kind of information will make the book a must have for the devoted Journey fans?
Journey fans really do love their band and especially Steve Perry. As this is the first book of its kind maybe fans would like to actually read the full history of the band in a chronological narrative form. Herbie Herbert really sheds some light on the band’s politics and I don’t think he is the bitter man that he may sound like. He is very articulate and intelligent and knew the band better than anyone so he knows what he is talking about. I suppose it depends on how knowledgeable each fan is; it’s all down to the individual. Certainly, casual fans will find a lot of facts in the book which they were not aware of.
11. You have included an “Afterword” from Jeff Scott Soto. How did you contact him and what was his reaction?
He was great to talk with. He did not have a bad word to say about the band and if you read his afterword you’ll know that he has nothing but respect for Journey. He loves the band! Of course fans have made up their own minds about his hiring and subsequent departure from the band but he is a cool guy and one of the best singers/frontmen in the scene.
12. Do you believe that the new line up of Journey reflects their mission for the music?
There are times when I wonder if they are merely going through the motions just for the sake of it but their recent album Eclipse proves that they still have something to say. It’s a great album and reflects Neal Schon’s talents. I don’t know how long Arnel Pineda will last given the band’s track record with singers. That remains to be seen but he sure has come a long way since his first outing with Journey. He has become a frontman rather than a man who sings Journey songs if you know what I mean. I saw them in Manchester the other week and thought they were great although I do have trouble with their set lists.
13. Why do you believe that Steve Perry left the band and what about his comeback?
It’s obvious Perry won’t come back and whenever a proposed reunion is mentioned in the press every few years it’s nothing but media hype. There’s no way a man of his age will be able to sing like he did in the eighties, and he clearly wants people to remember him as the truly great vocalist he is. Journey’s back catalogue is just too demanding and they have an insistence of playing those songs live in their original keys. Personally, I get goose bumps every time I hear Perry’s vocals. He’s a one in a million singer. You listen to once great singers like David Coverdale and Meat Loaf and they sound terrible on stage now; sometimes embarrassing. I think Perry wants people to remember him for how great he was and not for how much he struggled on stage in his final years. Sure, on record you can still sound great but the live stage is the true test. I don’t think Perry liked touring much either. The Perry-Journey reunion will never happen. Journey need to move forwards not backwards...
14. How easy or difficult is for someone to write a book? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
It is a very difficult time now for publishers and writers because of the internet. I’m glad I don’t have to rely on solely on my writings from a financial perspective although the books do supplement my income from the day job. It all depends on the idea; what I think is a great idea, publishers might think is not commercial at all. Getting a book commissioned can be harder work than actually writing the book. With each book I have improved. Everybody has different working methods.
15. What is the situation in the book market? Are the royalties enough for an author so as to make a living?
I know only a handful of writers who write full-time; some do quite well actually but most starve. I like the idea of a day job, a secure monthly wage and benefits etc. I think I’d get bored being home all day long. I have never written full-time; never made enough money for that. I’ve written 10 books now with more due so it shows just how difficult it can be.
16. How you been affected by the piracy in e-books?
I don’t really know if I have been affected by this; you’d have to ask the publishers. I reckon I have been affected by the lack of high street book stores though. The only chain left in the UK is Waterstone’s and they don’t seem to be doing too well at present. HMV sells books but at discount prices so you see less of a return in royalties. Martin Popoff has the right idea: go to self-publishing. There are so many different routes now because of digital publishing. I think Martin is doing really well with them. I have done four print on demand books and will do more in future though I have yet to make serious money. It’s a learning curve.
17. What other books do you have on mind for the future?
I’m trying to get an idea of mine for another major rock bio published but it is taking time. However, I do have a CD sized book out this summer on British Steel published by Wymer and a coffee table book out next spring on Iron Maiden published by Voyageur. Check out www.neildaniels.com for details. Thanks!