G UITAR STUDIO
Neal Schon Has His IonU
Were you influenced by anything
in particular when you wrote the
album? I know it’s different from
your Higher Octave releases. I like
your tone much better on I on U.
I definitely wanted to give it a bit more
releases I recorded what they wanted
and dabbled in that area for a bit, and
it was fun for a second. But I look at
it like each solo project should all be
different. I don’t want to repeat myself
on any one record; I’d rather go all
over different genres.
I had the chord changes in my head and was
working on creating a power ballad, a bit
darker with classical-oriented changes like
the old Journey song, “Mother Father” from
the album Escape. Producer Kevin Shirley
encouraged me to put an instrumental on
this record. I went home with a few ideas and
played the chord structures down to a little
digital recorder and laid down some guitar
and drum loops. I really liked the way it came
out and played it for Kevin, who loved it.
Kevin then edited down the song a bit and
had me cut it live for the record. We also
added a longer intro and did some trippy
reverse guitar on the outro.
I on U is a great album. I love the
instrumental vibe—it just sings with
great composing. I like how you combined your signature sound along
with urban new grooves. Can you tell
us a little about it?
Not many guitarists have such a rich musical
history as Neal Schon. He made his musical
debut with Santana as rhythm guitarist in the
late sixties at age sixteen and went on to
co-found the band Journey with bandmate
is that he’s always remained musically active
with his side projects outside of the mega-hit-making machine Journey. Who could forget
his great collaboration with Jan Hammer in
the eighties? That’s why I wasn’t surprised
to find his solo release on Favored Nations
entitled I on U to be creative and refreshing. Working alongside Russian keyboardist-
tracks showcasing Neal’s classic rock tones
with the modern drum programming flair of
Igor. The haunting melodies of Neal’s guitar-driven tracks flowing over the lush keyboard
changes induce a sophisticated, cinematic
feel throughout the album—but without forsaking his shredding, screaming leads and
signature tone. I had the pleasure of sitting
down and speaking with Neal Schon about I
on U and his new journey with Journey.
I worked with a keyboardist by the
a lot of working with Jan Hammer. He
is right up there with Jan and a very
talented musician and composer. We
just went at it everyday and came up with
the material. We sort of just winged it with
Pro Tools, as opposed to going into the stu-
dio with a very structured schedule. I think
I do my best when I’m not thinking about
it too much; more off the cuff and from the
heart, not the brain.
The album was recorded at The Plant in
Studio B in Sausalito, which has an old Neve
Desk with a couple of 24-track analog Studer
recording machines. We also used the new
HD Pro Tools, which has some really impressive converter sounds. I was amazed with
the fidelity and how much Pro Tools had
improved. The old Pro Tools sounds used
to leave me cold, because everything got
squashed in the middle and it didn’t have
that giant spectrum of fidelity that you get
out from using analog tape. You get low, low
bottom end and nice highs and nice mids
that sound like night and day from the old
Pro Tools. We then had it engineered by John
Neff and mixed by Kevin Shirley at Studio at
What’s your recording set up on I on U?
It was mostly direct. I used a lot of Roland
It was all done on Pro Tools. I did a lot of
have access to a large studio where you can
set up a couple of great sounding amps, the
working studio at the time, so we just used
an empty room and set up shop and laid
Cirimelli at Amulet Music in Nashville.
Being a real professional, Neal understands
his craft and the making of a good-sound-ing record. For those of you who want to
delve into Neal’s solo side, I recommend
picking up I on U from Favored Nations.
Keeping with his classic Journey sound,
Revelation is a true journey into his self-preservation of his craft.
The title track, “Revelation,” on the new
Journey album is a guitar instrumental.
How did that come about?
Emmy Award winning guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a
Top 20 hit in the nineties with “ The Best of Acid Jazz,
vol. 2 ” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10
hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica
band, Asphalt Jungle Tarquin has scored TV music for
such shows as CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My
Children and many others.