The Setlist: Neal Schon of Journey

1. BUDDY GUY SIGNATURE BG-95 DUNLOP WAH “I don’t use wah that much, but when I do I like this particular model. I like the way it tapers off. I also like its treble throw. I’ve got a bunch of wah-wahs—I collect them—and I just think that’s one of the best sounding I’ve got.”

2. VOX SATCHURATOR DISTORTION PEDAL “I remember Satch was rehearsing right next door to us a while back, and he had a couple of prototypes he was playing through. Curiosity got me when I saw one in a local music store, so I picked it up. It’s got a hell of a lot of gain which I like, plus it has a lot of variables. I use it to get a creamy distortion tone.”

3. XOTIC AC BOOSTER PEDAL “This is a little like the Satch pedal but with not as much overdrive. It’s a very cool, grainy effect that really doesn’t alter the tone that much; it just pushes the speakers a little harder. That’s what I like about the Xotic pedals—they’re pretty transparent.”

4. XOTIC RC BOOSTER PEDAL “This one has more of an old Ibanez Tube Screamer vibe. It’s more noticeable when used on a clean setting, so I like to use it when my amp’s on clean and I want a little more punch to hit the speakers.”

5. “NEVER WALK AWAY” “Why are we opening with a brand-new song? Because we’ve gone Platinum with the new record, Revelation, that’s why! We’ve got to stay on top of our game. For our next tour I’m planning to mess with arrangements and add some bits and pieces to our material. I think it’s important for us to move on, because there are so many tribute bands out there playing our old stuff exactly like the records. I don’t see why we have to do that too.” [laughs]

6. GUITAR SEGWAY “This is just me winging it and playing whatever comes out. There are no rules or routine to what I do. It was structured in the past, but then there was no spot in the set where I could really cut loose and play whatever I wanted. So now I just go for it. The following song, ‘Stone in Love,’ starts with just the rhythm guitar part, so it’s the perfect song for me to segue into.”

7. “KEEP ON RUNNIN’ ” “This was just a fun song that I bashed out with the guys back in the Eighties. It’s adrenaline rock, and it’s a bit punkish. It has a rougher edge than a lot of our other material, and I like that side of the band, especially when we’re playing live.”

8. “SEPARATE WAYS” “We’ve moved this song all over the place—we’ve opened with it, we’ve closed with it, and we’ve stuck it in the center of the set. It doesn’t matter where we put this song because it has always had a strong effect on the audience, all the way back to the first time we played it—before it was even recorded. It was written on tour and we threw it in the set to see how it would go down. The audience had an amazing reaction to it without even knowing what it was. A big part of Journey’s influence comes from Motown mixed with R&B and blues, and that’s pretty much where ‘Separate Ways’ is coming from. It’s got a heavier guitar than an R&B song, but I think that’s what makes it sound like Journey.”

9. KEY[BOARD] SEGWAY “I go have a little drink of water and just chill out for a second. It’s nice to have a little break, because our set moves quite fast.”

10. “DON’T STOP BELIEVING” “I found out recently that this song has been downloaded more than any other song in history. So it’s definitely a monster that we have to play every night!”

11. “WHEEL IN THE SKY” “This has become a classic Journey song, and I like the whole vibe of it. I remember I came up with this song after listening to a Fleetwood Mac record. We were on the road, and [Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album] Rumours had just been released. I was checking out some of Lindsey Buckingham’s fingerpicking stuff, and it kind of stuck with me. Sometimes things just rub off. I’ll remember a bit of something I like, take it and make it my own.”

12. “ANYWAY YOU WANT IT” “This is another one of those songs that people like to hear. It’s energetic and very simple—there are only three chords through the whole song—and it’s set in people’s heads.”

13. “LOVIN’, TOUCHIN’, SQUEEZIN’ ” “We usually play this one at the end because it’s slower. I don’t really like to play it in the middle of a set. Plus, if we play it at the end, we can usually stretch it out a bit and jam on some blues at the front and at the end of it. It’s a fun song to mess with at the end of the night, and people know it and like it. And if we open it up a little bit by jamming, they seem to like it that much more.”

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.