“Don’t Stop Believin’ : Everyman’s Journey” tells the story of how Journey, the mega successful American rock band, was reborn through social media and unknown singer plucked from obscurity.
Directed, written and produced by Ramona S. Diaz, “Don’t Stop Believin’ : Everyman’s Journey,” begins in an unknown city in the Philippines with Arnel Pineda explaining the reasons why it would be impossible that he could ever be a rock star. In fact, the initial sequences of the film are so far removed from the heart of the documentary, that without knowing the story one may think they are in the wrong theater, and only understood in retrospect.
Granted the rock world may have thought Journey was a left over summer tour staple, a B side band, a has been from the great rock and roll era that the 1970’s and 1980’s produced. What most didn’t know is that after Steve Perry Journey went on to write, produce, and tour and while the drive of the original band members was still strong the audience, and front man, changed.
It’s not uncommon for bands to replace their front man for any reason, sickness, voice trouble, simple burn out. Journey is no different. Anybody who knows Journey from the ’80’s understands Steve Perry was the front man who brought the band enough number one hits, including the namesake hit of this documentary, and help create the signature sound they wanted to maintain and recreate as Perry’s run with the band ended.
What was most interesting about the “Don’t Stop Believin’ : Everyman’s Journey,” and granted the back story of a Filipino lounge singer recorded by his number one fan, who would sit for upwards of eight hours, loading videos to YouTube is truly interesting, and still the fact that Journey’s original members were set for a big tour, an album, booked dates and no front man creates suspense and even told after the fact is highly intriguing.
Neal Schon, as the documentary portrays, was internet trolling late, hoping for someone, that could fill the front position at least, minimally for the tour. After using every Journey search term he could think of, alone and in combinations, he stumbled on Pineda and, according to the documentary, after listening to sing a rendition of one of their original hits, he knew.
Which led to an all-nighter gathering every Pineda video he could find, he calls up the other members of band and tells them he found someone. All is well. Except someone is in the Philippines which, well, after viewing the videos, they figured they didn’t have anything to lose so they called him. Yes. They picked up the telephone and called Pineda who was singing Journey songs as a lounge act and told him they saw the YouTube videos and asked would he like to audition for Journey.
Pineda born and raised by his own admission, and included in the film, in the slums of the Philippines. As recounted his mother died and his father took his brother and left him to live in the streets. In triumph, he returns with fellow Journey band members to the very park where he would sleep.
Pineda has given the band new life, with footage of the concerts, it’s clear that Journey received more than a singer with Pinda, they received a country and a new generation of fans. He is extremely talented although the film does momentarily portray him as somewhat arrogant, especially for someone who admittedly was a street person deeply drug and alcohol addicted with no way out with zero possibility of ever having the life that he now has.
“Don’t Stop Believin’ : Everyman’s Journey” is a fantasy trip into American rock and roll history, a must see for groupies and historians alike. As times change and the iconic rock era revolution becomes part of a collective time in America’s past it is good to see great revivals, like Journey, breathe new life into a classic rock and roll sound.
The film features lead singer Arnel Pineda and original Journey members Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory and Deen Castronovo. It was an Official Selection of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival and San Diego Asian Film Festival.
“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” has a running time of 105 minutes. Cinedigm / Docurama Films will release the film on Friday, March 8 and it will be available on VOD on Saturday, March 9.