Arnel Pineda sounded relaxed, even happy, while talking to the Inquirer by phone from his home in Quezon City last Saturday. The Filipino frontman of American rock band Journey is enjoying the last few weeks of his holiday break before he flies to the United States on Jan. 30 to prepare for another grueling concert tour.
The band’s website, journeymusic.com, lists 30 dates that will start in February. But Pineda said the first five of those dates were intended “to make up for shows canceled last year because I lost my voice.”
He explained that the incident was caused by acid reflux, a condition he’s had for the past 10 years. “I have a problem with my digestion … Sometimes certain foods cause excessive production of acids in my esophagus, which then make their way up to my larynx.”
He added: “Journey had to pay a lot of money for the canceled shows … But generally the tour last year was very successful, with 95 percent of the shows sold out.”
In July 2011, he injured his right leg, also while on tour in the United States.
Pineda said he’s now in fine shape and is very careful about his diet. He also makes sure to have adequate rest, although that would be wishful thinking when the new tour gets underway.
“Last year, the band was performing five nights a week and we were traveling everyday from city to city,” he pointed out.
The good news is that Journey has added Manila to the new tour dates—the concert is set on March 21 at Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
The information, also posted on Journey’s website, was confirmed by MOA Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales.
Some of the shows—which include dates in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom and Germany—will have a few other classic rock acts like Pat Benatar, Loverboy, Deep Purple and Whitesnake as coheadliners.
The MOA Arena concert will have Journey playing as a solo act.
Journey has released two albums with Pineda as lead singer—“Revelation” (2008) and “Eclipse” (2011). The latter included two songs, “She’s a Mystery” and “To Whom It May Concern,” both of which Pineda cowrote.
He said he wasn’t sure if he would get the chance to sing these songs at the MOA Arena concert. “The fans always expect us to play the hits, of course. But we’ll see.”
Pineda is likewise looking forward to Journey’s coming performance at the Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
“Beyonce will sing at half time, and we’ll be playing with Rascal Flatts before the [football] game starts,” he said.
Another show that gets Pineda excited is the March 11 gig at the Budokan in Tokyo. “That will be our biggest show in Japan,” he gushed. “It will be telecast live.”
In an e-mail chat with the Inquirer in September last year, Pineda reflected on his career with Journey which started in 2008: “I think more and more people, young and old, have come to love the things that I do with the band … Each show gets more crazy, in a positive way.”
In that same interview, he said that he was working on his own music for a solo album: “I’ve been recording my own stuff since last year (2011) and will continue to do so until it’s done. I will release it as soon as everything is finalized.”
That doesn’t mean he’s planning to leave Journey, though. Neal Schon, Journey cofounder and lead guitarist, in fact released his own solo album, “The Calling,” last year.
The last time Pineda performed here was in April last year at his own club, Rockville, on Timog Avenue, Quezon City, before he flew to New York to attend the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” Fil-Am filmmaker Ramona Diaz’s documentary on how Schon discovered him through his videos on YouTube.
Pineda revealed that Rockville has been temporarily closed and will move to a new location soon. “I’m looking at the Fort (Bonifacio Global City),” he said. “The problem with the old location in Timog was the parking.”
As for the MOA Arena concert, Pineda said: “I’m hoping the enthusiasm and pride of our countrymen [who are watching] Journey have not faded.”
Journey first performed in Manila in March 2009.