How Jonathan Cain’s Breakthrough Helped Spark New Journey Music
From "Faithfully" to faith, Journey's return to new music has also brought the band's keyboardist, guitarist and composer Jonathan Cain back to some fresh tunes of his own - specifically the single "Oh Lord Lead Us."
Outside the band, Cain has immersed himself in Christian music in recent years, to the tune of five albums, including the 2017 holiday set Unsung Noel. But his faith in faith-based music was tested recently.
"I had given up on writing worship music for a while," says Cain, whose wife, Paula White, is a televangelist and author who served as an advisor to Donald Trump during his presidency. Cain contracted a brief case of COVID-19 in September that he says passed quickly. The pandemic, however, pushed him to pick up the pen and try to write again.
"I saw the fear and panic and anxiety in the society, and I said, 'It's time to write something that's positive,'" recalls Cain, who filmed the video for "Oh Lord Lead Us" last month at Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. "And God just kept at me and kept at me, so I opened my Bible one morning and there was [1 Chronicles 16:11]: 'Look to the lord for strength/Always seek his presence.' And I was like, 'Oh, yeah, that's it.' That's what triggered it. All I needed was that one scripture, and I said, 'Yeah, Lord, lead us. Lead us through this mess.'"
You can watch the exclusive premiere of Cain's "Oh Lord Lead Us" video below.
Cain adds that he was also looking for "a New Year's feeling" for the song, an arena-caliber anthem he premiered during the holiday at the City of Destiny Church in Florida, where his wife is also pastor. He recorded the track - along with others that will be part of a new EP, likely out this fall - at his own Addiction Sound Studios in Nashville, joined by Jason Derlatka, a Journey auxiliary musician who's been promoted to full-time membership in the band and is, according to Cain, "Journey's secret weapon."
He adds that he "had my hands full, going back to worship [music] and writing Journey at the same time. It was interesting that Neal [Schon] and Narada [Michael Walden] were writing a lot of songs needing lyrics, and I was just writing them, supernaturally. I heard a song, and the lyrics were done in a couple hours." He feels it was a reward for his reengagement. "I believe my prolificacy came from being obedient to God's calling - 'Well, bring me some worship music and I will give you lyrics to the Journey album. I'll fill your head with whatever you need.' And it seemed like whatever I had to come up with, I came up with it."
The first fruits of that were heard in "The Way We Used To Be," which came out last month and marks the first new material by Journey's latest lineup, which also includes singer Arnel Pineda and bassist Randy Jackson, who played with the band in the mid-'80s. It emerges after Cain and Schon successfully fought off an alleged "attempted corporate coup d'etat" by former members Ross Valory and Steve Smith, which led to their firings. Cain says the drama is behind the band now, with Journey's focus firmly on the future now.
"It was sort of a shocking thing, that brothers had come to that," he says. "We had to sort it out. You get lemons, you make lemonade - what else are you gonna do? It's probably not that out of the ordinary for bands to do this kind of stuff, and it's usually based on greed or whatever. I really am glad it's behind us, and I wish everybody well, really. I have no ill will towards anyone."
Cain says the new Journey album is "close to being done," though with no release date set as of yet. There's a tentative title, which he's not revealing, and the package is being designed by Jim Welch, who worked with the band on several classic albums, including Infinity, Departure and Escape.
"It's typical Journey, I think," Cain says. "We're back to our old sound, but it's got a little bit more on the bottom end. It's got fire. It's just a little bit more edge to it. Neal's playing his butt off, and it's very driven, very cool. The songs came very interesting. I like it a lot."
Journey return to the road on July 29, with a warm-up show at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom before playing at Lollapalooza two days later. A handful of other dates are on tap, as well as a December residency at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (formerly the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino) and a full-scale tour in 2022.
"It's gonna be great," says Cain, a Chicago native. "It's a long time coming. I know that the fans have missed it. So have we. I think when you take something away, like what happened during [the pandemic], that purpose becomes more urgent. I think COVID taught us all how lucky we were, how fortunate our lives have been. When that purpose is taken away, we want it even more. I think we'll all enjoy life a lot more and hopefully ... appreciate each other better."