Nearly 15 years after Journey made ‘Trial By Fire,’ the 1996 studio album which came as a result of a short-lived reunion with original lead singer Steve Perry, it’s still a frequent question - will Perry ever come back?

Guitarist Neal Schon tells Ultimate Classic Rock that when he gets that question, “I always answer it the same way and then everybody writes it like it’s the first time I ever said it.” Schon explains, “you know, it’s like, I’ve been saying it forever that we’ve always left the door open, you know? We didn’t kick Steve out -- he walked.”

The touring that Perry did as a solo artist in the ‘90s would later lend important influence towards Journey’s decision to continue with a new lead vocalist at the helm. “He went on to pursue his solo stuff and went out there playing our material before we did. He was out doing a solo tour and he was playing Journey songs and so at that point, I went 'there’s no harm in Jon [Jonathan Cain] and I trying to reform this band,' because we [were very involved too].”

Schon does wish that he could have open communication with his former band mate. “I hope that someday, that we can get to the point to where I can pick up the telephone and I can talk to him without talking through management and attorneys. I still don’t quite realize why we can’t just talk one on one, for whatever reason, just to say hello -- not to pressure anybody to do anything or anything like that -- it wouldn’t be like that, just in a friendly manner.”

Checking in from the road, where Journey is once again in the midst of a lengthy summer tour, this time with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, Schon says “I don’t see that there’s any end to this band right now, we’re so strong. Everybody’s getting older, but we still have so much energy and we’re doing great out here.”

The veteran guitarist will release ‘The Calling’ on October 23, a brand new solo album which finds Schon reuniting with former Journey drummer Steve Smith, who plays on the bulk of the album.

Stay tuned for more of our conversation with Neal about that album and other subjects, very soon!