Arnel Pineda Wasn’t Journey’s First Choice, Deen Castronovo Recalls

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Imagine Journey’s renowned vocalist Steve Perry singing out “Don’t Stop Believin” in front of a sea of adoring fans when you think of the band. Since Perry’s departure in 1998, the band has had a few other lead singers. Deen Castronovo, the drummer for Journey, recently made some startling admissions on the Thunder Underground podcast regarding the band’s lengthy search for the ideal vocalist before settling on Arnel Pineda.

The lead vocalist position has experienced the most changes in the Journey line-up. Steve Augeri took over when Perry departed the group and served in that capacity from 1998 to 2006. Jeff Scott Soto briefly filled Augeri’s shoes after his departure in 2006, but he was fired the following year. Jeff Scott Soto briefly filled Augeri’s shoes after his departure in 2006, but he was fired the following year. The band was still searching for their next singer at this time.

When questioned about the possibility of taking up the main vocal responsibilities, Castronovo reflected on the time between Augeri and Pineda. There was considerable debate about Deen taking the microphone, but he finally rejected the notion, according to Deen. Although he was already a skilled drummer, he didn’t think he had what it took to be the lead singer of a band like Journey.

Jeff Scott Soto, another excellent vocalist, was already playing with the band at the time, he said. But once Soto left, the notion of Castronovo taking over as lead singer was once more floated. Despite giving it some thought, everyone in the band came to the conclusion that Deen wasn’t the ideal choice to be the band’s leader.

When asked if he could fill in for Augeri and Pineda’s lead vocals, Castronovo responded: “There was talk about it, but I was like, ‘No, no.’ They were like, ‘We should get Deen up there.’ ‘Well, no’ [laughing]. And that was early on. Jeff [Soto] was in the band. Another incredible vocalist. He was doing his duties. When they let Jeff go, they were like, ‘Maybe we should get Deen.’

I think we all agreed I was not that special person to front a band. You gotta have that thing. Whatever that is, the charisma or [something else]. Whatever they wanna call it. With the drums, I can go all crazy. That’s why I’m doing it with Revolution Saints. I’m gonna try my thing, and if I fail, I hope Jeff and Joel are there.”

Arnel Pineda was finally found by Journey on YouTube and given the coveted lead vocalist role in 2007. Since then, Pineda has effectively carried the flame, winning over new admirers while gratifying ardent followers. As a result, Journey’s search for the ideal vocalist was a meandering path with many unforeseen detours.

Insight into the band’s decision-making process and commitment to selecting the ideal frontman is provided through Deen Castronovo’s memories. Castronovo has continued to sing and play drums with the band Revolution Saints despite not being chosen to be the main vocalist. Arnel Pineda’s strong voice and charismatic stage presence, meanwhile, continue to wow audiences with Journey.

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