Arnel Pineda said he hoped the first moments of his debut show with Journey would be the way his upcoming biopic ends. He also recalled how the band had to force him to go onstage to begin his new career.

The singer made his first appearance in Chile in 2008, after having been discovered via YouTube videos of his Journey covers. With 13 years of shared history between him and the band, he can now laugh about what he told guitarist Neal Schon that night before he started to sing “Separate Ways.”

“I was trying to back out five minutes before,” Pineda told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “I was like, ‘Neal, I cannot do this. This is not built for me.’ They were like, ‘No. It’s too late. Get out there and do it.’” He recalled another moment, three years later: “We were playing to a 30,000 crowd that night. I was telling my wife, ‘Remember Hard Rock Cafe when there were only three tables? Now it’s 30,000 people.’ It was just unbelievable. It doesn’t get old to me. It’s still so surreal and bizarre.”

He said he felt “blessed," adding, "I can’t thank them enough, especially Neal Schon. He was the one that was really sold that I [should be] the one since 2007. ... The band keeps changing my life in ways nobody would ever guess would happen.”

Pineda said he kept out of the kind of situations that led to last year’s lineup change and that he remained friends with bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith, even though they were fired.

“We had a real bond that nobody can deny,” the singer reflected. “When the first day came that Steve Smith went back, I could feel that he was trying to feel everything out and observe. When he got the good vibe again, we clicked. Four years with him was very special. And 11 years with Ross was amazing. I cannot ask for anything more. Those friendships I’ll take with me until the end of time.”


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