Hear the Journey Tune Steve Perry Rerecorded With Steve Lukather’s Son (2024)

Hear the Journey Tune Steve Perry Rerecorded With Steve Lukather’s Son (1)

Not long after their 2022 wedding, Trev Lukather (son of Toto guitarist Steve Lukather) and Madison Cain-Lukather (daughter of Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain) were playing some vintage tunes on a road trip. They came across Journey’s 1986 song “It Could Have Been You,” which neither of them had ever heard. “We were just blown away,” Trev Lukather tells Rolling Stone. “I loved the funkiness of it, and Steve Perry’s vocals were just insane. We kept playing that song on repeat.”

It was the start of an unlikely series of events that led to Perry singing on a new version of the song with Trev Lukather’s new band the Effect, which features Nic Collins (son of Phil Collins) on drums. It’s the leadoff single from the Effect’s debut LP, landing sometime later this year. “They did an amazing version of it,” Perry tells Rolling Stone. “In my opinion, it’s completely current, refreshed, and ready to go out there and do some damage.”

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Trev Lukather was just nine years old when he first met Perry at the studio of songwriter Randy Goodrum, co-writer of Perry’s 1984 solo hits “Foolish Heart” and “Oh Sherrie.” They reconnected 11 years later, once again via Goodrum, when Trev came to Steakhouse Studios in North Hollywood to play on one of his father’s solo albums. They started chatting, and Trev invited Perry into his car to hear some music he’d created on his own. “He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, man, this is great,'” Lukather recalls. “‘When are you going to be in the studio next?’ He wound up coming by the studio. And from that moment on, Steve has just been a mentor to me, along with my dad, and just a dear brother.”

As every Journey fan knows, Perry doesn’t have a great relationship with Jonathan Cain or his other former bandmates. They haven’t worked together in nearly 30 years, and almost certainly never will again — even though a reunion would be a wildly lucrative endeavor. But he couldn’t be more fond of Cain’s son-in-law. When Trev pops into our Zoom call, Perry lights up and starts gently teasing him about his long, messy, blond hair. “The hair’s on fire, Trev,” he says. “It’s looks lovely.”

“It’s bedhead, bro,” Lukather responds. “I wake up like this, as people say.”

The conversation quickly drifts to Perry’s initial impressions of the young Lukather. “When I hear somebody that’s musically got talent, just God-given talent and not somebody who wants to be something, but truly has got this drive in them, I can’t stay away from it,” says Perry. “And that’s what happened when I heard Trev play the first time. I thought, ‘Jesus, man, this kid has taken his DNA to the next level.'”

Early in their relationship, after watching Lukather shred on the guitar, Perry gave him a crucial piece of advice that stuck with him. “He was like, ‘Let me ask you a question,” Lukather recalls. “‘What do you want in the front row: guys or girls?’ I was 20. I was like, ‘Steve, of course I want girls in the front row.’ He said, ‘Stop playing that and play front-row licks.’ That’s three words that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And he said, ‘Sing with that guitar. If you sing with that guitar, you will have girls in the front row. If you shred, you’ll have guys in the front row.’

Hear the Journey Tune Steve Perry Rerecorded With Steve Lukather’s Son (2)

“It was the best advice ever given to me,” Lukather continues. “As you see on Instagram and TikTok, there are plenty of shredders. There are eight-year-old shredders that will out-shred anyone on this planet. But there are few guitar players that sing and play melodic solos. I think of David Gilmour, Neal Schon, my pop. These guys have melodic forces on the guitar that stood out amongst the shred. And so when Steve said that to me, it changed my life. That’s the direction where I went for the rest of my playing.”

The years that followed weren’t always easy, however. He recorded an entire album with an early band, but they broke up before it ever came out due to behind-the-scenes drama. The bitter situation soured him on groups until he randomly came across singer Emmett Lee Stang’s cover of “In Your Eyes” on Instagram. He sent him a DM, they got on the phone, and decided to try making music together. Around that time, he connected with Nic Collins on a trip to Miami. “We first met at a Phil Collins concert in 2018,” says Lukather. “And when went out for dinner years later with his girlfriend Isabella, we were instant bros.”

Lukather, Collins, and Stang dubbed themselves the Effect, and they released the singles “Toxic Envy,” “Something Wrong,” and “Unwanted” last year. When they started thinking about songs to cut for a full album, Lukather played Collins and Stang “It Could Have Been You.” “They were like, ‘What is this?'” Lukather says. “Their reaction was the same as mine. That’s what sparked the idea of redoing it. I thought it would be sacrilegious to try to touch the greatest hits of Journey. Leave that to the gems that they are. But I was like, ‘This could be something that we can make our own and be really cool.'”

They invited Perry over the hear a new version they worked up. Before they knew it, Perry was adding his own vocals. “They had reimagined it so beautifully that I just had to do my best to fall into what felt right for the track and what felt believable for where they took it,” says Perry. “They had already stacked the parts that were there, and I added some embellishments and some inversional choices against their chord arrangements … All I did was follow the sketches of the backgrounds they already put in there. That’s because Trev and Emmett are both great singers.”

In Perry’s mind, the finished version is vastly superior to the Journey original back in 1986. “It’s not an easy thing to do,” he says. “I was told a long time ago, if you can’t beat the original, don’t cover it. They not only beat it, they reimagined it. The inversions are different, but this is where the sensitivity reveals itself to me … they didn’t go far enough away to where it wasn’t complementary to the original power of the melody that I wrote. It was super complementary, but different. You can’t know how difficult that is to do, but they did it.”

Days after the song hits, the Effect are kicking off an American tour opening for Billy Idol. In the summer, they head to Europe for a series of headlines dates and festival gigs, including a spot at the Isle of Wight Festival. “We’re going to close the show every night with ‘It Could Have Been You,'” says Lukather. “It’ll give us a chance to jam out and really have this huge ending. It’s also a great story, obviously, which I’m going to lay onto the crowd before we play it.”

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Hear the Journey Tune Steve Perry Rerecorded With Steve Lukather’s Son (2024)
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