Written by: Frank Iacono
Have you ever wished you could have the authentic Journey experience in the days of the masterful voice of Steve Perry and the supreme musicianship and chemistry of guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bassist Ross Valory, and drummer Steve Smith? Then Separate Ways The Band is the must-see experience for you!
Separate Ways The Band consists of five highly talented musicians lead by vocalist Dan Gagliano. Separate Ways The Band has been described as the ultimate Journey Tribute Show on the east coast. They are the closest you’ll get to recreating the “live” mid 80’s line-up of Journey and their sound. Dan has worked very hard to ensure that his tribute show is truly an accurate portrayal of the Steve Perry era in every way, including all of the subtle nuances, inflections, harmonies, and visual gratifications.
Dan and his fellow musicians in Separate Ways The Band have played all of Journey’s biggest hits all over the country from the Empire Casino in Yonkers, NY to Rockin On The River in Troy, NY to Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes Barre, PA to Hollywood Casino in Grantville, PA to Fagers Island in Ocean City, MD to Rose Tree Park in Media, PA to the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA.
In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Gagliano and asking him a few questions about his musical background, his favorite rock songs, his band, his tribute show, and his overall passion and love for the legendary band Journey.
TCS: At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?
I think I was 7 or 8; it was right after I got my first KISS album. I remember getting my first guitar that same Christmas.
TCS: Did you think early on that you sounded like Steve “The Voice” Perry or was it something that you discovered over time?
I think it was something that I discovered over time. I was hooked as soon as I heard “Don’t Stop Believing.” I played that Escape album so much that it wore through to the other side, and I just sang along until it did. One day I realized that I could hit the notes and sounded pretty close, so I just continued to work my butt off to get as close as I could to that amazing “Voice” of Steve Perry.
TCS: Introduce us to Separate Ways The Band lineup?
- Jason Mitchell – Guitar and Backing Vocals
- Mike “Bass” Llewellyn – Bass Guitar and Vocals
- Danny Gagliano – Lead Vocals
- Dave Ramani – Drums
- Mick Loro – Keyboards and Vocals
TCS: So how long have you guys been playing together and how did this all start?
Back in the summer of 2001, I joined a Journey tribute band called “Worlds Apart”. In January of 2004, in an attempt to attract more fans and perform at bigger and better venues, we changed the name to Separate Ways. Still eager to get the band better gigs I realized, that in order to do that, I needed to make some changes, so we went our Separate Ways in December of 2009. At that point, my friend and Manager Frank Kielb helped me form Separate Ways The Band.
Between auditioning and performing with different musicians from January 2010 to December 2010, I was lucky to find the current lineup, we’ve been together since January of 2011.
TCS: Are you guys ever criticized for being a tribute band? And, why do you think tribute bands have become so prominent in the past ten years or so?
To my knowledge, we’ve never been criticized for being a tribute band. I’m sure people may have said in conversation “why don’t they write and perform their own songs?” And, if approached with that question I’d say, “I have, most of us have, in fact Jason, is currently in an original project, but we also love performing these songs, and that’s why we do it.”
In my opinion, I think tribute bands have become so prominent because of so many reasons…one reason could be the excitement of seeing someone impersonate your favorite band or performer, another reason could be the price, you could see a tribute band for a third of the price of the original act and the third reason is that you will see and hear them perform mostly the popular songs of the artist they are paying tribute to.
TCS: What do you feel sets Separate Ways The Band apart from other Journey tribute bands?
Setting aside the fact that we pay close attention the smallest details, we literally play and sing all of the parts. There are no additional back-up singers, no additional backing tracks, and no musical sampling of any kind.
Unlike one band, that will remain nameless, all of their keyboard parts are sampled. They hit the play button, the keyboard parts start and the band plays along. It’s half live band/half karaoke. No spontaneity, no extended guitar solo, no extended sing alongs, no life.
Same tempo every time. It’s just my opinion but it’s not the same.
They also use a Harmonizer, which means that one person (in addition to the lead singer) sings one of the Harmony lines and the harmonizer produces the other two parts, instant Three part Harmony, but it’s not the same as having true human three part harmony, it’s stale, sterile and lifeless.
I also look and sound a lot like Steve Perry. No wig, no surgery, no crazy affect gadgets, no lip singing; good nights and yes, sometimes bad nights but it’s all me and it’s all real.
I try to dress the part and imitate Steve’s mannerisms and stage persona.
But it’s my show and it’s my job to make sure everyone is having a good time, so sometimes I sway from my Steve Perry persona and sit on a lap or two and sing a song to someone in the audience.
TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Separate Ways The Band sculpt your sound and your stage performances?
Yes, that is true, which is why we pay so much attention to the small details. Not only do these guys have to be able to duplicate the playing style of members of Journey, which is not an easy task, but they also need to duplicate the sounds of their instruments. That’s not even mentioning the 3 sometimes 4 part vocal harmonies. Then we get to the lead vocals, well, they’re a challenge from the first note to the last, and I try to pay so much attention to every little breath, sign, and nuance of his vocals. How he pronounces certain words, how he holds his notes, his timing, his phrasing, etc.
I bust my butt to get as close as I can, to pay a true tribute to Steve Perry and Journey.
I think I do a good job and I think I get close, probably closer than most but the fact is Steve Perry is one gifted individual, with one special voice, and I’m happy to get as close as I do to sound like him.
TCS: What’s the hardest aspect of re-creating a Journey show?
That’s a tough question, because there are so many aspects to factor in to re-create a Journey show. Musically it’s a task because the musicians in Journey are so talented so to duplicate each individual piece takes a lot of time to get just right.
Vocally it’s another task. Steve Perry’s voice is a challenge all by itself, from his tone, range, technique, phrasing, etc., it’s a full time job to just duplicate the lead vocals, and then factor in the backing vocals, which are not just your everyday backing vocals. If that wasn’t hard enough, then factor in the aspect of pulling it off LIVE, and entertaining an audience.
Yes, that’s right, you need to factor in entertaining an audience, because we don’t just stand there and play a bunch of Journey songs, we re-create the live Journey show and I try my hardest to make sure that everyone in our audience is having a great time and enjoying our show, put that all together and it’s almost an Olympic event.
TCS: Have you ever met Steve Perry? If yes, please explain to us where you met and how did that encounter go?
In regard to me meeting Steve, yes I did meet him, way back in 1994. He was doing a radio interview at WBAB Radio station here on Long Island taking about the release of his new solo album, “For the Love of Strange Medicine.” I took a picture with him and I’m sure I have it around here somewhere. I wasn’t in a Journey Tribute band at that time but even then I must’ve resembled Steve because I remember someone at the radio station saying “Hey look, a younger version of Steve Perry”. LOL.
As far as how did it go, well, it went great, I don’t remember saying anything except “Hello”, as I was in shock, very similar to the very first time a met Santa Claus. LOL. I really couldn’t even find the words to say how big of a fan I was and how much he and his music had touched my life, even back then.
Hopefully, thanks to the Internet, Steve knows of me, has seen maybe one or two of my videos and can tell, by my tribute to him and Journey, how much he has influenced, affected and touched my life, and so many others, with his amazing voice and wonderful songs.
TCS: How many gigs does Separate Ways The Band play annually and what and where are the venues?
Currently we have about 12 gigs scheduled for 2013 in PA, OH, DE, NY, NJ, and FL.
Due to Hurricane Sandy we’re behind from our previous years gig schedule, but that should pick up.
TCS: Do you guys ever perform internationally? And, if you could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would you perform?
Yes, we have performed in Trinidad, twice and we’re looking forward to returning next summer.
As for the question “if you could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would you perform?”
Anyplace where they love live entertainment and the music of Journey.
TCS: So what kinds of music do you guys listen to outside of the genre that you play?
I’ve always loved songs with great lyrics, songs that I could relate to, and songs with great vocals.
I enjoy all different genres from Rock, Pop, Country, and etc.
TCS: What are the most requested Journey songs at your shows?
I’m sure you know them; they are quickly referred to as the dirty dozen:
- “Don’t Stop Believing”
- “Separate Ways”
- “Open Arms”
- “Stone in Love”
- “Any Way You Want It”
- Wheel In The Sky
- “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'”
- “Send Her My Love”
- “Who’s Crying Now”
- “I’ll Be Alright Without You”
TCS: Of the songs that Separate Ways The Band plays from Journey’s extensive library which are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from Journey you or the band loves that is not included in the set? If yes, then why.
I love the hits of course, but then there are songs like “Mother, Father”, “After the Fall”, “Edge Of The Blade”, “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever”, “Suzanne”, and “Sweet and Simple” just to name a few that I really love.
They’re probably considered to be “B” sides, not really hits, but musically and vocally they are amazing.
We perform “Mother, Father”, “After the Fall”, “Edge of the Blade”, in our show sometimes, just to spice things up a bit. We haven’t added “Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever”, “Suzanne”, and “Sweet and Simple”, but we might.
Some people may criticize us for mostly playing all the hits and not too much of the obscure songs, but I look at it like this, we’re here to put on a great show and entertain the audience, it’s not just about us having fun and enjoying the music, it’s about us and the audience having fun and enjoying the music.
TCS: What’s your favorite song of all time?
OMG, that is so hard to answer. There are so many songs, and not just Journey songs, that have a special meaning to me. Kind of like the soundtrack to my life, everyone’s life, for that matter. For example, there’s the song that reminds you of your first love, first lost love, best friend, your worst enemy, your happiest times, your worst times, finding love again, having a baby, the song that brings a tear to your eye at the thought of your child, husband/wife/lover, or the loss of someone real close to your heart.
There are way too many favorite songs for me to name just one.
TCS: Why do you think 80’s music is still so enjoyable, even for new generations?
I think 80’s music is still so enjoyable, even for new generations because people can relate to the song or story. “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely word”, people can feel that, they know that girl, they’re friends with that girl, they are that girl.
“I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride, I’m wanted, Dead or Alive”, I know, it’s Bon Jovi, not Journey but once again, people can relate. “That steel horse is your car, a bus or a train, getting you to work, where your boss squeezes every ounce of productivity out of you ‘til you’re dead.” That guy is someone’s husband, father or maybe even them self. People can relate, that’s why 80’s music is still so enjoyable.
TCS: What is the most interesting Separate Ways The Band road story?
I guess we’re a pretty boring band off the stage, I can’t think of any interesting road stories, no Televisions thrown out of hotel room windows, no crazy car accidents, or, thank God, no drug induced coma’s or overdoses.
But one funny story does come to mind. As I said earlier, sometimes I walk of stage during a song or two and sing to people in the audience, and mind you, I sing to everyone, young, old, male, female, short, tall, big or small. Everyone is fair game, LOL. It’s usually a lot of fun, some people sing along, some people get shy and look away but again, it’s all about having fun.
One night while performing up in Newport Rhode Island, I was doing my thing and I saw some couple, they were in their late 40’s early 50’s, seemed nice, so I decided I would sing to them. Just to clarify, I’m in a committed relationship with the same woman for 5 years, so I’m not trying to hook up or do anything inappropriate, I just figured I sing to this woman. Well, her husband or boyfriend or whatever he was wanted no part of that, so as I approached them…. Are you ready? He hit me with my own microphone. Can you believe that, assault with a deadly microphone? Realizing that this guy was crazy or just had a really bad inferiority complex I just walked away, and had security throw him and his lady friend out.
Other than that it’s been a great 12 years, some ups and some downs but it’s definitely been worth the Journey.
TCS: Besides Journey, if you could play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose?
Of course, Journey and Steve Perry, but I would also love to play a set with Bon Jovi, Heart, KISS and, don’t laugh, Air Supply.
TCS: Have you played with other Journey tribute bands and what type of reaction have you received?
No we have never played with other Journey tribute bands.
During the year that I was auditioning musicians I did have members of other Journey tribute bands fill in for a gig or two.
TCS: What advice do you have for new tribute bands trying to get established?
Pick a band that you love and perform their songs to the best of your ability. Do it because you love the music, because you want to share the music and keep the music of that band alive.
TCS: What’s the future look like for Separate Ways The Band?
That we continue to perform the songs of this amazing band, for our wonderful families, friends and fans, at the great venues and clubs that we currently play at and some new places as well.
Why Should You Go See Separate Ways The Band
Don’t miss the Ultimate Tribute to the music of Journey with Separate Ways The Band.
Separate Ways The Band is the closest you’ll get to see the early-mid 80’s line-up of Journey live, ever. An accurate portrayal of the Steve Perry era is duplicated in every way. Experience all of the subtle nuances, inflections, harmonies and visual gratifications of seeing the original Journey show.
Separate Ways The Band brings the highest level of musicianship to the audience while showing a true respect for the music of Journey. An evening with Separate Ways The Band is truly an “unforgettable” experience, which is why they are “the next best thing to Journey!”
For more information on Separate Ways The Band, please visit them on the following:
Don’t miss the Ultimate Tribute to the music of Journey with Separate Ways The Band!
About Frank Iacono
Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.
Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.