Castronovo‘s 17-year tenure with JOURNEY ended in 2015 when the group fired him after his arrest for a variety of charges involving his now-wife (including physical abuse, coercion, and unlawful use of a weapon). Drummer Steve Smith, who first played with JOURNEY from 1973 to 1985, returned to the iconic act following Castronovo‘s departure but was fired in March after he was accused by guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain of launching an “ill-conceived corporate coup d’etat” in an attempt to gain control of the band’s name.
Castronovo, who has played with THE DEAD DAISIES for the past three years, discussed a possible renewed collaboration with JOURNEY during a recent interview with Jeff Cramer. Asked if he got the call from Schon to return to the band following Smith‘s latest exit, Deen said: “Well, yes and no. I mean he talked to me and said, ‘What are you doing, bro? What are you up to?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m doing the DAISIES still, and I’ve got this other project with Jay DeMarcus from RASCAL FLATTS and Jason Scheff from CHICAGO called THE RISE ABOVE.’ THE RISE ABOVE just do little, tiny corporate things when the DAISIES aren’t doing stuff. And he was, like, ‘Wow, man. Well, I’m letting you know right now there are some big changes coming up, so check it out. It’s gonna blow your mind.’ So I said, ‘Are you asking me back? Did something happen with Smith?’ And he goes, ‘You’ll see in a few more days.’ And then boom, all of that stuff came out with Smith and Ross Valory fired from JOURNEY.”
He continued: “I didn’t know what to say. I kept calling, like, ‘Are you guys gonna ask me back? Is that kinda what’s going on?’ He said, ‘Bro, we’re not sure yet. Just kinda stick tight. We’re not sure what we’re gonna do.’ And then they ended up going in a different direction. Jonathan thought, ‘Well, you know, instead of going backwards, let’s go forwards. We’ll get Randy Jackson again on bass and Narada Michael Walden,’ who’s an animal drummer, an amazing singer, songwriter, and producer. So they decided to go in that direction, and I understood. You can’t get any better than Narada and Randy Jackson. I mean seriously, they’re great.
“And when this was all going on with JOURNEY, it was pre-COVID,” Deen added. “THE DEAD DAISIES were supposed to start rehearsals in April, so if I did get the offer for JOURNEY, I couldn’t do that to the DAISIES, give them like four weeks to find a drummer that sang. That’s rough. I mean, JOURNEY is a huge thing, but I’ve got to be able to sleep at night too, and even if they had said, ‘Look, come back,’ I don’t know if I could have… I couldn’t do that to the DAISIES. I couldn’t do that to any band. That’s just not right to do. There are certain things you don’t do in this business, and having those guys try to find somebody in four weeks before a major tour would have been really cold-blooded.
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“Neal and I still talk a lot, and I wish him well. As for me, I’m grateful that I’m still doing what I love, maybe not on a grand scale like JOURNEY, but at least I’m doing what I love and making a good living doing it.”
Last year, Deen played several shows with Neal under the “Neal Schon’s Journey Through Time” banner. Joining them were founding JOURNEY and SANTANA singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie, bassist Marco Mendoza of THE DEAD DAISIES and THIN LIZZY, a musician named Chris Collins (on guitar and keyboards) and super-producer Marti Frederiksen (multi-instrumentalist, vocals).
JOURNEY unveiled its revamped lineup this past May with a socially distanced performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” during UNICEF USA‘s virtual event “UNICEF We Won’t Stop”.