Deen Castronovo says that he would have rejoined JOURNEY "in a heartbeat" if he had been asked to come back to the band.
Castronovo's 17-year tenure with JOURNEY ended in 2015 when the group fired him after his arrest for a variety of charges involving a former fiancée (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 Kiki Classic Rock. Asked if he got the call to return to the band following Smith's latest exit, Deen said (hear audio below): "I kind of got the call, but kind of didn't. It was a text. [Neal] said, 'What are you doing, man?' I said, 'I'm working with THE DEAD DAISIES. And I've got this little side project I'm doing with [ex-CHICAGO singer/bassist] Jason Scheff and Jay DeMarcus from RASCAL FLATTS. We're just doing a little country thing. And that's it.' He goes, 'My man, big changes are coming.' And he just said, 'Just get ready.' I said, 'What? Did Smith quit again?' And Neal said, 'Just wait.' And then, two days later, all that stuff came out. I was, like, 'Oh my God.' It just blew me away. I had no idea.
"It was funny, 'cause [JOURNEY was] starting rehearsals around the same time that THE DEAD DAISIES were, to go out on the road. And I was, like, 'If they do ask me, how am I gonna do that to THE DAISIES?' I can't do that to them. I can't just bail and leave four weeks before they're supposed to go on the road. That would be really cold-blooded. So it was almost good that they didn't call, but it would have been cool if they had said, 'Yeah, Deen, we want you back.' But it was one of those things. It didn't happen."
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". Joining Schon and Cain are bassist Randy Jackson, drummer Narada Michael Walden and keyboardist Jason Derlatka.
"I love Narada," Deen said. "He's an amazing producer, amazing songwriter, as well as a drummer. So that's a huge, huge ace in the hole for them. That's gonna really help them a ton — I know. He produced all of Mariah Carey's records. He's a bad boy, man — he's amazing."
Castronovo said that he is still open to the possibility of playing with JOURNEY again.
"I would have done it in a heartbeat," he said. "Are you kidding? Had it all worked out, had it all been planned right… God, are you kidding? That's where I feel the most at home. I played with them for 17 years. It was hard to have to walk away from that. But you know what? God bless. I love them to death. I still keep in contact with Neal all the time — we text and talk and stuff. And I love him to death. And I wish him the best. I told him, 'If something happens, man — if something does happen — you know who to call.' [Laughs] I'm always here. [Laughs]"
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).