10 questions with Resurrection: A Journey Tribute front man
If you go ...
What: Resurrection: A Journey Tribute performs.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.
When: Thursday, July 19, 8 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $30.
More information: Visit www.vilarpac.org. The 535-seat Vilar Center is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek.
Ever since Ryan Christopher was a teenager in the late ’80s listening to Journey tapes on his Walkman, he knew that’s what he wanted to be.
Now, in 2018, Christopher is living that dream to the absolute fullest as he leads Resurrection: A Journey Tribute, the tribute that’s been deemed the “closest thing to Journey you’ll see in modern time.” Christopher himself has been called a “spot on” recreation of Journey lead singer Steve Perry, in both his voice and his performance.
The Vilar Performing Arts Center sat down with Christopher to learn all about how he “faithfully” recreates the beloved band, ahead of his performance Thursday, July 19, at Beaver Creek.
VPAC: Let’s start out with the obvious question, what is your favorite Journey song?
Ryan Christopher: Well it’s interesting, fans may or may not recognize the song because it’s not one of their greatest hits, but it is from their best-selling album, “Escape.” The song is “Mother, Father.”
VPAC: In your opinion, what’s the most underrated Journey song?
RC: I think that would have to be “Who’s Crying Now.” It doesn’t get a lot of radio play, but whenever we play that one, wherever we go, everyone goes absolutely crazy. They love that one, but you don’t hear it around much.
VPAC: Do you remember the first Journey song you heard?
RC: That’s a tough one. My memory’s not super great, but I’m going to say it was “Faithfully.” As a teenager I used to sing that on the bus to school. That’s the song that really kicked off my love for Journey. I didn’t realize at the time how many hits they had, it wasn’t until much later that I learned how many amazing songs they’d done.
VPAC: What did you take away from seeing Journey live?
RC: I’ve seen Journey three times, with three different lead singers (Gregg Rolie, Steve Augeri, Arnel Pineda), but I’ve never seen (Steve) Perry. Thank goodness for YouTube. But anyway, for me, it wasn’t just about seeing the lead singer, it was more about watching the other musicians. I’m always completely floored by the musicianship — breathtaking is the only word I have for it. Watching them live gave me a better idea of where this music came from and how the songs are supposed to be performed.
VPAC: Of all of your stage costumes, which one is your favorite?
RC: I have a couple now but for a long time I just had one — the cheetah print shirt and black jacket. When people think of Journey and Steve Perry, they usually think of the “Escape” album tour. During that time Perry wore the light jeans and the coat with the tails and the cheetah shirt. That, by the way, took forever for me to have made. I finally found a lady but it took her nine months to get it done. But it’s important to me because we aren’t just going up there and singing Journey’s songs. Anyone can do that. We’re recreating the era, the experience, not just selling the songs again.
VPAC: What the hardest thing to recreate about Steve Perry?
RC: The voice. Wearing the costumes and dancing around the stage, that’s easy, but getting the voice right is the hard part. People hear me and tell me it looks effortless, which is great, but it’s not actually easy. It’s not easy for any vocalist. Any male vocalist has to work really hard to maintain (their sound).
VPAC: What was your most memorable performance?
RC: Everywhere we’ve performed has been great, and the crowds have been amazing. People welcome us with open arms and they’ve been really supportive. There’s so many good ones, but I think the most memorable performance was the Chicago White Sox in 2015. It was the 10th anniversary of their World Series win and we got to fly out and watch the game. As soon as the game was over they rolled out a massive stage and we got up there and performed. There were 35,000 people in the stadium. It was really cool because players from the team came on stage and sang along with us.
VPAC: Do you ever like to put your own style or flair into the performance?
RC: I try not too, because I’m trying to give someone a memory. But what I have done is listen to the live versions of the songs as well as the recorded version, and then I can recreate the liberties that Perry himself took with the songs. So if it sounds a little different or I do it a different way, it’s not me taking the liberties, it’s Perry.
VPAC: If you were to get a Journey lyric tattooed, then which one would it be?
RC: (Laughing) You know, lately the lyrics that have been sticking with me are from “Faithfully.” Now that I have my daughter — she’s 20 months old — when I get to parts of that song, I think about her. It’s tough to be away from family, especially being on tour, and that’s what the song is about. It’s about getting back to them. The song epitomizes that.
VPAC: If you could ask Steve Perry one question, then what would it be?
RC: It’s kind of a selfish question, but I want to be true to myself. It would be “Do you have time to train me?” I don’t think I do Perry complete justice — it’s not perfect line for line. I would love to be under his wing. I would love to sit down long enough for him to give me a few pointers and push me in the right direction, and maybe even help me with some original work. I’d love to do originals someday, but I want to keep the spirit that I’ve learned from covering his work.