‘Don’t Stop Believin” Chronicles Journey Singer’s Rock and Roll Cinderella Story
Arnel Pineda in 'Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey' (Photo: Cinedigm Entertainment)
"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" tells the real-life rock 'n' roll fairy-tale story of Filipino singer/songwriter Arnel Pineda, who went from the streets of Manila to stadium rock stardom when he was plucked from virtual obscurity to become the front man for the iconic American rock band Journey.
In 2007, Journey was in need of a lead singer. Desperate to find a front man to fit their anthemic sound, guitarist Neal Schon turned to YouTube. There he came across videos of Pineda singing covers of Journey songs, uploaded from the Philippines. Impressed by Pineda's vocals, Schon contacted Pineda, who promptly thought he was on the receiving end of a hoax. But it was indeed the real Neal Schon, guitarist and founding member of Journey, who invited Pineda to audition for the band. The rest, as they say, is history.
The documentary, directed by Ramona Diaz, chronicles Pineda's amazing Cinderella story, following the humble new star as he navigates the immense pressures of replacing legendary singer Steve Perry and rides the rocky balance of life on the road with a world-renown rock band.
"Don't Stop Believin'" opens in select theaters on March 8, and is available On Demand on March 9. While resting up before another show, Pineda spared a few moments to talk with Yahoo! Movies about the documentary and his incredible, ahem, journey.
Philip Yu: Can you tell me about when you first got that email from Neal Schon? You had to think it was a hoax, right?
Arnel Pineda: I thought it was a scam. Where I come from, it would be crazy to just believe an email like that. Plus the fact that I'd been scammed before. I got took for a couple of thousand of Hong Kong dollars because of believing in something on the internet. So, never again.
But my friend, the one who uploaded my live video performances on YouTube, he was pretty persistent. He was resolved that the email was for real, and really came from Neal Schon. So, you know, I gave in. I answered him back and gave him my number. And that was it. He called up, and to my surprise, it was Neal.
PY: And it changed your life.
PY: You basically went from starving artist to being the frontman for one of the most popular rock bands in the world. Was it daunting for you to be thrust into the spotlight like that?
AP: Oh, of course. But one great thing about this band, especially Jonathan [Cain] and Neal, they taught me how to be brave. How to be confident. They have boosted up my self esteem. They kicked me in the ass. "Just go do it. It's going to be great." They said, "Just use the magic wand" -- which is their music and melodies. Pretty much, I have changed. Before I met them, all my life, I was afraid. I had no confidence or self esteem and didn't believe in myself. But one thing about me, in all the hardships I've gone through, I've always relied and depended on my voice and the music that I loved listening to. That kept me alive and kept me going.
PY: Inevitably, somebody had to make a movie about you and your incredible story. When did Ramona Diaz come on board, and why was she the right filmmaker to tell your story?
AP: She just emailed me. She told me about her previous work, and I checked out he profile. She's pretty much legit. So we met and spoke, and I think I knew where she was coming from. Even though in the back of mind, I was thinking, "Oh my god, I'll be on the big screen. Me and my ugly face, and my short stature. I'm not eligible to be a movie star." But then I thought, it's okay. We're selling a story here. We're selling hope. Dreams, they do come true. Miracles can overcome misery and hardship. It's a very positive movie. So I believed in her.