Amazing Visa Journey


The consular officer who interviewed Arnel Pineda, a native of the Philippines, obviously agreed that he was not hired to deny visas – but rather to let the good guys in. As a result, Arnel Pineda is now the newest member and lead singer of the rock band Journey. The amazing story of how he received his visa, by belting out “Wheels in the Sky” in the U.S. Visa Section in Manila, is described below by the adjudicating officer:

Months ago a band shows up at my window. It was Lemons and Oranges, or something fruity….I asked about their music; looked at their posters, CDs, etc. At the end of the interview, they were saying, “come out and see our show tonight.” I says, “I can’t take any free tickets yada yada yada but maybe I’ll pop in.”

It was a Friday. I went with two LES. We got a table, ordered some beer, fried chicken and so on. The opening band comes on. They were called “Zoo”– this I’m sure of, since I’m from Kalamazoo, the name stuck. The Zoo starts rocking out to 70/80s tunes…But the coup de grace was indisputably when they busted out Journey. I mean, the singer was not just good–95% of all Filipinos are good singers–he was really dern good. I couldn’t shut up about it. I was telling anyone who would listen, “Dude, not only does this guy have pipes, and range, he’s got perfect pitch. He has only missed a few notes on some of the hardest power ballads in schlock n roll history.” The LES grudgingly agreed, but they’ve been desensitized to the regular displays of amazing karaoke you get in Manila, so maybe they were just humoring me.

The next week I’m sitting at an NIV window next to an officer name Singer. Singer and I were doing FMJs and so we would trade off regular NIV applicants occassionally so that we got fair share of student visas. I hear Singer say, “Journey? The band Journey?” He flips through papers. He sounds unhappy.

I butt in: “What’s that all about?”

He turns off his mic and looks over at me. “I don’t know. This guys says he’s going to try out for Journey.”

I’m puzzled. “Journey? The band Journey?”

Singer goes, “That’s what I just said, [EXPLETIVE]!”

“Great, another nutjob. I’ll take it.” Singer takes my student, I take the nutjob.

I look over his stuff and say “purpose of travel?” and all that. I start to scrutinize more carefully and realize its the guy I saw from the night before.

“Hey, does your band play at Bagaberde?.. .”

He confirms and he goes on to tell me the story of how he uploaded some clips of his band that he recorded to YouTube and contacted Journey’s manager, having heard they were looking for a new singer. He says they called him up and invited him to the U.S. to try out. Given the malarkey you get at a Manila NIV window, this story only got points for being original. He produced some flimsy emails and letters, etc.

So I go, in my best dubious voice, “Yeah? let’s hear Wheels in the Sky!”

He belts it out for the whole waiting room and for the staff to hear (I made sure to take off my headset and let the speaker play it because what I was really doing was covering my butt).

I said, “Look sir, there isn’t a person in this Embassy who would believe that story– going to try out for Journey!– not a soul would believe that. Except for me. I saw you sing last Friday and I couldn’t shut up about how your vocals were perfect Steve Perry.

So I tell you what. I’m giving you that visa. You’re going to try out. And you’re going to make it….”

And the rest is rock n roll history, my friends

– via Immigration Daily

JOURNEY WELCOMES ARNEL PINEDA WITH “OPEN ARMS” TO THEIR FAMILY AS THE BAND’S NEW LEAD SINGER

December 5, 2007 — After much speculation…the wait is finally over.

JOURNEY–Neal Schon (guitar), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Ross Valory (bass), Deen Castronovo (drums)–is proud to introduce fans all over the world to their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda (“pin-eh-da”). He replaces Jeff Scott Soto, who parted ways with the band earlier this year after stepping in for Steve Augeri, who had to leave the band in 2006 for medical reasons.

Arnel hails from Quezon City in the Philippines and has been singing Journey songs–in addition to original material–with his band, The Zoo, for the past couple of years in clubs all over his homeland. Joining the legendary band is a dream come true for him.

“It’s so exciting to sing with one of the best bands in the world. It’ll be a lot of hard work on my part and I’m actually looking forward to the scrutiny I’ll get from the hardcore JOURNEY fans. I know they’ll expect me to sound exactly like ‘the voice’ (Steve Perry), but that will never happen. I know there’s only one Steve Perry in this world.”

When it was time for JOURNEY to look for a new lead singer, the internet came to their rescue. Guitarist Neal Schon wanted someone new to the music business, so he turned to YouTube. After finding Arnel singing “Faithfully,” he knew he had found the perfect frontman.

“I was frustrated about not having a singer,” explains guitarist Neal Schon, “so I went on YouTube for a couple of days and just sat on it for hours. I was starting to think I was never going to find anybody. But then I found The Zoo and I watched a bunch of different video clips that they had posted. After watching the videos over and over again, I had to walk away from the computer and let what I heard sink in because it sounded too good to be true. I thought, ‘he can’t be that good.’ But he is that good, he’s the real deal and so tremendously talented. Arnel doesn’t sound synthetic and he’s not emulating anyone. I tried to get a hold of him through YouTube and I finally heard from him that night, but it took some convincing to get him to believe that it really was me and not an imposter.”

Arnel Pineda picks up the story: “My friend Noel picked up the message on YouTube and told me it was from Neal. I thought it was a hoax so I ignored it. Noel said, ‘what if it really was Neal and he wanted to offer you the chance of a lifetime?’ So I e-mailed Neal back and the rest is history.”
“Arnel brings a soulful and passionate voice to JOURNEY,” continues keyboardist Jonathan Cain. “His personality is very well-suited to our music. He’s a sincere, authentic person with a great smile and a big heart. I think fans are really going to love him. With Arnel’s soaring tenor, Journey returns to our heritage sound.”

Schon agrees, “We feel reborn. I think there’s a lot of chemistry between the five of us. At first we were going to go into the studio and just write 4 songs, but now it’s escalated to a lot of great new and diverse material. The stuff sounds tremendous. Everyone’s so stoked about it. We feel very fortunate to have found Arnel.”

JOURNEY is currently working on a new album with legendary producer Kevin Shirley, which they hope to release by spring/summer 2008.

Find more like this: Entertainment, Immigration

Comments

  1. […] in the Sky” in the U.S. Visa Section in Manila, is described below by the adjudicating officer: (more…) Philippines News : Read the rest of this article […]

  2. Corey says:

    Amazing true-to-life story! It is a rock and roll
    fairy tale, indeed!

  3. susan says:

    this guy’s for real!Listening to him gave me gooze pimples!!!

  4. Chief is back says:

    you haven’t seen anything yet peeps,the best is yet to come,as soon as the Journey completed the album to be released in the summer of 08 then you’ll see what i meant

  5. V. Gray says:

    Arnel’s new song “After all these years” is already hitting the airwaves…love it.
    Nicely done…Arnel. Show the whole world that your worth it as the new frontman of Journey. Your voice is amazing…Good luck on your European tour in June. Take care.
    Ipinagmalaki ka namaing mga Filipino dito sa U.S. Mabuhay ka…I’ll support you all the way…kabayan. Peace everyone.

  6. maria says:

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