Not long ago, Journey seemed to be on the brink of a split. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain argued over control of the band, over a visit to the White House, and over money.

Yet, somehow, Journey has soldiered on. Freedom became their first studio album in more than a decade, and they're returned to the band's typically rigorous road schedule: A 23-date stadium tour with Def Leppard and Steve Miller kicks off on Saturday in St. Louis.

How'd they stitch things back together? "We just decided that the music is the music," Schon tells Los Angeles-based music journalist Lyndsey Parker. "We worked really hard and diligently on keeping this thing alive all these years, and just not let the other stuff get in the way and kind of keep it separate."

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Schon said this mindset was instilled by original Journey manager Herbie Herbert. "It was actually a rule that way before Jonathan was in the band, that we would never have politics involved in our music or any one religion – because [Journey’s music] is for everyone," he said. "Anytime you [get political] and you segregate, you're going to lose fans – and why would you want to do that? Just keep it open for everyone to be able to enjoy your music as music."

Journey's music has become a staple at sporting events and on TV and movie soundtracks – but it also shows up at political rallies, too. "I'm not a fan of it. No, I'm not a fan of it," Schon admitted. "It's just, I'm in the middle and I don't want it to go one way or the other. I think we should remain neutral and let everybody enjoy what they want to enjoy – and I think it's nobody’s business."

Taking Politics Out of Music

He's "never appreciated music [with] politics," Schon added. "I don't think they go hand-in-hand. I think that music is the greatest communicator of the world and that it shouldn't have a label on it to be one way or another. It should be to be conveyed by everyone in their own way."

In the end, he thinks that's what's kept Journey together and front of mind with generations of fans, even as classic-era vocalist Steve Perry gave way to longtime frontman Arnel Pineda. "Think of this: I've been in Journey 51 years," Schon added, "Jon for 41 years and for Arnel, this is his 17th year as vocalist – which is way longer than Steve was!"

As Journey gears up for another round of shows, Schon's hope for the tour remains the same: "You want to take 'em out of the funk. You want to lift them," he said. "When I go to see somebody, I want to be entertained. I don't want to be brought down or brought into some funk. I want to get away from everything and be entertained and lifted."

Nick DeRiso is author of the Amazon best-selling rock band bio 'Journey: Worlds Apart,' available now at all major bookseller websites.

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