You’d think that after almost four decades in the music business, there wouldn’t be much that could surprise the members of the Canadian group Loverboy.
“I was just speaking with Paul [Dean, Loverboy guitarist] and we were discussing the fact that at our shows these last few years, people are on their tiptoes at almost every show,” vocalist Mike Reno tells us in advance of the band’s show at Casino New Brunswick on Saturday evening.
“I’m not saying that egotistically at all. We’ve been lucky that people have always enjoyed the band live, but things have been going especially well for us these last few years. Shows are selling out. It’s a good place to be.”
Asked what he believes is behind the renewed interest in the band’s popularity, Reno chalks it up to the passage of time, a two-fold benefit he says they are seeing at almost every show.
“On one hand, you’ve got people that have been raising their families for the last 18 to 20 years, and now that the kids are out of the house, those guys are looking to get out again. On the other end of the spectrum, however, we’ve discovered our crowds are also attracting a younger demographic. People that might not have even been born in the 80’s find their way to the front of almost every show, whether they know our stuff by heart or are only coming out based on a couple of songs they might have heard. Maybe we are offering them something they aren’t getting from groups their age. While I can’t necessarily pinpoint any one factor, the momentum is terrific.”
Since their formation in Calgary in the late 70’s, following Reno’s exit from Moxy and guitarist Paul Dean’s unceremonious departure from Streetheart, Loverboy has had a career that most bands can only dream of. From 1980’s self-titled debut through 1985’s Lovin’ Every Minute Of It, driven by singles like “Workin’ For The Weekend,” “Turn Me Loose” and “Hot Girls In Love,” the group sold upwards of 10 million albums in the U.S. while Canadian sales handily passed the one million mark. In addition to the band’s six Juno Awards, Loverboy was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Considering the mammoth success that the band has seen, it is somewhat ironic that the group had difficulty getting the attention from record labels at the outset of their career.
“Some people just didn’t get what the band was about. ‘They sound just like a bar band’ was something that we heard a lot,” Reno says.
The band’s luck changed when they met Jeff Burns, a label executive from CBS Canada (now Sony Canada) who would go on to sign Platinum Blonde, Gowan and others to the company in the 80’s.
“Jeff has this amazing sense about him: He hears and feels things in the music that others might not necessarily tap into. He felt the chemistry between us and ended up giving us a deal to make that first record.”
With Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, Honeymoon Suite) in the producer’s chair, Loverboy entered the studio with a relatively meagre $60,000 budget to cut what would become their self-titled debut album.
“We were lucky that we have the songs worked out enough that we didn’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time re-working material,” Reno recalls. “We intentionally kept things simple. We strongly felt the songs told the story and had the right combination of energy and power, but you just never know how the music was going to be received.”
Propelled by lead-off single “The Kid Is Hot Tonight,” Loverboy’s debut became a sales juggernaut here in Canada. It attracted such strong sales in Canada that the American arm of CBS Records took over promotion of the band for subsequent albums including 1981’s Get Lucky, Keep It Up (1983), Lovin’ Every Minute Of It and 1987’s Wildside.
Of course, Loverboy’s career didn’t grind to a halt following Wildside. Since then, the group has had no less than a half-dozen releases. Earlier this year, the band released a new single, “Hurtin’.”
“We know the newer stuff we write won’t be as famous as the hits we’ve been lucky enough to have, but we do it anyway. It’s important for us to remain creative, whether radio is going to jump on a new song or not. That’s not what it’s about. At this point in our career, it’s just a joy to be making music,” Reno says.
When: Saturday Aug. 27, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $29.99 (plus taxes and service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone 1-866-943-8849 and online at www.casinonb.ca