Loverboy: Still lovin’ every minute of it

It may seem a little hard to believe but it has been more than three decades since Canadian rockers Loverboy sang about “Workin’ For The Weekend” and asked you to “Turn Me Loose.”

All puns aside however, the business of being Loverboy is pretty serious, celebratory stuff. With more than 25 million records sold worldwide, an enviable string of Top 40 hits in both Canada and the U.S., in addition to a 2009 induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the band is still very much alive, kicking and “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It” these days.

Okay, that’s the last song pun, we swear.

Loverboy is slated to perform at Casino New Brunswick tomorrow night. The show is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

From his home in Alberta, Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean says the band is staying relatively busy these days, maintaining a live schedule of anywhere from 50 to 80 shows in the run of any given year.

“I kind of prefer keeping things on the lower end of that scale to be honest with you,” Paul admits. “Eighty shows a year means a lot of time spent in airports and that can be a little much. About 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the shows we play are in Canada and the rest spread throughout the U.S.”

Dean says that performing live is still a huge thrill for him and band mates Mike Reno, Doug Johnson, Ken ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve and Matt Frenette. No matter what city or what venue the band happens to be playing on any given night, Dean says that something a cab driver offered him in the way of advice more than 10 years ago has stuck with him to this day.

“We had played a show in Las Vegas one night and it was just an all-around great show. The next night, we were scheduled to play in Reno at what could probably be best described as a dive. It was a huge letdown from the previous night,” Paul says.

“So when we were on our way to the club, we were still bellyaching about the venue in the back of a taxi and the cab driver said, ‘Boys, it’s not where you play, it’s how you play’ and that has stuck with me to this very day. I have lived by that credo ever since. When we are on stage, we are there to have fun and make sure that the crowd has fun too.”

The fun had temporarily ground to a halt in the late ’80s when the members of Loverboy decided to hang up their guitars for a period of time. Dean insists that “the writing was on the wall” for the band and had nothing to do with lagging record sales or personality conflicts that drove them apart.

“I think a lot of other hard-rock bands like us suffered the same fate as we did. Everyone that was in a band with big hair and fancy clothes bit the dust in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It was really pretty discouraging to be in Loverboy for a period of time.”

No matter how things might have been in the past, things are certainly looking up for the future of this classic Canadian rock band. In addition to their aforementioned touring schedule, Dean excitedly notes that the band has very recently signed on with a new management team that also oversees the career of Hall & Oates. And just prior to the Christmas holidays, he says the band saw an unexpected but amazing gift come their way.

“Producer Bob Rock called up Mike and told him he had written a track that he pictured Mike’s vocals on and offered to send the song our way,” Paul says. “Then he ended up sending another track which was equally as great as the first one.”

The relationship between Rock and Loverboy dates back to the band’s self-titled debut album (1980), a record that Rock engineered. Rock has since gone on to become one of the industry’s most popular producers, overseeing albums by bands including Metallica, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Michael Buble.

Dean says that eventually making the new Rock-penned tracks available via iTunes is a certainty although he isn’t able to specify exactly when people will be able to purchase the songs. Asked if more new material might be forthcoming from the band, Paul admits that some of Loverboy’s members are a little more driven than others when it comes to writing new songs.

“I’m very driven and am always writing new stuff. But others in the band are more than happy to continue playing the hits and rightly so: people want to hear those songs. Truth is though, we are always looking for new stuff that Mike and I could tackle together.”

With or without a new record in the wings, Dean says the group has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

“Being in Loverboy is my life. It’s been this way for almost 35 years now. Not every night we perform is incredible but I do feel that we do something right every night and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the trick. But on those nights where the stars do align and we pull off a flawless show with a really great crowd behind us, those are the incredible experiences that stick with you. Hopefully our fans get the same buzz that we get from playing live.”

Article published in January 26, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript