- - Monday, July 25, 2016

You know the hits “Turn Me Loose,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonight,” “Hot Girls In Love,” “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” “Almost Paradise” and the megasmash “Workin’ for the Weekend.” Those Reagan-era rock anthems helped Loverboy sell more than 10 million records worldwide.

The Canadian rockers continue to record and tour the world almost 40 years after breaking through with the original lineup — vocalist Mike Reno, guitarist Paul Dean, drummer Matt Frenette and Doug Johnson on keys — intact save for bassist Scott Smith, who tragically died in a boating accident in 2000. However, Ken Sinnaeve has been filling in at Smith’s station ever since.

The band’s latest midtempo ballad “Hurtin’,” is an appropriate theme song for these troubled times. While on the road with fellow ‘80s rockers The Romantics and Rick Springfield, Mr. Reno discussed music and his “magic” headband.

Question: Is there any competition when Loverboy tours with other bands from the ‘80s?

Answer: I’d like to say yes, but generally everybody just plays their hearts out, roots for each other. I look at the side of the stage when we were touring with REO [Speedwagon] and there’s Kevin Cronin sitting there watching our set. It’s been pretty good.

I thought ZZ Top were pretty cool. When we got an encore Billy [Gibbons] would meet me at the bottom of the stairs, put me in a headlock and make me drink a couple inches of Wild Turkey. He was trying to make me feel welcome.

Q: What inspired you guys to keep making new music?

A: Just ‘cause that’s what we do. We come up with new songs and we want to record them. We kind of know they are not gonna be big smash hits and go quadruple platinum like the old ones. But we do it anyway. It’s like we can’t help ourselves. [laughs]

Q: Does it frustrate you that the old musical business went away and you can no longer sell millions of records?

A: Absolutely. Not only does it frustrate me, but at least I’m happy that we got to be there when it happened. We got the triple-platinum records. Got ‘em hanging on the wall.

Even the best record that comes out [now] only sells 25,000 copies in five days. It used to sell 250,000 copies in five days. It was just an amazing time. And they gave us plaques to celebrate.

That’s all gone. And I feel sad about that. It’s bittersweet.

Q: How did the new single “Hurtin’” come about?

A: We were working on a song with Mick Mahan, the bassist for Pat Benatar. He came up with this package of tunes that we were maybe trying to put together for a sports team. We end up writing this song and thought, “This is too good to give to anybody else. Let’s keep it for ourselves.”

So Paul [Dean] and I finished it off — wrote the lyrics and melody. We hung on to it.

Q: Is there a full new Loverboy album in the works?

A: Could be. Here’s the deal with us: We trying to figure out if people have the patience to handle 13 songs. I don’t know if they can anymore. The world is just going too fast. I thought maybe we would throw out a single every month or two and people could be happy with that.

Q: Do you play the new songs live?

A: People still want to hear the 14 classic hits that we play every night. They’re gonna demand to hear them. I don’t even know if we are gonna play any of the new ones live until they catch on. If they catch on, that would be great.

Q: You and Paul have been writing songs together now for decades. How has the creative relationship evolved?

A: It’s pretty much the same. He kind of depends on me, and I depend on him. He has a lot of ideas, and I help him mold them. He always comes to me, and I change everything up, move it around. Add this, take away that. And he goes, “Thanks man. That’s awesome.” That’s kind of how Paul and I work. And he’s always happy with it.

If he’s isn’t, he is the first one to say, “I don’t like it.” We’ve got a good, honest relationship. No dancing around each other. The dance is over, but the party is still there. The fun is still there. Recording is still a lot of fun.

Q: How have you have managed to keep around all the original members, except Scott Smith?

A: If we had not lost our bassist Scott, he would still be here. He was one of the greatest guys I ever knew. He just happened to go down sailing. He was out in the deep blue sea and some bad things happened. We really miss him. Even to this day.

The music is the bond that keeps us together. I feel like we are vessels for the music. That is why we don’t change it around too much. We give it to them right like the record. The people actually own these songs. We’re just delivering them to them, giving them that feeling of, “Holy smokes, these are the real guys!” We respect the fact that people own these songs.

Q: In 2009 Loverboy was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Do you think you’ll ever get into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

A: I imagine so. Can’t see why not. We sold a lot of records. We did everything everybody else did, and we’re still doing it.

Q: Do you have a preshow ritual?

A: I stay a little quiet. Then I start warming up my voice. I like to get the sweat on before I hit the stage. Then I put on the magic headband that allows me to hit all those high notes.

Q: Are fans still buying Loverboy-branded headbands?

A: Yeah. [laughs] They are buying the headbands. And the T-shirts. And they are loving it.

Q: Are you still loving it?

A: It just gets better and better every year. I can’t believe it. I’m lovin’ every minute of it.


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