While most people are Workin’ For The Weekend, Mike Reno and Canadian rock band Loverboy work for their fans and they’re Lovin’ Every Minute Of It. As Loverboy currently tours with The Romantics and Rick Springfield, we can only imagine the perfect blend of multi-platinum hits that will be performed to give us a classic rock cocktail we will never forget. Loverboy has continued to deliver time and time again staying relevant in the music industry. We were able to Get Lucky and score an interview with frontman Reno who was simply grateful to be back in his hometown of Vancouver for a change.
Reno jokingly mentions “A lot of people think that we aren’t constantly on the road. We take some time off for Christmas, but even on New Year’s Eve, we are plating shows. I am always half kidding when I say we have been on tour for 35 years, but it’s the truth.” Loverboy recently played at a seafood festival at Pompano Beach, Florida and was blown away with the outpouring of people that attended. “There had to be at least 15,000 people there. It just gets crazier and crazier everywhere we go.” One of their favorite venues to play is the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, which they will perform at in September. Mike expresses how he loves the venue because they can be intimate with the crowd because of the size of the club. “Sometimes we play these giant venues and they are a lot of fun because you get the big lighting and sounds but actually, deep down I enjoy more intimate shows and I think the Canyon Club is perfect for that. It is a dinner club so people are right there, eating and drinking and having a good time so we get the chance to be closer to them than when we perform at the bigger clubs.”
With Loverboy being around since 1979, they have had their share of riding out the waves of the music industry and the ever-changing business, but performing live has remained the same. We all remember back in the 90’s how the rise of grunge music took off out of Seattle and seemed to affect so many rock bands from Loverboy to Foreigner. “The record labels didn’t want us to put out anymore records and the radio stations didn’t want to play our music and we were just in disbelief how intense it became. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. The record labels and radio stations overly assumed that the grunge era would survive long term but in the end, it is the rock music of the 80’s which continues to survive the test of time. Grunge was just moody and depressing. Nirvana had some good songs but it wasn’t the only music. Just like there are different paintings, there is different music.” The internet also changed things as far as albums sales go but one thing that hasn’t changed in his opinion is live performances. “I think it’s even getting a little more intimate, it’s getting even better. People realize that it’s kind of a luxury to see a band live. You know, I go to a lot of concerts myself on my time off and I go to see AC/DC I think, wow, they’re great live. I think it is just a better experience live for me. I think it’s the same for the Loverboy fans and there’s so many reasons that I feel honored to be up there singing with them. We just hit it hard and have fun with it.” All in all we both agreed the 80’s were just a magic time.
The creation of Loverboy was a match made in heaven. When Reno and Paul Dean met back in 1979 and had their first jam session, there was an instantaneous chemistry. They clicked right off the bat and it was almost like a relationship that formed into a marriage. “A yin and yang kind of thing formed with us” Reno says. “Take the combination of our two different personalities and it is the subtle differences that bring the whole thing together. You find that with a lot of songwriters like Lennon and McCartney, Hall & Oates.” Although there was an undeniable musical spark between Reno and Dean, they still took their time writing the songs and finding the members to complete the band Loverboy.
Reno has also found extreme success with soundtrack singles like Almost Paradise in which he recorded with Ann Wilson of Heart for the blockbuster film Footloose. “It was a cold night in Chicago and both of our bands were in the area with a day off so we recorded the track. It is crazy how many copies it sold. Same is said for the song Heaven In Your Eyes which Loverboy did on the Top Gun soundtrack. “Funny story, the film director and producer asked me to come in to discuss writing the song but they didn’t recognize me right off the bat. Finally, they brought me into the office and showed me a clip of the film and asked me if I could write a song for it by Friday! My response was, ‘Yes I can but I better get on it because it’s already Tuesday.’” Reno thrives on working when the pressure cooker is on. He still can’t believe how successful it became.
Working For The Weekend is still an anthem for those sitting at work, looking at the clock waiting for Friday to come. That song as well as others like Lovin’ Every Minute Of It, Get Lucky, When It’s Over and Turn Me Loose actually became part of people’s DNA and became a part of their memories. Fans forever remember when they were growing up, graduating from school, meeting their first crush or partying. “We just hoped they would have money to buy a case of beer by the end of the week. We were just having fun.” Not all Loverboy’s albums became such a part of people’s everyday lives. Just Getting Started that came out in 2007 was underrated as far as Reno is concerned. “If you get a chance to get your hands on a copy, it will throw you back in time” he promises. “There’s a lot of good songs on that record but no radio stations wanted to play it.
The idea of putting a tour together with Loverboy, Rick Springfield and The Romantics was a no-brainer as they have all performed together in the past few years. Their managers loved how well they worked together and the responses of the crowd, so a package deal was put in place and here we are. “Not only is the music good, they’re all really good people. And there’s a lot of hits on the stage. Between Rick Springfield and The Romantics and us, there’s a lot of good music that has come out of all three bands.”
Reno started singing and playing drums at the young age of 12. “My brother got me singing in his band and playing drums so whenever his drummer wouldn’t show up to practice or a gig, they’d call me on stage. I started playing live and singing backup and harmonies. My brother taught me the whole set. People thought it was cute how I was bashing on the drums.” At the age of 13, Reno was earning money playing gigs which was really cool and he was the envy of his friends. His hard work paid off because Reno has remained a strong, solid vocalist and noticeably sounds just as incredible now as he did back in the 80’s. He prefers to keep quiet and not talk a lot or overuse his voice which certainly pays off. “You know, I don’t do a lot to prepare. I shower, take my time getting ready, do some vocal exercises. People who know me, know I’m quiet and don’t talk. It’s not that I won’t talk I just save it for the show.”
Creatively speaking,Reno compares himself to Jerry Seinfeld as an observer. “For some reason, I see things happening and then I turn it into music. I don’t know why I do that. I guess it’s just the way I am. I will see a situation and just start making a song about it. That’s how I create. I wish I could paint and draw. I couldn’t paint or draw to save my life. Singing and songwriting are my forte and I am alright with that.”
Most successful bands have one thing in common, their signature, whether it’s a sound, a look, an album cover… Loverboy is no different and Reno tells us about those legendary red leather pants from the Get Lucky album cover. ”I wear them all the time. Sometimes I even sleep in them. I’m just kidding. You know, they were just something we wore. It wasn’t that big of a deal. However, the artist who designed the album cover made a big deal out of it. It became one of the top 1000 best albums of all time. Kind of like Springsteen with his Levis and his white shirt and the baseball cap in his back pocket, but we just did the leather pant thing and I crossed my fingers. That was kind of the idea behind the album art and the artist asked us about our songs, watched us play live. Then, our manager’s husband owned a leather shop here in Vancouver and he had offered to let us buy the pants on a credit until we made it.”
For many of us the 80’s were a magic time. Musically, the era has become a part of all of us whether we grew up during that time or not. Many new bands bring back to life the nostalgia and mood of the 80’s classic rock and because the music is considered classic, we can hear Loverboy on the radio again. Loverboy’s album Unfinished Business, released in 2014 is available on Amazon.
Reno didn’t end the conversation without extending an invitation to Screamer Magazine to come hang out with the band when they play at the Canyon Club and expressing his gratitude for the interview. While Reno remains one of the 80s’ more recognizable frontmen, he is also an extraordinarily nice and humble guy.
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