“Turn Me Loose,” “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” “Hot Girls in Love,” “This Could Be the Night,” and, of course, “Working for the Weekend.”
You’re going to hear them all, but, for the first time in years, audiences will be able to enjoy them in Penticton.
Mike Reno, lead singer and co-writer of Loverboy, is arguably Penticton’s most famous son, but it’s been years since he’s officially played in his hometown. Reno is coming home Wednesday, Sept. 4 to the South Okanagan Events Centre when Loverboy shares a bill with Styx.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said in a phone interview from Vancouver. “It’s been a long time and we’ve never played the new building (SOEC). I did a thing at the race track (Area 27 in Osoyoos) and we got up and played a few songs at a high school reunion, but this is really going to be our first time in many years. For us it’s been Kelowna, Kelowna, Kelowna and I’m glad we’re able to finally come back to Penticton.”
Reno recalls playing in his teen years at the Dog and Suds, which was located in the Safeway plaza. With Loverboy, the band had several dates at The Peach Bowl.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Loverboy and with the exception of bassist Scott Smith, who died in a boating accident in 2000, the lineup hasn’t changed — Reno, lead guitarist Paul Dean, drummer Matt Frenette, keyboardist Doug Johnson and bassist Ken ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve, who joined in 2001 following Smith’s death.
“This is the band’s 40th anniversary year, but we might celebrate it again next year because technically we didn’t put out a record until 1980. Paul (Dean) got the initial guys together in 1979,” Reno said.
With most bands, the members change frequently, but Reno credits Loverboy’s consistency to “camaraderie.”
“At the beginning when Paul and I talked about getting a band together, we wanted to make sure everyone was paid the same. In other bands, a couple of guys do very well and for the others, it’s marginal. By doing it this way, everyone feels that they have a stake in the game, they feel responsible and respectful to each other. A big thing is we love playing together. We do have our moments when everyone is mad at someone, but like a married couple, it never lasts very long.”
As for the music’s longevity, Reno said, “They are all positive songs, positive lyrics and high-energy music. We came out at a time when people bought records, looked at the pictures and read the lyrics. That doesn’t happen anymore, which is kind of sad. But, we’re playing better than we ever have and the way people connect with the songs is insane. We were just in Fort Wayne, Indiana and people were there wearing headbands and singing along to every song.”
The band writes new material and posts the songs on the website. Reno said he hopes to persuade the others to return to the studio in the near future to record new material.
Reno, known as Rynoski in those days, was a student at Pen-Hi and his favourite memories from his teenage years were spending time at the beach and in the mountains with friends.
Reno picks Led Zeppelin as being among his greatest musical influences — but his list is long.
“There was Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but it’s quite an array for me. I enjoyed Creedence Clearwater. Three Dog Night was a big influence, even the Bee Gees, who were insanely good. Free was a big influence because of Paul Rodgers and his beautiful voice ... one of the best in the world. I enjoyed Carly Simon with her smooth voice at an era when we went to the beach and toasted marshmallows. Joan Jett was hard ass and really fun and Heart was fabulous.”
In 1984, Reno joined Heart’s Ann Wilson on a recording of “Almost Paradise,” a top 10 single featured on the “Footloose” soundtrack. They sang the vocals almost live-to-tape in what was the one and only time they sang together. A surprise appearance has never worked out, he said.
Inductees to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2009, winners of six Juno Awards in the same year and a top-five concert draw in 1982, Loverboy’s list of accomplishments is extensive. Reno had a solo on the 1985 “Tears Are Not Enough” charity single, alongside the likes of Joni Mitchell, Burton Cummings and Neil Young.
His most memorable moment happened in Vancouver.
“We received our first gold album at a nightclub in Vancouver called The Cave, which is an HSBC now. James Brown and everyone who came through played there. Bryan Adams was the opening act. Halfway through our show, a record label executive presented Loverboy with our first gold album. You always remember the first one.”
While 80’s rock lives on thanks to classic rock radio and devoted fans, it’s also making a comeback thanks to a string of successful biopics, most notably the Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody was superb... what a story,” said Reno. “I remember when I first started out when I moved from Penticton to Calgary in 1973, right around the time Queen came out. The band I was in at the time actually played a few Queen songs. I think Queen was very polished, but in a lot of ways they were like us ... a bunch of kids fooling around.”
When asked if Loverboy would be a good subject for a rock biopic, Reno interjected, “We’re not that interesting. “Although a good starting scene would be when we drove around the country warming up (the band) Kansas. We had a Cadillac and a station wagon and the station wagon was there so that two or three guys could get some sleep. We didn’t have roadies in those days. We took turns driving — one in the Cadillac, the other in the station wagon. Finally, the tour promoter got us a tour bus, but said, ‘don’t tell your manager.’”
Styx with Loverboy perform at The South Okanagan Events Centre on Sept. 4. Tickets range in price from $69.50 - $109.50, plus taxes and service charge. For tickets visit valleyfirsttix.com, phone 1-877-763-2849 or come in person to the SOEC box office.