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Backstage Pass: Loverboy

In the ’80s, Loverboy’s meat-and-potatoes brand of rock and roll has entertained audiences worldwide.  Now the boys are back with their first new record in 15 years. Mike Reno reveals why it took so long for the album, why the band owes a debt to the cowbell and the story behind the band's unsung hero — those tight, red leather pants.

Since the early ’80’s, Loverboy’s meat-and-potatoes brand of rock and roll has entertained audiences worldwide. Formed in 1979 in Calgary, the Canadian rock band rode the initial MTV video wave, racking up a flurry of smash hits including the blue-collar anthems “Working For The Weekend,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonite,” “Turn Me Loose,” “When It’s Over” and “Hot Girls In Love.”

Just Getting Started is the group’s first new record in 15 years. No discarded ’80s relic, the new CD is a confident and contemporary record that retains the trademark Loverboy touches while its sound proudly resides in the 21st century.

Why did it take so long for a new Loverboy album?

Mike Reno: What took so long was we had a pretty good thing going with all the shows we were doing every year. We were playing a hundred shows every year, and we still are. What it was at this point in our lives, we were working really hard and playing so many shows that it took its toll on the times that we had to write.

We’d have a few days to get over the three-day weekend of playing shows, and then it was time to get back on the road again. We ended up just not really having time to write a bunch of songs. So, I ended up meeting a group of people that wanted me to sing a demo, and they were the people that I wanted to get a hold of for a long time, because they’d written a lot of really successful songs for a lot of really successful albums.

They were like a writing workshop, and they had their own studio, and they were doing very well. When I got this call to sing a demo for them so they could sell it [to] an artist with a good singer singing it, they kind of marveled at the sound of my voice. I was taken aback a bit, because they kept stopping the tape and listening to something like it was a mistake. And I’d go, “Is that OK or did I screw it up?” And they’d go, “No, we’re just listening to the texture of your voice. We can’t believe how great the texture of your voice is.”

I kind of went, Oh, c’mon!” (laughs) And they said, “No, seriously, we record a lot of music down here, and your voice has got this thing. We just love it. Do you want to write some songs together?” And that was music to my ears, because they were all set up and lived close to where I lived. It made it easy for me to come in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to write songs. Then I’d go back on the road Thursday, Friday and Saturday, come home Sunday, have Sunday off and then go in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and do more writing. So, by the end of a period of time, we had about 30 songs recorded and demoed.

They made great demos, so the demos sounded like finished products.

Along the way of that touring season — the year before last — I started playing the band some of these new songs I’d been writing. They said, “Wow, whatever it is that you’re doing just keep doing it, because those are excellent songs that sound like finished products.”

That sparked the band going, “Hey, this is the best thing we’ve ever heard out of you, Mike.” They were really very complimentary about what they were hearing. As we were recording, after we got about six songs done, I looked up at the guys I was writing with, and I said, “You know, this sounds so much like Loverboy, we should think about doing a whole Loverboy record.” They went, “Holy shit, that would be awesome.”

They’d come to some of our shows and realized how the crowds are st