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edge staff writer


A conversation with Loverboy’s Paul Dean

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Canadian rockers to headline day one of New England Ribfest 

During a phone interview from his home in Vancouver, Paul Dean, longtime guitarist and co-founder of Loverboy, one of the most popular and successful bands who came of age during the 1980s, said that he’s looking forward to returning to Maine.

“We usually have lobster in Maine but maybe it will be lobster and ribs for us this time between the soundcheck and show,” Dean laughed.

On Friday evening, Loverboy will headline the first day of New England Rib Fest - a two-day music and food festival scheduled to take place at Bass Park in downtown Bangor. Tickets will be available at the gate.

Preceding Loverboy’s first Bangor appearance since September 2012 will be sets of live music from popular area bands Dakota and the Allison Ames Band.

Formed in Calgary, Canada, in 1979, Loverboy’s music is played daily on classic rock and classic hits radio stations around the world.

Loverboy has released nine studio albums since the band’s 1980 self-titled debut. Four of those albums have gone multi-platinum, including 1981’s “Get Lucky,” which has sold nearly five million copies to date.

New England Rib-Fest will be held on the Bass Park infield (the grassy area inside the race track) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. this Friday and Saturday.

Saturday’s headlining performer will be country music star Terri Clark, with a scheduled appearance from syndicated radio personality Rowdy Yates, host of “Original Country Gold Saturday Night,” carried locally by WQCB Q 106.5


TME: Loverboy has played thousands of shows over the years. Do you even need to rehearse at this point?

Dean: It’s funny. We did have a rehearsal the other night. I always like to sound check the band before a show if we can. I’m really into making sure that everything sounds as good as it can. I’m a fanatic about audio.

So we’re at rehearsal. I won’t say which song I’m talking about, but I said to Matt (Frenette, drummer) and the guys in the band that this song has a tendency to go on and on and on. That didn’t go over too well. Basically they said ‘We think you’re overthinking this. We’ve always played it like this.’ In the end, the ending did get shortened up a little bit, but it was a little awkward.

TME: You’ve been together for nearly 40 years. You’re like brothers and as the saying goes, nobody can fight like family.

Dean: There’s no question, we are family. (Paul starts singing the 1979 Sister Sledge hit) ‘We are family…’ (laughs). In our particular family, we do have days where it’s like ‘Get out of my face. Shut up.’ And the next day, it’s like ‘I love you, man.’

I try to be really patient. When you know each other as well as we do, you know which buttons to push and the ones not to push. We could piss each other off very easily if we wanted to, but nobody wants to play that game.

All five of us are really intense as people. Anytime there’s been an argument or a problem, we take care of it before we go onstage. We thrive on a good vibe. With the interplay that we have spiritually, musically and technically, all of those things are really important to us. To get to a place where we can play soulfully – from our hearts – we need to be for each other and not against each other.

We’ve spent our whole lives to get to the point where we’re at now. Sometimes we’ll spend up to 16 hours getting to the gig. You don’t want to spend that precious time onstage feeling resentful. You want to be joyous. You want to be a team firing on all 10 cylinders.

TME: Here’s a question for the guitar geeks, of which I’m one. I’ve seen you play Fender Stratocasters and Gibson Les Paul guitars. If you could only keep one, which would it be and why?

Dean: It would be the one I’m playing right now. As long as I have my Marshall amp to go with it, I’ll be a happy guy.

TME: What is the story with your Fender Strat? Where did you find it?

Dean: It’s a Mexican-made Fender Strat, and I bought it secondhand at a music store about four years ago. It was sitting on a stand, and when I picked it up and started playing it, it instantly fused with my hand. It was like we had a mind-meld. I took it apart and replaced all of the parts but everything else is the same.

There are a lot of my components to my sound and this guitar is the foundation. I chose everything very carefully – from the strings to the pickups to the knobs. Even the wireless unit, which is really important. I use a 50 watt Marshall 900. I pay close attention the speakers that I use, the microphone, and where exactly to place the mic in front of the speaker – all stuff that most people take for granted - is really important to me.

Jerry Wong, our soundman, tells me that he EQs the system to my guitar. He’s an amazing guitar player as well. I had food poisoning one night and I was so sick, I couldn’t play. Jerry subbed for me and was just great all night. He’s a killer soundman and a great guitarist in his own right. We’ve worked together for about 15 years.

TME: When you’ve played as many shows as Loverboy, it isn’t possible to remember them all. Do some stand out in your memory as being exceptional or unusual?

Dean: Actually, yes. There are three that come to mind. One was in San Antonio, Texas at the height of our career. We were headlining the big arena down there. I remember coming out of the show to get into the limo and the limo was covered with swarming fans. They were screaming and pounding on the roof and windows. It was like Beatlemania. I couldn’t believe it.

There are some bands where that sort of thing would go to their head but not us. None of us thought we were better than anyone else. We thought ‘This is crazy. These people are insane.’ That kind of fervor is hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it.

Those were the MTV days where it went beyond music. There was the glam stuff and everything else that fed into the mania. Personally, I’ve never had time for that star or celebrity thing. MTV played a big part in building up our perceived image.

You have to respect that kind of reaction like the one from the Texas fans because that was the plan from the start, right? To get people excited about the band and the music.

Another standout show was at the Bello Dome in Munich, Germany. It was an indoor bicycle-racing track made out of wood. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.

Because the room was constructed out of wood, it had this really warm and fat sound. We’ve played dome-shaped buildings before where you hit a note and it overtakes the whole sound. This was different. Like I said, I’m a fanatic about sound. Whether it’s my guitar, the band, my home theatre system, how my car sounds – it’s something I’m really into.

So this group of German youth had a chant and I had never heard this before. From where we were, it sounded like (lowers voice) ‘LOVE-ER-BOY’ – so intense – and they kept chanting it.

We did two shows earlier this summer in the heart of Quebec and the audience started doing what sounded like a hockey chant just before the encore. It sounded almost like ‘Lovin’ Every Minute Of It’ (1985 hit single, written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange). I’m sure hockey or basketball is where Mutt Lange got the idea. It happened again the next night in a different city with a different audience.

The third show that I’ll never forget – and for very different reasons – is Japan. We were there for 10 days in 1982. What I remember is that everything was regimented.

At most concerts, every song is followed by a roar from the audience that just quietly fades, and is like a transition into the next song. At this show, after each song, the Japanese audience would respond for 10 seconds and then it stopped suddenly. There were so many police there. The audience was allowed to stand in front of their seat but they couldn’t stand on the seat. It was very strict.

The promoter told us that every band played two encores in Japan and that was expected from us. So we did that and, again, we would hear the audience for 10 seconds and then a sudden stop. We finished the show, changed and started to leave to get into the limo and when the door opened, the audience was out there, and they were going f***ing nuts! All of that pent up energy that they weren’t allowed to show inside was now being let out and it was incredible. Nobody was allowed to say ‘boo’ during the concert but once they got outside, they went bananas.

We did a photo shoot in Japan and a bunch of fans saw us. If you remember the opening scenes of The Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night,” when they were trying to outrun the fans, that’s what it was like. As it was happening, I remember saying ‘This is ridiculous. It’s like The Beatles in 1964.’ Everywhere we went, the fans were waiting for us with gifts. They are very big on gifts there. It was an amazing experience. The cultural difference is really cool.  

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 September 2017 11:38


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