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Mike Reno of Loverboy Ready to rock Bangor

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 80's rock band to appear with Journey and Pat Benatar

After 32 years, more than a dozen hits and sales of more than 20 million records, Loverboy is still going strong. Lead singer Mike Reno says the group's longevity can be attributed to the fact that they retain the bond that brought them together.

Loverboy's lineup has endured one change in its three decade history: the death of longtime bassist and Mike Reno's best friend Scott Smith in a boating accident.

This summer, Loverboy has been on tour with old friends Journey and Pat Benatar with her husband, Neil Giraldo. A sellout in many cities, this caravan of '80s rock and roll royalty will stay on the road at least through December and arrives in Bangor on Friday, Sept. 28 to play the Waterfront Concerts Pavilion. The band's new CD 'Rock and Roll Revival' contains three brand new Loverboy songs along with freshly-recorded live takes of their classic '80s material.

Mike Reno was up early last Wednesday and checked in for a progress report on the current tour and a stroll through Loverboy history.

Dow: I'm looking forward to seeing you with Loverboy in Bangor on Sept. 28. How has the tour with Journey and Pat Benatar been going so far?

Reno: It's been a total riot! We're all having a ball and we love listening to the other bands. There's a lot of hit songs on the stage and you're gonna hear 'em. If anyone is on the fence about coming to this show, I would recommend getting tickets soon because this tour has been selling out everywhere. I'm telling you, we have a lot of fun and you are going to hear every song you know by each of the bands.

Dow: Loverboy toured with Journey in the early days. What has changed in that time?

Reno: Well, it's almost the same. This is kind of like a dj vu, big time. For Journey, it's the same group of guys minus Steve Perry. They've got Arnel (Pineda) in there and he's singing like a bird. The guy is just amazing. (Pineda has been fronting Journey since 2008. After guitarist Neal Schon saw videos of Pineda performing songs by Journey, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, he sent an email to Pineda inviting him to audition for the band.)

In 1981, when Journey released 'Escape,' we released 'Get Lucky.' Those were the biggest albums for each of us, and we toured together back then. We were kind of the Kings of Kensington. We could do anything. We had the world by the tail and we were rocking night after night and today - 30 years later - the same group of guys are doing the same thing!

Dow: Has Loverboy experienced their share of 'Spinal Tap moments' over the years?

Reno: (laughing) It's funny you should ask about that. Just the other night, we got lost on our way to the stage. We couldn't find it! We were right on time, but getting lost put us a little behind schedule. We walked in a circle and kind of looked around and then started laughing and said, 'A Spinal Tap moment!'

I have a great memory of playing in Bangor in the early '80s. I looked out in the audience and there was this guy watching us and he looked exactly like Stephen King. We did the show and we're backstage and there's a knock at the door. In walks Stephen King. He was an interesting-looking fellow with the glasses and the black hair. He kind of spooked us. He said, 'Why don't you guys come over to my house and hang out after you dry off.' It was an amazing experience. We went to his house and had a few drinks. We listened to music a lot of rock and roll stuff. He's really a great guy. Did you know he's an audiophile? He's totally all about music.

In November 2000, Loverboy bassist Scott Smith was on a sailing trip to Mexico with two friends when a 25-foot wave knocked him from his boat near the coast of San Francisco. A search conducted by the Coast Guard and a private search by friends and family ended in vain. Smith, a father of two sons, was 45.

Dow: When you lost Scott, it affected you and the band greatly. Was it difficult to keep going after Scott died?

Reno: I was Scott's best friend and he was mine. We did everything together. We sailed, we had businesses together and we had property together. We were best buds. The guys in the band were nice enough to let me decide what I wanted to do. I was pretty distraught. They respectfully stayed quiet and waited for me to come out of the room and tried to put a smile on my face after a few months. I thought it through and received many letters from fans. They told me, 'If this breaks up the band, it would be a double tragedy,' and that went right to my heart. So I decided to continue on in Scott's name.

Dow: I would be remiss if I neglected to ask you about your red leather pants on the cover of 'Get Lucky.' Is it true that you donated those pants to a charity auction?

Reno: That's absolutely true. What we did was we raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We started raising money for them twelve years ago. Interestingly, the first concert that we played as a JDR F fundraiser was the last concert that we played with Scott just before he went missing at sea. By the way, the pants are the all-time number one question, so you win a prize, Mike. Congratulations! You get the backstage brewskies!

Dow: Cool! I'll ask Stephen King if he wants to join me.

Reno: (laughing) That would be great. We'd love to see him again.

Dow: Loverboy's new album, 'Rock and Roll Revival' (Frontiers Records) is an interesting mix. You have some very good sounding live versions of some of your best known songs along with some new material and it all fits. The new songs sound like classic Loverboy. Was that by design?

Reno: This is the gospel truth, Mike. When we get in a room and start playing our instruments, that's what we sound like. We always record live in the studio, all playing together. We don't record each instrument separately. We basically tell the guy to throw the machine on and we just go. We'll record a bunch of takes and hopefully, one of them will be great. That's the thing about Loverboy. When you hear us, we're playing live together. Our producer, Bob Rock (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Metallica) was our original idea. He came up with the idea of using Bryan Adams's studio in Vancouver. Bob wasn't just behind the glass in the producer's chair. He strapped on a guitar and was right there with us.

Dow: How recently recorded were the live versions of your songs on the album?

Reno: They were recorded in Ontario this year. We record a lot of shows. At this particular show, everybody was on 12 instead of on 10. Paul and I (Paul Dean, Loverboy lead guitarist) were listening back and saying, 'These are amazing takes. They have some magic to them.' A lot of us are starting to realize that the public doesn't always have the patience to listen to 11 or 12 new songs, so we thought, 'Let's introduce three great new songs.' I know they can concentrate for at least three new songs! So we gave them a bunch of the magic songs that they've known for all these years and three great new ones.

Dow: When you were growing up, who inspired you musically? Who were the ones who made you say, 'That's a good job! That's what I want to do?'

Reno: When I grew up, it was Humble Pie, it was The Faces, Alex Harvey. There is some great weird stuff from Alex Harvey look him up sometime. Paul Rodgers and Free - his group before Bad Company. Paul Rodgers has the magic voice. I emulated him. I thought, 'If I can get anywhere near this guy in terms of vocals, I'll be doing OK.' Then I started getting into Grand Funk, Cheap Trick. I'm just a total rocker all the way down the line.

Dow: In the late '80s, Loverboy stopped for a while. Did the band officially break up?

Reno: When you stop playing for a while, I don't know why people think, 'Oh, you've broken up!' We never said, 'Hey, we're breaking up!' What happened was, the record company said, 'We don't want anything right now.' At the same time, radio stations stopped playing our kind of music and they started playing different stuff. It was like all of the stations changed at once. We sat back and said, 'What's going on?' I said to Paul, 'Maybe we should just take a little time off and play with our kids while they're still young and wait for the dust to settle because there's something weird going on.' Shortly thereafter, classic rock radio developed and everybody wanted it back so we just jumped back in.

Dow: You're from British Columbia and I assume you watched your share of Canadian TV when you were growing up. I grew up on the border in northern Maine where most kids watched a lot of Canadian TV. What do you remember watching on TV as a kid?

Reno: One of my favorites was 'J.P. Patches' (a children's show from Seattle). I also liked 'Dobie Gillis.' I remember watching Canadian shows like 'The Friendly Giant' and 'Mr. Dressup.'

Dow: There were a lot of mysteries surrounding 'The Friendly Giant.' Remember his rooster who lived in a bag hanging off the wall?

Reno: Yeah, and he played the flute to him, right? It was mesmerizing. They had the drawbridge that went down. And his giraffe named Jerome. It's all coming back to me this is great!

Journey, Pat Benatar and Loverboy hit the Bangor Waterfront Concerts Pavilion on Friday, Sept. 28. Gates open at 5 p.m. Reserved tickets range from $31.50 to $111.50 and are available in person at Mark's Music in Brewer, online at www.WaterfrontConcerts.com and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Mike Dow is part of The Mike and Mike Show airing each morning on Kiss 94.5. Connect with him at www.Facebook.com/MikeandMike and www.MikeDow.net.

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