Interview with Mike Reno, lead singer of LOVERBOY! Mike & the rest of Loverboy, along with REO Speedwagon and Styx, are performing on the road now with their tour called “Live and Unzoomed”. Loverboy has achieved several platinum albums and a Gold with hits including “Turn Me Loose”, “When It’s Over”, “Lovin’ Every Minute of...
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Chuck (host) (00:00):
Are you working for the weekend and loving every minute of it? Mike Reno lead singer of lover, boy is up next.
Chuck (host) (00:24):
Hello, thanks so much for joining me today. I'm thrilled to introduce our special guest Mike Reno lead singer of Loverboy, Mike, and the rest of Loverboy. Along with Ario speed, wagon and sticks are performing on the road now with their tour called live and on zoom. Loverboy has achieved several platinum albums and a gold with hits, including turn me loose when it's over loving every minute of it and working for the weekend. They've also been on several movie soundtracks, including Mike's duet with Ann Wilson of Hart with almost paradise for Footloose and heaven in your eyes for the original top gun. Mike Joyce me today on the road to discuss the tour and his amazing music.
Chuck (host) (01:05):
Mike, thanks so much for joining me. It's an honor.
Mike Reno (01:08):
Thank you, man. I appreciate you having me.
Chuck (host) (01:11):
Well, we're glad to have you and I gotta ask you about this tour. You're out there now with REO Speedwagon and Styx. We love the name "Live and Unzoomed". It's about freaking time. The black hole of COVID is behind. Yes. How's it going? What's it like to be back out there?
Mike Reno (01:27):
Well, first off it's a pleasure to work with these guys. So we've been friends for years when they invited us to the tour. I was blown away and I was, I was really excited because I mean, there's been like a full house every night. There was 19,000 people last night and I just went, wow, this is insane. Or the night before. So here's the deal. I think people have been locked up for so long. They're just dying to have some fun. And what more fun is it then? Lover boy playing all their hits and then REO or Styx, you know, either bad playing all their hits. I, I, I watch the shows every night. I mean, I'm the last guy, I'm the last guy off the stage. I, I can't get enough of these guys and a couple of 'em play golf, so we're gonna start having some fun when it, when, you know, when it warms up a little bit, spin a little bit rainy here today.
Chuck (host) (02:13):
Yeah. That's that's awesome. So I, I knew, I didn't know about golf, but I also heard an interesting fact that you also are an avid bicyclist that
Mike Reno (02:23):
Bicycles, you know, what have <laugh> funny thing is I've got a couple of nice bikes at home, but yeah, I didn't wanna bring them, you know, you have to package them up and send them. Yeah. And so what I did is I, I, I actually one, my, my roadie went, went on Craigslist and bought one for a hundred bucks and it's perfect. It runs great. Somebody bought it and never used it kind of thing. And so I got I was fortunate enough to get it and I, I was out all day yesterday in it, so it was fun.
Chuck (host) (02:47):
Isn't great. Yeah. Cuz I, I do that too. I just wondered city to see that seems like a great way to see it. Do you like playing your rocks in advance or just kind of wing it when you get to tap?
Mike Reno (02:56):
I wing it, you know, I did have to put on my my tracking device to find a hotel again last night and a Seagul did poop on me, so I knew I was really close to the lake.
Mike Reno (03:08):
Yeah, we had some fun, we had some fun I went cruising around the lake district there and then I realized that I looked up and I realized that we're playing in this big place right over here. And I went, that's where we're playing. Cause I remember, I remember seeing nickel back in that place. Last time I was in town,
Chuck (host) (03:27):
I was gonna ask you Mike, this is actually my, my wife had this question. I kind of think about this too. You've been turned for, you know, while you've been out concerting for a while, you know, since the eighties, I think how has it changed? You know, as far as like the venues, the people, the performance itself, how's it changed
Mike Reno (03:46):
Honestly, nothing has changed really.
Chuck (host) (03:48):
Oh, that's good to hear.
Mike Reno (03:49):
It's exactly the same. The energy's the same, the backstage there's people doing every, everybody's got a job. It's like an watching an an hill, you know, it's like, I, I get there and there's people setting up cables, people moving stuff around and there's other people making food. There's people, ironing, clothes. I mean, it's, it's just, it's the same as it always was. It really is no different, you know, I really, I honestly it's a very comfortable place to be because I'm used to that and I'm glad it didn't change. It feels, it feels the same to me.
Chuck (host) (04:17):
That's awesome. I, I do wanna, let's talk about your musical journey cuz you know, like I said, it goes way back, but I heard, you know, some of your early inspirations on were the Beatles, the rolling stones, of course, huge inspiration. Then you started playing drums and singing background Harvards for, I think your older brothers band when you're just 11 years old. Tell me about that. How'd you get started?
Mike Reno (04:35):
Well, I was a young kid. I was kind of an entrepreneur. I'd started selling morning PA delivering the morning paper and then after school I would, I would go in front of the department store and I'd buy a handful of papers for 7 cents and I'd sell 'em for 15 cents, but everyone would throw me a quarter and tap my head and say cute kid, you know? But I ended up getting enough money to buy a set of drums. My brother was a guitarist, so I said, okay, I'm gonna join him. He's the one who taught me, you know, how to, how to be entrepreneurial. And so he started, I started that he, he, he, he had a band, but I was too young to be in his band until his drummer ended up vanishing. And then he went somewhere and got married and he never came back for the, at least for that weekend.
Mike Reno (05:19):
And my dad pulled a trailer with all our equipment in it. I had a set of drums. I, I was so small. You could barely see me over the Tom Toms, but I knew all the music. Cause I used to watch some practice all the time. Now you gotta imagine this is when I was 13. Right. Wow. So, and I did it and it was great. It was fun. And then after that I started my own bands and I ended up singing and playing the drums. But after a while the guys in the band says, you know, have you seen led Z? Have you seen deep purple? Have you seen like, we, we gotta get somebody out front. And I said, Don, look at me. You know, I wasn't gonna get up from behind that nice barrier. That little comfort zone.
Chuck (host) (05:58):
Mike Reno (05:59):
But doing it. And I guess since I started doing it, I never looked back. I'm I'm kind of comfortable front
Chuck (host) (06:05):
Now. Yeah. It's like you found your destiny. When did you, when did you, when you said singing, did you realize, Hey, you had a thing, a knack for writing songs at that time. When did that start?
Mike Reno (06:15):
Well I left school after I graduated and I went to a bigger town and I said to, and I, I formed a band with a bunch of guys that I, I met and we tried to write some songs. It was just one of those things. We were playing all kinds of great stuff. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> mostly cover stuff. And then we'd throw in a few of our original songs. So I started writing, I guess when I was about 18 or 19, when I was 20, I got asked to join abandoned Ontario, which had done two albums already or three albums. And I, I was kind of forced in and they kind of wanted somebody to come in and help with the writing and I kind of just went, okay, I'll do it. You know, <laugh> I just kind of, and I was kind of, you know, pushed up against the wall. So I did it. I don't know how I even think back nowadays. And it turns out I Crow wrote every song on their album and, you know, put it out. But the band wasn't quite what I wanted in, in, in a band after I, I know three years I, I packed up and left and that's, and that's when I met Paul Dean and that's, that's when my writing really started to get better.
Chuck (host) (07:21):
See, I wondered about that cause I wondered how Loverboy was formed and I love, I always love how names come about. And I heard that Paul Dean actually had a dream that sort of evolved into lover boy <laugh>. Yeah. Is that how your name was chosen? That's so cool.
Mike Reno (07:35):
I told him the night before, you know, I thought a good idea for the band might be, might be cover boy
Chuck (host) (07:41):
Mike Reno (07:41):
Okay. And the reason being is we were hanging out with our girlfriends, watching a movie on a night off of work and writing and stuff. And, and our girlfriends were reading their Vogue magazines and stuff and all the girl, girl magazines and, and I, and that you see the cover girls on the front end. It struck me as cover boy. That would be kind of a cool play on words. And maybe we would, instead of wearing jeans like the Domy brothers, you know, we would wear some nice clothes and get some flashy color happening. And that might be our, our little thing, you know? And as it turns out Paul calls me the next day. He said, I had this dream. Yeah. He says, what if we call ourselves lover boy? And I said, Paul, we are gonna get the snot kicked out of us if we do that.
Chuck (host) (08:26):
Mike Reno (08:28):
And as it turned out, we haven't had a problem luckily, but try living with the name lover boy, when you're in your mid sixties, not easy, Chuck
Chuck (host) (08:35):
<Laugh> well only you could pull it off, Mike. That's awesome. <Laugh> that's, that's real quick to cuz again, I, I know it's been a while you still have new songs. I mean, you have release, which is just came out this year. It's freaking awesome. But still, I mean, I grew up on your music, like, you know, all of our tons of listeners out there. I, I mean some of the first songs I ever remember hearing were like, you know, term, you lose of course working for the weekend, you know, when it's over. Yeah. I grew up with these and I, I actually heard one of your favorite songs to perform or to sing is when it's over. Is that right?
Mike Reno (09:08):
Yeah. Yeah. It is. It was a song broke basically after a 12 year relationship when a bust and it was to no, well, I thought to no fault of my own, of course it wouldn't be my fault of course,
Mike Reno (09:22):
Yeah, no, but I, I went on tour and we were invited to do this tour with Kansas right off the bat, as soon as the first album was finished. And I, you know, we couldn't say no. So my girlfriend, for some reason said, if you take that tour, I'm not gonna be here when you get back. I thought she was kidding. Right. Because I knew I'd be away for a while. Yeah. And as it turned out, I came home after the tour and she was gone.
Chuck (host) (09:50):
Mike Reno (09:51):
I kind of wrote the whole thing. I hope you're with me when it's over. And it was over obviously. Yeah. But I wanted to be friends because we, we never had a bad thing to, you know, to say to each other. It was just she wanted to do something and I had to do something different.
Chuck (host) (10:07):
Mike Reno (10:08):
Chuck (host) (10:09):
Yeah. It is sad, but it's so amazing. You know, where inspiration comes, right. I mean, you, you're an artist and, and you know, that's a real life story it's painful, but you drew from the pain and came up with a song. That's absolutely amazing. I guess to showcase your talent too. I mean, something that I kind love too, is just the music soundtracks that you've, that you've helped with foot loops. Let's talk about almost paradise. You do it with Anne Wilson. 1984. What I heard is that you actually recorded that in one take. Is that true, Mr. Showoff, over here?
Mike Reno (10:40):
You know what I was I was in the studio in Chicago. We had a beautiful studio set up and music was kind of recorded. So really all we had to do with the vocals and Anne was a bit late, but it wasn't a big deal. And she finally got there and I wanted to get comfortable with her. So we sat in chairs, was like, I'm sitting now and across from each other. And I said, you want to drink or anything and her beer or something, you know, being a true Canadian, I offered her a beer. And so we kind of sat there for a few minutes and then talked and then I said, you know, the song. And she says, yeah, yeah, I know it. And I knew it too. I didn't even have a lyric sheet. And we both stood up saying she sang facing me and I faced her in the same microphone. We did it once. And Keith Olson, the producer just put his arms up and went, unbelievable, said, thank you. And it turned out. It turned out really nice.
Chuck (host) (11:42):
Mike Reno (11:42):
Very simple song. And when I was asked to do it, they told me I could pick any female. I wanted to sing it. And I immediately for Ann Wilson because that's great. I dunno if everybody knows this, but I'm from Vancouver, Canada on the west coast, just a little north of Seattle. And they were from Seattle, but they were in Vancouver for like 10 years. And they actually played around all the clubs and we used to go see 'em and they were the band who played all the led Zeppelin covers and they were awesome. I thought they played better than led Zeppelin <laugh> and, and and then they started recording and they recorded in Vancouver. They recorded their first album in mushroom studios where we recorded get lucky
Chuck (host) (12:26):
That that's cool. I'm just thinking now I'm going over these visions. I have cuz I went to Vancouver, my wife and I went there several years ago. That's a beautiful area. What a place to grow up in? I couldn't imagine.
Mike Reno (12:36):
Yeah, it's nice. I kind of grew up in a, in a city about four hours east of there where they grow all of the fruit and the grapes and, and they make now the wine and stuff and there's two big, beautiful lakes. It was called the Okanagan valley, but we used to drive into Vancouver, a whole van full of us, like a bunch of crazy people and go to all the concerts and we used to see hard all the time. It's it's just an interesting story, but I, yeah, I couldn't believe how great she sang and I, I immediately picked her. She was my first choice without a
Chuck (host) (13:06):
Doubt. Well, well you two did just an amazing job, almost paradise, clearly a great song. Another soundtrack of course, kind of populate states too. Top gun the original top gun heaven in your eyes. How did that come about? How did you end up doing the top gun song?
Mike Reno (13:20):
Well, it's, it's a pretty good story. Chuck. I just finished actually sending a quote that they wanted a quote about the, the movie, you know, doing the first movie. So I just sent a quote and it reminded me of the story. If you wanna hear it. We got a call that Simpson and Brook Heimer wanted to, to meet me.
Chuck (host) (13:39):
Mike Reno (13:40):
So I flew down to Los Angeles on, on Monday, went directly to paramount studios, got all the way into this office, walked into this giant office and there was a popcorn machine in the middle of this huge office. And two guys were walking past each other, like two ships in the night talking about things. And it took them about five minutes to realize I was standing right there. And finally they stopped and went, can we help you? And I said, I'm Mike Reno. You wanted to talk to me. And they go, oh yeah. Okay. Mike, come over and look at this. So they took me over in the corner and they put a cassette in and they played a scene from the top gun movie. And they said, could you write a song for this scene? And you know, being overly confident at the time cuz you have to be yeah.
Mike Reno (14:27):
I said, absolutely. I'll do it. When do you need it? And I said, Thursday, I said this Thursday, I said, you know, it's Monday, right? That's like three days from now. So I, I, I, I reluctantly agreed got back on the airplane same day and I phoned and I asked the guys to go in the studio. We had that song worked up part ways. We were working with another guy a friend of ours, who's a writer producer and they had a song started, but it turned out better for us. So we went in and did it and Paul and I finished writing it and for us turned it into a Loverboy song and we recorded it mixed. It sent it down by Thursday and they went, we love it. Thank you very much. And it ended up on the soundtrack. That's, it's, it's really amazing that it happened, you know, in three or four days. Cause stuff like that doesn't happen.
Chuck (host) (15:21):
Well, I mean, when you're dealing with talented people who have the gift and, and, and you certainly do. I mean, it's, it's just amazing. And I gotta ask this too. I know it's been out for a few weeks. Have you seen the new top gun Maverick?
Mike Reno (15:33):
No, but I think I might go tonight. I might go tonight.
Chuck (host) (15:36):
You sh you should definitely see it.
Mike Reno (15:38):
I heard it's I heard it's even better than the first
Chuck (host) (15:40):
One. It is. I have to be honest. We, my wife and I saw on an opening night and, and like you, we have the most amazing wives in the world cuz we had our anniversary a few days after that and she said, why don't we go see it again for anniversary? I'm like, okay, <laugh> she enjoy? <Laugh>
Mike Reno (15:56):
That is, you know what? I, I went over to Chicago. I worked with Tom prick on a song for, to gun Maverick and it, and we sent it in. I imagined a lot of people did. And we had this song that was fabulous as it was called without a bullet being fired. And it was perfectly, it was written for the movie, but I don't think I I'm pretty sure they didn't choose it. But if I go tonight and it's in the movie, I'm gonna go out of my mind, but I don't think they chose it. They would've told me.
Chuck (host) (16:24):
Huh, that's gonna be incredible. My, I just wanna ask you, I guess one more question too, something that amazes me and I don't know why I think this, but sometimes I think, you know, you you're with these other groups and I'm thinking, well, why would you be, you know, are they really friends or not? And you seem to have genuine friendships with these other groups. And it makes sense to me because obviously you and them have something in common, right? You're like writing music, performing music. Tell us about, just about that. I mean some of your great friends, I remember you talking about Alice Cooper and some others. How does that happen? That's just incredible.
Mike Reno (16:57):
Well, you know what it is that we're just people like anybody else. So we're all backstage together with hang I've. I've known most of these guys for years. I mean, we've been playing these concerts outdoor concerts for years and we played together lots of times. And I remember once years ago, Tommy Shaw came on stage with let's in a night club in Vancouver. I think it was even before we got a record contract and he walked up, we, we invited up on, on stage. Cause we, we, we knew who he was and we were kind of going, let's tell him, show you wanna come up and play a song. And he got up. We jacked together. I mean that's 40 years ago and, and, and we're, we're still friends. And when I saw him, I said, I wanna give you a big hug, but we're trying not to get too close to each other backstage.
Mike Reno (17:36):
So we basically just stood and had a nice little chat. We're trying not to any, anybody to get sick with COVID so everybody's kinda bit cautious, but sure. Not as cautious as I thought they were gonna be. And but the backstage kind of restricted, but so a couple of the guys love golf. Ricky bass player with sticks. He wants to golf. Bruce Bass player for Ariel. He wants to golf. I asked Kevin, if you wanna do golf, he goes, you don't wanna see me golf re <laugh>. It's a tough game, but I love golfing. When I'm I, during the, the winter, when I'm in California, I golf three times a day. If I'm off, you know, if I'm not working
Chuck (host) (18:17):
18 holes a time, each time,
Mike Reno (18:19):
Three times a week, did I say three times a
Chuck (host) (18:21):
Day? You just three times a day. I'm like, that's your whole day. My shoulders and back would be killing me. <Laugh> yeah. <Laugh> three times a week. I think that's, I think that's incredible. And I gotta ask you this too. LA, last question here. I promise, I know you're busy with the tour, which is incredible. What's next for you in the band? Any new music or what's coming up,
Mike Reno (18:40):
You know what? We've been dying to go on the studio, but we weren't supposed to be gathering. Now two years has gone by Paul and I had been working on some stuff, Paul and I actually got together once the other guys didn't and we sent some stuff out via email, which we can do nowadays, which I don't know the people under. We can actually do a bed track to music. Yeah. And have our basis in Winnipeg play hi his part and then send it to North Carolina for our drummer. He'll play his part. And a couple of us in Vancouver, we just emailed it around. And Paul came over and we did the vocals and finished the lyrics and everything. And then Paul mixed it. We put a little video out with it. We would like to go back in the studio, to be honest with you, Chuck and just bash out a whole bunch of rock and roll. And we're looking forward to doing it after this tour's over.
Chuck (host) (19:28):
I tell you, well, we're looking forward to it. And Mike, I just wanna thank you again. I wanna wish you and the rest of lover boy, and of course AO be wagon and sticks the best for this tour. Again, our audience out there, go check him out. They're gonna be all over the us. And I think you're actually going to some other countries in there later on. Who knows? But Mike, thanks again for joining me. Really appreciate it,
Mike Reno (19:48):
Mike. Glad Chuck. It was super fun.
Chuck (host) (19:54):
That was such a thrill speaking with Mike! And I'm so excited about their music and their tour. If you'd like to learn more, just go to their website, lover boy, band.com. I wanna thank Mike for joining me today. One, thank you for joining me as well. If you can do me a small favor and like this episode and share it with a friend, I'd certainly appreciate it. Thanks so much for taking time to join us today. We'll see you next time. God bless.