By Erin Knutson
Special to The Pioneer
Local boy and 64 David Thompson Secondary School graduate turned international pop-metal sensation Paul Dean guitar star of the prolific band Loverboy spoke candidly to The Pioneer about the creative process and inspiration behind the bands recently released album Unfinished Business. The compilation of decades of incomplete work came together when Paul uncovered thirty-five years worth of tracks in various stages.
It turned out really good. Im really happy with it. Id been carrying around all these tapes from 79 demos, lyrics, just all kinds of different experiments. Imagine old analog tapes at half life, but once we restored them to digital, a presence started to emerge.
Starting out with 220 tapes, Paul who now calls Vancouver home admitted it was a daunting task to sift through the material, but acknowledged the process helped to establish the look and feel of Loverboys latest studio release, while encapsulating a lifes worth of thoughts, tones, moods and ideas.
It was a lot, Paul said. Here was a lot of good stuff we didnt remember, stuff from Toronto in 74. Mike Reno (lead singer of Loverboy) would listen to something and give the nod, or say this needs work, or this needs to be rearranged and on and on, until eventually it was finished.
Starting out as a bass player at the age of 16 in Invermere, while he was a student at DTSS, Pauls repertoire consisted mainly of playing surf songs. He recalls The Beach Boys, The Hurricanes, The Fireballs and The Shadows as being huge musical influences for his work.
It was simple. We played with two guitars at a talent competition at the high school and it went really well. Our band was called Chicks Country Gentlemen.
It was during this time that Paul solidified an experimental bluesy sound, and played gigs through the valley.
We branched out and became The Twilighters, which had a surf instrumental feel and we played at the Skookum Inn on a little stage. My dad was there, and my old man complained This band is so loud!
Despite the humble beginnings, Pauls career never let up after he made the decision he was going to be a guitar player.
I never initially thought about becoming as big as we did, but I always wanted to make records.
Monopolizing the only two-track tape recorder at DTSS, Paul never stopped recording, once he got a hold of it.
I remember recording anything on tracks and playing along with it. It was my first time ever recording. I didnt know you could mix tracks back-to-back, not for a long time.
Upon moving to Vancouver to study General Arts at UBC, Paul met an old friend and started playing in the band Kentish Steele and the Chantells six days a week, eventually leaving school to pursue his passion full- time.
The band was interesting, it was more R&B. I had no idea of R&B at the time; I knew the surf sound. After having a year to figure it out, the rhythm and the feel of it, it gave me a good foundation and the first taste of rhythm and blues.
In 1979, Paul returned to Calgary where he formed Loverboy with singer Mike Reno and drummer Matt Frenette.
The bass, drums and guitar sound that gels so well with Loverboy has kept the bands music alive and well. There is no doubt that Loverboy has left its mark on pop culture with Almost Paradise and Working for the Weekend.
People still want to hear us play and we love to play our songs its a chemistry. Mike and I are close, Id be working on a chorus and it was lame until Mike came along and said, I like it, and Matt Frenette has a very military swing, a certain strictness and its easy to play with. His drumming blew me away; hes never played in a way that didnt fit, or didnt feel right. With Matt, we never had to tell him anything. It just feels right together.
The creative process has proven to vary in time, space, dimension and inspiration for Paul, who shed some light on the manifestation of some of Loverboys best songs over the years.
Sometimes you get lucky and the tunes write themselves; others can take years.
The love ballad So Emotional (from the bands second album Get Lucky released in 1981) was born in Invermere as an ode to Pauls wife Denise, after experiencing a romantic outing with her in the rain on Lake Windermere.
It was the strangest thing. It was during one of the famous storms in the valley and the weirdest sensation came over me. I wrote the lyrics the next day.
Other hits including Lovin Every Minute of It (from the bands fourth album of the same name released in 1985 that went double platinum), took four to five years to write.
Some of the newer songs were realized after incubating through a lifetime of experience. Inspiration knows no boundaries, or restrictions for Paul.
Come Undone (fourth track on Unfinished Business) was written in Toronto I started out with a little tune on the piano and then a set of a lyrics. It was sort of a poor me, broken-hearted, pity ballad and then Mike came along, gave it a more positive twist and changed the lyrics. It stood the test of time. The demo was cut in the late 70s.
Keeping things simple is part of what gives the band its distinguished sound, and playing every performance differently through the necessity of playing live has ensured the loyalty of Loverboys fans.
We have one guitar, one keyboard, a set of drums and live vocals. Its about the simplicity, about concentrating and feeling good and building off of each other. By the end of a tune its pretty intense, its how we all play. Its not just about playing without mistakes, its about kicking ass and making sure the rhythm is tight, while complimenting and leaving space for each other. Every night is really different, we have different harmonies, its all about filling the holes, its all about the groove and the swing. It depends on the mood of everyone.
Cheap Trick, The Cars, AC/DC, The Doors, Paul Stanley (KISS), Bryan Adams, Jonathan Cain (Journey) have all influenced or lent a hand creatively to Loverboys sound over the years. Cultivating a love of guitar shredding, distortion and metal, Paul lists Rammstein as one of his favourite bands.
Its a good thing when the music comes together, its great when something blows your mind and you are driving and pull overgoing this is incredible I hope people did that with Turn Me Loose.
The lyrics are heartfelt and genuine for Paul, and writing them is a process that he often works on with his wife, or other musicians and industry moguls.
I will always be writing about an emotion thats come up, or a situation, or like When Its Over, about a relationship and the synchronicity of the love we feel, he said. I was having coffee with Jonathan Cain going over it, and he was like, What were you trying to say and he would dig it out of me. It was really cool and with some layering the song was born.
After four decades of screaming fans, solid attendance at their performances, fun, quirky and culturally interesting experiences in places like Japan, Paul has come full circle.
Paul will be coming home to the East Kootenay to play with Loverboy at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on February 28th during the Canadian portion of the bands current tour.
For all talent starting out in a small town, Paul had a few things to say.
All you need is a glimmer of encouragement at the beginning, that someone gets your music. If you play live and someone says that was pretty good, thats all it takes.