Interview with Loverboy Guitarist Paul Dean

By Mick Michaels
COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Paul! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Paul Dean: Yeah Mick, thanks for inviting me.

CV: What do you remember most from your time as an up and coming young musician just starting out? Are there any fond memories you still carry with you today?
PD: Off the top of my (grey) head, the thing that comes to mind is a comment an adult said to me in ’62. I was 16, playing in my second band, at the Community Center where I grew up. She made a simple comment, and I didn’t realize at the time how important it was. For lack of a compliment on my not so great musician’s skills, she said, “You’re very professional up there.” Ha. That’s almost like saying, “Look at you, such a polite young man.” I would have at the time preferred something like, “WOW, you really rocked the house. You were ON FIRE tonight”…I had to settle for “professional”. But looking back, I guess that IS important in this business. It’s all in the preparation, the attention to detail…like laying down a solid rhythm track on a record, you need a foundation to perform on. Sound checks rule…if I can make it I’m there, getting everything dialed. The fewer distractions, the better.

CV: With 2020 marking your 50th year in the music business, do you feel there are some things, almost necessary evils, that are unavoidable as an artist makes their way through the industry's trenches?
PD: On February 19th, my birthday, it’ll actually be 60 years playing guitar, but who’s counting, right?  You know Mick, I don’t have a list of necessary evils as such, I really can’t complain. We’re humbled to be able to perform for all our amazing fans at 60 or so shows every year, and that’s the bottom line. That said, one of the trickiest roads to navigate is one with managers. Good and bad, I’ve had a few of both. You put a lot of faith and trust in these people, really your whole life if you’re like me, and if you’re lucky enough to find a good one, chances are you might actually make it in this business. I’m happy to say, we have a great management team currently, with Jonathan Wolfson.

CV: Experience offers a unique level of wisdom often unmatched by any amount of theory or assumption. Many young artists, by no fault of their own, are green to what the industry has in store for them and are always looking for advice from experienced professionals such as you.  Paul, are you open, when asked, to part some experienced fueled wisdom to those searching for a bit of the insider's track?
PD: My go to for advise for younger artists is, work on your song writing. There’s only gonna be a few really great guitar players and singers, and the best way to get a leg up is through unique songs. That’s where it all starts, and ends. Also, always appreciate your fans. And to quote my Dad, “Be wary of drugs and booze, that $hit’ll kill ya.”

CV: The ancient samurai of Feudal Japan held the sword in high regards; it was considered the soul of the warrior. Aside from the fame and fortune, has the guitar made you the person, the individual, you are today?
PD: I’m a die hard, dyed in the wool guitar nerd, that’s true. I live and breathe it - playing them, building them, tweaking them. I have 10 or so “swords” in my arsenal, mostly for parts. As I recently learned, it seems it’s an old tradition, going back to the early 70’s with guys like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, that a lot of us love to swap components, like necks, bodies, and pickups, every component on a guitar really, on our Fender Strats and Tellys. I’ve been doing it since the 60’s actually, always in search of that magic combination. I think I’m up to 5 or 6 beauties now…any one of which will do the job, live. There’s 2 or 3 that don’t leave the house though, unless I’m driving to a show in and around Vancouver. The airlines have lost too many already. 

CV: What does it mean to you to have Loverboy’s 1981 song, "Working for the Weekend," as the official Friday 5pm weekend kickoff by radio stations across America and Canada?
PD: It’s a fact that unlike us semi employed, part time musicians, who are only Working ON The Weekend, our fans are still carrying the torch, week after week, working their butts off, waiting for that 5 o’clock cowbell/whistle to blow. And then there they are, every time we come into town, front and center, ready to rock. It’s definitely a Call to Action. And remember, as so many of my friends are fond of saying, “It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.” Makes me wonder if the radio stations in the UK and Australia still play it at 5:00. Imagine 24 hours of Working For The Weekend!

CV: Did you have any idea that it would become sort of the national anthem for the end of the work week it has almost 40 years later?
PD: We played a club on Vancouver Island…close to where Harry and Meghan are hiding out, I believe, LOL, between our first and second album. It was a total meat market…the “customers” were definitely not there for the band. We played two 45 minute sets to zero response, well maybe polite at best…it was in Canada, and nobody was dancing. A large dance floor, right in front of us, empty. We had recently finished arranging and rehearsing the song, but never played it live. So I’m sure you know where this is going…short story, we opened the last set with the song, the dance floor was packed, and now we’re playing Vegas!

CV: Is good songwriting a matter of chance…a luck of the draw sort of thing? Or do you see it more as a culmination of talent, time in and artistic passion?
PD: I must have written 50 songs before I had anything worthy to play for fans. There were a couple of times, I admit I thought I was ready, but in their wisdom, the singers in my first few bands…there’s been 14 in all, would kibosh the idea, and I was back to the drawing board. For me, it was always about drive. I never had a choice…it was something I had to do. Not for, as you said earlier, fame and fortune, who cares about that stuff, but just something I challenged myself to do, mainly to see if I could do it. Sometimes things pop into my head, who knows from where, and other times, nothing, just practicing the same old tired guitar riffs. I always think, when a decent idea does present itself, “Where did that idea, that “gift”, come from? No idea, but thanks!” These days, I get that same feeling just playing my guitar live. Never gets old.

CV: Paul, at 73 years young, there seems to be no stopping you and the band as Loverboy continues to heavily tour and draw newer generations of fans. Does the band have a special regimen to keep themselves in tip top shape or does the music alone keep you all spry and constantly swinging for the fences?
PD: A bit of stretching and vocal warm ups never hurts. But we don’t rehearse much, except for at the odd sound check, where someone has a critique, or an idea for a segue, or a new ending, stuff like that. We’re just excited to play, first with each other, and of course for the fans. It obviously has to start with our inter-band communication, but once that train starts rolling, as you say, there’s no stoppin’ it.

CV: Loverboy's debut performance in 1979 was opening for Kiss in Vancouver. Does Kiss' End of the Road tour somewhat symbolize a double edged edge being the end of a great band’s time and the other as an end to the music industry world of the past?
PD: I’ll believe it when I see it. Give it two years, it’ll be something like, “End of the End of the Road - We Were Only Kidding Tour”. I’d go to that.

CV: Many feel the revolutions within the music industry in recent years have knocked down major barriers, opening up doors for artists on all levels. At the same time though, it has also opened up the flood gates to a massive sea of endless releases, over 25,000 new releases daily, as well as digital piracy and payment distributions that are too small to even make a dent. The consensus is that we can never go back to the way things once were, but can things continue on the path they are now? Is there a happy middle ground or has it gone too far to be recovered in your opinion?
PD: You can’t go back. Personally, I embrace the fact that anyone with a laptop who can count to four and has a bedroom, can make a record. Look at Billie Eilish, what an amazing story. As for payments from Spotify and the like, that’s a bit unfair. 60,000,000 plays, and the artist gets bupkis. But there’s no denying the promotion we all get, and it IS pretty cool to get that many listens. As a music fan though, I love Spotify. Every song ever recorded, for only $10 Canadian a month, are you kidding me?

CV: Looking back over your 50 year career, if you could, would there be something you would have done differently or changed given the luxury of hindsight?
PD: I probably wouldn’t have checked the guitar that Continental Airlines lost in ’84. Some baggage handler scored a very cool Kramer Baretta that day. But not too many regrets other than that, really. Here we are…the band and me, with an amazing bunch of loyal fans, still able to perform for them, relatively healthy, mostly sane…it’s all good.

CV: The kid is still hot tonight...but where will he be tomorrow? What's next for the band? What can fans expect to see from Loverboy in 2020?
PD: We have the 80’s Cruise coming up in March, rumors of going Down Under for the first time, and a ton of shows around North America that we’re grateful to have been invited to perform at.

CV: Thank you again Paul for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It has been a pleasure. I wish you all the best and continued success.
PD: Thanks Mick. Keep rockin’!

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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