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An Interview With Pablo Cruise

CRUISING: from (l-r)  Larry Antonio, bass; Cory Lerios, keys/vocals; Dave Jenkins, guitar/vocals;  Robbie Wyckoff, lead vocals. At time of publication LCCN could not  obtain identification of gentlemen on the far right.

By Stepheny Gehrig

Pablo Cruise, a San Francisco band, is coming to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on April 12. But before they hit the stage, band-member Cory Lerios spoke about life in a band. 

The five-man band specializes in a smooth pop-rock sound, with popular songs like “Whatcha Gonna Do” and “A Place in the Sun”. Lerios, keyboard and vocals, expressed that the band is excited to perform at Cerritos, but most excited for the energy of their fans.

“But these days, I mean, it’s like the audiences that come out are really hardcore fans. They’re people that really remember the band from back in the day and have stayed in touch with this over these years,” Lerios said. “It’s all about the audience. It’s all about the fans. And, you know, we just love playing.” 

Created in 1973 and gaining popularity throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Lerios shared that the process of marketing the band — before social media — was a vastly different process than it is today. From connecting with fans to presenting music to record labels, even just being on the radio, everything was different, as Lerios said “it was very grassroots compared to what’s happening today.”

“The record labels really got behind the bands they signed. They subsidized the bands on tour, paid for their tours, really promoted the band, but it was through live, it was like, being out getting out and about and also having a really heavy duty promotion team pushing new records are out. And the way they did it is they went right into the radio stations and said you got to play this record, and most of the time, so it was up to how good your team was, and, and, you know, there’s a lot of politics involved,” Lerios said. 

Lerios shared that he is fond of these in-person experiences with music as he notes that modern technology has greatly impacted the industry. Almost as if technology has become a buffer or a hurdle between the artist and marketing their work, specifically for smaller artists. 

“It was analog. It was organic. It was like, you get in a bus and you start hitting cities, and people show up and then you meet them after the shows signing autographs,” Lerios said. “But now, it’s and that’s honestly one of the sad parts of about how the business works. There’s so many great young artists out there that probably will never see the light of day because record labels won’t sign you unless you have a lot of followers. It’s really a lot of social media that makes the band break, whereas back then it was really a great promotion team that went out and got your records played.”

Despite some drawbacks of technology, Lerios shared that there are some benefits that modern technology brings when it comes to creating new music.

“When I sit down and play (piano), I kind of come up with new ideas all the time. If I don’t record them, if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, a lot of times I’ll forget it because a lot of it’s all about like real specific phrasing,” Lerios said. You’ll be playing and you’ll go “this is amazing” and you walk away you go “I’ll remember it,” and then you come back and you actually don’t necessarily remember exactly how you phrase things and whatnot. But the beauty of an iPhone is you just hit record and be documented,” Lerios said. 

In 1986, Pablo Cruise disbanded as the group went on to pursue different individual careers. But it was a difficult choice to disband. It came with much consideration and thought. With the idea of touring present, Lerios, who had just started a family, shared that he believes that relationships can be compromised when on tour. 

“After about 10 years of touring, and you know, being in the studio so much, we just kind of just weren’t liking what we were writing — at least together. So we just sort of went separate ways,” Lerios said. “I had just gotten married. So I figured, I’m either going to be married or I’m going to tour. So I stayed out, I have three sons, and they’re now all grown and, and, you know, so I really spent a lot of time with my family at that point. It’s been really important and rewarding for me now at this point in my life, too, because my sons are my best friends.” 

During that time of hiatus, productions did not cease. Lerios went on to work on music for T.V. working on shows like “Baywatch” and “Kim Possible”. 

“I’d always wanted to write for film and TV and I managed to land a bunch of great TV shows that I not only wrote the title theme, the main titles but also in the underscore,” Lerios said. “It’s been a great thing and I’ve had some big shows like “Days of our Lives” and “Baywatch.” I did all the music for “Baywatch” for over almost 300 shows.”

But, it seemed as if it was fate bringing the band back together as they reformed for a favor for their drummer. 

“Then 20 years later, Dave (Jenkins) and I started talking about it and our drummer was getting married and he wanted to have us play,” Lerios said. “So it almost was the way we got back together after all those years. We played this wedding and then we said, ‘Hey, why don’t we go out and play some more?’” 

Pablo Cruise will be on stage alongside Jim Messina at the Oasis in the Sun Tour on April 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $49 to $89 and can be purchased online at cerritoscenter.com. 

“It’s rated G. It’s a family show.” Lerios said. “It’s a really good band and really good players. I know that our audiences really appreciate the musicianship of Pablo Cruise, plus half the show’s comedy, so it works well.”