Bill Leverty knows just what to expect from his bandmates night after night.
It’s a level of comfort that comes with three decades of touring together … plugging in on stages of all sizes and in countries most folks have never visited.
That familiarity helps make touring a blast for the guitarist who helped form rock band FireHouse back in 1989.
“I’m fortunate to be in a band where we’re consistent. It’s very rare that we have a night where things don’t go well,” Leverty said during a recent phone interview. “I’m lucky and proud to be onstage with these guys every night.”
Leverty and FireHouse – which includes lead singer C.J. Snare, drummer Michael Foster and bassist Allen McKenzie – will visit Troy’s Hobart Arena Sept. 14 when the platinum-selling band opens for Bret Michaels.
The guitarist said it’s one of several shows FireHouse will do with the Poison lead singer.
“We get to do about 10 shows a year with Bret, and he’s a phenomenal performer with an incredible band. He has a huge catalog of songs that he plays,” he said. “We’ll play before him for about an hour … and because we’ve had seven Top-40 hits we’ll play all of those. We pretty much go from song to song and try to kick (butt) the whole way through.”
A rock radio staple in the early 1990s, FireHouse achieved stardom with a string of hits that helped the band garner Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist Award at the 1992 American Music Awards.
The band’s 1990 self-titled debut album spawned the hits “All She Wrote,” “Don’t Treat Me Bad” and “Love of a Lifetime,” followed by “Reach for the Sky” and the hugely popular ballad “When I Look Into Your Eyes” from 1992’s “Hold Your Fire.”
The band again found chart success in 1995 with another power ballad — “I Live My Life for You” – which hit No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
FireHouse further cemented its status as a rock powerhouse by playing huge arenas worldwide, gaining legions of fans in the states, Southeast Asia, Europe and South America.
Thirty years later, Leverty and FireHouse are still going strong, due largely to the band members’ love of music and dedication to their craft.
“I’ve been playing with Michael Foster since 1984, and I believe him to be one of the best rock drummers of all time. Not only is he a great rock drummer, but he’s also a great funk drummer and a great country drummer … he’s very diverse,” Leverty said. “I attribute that to the fact that he grew up playing drums and grew up in family that had a lot of music in the house.”
“Our lead singer C.J. was born in the Washington D.C. area, but grew up in Pennsylvania where he became first chair tenor of the Pennsylvania State choir, so he’s a classically-trained singer and piano player and an incredible songwriter. He was gifted with a voice that is just so pleasant to listen to but has so much power as well,” he continued. “And our bassist – Allen McKenzie – is an Ohioan. Before we got him 17 years ago, he was the lead singer and bass player for the biggest Rush tribute band in the country — he was Geddy Lee — and he lives in the Canton area.”
Although the band members live in three different states – Virginia, Florida and Ohio – Leverty said the musicians look forward to getting back out on the road and playing live shows.
“I’ve noticed a resurgence in our attendance. We’re seeing sometimes two and three generations of fans coming out,” he said. “Maybe it’s something about the melody, maybe it’s the lyrics, or maybe it’s something about the guitar riffs, but I’m thankful that something where the emotional response from the listener has kicked in … and we’re really lucky that that has happened.
“The fans are great. Without them, we are nothing,” he continued. “The fans have made it so that we can do what we love to do as a full time job. There was a time in 1994-98 where the industry made it very difficult for bands of our genre to get any airplay. ‘I Live My Life For You’ is a song that had legs of its own because the fans said ‘we want to hear that song.’ It made it so even in the lean years when we were kind of hurting to get a good gig we still were able to get gigs. We were able to sustain and we really believe our fans are the best in the world.”
Tickets information for the 8 p.m. show can be found on the Hobart Arena website at hobartarena.com.
To learn more about FireHouse, go to firehousemusic.com.