By Joe Tash
Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar must know something about love — after all, the two have penned and performed some of the most memorable love-themed rock songs of the past three decades, from “Love is a Battlefield,” to “Heartbreaker,” to “Promises in the Dark.”
Love has also been a major part of their lives together — their relationship is still rock solid after more than 30 years of marriage and raising two children. They’ve spent countless hours together on stage, in a tour bus or in a recording studio.
“We respect each other a lot,” said Giraldo in a telephone interview from Oklahoma City, where they were set to play on a recent night. They also complement each other artistically — Giraldo plays lead guitar to Benatar’s powerful vocals.
“When we first met, we were each other’s muse,” Giraldo said.
Giraldo and Benatar are currently touring across the U.S. with Journey and Loverboy, as well as performing their own shows this summer. The couple will bring their band to Solana Beach on Friday, Sept. 14, for a performance at the Belly Up Tavern.
The couple got in the rhythm of touring each summer while their two daughters, now 27 and 18, were in school. Sometimes, they’d even let their kids bring friends with them to ride on the tour bus for a week or two. Now that their youngest daughter has graduated from high school, the girls want to stay home and do their own thing, Giraldo said.
“We’ve kind of got the bus all to ourselves,” he said, a sort of traveling empty nest. When they’re not on the road, they split their time between Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Giraldo said both he and Benatar still love playing live, but could do without the travel grind.
“I love it and so does she,” Giraldo said. “Getting on stage is the easiest part, the best part of the night.”
The couple co-writes most of their songs and Giraldo also serves as producer and arranger.
He expects a new Pat Benatar song to be released early next year, and he’s also working on a Christmas album of original songs that will feature a variety of guest artists and genres, from heavy metal to country to Cajun, “a big ‘ol Christmas party record.”
The two have also taken up the pen. Benatar released her autobiography, “Between a Heart and a Rock Place,” in 2010, which Giraldo said inspired him to start writing his own memoir. Benatar is also working on a novel, he said.
They have also ventured into a new business, starting a vitamin company called On the Rock Nutrition, and will start marketing its products later this year in time for the holiday season.
In spite of their long history of touring and recording music, Giraldo said fans who come to see them shouldn’t expect any let-up in the intensity level.
“We’re a serious rock band. When we’re live, we’re ripping, we’re going,” he said.
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo will perform with their band at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach, 92075. The show is 21 and up, and tickets are $69 in advance and $74 on the day of the show. Call 858-481-8140 for information; www.bellyup.com or www.benatargiraldo.com.