Classic Rock Revisited
Special thanks for this interview goes out to Gail Parenteau
Barry Goudreau was the original guitar player for the band Boston. During his tenure he played on two albums that have sold over a combined twenty million copies. His guitar playing can be heard on some of the most loved arena rock anthems of all time including "More Than A Feeling," "Long Time," "Don’t Look Back" and "Piece of Mind." Now, some 26 years later, Barry is back with Boston vocalist Brad Delp. They duo have put together a self-titled CD that is available only on Barry’s website. The album is very Beatles influenced and sounds more like the Fab 4 than Boston. None the less, there are several good musical moments on it.
Read this interview as we discuss in detail the key tracks on Barry’s new CD. Then sit back and enjoy Barry’s take on the rise and fall of Boston. Goudreau discusses, in detail, the trials and tribulations the band faced including how he ended up suing Tom Scholz. The Tom and Barry show finally ended with Barry being removed from the band. Orion the Hunter was then born and died but not before touring with Aerosmith during the last of the Toxic Twins drug days. This is a riveting interview.
Jeb: Let’s talk about the new Delp/Goudreau album. You are only selling this on your website aren’t you?
Barry: At this point we are. We wanted to do a really grassroots type thing. Brad and I really did not even plan on doing an entire CD. We played a little bit and then Brad had to rehearse for the new Boston album. We got back together and did a few more songs and then Brad had to go rehearse for the Boston tour. Eventually, we got enough songs together to do an entire CD. We decided to offer this music up to the people who had followed us with the stuff we had done outside Boston over the years.
Jeb: How is going so far?
Barry: It is going great. It is selling well. We are getting tons of inquires from places all over world. I have sent CDs to Sweden, Canada, Norway and tons of other places all over the world. People are finding us and they seem to be really happy with what they hear.
Jeb: It shows how the industry has changed. You can have so much more control than at any time in the past.
Barry: It really is taking things down to the simplest terms. I have a recording studio in my house so Brad and I just recorded it ourselves. We figured that we would keep control of things and keep the music the way we wanted the music to be. People are really responding well. We are very accessible as well. People can email us and the next day we are in touch with them.
Jeb: You and Brad have remained friends since the beginning of Boston.
Barry: A lot of people don’t realize that Brad is actually my brother-in-law. His ex-wife is my wife’s sister. Even when we were not working together I would still see him with the family. I knew what was going on with him and Boston. We just fell into it this time. I had a song and I called Brad and asked him to sing it and help with the lyrics. It turned out to be the song "Hands of Time." Brad liked the song so I told him that I had more songs and I asked him if he would like to hear them. There was not really any plan to what we were trying to accomplish. We were just making music for the love of the music.
Jeb: The last time you played with Brad was the band RTZ.
Barry: Yes, that was it. I have been active since then. People see long periods of time where they think I am inactive but I have recorded several albums worth of material that no one has ever heard. I have had projects that really seemed like they were going to happen but for one reason or another never materialized. I am starting to go back and look at that material. I may put some compilations together and release them over the website. I am actually going to be doing some transfers. A lot of the stuff is on two track tapes that will start to degrade over time. I need to transfer it over to the digital media so I don’t lose anything. I figured I would pull out some chestnuts out of all of this stuff.
Jeb: Where was the cover taken for the album?
Barry: The picture was taken just down the street from my house at the beach. It is amazing what we can do with computers these days. They made us look good!
Jeb: "What You Leave Behind" is a great choice for the first track on the album.
Barry: That is the song that is getting the most attention. WZLX, the classic rock station here in Boston, has started to play that. They have got a really good response from it. They are playing it a lot for a classic rock station. When they spin a track that much from a new album then that means they must like it a lot. That was the second song that Brad and I did together.
The way Brad and I work is that I give him the track with the music pretty much done. He takes it and puts the melody and the lyric on it and gives it back to me. When he sings it for the first time I have never heard a word of it and he keeps it from me. When we got to the end of that song, I had a tear in my eye. It is very moving. We have been getting a lot of inquiries on the website. I even got one from a guy who promotes to Christian radio. He heard "What You Leave Behind" on the website and he told me that it could be a hit on Christian radio. He is going to be playing it to Christian stations and trying to get them to add it to their play list. It is really that inspirational of a cut.
Jeb: You never know who is going to be touched by music.
Barry: I have more contact with my fans due to the website than ever before. It is really touching to have people email in and say that they listened to one of my songs and it helped them get through a tough time in life. You just can’t ask for more than that. I kind of work in a vacuume as my studio is in my house. Most of the time I work by myself as well. It is really wonderful to get that type of feedback from people who email in.
Jeb: "Hands of Time" was the first one you collaborated on?
Barry: I wrote the lyrics to that one. It is about turning 50 and looking back at everything. When Boston first started I really did not think I would be making music at 50. Back before the first Boston album came out we just hoped we could sell a couple of thousand albums and get a second album out. We figured that if we could do two to three records that would be fantastic. Looking back now, it has been quite an accomplishment.
Jeb: "Let It Roll" is a good tune.
Barry: I didn’t get to hear that one until Brad was done with it. Brad didn’t think that I would like it because of the style he used when he sang it. I think people will be surprised that it is Brad because he is singing in the lower register.
Jeb: I agree but it is a little bit shocking. I thought it must be you singing it.
Barry: If this were an RTZ record then I would not have wanted him doing that. We were not worried about it this time.
Jeb: "Out of my Hands" sounds like it has a story.
Barry: I was leaning to the current music style on this song. I tuned down a whole step and got that big, mean kind of thing going.
Jeb: As a whole the album is more mellow than a lot of people might think.
Barry: It does come out a little on the adult contemporary side of things. I guess that is what we are now. I have teenage kids and I am in my 50’s and I am mellowing out.
Jeb: "Keep On Running" is not mellow at all.
Barry: I had never recorded an instrumental before so I decided that was what I needed to do. I started working on that at three o’clock in the afternoon and by midnight I was done. I had it all pent up and was ready to come out!
Jeb: The song "Everyday" must have an inspiration behind it.
Barry: Brad is a little leery of writing sugary, sweet type of ballads. He was hesitant of going forward with that song but he did tremendous on it.
Jeb: "I Need Your Love" is a cool song.
Barry: That is an ode to George Harrison. I should have put that in the title. I started to write the music to that at the same time George passed away. Brad loved that song because he is a huge Beatle fan. He jumped right into that.
Jeb: You can hear a huge Beatle influence on this CD.
Barry: Brad is a huge Beatle fan. He sings in a Beatles tribute band when he is not singing with Boston. He knows every word to every song. If you have not seen his band Beetlejuice, then you will be amazed. You can close your eyes and it sounds just like them. The Beatles took off when I was 13 years old. I was already playing guitar by that time so I wanted to be the Beatles.
Jeb: I enjoyed your song "The Rhythm Won’t Stop." This track has the most rock n roll feel to it on the record.
Barry: I think that is going to be the jam song when we play live. We are working on some of our first dates and that song is going to be the extended jam song in the set. We have committed to our first date. We are going to be playing a Halloween party for the classic rock station. We would like to film a DVD of the set that features the songs that Brad and I have done outside of Boston over the years.
Jeb: A perfect name for that would be Delp & Goudreau: Just Outside of Boston.
Barry: [chuckles] Actually that is pretty good.
Jeb: If a critic said that this album sounded nothing like Boston, would you take that as a positive or a negative?
Barry: Having been in Boston with Brad, everyone compares it to that. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Jeb: You really made this music for music’s sake.
Barry: It is basically just Brad and I working together at my house. We are just like, here it is, this is what we have done and I hope you like it.
Jeb: I was told not to mention the project to Brad when I interview him.
Barry: Brad was out promoting the new Boston album and tour and they didn’t want him talking about anything but the new Boston album and tour, which is fine.
Jeb: I am a huge Boston fan. I don’t really like the new album that well. You are a totally different player now than before. You have really changed over the years as you have gone from Boston to Orion the Hunter to RTZ to this new CD. How do you continue to grow as a musician?
Barry: Gee, that is a good question. Before I did this record I was going through writers block. I didn’t know what style I wanted to write in. I was talking to a friend of mine who told me to sit down and record some musical ideas. Damn if it didn’t work. Once I quit worrying about it then things started to flow.
Jeb: I wish I could bottle the magic of inspiration.
Barry: The best part to me is that Brad keeps the lyrics a secret from me. I don’t get to hear it until he sings it for the very first time. I sit in the control room and he sits out there and sings the song. It really does bring a tear to my eye.
Jeb: Brad is a really nice guy. He treats his fans very well. He interacts with people so well. He is a 25 years music vet and to see him treat people well and not be jaded speaks volumes of the type of person both you and he are.
Barry: I think that inspired attitude comes across in the lyrics that Brad wrote on this album.
Jeb: Did you remain in the music business all of these years or did you develop outside interests?
Barry: I have kept with it over the years. There have been some time where people didn’t see any output but I was working. I still sit in with friends in the Boston area from time to time.
Jeb: How did you get involved in music in the first place?
Barry: I decided that I wanted to be in music when I was nine years old. I saw Elvis on TV and all the girls were screaming and I went ‘yeah’. I kept bothering my parents for a guitar. It took me two years to convince them to let me play guitar. Finally, they borrowed a guitar from a neighbor so I could take a few lessons. I played until my fingers bled and they saw that I was really going to do it. They bought me my first real guitar. By the time I was 13, I was in a band.
Jeb: How did you meet the other guys in Boston?
Barry: I went to Boston University. Right across the river from B.U. is MIT. I had a friend who was going to MIT. He got in touch with me and said we should get a band together. I was rehearsing with him at his fraternity. We decided to add a keyboard player so I put an ad in the newspaper. Tom answered the ad. He had just graduated from MIT and was working for Polaroid. He was comfortable with the fact that he was playing with people who were from MIT.
Jeb: I got an email the other day that said you taught Tom how to play guitar. Is that true?
Barry: When he and I started working together he was a keyboard player. He also played guitar and in the beginning he picked up some things from me. Later on, I picked up some things from him as well. To make it sound like I sat down and gave him guitar lessons is not true. Stylistically, we both took a lot from each other.
Jeb: Do you see your legacy as a positive or a negative or both?
Barry: It is a positive. Looking back it is a little painful to look at how things ended up for me. It was a great time of my life. We had a tremendous run of success and we had tremendous fun in the early years. I look back and have mostly good thoughts.
Jeb: You’re a songwriter but your name is not on the writing credits for the first two Boston albums. Surely, you had a hand in the music.
Barry: I didn’t have any credits on the Boston records. In the earliest days -- before Brad was even involved -- I wrote some songs that we recorded. At the time, Tom’s writing skills had surpassed the rest of us. It was pretty much Tom’s baby. He was footing the bills for it. We didn’t have any problem with his material being the focus.
Jeb: You can’t tell me that he did it all?
Barry: There was input from everybody but a large part of Boston is Tom’s writing. You had mentioned that you were not as happy with the later albums, as you were the earlier albums. I think a lot of that is the fact that Tom has given up a lot of the writing to other people.
Back when I did the solo record, I got four or five songs together and I took them to Tom. For me, getting some writing credit on the Boston album would have been the best thing for me. I brought the songs to Tom on the pretense that I wanted them on my solo record. I really had hopes that he would say, "Why don’t you use this on the Boston record." Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I decided to continue on and make the solo record.
Jeb: If you look at the back of the first album cover you guys are standing next to each other. Now there is all the history of the fighting. I have even heard Tom say that besides him and Delp no one was important in the making of the first two records. That has got to piss you off.
Barry: I have got to admit that the letter he posted on the Boston site was mean spirited at best. I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. I understand that he wants people to know that he was the force behind Boston but I think everybody already knows that.
Jeb: Most music listeners have not been in bands. If you have been in a band then you understand the dynamics. You can feel that you guys were all in synch on the first two records.
Barry: In retrospect, I honestly don’t get it. Part of the problem Tom had with me doing the solo record was the way the record company promoted it. Tom felt that the record company made it look like I was trying to take credit for Boston’s sound and success. Honestly, I didn’t see it that way. The record company and the fans didn’t see it that way either. It was a real problem to him and it led to me not being in the band anymore.
Jeb: Was there any hesitation on your part to not have Brad do a record with you? Did you fear Brad’s career might be hurt by doing this record since he is back in Boston?
Barry: That was totally up to Brad. When I did the solo record, Tom was unhappy about it. Tom went to the record company and told them to stop the promotion on my record or they would not get another Boston record. My record basically died a quick death. Tom got us together several months later and told us, "This is it. Barry is out of the band. I will not work with Barry again." Brad piped up and said, "Barry and I have played and written songs together for years. I want to continue doing that." Tom gave him the nod. Brad and I have had this relationship over the years and we will continue to do it. Obviously, Brad is very sensitive to Tom and Boston. We try not to step on any toes and make things any more difficult than they need to be.
Jeb: What was it like to be in a band where you sell 15 million copies of the first record, 6 million copies of the second record and then have the breaks get put on because of the lawsuit.
Barry: It got pretty tense. Tom thought they rushed him through the second record and he was not going to let that happen again. I guess he decided that he was not going to work. Because of that, I decided to do my solo album. Tom got us together for a meeting towards the end of 1979 and said, "I am not going to work all of next year. If you guys have other things that you are wanting to do, then now is the time to do it." That is really what put the idea of my doing a solo record in my head in the first place. I had decided that I was going to get the record done and out in the timeframe that Tom had given me so I would be ready to work with Boston again the following year. The album was written and recorded in six months. It was released in nine months. I figured I could do some promotion for it through the fall and then be ready to go with Boston. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
Jeb: Did you end up suing Tom?
Barry: When Tom told me that he was not going to work with me anymore we had a disagreement on what I was to receive when I left. We were equal partners in the band at that point. The band had sold tens of millions of dollars. I wasn’t just going to walk away from it. There was supposed to be a settlement when I left but weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything. Six months went by and I couldn’t even get them to return my calls. I wanted closure so I went ahead and forced the issue to get things settled. Looking back in retrospect, I would not have done it.
Jeb: It sounds like it was anger motivated.
Barry: Being on the rocks with someone you were best friends with was very distasteful.
Jeb: Every song on the first album is a classic. A lot of people slag the second record but I love that one as well. It is a great album.
Barry: It has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of six million copies. People say that it was unsuccessful and I am like "Oh my god!" If the second record had come out first then it would be remembered a whole different way. I think the first one was just so tremendous that people would have had a problem with anything we would have followed it up with. Tom was especially aware of that and he felt the record company rushed him to follow up.
Jeb: How does all the bullshit that you went through affect you as a musician?
Barry: I went through a real dry period. Three years went by from the time I did the solo album to the time I did the Orion the Hunter album. I was sort of adrift, especially when I was in the suit with Tom. It was tearing me apart inside and out. It was real tough.
Jeb: I don’t hear that you are being nasty towards Tom. Is it forgive and forget now or is it just out of sight and out of mind?
Barry: Boston did a date several years ago after Fran Cosmo joined the band. Fran was my singer in Orion the Hunter. He joined Boston and they released the Walk On record. It was after I had done RTZ with Brad. Brad had just gone back to Tom. I thought that Fran, Tom and Brad were all very good friends of mine at one time or another. I figured why not reach out to them and try to rekindle something. I called Tom’s people and told them that I would like to come out to the show and basically say hi to everybody. He basically told me that Tom was not interested in speaking to me and not to call again. I tried to reach out but Tom is apparently not interested.
Jeb: That is sad.
Barry: Tom and I were best friends for years. I lived in his house for six months at one period. We were inseparable at one time. To go from that to suing each other is sad.
Jeb: I don’t hear any anger from you that you feel he owes you something.
Barry: What’s the point?
Jeb: I do have to say that Orion the Hunter kicked ass. That was a great band.
Barry: We toured on that album opening for Aerosmith on the Back in the Saddle Again tour. It was when they first got back together but before they dried out. I am telling you that was a wild time.
Jeb: I have heard that promoters were really afraid that Aerosmith would not even show up.
Barry: We would go to a twenty thousand-seat venue and they would have only sold five hundred tickets. We would talk to our road manager and wonder how this could happen. He told us to just wait it out. Once Aerosmith would show up to do their sound check the local radio station would go on the air and tell everyone that they showed up at the venue. There would be a walk up that would sell out the place. It happened night after night. People had been burned by them in the past so they waited till they knew it was a sure thing. I knew those guys from before and we had some pretty crazy times.
Jeb: Were all of the Orion the Hunter guys from Boston?
Barry: Fran used to play in the area in a band called Celebration. When I was putting my solo record together Brad had sung several songs but I realized I could not have him sing the whole thing. I got in touch with Fran and he had some songs that I liked and we hooked up together. The drummer, Michael Derosier, played drums in Heart and I knew him from that. I managed to find a phone number for him and told him that I had this group coming together. The other guys were local guys who Fran had known.
Jeb: With everything else that has gone on, now Fran is in Boston.
Barry: Yeah, that kind of took me by surprise.
Jeb: Are there ever days that you just shake your head?
Barry: Yeah. If you look at the literature and so forth, it does not say a word that he worked with me.
Jeb: What happened to that band? You had some major momentum going?
Barry: We did the Aerosmith tour and it went really well. The record company put as much money into the promotion that they wanted too. When we came home from the tour we kind of just drifted away, to tell you the truth. We didn’t have the big fight or anything. The drive seemed to dry up.
Jeb: What are your thoughts on that album?
Barry: That was the first record that I recorded in the Power Station in New York. I was working opposite of Bruce Springsteen, Ozzy, Hall & Oates and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I was walking on Cloud 9. I was really happy with the way that the record sounded. When I listen to the solo album I am not as happy with it. If I had known that would be my first and only solo album then I would have taken more time with it. I was really pleased with Orion the Hunter. It felt good.
Jeb: Have you thought about re-releasing the solo album and the Orion album?
Barry: I was in the process of getting the rights to those albums several years ago -- I had a call from someone at the label that told me we were ready to go. The next week I found out that they had given the rights to the label Razor & Tie. They are a label in New York who does a lot of re-issue stuff. They have the rights to both of those albums. It sucked. I was told we were going to get them and then they just went out and gave them to them. What are you going to do?
Jeb: How have you not just thrown up the middle finger and gone FUCK ALL OF YOU GUYS!
Barry: I think that is one of the reasons that we went about this project in the way we did. We are totally in control of the whole thing. We are in touch with our fans that care about us the most. If it turns out that some label comes along and really likes it then we would consider it. I am really happy with the way things are going so far.
Jeb: In your live set will there be any Boston songs?
Barry: We are gong to keep it only the songs that Brad and I have done outside of Boston. We are going to promote it in such as way that people won’t show up expecting to hear Boston songs. In RTZ, we did a couple of Boston tunes because we had great pressure to do that. I want this to be the stuff we did outside the band.
Jeb: Last one: Would you ever step onstage with Boston again if it ever came to pass?
Barry: If the situation were right then yeah. Looking back on it Boston was some of the best years of my life. I’m not going to sit on my hands waiting for it to happen.