MUSICAL TRENDS MAY COME AND GO, BUT TOM SCHOLZ, BOSTON'S RECLUSIVE ROCK MAN, COULDN'T CARE LESS.
ALONG THE WOODED HIGHWAY THAT LEADS NORTH OUT OF BOSTON STANDS A DINGY RED BRICK BUILDING. HOUSED IN THIS UNASSUMING STRUCTURE IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE ROCKMAN SCHOLZ RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. WHERE BOSTON IS CURRENTLY REHEARSING FOR THEIR FIRST WORLD TOUR SINCE 1988. THE BAND IS TAKING TO THE ROAD IN SUPPORT OF THEIR LATEST OPUS, WALK ON. ONLY THE FOURTH BOSTON ALBUM SINCE 1976. WHEN SCHOLZ AND CO. BURST ONTO THE SCENE WITH ONE OF THE TRULY MEMORABLE CLASSIC ROCKERS. -'MORE THAN A FEELING."
A TALL, LANTERN-JAWED MAN, TOM SCHOLZ SEEMS CRAMPED IN HIS COMPANY'S TINY RECEPTION AREA. SURPRISINGLY YOUTHFUL, HE LOOKS MUCH THE SAME AS HE DID IN '76. THOUGH THE NEW ENGLAND AUTUMN IS WELL UNDER WAY. SCHOLZ IS DRESSED IN THIGHLENGTH SWEATSHORTS, A T-SHIRT AND WINDBREAKER. BUT WHAT ELSE WOULD A CONFIRMED BASKETBALL ADDICT WEAR TO WORK. PARTICULARLY WHEN HE OWNS THE PLACE?
AFTER A VIGOROUS HANDSHAKE, Scholz's first act is to offer me coffee. Like the late Frank Zappa, he is a nocturnal creature. "It's still morning for me," he laughs, "Even though it's late afternoon for everyone else."
He's the quintessential crackpot Yankee inventor, an American original who does things his own way, and the rest of the world be danged. Sometime in the mid-Seventies, Scholz, who scored a Masters in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (M.I.T.) even as he slaved in countless bar bands, discovered his dual calling: analog audio, and what would come to be known as classic rock. He has resolutely stuck with both while the rest of world succumbed to disco, synths, punk, digital, new wave, hair bands, grunge and CDROM.
Like Mr. Edison's lightbulb, Mr. Scholz's brand of rock and roll has proved to be an enduring invention. How many bong hits in how many carpeted vans parked in how many middle-American driveways have been sweetened by some Boston track or other? Tom Scholz's name has become synonymous with exquisite, layered guitar confections and, of course, with his invention, the Rockman, that tiny blue headphone preamp which changed the way rock records were made and which spawned a whole guitar style of its own.
Scholz is the kind of guy who thinks nothing of designing and building a whole new studio to record an album-and that is exactly what he did to create Boston's latest opus, Walk On. As always, in addition to writing most of the material, Tom played 90 percent of the instruments on the disc.
Armed with a mug of half decaf and half hazelnut-flavored rocket fuel, Scholz leads the way into Boston's rehearsal room. The space is cluttered with vintage Hammond organ pieces, drums and Rockman amplification gear of every stripe. Planting himself on a spindly art director's chair, Tom Scholz prepares to give me a piece of his highly iconoclastic mind.
By Michael Molenda
Tom Scholz is one crazy dude. Sure, he's probably a genius, and he single-handedly changed the sound of rock with the meticulously engineered guitar sounds on his classic '70s Boston albums. He also developed the Rockman series of headphone amps and signal processors, and, man, who didn't plug into that stuff during the line's heyday in the '80s? (Scholz detested his sojourn as a manufacturer, and sold the Rockman line to Dunlop Manufacturing in 1995. Only the headphone amps are currently available.)
But when the guy makes an album--such as the brand new Corporate America [Artemis]--he immerses himself in the process for four years or more. And unless there's a lead vocal track to cut, he works totally alone. Is this healthy?
"When I'm recording, I don't have much of a personal life," he admits. "I'm thinking of music constantly, and I have an awful lot of ideas. I also have the stamina to develop most of them--which is one reason it takes me forever to make a record."
There is hope for the man, however. Corporate America marks the first time Scholz allowed other creators into the Boston think tank--collaborating with Anthony Cosmo and Kimberley Dahme, who wrote and recorded tracks in their studio.
"I've always looked for somebody else to contribute," reveals Scholz. "I literally stumbled onto Anthony and Kimberly, and they're the reason I did the record. I had no intention of making another Boston album, because it's too draining. I never wanted the responsibility of writing the songs, being the producer, playing all the parts, and engineering everything. Frankly, I really just wanted to be a guitar player. I never wanted all this other stuff on my shoulders."
By Pär Winberg
Special thanks for this interview goes out to Artemis Records & Gail Parenteau
Read on as we discuss the bands controversial new album Corporate America as well as how Delp joined the Boston family in the first place. And yes, for you inquiring minds, the band really did record the demos to the first album in Tom's basement. And according to Delp, they really did become the record virtually unchanged.
-Jeb Wright, July 2003
Young Guitar Magazine
Everyone forgot about Boston until they released the Third Stage album in 1986. Eight years later, the 4th Boston album (Walk On) was released this month. Boston has become a legend for releasing an album only every 8 years. So who knows, maybe the next album won't be out till the year 2002! Even if it's sooner, Boston still only has 4 albums out in 18 years. That makes them the slowest band in rock history. But any way you cut it, a true fan can take any part of this album and say, "Yep, that's Boston." But, Tom Scholz's guitar work is much more aggressive than on earlier albums, with a veteran guitarist feel. As on the Third Stage album, Tom uses his Rockman technology in the studio to get that perfect tone. This point should appeal to those young listeners hearing Boston for the 1st time.
"I've been working on the development of the Rockman for the past 8 years."