By Mike Mettler
Sound & Vision
Two of rock's Holy Grail albums, 1976's Boston and 1978's Don't Look Back are finally remastered by the band's meticulous mastermind, and he tells us why they're totally worth the wait. Plus, Tom sounds off about MP3s and surround sound.
Before I had a chance to listen to them, I read a wonderful, telling statement in regard to the reissues of Boston and Don't Look Back: "remastered under Tom Scholz's supervision."
It's true. I did them up here in New England with a couple of trusted engineer friends of mine, and we more than supervised, we took those things apart piece by piece. Every nut and bolt came out of those songs. We tweaked all of the things that couldn't be done with the mixes in the '70s. I hadn't been able to listen to either one of those albums since they were first released on CD in the '80s, or whenever.
Story: J.D. Considine
Photography: Liz Linder
Tom Scholz likes to do things his way. As the guitarist and figurehead of arena-rock pioneers Boston, he'll lay down hundreds of tracks to get a song the way he wants it, and if he can't find a processor to shape a sound properly, he'll build one of his own. When he is forced to compromise -- to cut two-track masters in digital, for instance, -- he does so grudgingly. "It finally became a bad idea to mix anything down to a two-track analog tape." he says, "because nothing is available to the consumer that has not been digitized."
Any why does he dislike digital? "It sounds like crap," he says, laughing. "You want a more technical discussion?"
Scholz may be a nonconformist, but he is a successful one. In the Seventies, as the guitarist and leader of Boston, he cut the group's demos in his basement using recording equipment he built by himself. The effort landed the band a record deal in 1976 that spawned Boston's multi-Platinum self-titled debit and its hit singles. "Long Time," "Peace of Mind" and "More Than a Feeling." In the Eighties Scholz invented the Rockman, a revolutionary headphone-equipped personal amplifier that was the precursor to Korg's Pandora, the Line 6 POD and numerous other modern digital wonders.
But his perfectionism, combined with his technical persuits, prevented Boston from releasing records on a more frequent basis. Eventually, his bandmates -- guitarist Barry Goudreau, singer Brad Delp, bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer John "Sib" Hashian -- were forced to ply their talents elsewhere.
Yet with the release of Corporate America, Boston's fifth full album in 26 years, the group seems more like a real band than ever. True, Scholz still does the lion's share of writing and recording, and is the only instrumentalist to be heard on four of the album's 10 tracks. But Corporate America is the most collaborative effort Boston -- which currently comprises Scholz, Delp, singer Fran Cosmo, singer/guitarist Kimberly Dahme, guitarist Anthony Cosmo and multi-instrumentalist Gary Pihl -- has ever released.
"This is the first Boston album to have complete songs by other people," says Scholz. "Anthony wrote three of the cuts and Kimberly wrote one."
It's also the first Boston album to take a stand politically. And for Scholz, that's the biggest change of all.
By Jeb Wright
Classic Rock Revisited
Michael Sweet knows about tragedy and triumph. He recently lost his wife after a devastating battle with cancer. Her death left him a single father, with a job that keeps him, mostly, on the road. Sweet had to change his priorities, and learn balance in his daily life, something he, all to often, took for granted when his wife was still alive. He also completed a tour with Boston, picking up the pieces left in that band by vocalist Brad Delp’s suicide. During the tour, rock fans discovered the Sweet was an amazing vocalist, an accomplished guitarist, and a maniac on stage. One could not attend a Boston concert without finding ones eye’s drifting to Sweet’s side of the stage. The glory was held in check, though, by the fact that the only reason he was on the tour was that his wife made him take the gig.
It is these kinds of ups and downs that build character in a person. Sweet has reflected on his life, owned up to his weaknesses, and stepped up to the plate, in both his families’ lives and his own. He is fortunate that a chance incident, a condolence sent when Delp died, has lead him to Boston.
Life before Boston, for Sweet, consisted of being the ‘go-to-guy’ in the Christian Metal band Stryper. In this interview, Sweet discusses his days as the good boy on the Sunset Strip, as well as when he went away from the Lord and refused to practice what he preached.
Rock band on stage July 1 in St. Augustine Amphitheatre
By Kara Pound
With hits like "More Than a Feeling," "Peace Of Mind," "Foreplay/Long Time," "Don't Look Back" and "Amanda," Boston became one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970s and ‘80s. Centered around guitarist, songwriter, keyboardist and producer Tom Scholz -- the only original member -- Boston's 1976 debut album is the second biggest-selling debut album of all-time in the U.S. with more than 17 million copies sold.
The band's current line-up is Gary Pihl (lead guitar), Tommy DeCarlo (vocals/percussion/keyboards), Tracy Ferrie (bass guitar), Curly Smith (drums) and brand new member David Victor (vocals/guitar). Compass caught up with Victor to chat about the upcoming tour and being discovered on YouTube.
"I don't ever make a demo - I just begin a recording"
By: Joe Bosso
Asking Tom Scholz to describe the pressure he feels while working on a new Boston album requires a considerable amount of context: Since 1976, the guitarist, who writes, produces and performs as a virtual one-man studio band - refining a sound that began as a highly individualistic means of expression and became hailed as innovation - has released only handful of discs. It's a pace that has amounted to, beginning with Boston's second full-length, 1978's Don't Look Back, roughly an album each decade.
"The pressure is all self-imposed," Scholz explains, "and it's to live up to the expectations of people who are going to shell out their hard-earned cash to listen to the music. It's actually more than that, though. I wouldn't want to make a record that didn't live up to my expectations. So the pressure comes in trying to write and play and produce something that sounds good enough to be something I would want somebody else to hear."