By Steve Morse
Life has been good to Barry Goudreau, the rhythm guitarist for the platinum-selling band, Boston. His modern, split-level home rests high on a hill overlooking the ocean, while outside his huge living room picture windows are the more immediate pleasures of a sun deck and swimming pool. Downstairs he has a well-stocked, temperature-controlled wine cellar, and when he leaves home he steps into one of his three automobiles -a Mercedes, Porsche or 1965 Corvette.
The son of a Lynn auto body worker, Goudreau, 28, still resides on the NorthShore, in the next town to Lynn, Swampscott. He's come a long way from his high school days 10 years ago when he played in live bands in Boston's seedy Combat Zone -seven sets a night, seven nights a week. "Those were the days when they didn't have strippers, but go-go dancers in cages," he says. "It was a real learning experience. Talk about paying your dues."
Relaxing at home last week, a guitar draped across his lap, Goudreau was eager to discuss his new solo album, self-titled "Barry Goudreau," which is the first solo LP from any member of the group Boston. The album comes at a time when Boston has been off the road for close to a year and shown no signs of recording another disk, prompting a rash of rumors that something is wrong and that Goudreau may be taking steps to break away.
Not so, he says emphatically. "Boston is still my priority. I hope people don't take it any differently. My album was just something I wanted to do for myself."
A new Boston album, he says, is in the works (after the group's first, "Boston," sold an unprecedented 7 million copies for a debut LP, and the second, "Don't Look Back," scaled 4 million), but has been delayed by a lawsuit between lead guitarist/producer Tom Scholz and the group's manager, Paul Ahern, concerning publishing rights.
"The case never went to court and it's just been settled, so we should start working again in a couple of weeks," sighs Goudreau, stressing that "the band is still together, we're all still friends and there will be another record."
There's no telling, however, when that record will come out, particularly because Scholz, who writes the vast majority of the group's material, has been demoralized by the lawsuit and has done little writing of late. "You really have to be in the right kind of mood to work on material," says Goudreau, sympathetically. "Tom has always tried to make his material have a positive outlook, and lately he hasn't had a really positive outlook. But the thing has been settled now, and I know he has been getting back to work."
Aware that a long delay was in store, Goudreau seized the opportunity earlier this year to make the solo record. "I hadn't really thought much about a solo project until last fall when we were over in Europe doing a tour and Fran Sheehan, the bass player in Boston, was talking about doing a solo album himself. I really didn't take the idea seriously, but then he started convincing me it was a good idea and when I got home I decided to give it a shot. Before that, the only time I'd really thought about it was back when I was a kid and first started playing the guitar."
Sheehan, who is a Swampscott neighbor, is still planning a solo record ("it'll probably be a more bluesy, R&B record compared to Boston's sound," says Goudreau), as is Boston's singer, Brad Delp ("his will be a lot lighter than what people expect -light, acoustic tunes and that sort"), but ironically, Goudreau beat them to the punch.
"I was frankly very surprised at how quickly I got it all together," he admits, noting that he wrote the songs last winter, then recorded them in both Los Angeles and Nashville, completing them last month.
The album, a solid mainstream-rock effort loaded with guitar hooks, marks a real stepping-out for Goudreau, whose role in Boston has often been underrated. The album's guitar sound -with its rolling, trebly hard-rock lines -is very similar to Boston's sound, which heretofore has been thought of as solely Scholz' invention.
"When Boston first got going, obviously they needed someone to focus in on, and because Tom wrote and produced the records, he was the obvious choice. So I think most people just saw his name and figured he was doing everything they heard. I think my record will help dispel that."
While the sound of Goudreau's record echoes that of Boston -which may explain why the LP was, according to Billboard, the second most popular new record on radio station playlists across the country last week -the comparison becomes even more acute when you look at the accompanying musicians, who include Boston drummer Sib Hashian and Boston singer Delp. Delp, who is now living on a Southern New Hampshire farm complete with horses, handles the bulk of the lead vocals, principally because Goudreau lacks confidence in his own singing and instead did harmony vocals and stuck with guitar.
But why, when solo albums offer a chance to play with any musicians of your choice, did Goudreau stick close to home with Delp and Hashian? The answer reveals that although he's toured around the world, Goudreau retains a down-to-earth, provincial streak.
"I started playing with Sib back in Lynn English High School, and he's one of the only drummers I've worked with. And I met Brad back in 1969, so when I was writing the songs I wasn't consciously thinking of Brad singing them, but I really was because I didn't feel I could sing them. I've always thought in terms of Brad singing and Sib playing the drums. I really don't know that many other musicians that I would want to play with on a record. I know a lot of people in the business, but not that well, so I just picked the elements I was most familiar with."
However, there is one wild-card entry on the record, an unknown named Fran Cosmo, who sings two gritty rockers that are his own originals. Cosmo was brought to the attention of Goudreau by a member of Boston's road crew.
"He used to be in a group called Celebration that was a fairly big club success around this area," says Goudreau. "But he's living in upstate New York now working construction, because it had got to the point in music where he really wasn't doing anything. He's married with a couple of kids and carries pipe at a construction site. So I called him up and he didn't believe it was me at first . . . But he's been super-enthusiastic about everything because it is finally his chance to do something when he didn't really expect to get the chance at all."
Unfortunately, the public won't get a chance to hear any of the album's new songs performed live, because Goudreau has unselfishly decided to forgo a solo tour. "It had been my plan that if the lawsuit between Paul and Tom didn't end, then I would go out on tour until it did. But I'll go out on tour some other time. I'll live."
Many rock stars today loathe touring, but Goudreau can't wait to get out there again with Boston, even though he knows this won't happen until after the next record is finished, which should be next year some time.
"Yeah, I miss the road," he says. "When a tour is finished there's nothing better than going home, but after I'm home for four or five days I think, What the hell am I doing here? I want to be out on the road.' So I really miss it. For me, my real importance with Boston is the live shows. I play guitar on the albums and so forth, but the songs are Tom's and the production is Tom's, so I really see the live part as my contribution.
"And it probably has something to do with the fact that I'm single and don't have a family to go home to. So it's different for the other guys. For me, I'd just as soon be moving around."
By Steve Morse