By Jeff Clark
It's been almost 10 years since Tommy DeCarlo was asked to participate in a tribute concert held for the late Boston singer, Brad Delp. DeCarlo's tale has become legendary -- he was working at a hardware box store when he was discovered by Boston leader Tom Scholz.
But to place DeCarlo in this one spot in Boston's history is to undermine his ability as a singer and his dedication as a performer. As Scholz said in an interview with the Sun Herald, "Tommy DeCarlo is absolutely the best live vocalist. He does for Boston live what Brad did for it in the studio. We're just very very lucky to have stumbled on him."
The importance of DeCarlo's place in Boston's history goes far beyond his humble beginnings. That was, after all, a decade ago. Since 2008, DeCarlo has been Boston's lead singer both on stage and on 2013's "Life, Love and Hope." And it's because DeCarlo is dedicated to his craft as a singer, so much so that he gets up at 6 a.m. on show days and goes through a rigorous routine that includes exercise, getting plenty of fluids and periods of silence.
Scholz, DeCarlo and the rest of Boston -- guitarist Gary Pihl, multi-instrumentalist Beth Cohen, bassist Tracy Ferrie and drummer Jeff Neal -- will bring the Hyper Space Tour to the Saenger Theater in New Orleans at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets start at $69 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
The Hyper Space Tour is Scholz's latest outing for Boston fans. It features new music, new videos and new lights, including some Scholz-manufactured lightning that definitely a sight to see.
You seem to be really confident and comfortable with your place in Boston, especially on this tour -- slapping high fives with the crowd and hitting the notes people want to hear. Do you still get nervous before you hit the stage?
It's a little bit of both. I feel very confident in my abilities, but there's always some nerves before you walk out in front of Boston fans. But it's very exciting because I know we have a great band and the music sells itself. Tom Scholz wrote some of the best rock 'n' roll music that's ever been written, so most of the work is done. You just have to perform it live, which can be challenging, but I think we do a good job of recreating the studio versions of these songs.
As each song goes on in a set list, it's motivation for the next song. If I do a good job on "Rock & Roll Band," then I feel even stronger about the next song behind it."
For me, I really look forward to when "Cool the Engines" and, of course, "Foreplay/Long Time" comes up in the show. Is there a particular song you really look forward to night after night?
I really look forward to getting to "Peace of Mind." It comes at a great time in the set. We play it after "Heaven on Earth," which is a cut from "Life, Love and Hope." "Piece of Mind" is an audience favorite. I enjoy it because, vocally, it fits me well. The fans love it. We get to the chorus section and I hand it over to the fans and they love singing along with it.
Part of the "Boston sound" relies so much on your voice. What's your routine on the day of a show?
On show days, I'm usually up at 6 a.m., no matter where we are, and I'll go down to a fitness center and get a workout in. The key is hydration, and I start that pretty early in the day. I hydrate as much as I possibly can, right up until show time. A technical part of the hydrating is you have to really nurse the fluids you take in. You can't guzzle them down. It's a tedious process.
I also keep quiet vocally. By the time we get to sound check, I'll stretch out both vocally and physically. I run around the venue and get warmed up. After dinner, I shut it down completely and relax. I won't speak a word until show time. Talking is the worst thing for singer's voice. That's why I don't do the meet and greets. That's why I engage as much as I possibly can during a show because I know I'm not going to go out after the show and see the fans, as much as I would love to do it. But I have to sing again the next night and there's nowhere to hide behind that microphone if you can't sing.
You are a big part of the 2013 album "Love, Life and Hope." To me, that's a huge deal -- that Tom Scholz wanted to make an album with you.
Tom giving me the call to come up and record some tracks was really icing on the cake. Recording it was an experience within itself. And working with Tom was one of the most pleasant experiences. Most of the work was done -- all I had to do was put on the headphones and sing with Tom at the consoles and he coached me through the songs we did. It was a lot of fun. I don't know what the plan is for the future, but Tom's such as great songwriter that I hope we do some more one day.