By Anastasia Pantsios
Whoa! It all happened so fast for a group called Boston that it taught them off guard. But, a month after the album's Fall release, it had sold in excess of 200,000 copies and record company personnel were rhapsodizing optimistically about a gold album before Christmas.
All this, and nobody really knows who Boston is yet. Like the liner notes on the album say, they haven't been in any bands you've heard of. Guitarist Barry Goudreau, lead singer Brad Delp and the band's leader and chief songwriter Tom Scholz had been playing together for five years, strictly basement-style, working on their own music while working at other jobs, they quit those old jobs only last June when the band went out to Los Angeles to mix the album, an album which was largely recorded in Tom's home studio. Fran Sheehan, bassist and Sib Hashian, drummer, had been playing in other bands around the Boston area.
Then last year, the band hitched up with a couple of old friends, Paul Ahern and Charlie McKenzie. They were ex-Boston area, ex-promotion men who were looking for something really great to throw their weight behind.
Once you get beyond the obligatory, "Well, I think our music has a wide range of appeal," as an explanation for the band's sudden success, Barry offers a more realistic approach. "Both Charlie and Paul were promotion men and knew a lot of people. They'd never worked with a band before, so they had a lot of favors stored up."
"Reception has been great," Tom said. "We've been getting more encores than we have music to play; We were prepared to travel light and do a 30 minute set. All of a sudden, we need an hour set and a good road crew. In terms of our performance, there's nothing I'd like to improve. We have to improve most in the dumb stuff like equipment and road crew. We didn't even have a road crew until two days before we went out."
"We area five man group," Barry said to me, explaining that the publicity campaign, presenting Tom as a scientific genius from outer space is one good example of how things have been happening too fast for the band. He also emphasized that the record company would be changing its hype to reflect what the band is--a group that plays hard, albeit sensitive, rock & roll and not a cosmic. jazztype unit of the Weather Report/Return to Forever variety.
Later on, when I do catch up with Tom, he backs up Barry's contention. "The intent of the whole thing is to build a unified rock & roll band. This is a real close band. That has made it easier in some ways to deal with this-- we've been eager to do whatever's necessary. But it's hard on our egos. It's gonna blow over as soon as people get tired of hearing about spacesuits and M.I.T."
Boston's thing is not obscurity or condescending complexity. "Our music is songs, hope, catchy things. I was never trying to approach a King Crimson audience." says Tom.
And Sib offers, "We project a lot of energy and excitement. In a band like Aerosmith only the leader singer needs to be turned on. We put it across as a unit."
As yet, whether they are totally putting it across is arguable. At the Agora concert in Cleveland, a small, pervasive rumbling of minor disappointment was in evidence. It was easily relieved by mentioning that the band had been on the road about a week at the time, (The band's album is carefully and complexly produced; despite its deceptive simplicity, duplicating the sound live with all its dynamics will take some time).
The fact remains that the band's instant popularity prohibits them from ironing out small bugs in anonymity. The group is well aware of the problem.
"We're trying to drag our feet to keep things moving at an even speed," Barry explained. "We don't want to burn out too fast. We're just signing an agency deal this week. We should have a tour lined up for later this fall."
And they definitely don't want to headline yet, not until they are ready. "We'd like to go out with someone on the order of Fleetwood Mac," Barry suggests, "someone whose appeal is broad, someone who appeals to older people in addition to the young kids. I'd hate to go out on stage and see nobody over ten in the audience. It's important to us to be accepted by people our own age.
Boston: Metallic and Melodic