By Timothy Guy
The Press Enterprise
It only takes a few seconds of the first guitar notes of "More Than a Feeling" for Boston's Gary Pihl to create classic rock magic.
And those few seconds are all it takes to get a crowd on their feet and singing along. Boston, a classic rock radio staple, has a string of Southern California dates on the books: Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula on Sunday, The Forum in Inglewood on Tuesday, Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay in San Diego on Wednesday and Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage on Aug. 1.
"I play a 12-string acoustic guitar to start that song," Pihl said in a recent phone interview. "All you need to do is play four notes and the crowd starts clapping and cheering. They know right away. There's 10,000 people, and we're all (on) the same page."
Boston roots trace back to when founder Tom Scholz was attending college in 1969. According to the band's website, "Foreplay" was the first song that Scholz ever wrote. The band went on to massive success with hits such as "More Than a Feeling," "Don't Look Back," "Amanda" and "I Need Your Love."
Unlike other classic rock bands, Boston is not intent on living solely in the past. The group recently released a new album, "Life, Love & Hope," in 2013.
But, even with all the new material, the band is fully aware of what audiences want to hear at the shows.
"We really just do two songs from the new album," Pihl said. "The rest are songs that people grew up with. The new songs are the title track ‘Life, Love & Hope' and ‘Last Day of School.' You never know, we might throw something new in to change things up."
With six studio albums selling millions of copies, the band has perfected a process to come up with the perfect set list for each show.
"We make a list of all these songs and put them together in some form," Pihl said. "You don't want to have all the fast songs together or all the slow songs together. You try to spread them out so the show makes sense."
Thanks to the band's music being featured in movies, television and even video games, younger fans are discovering Boston for the very first time.
"It's wonderful to look out into the audience and see young kids," Pihl said. "You talk with them afterward and ask, ‘How did you find out about our music?' And they say, ‘I just learned about this new band Boston from ‘Rock Band!.' What a wonderful thing."
Even with all the new avenues for people to find the group's music, Pihl said the music business is still mostly the same as it was in the '60s and '70s.
"In one way it's different because of the connectivity of everyone," he said. "But, it's also similar because there are popular songs from popular bands that everyone seems to know and like. They transcend everything. Everybody knows the Rolling Stones ‘Satisfaction' (hums the guitar parts). It's part of our culture to enjoy music and share it with so many people."
Don't expect Boston to stop rocking any time soon. Pihl knows exactly where he'd like to be in the next 5 to 10 years.
"I hope exactly the same place," he said. "Out on tour somewhere, playing rock music. We're enjoying and the audiences seem to, too. I hope we can keep doing this forever."