By Chad Hobbs
One of the must see tours of this summer has been the awaited return of BOSTON. The band is currently on the road to support their new album Life, Love & Hope. The tour hits Columbus on Wednesday evening at The LC Pavilion and also features special guest and local hero Scotty Bratcher as the opening act. Having now seen the band twice and eagerly anticipating a third time on Wednesday, rest assured that this is not one that classic rock fans can afford to miss.
Just like he graciously did two years ago, bassist Tracy Ferrie took some time away from the road to answer some questions of mine; shedding some light on what it is like to be part of the BOSTON machine and what Columbus fans have to look forward to.
Me: It's been a couple years since the last time I got to interview you. How have you been?
Tracy: Great! Thank you for asking. My family is healthy and growing. I am playing music with one of the greatest bands of all time ...life's been good to me so far. Haha!
Me: Now that you've been touring with BOSTON for a few years now, what's it been like to settle into that role as a veteran member of the band?
Tracy: I have actually found the crew and other team members looking toward me to step up and lead in various circumstances on the road; both on and off the stage. Likewise, it's very reassuring when the audience recognizes you from the previous tour and you realize you're part of a band's time-honored and tested historical legacy.
Me: The new record; Life, Love & Hope, is the first new album that the band has released since you joined. Can you share some insight on what that process is like for BOSTON in 2014?
Tracy: As we all know, Tom had spent countless hours creating and perfecting every nuance of this record, sending samples along the way and asking for feedback. Once the record was released, then the question arises, which of these songs will translate live and would be best suited in the flow of the set. A few different songs were tested and what you hear now is what was eventually settled upon.
Me: The first time I saw BOSTON was when they were touring in support of the 2002 album Corporate America. The crowd was pretty receptive to the new music then. How have the new songs translated in a live setting this time around?
Tracy: Well, with every band, you have a scenario of introducing the audience to the new material. In the case of BOSTON, you have a vast audience with music spanning several decades. So, you will have fans that know every note and lyric of the new album and they're pumping their fist and singing along. Others will just take on more of a spectator posture while enjoying something fresh and new.
Me: Which of the new songs has been your favorite one to perform live?
Tracy: That's hard to say, because one of them, Last Day of School, is an instrumental; which frees me up just to play and enjoy the piece of music. On the others, I have to concentrate on my vocals while playing and singing new parts. It's very gratifying when you know you've nailed the new material on any given night.
Me: Besides some new music, and the obvious classics, are there any new tricks you guys have up your sleeves on this year's tour for the fans?
Tracy: Well, for one thing Tom is very interactive with the audience and he is the spokesman throughout the show. It's great to see him get right up on the edge of the stage and seemingly almost fall into the crowd sometimes. The BOSTON ship likewise gets a nice rocket boost toward the end of the set when Siobhan Magnus joins us in singing the song Walk On! If you had a chance to see her on season nine of American Idol you know exactly what I'm talking about. "Walk On ......!!!!!!!!!"
Me: Can you explain a little bit about the promotion that the band is doing at the gigs; where the fans that purchase a copy of the BOSTON Greatest Hits CD can have a chance to win an Epiphone guitar signed by your band mate Tom Scholz and what the money raised is going towards?
Tracy: Tom and Kim Scholz are longstanding advocates of the vegetarian lifestyle, and prevention of cruelty and suffering to all creatures; both human and nonhuman. This summer, at selected concerts on the tour, there is a promotional sale of the BOSTON CD, Greatest Hits. Every CD sold comes with a chance to win an Epiphone guitar signed by Tom Scholz. The winner from each show is announced later that night. Net proceeds of the guitar contest will be split between the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. "What greater legacy can you leave than because of you a species survived, because of you a habitat was protected?" said Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder, Captain Paul Watson.
The Shriners operate a network of 22 Hospitals for Children specializing in orthopedic, cleft lip and palette, spinal cord injury and burn care regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.
Me: Has the road been treating you guys okay?
Tracy: Yes. We have a great crew. We are playing for wonderful audiences. Thankfully, I have held up throughout this journey and to this day remain healthy and strong. It's very important to stay positive and always keep an attitude of gratitude. If you let it, the road life can wear you down overtime.
Me: Alright, as a wannabe musician I need some advice. Recently, I dusted off my guitar and have been playing a little bit with my brother and a friend of ours. I've messed around with some of your band's most classic songs. Songs like Peace of Mind; Foreplay/Long Time; Don't Look Back; Hitch a Ride; and More Than a Feeling. As someone who has had to come into BOSTON and learn those songs, can you share any advice at all to some beginners that want to become more seasoned?
Tracy: For starters it's good to be proficient on your instrument, so you can meet any challenges that you are faced with. When playing BOSTON music it's very important to try to emulate that signature sound. This will actually help you play the parts better, believe it or not; and finally, when listening and learning the parts, try to get into Tom's head! The style that shows up in his rhythm, lea, and bass playing - they're all connected. When I play through the songs, I think to myself how would Tom play this particular passage or riff as opposed to how did he play this particular passage. It's like channeling the mind of the composer.
Me: Thank you, and thanks again for answering my questions. As we wrap up, is there any last comments that you'd like to add, in anticipation of the Columbus crowd that is anxiously awaiting BOSTON's arrival on Wednesday night at The LC Pavilion?
Tracy: Just be prepared for a great show. The more positive energy and excitement you throw our way; the more it bounces back onto the crowd! Thanks Chad for giving me this opportunity to share one of the many great blessings in my life. It's great we could connect again and it's great to be back in Columbus. Once again I say thank you and LETS ROCK!
Doors open at The LC at 6:30 p.m. and tickets can still be purchased at the venue or at all Ticketmaster outlets.