By Sarah Rodman
Boston Globe

Tommy DeCarlo has traded in his orange Home Depot apron for the flashy duds of a rock star. Sunday night the former credit manager for a North Carolina outlet of the home-improvement chain will take the stage at the Comcast Center for his first local appearance as the official co-lead vocalist of the classic-rock band Boston. (He and former Stryper singer Michael Sweet appeared in the Hub with the band last year at a tribute to the late Brad Delp, former Boston frontman.)

DeCarlo was discovered when the wife of Boston's sonic mastermind, Tom Scholz, came across some homemade recordings DeCarlo put up on his MySpace page - with help from teenage daughter Talia - last spring as an homage to Delp. We chatted with the amiable DeCarlo from a tour stop in Toronto to see how life's been going since he hitched a ride with the multiplatinum rockers.

Q: Now that you're a rock star, have you started demanding to have your M&Ms sorted by color yet?

A: Absolutely. (Laughs)

Q: Is it true that you had never been in a band before?

A: I'd definitely never been in a band, and the musician part was really a hobby in my bedroom after work. I'd sit around and sing a little bit and play my keyboard.

Q: Since you're actually living the dream of people who are at home playing Boston songs on the game Rock Band, what can you tell them about how it is versus how you pictured it?

A: Aside from the travel, I really think what didn't surprise me was how the band carries themselves when they're offstage. I know that's not glamorous, but it really is the truth. They're a very down-to-earth group of people with families, and it really is a family atmosphere.

Q: How has the reception been from the fans?

A: You're always going to have a few that have the concerned look, but then toward the end of the show that has changed to a smile.

Q: Is recording with Boston part of the future or is this a step-by-step process?

A: Tom has spoken a little bit regarding Michael and I possibly doing some vocals on some new material that he's been working on. But we haven't really discussed it. Focusing on the tour is the most important thing right now. If that happens, I would be thrilled. It would be an honor just to think that Tom would have an interest in having my voice on a song that he wrote.

Q: I've read that a lot of your Home Depot peeps are supporting you out on the road. That must be nice.

A: It is. One of the funniest things that I've found on tour is when I look out in the audience I see people with a Home Depot apron, hat, or a shirt and they're pointing to it like, "Hey, check this out." I pick them out right away.

Q: Do you think they're Home Depot employees who are also Boston fans or just people who have gotten their hands on aprons and are wearing them in your honor?

A: It's probably a combination of both. Usually, if you've got an apron, you're an employee or you've got a pretty good in be-cause they don't give those out to everybody.

Q: They should start selling them with your face on them, and give you a cut of the action.

A: That would be nice. (Laughs) Set that up, let's see how that goes.

Q: It does seem like they should be taking advantage of the connection since that's the one thing everyone knows about you.

A: Maybe down the road they'll want to jump on board. Maybe they'll give me a race car and I'll start doing the driving instead of [Home Depot-sponsored NASCAR driver] Tony Stewart.

Q: Is that the next dream?

A: Yeah, I want to be a NASCAR driver. I'll put up a MySpace page of me driving a car and hopefully they'll pick me up.

Q: Have you crossed paths yet with Arnel Pineda, the new lead singer of Journey who was discovered on YouTube?

A: I haven't yet and I would love to. I really would because we have kind of a similar situation, and I would love to sit down and say, "Man, isn't this crazy?"