By Gary Graff
Macomb Daily

Gary Pihl didn't join the band Boston until 1985. But he has the distinction of being on every Boston tour, even though the group started touring nine years prior.

Back then, you see, the guitarist and keyboardist was in Sammy Hagar's band back when the Red Rocker was opening for Boston, which gave him a front-row seat to watch the group's ascent -- particularly with an iconic 1976 debut album that's sold more than 17 million copies.

"I was in a club band playing Boston songs in '77 and then was lucky enough to get the audition with Sammy Hagar and join his band,” Pihl, 64, who made several contributions to Boston's most recently album, 2013's "Live, Love & Hope,” says by phone from his home in Massachusetts. "So I went from playing (Boston) songs to opening up for Boston and then playing with Boston.

"It's all about the music. Even now, standing on stage and looking out and seeing people smiling and singing along with the songs, there's something special there. People love hearing that music. I'm grateful to be a part of it.”

With "Life, Love & Hope” out for a year and a half, meanwhile, Pihl reports that there's even more singing along to the newer songs, too.

"As you can imagine, once people hear the songs and have a chance to buy it and listen to it, we've been getting nice requests for it,” he says. "People write into Facebook and it's nice to see they like what we're doing.”

Of course, those fans also want to know what Boston's going to do next. "Life, Love & Hope” was only the group's sixth studio album in 37 years, and its first release since 2002. The 68-year-old Scholz, a onetime Polaroid engineer, is notoriously meticulous, but he says that with age comes a bit more urgency to create something new.

"I still have lots of material that I didn't put on ('Life, Love & Hope'),” Scholz says. "I've gotta finish it before I did -- but I have no idea how much longer that will be. But my approach is I just work on the music as it comes to me. Right now, this year I'm just looking forward to being able to play with other people. Just a rehearsal seems like a rare treat after working on an album for so long.”