Tom Scholz Interview

In just two years, the group Boston has become a household name the world over. Their debut album sold over 7 million copies in the US alone; truly a phenomenal occurrence in the record business. With the release of their new album "Don't Look Back" (Epic Records), Boston has been hitting the road with plans to tour Australia. New Zealand, and Japan next year. We spoke to Boston's leader / mentor, Tom Scholz.

Q - How do you handle criticism about Boston? I'm talking here about people who are jealous, envious of Boston's first album selling so well.
A - We ignore them. They just knock the music because it's not their brand or they automatically don't like it because it was enormously successful.

Q - Why do you think Boston's first record was so popular?
A - It got a lot of airplay because DJ's heard something in it they liked. Before Paul Ahern, our manager, was managing us, he was an independent promoter, taking records around to various radio stations. He played the tape of our first album before its release to different radio people and there was a lot of interest in it even then. It was a good collection of songs.

Q - What held the group together in those bleak days?
A - We didn't think we were going to be successful. That's a dangerous attitude to have. Statistics show the chances of making it in the music business are extremely small. Barry, Brad and I had been together for 7 years and performing locally got us nowhere. We just didn't have the connections to get bar work. All my effort went into recording that first demo tape which cost Cindy (my wife) and me $30,000. That was spent on studio equipment and band equipment. I sent the tape to record companies and got some nibbles on it. A&M Records. Columbia, and Phonogram were interested. I realized I didn't have the background to determine which was the better record deal so that's where Paul Ahern came in.

Q - Did you make a substantial amount of money from that first album?
A - Every guy in the group got a new house and a new car out of it. I made back my original investment. You don't make that much money from first album record deals.

Q - On your new album you have a line that goes "just meet some friends and have a toke or two." Why are you trying to make drugs seem glamorous?
A - You'll have to ask Brad Delp (Boston's lead singer) about that. He wrote the lyrics, I wrote the music. See how easy I got out of that one? (laughs)

Q - On your new album, the cover has a picture of a guitar, shaped like a UFO, with 3 rays of light coming out. What is the significance of that?
A - We're approaching a new planet. It looks new, but it's strange. It's pretty optimistic.

Q - It's been said of Boston that the group is more of a recording group than a touring group. What do you think about that?
A - We tour more than any other band that's selling in the millions. We're touring more this year than last year. And we're not just performing in major arenas in a city, but in schools in the surrounding areas as an alternative for those people who don't like to fight the crowds. Our present tour started last summer and goes into the summer of '79. We'll be going to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Japan. Touring is beautiful, a relaxing pace compared to anything else. You're playing the music you like; it's good exercise and it's rewarding.

Q - How much musical activity is there in Boston, Massachusetts?
A - There are more musicians here of high caliber than any other city. I'm amazed at the number of people who left this place to go to LA or New York and have come back. There are maybe half a dozen groups in the last two years to get record deals from Boston. Since we made it, there have been two or three groups to get one in the last year.

Q - Your guitar has a very has a unique sound to it. I can't recall any other guitarist getting that sound out of a guitar.
A -Thank you. I like that sound. It has strong sustain, a lot of brightness and mid-range tone.

Q - How many records did your first album sell?
A - A little over seven million in this country and about two and half million overseas. "More Than A Feeling" was not a gold record as a single. It didn't sell a million singles.

Q - What advice would you give beginning Rock groups?
A - OK...three things. (1) Either try to write some songs or have good people present you with songs. (2) Record the songs. Songs are the most important part. Have a representation of them on tape. (3) It's a good way to be disappointed.

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