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Articles Home » 1994 Articles » Boston - 1994 Walk On Interview with Tom Scholz
Boston - 1994 Walk On Interview with Tom Scholz

Written by: Dave Reynolds

'A record is finished either because I don't want to touch it, because I don't want to screw up anything that I like, or else it's as good as I can do, and I'm so burnt on it I don't have anything left.' 'In the case of 'Walk On' it was very much the fact that I didn't want to touch it. I was really happy with it'.

This is how Boston maestro Tom Scholz, the consummate perfectionist, described Boston's fourth album to me during a rare interview shortly after the record was released. The chat with Tom was arranged by MCA, Boston's record label at the time, with the results intended for publication as a one page feature in 'Kerrang!' magazine. Despite the fact that the only other UK magazine to be granted the honour of talking to Scholz was 'Q', the interview (much like similar features on Steve Perry, Foreigner and Extreme during that period) was never used by the title and it languished in my files until being picked up retrospectively by the long defunct 'Frontiers' magazine in 1995 (as was the Perry piece, which I'm amused to find online on a Steve Perry fan site. Sod the copyright, eh chaps?!).

The long wait between 'Walk On' and its predecessor 'Third Stage' made the time Def Leppard took on records look to be positively quick off the mark. Indeed, 'Third Stage', released in 1986, had finally seen the strip lights of a record store a mere eight years after second album 'Don't Look Back' had hit the racks. Tom Scholz could hardly have imagined the day he sat down and began work on Boston's eponymous debut album – released through Epic in 1976 – that it would become one of the fastest selling records of all-time and spawn a hit single in 'More Than A Feeling' that would become one of the most enduring of all melodic rock classics, a track that would become de rigueur on virtually every classic rock compilation album released ever since.

When Boston finally re-appeared with that 'Third Stage' album, it probably surprised everyone, not least new label MCA that it was such a hit. It enabled the band to tour on the back of it ('we never tour in support of an album', says Tom), but only for a mere six months. And even then the dates were limited to the United States, simply because vocalist Brad Delp couldn't be persuaded to stay out any longer.

'I was ready to start the fourth album straight afterwards', reveals Scholz, 'but we had a few obstacles to overcome. The most important hurdle was that there was an urgent need to build a new studio. The old one had become obsolete. It wound up being a much bigger project than I had anticipated'. It took two years to complete the studio, and another year to develop new equipment for use both in the studio and on stage. 'It was November 1990 before I even got to laying tracks down', adds Tom. 'The album was finally completed in December 1993'.

For a record that very clearly retains all the sounds and characteristics of the band, it's interesting to note that only Scholz remains from the original group and that only guitar partner, and ex Sammy Hagar sidekick, Gary Pihl, is around from the set of musicians that recorded 'Third Stage'. 'Boston has always been more of a studio thing that was really only Brad Delp and myself', comments Scholz. 'The musicians pictured on the back cover of the first album were specifically brought in to play live. The guitar player (Barry Goudreau) and bass player (Fran Sheehan) had very little involvement in the studio'.

Scholz does agree that Boston has far more of a band feel now. 'Things are much more cohesive. We work, hang-out, play and co-write together. None of that happened before. It's a much happier environment'. Former Aldo Nova and Giuffria bassist David Sikes has been retained from the 'Third Stage' tour, but Brad Delp is no longer involved in the scheme of things and has been replaced by Fran Cosmo.

As coincidence would have it, Cosmo previously worked with Barry Goudreau in the magnificent Orion The Hunter, who released the excellent 'Orion The Hunter' album through Portrait in 1984 (allegedly Brad Delp, who had sung on Goudreau's 1980 solo album, had been unavailable at the time). 'It's ironic', notes Tom, 'but when Brad went off to do RTZ and other projects, Fran was available. He can sing anything. He performed all the lead vocals on the album, although David Sikes is in there very strongly on the harmonies. The thing about Fran is that he's always been a big Boston fan. He knows all the songs and his songwriting is heavily influenced by the Boston sound'.

Although 'Walk On' hasn't exactly done quite as well as expected straight out of the box in the way that previous product has done (it eventually peaked at #7), Boston are still looking to tour. But, with such disappointing initial sales, the question has to be asked and that's whether the band's still relevant? 'Y'know, one of the things that keeps me going is the fact that when I'm working on a record I don't know when it's going to be finished, whether it'll sell, who will buy it or whether there will be a demand for us to play live', opines Scholz. 'However, I'm inspired by the people who write to me, or who I run into, who tell me how much they love the band and the records.

'I really don't know if Boston is relevant because I don't pay attention to what's going on in entertainment in general. For one thing I really don't want to be influenced by whatever happens to be popular. 'The last rock record I bought was James Gang's '...Rides Again', admits the man who only stayed in tune with what was going on in the music world until the early seventies. And, at a push he'll tell you that he did once listen to the first two Led Zeppelin albums! 'People are always trying to play me things, and I do enjoy turning on the radio once in a while, but while I have a wider appreciation of musical styles, Boston is the only way I want to hear music played!'

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