“All of the arrangements on Boston albums are basically me alone in the studio at three a.m. using as much imagination with my eyes half-opened. I never know when I’m working on that stuff whether I’m doing something brilliant, or something that’s going to sound really stupid when it’s finished.”
Tom Scholz on songwriting
Whenever the topic of classic rock comes up, Boston is always one of the first bands listed among the greats. They’ve sold more than 75 million records worldwide, making the group one of the world’s best-selling artists. They were ranked the 63rd best hard rock artist by VH1 and held a career spanning over 45 years. Most of Boston’s music was written and composed by Tom Scholz and sung by lead vocalist Brad Delp.
Boston’s debut album held the distinction of the largest-selling debut album of all time for many years. It was surpassed first by Whiney Houston’s debut album, which in turn was passed by “Appetite for Destruction,” the debut album by Guns and Roses. Boston’s first album has sold nearly 20 million copies worldwide.
These interviews were done in the mid-late 1990s with Tom Scholz and the late Brad Delp- who tragically ended his life in March of 2007. Two interviews were done with Tom Scholz. One was in my car sitting outside of the old Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, GA—which was home of the Atlanta Braves from 1997 – 2016, and the stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympic games. Due to a microphone malfunction, the second interview was done over the phone later on. I spoke with Delp over the phone in April 1997. He was an extremely warm and kind man.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Scholz: Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, probably one or two other heavy hitters in there. Well, obviously, Ravel. There’s a Bolero beat in every other song I do.
How did you feel about Boston’s overnight success?
Delp: It happened so fast. The record came out, and two weeks later, we went out on tour. They had set up a tour of clubs in the Midwest; Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland, Chicago, and out in that area. They were clubs that were maybe 500 – 1,000 capacity. They told us we were going to go out for about six weeks to see how this thing was going to do. I remember we went out and what amazed me was that people were singing along with almost every song. The power of radio was really impressed upon me. The tour that was supposed to be six weeks long ended up being ten months long. When I left to go on tour, I was living in an apartment, a modest apartment, and when we got off tour, we had an accountant at the time. I called and said I was thinking about buying a house, and she said, ‘How many you want?’ That struck me a little bit.
“More Than a Feeling”
Music and Lyrics: Tom Scholz
Producers: John Boylan, Tom Scholz, & Rodney C. Thompson
Released as the lead single from their self-titled debut album in September 1976, “More Than a Feeling” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
“More Than a Feeling” was five years for both music and lyrics? Or was it mostly lyrics?
Scholz: See, I didn’t have the music. It took me five years to figure out a chorus and melody to the verse. I had the verse, and I did not like the chorus, which ended up being the hook for the song in its final form. I had some chords for a chorus that somehow, I just hadn’t put together for the melody. And one day, I was fooling around and abusing myself and went from one to another and Well, five years after I had come up with the verse for it, and I thought, ‘My God, it was sitting there all along!’
I immediately came up with a melody for it, and bingo! But it was in pieces up to that point. I had made several recordings of it with different lyrics and a different name.
Brad Delp told me that on the initial demo that he heard, it was called “90 Days.”
Scholz: That was one of the incarnations of the verse, but both the melody and the lyrics were different on that. It had that lick that starts off the song on acoustic guitar, and I had the chord progression for the chorus for quite a while, too, before I realized that with the right melody and the right key, it fit like a glove. But it was one of those puzzles that I didn’t realize I had all the pieces until I had been sitting on it for years.
It took me five years to figure out a chorus and melody to the verse. I’m slow, but I get there.
This album had a spaceship on the cover. What was the inspiration for that?
Scholz: Well, see, Boston music is an escape to me—which to me, all music that I like is an escape. And in Boston, I carry that to the extreme. I want everything on that album to be an escape. That’s why I don’t write those in-your-face lyrics. I want something that you want to listen to but get away from all the things that are bothering you or help you with them. So, space is that whole fanciful thing of UFOs and spaceships and all that, that’s about as far out as you can get.