Back in March 1999 I did an interview with one of the greatest voices of AOR - Brad Delp. The interview was around the latest release of RTZ, but he also gave us some cool answers about his past with Boston and other cool bands... Please Welcome the man from Boston who returned to zero...
Hi Brad, thanks for a great RTZ record! What are your feelings about it?
Brad Delp: "Whats nice for me about this record is that I hadnt been thinking of these songs for a while when Barry called me up and said that he had interest from MTM in releasing them. The songs had been recorded over a period of time with hopes of putting them on a 2nd RTZ album here in the states. Even though I think Barry does a great job in his home studio (where these were recorded) they were done rather quickly as demos with a plan to rerecord (and polish them up a bit) later. Listening back to them, after not hearing them for a while, I think they have a certain immediacy that can come across in a demo and can, sometimes, be lost when you redo them for a record. When Barry asked me if I was interested in having them released over the internet I thought that was a great idea. Having put the effort into creating those songs, it was nice to know someone (besides ourselves) would have an opportunity to hear them."
Are you gonna release the album in the states?
Brad Delp: "I leave all of those decisions up to Barry. Ive heard from a number of people who ordered the album over the internet so people do have access to it if they search around a bit."
Is it possible in the future to see RTZ live or is this just a studio project?
Brad Delp: "Everyone in RTZ is involved in other projects at the moment. Barry is recording, producing and performing with The Lisa Guyer Band, Dave Stefanelli is recording and performing in a duo called The Beloved Few, Brian Maes has been busy performing and recording a number of solo albums the latest, I believe, is called Brian Maes, The Great Symphony, and Tim Archibald is playing and recording with many bands (including Brians). Im doing some work with Tom (Scholz) and playing out with Beatle Juice but well get into that a little more later."
Do you like to perform live?
Brad Delp: "Even though there can be a certain amount of anxiety associated with it (Ive had bouts with panic attacks over the years) Im still playing out regularly, so I guess the ultimate answer to your question would be yes."
Have you never thought to do a solo album? You write a lot of songs...
Brad Delp: "I have been thinking of (and at various times attempting) a solo album for years but I never seem to be able to get the sound Im hearing in my head onto tape, or any other medium for that matter. Perhaps some day Ill have to stop being so picky. Again, one of the things I liked about this RTZ project was its spontaneity. I think I over analyze my own stuff too much."
What singers have influenced you in the past? And what music did you dig when you where younger?
Brad Delp: "I was just turning 14 in 1964 (do the math folks) when the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. That was a turning point for the whole country and, particularly, for me. I had always liked music; I used to play my sisters Elvis and Buddy Holly records but I never thought of being in a band up to that point. The fact that so much of what The Beatles performed was their own material was a revelation (and Revolution) and caused a lot of us kids to put down our baseball gloves and pick up guitars. Not only that but I was so caught up in that sound. I still remember listening to I Wanna Hold Your Hand on a little transistor radio that I used to listen to under my pillow at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. Sometime later that year I ran into a group of local guys, when I went swimming at the YMCA, who were looking for a singer for their band. I auditioned and got the job. We played all the songs from the British Invasion groups of the time; Stones, Animals, Dave Clark Five, The Who, etc. but The Beatles were always my favorite group. Later, as I started to concentrate on my singing a little more, I really developed an appreciation for soul music. Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and most of all Stevie Wonder. I think Stevie Wonder could sing the phone book and manage to make me cry. I wasnt as aware of him when I was younger but I also love to listen to Little Richard. I watched Billy Joels acceptance speech recently when he was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame and he more or less said that if it wasnt for the black musicians of the 40s and 50s there wouldnt be any white people in the Hall of Fame. I think I would agree with him. I think the Beatles would as well. Their heroes were Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other R&B artists. While Im thinking of it, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins also deserve a mention. I better stop there before I get too carried away."
What kind of music do you listen to these days??
Brad Delp: "I guess Im kind of a retro guy. If you look inside my CD player these days youll find two CDs from Steely Dans Citizen collection, Donald Fagans The Nightfly and three Bob Dylan CDs (two from his Biograph collection and Nashville Skyline). Wonder how I forgot to mention Bob Dylan in the last question?"
What do you think of the rock climate these days in the US?
Brad Delp: "Of the more current bands I like Smashing Pumpkins a lot. I like Soundgarden. I also remember being out on tour with RTZ when Tim (Archibald) came in raving about this new band called Nine Inch Nails. While it isnt considered rock, I think Urban Music (Rap, Hip Hop) is going to be as important to the development of new rock music as soul music and R&B was to the Rock & Roll of the 50s and 60s."
How did you become a member of Boston?
Brad Delp: "In the summer of 69 (sounds like a Bryan Adams song) I was playing in a cover band with Fran Sheehan. We didnt have many gigs, we were mostly just rehearsing. The drummer from that band mentioned that there was a group playing at a nearby club who was looking for a singer for their band. I went down to see them at a little club on Revere Beach (outside of Boston). It was a three piece band then, because their singer has just left. The guitarist was Barry Goudreau (who had auditioned for a band that I was in four or fiveyears earlier). Tom Scholz was playing Hammond Organ and kicking bass with the base pedals of his Hammond. Jim Masdea was playing drums. Barry was the only one singing at the time. Two songs that I remember them playing were Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs and Casey Jones by The Grateful Dead. I spoke with them after their set and they said they had recorded some original songs at a local recording studio and wanted a singer to go back in with them and record some more. I auditioned for them about a week later and got the gig, partly because I could sing Rocky Mountain Way (Tom was a big James Gang fan) and partly because I dont think they had anyone else come down to audition."
When youre looking back in the mirror...What are your feelings today about Boston?"
Brad Delp: First of all, when youre over 45 you shouldnt spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. Recently I went to the Diamond Awards ceremony in New York where, among other albums, the first Boston album was recognized for selling over 10 million copies. Its really quite an honor think that so many people cared enough about something you were involved in to go out and by a copy (in many cases several copies). I consider myself as much of a music fan as the next guy and I know what some of those albums in my collection mean to me. Ive had many people come up and say that More Than A Feeling was their song when they were in high school or college. Its nice to feel that youve touched so many people in some small way."
How was it/ and is to work with such a "special" person as Tom Scholz ? Are you friends?
Brad Delp: "I do think of Tom as a special person. Im not one to throw the term genius around and apply it to just anyone. I think Tom certainly had an ingenious approach to making music and I give him credit for taking an amalgam of songs, and or sounds, that he liked and melding them into something unique. I certainly consider us friends but, for whatever reason, weve never really socialized all that much. That may speak as much about me as it does him."
Please tell me something about the fantastic Orion The Hunter - album. Were the tracks you wrote with Barry such as All Those years and Too Much In Love meant for a third Boston LP in the first place?
Brad Delp: "Were getting into a little hazy area for me (memory wise) on this one but I believe that those songs were written around the time of Barrys first solo album (Which Fran Cosmo and I both sang on). When Barry decided to do another record I had committed to doing the next Boston record so Barry pressed on and formed Orion with Fran as the singer. Conversely, when Tom was working on the Walk On album I had made a commitment to tour with RTZ and so Tom decided to press on with Fran as the vocalist for that record. When I originally came up with the vocals for All Those Years I had pictured as a sort of R&B duo with a female vocalist. When we went on tour with RTZ I had the pleasure of performing it that way live with Patty Barkus who was one of two female backup singers who toured with us."
And what are your feelings about Barrys solo album from 1980. I remember I was quite unsatisfied with it back in the early 80s. I expected a more powerful Boston-esque album...
Brad Delp: "I still get a kick out of listening to that album today. It was a real fun project for me. I think Barry was in a bit of a difficult position to the extent that if the record sounded, "too much like Boston" some people would be disappointed, and others would be disappointed if it, "didnt sound enough like Boston". We really just set out to help Barry make His record. It was particularly satisfying to me because Barry allowed me to put a lot of myself into the lyrics and vocal parts."
Speaking about RTZ again. I remember when the first RTZ album came out. I remember I was really disappointed back then in the fluffy days. Now when I listen to it I like it a lot, but its not AOR, instead a more mature pop album. What is your feeling about it??
Brad Delp: "Again, I think there was a similar attitude, at least with Barry and myself towards making RTZ. We really didnt want to try and make a Boston album but, by the same token we werent going to try and make it sound different just for difference sake. I think it was a pretty honest representation of where we were all at musically at the time."
Tell me about The Arcwelder project. What is that for a CD? I havent heard it...
Brad Delp: "Im afraid Im as much in the dark about this one as you are. People have mentioned it to me but I dont know what project they are referring to. Perhaps you can shed some light on it for me."
What have you been doing between the different projects. Its very seldom I see your name as a studio backing vocals kind of guy like when youre on Peter Wolfs solo album...
Brad Delp: "I really havent done a lot of session work outside of working with Tom or Barry. I did sing some back up vocals on Peter Wolfs album Long Line because I person who produced it is a friend of mine and asked me to come down. Likewise I sang on some demos for a project Ben Orr was working on because I knew some of the other players who worked on it and they asked me to come over."
I heard about The Beatle Juice band. What is that for a band??
Brad Delp: "Beatle Juice is a band that was started about six years ago by me and a bunch of musician friends of mine. We were all big Beatle fans and we used to see each other socially and talk about putting a band together, for fun, that would really try and nail the songs, as close to the records as we could get. We didnt want to try and dress or act like them (there are five of us anyway) but we wanted to stay true to that sound that meant so much to us all. We play at a handful of small clubs in the Boston area (about three times a month) and weve developed quite a following of fellow Beatlemaniacs. The nice thing for me is that, while I meet some people at the gigs who may be Boston fans, ultimately everyone gets into the spirit of the Beatles music. We bill the band as All Beatles All Night which is what we do (no Boston songs), but Im always happy to speak with people after a gig and sign Boston stuff if they bring it with them. We dont ever want The Beatle Band (as I call it) to be anything more than a hobby. We only play when and where we want to and we like to be able to play as long as we want as well. Most shows run over three hours and there still isnt enough time to play all the great songs theyve written."
Did you have a project with Keith Emerson or was it just one track on that soundtrack Best Revenge?
Brad Delp: "This was something that I did a number of years ago (in the 80s) and happened because a lawyer who had done some work for me also was working for Keith Emerson and asked me if I wouldnt mind coming over to the studio where Keith was working to put down a vocal track. I had never met Keith before but I certainly was a fan. We went out to dinner and he gave me a cassette of the song he was working on (with another vocalist on it) and said the record company (or movie studio) wanted to change some of the lyrics. I rewrote a few lines and went in the studio the next afternoon and put down a fairly quick scratch vocal. As I recall, my flight was leaving town later that day and I got a quick cassette made before I left the studio. That was the last I heard about the whole thing until one day "Best Revenge" (the movie) came on cable. I watched the film and heard bits of the song but no vocals were used. I was surprised to see my name listed in the credits at the end of the movie when really none of what I had done was used."
What are your plans for the near future?
Brad Delp: "I guess it would be the two Bs. Beatles and Boston (not necessarily in that order). When we did the last two Boston tours Walk On and the Greatest Hits tour, Beatle Juice went on hiatus. When Tom has no use for me in the studio or on the road, its great fun to play in Beatle Juice. I feel like a kid again playing all those songs I grew up listening to. I havent completely abandoned the idea of, someday, getting myself in gear and actually doing a solo album. Two of the guys from Beatle Juice, Muzz (the drummer) and Steve Baker (the keyboardist) helped me with some demos a number of years ago. Curiously, if it ever gets done, it wont sound like Boston or the Beatles. Its a little more in the R&B area with a ebony porn slight Jazz edge."