Boston: Mean Business
GW You mention working very hard on that song, which is impressive since you’re not exactly known as a fast worker.
SCHOLZ [laughs] That is the understatement of the century.
GW How long did this album take to complete?
SCHOLZ It took four and a half years. They’ve all taken four or five years. It’s about the same.
GW What’s interesting is that, even though there’s a lot going on in these songs, the music doesn’t seem as baroque as on the first and third albums.
SCHOLZ I was trying to get a little more basic with things. I want people to hear the chords and to listen to the words that are going over them, as opposed to fancy guitar licks. To me, that focus on flash is really a Seventies/Eighties thing, when everybody had to do something fancy instrumentally that made them seem cool. I was trying to pay more attention to the feeling of the song. I was going to say the “vibe” of the song, but I don’t want to date myself. [laughs]
GW The feel may be different, but the basic Boston sound is still there.
SCHOLZ I’d like to think I was doing something new back then. Obviously, I had very strong classical music roots, and the impact of that ran through an awful lot of the material that was on those early albums, right through Third Stage. That’s what I was focused on—I was trying to get the power and emotion of classical music into rock and roll. But, you know, I did that. Now, I still listen to classical music, but I would like to think that I am getting more emotion into the songs now and having less concern about their musical content.
GW The Rockman seems to have inspired an entire industry. Certainly, it would be hard to imagine the POD or the Pandora having existed had the Rockman not gone first.
SCHOLZ Yeah. I mean, somebody sooner or later would have come up with it, but we definitely showed them that yes, you can do this in a box, You don’t need a great big old tube thing with speakers. Not that the big old tube thing with speakers doesn’t work, ’cause it works great. It just had some big disadvantages.
Actually, I use both. I’ll play some parts through an old, ancient Marshall head I like, running through an old Power Soak that I made 25 years ago [one of Scholz’s first creations, the Power Soak allowed guitarists to turn up their amps for maximum distortion while maintaining very low output volumes—GW Ed.]. And some of it I will play using nothing more than a Rockman headphone amp. To be honest with you, I still prefer basic Rockman sounds for a lot of the work I do on the CDs, and I use it exclusively live. Now it’s harder, because I have to make sure I take care of the stuff that I have, because you can’t buy it anymore. [laughs]
GW Have you continued to develop stuff like that?
SCHOLZ You know, it was fun doing the design work, and it was fun developing it. As a matter of fact, it was a great kick when people who could buy anything would tell me that they own one. But to be honest with you, I hated being in business, and I was very bad at it. And when it started to become more of a business and less of an outlet for my ideas, I totally lost interest. I still am going to develop some ideas that I have, but my only interest is in doing it, and seeing if it works, and doing a prototype for myself. If somebody else wants one, maybe I can get a couple more made. Right now, I’m working on a new kind of ice skate.
GW An ice skate?
SCHOLZ Freestyle skates are the most ridiculously antiquated things imaginable. They’re still using these stupid riding boots with a piece of steel stuck on the bottom. They haven’t changed in 60 years, but I think I have a very good way to attach a blade to a person’s foot, and enable them to use it. That’s my project at the moment.