Interview: Tom Scholz Recalls the Making of 'Boston' and 'Don’t Look Back'
GW By all accounts, the making of Don’t Look Back was significantly more harrowing than that of the first.
SCHOLZ They were trying to squeeze it out of me like the last bit of decorating frosting out of a paper tube.
GW How much of a time crunch was it?
SCHOLZ It was awful. I was trying to do my usual thing—going into the studio and experimenting—and all of a sudden I’ve got all of these people on my case. “Well, how much longer is it going to take?” And, “Well, how many songs do you have done?” And I went, “Wait a minute! The band you wanted was the one that did its thing in the basement!” And basically the thing got pulled out of my hands before it was done. I needed another song; it’s ridiculously short. It’s absurd for a CD, but it was even ridiculously short for a vinyl album. I also would have gone back and remixed a few of the cuts.
GW When you were making that record, were you sitting there thinking, Oh my God. What did I get myself into with this?
SCHOLZ Well, it was a lot of fun. I mean people pay attention to you all of a sudden, so I didn’t want that to stop, and I’d spent every cent I could make and all of my time getting myself to that point. I never expected it would be that successful, but I wasn’t about to let that slip away easily, so I worked very hard on it. But there was only so hard I could work.
GW It sounds like the kind of high-pressure situation that has blown many a successful musician’s mind.
SCHOLZ An awful lot of stuff happened, and unfortunately, I didn’t know much about human nature at that point, even though I had turned 30 and worked in the industry quite a bit. But, boy, did I learn a lot about human nature! And not good things. It was awful, and the shady, nasty side of the human population that I saw come out was very disconcerting. I was also absolutely surrounded by drugs; it was everywhere. Drugs ran everybody’s life, and I didn’t know anything about it. And I stupidly allowed myself to get around these people because I wasn’t aware of how dangerous it could really be to be around people like that. You know, Brad and I were really, really naïve, and even though I was highly educated and had been a senior project engineer at Polaroid and thought I was pretty capable of handling myself, I wasn’t prepared for what I ran into.
GW Was there part of you after the first tour that was like, “Wow I don’t even want to go back out there again”?
SCHOLZ Things really got to that point during the recording of the second album, and then during the second tour I realized that I could not be around these people anymore. Apparently Brad had already reached that point, because he said he wasn’t going to go on tour again after that. And my initial reaction was, “Well, shoot, I’ll have to find some other singer.” And then I thought, Wait a minute. I don’t want to go on tour either!
So that part of it was all bad. But the albums themselves and the music—listening to those songs doesn’t remind me of all the bad things and of having to deal with all the other people. Because ultimately, it was a pretty personal effort.
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