How Tommy DeCarlo made the move from price check to soundcheck

By Jeb Wright

Tommy DeCarlo is one of rock and roll’s best rags-to-riches stories. Just a handful of years ago, this polite, Average Joe was punching a time clock at The Home Depot. Then suddenly, he found himself sharing the stage with Tom Scholz as a member of the band Boston. The release of the group’s new album, “Life, Love & Hope,” marks DeCarlo’s recording debut with Boston. Not too shabby, considering it is the first band DeCarlo has ever been in. In the interview that follows, DeCarlo talks about how went from wearing an orange vest to touring with Boston.

GOLDMINE: Tommy DeCarlo is singing on a Boston album. How does that feel?
TOMMY DECARLO: Absolutely incredible. I couldn’t be prouder.

GM: Tell me what it was like working with Tom Scholz in the studio?
TD: Having never recorded in an actual recording studio before, I didn’t have much to compare it to, but the experience itself was amazing. I felt privileged to be there, and at times had to remind myself I wasn’t on a sight-seeing tour and needed to focus on the vocal tracks we were about to record. Tom made me feel very comfortable during my vocal sessions, which ultimately brought out the best in me during those recording sessions.

Boston vocalist Tommy DeCarlo

Boston vocalist Tommy DeCarlo (above) works the crowd during a 2012 performance in Texas. Photo: Jon Viscott, www.viscottimages.com.

GM: It has to be a dream come true to sing on a Boston album. When you first held the CD in your hands and listened to it, what was that experience like?
TD: Believe it or not, being in the band Boston or on a Boston album never actually was a “dream” of mine. I was perfectly content being a fan of the music, and why not? It was perfect! Even though I loved to sing along, never once did I feel I could do a better job vocally than Brad Delp, nor do I feel that way now. That said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity Tom Scholz has given me to be a part of my favorite rock and roll band. As for the first time I held the finished product “Life, Love & Hope” in my hands? Simply unbelievable!

GM: Tell the Goldmine readers how you got discovered.
TD: After the death of Brad Delp, I learned about the “Come Together” benefit show being planned in his memory. I really wanted to attend the event, but to be honest, it just wasn’t in the family budget for me to make the trip up to Boston. Prior to this, I had recorded a couple of Boston cover tunes, sharing them on my MySpace page as a way of paying tribute to the late Brad Delp. Someone friended me on MySpace, suggesting I send my cover songs to the band, even offering up an e-mail address for me to do so. Never thinking in a million years anyone from the band would actually hear my covers, I went ahead and e-mailed the songs, along with the offer to sing them at the benefit show. I could not believe it when I got a reply. It was from Tom’s wife, Kim, accepting my offer!

GM: You had to be nervous as hell to sing in front of the band.
TD: Absolutely. So much so that I was almost hopeful they forgot I was there.

GM: When did it hit you that you were going to be part of the team that replaced the iconic Brad Delp? How did you react?
TD: Just before my first tour with the band in 2008 is when it actually “hit me.” The band added me as a current member on their website, and I must have visited the website 50 times a day for a month just to see my name next to the band members.

GM: How long did you have to keep your day job before you became a full-fledged member?
TD: Shortly after the benefit show for Brad, Tom contacted me to ask if I would like to go out on tour with the band the following year. I said yes, of course. He also asked me to keep it under my hat, as nothing was confirmed at that point. So I continued going to work at The Home Depot right up until we started rehearsals for the 2008 tour.

GM: Express how your life has changed: the good, the bad, the challenging.
TD: The Good: Well, I haven’t had to punch a clock since 2008. The Bad: If spending every day with my wife and kids is bad, then I’ve been real bad. The Challenging: That’s a good question. I don’t feel I have too many challenges in my life right now. I have a wonderful wife of 25 years and two beautiful children; I’d have to say life is pretty good right now.

GM: The Boston family does not like to eat meat. Have you given up eating flesh?
TD: I’m not a vegetarian. However, I do respect that some of the band members are, mainly Tom, his wife, Kim, and Gary Pihl. We have an amazing chef that goes out on the road with us and does an incredible job preparing vegetarian meals for the band on show days.

GM: What are your hopes for the new album?
TD:  We’re hopeful fans will be receptive to “Life, Love & Hope.” Tom put a lot of work into the album, and we’re all very proud of it. Now that the hard work is done (recording), hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to take it out on the road.

GM: How have you changed as an onstage performer since joining Boston? I mean, you had never really played on a real stage before.
TD: I’ve certainly learned a lot since my first tour back in 2008 and feel I do a much better job in terms of my overall performance. It did take some getting used to given the fact that Boston was the first band I was ever in. I owe most of what I’ve learned to my bandmates; they’ve all been huge inspirations to me. Not only do I want to have a solid performance for the fans, but I want to make my bandmates proud, as well.

GM: What is the one thing that would be surprising to people about being in the band Boston?
TD: One of the surprising things to me was how good Tom Scholz is in basketball. We had a show somewhere in Pennsylvania, I believe. The venue had a basketball hoop set up outside, near our dressing rooms. I knew Tom played sports back in the day, so I asked him if he wanted to shoot a little hoop. Funniest thing: He carried his Les Paul out to the court, set it down, didn’t even warm up and knocked down about six jumpers in a row from the top of the key! GM

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