BY LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE STAFF
Today, March 9, 2017, marks 10 years since the passing of BOSTON, RTZ, and Beatlejuice vocalist Brad Delp. On Thursday, February 22, 2007, Limelight Magazine conducted a one-hour interview over the phone with Delp from his home in Atkinson, NH. According to our research and a source that was close to Delp, it was his last in-depth print interview before he died on March 9, 2007. While we were planning to write a story about Delp, Beatlejuice and BOSTON at the time, we decided to run this interview as a Q&A in our debut print issue that was released in the summer of 2007. Since then, this has been our most requested interview to read and we decided to post it on our website for the first time on the 10th anniversary of Delp’s death as a way to remember his legacy and extraordinary talent. Below is the word for word text of that interview.
Brad: Hi. This is Brad Delp calling. How are you?
Limelight Magazine (LM): I’m very good. How are you?
Brad: I’m well, thanks, doing good.
LM: We’re starting a new publication, called Limelight Magazine, that’s going to focus on the music of New England and we just want to ask you a few questions about Beatlejuice and BOSTON and music in general.
LM: Could you tell us how Beatlejuice was formed?
Brad: Let’s see. I think we’re in our fourteenth year now. I’ve actually known [drummer] Muzz since 1980. We’ve been good friends since then. In 1986, when BOSTON went out on its Third Stage tour, Muzz was the drummer for Farrenheit with Charlie Farren on vocals. Their first album had just come out and we wound up doing that whole tour with Farrenheit as the support act for us. So that’s kind of my history with Muzz.
Anyway, we used to get together socially quite a bit, usually on the weekends over Muzz’s house. We would get together maybe for diner or a movie. Invariably, drummers always tend to keep their drum kits set up in the basement and in Muzz’s case he had about three kits set up there. So, at the end of the evening, we’d usually go down in the basement and just jam with some of our other friends who were there.
We usually wound up leaning toward Beatles music because the guys that came over usually grew up around that time period and I, of course, was a major Beatles fan. So, we played all kinds of things, but largely Beatles stuff. This went on over a period of time, and again, it started out just socially.
One evening we were together. It was Muzz and I and I think at some point Steve Baker our keyboard player was involved and also Bob Squires who actually grew up with Muzz. I think they went to grade school together. He was our original lead guitar player and had actually played in two other Beatles tribute bands prior to Beatlejuce.
We got together just for fun and Muzz suggested one evening that we try and find a club or something close by and just go on a Wednesday night for open mic and play for people and he eventually booked us.
Prior to that, we actually did one other gig at Muzz’s sister-in-laws’s house. I think it was a holiday like the Fourth of July or something and we ended up playing for a bunch of friends just outside in their backyard, but the first official gig we had was at Bleachers in Salem, MA, on a Wednesday night.
Prior to the show, we just put up posters that said “ALL BEATLES ALL NIGHT.” It didn’t mention who was in the band.
One concern of mine was I didn’t want a big deal being made because I was the guy from BOSTON and have people think that we would be playing some BOSTON songs. So we stared out really anonymously because it was all about the songs.
Right from the start, we tried to get the songs as close to the original arrangements as we could. We did that first gig and I think there might have been one or two people who were there that asked if I was in another band, but no one there really cared.
Since the gig worked out pretty well, we booked a few more shows after that and decided that we would play once or twice a week to keep the band happy and it just grew from there. Eventually word got around about the band and I hope that people came out mainly to listen to Beatles songs.
Since then, we’ve had people come to our shows that I call the “dot org” people. These are the heavy BOSTON fans that are on the BOSTON web pages all the time. When they found out about us, they came because they were curious about what we were doing.
We’ve actually had a couple of people who flew over from England that are primarily BOSTON fans and they sort of designed their vacation around when Beatlejuice was going to be playing. But people at this point realize we don’t do any BOSTON stuff and are okay with that.
Initially, I had this fear that we’d be in the middle of “In My Life” or some Beatles ballad and someone would yell out and ask us to play “More Than A Feeling.” Fortunately that never happened, and again, what started out really just as a hobby and for fun has been going on for 14 years now. We play pretty much every weekend when BOSTON isn’t touring.
Now BOSTON didn’t tour this past summer but we did tour the two summers previous to that. We went out for 10 weeks on one of the tours and around 10 or 12 weeks for the other one.
You may or may not know that there are plans for BOSTON to do a tour this summer. So when that happens The Beatles band in the past has either taken a little vacation or what they did a couple of years ago was they kept everybody else in the band and they got another singer. His name is Jimmy Rogers who is actually a very good vocalist.
My favorite band has always been The Beatles and one of Muzz’s other favorite bands has been the Police. He is a huge Police fan and he suggested to the other members that maybe they put a band together. I think they are planning on doing that this summer while I’m gone. They did that a couple of summers ago. They put a band together, called Juice in the Machine, which is the same idea behind Beatlejuice, except it’s all Police all night. I actually got to hear them before I went out on tour. I saw their first gig a couple of years back and I thought they did a terrific job at that.
I guess that’s a rather long winded answer to your question.
LM: How did The Beatles become your biggest influence?
Brad: I think I was just the perfect age. I’ve always had an interest in music. Before them, it seemed like everyone was playing Little League baseball and I did that as well, but I wasn’t a great baseball player.
I had older siblings and I used to listen to my sister’s Buddy Holly records and Elvis. I was kind of an Elvis fan, too, but I was a little young at that time.
When I was 13, The Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. On the following day at school, there was a big buzz. It seemed like everybody had seen that show. Those of us kids who had kind of a cursory interest in music got the idea that these guys write their own stuff, they play their own instruments, and they go out and perform so maybe that might be something we might aspire to as well.
Even though I never become a good guitar player, I remember my parents got me a Silvertone guitar from Sears which I think a lot of kids had back then. It was a guitar that had a little five watt amp and, if you got the expensive one, it was 10 watts. It was an amplifier that was built into the guitar case. It held the guitar and had a little speaker in it. I think the first thing I taught myself with that little guitar was “You Can’t Do That” from The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night record.
When I was a kid that summer, I met some other kids that were similarly inclined and they were looking for a vocalist. I hadn’t really given much thought to being a singer, but I did know that I wasn’t a very good guitar player. So I was offered to come down and audition to be the vocalist for this band when I was a kid. That was the time of the British Invasion so we did just about every song a new band played when they came on The Ed Sullivan Show, such as songs by The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, and a bunch of other bands. We would try and learn whatever their particular single was that came out and that’s kind of how it started. However, it was always The Beatles for me. There was just something special about them.
I still remember listening to “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on a little transistor radio that I kind of hid under my pillow. They played the top 10 songs of the day or of the week and it was around 10 or 11 o’clock. It was on a school night so I probably should have been in bed, but I had to wait for “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to come on. They didn’t sound like anything else and, of course, Beatlemania struck everyone.
I was also one of the lucky, relative, few people to see them play live on August 18, 1966, when they played at Suffolk Downs, which was part of their last tour. It certainly left an impression on me.
LM: Do you have any favorite Beatles songs?
Brad: There are five members of Beatlejuice. Probably the most important one is Steve Baker our keyboard player. He allows us to play the songs the Beatles couldn’t do back in the 1960’s like “I Am the Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and several other songs.
We kind of run the gamut right from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and the early stuff right through Abbey Road and the “Golden Slumbers” medley.
If I had to pick a favorite song that we play, it’s probably “I Saw Her Standing There.” I can’t tell you exactly why except there’s something about that song and an energy to it that epitomizes the time and what the Beatles were about. That would be my favorite song the band plays.
My favorite Beatles song is a lesser known song called “Yes It Is,” which was first released as the B-side of “Ticket to Ride.” We’re in the process of learning that song now and I don’t know why it took us this long. I just love the real tight three-part vocal harmonies on it. It’s not like any other song I can think of. That’s probably my favorite Beatles song overall. I hope we’re going to be playing that song very soon.
LM: As far as members of The Beatles, do you have a favorite Beatle?
Brad: I think I used to gravitate toward Paul only because I had a high voice and he had the higher voice in the band. The songs that he sang were sort of right in my register and easier for me to sing.
One of the nice things about Beatlejuice is that there are five us. We’re not a look-a-like band and never intended to be. None of us are relegated to being just one Beatle. Since I’m the lead vocalist, I get to sing Paul’s lead vocals on songs such as “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “All My Loving.” I also get to sing John’s songs. I even get to sing Ringo’s part on “With A Little Help From My Friends” and all the George Harrison stuff too. In fact, George was the only Beatle that I had every single one of his solo records.
With Beatlejuice, we stop at the stuff that they did as a band. They have close to over 300 songs that they did over a period of five or six years, which is quite remarkable. We’re only about half-way through their catalog. We thought if we started doing individual or solo songs there’d be no place to stop.
I don’t know if I could pick a real favorite but I think it started with Paul because his songs came a little easier to me than the others.
LM: There are so many Beatles tribute bands. What makes Beatlejuice different?
Brad: I appreciate any band where you have four guys and one of them can play left-handed bass and sing all the Paul McCartney songs. I have respect for people being able to do that, but that was never really our intention.
What we wanted to do and what I think we do pretty well is really try and get the sound so that when people listen they remember us. When people come up and say, ‘that sounded just like the record,’ that’s the highest compliment to me.
As a vocalist, I really try to get the timbre as well as I can. There are a lot of songs that we do where I might sing the verse or I might have to sing Paul’s part and then when it gets to the chorus I might be singing John’s part. To me those songs are so ingrained. I think the timbre of my voice obviously changes depending on which one we’re doing. That’s what we’re really trying to do. I’ve had people come up and say, ‘if I close my eyes I feel like I’m listening to The Beatles.’ If we hear a compliment like that, then I think we’ve done our job.
We don’t mess with the arrangements and the leads and everything else we try to get as close as we can. The only exception to that is a maybe song where they fade out on the record and we have to come up with an ending. We really try to stay true to the originals.
LM: What’s the key to coming as close to their sound as possible. What do you have to do?
Brad: I suppose it helps if you grew up during that period. When I was a kid and when I was in a band, I had to learn those songs because I was the designated singer. My job was primarily to sit down and learn both the lyrics and the harmony parts of the songs.
My musical training was just from listening to those records and trying to discern what the parts were. I’m self-taught. I don’t read music. I’m not particularly proud of that. However, just being so close to The Beatles as a kid and being so reverential toward them has helped me to recreate their sound. They were certainly my idols. I think it helps if you were there, but I don’t think you necessarily have to be. A lot of the stuff is so ingrained in my memory.
I always say that the great thing for me about being in this band is I can tell you right where I was the first time I heard a particular Beatles song. For example, I was in my high school parking lot in my car with the radio on when “Penny Lane” had just come out. So, when we play those songs, it makes me feel 15 or 16 again or however old I was. Hopefully, that’s what it does for the people who come to our shows that are old enough to remember.
About half of the shows we do are in clubs where you have to be 21 or over, but we also do all ages shows. It’s always kind of interesting for me to see kids as young as like 10, 11 or 12 and a lot of teenagers that know all the songs just as well as the adults. When you see kids who obviously weren’t around then and know all the lyrics, I find that kind of interesting.
LM: What do you think of the concept of tribute bands in general?
Brad: I have some friends that are in a terrific Led Zeppelin tribute band called Four Sticks. They’re mostly from the southern New Hampshire area. They pretty much do the same thing that we do. They are not interested in trying to look like them or anything. They grew up and had such fondness for their music that they really try and nail it. I think they do a great job at it as well.
Obviously, there are some tribute bands that are maybe just put together as a business and then I think it’s more of a job. With us, we never wanted it to become a job. I think if you’re intentions are in the right place it can be a great thing. I never thought after 14 years we’d be busier now than we were when we first started.
We could probably play five nights a week if we wanted to with the requests that we have to play. I wouldn’t be happy playing five nights a week for only an hour so we usually play close to 50 and 60 songs over the course of a night.
I’m in charge of making up the set list and the first set list is close to 30 songs because the old ones are like two or two-and-a-half minutes long and you can go right though them rather quickly. The hard part about making up the set list is deciding what songs to leave out because they are all great.
As to the actually set, the first half is usually about an hour and 20 minutes because we don’t take a lot of time in between songs if we can help it. I would be happy if I didn’t have to say two words all night and we could just play the songs. It’s not that I’m anti-social or anything, but we just really want to do as many songs as we can so people can hear them.
LM: Songs were shorter back then as well too.
Brad: They were. It didn’t start off as a conscious thing but the first set mostly tends to be the older songs like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” through “A Hard Day’s Night,” with some other songs thrown in. The second set mainly goes from “Help” through “Golden Slumbers.”
But again, remember that between “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “A Day In The Life” was only three years. Sgt. Pepper came out in 1967 and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” came out in 1964. When you think of the amount of songs and the fact that almost every single song people know is truly amazing. With most bands you know one song out of 12 that were put out on an album and the albums were just there. Not only were the Beatles terribly prolific, but almost every single song got airplay. I don’t think you say that about any other band, at least, that I can think of.
LM: Can you tell us about the upcoming BOSTON tour. What can we expect?
Brad: I can’t give you any dates because I haven’t got any myself. I can tell you that we’ve been rehearsing for the past few months and a little differently than we have done in the past.
In the past, we kind of sequestered ourselves for maybe three months forward and just worked night and day leading up to the tour. This time Tom Scholz has decided that we should get together maybe for a weekend every month and go over half a dozen songs and then the next time we meet add another three or four songs to that and so on.
Hopefully, the tour will begin sometime in June, but again that’s sort of a general plan. We’ll probably be out on the road from June through August. The last time we went out I think we did like 60 shows. I would guess the tour would be somewhere in that line.
Had we gone out last year in ‘06 that would have been our 30th anniversary, which seems amazing to me that it’s been that long since the release of the first BOSTON record in August of ‘76. So this will be 31 years seeing that we didn’t get to do a 30th anniversary tour. Partly due to that, we’ll be concentrating pretty heavily on the first couple of records. We don’t have as huge a catalog as The Beatles, but Tom is planning on doing a few things that we haven’t actually played for quite a number of tours. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
I’m very lucky that I get to do this, especially when there’s still an interest in classic rock. Two years ago, the last show that we did on the BOSTON tour was a festival out in California. It was us, Styx, REO Speedwagon and the Edgar Winter Band. All of these bands were a lot of the same bands that we went out with initially in the mid-1970s. It was interesting to see so many bands that are still out there and it’s nice to know that people want to come and hear it. So, I get to do that every now and then and I get to play Beatles songs on the weekends, which never gets old for me.
LM: You have a new BOSTON album in the works?
Brad: I don’t think they’ll be a BOSTON record out before this tour. I know Tom had been working on some things, but again, I don’t know when that’ll be done. It certainly won’t happen before this summer.
Given the fact that it’s basically our 30th anniversary, we know what people want to hear and you have a lot of input from bandboston.com and boston.org. We try and pay attention to what people are saying and the fans that have been with us for all those years. We’ll be trying to accommodating them. Not that we haven’t in the past, but a lot of the stuff will come from our first two studio albums. They’ll also be stuff from Third Stage and Walk On, which was the one record I was not on, and we’ll be doing some things from Corporate America, the last record BOSTON released.
LM: We’ve heard some rumors that you could be touring with the original Boston line-up this time. Is that true?
Brad: No. Tom and I will be the only original members. We do have Gary Pihl, for example, who has been with us since the Third Stage tour in 1986. That’s actually quite a while that he’s been playing guitar with us.
After our second album, Don’t Look Back, people kind of went their separate ways and I did several projects with Barry Goudreau who was an original guitar player with BOSTON along with Tom. So we still work on things from time to time. We’ve done several projects and actually toured for one them. We had a band, called RTZ, and an album in the 1990s and we did a tour with that.
I keep in touch with everybody, but as for now, Tom and I are the only original band members.
LM: Can you tell me a little bit about how BOSTON has evolved and where you are now with the band?
Brad: It’s kind of an interesting situation because we don’t play all the time like Aerosmith and a lot of other bands. I have to say I’m kind of happy with this arrangement. When Tom gets the urge to work on something or wants to hear a vocal on something, we only live an hour apart and that has pretty much always been the case. So, he’ll just call me and it’s sort of a very low key process. He might call to say, ‘I’ve got an idea for a song, when are you available?’ That’s kind of how we did the Corporate America album.
When we do tour, rehearsals have been pretty extensive in the past because we don’t see each other all the time and there have been several new members in the band. However, my job is still the same as it was when I was a kid. I get to assign harmony parts to the guys and girls in the band.
For the last few tours, Kimberley Dahme has done a terrific job. It’s nice to have a female voice singing some of those harmony parts because some of those parts are so high. I think a lot of bands that had to play BOSTON stuff are not too happy with me. I’m not too happy with myself for some of those real high vocal parts that I sang like on the first record when I was 24-years old. I didn’t really picture myself singing those songs when I was 54. I’ve been sort of fortunate that my voice has held up as well as it has. There are a couple of parts here and there that I can now pass off to someone else in the band and it makes life a little easier for me.
LM: I’ve read that you live a very healthy lifestyle being a vegetarian. Do you think that has helped your voice hold up so well?
Brad: I’ve never smoked so I suppose that’s a good thing. I was never too conscious of a healthy lifestyle, although I have been a vegetarian since 1969. That was more of a personal issue with me, but it certainly hasn’t hurt me.
I think vocally the biggest help for me is the fact that I go out and play three hours with Beatlejuice a couple of nights a week, particularly with a band like BOSTON who I literally might not see for two or three years at a time. Had I not been doing anything at all, I think it would have been really tough. This way it’s enjoyable. I don’t think of either band as work. I have a great job and it’s just a lot of fun.
I think the fact that I really never stopped singing has also helped. I’ve always been involved in one thing or another, whether it was in between the Don’t Look Back and Third Stage records when I did a couple of different projects with Barry or playing pretty much every weekend with Beatlejuice for the past 14 years. All of that certainly doesn’t hurt.
LM: How about your relationship with Tom Scholz? How has that evolved over the years?
Brad: From what I’ve read, Tom’s comments about me have been very generous in praising me for what I do. I think it’s a mutual respect. I really don’t write a whole lot and most of the songs are Tom’s. The only time we really see each other is when we are working. That probably helps to keep the relationship as well because it’s just strictly about the music. It’s always been that way for whatever reason I don’t know.
When we work, it’s usually just Tom and I in the studio. We usually record from his home studio. We don’t have engineers and all those people. He does all that stuff. My job is to interpret whatever song he has in his head from start to finish. Hopefully, I just try to give him what he wants to hear.
LM: Do you have any more plans for RTZ?
Brad: We got together a couple of times. We have done gigs here and there, mainly when something has come up or someone has asked us to get together. Since everyone is pretty much local, I wouldn’t rule it out. However, I don’t think we’d be doing a full tour because we only did one record.
We also did a bunch demos, some of them before the first record and some of them after we got home from the first tour. Some of those subsequent songs got released on an independent label. Actually, RTZ’s keyboard player Brian Maes released a lot of them on his own label, Briola Records. Brian Maes, by the way, wrote our biggest single, “Until Your Love Comes Back Around.”
Since we still keep in touch, I wouldn’t rule out doing something here and there, but more as a local kind of thing if it came up.
LM: I’ve heard that you play the harp as well. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
Brad: It’s more out of necessity. I’m not really a harp player by any means. On the last few BOSTON tours, Tom has been inclined to do a 12-bar blues so he can stretch out a little bit on guitar.Invariably, he’ll ask if I want to play some harp or something in the middle of it. I wouldn’t single that out as a particular forte of mine. It was fun to learn a few things. Actually Brian Maes, who is a pretty good harp player, kind of showed me a couple of things here and there, which was fun.
LM: We’ve also heard that REO Speedwagon could be an opener for the BOSTON tour. Can you tell me anything about that?
Brad: That is the plan as I’ve heard it. I know the management for Tom has talked with them and the tentative plan is for it to be BOSTON with REO Speedwagon. I can’t confirm that yet until they confirm that with me.
Interestingly, they were one of the band’s we played with a couple of summer’s ago at that festival in California. We actually played with them on our first tour. We played in St. Louis where they are from. I think there were three bands on the bill that night and they got a tremendous response there.
The last few BOSTON tours have been just us with no other band. That can be fun too, but I’ve always liked in the past, and especially in the early days when we went out, having a kind of a camaraderie with other bands. In the 1970s we did a lot of shows with Cheap Trick, who was just starting out back then, Bob Seger, and Rick Derranger. I’ve always liked to meet and hang out with other musicians and we’ve always got along well with everybody. I think it would be great if we could do a whole tour with REO Speedwagon.
LM: I’ve also heard that you like to do concerts for the homeless and other charities?
Brad: Beatlejuice is kind of self-indulgent in that we do it because we thought it would be fun for us. Consequently, we will get a fair amount of requests to do benefit concerts for any number of things, such as school fundraisers. Fairly recently we did one in my hometown of Danvers where I grew up and went to school for the athletic department. A lot times we’ll do things for the school’s music department as well.
Every year for the last six years now we’ve played at the Portsmouth Music Hall for an organization, called SASS, which stands for Sexual Assault Support Services. That came about because we had a close friend who knew someone who had kind of taken advantage of their services. They had to deal with people who were victims of sexual assault or abuse of some form. He said it would be really great if we could have some kind of fundraiser and raise some money for them. At his suggestion, we thought that since we were playing every weekend anyway if we could go out and do a gig and raise money for a good cause all the better. To date these six concerts have raised a little over $100,000. We’ve done any number of enjoyable things like that, including fundraising for the homeless.
LM: I’ve read that you proposed to your girlfriend and Tom Scholz proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Eve. Is that true?
Brad: Yes, it is true. Actually I proposed on Christmas Day and gave her a ring. The funny thing is my now fiancé and I first started dating on August 18 which was the date in 1966 when I first saw the Beatles. We’ve been going out for six years now and we had thought if we got married it would probably be on August 18, which it will be.
After I proposed to her on Christmas, I had e-mailed Tom. I had requested a day off on either side of August 18 so I could go home and get married just in case BOSTON was on tour. He sent me an e-mail back saying, ‘no problem I’m sure we can do that. By the way, I just got engaged too, and no one had known about it.
I don’t know how long he and Mrs. Scholz now have been together. I think they have been going out for a number of years now. It was strictly coincidental. He said that BOSTON has a publicist that works for us and asked if I could let her know. I said sure it’s no secret at this point.
The only thing that was a little discerning to me is I read somewhere that Tom Scholz and Brad Delp were engaged. That might have been a little misleading. It is in fact true that we both got engaged on the same day, but just not to each other [laughs].
LM: You had talked about doing stuff in Tom’s home studio. How have you dealt with record companies over the years? It seems like a lot of bands are going away from dealing with the bigger record companies now.
Brad: Yeah. I’m not exactly sure what will happen with the next BOSTON record, which I know Tom has been working on. I think we’ll be working on it when we get home from touring as well. Fortunately, I’ve never had to deal with the record labels. I’ve sort of been spared that. Tom has kind of been responsible for that, and many times it’s caused some headaches for him. That’s probably an understatement because, as a lot of people already know, there was a major lawsuit soon after the second album, and that caused a six-year hiatus between that and the next BOSTON record.
I’m very lucky with The Beatles band. Muzz, our drummer, books everything. We don’t have management because we don’t really need it. We keep everything low-key and kind of on a small scale. So for me, all I’ve got to do is: Muzz will say, ‘We’re gigging here this week’ or ‘I’ve got the schedule printed out.’ I know where I’m going and that is all I have to do. I kind of like it that way. With the tour with BOSTON, Tom really is handling that, dealing with the record companies, setting up the tour and itineraries. All I need to know is where I need to be and on what day. I’m pretty good with that.
But yeah, I think that people are leaning a lot more towards doing things independent of the record companies just because there are so many other avenues available today.
LM: So, you’ve played with Doug Flutie before?
Brad: Well, I don’t want to say that’s how the BOSTON tour came about, but it may have sparked it. They were honoring Doug Flutie, of course in Boston for all of his achievements, because he was retiring from professional football. BOSTON has been one of his favorite bands when he was growing up, so we wound up in Symphony Hall for the show. That was the first time the current band had gotten together since a couple of years ago. We rehearsed about an hour’s worth of material for that show because it wasn’t all about us. James Montgomery was there with his band, which was fantastic. And then there were other things going on. We got together for that. And having that as sort of a basis, having learned all those songs for that show, I think if we can just get together maybe just once a month from here until maybe April or May, you know we’d be ready to do a tour in June. So I think that’s going to work out pretty well. And that was sort of an off-shoot of doing that gig.
LM: Are there any particular artists today that you enjoy listening to?
Brad: I listen to sports and radio mostly, but it’s hard to say. I’m mostly involved with the Beatle band, so I don’t get to listen to as much music as I should. I took my son to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were touring with the Foo Fighters. Those two bands I like a lot. Aside from that, I’m probably not so much in tune to what is going on.
LM: Is your son into Music?
Brad: Yeah. My son lives in Seattle. I think that’s a good city for him. They’re kind of eclectic out there. He plays bass and he is actually not a bad bass player. When he comes home on occasion during the summer when Beatlejuice is playing, he’ll sit in with us for a few songs which is a lot of fun. Our bass player of Beatlejuice, Joe Holaday, has two kids. One of them plays drums and the other plays saxophone, clarinet, and a number of instruments. So they’ll sit in with us as well and that’s kind of fun to get to do. So my son plays bass, but he is also interested in a lot of different and unusual percussion instruments, Middle Eastern music, Japanese music, and sort of more world music. Occasionally, he’ll bring something to me that I’m totally ignorant about. It’s interesting because I think he’s got pretty good taste. What little I know about what is going on I learn from him.
LM: How do you feel about BOSTON’s music legacy?
Brad: Again, I’m very appreciative of the fact that we’re still able to go out on tour and there’s still interest. We’ve always had terrific crowds. And I will say that I’ve met a lot of fans over the years who are just incredibly loyal and have stuck with us all this time. It’s very flattering to feel like your music means something to people in a small way. I know what it’s like being a fan, because again I grew up with The Beatles, certainty not to compare us to The Beatles, but I think whatever music you grew up with, like people growing up listening to BOSTON records. I get similar stories, ‘Oh, my first date’ or “my first high school prom, the record had just come out. I remember that song and it takes me back to that place.” That is sort of what music does for people. So, the fact that we could be a part of that for other people, not something we were thinking about at the time, it’s sort of nice to feel like you have some kind of legacy like that.
LM: Okay. Well I don’t think we have any other questions.
Brad: I have to apologize. I don’t think I gave you one short answer.
LM: Oh no. We really appreciate you giving us an interview.
Brad: Oh, it wasn’t a problem at all.
LM: So, we will see you at Salem High School [in Salem, NH] tomorrow tonight. We’re going to be coming up there.
Brad: Oh terrific. I did not know that. But great, yeah, by all means come on by and we’ll talk a little more.
On Friday, February 23, we continued our interview with Brad after the Beatlejuice show at Salem High School.
LM: How do you do the voices from all four Beatles?
Brad: If I had to be in a band where I could only be one Beatle, it wouldn’t be fun. When I was a kid, I think I was the perfect age, growing up, I just worshipped The Beatles. Since I didn’t play any instrument particularly well, I could play rhythm guitar like I do now for a third of the songs. I usually just hold it. It’s my security crutch [laughs].
I was always the singer and it was my job to learn the harmony parts for everybody else. I remember being 14 or 15 when “Nowhere Man” came out. When we first started playing it, I didn’t hear the third part. I thought there was only two parts. We were just kids at the time. Maybe we didn’t play much or we had just learned how to play. And then one day, all of a sudden, I heard that it was just one note. That harmony part that is in the middle, it makes the whole song. It’s the part that George does and that was like a revelation to me.
Even though that was at the time of the British Invasion and all these bands were coming out, I did like a lot of other bands like The Animals, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, but it was always The Beatles. They were my heroes.
The same thing is true with 1964 The Tribute. They’re really good at what they do. They’ve got The Beatle wigs and all of that. Since there are four of them, they don’t get into the later stuff. They’re very good, but that wasn’t what we wanted to do. We just really want you to be able to close your eyes and remember hearing the music because so many of those songs never got played live. Even though we do them note for note as much as we can, there’s still an energy about playing them live that brings something else to it. When the audience responds and gets into it, that’s what makes it mean so much for me. I just love that.
As I said yesterday, it was always easy for me to sing Paul’s stuff because it was the higher stuff. John, when I was a kid, was a little tougher because some of that stuff was a little lower and I couldn’t quite do it, but now I love it. Some of these songs we’ve played now for fourteen years, and it’s only in the last year or so that I feel like I’ve really got it right. For instance, one of my favorite songs to do now is “Anytime At All.” I just feel like I’ve finally gotten it right, even though I’ve been singing the right notes and everything before. I just really feel like John for a while when I’m singing it or I feel like Paul. It’s just great. It’s like reliving my childhood. It makes me feel like a kid again.
LM: Excellent. Did you ever get a chance to meet any of the Beatles?
Brad: I met Ringo on the very first All-Starr Band tour that he did, which was fantastic… Rick Danko from The Band, Levon Helm also from The Band, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Neils Lofgren, and Jim Keltner…They were an unbelievable band.
Ringo’s tour manager at the time had been BOSTON’s tour manager for the Third Stage tour. When we were on the Third Stage tour, he knew what a big Beatles fan I was. So, he called me and said, ‘I’m working with Ringo, do you wanna come down to the show?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to come down.’ Then he said, ‘Well, were staying at the Four Seasons in BOSTON. If you come down, we’re leaving in an hour and you can ride down in the van with me and Richy.’
I’m very shy by nature. Actually, at first I said, ‘no, I appreciate it. you don’t need to do that. I’d be happy to just come to the show.’ So he said, ‘Well okay, you can come down if you want.’ So after I hung up the phone and thought it for about for five minutes, I called him back and said, ‘I’ll be there in 45 minutes’ [laughs]. So I got to ride down in the van with Ringo and I actually got to sing “Get Back” that night.
LM: Oh my goodness!
Brad: I got to do that and the other person I met was George Martin. He was absolutely the fifth Beatle. He played on a lot of the tracks. He played keyboards. He did all the orchestrations. He produced everything. I met George Martin twice. The last time, I got to sing “Live and Let Die” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” with George Martin conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. It was a full orchestra with George Martin in front and I got to sing the songs. It doesn’t get any better than that.
But, I don’t know if I want to meet Paul, necessarily, because my feeling is like, I’ve known him for forty years through his music. If he knows me at all, it’s probably like ‘Oh, I’ve heard your band’ or something like that. Plus, what am I going to say to him? I’d probably put my foot in my mouth [laughs]. I’ve known people that have worked with him and said, ‘I could set this up if you want to meet Paul.’ But, if I had a week to think about it, I’d be a nervous wreck. But, I’ve seen him almost every time he has come on his solo tours and that’s plenty for me. I’m just gonna watch and listen.
LM: Yeah. We went to the show he did at the TD BankNorth the last time he came.
Brad: Yeah. What a fantastic band. He was just great. On Paul’s Flowers in the Dirt tour, I almost met him backstage in New York. He was only a few feet away. I went to see him at Madison Square Garden. He was using the same sound system that we were using. Our sound guy from Showco said, ‘My buddies are mixing Paul, if you want to go I’ll set you up. You can come down to the show.’ So we went in early and they were just finishing up the sound check. Actually, I didn’t hear them play anything because they had just got finished and they were going to have dinner. He was going to the elevator and I could see him walk across the hall from where I was standing. So, that was my brush with greatness [laughs].
I also saw George Harrison in the front row at Boston Garden. It was his only US tour that he did in 1974. I had waited in line for eight hours or more for tickets. I was sitting in the first row, off to the right. In those days you could take pictures. I actually used to develop black and white pictures, nothing really fancy. But I took pictures of that show and I still have those pictures I took of George. So, that was pretty exciting.
But yeah, the whole thing about Beatlejuice is it started as a hobby. Steve Baker, our keyboard player, is the same way. They were the band when we were growing up and that was it for us. That’s why he has spent so much time trying to get “Strawberry Fields” or “I Am the Walrus” and all those songs exactly right. If they’re not right, we won’t do it. We really try to get it as best we can.
LM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us.
Brad: You’re welcome. It was no problem at all.
LM: We’ll see you on your tour with BOSTON this summer.
Brad: I hope so.