Seventies arena-rock stars Boston return on November 5th with Corporate America, their first album of new material since 1995's Walk On. The album features the return of original lead vocalist Brad Delp and the addition of new members, guitarist Anthony Cosmo and bassist Kimberley Dahme.
"There's a new flavor to this CD," says Tom Scholz, Boston's multi-instrumentalist, producer and principal songwriter. "There's been a fair amount of maturing, and the introduction of Anthony and Kimberley has changed things."
Cosmo impressed Scholz with his rhythm guitar playing on a demo featuring his father -- Boston guitarist Fran Cosmo -- while Dahme was invited into the fold after Scholz caught a gig by her former band. Both quickly integrated themselves into Boston in a way that few members have, writing four songs for the album between them.
"I was amazed and really excited about the prospect of having someone else contribute," says Scholz, an MIT graduate and inventor of the Rockman, a portable amplifier. "To have someone else make this kind of contribution, it's never been something I've had before. The weight of responsibility of writing an album had always fallen entirely on me. Usually someone would have another song from some other place, but this is the first time I had some real help with somebody whose work I was really impressed with."
Of the four and a half years spent writing and recording Corporate America, Scholz estimates that about a year of that time was devoted to the title track, as he wrote and re-wrote lyrics, and tinkered with melodies and arrangements, determined to craft a song worthy of the cause.
"The list of atrocities committed by big business is endless," he says. "Some people automatically think the song was written about Enron, but the lyrics to that song were completed prior to any of those scandals. What this song is written about is far more serious than executives ripping off employees, even though some of those cases people lost their life savings. But big business has taken lives from people. They've killed people left and right. There's all kinds of examples, things like toxic waste causing birth defects, global warming. These people seem to have an endless variety of nasty things they can come up with."
The long time between albums gave Scholz a time to digest the changes in music and let the nuances of what he heard seep into his songwriting. "I don't buy CDs," he says. "I don't listen to the radio when I'm driving in the car. I hear it when I shoot pool, I hear it playing basketball, I hear it if I'm at somebody else's house. There's a whole lot of different sources. I've heard an awful lot of music I like. What I'm most impressed with in music in the last ten years is there's more emotion in the vocals and more emotion in the arrangements and there's much more experimentation and diversity. I tried to take advantage of that."