Barry Goudreau’s Big ’70s Rock Sound Blasts Off on ‘The Road,’ His New Album with the Engine Room (Q&A)

Rock Cellar Magazine

In a departure from his blues rock-laden debut album with Engine Room, Barry Goudreau’s new record The Road, which was released in March, harkens back largely to the big, sweeping sound of ’70s rock.

But the tunes aren’t retreads of the guitarist’s early work with Boston, nor his subsequent solo work. Musical influences from such classic rock heavyweights as Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Bob Seger can be found on the album. Though it was mostly crafted before the pandemic, The Road includes songs with hopeful messages, for example the soaring “Love Will Find a Way,” that take on a special resonance during — and toward the end of — the pandemic.

Rock Cellar: The new album seems to have a bigger and more diverse sound. It also has a strong ’70s classic rock feel. Would that be fair to say?

Barry Goudreau: You nailed it. The first record I did with Engine Room looked back to my blues roots, but this record looks back at my rock influences, like Deep Purple and Humble Pie. We went for that vibe and nailed it. We call it contemporary classic rock. Even the album cover is a throwback to the ’70s.

Rock Cellar: It seems as if many of the songs on the album, including “Love Will Find a Way,” offer a sense of optimism and hope. Did you seek to inject hopefulness in the new album as an antidote to the gloom and sadness of the pandemic?

Barry Goudreau: Well, most of the material was written before the pandemic, except for one song. In any case, we were aiming for an upbeat vibe as an alternative to all the negativity, infighting, and political divisiveness during the pandemic.

Rock Cellar: “The Camel’s Back” seems like such a departure from your usual sound. What inspired that song?

Barry Goudreau: Actually, that was the only song we recorded during the pandemic. We e-mailed back and forth ideas and takes for the song. Brian (Maes) used a program that could change the tempo and pitch of the song. We first put down drum tracks for the song, then we put together chords and lyrics to the chords. We were after a Led Zeppelin vibe with the song, and Mary Beth (Maes) hit the high notes like Robert Plant.

Rock Cellar: I understand that the song “Las Vegas” was originally written for a film. What happened with the film?

Barry Goudreau: A guy I met many years ago was writing a children’s book, and approached me to compose music for a children’s animated series. I was interested in the project, but he disappeared. Then he reappeared, seeking a song for an underground fight movie he was planning on directing with Mickey Rourke.

We came up with the song “Las Vegas,” which was tailored for the film, but the director disappeared again, and the film was never made. So the song was hanging around, and we decided to refine it a bit and put it on the album, as it had the right vibe.

Rock Cellar: How did the addition of the three female backup singers (Mary Beth Maes, Terri O’Soro, and Joanie Cicatelli) enhanced the album’s sound?

Barry Goudreau: We first had them sing one song. We liked them so much we decided to have them sing on all the songs. They’re like a special sauce.

Rock Cellar: You’ve played and written songs with Brian Maes for a long time. What accounts for the special chemistry you seem to have with him?

Barry Goudreau: I first met Brian when I lead the band Orion the Hunter. We were doing our first tour opening up for Aerosmith, and he auditioned for and won the keyboard spot. We got to be friends and started writing together. He ended up in the RTZ band. Our bass player Tim Archibald also joined the RTZ band in the 1990s.

If you enjoy being around musicians you play with, it’s reflected in the music.

Rock Cellar: Do you have plans to tour this year?

Barry Goudreau: We have some shows lined up in Massachusetts, including a show on Aug. 7 in Arlington. You have to keep in mind that Massachusetts just opened up recently for concerts. We hope to do shows outside of the New England area in such places as NY, LA, and Las Vegas.

We’re looking forward to going on tour. The last time I did a show was New Year’s Eve 2019-2020.

Rock Cellar: I understand you played with [fellow early Boston band member] Fran Sheehan in 2012. Do you have any plans to play with him in the next few years?

Barry Goudreau: Unfortunately, Fran had a wrist injury and then reinjured it. He’ll have another operation soon. He doesn’t play anymore, and hasn’t played for two years.

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