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Tom Scholz Weighs in on the ‘Abysmal’ State of Rock ‘n’ Roll


Veteran artists offering their thoughts on the current state of rock ‘n’ roll has become something of a tradition in recent years, with rockers split between those who think the genre’s in trouble (or already dead) and those who insist it’s still doing fine. It looks like we can put Boston leader Tom Scholz firmly in the former camp.

Asked to offer his thoughts during a recent interview with Improper Bostonian, Scholz didn’t mince words, pronouncing rock’s current state “really abysmal” and adding, “I’m not impressed. It’s taken a dramatic downturn and I won’t go into all the reasons, but it can be traced primarily to the invention of very poor digital distribution.”

The advent of digital distribution has lowered the entry level for aspiring musicians while muddying the field for veteran artists — and lowering the monetary value of recorded music in general — so it isn’t surprising that Scholz would point the finger of blame in that direction. More importantly, the audio fidelity issues of the MP3 offend his legendarily exacting ear.

“When I was in school, college kids were at the forefront of super high-quality sound. They were buying kits and building really great equipment. Everyone was obsessed with really excellent audio quality,” Scholz continued. “Within the last 10 years, college kids embraced the most hideous-sounding means of audio distribution, MP3 files. I wish I’d never heard the term. Combined with the internet, I think it actually damaged people’s ability to enjoy music.”

Even the most gloom-and-doom rock prognosticators can usually point to a few glimmers of hope on the horizon, but Scholz demurred when asked to identify three modern rock groups whose work he respects, shrugging, “That’s presupposing I can name three current bands.” That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s holding up his generation as the answer to the problem either.

“Yeah,” Scholz retorted when asked whether he thinks rock bands should have a mandatory retirement age. “And I passed it like 10 years ago.”

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