Blue Oyster Cult - An Enchanted Evening With Eric Bloom

Interview By Dark Starr

I know there are a lot of folks out there who call Blue Oyster Cult heavy metal. Personally I disagree, although I’d concede they have some metal songs. The truth is, though, whatever type of music you consider them to be they are one of the more successful acts. They’ve had a ton of hits and played huge shows. I caught up with Blue Oyster Cult’s Eric Bloom before their recent Rockford show and we talked about the history of the band, some other projects he’s been involved in, gaming and a lot more.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: You guys have been doing this for a very long time. How do you keep it fresh?

ERIC BLOOM: It certainly seems to be fresh. I don’t really think about it. We enjoy doing it. People like it. We get the feedback from the crowds. We’ve sort of got it down by now.

WC: Are there plans for a new studio album yet?

EB: We do have some interest from a label, but it’s in the future.

WC: Of all the things you’ve done with BOC over the years are there any that stand out as really proud moments?

EB: Proud moments? Sure, plenty, but it’s really hard to think about the last forty years and picking out a few – you know, big sell outs. I think the most exhilarating thing is actually being able to look at the charts and say, “Hey, we’re on the charts,” which is a miracle to me – to actually be in that process of walking from the audience right onto the stage. Everybody started in the audience first, but my second gig with the band was at the Fillmore East, which is closed now, but it was a big theater in New York and I used to go see bands there all the time and all of a sudden I’m on the stage. That’s about as thrilling as it gets.

WC: Are there stories about the band’s name changing all the time in those days true?

EB: Well, the band started as Soft White Underbelly before I joined. And it stayed Soft White Underbelly for about a year. The band started in ’67, so around ’69 the name changed a couple of times and then became BOC in ’71. (One of the other names was the Stalk Forrest Group, who almost released an album in 1970-->
WC: Is the Godzilla prop still alive and well somewhere in a warehouse or garage?

EB: Actually it was in a storage place and the guy who was storing it for us has a PA company in New York called “See Factor Industries” – S – E – E, Bob See. I think there was some problem with the storage space or something. So, he called me. He says, “Come on down here and get this out of here or it’s going in the dumpster.” I said, “What am I supposed to do with it?” It’s eight feet high and you needed a forklift. So, we just let it go. We couldn’t find any place to put it.

WC: It seems like someone like the Hard Rock Café could have taken it.

EB: It was like – NOW! - now or it’s gone.

WC: I know Buck Dharma does some side things here and there – and as I recall Imaginos started as a solo project by you, didn’t it?

EB: No, it was Albert’s solo album.

WC: In any event, have you done any side projects?

EB: Over the years I’ve done little projects here and there – nothing that really stands out. I did one with Richie Cannata who was Billy Joel’s sax player – that’s going way back. I did another one with Bob Kulick who was in Meatloaf’s band andone with Chuck Burgi who was our drummer – that was a little side project. I sang on some individual projects. I’ve sang on a few different people’s albums. Something called “The Moonstone Project,” from Italy – I sang a song for a guy over there. I’m singing on The Medical Examiner of Las Vegas. He’s a wanna-be rocker. His name is Gary Telgenhoff. He calls himself, “Doctor T.” and the name of his band is Skinner Rat ( I’m singing a couple songs on his record.

WC: He’s a medical examiner?

EB: This guy is THE medical examiner of Las Vegas. Needless to say he comes down to our gigs and he’s wearing a green doctor’s outfit. I say, “Gary, I hope you washed your hands.” But he’s got kind of an interesting job.

WC: There’s a band called “The County Medical Examiners” and they play death metal and they’re all medical examiners. (I interviewed 'em right here at WC--Dr. Mality)

EB: That’s very similar. He has a dark view of things. His lyrics are kind of weird, but he’s a talented guy.

WC: How has the music business changed since you started?

EB: Where do you start? Just start with the tech side of it. Vinyl?

WC: It’s coming back!

EB: I know, audiophile stuff is all vinyl these days, but just in the time I’ve been doing this it’s gone from… When I grew up it was pre-stereo, pre-FM radio because I’m a geezer. So, people don’t even know that there was a time when there was no FM radio? Yes, there was. It might have existed, but not to the public. I’ve gone through FM radio. I’ve gone through vinyl. I’ve gone through cassettes. Now CD’s are just about a dead duck with downloads. So, just the tech side, digital recording – twenty years ago unheard of. So, everything’s changed.

WC: What are aspects of the new stuff that you like?

EB: Well, I think the ability to listen to streaming radio online is great.

WC: What don’t you like about it?

EB: The obvious problems like Metallica and some bands have. You know, you try to make a living and write original
material and then somebody just grabs it and gives it away and you’re left holding the bag after a year of work. Somehow it ain’t right, but there’s not much you can do about it.

WC: Can you tell us about your early musical influences?

EB: I grew up with an R & B background. I was the lead singer of a soul band in college - or pop like Young Rascals – things like that. Then I evolved through the British invasion. I covered all those songs in a variety of bands. I never really thought about writing songs til I got in this band, you know. You joined a band, ostensibly, just to sing their songs. Then I started getting ideas to write some songs myself, which never occurred to me in my bar band days. Who wrote originals? You just wanted to cover the Rolling Stones or the Beatles.

WC: One of the earliest music sites I remember seeing on the web featured both you guys and Hawkwind. I know both of you worked in some way or another with Michael Moorcock. Have you had any other connections with them?

EB: Not really. I think that happened after Lemmy left Hawkwind.

WC: Yeah, it did.

EB: I think that was just a fan site, mostly because of the Moorcock connection.

WC: Right. Do you still keep in touch with Moorcock?

EB: Not in a while. He’s sort of like a hard guy to reach. I know he posts stuff on his board from time to time.

WC: You guys have always done a lot of music with literary and cinematic roots. Are there any books or movies that you haven’t yet used as songwriting inspiration that you’d be interested in tackling?

EB: Any kind of stuff can be a song for us, as long as it’s stuff we like - like I’m big into video gaming...

WC: Really? What games do you like?

EB: I play “Age of Conan” now and “World of Warcraft.” I’m playing the beta of the Lich King Expansion for that right now. I have played “EverQuest,” “EverQuest II,” “Star Wars Galaxies.” I started off with gaming back with platforms, you know back with Genesis, PS I, PS II – you know, I’m old.

WC: What do you think of “Guitar Hero?”

EB: I think it’s fun. I tried it once.

WC: Did you do alright?

EB: I got seventy percent on easy my first try. I don’t know if that’s good or bad – I don’t know.

WC: I almost think being a musician hurts you in playing that game.

EB: I’m a gamer, so I don’t know. Maybe if I practiced at it.

Our guitar player Richie has a funny anecdote. He teaches music for a living on the side. And he has young kids come in and say, “I wanna play AC/DC or some other song.” So, he says, “All right, I’ll show it to you.” So, he shows him how to play it and says, “Now come back next week and you better show some improvement.” Kid comes back, still can’t play it. He says, “Did you practice?” He goes, “Yeah, I got it down on ‘Guitar Hero.’” So, he wanted to smack the kid around. That’s not really like playing.

WC: What was the last CD you bought?

EB: Disturbed – I buy odd stuff. Because I do this for a living I don’t go out to see music too much. I get home I’m sitting in front of a computer usually.

WC: Well, that sort of ties into my next question. What was the last show you saw?

EB: I can’t really remember. Last summer I went to see Heaven and Hell with Alice Cooper opening and that was great.

WC: You used to do shows with Cooper in the past, right?

EB: Yeah, I’m a huge fan of his and that was our first tour opening for Alice in ’72.

WC: I’m a huge fan of Alice, too.

EB: Why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame?