Interview with Eric Bloom of Blue Öyster Cult

I asked Eric Bloom a bunch of questions about Blue Öyster Cult, their current label situation, the current state of music, and future plans. Here they are, along with his responses.

I just got hold of Worskshop of the Telescopes, and my first question is: why another compilation album?

Because Sony (CBS) wanted to put it out. We are no longer signed there. I imagine they did it for economic reasons, cause they own the stuff, including the artwork. It is selling well, and I think it's a decent representation of the material.

Why not release a studio or live album?

Easier said than done. This has become a bit of a soap-opera for us, I'm afraid. We were signed to Atlantic a couple of years ago. One of the factors for signing us was (Don't Fear) The Reaper being in Stephen King's The Stand on TV. They were promised a new (acoustic) version of The Reaper that would appear in the movie that they could use in our new album. Stephen King agreed, but the Director said no. So, Atlantic reneged on our already signed contract, finding a clause somewhere to invoke. We are involved right now in negotiations with a European label, and hope to have some new material for sale before the summer of '97.

What was the track selection process?

We didn't have much to do with it, but thought the selection was fair. Some people might think certain songs should have been on it and others think something else, but I think the most obvious tunes are there.

An interactive CD-ROM or live video in support of Worskshop of the Telescopes would be really cool. Are there any plans for that?

No current plans to do interactive CD-ROMS. Although there is a game out now, RIPPER, with The Reaper used in the soundtrack.

Given your experiences with Sony, what do you feel about the whole art vs. business issues in music?

There's not enough space [here] to discuss artist vs. company. There have been several books written about it and most major artists find huge [amounts of] dollars hidden by the companies when they have an audit. It's the nature of the business. In general, CBS was straight with us, when we had fans working inside the company. We were there so long, 3-4 different Presidents of the company came and went...

The PR stuff I got didn't mention the current lineup. What is the current lineup (I know you, Buck Dharma, and Alan Lanier form the core group)?

Currently, the band lineup is Buck, me, Allen, Danny Miranda on bass, and John O'Reilly on drums. We are very happy with the current band. I think it's the best the band has ever been. For more info on other opinions, you ought to check out the Blue Öyster Cult BB at AOL. I can provide you with some fans' email addresses who come to a lot of shows. The fan club has never been more active, with more people joining.

Is there a chance that you'll ever reunite with the Bouchards?

Unlikely there will ever be a reunion. There's no reason for it.

A related question: will there ever a reworking of Imaginos (which is one of my favourite Blue Öyster Cult albums, BTW) with the complete package being released?

That could only happen with Pearlman's input, as he would be the godfather of such an idea. The public didn't buy Imaginos, which is a shame, and I'm afraid the record company didn't really promote it's existence too well. It's an interesting album that deserved more listening than it got.

I saw you play with Chuck Burgi and I thought he fit in very well. Why didn't that work out?

Chuck got an offer he couldn't refuse from Blackmore. Don't know what he's up to right now.

There will be a sequel to Heavy Metal, the movie. Do you plan to do any of the music for it?

If they ask us, we would love to do some more music for it. Listen to the soundtrack of Bad Channels.

I've heard statements that the album Fire of Unknown Origins was recorded in order to be used as the Soundtrack, and that didn't work out later (for some reason). Is this true?

What you heard about Fire of Unknown Origin is not true. In the middle of recording it, we were asked to write a song for Heavy Metal. I think Albert got the movie script and wrote tunes especially for Heavy Metal. When the movie people didn't buy them, and chose Veteran of the Psychic Wars instead, we used the song he wrote for Heavy Metal on our album.

What was the music scene like when you guys started out? Were bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple looked upon as competitors, or were they influences, or both?

I would say, vis-a-vis, our influences... Black Sabbath was certainly the prototype for all metal that came later, as is Deep Purple. Gotta include Ted Nugent and MC5, too. We sorta took a different path, especially lyric-wise.

What music do you currently listen to?

I personally listen to all kinds of stuff. Biohazard, Prong, Machinehead, Deftones, love the White Zombie album of last year, Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, etc. I like very little of what is called Alternative, except maybe Stone Temple Pilots.

I guess that bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are also struggling in this "alternative" world; do you think heavy metal music will ever rise in popularity?

I don't know. I know that the Rainbow album Blackmore put out for Europe and Japan did well there, but [he's] having trouble getting it out over here.

There's a strong underground metal scene, which focuses on death/thrash metal. Do you like any of that at all?

I like some of the "Underground" metal bands; the music , that is. The current trend of harmonized unintelligible vocals is a mystery to me though. I like Life of Agony cause you can hear what he's saying---good band.

What gear are you using these days? Does Buck still play the Steinberger?

Buck still plays Steinberger, yes. I play ESPs. Great guitars. They have custom-made me a terrific ESP Custom with the artwork from 'Cult Classic' on it. We (Blue Öyster Cult) recently began using Ampeg (bass) and Crate (for guitars and keyboards). Ampeg just sounds great, and the Crate amps we are using crank! They have really done their homework and we are very happy with the Crate Blue Voodoo amps and cabinets. John uses TAMA drums.

Stephen King has said that he likes your music a lot. Do you like his writing? If so, what's your favourite book by him?

Buck reads all his stuff. I am more into fantasy and sci-fi, than horror. I also like techno-thrillers. Looking for a good read? Try Hyperion or the William Gibson books.

In general, what's a day being in Blue Öyster Cult like?

Typical day on the road, is travel. A lot of it. Flying, driving, hotels, motels. I take a laptop with me and spend time online in the rooms. Playing a long show and next day doing much the same. We play a lot. That's why we have the saying OTF---On Tour Forever. I designed a T-shirt that Onliners can get: Blue Öyster Cult OnTour/Online, and we can be reached through the fanclub at. I post all tour dates and band news at the Blue Öyster Cult BB in the music message center there [AOL]. I know of a couple of Blue Öyster Cult websites that friends of the band have created, which can be found using a browser, and at least one newsgroup,

And what do you do outside of Blue Öyster Cult?

Online a lot at AOL. Too much, probably. :) I am very involved in Gemstone III, a text-based role-playing game at AOL. I do monthly Blue Öyster Cult online live chats at AOL the 2nd Tuesday of every month, in the 'Nightclub' at 10pm Eastern.

What can we expect in the future from Blue Öyster Cult?

We are very up about recording soon, and we should be in the studio this summer into the Fall, playing a few shows on weekends. We have a lot of good new material, some of which we play live now. Most of our shows are selling out and we all have a good time. That's what it's all about. :)

Amen! I definitely recommend seeing them if they come to a town near you---they put on a tremendous live show, and it's one of the few opportunities where you can listen to new material by them.

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || || April 12, 1996