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Interview with Eric Bloom

Blue Oyster Cult

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Interview with Eric Bloom

Eric Bloom, Blue Oyster Cult

Courtesy Paradise Artists
You can name a lot of classic rock bands who disbanded after a short life due to personnel conflicts, the death of a key member, or the desire to pursue solo careers or join other groups. Much rarer are the bands who have not only stayed together, but with the same basic core of people.

Blue Oyster Cult is one of the rare breed. With the exception of one brief hiatus, BOC have been in the rock business continuously since their formation (using the name Soft White Underbelly) in 1967.

Three of the current lineup are original members of BOC -- lead vocalist Eric Bloom, guitar virtuoso Buck Dharma, and keyboardist Allen Lanier.

The band's de facto signature song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" appeared on their fourth album, Agents of Fortune in 1976.

BOC have always been a tireless (one might even say relentless) touring band, at one time playing upwards of 200 concerts a year. Today, they average about half that number, but show no signs of letting up anytime soon.

So, what's the big deal about touring?

Eric Bloom:
Recently some of our fans actually researched and documented every single concert they could find, and it was 4,000-plus. In the last decade we've done 80-to-100 a year, so that's a thousand of them. We like it! We like to play! When this is what you do and you can have fun doing it, what a great job!

About Classic Rock:
How does a BOC stage show in 2007 compare with one in, say, 1977?

Eric Bloom:
Other than all the bombast, not much has changed. The music is similar, the musical chops -- the quality of our playing -- may actually have improved. There are no flames or laser beams, but people who come to our concerts often tell us after the show that it was just as good or better than it was back in the day.

We never play the same show twice. I write a different set list for each show, and sometimes we change that in the middle of the concert, depending on how the crowd is reacting. We just call it as we go. That's part of the fun, playing off the vibe from the audience.

About Classic Rock:
How do you account for the fact that BOC is still in business after all these years? You're pretty much the exception to the rule, you know.

Eric Bloom:
There was a short time in the late 80s when we parted ways for a little while but for the most part we get along fine. There's never been a lot of screaming and yelling like you hear about with some bands. Pardon me for waxing philosophical here but I think a lot of is that for whatever reason, for me and Buck, our stars have crossed. We know each other's moves and we respect each other and we just work very well together. It's a professional marriage that has worked out well.

About Classic Rock:
How do you account for the longevity in terms of audience acceptance, still being in demand?

Eric Bloom:
From my perspective, we do stuff that nobody else does. They get to see Buck play, a lot of people come just for that. Our songs just don't make good fodder for copying. We do unusual material that nobody else does. Sometimes people who haven't been to a BOC concert before are surprised at the jamming, the musicianship. We also have a sprinkling of shows where we can count on real hard core fans showing up. It's strange when I pick one of the most obscure songs I can think of from the catalog, and the audience is singing along!

About Classic Rock:
If you could go back and change anything in terms of the band's music or persona, would you? If so, what would it be?

Eric Bloom:
It's all in the eye of the beholder. Sandy [Pearlman, the band's original manager] had his idea of how the band should be and we bowed down to him as a mentor and we owe him a lot for that. But by the late 70s we wanted to be known for who we were instead of being the American Black Sabbath that Sandy wanted. Who knows? Maybe if we had gone that way, we would have become an A-band rather than a B-band. By A-band I mean groups like Led Zeppelin and the Stones. But we rebelled against it.

About Classic Rock:
You're known as quite a fan of science fiction. What are you reading these days that you really like?

Eric Bloom:
Peter F. Hamilton, The Reality Dysfunction. I really like fantasy, too. I was actually in tears at the end of the third Tolkien movie [Lord of the Rings: Return of the King]. I like getting out of reality, looking at things a different way.

About Classic Rock:
And that has influenced your music.

Eric Bloom:
It's a given. Any band writes about what they like. I wrote "Take Me Away," which was autobiographical. 'Strange shapes light up the night, I've never seen 'em though I hope I might, Don't ask if they are real, The men in black, their lips are sealed.' That was, what, 15 years before the movie, Men In Black came out. A lot of people think it's the real deal, the hidden agenda that governments have about keeping the facts about aliens hidden from the public.

About Classic Rock:
You're also a pretty serious gamer, no?

Eric Bloom:
It's an addiction. I remember when Coney Island in Brooklyn was the mecca for kids. I remember going there when I was 8,9,10 years old. My parents didn't let me play arcade games, like pinball, but I snuck away and blew every last nickel I had on a pinball machine. I haven't changed much.

When I discovered online gaming it just pole-axed me. Going back to 1994, I was playing text-based games online before there were ever games with graphics. It's always been a fun thing. Right now I'm hooked on the 800 pound gorilla of online gaming, World of Warcraft.

See Also:

Blue Oyster Cult Biography
BOC Photo Gallery
Expanded Reissues: Spectres and Some Enchanted Evening

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