AI BLUE OYSTER CULT rispondono ERIC e DONALD (english
di Giancarlo Bolther
You came to Italy for the first time in 1986 for the Club Ninja Tour and now in 2008, a 22 years gap, what have you felt to play again in our country after so many years?
Eric: I thought the recent show near Milan had a great reaction, much more animated than the French audiences of the same week. (Nothing against the French fans, just the Italians were more boisterous). Hopefully good word-of-mouth from the recent Rome and Milan shows will allow us to get more bookings in Italy.
Buck: I was happy to return to Italy. I enjoy visiting Italian cities and playing our music for Italian fans. Except for Eric and I, the BOC that returned to Rome in 2008 was a different band than in 1986, yet in many ways to me, more like the BOC of the 1970's, and the most fun to play with. And I'm not just saying that. I mean it. In general, the reason we play or do not play a certain market or country is economic. If we can earn money after paying all expenses and salaries, we do it, if not, we don't. I am pleased we did well in our Italian gigs this year, as well as our appearance in Athens. I’ve liked people’s welcome in Italy. I would return to Italy more often. I hope we'll be back soon. We are also touring in France again after a long pause.
It seems that people still like a lot your music, which emotions do you feel about that?
Eric: I'm glad the Italian audience is into our music. We appear to be having a resurgence in popularity and that's great for our business. This is BOC's best year in history.
Buck: I am pleased and gratified that new people are discovering BOC every day, and older fans still want to see the music performed live. I don't know how it affects our popularity in Italy, but in America, the TV show "Saturday Night Live" did a sketch about BOC and the cowbell in the year 2000, that has been voted one of the funniest bits in the show's 30 year history. That has helped BOC reach a new audience that didn't know about our music before. In the same way, the computer games "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" have exposed BOC music to a new and much younger audience than would otherwise be possible.
A silly question… Randino, Castellano, Sarzo, Miranda, Rondinelli… are you becoming half italian?
Buck: I feel half Italian, my wife is Italian/American. Many of the fine musicians from the NY area are from Italian decent. Rudy Sarzo is Cuban, incidently.
Recently you haven’t got a stable line up, why not? It’s more like a great family or it’s hard to stay together without recording or it depends on other factors?
Eric: The band has been stable for quite awhile. Jules Radino has been our drummer for over 3 years (he took up the drumming when Bobby Rondinelli got a better offer). Richie Castellano has been with us even longer. Rudy Sarzo is our bassist now that Ronnie Dio is doing Heaven and Hell and putting aside Dio gigs for the time being. We are very happy with this line-up. It has nothing to do with album making...it has more to do with people getting better opportunties.
Buck: The band has been stable for the last few years with the exception of Rudy, who also plays with Ronny Dio. We are pleased to have Danny Miranda play when he is not with Queen.
Sarzo did a great job on the stage and in my opinion he is simply perfect for BOC, how is born your collaboration and what do you feel playing with him?
Buck: Rudy is an exceptional player and bandmate. He enjoys BOC because he gets to jam and play more freely in BOC than the other bands he has worked with.
Could we consider Sarzo a new effective member for the band or he is only a guest?
Buck: We expect to have Rudy almost all of the time.
For the Trezzo (Milan) date, you’ve asked Matteo Filippini to join the band for “Then Came the Last Day of May”, it was a very nice moment. What can you tell us about your meeting and your collaboration to Moonstone Project?
Eric: Matt and his people approached me to sing on his album via email. After some back and forth emails, I recorded the vocal for that song at Danny Miranda's studio on Long Island. Matt and I have stayed in touch since then and he came down to see us at the Rome show earlier this year where we met in person for the first time. I invited him to play via email before we got to Italy.
Lanier was lacking for the european tour, could you say something about his absence?
Buck: Allen Lanier is now retired from touring appearances, he no longer wants to endure the stress and rigor of traveling and performing. Richie Castellano likes bass but his main instrument is guitar, and he plays keys too, so he was the logical replacement for Allen.
“On Tour Forever”, your last studio album was published seven years ago, but you are still on tour with a lot of dates, this is very impressive, what is that pushes you to continue to play live?
Eric: Playing live is what we've always done best, plus it's what we enjoy, which almost any musician will tell you. We're happy that people still want to come see us and reviews of our performances are good.
Buck: I love to play and sing, and touring is the band's main source of income. In 2008, the band is having it's most successful earnings year in our entire history. I suppose I could survive without touring, but I'm not yet ready to stop. I like coming home, and being home, but after a couple of months, I want to get back out there and play shows again.
At this time the question is obvious, when would be possible to listen to a brand new album, a lot of people is demanding for it?
Eric: We get asked this question often. The answer is we currently do not have a record deal. There has been some recent interest and our management is in discussions.
Do you have some new songs ready? Maybe you could do a live album with new songs…
Buck: There may be some new recording on the horizon. I'm not at all sure in what direction the band will go to sell and promote future recordings. At this moment, we are content to be right where we are.
Some bands are doing some interesting experiments via Internet, i.e. Marillion put their last album for free in these days, other bands sell their albums throug their website, don’t you think that this could be a nice solution for you too?
Eric: We're open to any of these 'modern' ways of getting new product out. Blue Oyster Cult (the individuals) is one of the most tech-savvy bands you'll ever meet. However, with all our concert work, we have not begun discussing the recording process.
You (Buck) don’t have the classic guitar hero pose on the stage and your solos are always very personal (not we usually expect from an usual guitar hero!), what do you search for in your guitar style? Do you were influenced by your father (who is a trumphet player) in your playing style? I’ve always had the impression that you was influenced also by Jerry Garcia…
Buck: My dad plays saxophone, and he still does, at age 86. I like melody in my solos, and more so the older I get. I am mainly trying to please myself with my improvisation, to play something different, with a new rhythmic turn or twist. I know I don't play like other rock players, or other guitar players in general. I seek to refine and emphasize the individuality of my style. It's what makes me sound like me. Also, what I play in performance with BOC is different every night. So many bands will play the same set, the same leads as the record, every night. Not us. It will be different, as far as my performance, every time. I HAVE to do that, otherwise, I'd be too bored to tour!
BOC's lyrics usually dealt with the darker side of life, somebody thinks that this could have a bad influence on the young people, what do you think about?
Eric: I don't believe there's anything negative in our material. It's most stories about subject matter that interests us, for example, monster movies, extra-terrestrials, history, etc. I can't think of a song that promotes violence or drug use.
Buck: Listening to BOC is probably one of the least harmful things a young person can expose themselves to today.
Still there are a lot of your albums that are waiting to be remastered (also very important ones) do you know when we can see them published?
Eric: Any further re-mastering is in the hands of SONY Records. We have no influence over what they want to do with our older material.
Buck: SONY is doing a new remaster every year or so.
The band until 1981 was very creative, what was the real reason that led the band to send off Albert Bouchard, one of the main composer?
Eric: That's too long a story to tell. Ask Albert.
Eric, in the past you’ve worked with Ian Hunter, what can you tell us about your collaboration?
Eric: Ian Hunter and BOC toured a bit together back in the 70's (with Mott the Hoople and Ian's band). I stayed friendly with him and I'm still a big fan of his. One day he visited my house and we wound up in my home studio and the result was "Goin' Thru the Motions" which was on a BOC album and covered by Bonnie Tyler a few years later. Ian is a very creative guy, very friendly and I don't see him often enough. Through him I got to meet and hang out with Mick Ronson, a true hero, rock star and Ian's best friend.
Which memories do you like best to remember about the '70 and the ’80?
Eric: That's a pretty big question. Now 20 or 30 years later what stands out are the friends you make along the way.
You’ve got a fourty years carreer, do you still listen to some new artists, does there’s something that you’ve liked recently?
Eric: When I saw Disturbed in a music video I went out and bought their recorded material right away. I also like Slip Knot, Dragonforce and a Finnish band called Tarot.
Looking back, what do you think about the longevity of the hard rock music, do you are surprised in some ways?
Eric: I'm glad to still be working, so I'm happy folks still like our kind of music.
Buck: Yes and no. The classic rock artists are still popular because new "rock" music doesn't have the depth of the old stuff.
Eric, You have never realized a solo album, why not?
I've had a couple of outside projects that never clicked. One with Richie Cannata (Billy Joel's sax player) and another with Bob Kulick, Chuck Burgi and Dennis Feldman which was the Eric Bloom Band for a short time, but they went on to record as Skull. Just wasn't meant to be.
Eric, I know that you’re involved into a lot of projects, can you tell me some, please?
I'm blogging for Autoweek Magazine , www.autoweek.com. I cover the New York Auto Show for them which is a lot of fun. I recently did a piece for them in Detroit, covering the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, an annual event for people with hot cars, old and new. I also write for Massive Online Gamer Magazine , www.Beckettmog.com. I'm very involved in online video gaming. I am currently playing World of Warcraft including the Lich King beta, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, plus The Witcher.
Is there something about your past that you would like to change if it will be possible?
Eric: I'm sure there are plenty of things anyone would want to change, but sometimes when things are bitter, you enjoy the sweet even more.
If you like, you could end with a salute to your italian fans…
Eric: I'd like to thank all our fans in Italy for your support over all these years. I got to meet a few in Roma and Trezzo. The audience reaction was great at both shows. We'd love to come back because I'm still looking for the elusive 'best pizza in the world'. Ciao!
Buck: Thank you, Italian fans of BOC. We will try to come to Italy more often in the remaining years we tour internationally. We really enjoy you.
Other interviews: 1998 (only in italian)
Retrospective (only in italian)
Reviews (only in italian): Heaven Forbid; Curse of the Hidden Mirror;
Tyranny + Secret; A Long Day's Night; The Symbol Remains
Live Reportages (only in italian): Roma 2008; Trezzo 2008; 2016
Related Artists: Brain Surgeons; Stalk Forrest Group; Blue Coupe; Joe Bouchard; Albert Bouchard