ERIC BLOOM (BLUE ÖYSTER CULT): “When You Join A Band At 24, You Have No Idea What You’ll Be Doing When You’re 77”

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT (Live at The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., February 23, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s been 50 years since the release of their classic self-titled album so New York legends, Blue Öyster Cult are ready to celebrate. Mick Burgess called up guitarist/vocalist Eric Bloom to talk about their recent three-night residency in New York, which saw the return of original drummer Albert Bouchard as special guest, as well as their upcoming UK shows with Deep Purple and prospect of new music in the future.

Just a couple of weeks ago you celebrated your 50th anniversary in style with a 3-night residency in New York performing one of your first three albums in full each night with a second set of deep cuts. How did those shows go?

They went really well. We did a lot of preparation and rehearsals to go back and revisit those first three albums and we played songs that we’d never performed live before like “Cagey Cretins” and “Baby Ice Dog”. We invited our original drummer, Albert Bouchard to play with us and he was a big hit with the fans. We played for over two hours each night. Each of the albums took around 40 minutes and then we took a break and did a two-hour show of songs from the rest of our albums, playing some different songs each night. It was a small venue making it a real, intimate show. That was a lot of fun.

Did those songs you’ve never or rarely played live take you a while to relearn or did it come back fairly quickly?

We had to do a lot of work on learning those songs and also to integrate Albert into the set including doing “5 Guitars” again so we had to re-learn that. There was a lot of work and a lot of rehearsing. It was a bit daunting.

How did it feel to play with Albert again?

It was great. Albert is a good guy and has lot’s of energy. It was a very pleasant experience.

Did you record the shows for possible future release?

We did film and record the shows and we are currently negotiating with Frontiers for a future release. Frontiers have done a very good job for us since we signed to them for our last record.

50 years in the music business is an incredible achievement. Did you ever dare to dream that you’d have a career in music that’d last so long when you first formed the band?

When you join a band at 24, you have no idea what you’ll be doing when you’re 77.

What do you put down that longevity to?

It just rolls along you know. You don’t really count the time. You have your ups and downs, then your ups and downs again so right now, everything’s up so I can’t complain.

Would you change anything if you could go back and do it all again?

I’d like to have avoided the downs but that’s life and everybody goes through good times and bad times but I think we’ve done pretty well in the big picture.

In a couple of weeks, you’re back over in the UK for some shows with Deep Purple and a couple of your own headlining shows. Are you looking forward to come back over here?

We were supposed to be coming in 2020 and 2021 but had to postpone because of Covid but we are really coming this time. We’re really looking forward to coming over for these shows. We’ve played on and off with Deep Purple over the 50 years. We first played with them in the early ’70s and we have a good relationship with them and enjoy playing with them. In my mind they are one of the top “A” bands of all time on the level of the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

You are special guests on the tour. How long will you get on stage each night?

I don’t know yet but we’ll find out soon. It won’t be a short set, I think it’ll be a decent length and we have our headline shows that we’ll be doing while we’re over too.

One of your headlining shows is in Newcastle where you’ll be returning to the City Hall for the first time in over 30 years. Are you looking forward to playing there again?

That is such a great place and a fantastic place to play. Any place that Eric Burdon has played is OK with me. He was one of the greatest vocalists of all time. We were on the same show once a few years ago and I got to meet him. It was one of those “I’m not worthy” moments.

As far as this tour goes how do you vary your setlist between those shows you’re doing with Deep Purple and those you are headlining yourselves?

I write the setlist nightly usually an hour or two before we go on stage and I vary the setlist every night as we have a lot of different material. A while ago we did a Rock Cruise and we got a lot of critical acclaim because a lot of the bands played the same set three or four times whereas I changed the set every night. People who wandered in over the course of the cruise would see a different show from us. Obviously there’s several songs we have to play but we have such a depth of material that we can vary the show from night to night. We do vary the setlist too as the hardcore fans come to more than one show. We will be playing three or four songs from our new album sprinkled through the show too.

Talking of new songs, your latest album The Symbol Remains, came out just a couple of years ago and this is your first opportunity to play new songs from it in the UK. Are you pleased with the reaction you’ve received since its release?

I was very pleased. In the first couple of weeks when it came out, I sifted through the streaming media to see what they thought and I don’t think I saw any bad ones at all. Most reviews were pretty good.

A few years ago, you said that the world wasn’t waiting for a new BÖC record. What changed your mind to make you want to do a new studio album?

Our management put the idea out there. Buck and myself were contacted by a variety of labels. Richie had a lot of material too and between us we had a backlog of songs. Buck had a few ready to go so we thought maybe it was time. We had financial backing from Frontiers and the time was just right for a new record from us.

You’ve co-written 3 of the 14 songs on the album and most of those with Richie Castellano? How did you write together?

Richie lives about an hour away from me and we wrote a couple of those songs in rental cars. I wrote parts of the lyrics in aeroplanes while we were travelling and then while we were driving to New England, I said to Richie to get out his laptop to finish the songs. We finished one of those songs while I was driving. We were kicking ideas backwards and forwards and sometimes that’s how a song is done.

You brought three of the heavier songs to the album including album opener “That Was Me”. Was it important to make such a bold impact right from the start?

This was one of the first songs we wrote after the contract with Frontiers was signed. I went to Richie’s house and took out some lyrics that were sent to me by Jon Shirley. Richie looked at it and said that he thought we’d worked on it before three or four years ago. I had absolutely no memory of ever working on it before. The song was half finished and had me singing on it. He said that we just needed to do some more to finish it so I added that Reggae section in the middle and between the two of us we finished that song. It’s a really good song to play live too.

Richie Castellano really makes an impact on the album from writing, performing, singing and producing. How important has Richie been in getting this album made?

He was very important. Richie is like a son to me. I have two biological sons and Richie is between them in age. He started working for us as a sound guy and we bonded in a tour bus around 20 years ago. He was only 23 at that time and it turned out that we were like minded people who liked science fiction and fantasy and all that kind of thing. After the tour ended, he said that he had a band and invited me to see them. He was playing The Beatles songs and singing all the parts and playing guitar and it was a perfect replication of The Beatles. I thought he was really good and he was just a kid. Time goes by and Danny Miranda quit with no notice and we needed a bass player. I called Richie and asked if he could play bass. He got all excited and said “You want me to play bass in Blue Öyster Cult, I’ll learn everything, don’t worry about a thing”. A few days later we had a show. He learned every song in the set which was about 20 songs and he played the show. The other guys were so impressed he got the job playing bass for a few years. Then Allen Lanier could no longer play and retired. I thought Richie was such a good guitarist and keyboard player we should move him over to do that. He’s such a good player that he’s playing some shows next April for a few weeks with Jon Anderson of Yes. Richie has stayed on to this day on guitar and keyboards and we’ve had a few bass players since then including Rudy Sarzo and Kasim Sulton and now Danny Miranda re-joined us.

You must feel really proud of both Richie and Jules Radino, after almost 20 years in BÖC they have finally made their mark on a studio record?

I think Richie, Jules and Danny all do really well on the record. Danny of course has already recorded with us in the studio on our previous two albums but this was the first time for Richie and Jules.

Richie played an absolute blinder on “The Alchemist”. It’s as if he pulled in all of those classic elements of BÖC into one song and written the perfect song for you to sing?

Richie played that song for me on one of our car journeys a few years ago and I thought it was great. Richie was singing on it but he didn’t use it for anything so when it came time for this record, I said that we had to use that song but he said that I should sing it. He was really happy that we used it and that I sang it. When we it came to do “Tainted Blood” that Richie and I wrote together, I said that Richie should sing it so we traded songs.

One of the great strengths of BÖC in the past has been having 5 different vocalists. On the past couple of albums, it’s just been you and Buck. Are you pleased to have help on hand with Richie singing three of the album’s songs?

It’s certainly worked out well for us and he should certainly sing those other songs that he wrote. We do “Tainted Blood” live too and he sounds fantastic on it. Buck came up to me before a flight and said to me that we needed lyrics for the album so I got on the aeroplane with that stuck in my brain and I actually wrote the lyrics for that on the plane on a napkin. You just never know what’s going to happen.

Has the experience of making this record fired you up again so there won’t be a 19 year wait for the next one?

You never know what’s going to happen. For so long we said that we wouldn’t do another album and then we ended up doing one so I can only say that it’s unlikely but you never know.

What about an acoustic one that you once mentioned a while back?

Anything is possible but at the moment we’re looking to 2023 where we’ll just do a sprinkling of shows and after that we don’t know what’s going to happen.

If this is the last album, do you feel happy that you have gone out on a big high?

We’re pretty proud of that record, the reviews were good and the fans liked it so we’re very happy with that. We’ve put in 50 years so I think it’s a pretty good record if that is our last.

When you finish in the UK, where do you head next?

We’ll be heading to Europe for some headlining shows and then we fly directly to New York for some shows around there.

Blue Öyster Cult play at the City Hall, Newcastle on 19th October and are special guests with Deep Purple on their UK Tour which starts in London on 20th October.

For full details see

Interview and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.