Q&A: Eric Bloom of Blue Oys­ter Cult

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

When clas­sic hard rock band Blue Öys­ter Cult re­leased its first, self-ti­tled al­bum in 1972, Richard Nixon still roamed the halls of the White House. That’s how long found­ing mem­bers like Buck Dharma (le­gal name Don­ald Roeser) and Eric Bloom have been do­ing this, gen­er­ally with a gru­el­ing tour sched­ule. Since that first al­bum, they’ve played thou­sands of dates, in­clud­ing more than 60 this year.

Though the band hasn’t come close to the com­mer­cial suc­cess it en­joyed some 30 years ago, it can still pack a city club or mu­sic hall with fans. That’s largely thanks to three larger-than-life hits: “Godzilla,” “Burnin’ for You” and es­pe­cially “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

To­mor­row (Oct. 8), Blue Öys­ter Cult will play in An­napo­lis at Mary­land Hall for the Creative Arts, and ear­lier this week, Eric Bloom, a found­ing mem­ber and the band’s lead vo­cal­ist, spoke to the Whig in the lead-up to the show. We dis­cussed this year’s an­niver­sary of the fame-pro­vok­ing “Agents of For­tune” al­bum, some ter­ri­ble neigh­bors who lived below him four decades ago and his love for Clash of Clans, a pop­u­lar mo­bile game.

The fol­low­ing is a tran­script of that con­ver­sa­tion, edited for clar­ity and space.

Ce­cil Whig: One of the things that might im­press peo­ple about the band is the num­ber of shows you play, even now into your late 60s, early 70s. [NOTE: Bloom will turn 72 in De­cem­ber.]

Eric Bloom: I think we did more this year than last. Maybe 20 more. We give our man­age­ment carte blanche to book from cer­tain pe­ri­ods, and what­ever fits in that pe­riod goes.

CW: Any re­cent shows

that stick out in par­tic­u­lar?

EB: This year we did three shows at B.B. King’s [Blues Bar & Grille] in Man­hat­tan, one of which was a ben­e­fit for the Amer­i­can Lung As­so­ci­a­tion. That was to re­mem­ber our long­time friend and band­mate Allen Lanier. He died of C.O.P.D. [in 2013]. This is also the 40th an­niver­sary of “Agents of For­tune,” so we did sev­eral spe­cial shows this year, in­clud­ing one from Los An­ge­les that aired on DirecTV.

CW: It seems you’re not burnt out from tour­ing. Do you have any idea how long into the fu­ture you’re go­ing to con­tinue this type of sched­ule?

EB: There’s re­ally no an­swer for that. When­ever one

of us, Buck [Dharma, co­found­ing orig­i­nal mem­ber] or my­self, de­cides enough is enough. That’s hap­pened to sev­eral of our con­tem­po­raries — guys in AC/ DC are re­tir­ing, a cou­ple of guys in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent bands are re­tir­ing for health rea­sons or psy­chic rea­sons or po­lit­i­cal rea­sons. To do what we do, to get up at 4:30 in the morn­ing, is not easy. You know, we don’t have but­lers car­ry­ing our bags and stuff, we’re not on the level of the Rolling Stones or what­ever. We do all the stuff our­selves. We’re still on the level of rental cars and get­ting met with a van, maybe. Very of­ten we’re on a sched­ule that’s kind of nuts. My mother al­ways

used to say, ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ and noth­ing much has changed. It’s part of the deal.

CW: Has it been worth it, then?

EB: Well, it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of life­style. If you want to play, you can play in a bar down the street, wake up at 4 in the af­ter­noon and play un­til 2 a.m. and make a cou­ple hun­dred bucks. You can do that. Or you can do what we do and make a pretty good liv­ing.

CW: Do you re­mem­ber what life was like for you be­fore the band re­leased “Agents of For­tune” (which pro­pelled the band to main­stream pop­u­lar­ity in 1976)?

EB: Well, it was 1975-6 — a long time ago. [laughs]

I think I was liv­ing in an apart­ment in Great Neck, New York, and one of my dif­fi­cul­ties at that time was I couldn’t make any noise. I had two peo­ple who lived un­der­neath me who would come and knock on my door if I walked too heav­ily on the floor. They’d come and bang on my door if I played a record too loud, or walked too loud or some­thing. And so it was very dif­fi­cult to work on mu­sic or any­thing like that there. My mu­si­cal out­put that year was not great. That was a frus­trat­ing time. But, you know, the record had “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” on it, and that was a huge break­through for us.

CW: Did you move out of that apart­ment af­ter­wards?

EB: I [laughs]

CW: Are you still go­ing strong with Clash of Clans? [NOTE: The writer had spo­ken to Bloom about this for an­other pub­li­ca­tion in 2015.]

EB: I am play­ing Clash of Clans with my son Ben­jamin. I don’t know how strong I’m go­ing, but I’m still play­ing. CW: Any­thing else? EB: Yes, Trans­form­ers: Earth Wars. I’m a gamer, you know? I’m al­ways play­ing some­thing.

Blue Öys­ter Cult plays the Mary­land Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., An­napo­lis, at 8 p.m. on Satur­day. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tick­ets cost $45 to $65.

cer­tainly

did.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WIKI­ME­DIA

Blue Öys­ter Cult poses for a public­ity pho­to­graph back in 1977.

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