Blue Oyster Cult

The Leader-Post (Regina)
July 15, 2010

BLUE OYSTER CULT

When Blue Oyster Cult emerged from the underbelly of Long Island in the ’70s, the band’s objective was to make resilient rock ‘n’ roll.

“We just did what we liked and we hope it clicked,” said frontman Eric Bloom. “I think our original aesthetic was trying to sort of be a hard-rocking version of British bands with an American flavour.”

The band has sold over 14 million records worldwide, reaching international acclaim with hits such as “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” It has since left a lasting imprint on pop culture, influencing metal bands such as Metallica and the Smashing Pumpkins and becoming the parody of one of the most well-known sketches on Saturday Night Live for the use of the cowbell.

“You never really realize it,” said Bloom. “We were never on the ‘A’ list. We’re no Rolling Stones or Beatles or Led Zeppelin, but I’ve always thought of us as a big underground band. I never really thought we entered that ‘A’ list, but we’ve had an interesting career and no complaints.”

A variety of different bands — from the college rockers of the Goo Goo Dolls to the angsty lyricists of HIM — have emulated the psychedelic hard rock group by covering its songs.

“Our influence on other bands is something,” said Bloom. “Somebody went to see Metallica and they played a few of our songs. When they were a bar band, they used to cover us a lot. A lot of people in different generations grew up with us.”

In its early days, Blue Oyster Cult toured exhaustively, spending long hours on the road with few days off to relax.

Some 40 years later, that hasn’t changed.

“We just did eight shows in the last nine days,” said Bloom. “We have 18 shows this month. It’s a lot of travel … but we knew that going in and decided to put our shoulder to the grindstone.”

Over the decades, the band has gone through different members, particularly alternating between new drummers and bassists.

The current lineup features Bloom — who started off as the band’s acoustic engineer — and guitarist Buck Dharma as the only original members left in the five-piece ensemble.

“Sonically, things haven’t changed,” said the frontman. “The musicianship has gotten so much better over the years. The band is tighter than ever as musicians.”

Blue Oyster Cult is currently performing shows in Canada and the United States with other classic rock bands such as Foghat and Styx — and it’s just like “old home week,” laughed the lead singer.

“We try to change the set list every day and play to whatever the audience is going to be,” he explained. “We do it to keep our heads on straight. I never could understand a band that could play the same set and the same show over again. It would drive me crazy.”

Audiences can expect freestyle riffing in addition to “the obvious suspects” — the band’s three major hits and other songs from their broad catalogue of material.

“We’re a well-oiled rock machine,” said Bloom. “We’re kicking ass, we’re having fun.”

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