A recent visit to Kokomo, Ind. prompted legendary Long Island, N.Y. metal band Blue Oyster Cult to tackle an impromptu performance of the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo,” which band member Eric Bloom confessed “wasn’t very good.” So don’t expect to hear it when BOC headlines Saturday’s “First Annual Valparaiso Summer Jam.”
“We tried,” he laughed. “I thought of it backstage right before the show and we rehearsed it once in the dressing room. You can see it on YouTube but you won’t likely see us ever do it live again.” Bloom instead promised Northwest Indiana fans all the famous BOC hits like “Burnin’ For You,” “Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear the) Reaper,” “Hot Rails To Hell,” and of course, they won’t leave until burning down the stage with the anthem, “Cities On Flame (with Rock ‘n’ Roll).”
Still living large off the many hits and (pardon the pun) “cult” classics from their 1970s' heyday Blue Oyster Cult has forever been anchored by Bloom and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, the two co-founders have shared guitar-playing, lead vocal and songwriting duties in the band since 1968 when they went by such names as Soft White Underbelly and The Stalk-Forrest Group.
Blue Oyster Cult’s current line-up finds Bloom and Roeser supplemented by journeyman bassist Kasim Sulton (of Meatloaf, Utopia, Joan Jett’s Blackhearts, etc.), drummer Jules Radino (ex-Popa Chubby) and keyboardist/guitarist Richie Castellano.
Bloom said he and Roeser are grateful so many fans still follow and support their hard rocking efforts more than 40 years since the release of Blue Oyster Cult’s self-titled LP debut in 1972.
“Sometimes you have those days when you just don’t want to get on another plane or spend another night in a crappy hotel room,” confessed Bloom. “But then you get to the gig, you see the audience, the music starts and you realize you have a great job. Getting to the shows is always the hardest part about this job, but playing the shows is always a good time.
“Don and I are very gratified that people still want to see us and gratified fans still reach out to us through social media and tell us ‘Great show last night!’ and ‘Can’t wait until you get to my town.’ So we’re happy to still be doing this and we’re happy to be coming to Valparaiso which is close to Chicago, so I’m sure we’ll have folks from there coming to this show too.”
“We average about 80 a year now,” said Bloom, which is down to about a third of the shows they did during their ‘70s heyday, when B.O.C.’s sci-fi and horror-themed songs and ominous sound had teenagers flocking to see their performances.
Blue Oyster Cult’s late ‘70s and early ‘80s concerts at the Hammond Civic Center remain among the most memorable of the era to veteran region rock fans. The band was among the first ever to incorporate lasers into their live concerts and were the first to bring such theatrical effects to Northwest Indiana.
“(Laughing) It’s like folk lore now,” said Bloom of the flurry that greeted the band in small towns where they brought lasers. “People ask, ‘Did you really blind someone at one of your shows?’ And of course the answer is no. Taking lasers on the road was difficult at that time, so we only used them for about two years.”
“We work from April through October mostly,” continued Bloom. “We still do a lot of theater and club shows, but a lot of the shows this time of year are outdoors. We do things like biker events, town festivals, rib cook-offs, and that kind of stuff.”
Bloom added he and the band are pumped up about jetting over to Paris, France in August. “We’ll be playing a big show there with Deep Purple. That will be fun and we’re all really looking forward to that one.”
B.O.C. recently returned from their first tour ever of Australia. “We really enjoyed it having never been there before. Of course the travel cost was pretty hefty,” said Bloom. “We were invited to come by The Hoodoo Gurus, a huge band from there who do this big invitational run every summer with artists they like. They twisted our arms to come over and I’m glad we did it. We played six dates over eight days and four of the six were with the Hoodoo Gurus and we did two theater shows on our own.
“The shows we did in Australia were two hours long so we went a lot deeper into the catalog than we generally do,” said Bloom, suggesting the band has boned up on some of those forgotten album cuts their hardcore fans love. “I change the set as we go once I get a sense of what people want to hear. Sometimes we go a little deeper at one show than we might do at another, it all depends on the audience we’re playing for. We’ll always do the big songs like “Godzilla,’ ‘Cities and ‘Burnin’, but sometimes we’ll throw in a few surprises.”
Blue Oyster Cult has not released a new studio album in over a decade, since 2001’s “Cursed of the Hidden Mirror,” but Bloom hinted that may soon change.
“We get offers. I don’t want to start any rumors, but there is some talk of a new record,” he said. “It’s really too early to say anything more.”
Keep up with B.O.C. online at: www.blueoystercult.com