Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blue Oyster Cult Ready to Rock the Downs

Blue Oyster Cult is set to open the Tioga Downs Summer Concert Series Friday night, May 28. The show starts at 8:00 PM and tickets start at just $10 at the Tioga Downs Gift Shop and Ticketmaster outlets. Here's a preview of the show from the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:

Pardon the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame directors for occasional bouts of myopia.

Case in point: An American band that's frequently cited as a major influence on hard rock/metal and which has won over crowds and critics for 40 years with an über-rich catalog. But remember, even Black Sabbath was slighted until 2006, so Blue Öyster Cult's Eric Bloom knows the band is between rock and a harder place. Besides, an anthropologist told him so.

Rising from Long Island in the dawn of metal, BÖC's unique melodic stylings amid on-your-feet-or-on-your-knees riffage has sown chart-busting, star-crossed lovers ("Don't Fear The Reaper"), stratospheric dreamscapes ("Stairway to the Stars," "Astronomy"), diz-busters and brutal reality tales ("The Last Days of May"). Add umlauts and hooked crosses and it's no wonder the early days brought comparisons to Sabbath. But singer/songwriter/group rock Bloom begs to differ.

"I don't think of us as a metal band," Bloom said last week. "I think there's some material that might qualify, but we never really thought of ourselves as a really heavy band. Certainly, '(Don't Fear The) Reaper,' which is our biggest hit, is far from being a metal tune. Neither is 'Burning For You.' I've always thought of us more in the genre of hard rock rather than heavy metal.

"I think the lyrical content lent itself early on maybe to that genre, writing about dark subject matter, monster movies, science fiction, the comic book genre. But we were never that leaden."

Fueling that early metal vibe were amp-maxed delicacies such as "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll," "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" and "Dominance and Submission."

But then Bloom started prowling the stage, signature Gibson SG in tow, with an eye to mass effect, rolling out enduring gems such as "Reaper," "Summer Of Love" and, of course, that iconic lizard.

Then along came that anthropologist and Alice Cooper to put BÖC in its place.

"I saw some documentary about an anthropologist who tried to track the history of metal," Bloom said. "And it interviewed Alice Cooper and all the grandfathers of the movement. And it did mention us in a chart they had. We were sort of under an offshoot of the metal movement, in the hard rock category — which I thought was pretty much right on."

And though the years have brought new Cult members to the fold, BÖC remains a tight, time-tested, pedigreed crew. Laying down their classic sound with Bloom and perennially under- appreciated guitarist Buck Dharma are Richie Castellano on guitar and keys, drummer Jules Radino and Rudy Sarzo on bass. That would be the same Sarzo from Ozzie, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.

And Bloom's reaching into BÖC's deep song pockets on this latest tour, changing up the set list on a regular basis. Some of the songs are giving him an extra charge to perform these days.

"'Black Blade' (off 1980's 'Cultosaurus Erectus' and co-written with award- winning fantasy and sci-fi author Michael Moorcock) is a lot of fun for me," Bloom said. "I was a big fan of his and I wrote him a fanboy letter, and he got back in touch with me saying he was a fan of ours. So that worked out nicely; and we've been friends for many years.

"But I also really love singing 'Summer Of Love,' 'Cities On Flame' ... you know, it's interesting to me the phenomenon of the digital universe. 'Cities On Flame' is on our first album, and the recognition factor is high because it was either on Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The recognition from the younger audience is great because they know it from the video game."

And BÖC is fired up to put it all out there through 100 shows this year.

"A hundred gigs is plenty for me," Bloom said. "The travel blows ... airports are not the place to be these days. But I just try to enjoy the busy times, and enjoy the quiet times. I think Bobby (Rondinelli, former drummer) hit it when he said, 'I would play for free, but you gotta pay for my travel.'"

Bloom's travels have made him well-acquainted with Binghamton, stretching back to his Hobart College days. And former bandmates Albert and Joe Bouchard attended Clarkson College and Ithaca College, respectively.

"I've done many miles on Route 81 and Route 17," Bloom said. "Binghamton is very familiar for me; many road trips between New York City and Geneva ... going through Binghamton, taking the cutoff at Whitney Point."

With BÖC on the road, though, there are no imminent studio trips for a new album.

"But you never know," Bloom said. "Everyone's always working on material ... For the time being, we'll just keep it on the road."

While new output could grease Hall of Fame prospects, something else has to happen first.

"Before BÖC, there was Alice Cooper," Bloom said, recalling an incident in which a death metal musician in Norway once asked Alice for his autograph — for his mum. "And the fact that he's not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a crime. I don't think we'd deserve to be there till he's there. We learned a lot from him."

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