BLUE OYSTER CULT - 5 - 2 + 2 = 5. Got it?

October 11, 2004, 14 years ago

By Martin Popoff

blue oyster cult feature

BW&BK; recently (like an hour ago) spoke to Blue Oyster Cult vocalist/guitarist Eric Bloom about the two new members of the band, Jules Radino on drums and Richie Castellano on bass.

"We had a drum-off," says Bloom, from the road in the midwest. "Bobby (Rondinelli) gave us plenty of notice, and we put out the word, you know? We called ex-drummers, and got a lot of recommendations. A lot of people knew people who might be interested. So we had six people for a drum-off. One guy was a no-show. But five other guys showed up. Since then, several other people have been in touch (laughs). But it's too late now. And out of everybody who drummed, there were two really good players. We had to make a really tough decision, because each guy was very, very good. But we chose Jules Radino."
"We just liked Jules' feel. It occurred to me the next day, why we liked his feel so much. He was a student of John Miceli, who is one of my favourite drummers. Miceli was Meat Loaf's drummer, and Enrique Iglesias' drummer. He actually left us to go work with Enrique. Hey, money talks. And John is actually now in We Will Rock You, in Vegas. So he recommended Jules, and that's why I realized we liked his style so much, because we loved Miceli's style. So, being his student... as a matter of fact, Jules took over all of Miceli's students, when Miceli went on tour. So he's a very good drummer."

And where do you stand on the bass player situation?

"The bass player was... we got no notice, and had to come up with a bass player in less than two or three days. That's too long a story to explain. But basically, this is one of those rock 'n' roll stories, where Woody, our soundman... he's with us like 90% of the time, but sometimes he's got other things he's got to do. One of those times, we had toured Europe, where he couldn't come. He recommended a family friend, Richie Castellano, who is a young man who has two degrees in digital engineering; he's only 24. But he graduated college in three years, got his masters in a year and a half, and was actually teaching college in audio engineering. And his father owns two music stores in Staten Island, NY. He's my son's age. And also he's a hardcore gamer, so Richie and I really hit it off. I can tell you like a dozen anecdotes. I don't know. I don't get to meet a lot of people in their 20s that much, except backstage at a gig, 'Hey man, give me a pick.' But this is a very brilliant young man and a driven musician. And we're both online gamers, so we compare a lot of notes. And we actually play the same games online on occasion. And so does his father (laughs). Which is really interesting; his dad is a great guy too. And we knew his father; it was just the total coincidence. We knew his father, because his father was the guitarist in the backing band for the Chambers Brothers, 30 years ago. I remember him from his six-inch platform shoes (laughs). But when I met him, he said, 'You know, I know you.' And we started talking and we realized we had been on tour together in '73 or something."
"So when Danny took a hike," continues Eric, "we said, 'Well, who can we get?' We had to get somebody right away. It was either that, or blow off some big gigs. So it just occurred to me, you know, maybe Richie can play bass. Because I had been to see him. He has his own band that plays Staten Island and around. And he did like all of Rubber Soul, you know, with seven guitar changes. He's just a shredding lead guitar player. And I figured, anybody who is that good, you know, probably also plays bass. So I called him, woke him up at 10:00 in the morning and I said, 'Do you play bass?' And he goes, yes. And I said, 'Well, we need somebody for this weekend. How would you like to play bass?' And he goes, 'Who is this?' (laughs). So he says, 'Wait a minute, now I'm up. What are you talking about?!' He had already mixed us for a whole tour of Europe, so he knew the show very, very well. He knew the songs, I mean, never studied the songs, but knew them from mixing them. And he was totally thrilled and got his chops together very quickly. And Donald lives in Florida now, so he couldn't come up in time to rehearse. So we had to have Richie join the band with no rehearsal. That's pretty bizarre. And the first gig, there were two gigs in a row. The first gig was a rain-out. So that gave us a little time. So what we did was we all went into somebody's hotel room. I mean, we were all their prepared to play, but it was outdoors and got rained out. So we went into one hotel room and we all got out guitars and stuff. Bobby was still in the band at the time so Bobby played on like a pad on the bed and we played through the whole show, and a few extra songs, and not only did Richie know them, he didn't make one mistake. And that's with no rehearsal, no nothing. That's just learning on his own, off the DVD and off the record."

Is he looking to be a pretty permanent fixture? "We had no reason to look for anybody else."

Bassist Danny Miranda "got an offer he couldn't refuse," says Eric, "to join Miceli in that Queen show."

And Bobby?

"Oh, Bobby had a very good reason. He got an offer he couldn't refuse from a band called The Lizards. I think he wants to get a very big fat paycheck. And I can't blame him. You know, he's got family and sometimes the bottom line is the most important thing. Bobby called me this morning from Sweden. Bobby is like, one of my best friends. And in the seven years or so he was in the band, we got very close. And he said it was the hardest decision he ever had to make, to leave BOC to join the band."
"We hope to," says Bloom, on the subject of a follow-up to Curse Of The Hidden Mirror. "Right now, I mean, I talk to our management daily and they are negotiating with Sanctuary to see what's going on there. So I think we'll know more next week. We're prepared to go into the studio. There are probably a couple months of rehearsal or whatever, first. But there are always tunes. Other than that, I just sang on an album in Italy, that was all done by MP3, kind of interesting. A guy named Chris Catena; he got in touch with me because he's a big fan and sent me a track, and sent me some lyrics. And actually, I went to Danny's house. He has a home recording studio and we did it all in ProTools. And I sent it back to him via the net. It's the way the future. It came out okay. And he was just here in New York; I didn't get to see him, but they're very happy with the way it came out."

Blue Oyster Cult has been putting on very well-received shows with the new guys, and you can catch them sporadically over the next three months - see www.blueoystercult.com for more info.

"Gosh, nothing really moldy oldie," says Eric on changes to the set list. "Last year we were doing 'Quicklime Girl', and we're playing 'Perfect Water' now. We basically stay with the tried-and-true but on occasion, we'll play, like, Unknown Tongue or the lesser played songs that it's just fun to play. That was one of the small arguments I used to have with Bobby that got overridden. He said, 'Let's play the same show every night, the best songs we can, so we have a killer show nightly.' And I said, 'Well, that's all well and good, but.." You know, it's obvious we're going to play four or five of the same songs every night. We're going to play 'Cities On Flame', 'Reaper', 'Burnin' For You'... these are the obvious ones. But the rest of the show, sometimes we have to keep our sanity by playing something different. So I always change the set list nightly. We never play the same set two nights in a row."

Might we see an Eric Bloom solo album at some point?

"No, we have no time for that," says Eric. "The next project will be a BOC record of some kind. And that's upcoming, like in the next six months. I don't know if it will be... if Sanctuary is happy with us, or if they have the bucks we need to do it, then that's the way it will be. If there is some sort of fall down on the negotiations, maybe we'll do it in a different way or different place. When it comes out, I have no idea. Because we haven't even talked about it with each other, other than we want to make another record."

As mentioned, people can go to www.blueoystercult.com for more info. But you might get a good kick out of www.ericbloom.net as well. "It has some information, you know, on the outside," comments Eric. "And then more for subscribers. I try to keep everything light on my website, so there's a great funny picture of me with the original Star Trek group. I went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton in Vegas, three weeks ago. So there's a picture of me on top of Mr. Chekov's shoulders (laughs)."


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