A Conversation with Ex-Blue Oyster Cult Drummer Albert Bouchard

 Blue Oyster Cult is one of the biggest bands of the classic rock era.  The driving force behind their classic era was drummer Albert Bouchard.  On November 6, Albert will release his long-awaited record Re-Imaginos. As the title suggests, the record is a reimagining of the classic 1988 BOC record Imaginos.  Albert recently took some time to talk not only about the history of this project but the history of the band as well.

Please press the PLAY icon below to hear the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Albert Bouchard:

On if Re-Imaginos is closer to his original vision than Imaginos was – Yes, yes, very much so. As a matter of fact, it’s not only is closer to what I envisioned for that record, but it’s also closer to what Sandy Pearlman envisioned for that record. 3:36
On Sandy Pearlman’s role in the origin of Blue Oyster Cult – I first was aware of Sandy when I was in college, and I was reading this magazine called Crawdaddy and it was the very first magazine devoted to rock criticism….That was in college. Then when I dropped out of school to try and become a professional musician I got a letter from Don Roeser, who otherwise known as Buck Dharma. Don says that “I met this guy, Sandy Pearlman, and he says he’s going to make me star”. And I go back to him and said, “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that before, does he have a cigar?”  So anyway a few months after that, I end up in Long Island. I’m staying at Don’s house with his parents and painting the house. And the deal was I could stay there as long as it took me to paint the house and then I had to find somewhere else to live…So while I was staying at the house, I got to meet Sandy Pearlman, I went over to somebody else’s house and there he was. I had heard from one of Don’s friends, Andy Winters, that Sandy wasn’t a very nice guy. So I was prepared for somebody who would be sarcastic and disagreeable and he totally wasn’t. He was completely charming and brilliant and I was like, Wow, this guy is really cool. I took a shine to him right away. So we started jamming with this little band that we had,  Andy Winters and myself and Donald and Allen Lanier. Sandy said, “I wanna be your manager”, “Cool. Can you buy some new equipment?” And so he basically helped us out. He helped us out getting a band house,  he had more money than anybody that I knew at the time. He was kind of well off and he was super smart. His language was very flowery, and he knew a lot of words that I had to look up in the dictionary.  I was basically a farm boy when I got here, Sandy was a sophisticated intellectual. So that was a life-changing thing that I would have to say that he changed my life. Just in terms of kind of getting the idea of what it meant to be an intellectual and kind of sparking my interest in lyrics and, you know what made a great lyric…The first song he wrote, I think was with me, and we were coming in, we were jamming, and he came in and he started writing something down. Then after we finished the jam he said, “So here I wrote for this thing that you were doing”, and of course, so that became one of our songs that we did. Later on, I had a song that I’ve written called “You”, and he said, “You know, I think I have some better lyrics for it”. I said, “Well, what do you want to call it?”  He goes,  “I’m On The Lam, But I Ain’t No Sheep”… Originally the song “You” was about me going to Canada to get out of the draft. So and that was kind of the nature of the lyric. So he took the same idea and put it into his fanciful, through his filter and it was a fantastic thing,  I was so happy. He would rewrite my lyrics for a lot of songs once that happened, it was like, okay, the floodgates opened, and he started writing songs, one of the songs that he wrote in that period was “Blue Oyster Cult”.  4:00
“Black Telescope”
On whether this will be the first record in the originally planned Imaginos trilogy – When I first announced that I was gonna do this, or  I posited this because I was doing some live stream video, live stream on YouTube and playing some of these songs. And when I did that, the first question is, “Are you gonna do the other two, the other two volumes of this the set?” And my answer at the time was, “We’ll see, we’ll see if this record does well”, if it does better than my other solo records, which they’ve done okay, but I don’t think I sold 1000 records of either of the other two. Well, actually, three solo records. One was not really a solo record. It was a record with a whole bunch of different people that I played most of the songs wrote most of the songs, that’s a Christmas album, and that’s called It’s Christmas Again, but none of those records have even sold 1000. So I thought, “Well if I sell more than 1000 in the first couple of months and maybe I’ll think about it”. So as of this moment, I’m printing up my second batch of 2000…So I think the interest is very strong. 13:30
“Blue Oyster Cult”
On returning to BOC for the original Imaginos in 1988 – That was part of my frustration. When it came out, before it came out when they were trying to talk me into letting it be a Blue Oyster Cult record, I was told not specifically by Sandy, but I was told by his assistant Steve Shank was now the manager of Blue Oyster Cult, that I would be part of the band. I would be back in the band, at least until we could promote this record. And then after that, we’ll see what happens. But, once the record came out I saw that they were playing. They were touring in Greece, and so I called up Buck Dharma and I said, “Listen, I’m trying to get a hold of Steve.  I want to know when is our first date and what airlines because I have to get an expedited passport?” And Don said, “Don’t you know? You’re not going. We got another drummer. We got this guy Ron Riddle”, who I already heard of his former group there. I can’t remember now who it is, but  I knew he was good, but I was like, “But this was the deal”. He said “Not my deal, and nobody’s even told me this is part of the deal. They said if you sing some songs on this record, we’re gonna give you some money. I’m not gonna say how much he got, but it was pretty sizeable some for him to put his vocals on there. And that was that”. And he said, “And as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing you a favor because Columbia wasn’t gonna put it out, put it out as BOC record and that’s how it was presented to me. I owe it to Albert to do this”, he said,” But I don’t owe you to be in the band”. And so I was upset. I felt like I had been cheated, I’ve been to and I did something that I’ve never done before, which was I sued them.  I sued  BOC. I sued Columbia Records and sued Sandy Pearlman, And that didn’t work out so well, because as soon as I did that, as soon as they were served with papers, they stopped giving my royalties. Columbia stopped paying me, Blue Oyster Cult stopped paying me. They owed many thousands of dollars on back royalties which they never paid me. And eventually, I guess I probably did get that money back when they settled out of court with me. But, I didn’t get any of that money that all went to my lawyer. I ended up with nothing, it was frustrating and disappointing, I’d say.  And that took a long time to get over that, but I think the fans helped me a lot because they were so supportive.  18:00
“I’m On The Lam But I Ain’t No Sheep”
On his relationship with Blue Oyster Cult now – It’s very good. I would have to say that other than being a little gun shy, you don’t wanna tell a joke that’s too funny or get too personal with them because I don’t want things to go sideways again, but,  it’s great. It’s great. 22:25
On how often he’s asked for  “more cowbell” – Let’s see, this is the 26th interview, I’d have to say at least 26 times in the last 2 weeks. But even more than that, people, my friends, it’s a riff and it’s fine. It’s fine. I think the skit is hysterical. I think that Will Farrell must have dog ears that he could even hear the cowbell on the record much less make a whole skit about it. 25:07
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