After seeing BDS at the Cleveland Frightvision show in 2001, Dean A. Orewiler got in touch with Joe and carried out an interview for the newspaper for which he worked.
Unfortunately, other news at the time bumped Dean's article out of the running, so it never made it to print. However, Dean has kindly given me permission to reproduce it on Hot Rails, so here - at last - is his interview...
Q: Obviously, the newer Blue Oyster Cult music doesn't mimic the bands style from the past - is this mainly because Albert and yourself are no longer with the band or is BOC adhering to a completely different musical style today that fits the times?
JB: BOC has rarely had a musical style that fit the times. Maybe for a short time in the 70's we were "in tune" with current styles. For most of our careers, we played stuff that was left field of current trends. The new BOC CD, called "Curse of the HIdden Mirror", is very good record. Even though I had nothing to do with it, it could be the best BOC recording in 20 years, which includes most of the recordings I did with them in the later 80's.
But it does not sound like anything in contemporary popular music. Albert and I play quite differently from the current drummer, Bobby Rondinelli and the current bassist, Danny Miranda. They are players with great technical skills. I think Donald and Eric really enjoy pushing these new guys to their limits as players.
Q: Many fans pray for the day that a reunion will take place between Albert and yourself and the remaining BOC members - what is keeping this memorable even from transpiring? Or would you rather everyone just shut-up with this question?
JB: Just shut up. (LOL) Seriously, Donald, Eric and Allen with the other two new guys are doing pretty well now and Albert and I have our own careers going. I personally think that a reunion would be a logistical nightmare. There is not much interest in becoming a fixture on the "oldies" circuit. There are deep sour feelings between several original BOC members (culminating in more than one lawsuit). I will not elaborate any further on that.
Q: I've noticed a pattern to some of your music referring to the "place of Hell"...hot rails to hell, hot time in hell....what may reoccur this theme in your music?
JB: Hot Rails to Hell was a title that Sandy Pearlman suggested. I sang and played it with BOC, but I always wanted to be doing a better song. For years Hot Rails stuck as my song to sing live. When I first heard the demo to the song Hot Time in Hell, I said this is great. The song that was actually written by my friend, Jody Gray. The original demo was like an acoustic swing tune. But we rocked it out and it made sense to me to record the tune with my band, The X Brothers.
The best Rock and Roll songs have always been edgy things. And what's edgier than going to Hell !! AC/DC made good use of that fact with their song, Highway to Hell.
Q: What type of music are you playing today?
JB: I play a wide variety of styles. I play rock, jazz, blues in four or five different bands. Some of the bands work a lot, others I see every few months or so. I also write background music for radio and TV. One of the groups is with Neal Smith and Dennis Dunaway, from the original Alice Cooper Group. We just finished a new CD that has come BOC style in it, but mostly it sounds like early Alice.
I play guitar in a band called TreeTop Blues that does local gigs in Connecticut. It is a seven piece group with three percussionists and a smoking blues harp player. I've done solo piano gigs and solo guitar, bass, mandolin, classical piano and keyboards and recently I am enjoying playing banjo.
Q: What is your goal in the music business?
JB: Just to be happy to be working with the music I love. For the last two years I have not needed a straight job. Metallica royalties have helped. (Metallica recorded my song Astronomy on their 5 times platinum CD, Garage Inc.) I make composing and writing songs my top priority. In the past, I've worked as a teacher in a private school and as an editor in a music book publishing company.
Q: Do you have other non-musical interests you are pursuing?
JB: Not really, I wish I had some hobbies other than music, but music is my business and my hobby too. It's my obsession. I walk the dog every day and sometime watch a ball game on TV. I live to cook occasionally. But most of my days are spend working in my home studio.
Q: What is one of your fondest memories from your experiences with the BOC group?
JB: Playing shows in the big stadiums and arenas. We did so many of those in the 70's and early 80's. Some of those events are a blur now. but they were always such fun. Every time was a real event. I'd look out to a seas of people getting off on our music and think to myself it can't get better than this.
Q: I never realized that you played lead guitar until recently - is this something you have always done, but just excelled with the bass?
JB: I was a guitar player from a very early age. Played my first gig at 10 years old on the street in front of my uncle's house. We made thirty-five cents in tips. It was great ! I studied classical piano in college. I might have studied guitar but there were not colleges in the 60's that took it seriously, except maybe Berkley School in Boston. That school was for hardcore jazzers and that wasn't me.
I played bass for the first time in a college band. With only two years experience on the bass, in 1970, I was asked to join BOC just three months after graduating from music school.
One of the reasons I left Blue Oyster Cult was that I became a very frustrated bassist in the mid 80's. Maybe it was not that the bass so much that frustrated me, but my guitar playing was getting better and my bass playing sort of hit a plateau. Also in the 80's when I left BOC, I became deeply involved in using keyboards with computers.
Q: Where was the photograph of the church made at on the "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" album?
JB: It is in Westchester County in New York State. I've never actually seen the church.
Q: Blue Oyster Cult's music has always seem dark and sinister with it's lyrics and music, why did you guys decide to go that route instead of a more mainstream or marketable route?
JB: I guess we were influenced by movies and sci-fi books. Like I said above, we never were a part of the current trends.
Q: Did you have much input on the song: "Joan Crawford" ? I know you wrote the piano intro for Lanier, but how did you guys come up with the Crawford idea?
JB: Joan Crawford (Has Risen from the Grave) was mostly written by David Roter, who writes funny songs about famous people. Brother Albert has been working with him on and off since 1968. This one seemed to fit the BOC style.
Q: Sir Rastus Bear - the end of that song gets louder and louder and really makes the hair curl on the back of my neck... was increasing the volume done on purpose?
JB: Yes. "Redeemed" is the real title of the song. I was disappointed for 20 years by the way it sounded on the vinyl pressing. When it was remastered for CD it finally recaptured the feel it had in the studio. I distinctly remember listening to the first playback of that song with some guests of the producer in the studio. Someone screamed when it came to that part of the song. Very eerie. But cool.
Q: Where do you see yourself in about 10 years?
JB: Basking in the sun on my own private island in the Caribbean. (LOL)
Q: How did you guys manage to put out an album every year for such a long time while you were touring heavy?
JB: We worked our ass off. But it didn't feel like that much work since that is what we loved to do.