An Interview with Albert Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult & The Dictators

We recently caught up with the drummer, and multi-instrumentalist, Albert Bouchard for a second sit down recently.

This time around, among other things, we touch Alberts continued Re Imaginos series, and the concept behind the trilogy, his joining and recording with The Dictators, his diverse musical background, how he approaches the drums these days, potentially taking the stage again with Blue Öyster Cult once again, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Albert Bouchard, head over to his webpage, and dig in. If you’d like to check in on The Dictators, you can visit their webpage as well. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Albert. Cheers.

Andrew:
Albert, thank you for taking the time. How have you been holding up?

Albert:
I’m doing OK. The ongoing pandemic is becoming weary on my psyche but I’m eating well, and exercising both physically and mentally. I’m still doing a lot.

Andrew:
You’ve got a new release out. Tell us more about Re Imaginos II. Is this picking up right where part one left off?

Albert:
Yes, more or less. There’s a twenty-seven-year gap between the last song on Imaginos I and Imaginos II but it is being presented in a much more chronological order than Sandy would have been comfortable with. He was more a poet than a storyteller.

Andrew:
Why led to the decision to put out an all-acoustic version of Re Imaginos?

Albert:
That was something that Sandy had suggested after we had done the first set of basic tracks for the original Imaginos album. I was so invested in the idea of doing it with this band that rejected it out of hand. As I started to develop basic tracks for this new album, I started using many more acoustic instruments, just to see if his idea had any merit. I liked the result and went for it throughout the entire record.

Andrew:
Digging deeper into the album now. Tell us more about the concept behind Re Imaginos. What theme are you exploring behind the story of an alien conspiracy? What’s the deeper meaning?

Albert:
Well, you’re trying to get me to boil it down. There is a lot going on in the S. Pearlman megaverse. I can’t sum it up, but I’ll share some bits. Technology changes how we interact as human beings, and maybe someday it will change how we interact with non-human beings as well. Just because we can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it can’t be true.

Andrew:
Given the depth and storytelling that has gone into this series so far, how rewarding has the recording of these new albums been for you? It feels as if you’re breaking new ground in terms of your music.

Albert:
It is very gratifying. I’ve felt like I’m gearing upon for something, and at the time of the original Imaginos recordings, I thought this would be my masterpiece (with Sandy of course).

Andrew:
It’s been reported that there is a part three to this series. Is there any truth to that? If so, when can we expect the final chapter to emerge?

Albert:
That’s what Sandy wanted, and it’s what I wanted too. Once I signed with Deko Entertainment, I started putting down a rough outline of what the story might look like. It has continued to evolve with the input of many other people. I originally thought I would be touring all this year, so I wouldn’t be able to work on this so much, but now it seems I will have more time to get it together. If my luck holds, I might have it out before Christmas.

Andrew:
I wanted to shift gears to The Dictators now. While many know you as the drummer for Classic Rock outfit, Blue Öyster Cult, you’ve got something of a Punk Rock background too. Take me through your indoctrination into The Dictators.

Albert:
I know those guys from my earliest days in Blue Öyster Cult. I was a fan from day one. Over the years, I’ve done acoustic gigs with Andy Shernoff, and wrote a bunch of songs together so we have chemistry. I’ve also worked with all the other members of the original Dictators, Ross, Scott, and Dick. When they were talking about getting back together, they remembered that just before they made Go Girl Crazy, they had asked Sandy Pearlman if I could play drums on their album. Sandy said, “No.” So, some of their motivations could be a curiosity to see how it would have been if I was their drummer for the beginning.

Andrew:
The newest music from The Dictators is the first from the band in a long time. What’s it been like reviving The Dictators as a studio outfit?

Albert:
It’s great fun. We do things like we used to do, everybody in the room altogether, but we also use technology to our advantage. We record everything so if a rehearsal takes sounds best, we’ll make that sound as good as a studio recording. That being said, we also go to proper studios to get the best sounds and vibe possible.

Andrew:
As the drummer for Blue Öyster Cult, were you always into Punk Rock or is that something that developed over time in working with the likes of Mike Watt, Richie Stotts, and Fabian Shine? Where did your love for Punk Rock come from?

Albert:
I always liked Punk Rock. I liked the energy and the “by any means necessary” aesthetic.

Image 1 credit: Fine Art Media/Image 2 credit: AJ Carroll Photo

Andrew:
What is the biggest difference playing for a band such as The Dictators as opposed to a band like Blue Öyster Cult? How does your style ultimately translate? Do you need to make concessions or changes? Or are you just “you” no matter what you’re playing, or who you’re playing with?

Albert:
I think I’m just me. My playing style is different for every band I play with, whether it’s Blue Öyster Cult, The Dictators, Robert Gordon, or Mike Watt. I play for the song. I would not play Blue Öyster Cult for Roter Gordon, or Mike Watt for Blue Öyster Cult, although I have been tempted. [Laughs].

Andrew:
Given your diverse background which ranges all over the map, regardless of what you’re best known for, which arena are you most comfortable in?

Albert:
Comfortable? I don’t know what I’m comfortable with. I get nervous every time I perform. But that discomfort is something that seems like an old friend now. I am happiest writing new songs, and second happiest devising arrangements for older songs. Vexed but not uncomfortable.

Andrew:
On the subject of Blue Öyster Cult, it’s been a long time since the band’s heyday, which you were a huge part of, this said, legacy acts reunite all the time, and I am sure fans would love to see it — is there any chance we see you take the stage with Blue Öyster Cult again before it’s all said and done?

Albert:
Sure. There’s always a chance. We’re on very good terms but nothing specific has been discussed at this point.

Andrew:
I am sure you’re aware of those old-school drum battle records. In that vein, if you could participate in your own drum battle, who would be your chosen opponent, and how do you think you’d fare?

Albert:
Honestly, I’d love to go against some young gun like my current drummer, Cyzon Griffin, but it wouldn’t be fair to me. Young guns would kill me on speed alone. I’d need to go up against someone more my own age, like Ringo [Starr] or Nick Mason.

Andrew:
Over time, how do you feel you’ve evolved as a drummer? Compared to years past, given your diversity, and your versatility, how would you best describe your style as it stands today?

Albert:
I am able to keep the melody in my head more than ever no matter what instrument I’m playing. That’s the key to not getting lost, no matter what key, tempo of time signature you’re in. Keep the melody in your head. I’ve kind of given up playing tricky double bass drum riffs like Chris Adler. I might throw something impressive in here or there but mostly it’s making the song groove relentlessly.

Andrew:
As a drummer, in your opinion, what are a few of the best “drum albums” of all time? Which ones really get your blood boiling whenever you hear them?

Albert:
I love Cozy Powell on Rough And Ready. The whole album is great. Nick Mason on Unaguma. Ringo Starr on Sgt. Peppers. How about “Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman from the Carnegie Hall Concert? Doesn’t really get better than that.

Andrew:
Last one. You’ve got a great solo career and a new gig with The Dictators. What’s next for on all avenues, Albert?

Albert:
Well, the next big recording thing is Imaginos III: The Mutant Reformation. I also have a new record with Robert Gordon coming out this summer. I played on my brother Joe’s solo album out this spring. The Dictators are also planning on recording a half dozen new songs this summer for an album release at the end of the year. Also, I’m planning to do some live gigs with Robert Gordon, The Dictators, Blue Coupe, and the Bouchard Bros. later on this year. I’m also working on a three-part graphic novel that will connect seamlessly with every song in the Imaginos Trilogy. Other than that, I’m chillin’, and blazing’ a spliff. [Laughs].

Interested in learning more about the music of Albert Bouchard? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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