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Albert Bouchard

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Paying homage to your amazing former manager and co-songwriter is truly an honorable thing to do and Drummer/Songwriter/ Producer Albert Bouchard has once again risen and surpassed heights of true dedication. On July 7th, this extraordinarily talented all-around musician released his latest incredible rock album IMAGINOS III Mutant Reformation, the final third of the series that displayed Sandy Pearlman’s musical genius.

Catching up with Bouchard in the middle of his busy schedule, he revealed some details about the new album, a bit about Sandy Pearlman, his own start in music (prior to founding Blue Öyster Cult), and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: The last time we spoke was in 2020 when your album RE IMAGINOS had just come out, and now you have IMAGINOS III Mutant Reformation. Is this still in tribute to Sandy Pearlman?
Albert Bouchard: Yes.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with this new album?
Bouchard: What I wanted to do because this is the last of the three records, I wanted to put every song that Sandy Pearlman recorded to be contained within these three records. So, whether or not they directly related to the story of IMAGINOS, I put them on there, Including the songs that were done by Stalk-Forrest Group and also Soft White Underbelly. A lot of like the previous songs. For instance, the last song on the record is “Buddha’s Knee” and that was the first song that I ever wrote with Sandy Pearlman. Yeah, I did it on purpose. It just seemed like it was the right thing to do to put the first song last.

SFL Music: That makes sense, to kind of wrap it up, right?
Bouchard: Yeah, exactly.

SFL Music: What inspired that song when you both wrote that?
Bouchard: At the time, Sandy was studying Buddhism, so he was intrigued with it and he decided to write that song.

SFL Music: I noticed you have “Godzilla” on this one.
Bouchard: Not written by Sandy.

SFL Music: What made you put that song on the album?
Bouchard: Well, two things. I keep saying this and people don’t realize it, but the original idea for Godzilla came from Patti Smith which was Sandy’s friend. Basically, from when they met, they were sort of inseparable even though they weren’t lovers or boyfriend girlfriend. I would say Patti was probably Sandy’s best friend. So, there was that, and there was also the fact that because this album was gonna be called Mutant Reformation, I had to find some mutants to put on it (he laughed). So, “Godzilla” is one, and I even did like a little imitation of Patti Smith. Well, it starts out sounding like Patti Smith and then it kind of goes into a rap, but in the middle of the song, the radiation and Mothra and all this other stuff so, trying to find the mutants to talk about.

SFL Music: Your second new single out “Tansmaniacon” with the new version of The Dictators, how did that all come together?
Bouchard: Well first of all, they asked me in 2019 if I would join. Andy Shernoff and Ross “The Boss” (Friedman) and Scott Kempner all wanted to get the band back together. They wanted to go back to the original band which was the three of them. That’s when I met them. They didn’t have a drummer when I met them. It was just Scott, Andy and Ross. Then they got Stu Boy (King) to be their drummer. I didn’t know this at the time. I knew them already and they wanted me to play on their first record, but Sandy Pearlman said, “no. You have to find your own drummer.” So, yeah Sandy squashed that beautiful thing that probably could have been, but anyway, it all worked out because now we’re playing together and it’s all great. The problem was that Scott Kempner, he was living in California and he was gonna move back to New York because he had been diagnosed with some kind of dementia. At the time he was still cognizant and everything. He called me up. He was pitching me the whole thing. “You got to play with us.” Like, oh yeah, great! “When are you coming?” And I said, oh soon, soon. Then COVID happened and so he didn’t come to New York. By the end of 2020, Ross and Andy and I had already cut a bunch of tracks in the studio and we were waiting for Scott, and his sister said, “it’s very aggressive and he can’t play anymore and he can’t remember things. He can’t really carry a conversation. He hasn’t gotten better.” So, we decided, do we want to be a trio or do we want to get another person to play with us? They wanted to get somebody else and we talked about a lot of different people that I know that I play with regularly. There was always some oh no, no. He’s too Americana. Oh no, he’s too hard rock. Or no he’s too busy. So, I said, well what about Keith Roth? I mean, he’s a great singer. He’s a good bass player, but I’ve also heard him play guitar and he’s a pretty good guitar player. They said, “oh Keith Roth. That would work.” So, we got Keith in the band. We started practicing. We did like a little gig in New Jersey, acoustic actually. It was bizarre. I didn’t think it would work, but the audience liked it, so you never know. So, I was saying to Keith, I would really like Monster Magnet to do “Tansmaniacon”. I’d just love to hear how heavy could they make it. So, he put me in touch with Dave, the leader and I wrote to him. He was all excited, “yeah, yeah. That would be great. Send me the track.” So, I sent him the track. Nothing. For three weeks I didn’t hear and finally I said, Keith. Hey, what’s going on with this guy? He said, “that’s unusual. He usually gets right back.” It turned out he had a medical condition. He’s still not totally recovered, so I don’t know what the status of Monster Magnet is, but Keith said, “hey, why don’t we do it with The Dictators? I went, oh, of course! That’ll be happy (he laughed). So, yeah, The Dictators, we did it and I’m very pleased. It was so quick. It was like Ross “The Boss” took two takes to do his part. Keith Roth, well it took about two hours for him to do the rhythm guitar part, but then the lead vocal, one take. That’s it! Yeah, yeah just like perfect. He’s,” like let me do another one?” I said, ok. He did the other one. Ok, that was good, but I’m using the first one.

SFL Music: I like the punk rockish sound.
Bouchard: It’s perfect!

SFL Music: Yes, it is. You also did “E.T.I.” with your brother Joe (Bouchard). That one has a rhythmic rock sound. How did that one come about?
Bouchard: Well, we had been playing it last summer. We did a tour in England with The Bouchard Brothers which is just basically myself and Joe and his girlfriend Joan. The three of us went over there. We did it. At that point I had started hanging out with this old, old friend of mine and Sandy Pearlman, Susie Loraine. She had already started singing on my record, so I had her come and sit in on a couple of songs for the last couple gigs that we played, but we were playing “E.T.I.” and I thought, oh yeah, I should put that on the record because it’s a good song and it’s also another Sandy Pearlman song. And it actually relates almost directly to the story because what happens in mutant reformation is, the aliens finally come and make themselves known on Earth because you know, why you never see an alien is because they are afraid of us because we’re gonna kill them (he laughed). So, they come back and “E.T.I.” is the part of that story where they’re coming back and making themselves known to the humans that are left on Earth.

SFL Music: You and Joe started playing with your cousin in the family barn. How did you know that you wanted to be a musician? What sparked you to become a musician initially?
Bouchard: Well, I’ll tell you that I always liked music. I really liked the drums. My goal as a young person was, I wanted to play drums in a marching band. I wanted to play the snare drum in a marching band, but I was too young of course and elementary schools don’t really have marching bands. By the time I got to high school, I got to be in a marching band, but when I was in elementary school, I was big for my age, so I loved to play basketball. I was on the elementary school basketball team. I mean, I don’t know that we played anybody, but we played each other. I remember finishing basketball practice; I think it was in seventh grade. Let’s see, that would’ve been twelve maybe, so that would have been in 1959. I was going downstairs to go home and I heard a song. They had like a dance class in the basement. I heard this song and I was like, what is that? It was a song called “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures and it was like oh man, I want to play that song. I want to play in a band and be able to do that song. So, then shortly thereafter, my cousin Teddy (Streets) wanted to start a band with his friend Eddie Bazinet, his next-door neighbor, and so Joe and I talked ourselves into that band and we became the Regal Tones. We played hundreds of gigs as the Regal Tones. We got paid in pennies (he laughed), but we had a lot of fun.

SFL Music: You play a multiple of instruments including guitar, bassoon, saxophone and more. You and Joe have been working on music all these years. What would you say is maybe the secret to your success and longevity as a musician?
Bouchard: I would say I am passionate about music and I’m relentless. I will just keep working at something. My partner Susie, she’ll be like, “Al, I’m going to bed” and I’ll be like, ok I’ll be there in a minute. I’m like moving things around on the computer and that. She’s like, “how do you focus? You’ve been working on this for eight hours straight.” I do. I get slightly manic (he laughed). I’m very seldom depressed, but I do get manic, yeah.

SFL Music: You were a teacher. You received an Education Award from President Obama for being an outstanding educator. A lot of musicians are influenced to play the cowbell and your style. What would you recommend to a new musician?
Bouchard: I think that it doesn’t matter how good you are when you start out. If you keep at it, you’ll continue to get better. I feel like I’m better at certain things. I’m a better guitar player than I’ve ever been. I’m a better singer than I’ve ever been. I kind of have plateaued on the drum thing although, listen if you’re drummer, just watch Larnell Lewis. That guy is so inspiring. He really is great. Or Thomas Lang, but Thomas Lang, he plays stuff that you can’t possibly play. Larnell Lewis, he just plays everything, on YouTube. For drummers I mean, there’s a lot of resources and you can see how they do it and they explain it in a very logical, slow. They do it slow and then they speed it up and you go, oh my God! That’s what it sounds like speeded up? Wow! So, there’s lots of resources to get better. If you’re a guitar player or a bass player or a sax player, there’s all these resources on the internet that are free. I would say the thing that people don’t talk about much in those YouTube videos is posture. I think that it’s important to have a good core, so do core exercises and make sure when you’re playing that you have good posture ‘cause you’ll play better.

SFL Music: That’s great advice. The last time we spoke you talked about running marathons. Do you still run?
Bouchard: I did a marathon in 2019. There was no in 2020, but I did 2021 and 2022 marathons. Before 2019 I hadn’t done a marathon since for twenty-three years. I had stopped doing marathons, but I really love doing marathons. It’s like no other experience. Its transformative. It’s fantastic. I’m talking about the New York Marathon because some of the other marathons, it’s not so much fun, but the New York Marathon, there’s so many people and they give you so much love. It’s overwhelming really to see the people of New York come out and support people that run. That was great, but this last race I fell down. That shook me up a lot. I just got to the twenty-mile mark and my left foot stepped in a pot hole and it wasn’t very deep and really, I just caught the tip of my toe coming out of the pot hole, but I ended up on my back you know, with a halo of runners around me going “you ok?” I jumped up, I’m fine! I didn’t try and break my fall at all because it was inconceivable. I’ve never ever fallen when I’m running, and then I just basically walked most of the way back, the rest of the way, the last six miles. So since then, I have altered it where I don’t run very much, maybe once a week. The rest of the time I do yoga, core exercises and the Apple Fitness+ dance workout. Richard Simmons, he had it right and it’s so much fun working out and dancing. I can’t even dance. I love doing this. I feel like a dancer. Most of the time it’s like, oh man, I can’t do that, but sometimes when you get it, it’s like whoa! This is great! We’re all doing the same thing at the same time.

SFL Music: You are doing some touring in the Northeast. Are you going to expand that?
Bouchard: Yes. I’m definitely gonna be working more. This year, the word really didn’t get out that I was touring. I was supposed to be playing gigs last week and this week, but really what I’ve been doing is doing what I’m doing right now. Talking to people like yourself about my new record, but I do have four gigs coming up at the end of the summer in the northeast. After that I go on tour with The Dictators for a couple weeks in Spain. Ten shows in Spain. I’ve done two shows with Blue Coupe and three shows with Blue Öyster Cult back in the seventies. So, this will be the most gigs I’ve ever done in Spain. I’m really looking forward to it. I absolutely love Spain. My favorite country in Europe actually.

SFL Music: You were doing new music with Blue Coupe and the second part of the Michael Moorcock. Is there anything else new you are working on for fans to look forward to?
Bouchard: The Dictators of course. Our new record coming out too. Next weekend we’re gonna work on the vocals for these five songs that we recorded. Maybe even do another six song or seven song, and we already have eight songs in the can. So, I’m pretty sure The Dictators record will be out before Christmas, but I don’t know. It will be done when it’s done. Everybody in the band, we have a lot of other projects on the fire, but we’re working on it steadily and it’s gonna be great. I just know it’s gonna be great!

SFL Music: Was there anything else new?
Bouchard: One other thing is that there is a graphic novel that is coming out. RE IMAGINOS graphic novel and that thing is done. Actually, I gave the approval for the front and back covers today, so it’s going to go into production probably the beginning of next week. So, it could be out in a month at the earliest probably. So, at the end of the summer, there will be a RE IMAGINOS comic book. We’ve already started on story boarding the next two comic books for each one of the albums. So, it’s gonna be amazing, and of course at some point there will be a box set. I already have ideas for supplementing the box set with extra songs that will fill out the story a little bit too.

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