More than 50 years on from their formation, The Zombies are in the midst of a very productive and busy period.
Not only are they gearing up for a five-week tour of the US, performing their classic album Odessey and Oracle, which will be followed by shows in Europe then a tour of the UK, they have also a new album out.
Formed in 1961, The Zombies split in 1967 but reformed with two of the original band – Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone – in 2004.
Odessey and Oracle became a cult hit and is ever-present in polls of the best albums; it also spawned the hit single Time of the Season.
Recently, their music has been featured in the series Mad Men and in last year’s Chanel adverts with Kiera Knightley.
The band also appeared at Glastonbury Festival and founder member, keyboard player and chief songwriter Rod Argent has great memories of the event. “It was our first time there and we loved it, it was great.”
Always creative, the band have recorded an new album titled Still Got That Hunger whose cover was designed by Terry Quirk, the man behind the distinctive (and mis-spelt) album cover for Odessey and Oracle.
“I think it’s the best thing we’ve done for many years, because we’ve done it in the way we did, and because we recorded it so organically I think it stands up against anything we’ve done.”
And the band has it’s own way of arranging their own songs, as Argent explains.
“We have never tried to ‘fashion’ the songs and we didn’t hang on the coat-tails of fashion and that means the music hasn’t dated.
“We get enthused about an idea and then try and make it work for ourselves.”
And the tracks so far broadcast have garnered good responses.
“we premiered them on Radio 6 with Stuart Maconie, and as the track, which was ‘Chasing the Past’, was playing, people were ringing in with some great comments.
“It was even featured in The Wall Street Journal.
“But when you’re a band of our vintage it’s a problem getting the bloody thing played. The vintage stations won’t play anything new and the current stations say we’re too old.”
Argent ended up writing nine of the ten tracks on the album, with Colin Blunstone chipping in with one.
“I find it hard to pick any stand-put tracks, but there are some very interesting sounds.”
“‘Chasing the Past’ has a mix of influences that we had back in the day. Thete’s a bit of baroque, jazz improvisation and some great vocal harmonies. There’s also a Hammond organ solo and a guitar solo in there as well.”
“and ‘Edge of the Rainbow’ has a feel of early Ray Charles. It’s jazzy, gospel-y blues stuff.”
For the band’s UK tour, Argent is already working on the set-list.
“There are things that we can’t get away with not playing and we don’t want to. Tracks like ‘Time of the Season’ and ‘She’s Not There’, as well as a couple of Colin’s and my solo material like ‘Say You Don’t Mind’ (Blunstone), and ‘Hold Your Head Up’ (Argent).
“When we add in a few tracks from ‘Odessey and Oracle’, that will form most of the set – plus we’ll play four or five off the new album.”
And the band is really up for it – even at their age.
“At the moment, things are getting more intense – we’re incredibly busy and we’ll continue as long as we’re well enough.
“It’s like a privilege to be at this stage in our career [both Argent and Blunstone are 70] and having these new avenues opening up,” Argent laughs, adding: “I must tell you this story about Jim (Rodford). He’s a few years older than me (Jim is 74) and he was on holiday with his wife in Eastbourne. They were socialising with people of their age and these other holidaymakers were discussing their retirements.
“They then asked Jim if he was retired and he said “No, I’m in an emerging rock band.”.”
And as to the future?
“After the UK dates, the pace doesn’t let up as in January we’ve been asked to do The Moody Blues Cruise for the third time. A Caribbean cruise with bands like us and The Moodys playing in the evenings – it’s always great fun. Then after that, we’ll probably be off to the US again.”
The Zombies will be appearing at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on Monday December 7. For details visit http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/zombies1/