Revived and thriving, Zombies build on ’60s hits with acclaimed tour
Breathe Out, Breathe In by the Zombies
The full band includes Jim Rodford (bass), Blunstone (vocals), Argent (keyboards); Steve Rodford (drums) and Tom Toomey (guitar).
Colin Blunstone (left) and Rod Argent are in the Zombies.
Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies
Ryan Seacrest won’t be playing the latest from The Zombies on his weekend radio show. And if it was released in the last 10 years, the band’s new stuff won’t make the rotation of an oldies station. But that’s okay with the band, said Colin Blunstone, the group’s singer. The fans have still managed to find them.
“There is no great record company behind us,” he said. “The success that we’re having at the moment has nothing to do with chart success. This is just through us playing live and word of mouth, and we’ve opened up the opportunities to ourselves just through our playing in wonderful concert halls throughout the world. And in some ways this is the most exciting period of my career, of all, and that includes the early ’60s when we had many hit records.”
Blunstone and the rest of The Zombies will be making one of those stops at The Flying Money in Plymouth on Saturday. And
it’s no wonder new legions of fans are finding the band made famous for the songs “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season.” They’ve been cited as influences by the likes of Courtney Love, Belle and Sebastian and the Arctic Monkeys among many others. Not to mention, Rolling Stone named the band’s album Odessey and Oracle one of the Top 500 albums of all time.
It’s been a long road to get that recognition. The band first got together in 1961 and played as amateurs until recording 1964’s “She’s Not There,” which was a near-instant success on the charts. With its sultry, haunting vocals and frenetic refrain, it was unlike anything on the radio at the time. Though they would see two more songs make the charts, subsequent efforts didn’t find the same audience. The band broke up amicably, Blunstone said, in 1967. The band members remained close friends, he said, and worked on their own projects until 2000. Then it was suggested to Blunstone and Rod Argent, a former Zombie and keyboardist, that they play six concerts in the U.K. of classic Zombies songs.
“We thought it would be fun, but it was very definitely going to be six concerts,” Blunstone said. “And we used our names, not The Zombies at all. We had no idea the worldwide interest in The Zombies catalogue. But even on the first concert, we realized it was such good fun, so the six concerts have grown to 13 years on the road. We’ve recorded three new studio albums, and three live albums as well. In some ways it has been just as exciting if not more so because the band has grown.”
If you think of The Zombies as a brand, he said it’s a brand that’s recognized internationally and plays the Far East, North America, Scandinavia, all the way through Europe. They’ve also gone from playing very small gigs to playing to tens of thousands at festivals.
“This version of The Zombies, this incarnation of The Zombies, has been just as exciting (as in the 1960s),” he said.
After a particularly good show, the band’s bass player Jim Rodford, former bass player for the Kinks, said he hoped they didn’t get bigger than it was right then.
“And I knew exactly what he meant,” Blunstone said. “If it does get too big, there’s all sorts of new pressures that come into the equation. First of all, you’re always playing huge concert halls, so you sometimes lose contact with the audience. But also, you start (to have) a particular kind of businessman around you. And things can sometimes get a little strained.
“I knew just what he meant, because this is fun. We’re playing the music we love with musicians who we really, really respect.”
And he said, he doesn’t lament the lack of air time on the radio.
“We’re precluded from a lot of radio stations because Top 40 generally will not play people over the age of 25. So that’s Top 40 gone,” Blunstone said. “And gold (oldies) stations will only play old classic records, so they won’t play our new stuff. The gold station’s gone
. . . . so it makes it very tough to get on the radio.
“Whereas a new young band, just signed to a major label, it’s a whole different ball game for them. And good luck to them. We’ve had our turn at bat, there’s not bad feeling about it. And to tell you the truth we’re having the time of our lives. The last thing I want to do is complain.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. with doors open at 6 p.m. It’s an all ages show. Tickets are $45 and $55. For information, visit flyingmonkeynh.com or call 536-2551.