Who doesn’t love the Zombies? Their songs are timeless, you know the words by heart … 60’s hits like “Tell Her No,” “She’s Not There,” and “Time of the Season.”
Although those classics might seem a lifetime ago, The Zombies never stopped playing … in fact, they’ve undergone a career resurgence in recent years.
“We sometimes joke that we’re an emerging rock band,” laughed Zombies co-founder Colin Blunstone in a recent interview. “It’s just taken us a long time to emerge.”
Part of that resurgence is due to the band’s positive approach; Blunstone is one of the nicest guys in rock and roll. I spoke to him recently from his home in the UK as he prepared for the band’s latest tour. The band is on that tour now, and they plan a stop at the Narrows Center in Fall River on May 1.
After exchanging pleasantries and answering his questions about the local weather in early May, (yup, I told him, rainy in the low 50s or sunny and 76), he shared a little more about what the band has been up to lately.
“We were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, and of course, shortly after that, the pandemic happened, so we didn’t really get a chance to celebrate that wonderful induction evening fully because there was no more touring when the pandemic hit,” he explained. “So this is a chance for us to go out and play and celebrate the induction.”
The induction was long overdue according to many observers. Formed at St. Albans Prep School near London in 1961, The Zombies were right behind The Beatles, literary the 2nd band of the British Invasion, with “She’s Not There” reaching #1 on the American charts in December 1964.
“It was a wonderful ceremony at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York. We were inducted along with The Cure, Roxy Music, Janet Jackson, Def Leopard, Radiohead, and Stevie Nicks. It was incredible, there were 17,000 people there, it was quite a night, I’ll never forget it,” Blunstone exclaimed.
So how did The Zombies revive their career in the 21st century? Blunstone shared how it went down.
“(Co-founder) Rod (Argent) and I got back to playing together again in 1999, almost by chance really. I had a solo band and my keyboard player stopped turning up for gigs. I didn’t think Rod would want to play live again, he was a very successful producer at the time. So I just called him and said ‘I’m in a spot, I keep turning up without a keyboard player.’ I asked him to do the last six shows of the tour with me and he agreed.”
“He enjoyed it so much that we started touring, at the start, not using the Zombies name at all. Honestly, we didn’t understand how much interest there was in The Zombies. About 2007, the band started touring as The Zombies.”
Slowly but surely, the band rebuilt their fanbase around the world, with fans of all ages attending shows.
“Our audience is a complete cross-section of ages,” noted Blunstone. “There are people there who followed us right from the start, and there are many teenagers and people in their twenties who come to see us as well.”
Of course, fans young and old love appreciate the celebrated hits like “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season.” And hardcore fans have worn out 1968’s Odyssey and Oracle LP, the highly ranked psychedelic pop masterpiece, influenced by the Beach Boys Pet Sounds and the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Meanwhile, The Zombies have a new release on the way. “We actually just finished a brand new album last week, it will be released in 2-3 months’ time,” said Blunstone.
“We’re still finding our way, still writing new songs, experimenting with new sounds, and still as enthusiastic as ever. One of the things that strikes Rod and I when we play is that there is more energy on stage when we play now than there was when we first started. As a lead singer, I’ve got these wonderful players behind me, laying down such great music.”
Blunstone is a passionate musician, and he’s looking forward to the Narrows show.
“I love writing music, I love performing, that’s what I do. The Zombies are a really hot band, you’ll recognize so many of the songs and we’ll be playing songs from our new album. There will be something for everybody.”
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