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The Zombies at Thalia Hall 4/13/2017

April 15, 2017 Leave a comment

While music is a lasting art form, that doesn’t mean people will appreciate it. That’s why I’m always impressed when a band can go out on a huge tour based solely on the anniversary of a recording. Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds 50 tour was the first one I saw, and this week I got to see The Zombies do the same with Odessey & Oracle. The album has held up better than most, and a lot of fans (especially in the States) who never got to see it performed in the 60’s now get to check it off their bucket list. 

The band (featuring Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent, Chris White, Hugh Grundy, Tom Toomey, Jim Rodford, and Steve Rodford) opened with an hour of songs that are not on Odessey, and I honestly enjoyed it as much as the music everyone was there to hear. It’s easy to forget that both The Zombies and their offshoots after they split had a whole slew of hits starting with “She’s Not There.” Rod Argent introduced this tune (the first he ever wrote) by dedicating it to his mother who had sadly passed away earlier in the day. What could have turned the night into a somber affair was, instead, a beautiful tribute and a great performance of a classic.


Rod and Colin both did a great job relaying stories from the band’s past. My favorite was about their first and only experience working in the movies when they were featured in a film starring Sir Laurence Olivier.

After a short intermission the band returned to play Odessey & Oracle. I kid you not, they sound as good as ever. It was like a time machine was placed over Thalia Hall and we were all transported back to 1968 through the songs and great visuals that acted as their backdrop.


It was an absolutely fantastic evening of music, and if I get the chance to go again I most definitely would. There are a few dates left on the west coast, so get tickets while you can!

Interview With The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone

March 14, 2017 Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago I was asked if I’d be interested in interviewing one of the members of The Zombies ahead of their Oracle & Odyssey show coming up at Thalia Hall in April. Of course I would be foolish to not take the opportunity to interview one of the creators of an album as great as Oracle. But how much do I really know about the band?
It turns out the answer to that question is: Not very much. So I enlisted the help of my good friend and musical encyclopaedia, Patrick Tape Fleming (Gloom Balloon, The Poison Control Center). His questions for lead singer Colin Blunstone were spot on and I ended up learning a lot.
Hi, my name is Patrick Tape Fleming. I’m a musician from Iowa, who just happens to be a huge fan of the Zombies, and Josh from Music Defined. was kind enough to let me ask you a few questions! I have seen you guys play a few shows over the past 12 years and I hope to see the tour this year as well! I was voting for you everyday to get into the Rock Hall as well.. So sorry it did not happen this year.. It will!
 
I drove 14 hours to see you guys on Valentines day in 2004 in Lexington, KY. It was so monumental for me to see one of my favorite bands from the 60’s. I even met (Colin and Rod) at a restaurant before the show. I said I had driven 14 hours and you were so surprised! And played, “This Will Be Our Year,” for me that night! It was one of my life’s highlights! Thank You!
 
 
Ok so some questions! 
 
1. Years ago I was in a bar talking to a guy who said he saw the Zombies play in Iowa in the late 60’s and I thought, “no way!” Then I found out about the fake Zombies band traveling around the US playing shows as you guys? When did you first become aware of this? And how many people who have seen you play over the past 12 years, think they saw you in the 60’s as well but never actually did?  

I first became aware of this in the 60’s. I suppose it was too tempting for some people to realize that The Zombies had a big hit record and there was no longer a band to go out and play live. Every now and then someone will tell us they saw The Zombies after 1967 and before 1999 and of course we know they really saw a different band. There was another band touring as The Zombies in the 90s and so the story goes because of their poor performance an irate fan pulled a gun on them in their dressing room. They stopped using our name immediately.

 
2. I saw you play at Park West in Chicago in 2004 with the band Love opening! Who have been some of your favorite bands to tour with over the years?

I will always remember that tour …..Love were great and Arthur was brilliant!! We’ve toured a lot with The Yardbirds who are great fun. Thinking about it though I usually keep myself to myself when we’re backstage as I want to stay focused on the show.

 
3. It’s well know that the Zombies recorded Odessey and Oracle in Abbey Road, right after the Beatles finished up Sgt. Pepper. Did you get to hear any of Pepper before it was released? And what did you think when you did hear it?

The Beatles had left a few days before we went into Abbey Road so we didn’t hear any old Sgt. Pepper before it was released but I haughty all The Beatles albums were fantastic!!!

Luckily John Lennon had left his Mellotron behind and we used it extensively on O&O.

 
4. Did you guys consider the Beatles more inspiration or competitors at the time? 

In my opinion The Beatles were and are the best British band ever and I never considered us to be in competition with them!

 
5. Odessey and Oracle has become so legendary over the years to music fans, and I say it’s just as good if not better than both Pepper and Pet Sounds. Rolling Stone ranks it at number 100 of the greatest albums ever! When you were making it, legend has it that tempers flared in the studio. Was it the pressures of a tight budget or knowing that you were working on something truly brilliant that made the sessions so tense?

It did get a bit tense towards the end but it was down to our tight budget and lack of studio time. In particular when we were recording the last track Time Of The Season which had only been finished that day, I was struggling with some of the phrasing. Rod was trying to coach me from the control room and I shouted back ” if you’re so bloody good you come in here and sing it” he replied ” you’re the lead singer, you stay there until you get it right” …..so we were having this great argument while I was singing ” it’s the time of the season for loving” which always makes me smile!!

6. The Mono and Stereo Mixes of Odessey and Oracle are vastly different. Do you prefer one over the other? And is it true you guys delivered the Mono version but the label wanted a Stereo version and the band paid for it with their own money? 

I rarely listen to our/my records once they are finished but from memory I prefer the mono version. Rod and Chris paid for the stereo mixes but I think we all agree they weren’t a complete success.


7. My band (Poison Control Center) was asked to play Zombies songs at a wedding, and It was so fun to learn the song  “You Make Me Feel Good,”! So soulful and catchy. With such a plethora of great songs how are you deciding what to play on this current tour, besides Odessey and Oracle?

We are a very democratic band ……Rod tells us what we’re playing and we play it!!

8. I really love the song, from your solo years, called “I Don’t Believe In Miracles.” How did that song come about and why is it not a huge hit in the USA? Were you getting much promotion in the US at the time? It seems like you continued to have chart success in the UK but never here? 

This song was written by Russ Ballard a wonderful writer who at the time was playing in Argent.

It was a big hit in the UK and Europe but I’ve never had a solo hit in the U.S. It always intrigues me how one song can be a hit in one territory’ and not in another. It’s one of life’s mysteries!!

9. I was so sad that the Zombies will not be inducted into the Rock Hall this year, especially after touring so much and putting out the fantastic new album Still Got That Hunger. Have all of your rock n roll dreams come true or is there anything left you want to do or prove, since you Still Got That Hunger?

We were just thrilled to be nominated for a second time!! I am eternally grateful to still be playing at this time in my life. All I want is to write and perform to the maximum of my ability for as long as I can. 

Thanks so much for all the wonderful music you have given to me and the rest of the world!  

Cheers!!!

Colin B.

Tickets for The Zombies Oracle & Odyssey tour are available now.  You can purchase them here.
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