If there ever was an astute choice for a band name, “the Zombies” ranks right up there in 2015.
And it ranked up there back in the early ‘60s, when the still-functioning British Invasion combo initially selected it, and the The Walking Dead was a half-century away.
“It was our very first original bass player, Paul Arnold, who came up with the idea,’ recalls band vocalist Colin Blunstone today. “And I sometimes think he come up with the idea out of desperation–because we’d been the Mustangs for a short period of time, we’d been the Sundowners, we’re 15 years old, the band just started, and he said ‘the Zombies.’ And it just stuck.”
It stuck through the ‘60s, when the band scored three significant hits that still linger in today’s pop culture —“She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “Time Of The Season”—and it remains today, when the band is seeing surprising chart success for their new album Still Got That Hunger, which is drawing rave reviews from cross-generational quarters and doing the band’s distinguished legacy proud.
[Related: Photos From The Zombies Performance]
That the new album actually met its planned release schedule is no small matter, adds Rod Argent, the band’s co-founder, keyboardist and vocalist, largely because of the presence of “Maybe Tomorrow”—a fine new song about a troubled relationship which offers an affectionate, lyrical nod to the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” via closing lyric “Just like the Beatles used to say, I Believe In Yesterday,” and thus became an inadvertent problem.
“So suddenly, three days before the album was about to be manufactured,” says Argent, “there was a call from Sony, who look after the Beatles, saying ‘We’ve just heard this song and you can’t use it.’” Solution? The band’s American management then contacted Paul McCartney’s personal manager and publisher, “and to our amazement, two days later, we got a message that Paul McCartney had downloaded the track—what a sweet thing to do, just that…and said yeah, great. He liked it, he said go ahead, you have my personal approval.”
(Photo: Lisa Aileen Dragani)
Currently touring the States to support Still Got That Hunger, the Zombies have pulled out all the stops this go-round: In celebration of their much-acclaimed ‘60s classic Odessey & Oracle, the band is now performing that entire album, from start to finish, in concert. And appearing onstage for that segment are original band members Chris White and Hugh Grundy–bassist and drummer respectively, and last seen performing with the band in 1967 or so. They’re both marvelous–as, of course, is Odessey & Oracle.
“I think over the years it’s gathered this almost iconic feel,” says Blunstone. “And I think part of the mystique about this album is that when it was released, it was to a large extent totally ignored. As a commercial entity, it was not a success at all. And then, something happened. Ten years after it was released–I can only think it was word of mouth– it started selling in considerable numbers. And it started picking up incredible reviews, where people will name it as one of the top three albums of the ‘60s.”
And nearly 50 years after it was released, the album just entered the vinyl charts in Billboard, he notes. “Who can explain something like that?”
Stopping by Yahoo’s Santa Monica studio just a week before Halloween, Argent and Blunstone offered up three fine Zombies performances—two songs from the new album and a certified classic we all know—and a cheery, informative interview that showed the wisdom and humor that can only come via years of entertaining people by being extraordinarily good. Watch and be thoroughly entertained, for it is both the time and the season.
Buy Still Got That Hunger here.