The Zombies had been nominated four times before the British band was inducted into the "Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame". The joy of the band leaders Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone was all the greater when the time finally came in 2019. Along with fellow founding members Chris White and Hugh Grundy, The Zombies performed their hits. For keyboarder and singer Argent it was a decisive moment that significantly shaped the Zombies album that is now being released.
"I thought the band never sounded as good as it did there," enthuses Argent (77) in an interview with the German Press Agency in London. His goal: The Zombies should sound as powerful on their next album as they did on the "Hall of Fame" stage. "I wanted our studio recordings to be as live as possible so that you capture it on tape the way you used to do it because you had to. There was no other way to record."
From "slow burner" to cult album
"Different Game" is the name of the new Zombies studio album, which is officially the eighth. Their discography is a bit confusing and includes far more song compilations than real albums. Their most well-known is "Odessey And Oracle" from 1968. It owes its title - correctly it should be called Odyssey - to a misspelling by the designer who was responsible for the album cover. The LP was a "slow burner" and only became a cult album over the years.
In the 1960s, the group, which formed in St Albans, north west of London, had landed a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic with "She's Not There". The Zombies were considered the next hope of the "British Invasion" after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
But in the USA it remained with a few TV appearances and sparsely attended concerts. "We got to the hall and there was no one there," Argent recalled. Apart from the single "Tell Her No", there were no further hits in the following years, even in Great Britain. "I always had the feeling that we had pretty bad management back then," says the keyboardist, who later became successful with his band Argent ("Hold Your Head Up").
It wasn't until The Zombies gave up and broke up that "Time Of The Season" suddenly became a number one hit in the USA in 1969 as part of the flower power movement. "We were offered a million dollars, which was a lot of money at the time, to tour again," Argent says. "But we weren't interested. We've only ever looked ahead - and we're doing that now."
After other musicians had meanwhile boldly pretended to be The Zombies and went on tour with their songs, Argent and Co. got their band name back at the end of the 80s and released an album. Argent and Blunstone, who had worked together after the band broke up, first went on tour as a duo. Since 2004 they are active again as The Zombies.
Content deliberately vague
The album title and the song "Different Game" could be understood as an allusion to changes in the music business, in which Argent and Co. have been involved for over 60 years. "When I write my songs, I always have a specific trigger in mind, but I hope they work universally because we all have similar experiences in the world," says the 77-year-old.
In this case, he was inspired by a well-known band - he won't reveal the name - whose singer couldn't cope with the changes in his life and career. "People say, 'My God, I miss my youth because it was so much better,'" Argent says, puzzled. "I don't think it has to be like that. I think you can progress in life, enjoy things, but you have to work for it."
The almost jazzy "Dropped Reeling
The somewhat dark song "I Want To Fly", on which Blunstone is only accompanied by strings, should sound familiar to die-hard Zombies fans. The number written by Rod Argent was actually a piano ballad on one of Blunstone's solo albums.
More active than ever
On the Zombies Instagram channel, Argent, Blunstone and Co. entertain with funny videos and youthful humor. In 2023, The Zombies, who are now joined by musicians Steve Rodford (drums), Tom Toomey (guitar) and Søren Koch (bass), will no longer sound as lively and relaxed as they did on their cult classic "Odessey And Orcale". But you can't tell that Argent and Blunstone are approaching 80 on "Different Game".
By the way, the two veterans and friends are far from thinking of an end. A documentary about the band will be premiered soon. The next tour is already booked. Almost 60 years after "She's Not There", The Zombies are more active than ever.