INTERVIEW: Zombies

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What made you decide to come together and perform this album one last time?

It was the completing of the circle. Odessey and Oracle was the culmination of all that we aspired to then; writing and producing the album ourselves. So, after all this time and after 50 years, it is pleasing that the album is getting the recognition that it didn’t get at the time – so why not celebrate it? I mentioned to Colin and Rod that the anniversary was coming up and the rest is history.

Is this tour bittersweet? Will you miss performing these songs live together?

Definitely not bittersweet. For me, playing the album live, standing with the band on stage, the years just roll back. It is such a pleasure to be reminded of all the time that we shared as The Zombies. I feel incredibly lucky to have been working with such a voice as Colin’s and the unbelievable keyboard and writing skills of Rod. We fed ideas off each other – the sum of the whole was more than the sum of the parts.

How does it feel for the 50th-anniversary tour to be coinciding with the band’s nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

It makes me feel very privileged. 50 years on I am touring again and also honored to be nominated as a band.

Did you ever doubt the Odessey and Oracle’s worth and do you feel like it is finally getting the attention it deserved?

We felt then that it was the best thing that we had done as a band at the time. That is the most important thing – to create and record. Slowly over the years, other musicians started to quote it as an influence on their creativity. And that is worth everything.

Now that you are aware of the success of the album, If Clive Davis had not hesitated on releasing Odessey and Oracle, do you believe that there could have been a different outcome for the band?

No. You can’t go back. We wouldn’t be who we are today if things had been different.

Did you ever feel that Time of the Season stole the spotlight from the rest of the songs on the Odessey and Oracle album?

No, it was the last song that we put down in the studio and it is just an equal part of the whole album. Great song by Rod and it did keep our name, for a while, in the charts. It also led on to Rod and myself forming a producing and writing partnership, writing for and producing ‘Argent’ and several solo albums by Colin.

What is your favorite song on the album and why?

That changes all the time Each song has its own attractions. ‘Time Of The Season’ for obvious reasons, but when we started playing ‘Hung Up On A Dream’ on stage, its richness of meaning and musical texture filled me with tremendous pleasure.

Some would say the breathy “Ahhh” in Time of the Season is the trademark of the song. How did it become a part of the song?

As I said, it was the last song recorded, time and budget were running out, and Rod said while mixing it that it needed a rhythm like this … and proceeded to demonstrate by a clap and an ‘Ahh’. That worked perfectly! So he recorded it there and then.

You recently shared a cover of Time of the Season by Strung Like a Horse on your Facebook page. That song has been sampled by many artists, including Eminem How do you feel about musicians covering and sampling your music?

That’s great. Hearing other musicians’ versions of our songs makes at you look at them anew. We have often ourselves done our own versions of other people’s songs – and learned a lot.

Rod’s older cousin, Jim Rodford, was the original bass guitarist pick. He was already playing in the Bluetones but allowed you all to use their equipment for practice. When you were you able to get your own instruments and how did you get them?

As I joined the band as a replacement for Paul Arnold, I wasn’t there at the start. I was at art school at the time and joined after a year and a bit after they got together and when Paul left to concentrate on his exams. I already had a bass that someone had made locally but later, when we got a recording made, I got a Gibson bass. Paul got a Gretsch guitar and Hugh got new drums. Rod had already got a Pianette because club pianos were so unreliable. My father ran a General village store and helped us buy amps, and other equipment, by loaning us the money until we could pay it back from gigs.

Thinking back to the beginning, what are some of your fondest memories of practicing at the Pioneer Club?

As I said, I never rehearsed at the Pioneer. I started when the band started rehearsing at St. Etheldreda’s church hall in Hatfield. I met the guys for a first rehearsal (coincidently also at the Blacksmith’s Arms – I was the only one who had an old car) and that was the first time we’d met. I was impressed with their enthusiasm, musicality and work ethic from the start and I think that was the first time they tried working with three-part harmony when I joined.

How did Jim become a part of the current tour band?

Jim is an obvious choice. He is a great bass player. I always looked up to him and he inspired us all in the early days. Jim came from the same old school as Colin and myself – as was Terry Quirk (Odessey & Oracle album cover artist). The other three came from local rival school – the Abbey School. It is quite a ‘family’ group!

If you could travel back to the 1960’s, who would be the top five musicians The Zombies would have liked to perform with?

We toured with many of them. It’s impossible to say. But Del Shannon (who we toured with us on a Dick Clark tour) dropped in, unannounced, on a gig we were playing in London and came on stage to play several songs with us including ‘Runaway’ – which was fun and an unexpected pleasure for the audience. Later on when I was touring (as a producer) with ‘Argent’, Jimmy Hendrix sat at a bar with me at Eric Burdon’s party for the launch of his group ‘War’ in LA and sang a verse from ‘Time Of The Season’ – now he would have been great to play with.

Are there any current day bands you would like to collaborate with?

As I am mostly a writer/producer now-a-days, it is not a question for me. That’s for the current band.

Do members of the band plan to continue performing The Zombies new music?

I sincerely hope so. The current band are really good. The one thing about The Zombies is it continues to do new, fresh things, as well as playing the early stuff.

Your rock and roll success has really been a unique journey. Do you have any advice for young musicians who feel they put a great amount of time and effort into their craft with no real payoff?

Always do it for the music. That should be the main thing. Don’t do it for the money – if you do that, you’ll ultimately fail yourself. If you do it right – the money will come.

Is there anything you would like to share with us that fans may not know about The Zombies?

I think it has all be said Lori.

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