50 years is an incredibly long time for anything, and much like a marriage, a band’s career very rarely approaches its semicentennial if its even lucky enough to achieve half of that with a quarter-of-a-century anniversary. Most things that last 50 years aren’t as enjoyable as when they were new but the world is lucky enough to have scotch, classic cars, Bill Murray, and The Zombies, which all manage to keep their favorable attributes enjoyable (or better) with age, in their respective categories.
Colin Blunstone, co-founder and vocalist of classic rock outfit, The Zombies, recently took some time to speak with Prefixmag about the English band’s impressive career, their influence on younger generations and what they may have in store for the near future. Read through and get the scoop from one of the greatest rock bands of all time!
The band has taken its share of breaks over the years (then rising from the dead to give the name more meaning) but what has ultimately kept The Zombies active with original members for over five impressive decades?
Although the band hasn’t always played together under our original name, we have all continually drifted in and out of one another’s projects over the years, so it does almost feel as if The Zombies never really stopped playing and I think in the end we all just really enjoy playing together.
How’s it feel to know that songs like “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season” have stayed relevant since their 1960s releases?
It feels really good, especially as when the band finished I think we all felt no one was really interested in what we were doing and now here we are nearly 50 years on and people are buying our records and playing our music more than ever.
Are The Zombies better than The Beatles?
Personally I think The Beatles stood head and shoulders above any other 60s band but if someone wants to compare them to The Zombies I am extremely flattered.
Zombies (the undead) have always been a popular horror figure but have become an enormous fad in the past decade or so, far more than at the time of the band’s inception. Any reasoning behind the name choice?
When we decided on The Zombies as a name there were very few, if any, Zombie films, books or magazines. I’m not certain we really knew what a zombie was but we were desperate for a different kind of name and our original bass guitarist Paul Arnold came up with the idea. Everybody thought it was great except me but as I couldn’t think of anything better I got out voted.
What have you guys been working on since Breathe Out, Breathe In? What can fans expect from the band in the near future?
We’ve been touring continually in the U.S, Canada, Scandinavia, Japan, The Philippines, Europe and the U.K. In the little breaks we’ve had I’ve managed to record a solo album called On The Air Tonight, and I hope we’ll be exploring some new Zombie material early next year.
How would you describe playing a live concert today as opposed to 40 or even 50 years ago?
Everything, sound equipment, travel, backstage and press and publicity, is much more sophisticated today than it was when we first started and of course at most concerts in the 60s the screaming was so loud that often no one actually heard a note of what was being played.
What were your feelings about the cast of Glee covering “She’s Not There” on the show?
I think Glee is great, though because I’m traveling so much I don’t get to see that much TV. I’m really thrilled that they performed a version of “She’s Not There” and I think they did a brilliant job.
On top of that, countless artists of nearly every genre have covered The Zombies in some form over the years. How does it feel to know that so many different talents have desired to perform their takes on your works?
It’s extremely heartening to know that new, much respected artists choose to record Zombies material but I’m also aware that I only sang these songs, they were almost all written by Rod Argent and Chris White and I believe that their writing ability is one of the main reasons that there is so much interest in The Zombies after all these years.
Who have been some of your favorite bands to tour and play live with over the years?
I have so many great memories of concerts played over the years! I remember being “knocked out” by The Isley Brothers on our first ever professional tour. Ronnie Isley has one of the most stunning voices ever. The Beach Boys have always been a favourite band of mine so to play some dates with them was a big thrill, and The Who have always been one of the best and most exciting bands. More recently I thought Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were great and we played a couple of charity concerts with Eric Clapton who is a breathtaking performer.
Have you ever grown tired of performing the same songs for so many years?
I think I’m very fortunate in that most Zombie tunes have a great timeless feel about them so that every time you perform them they sound as fresh as when they were first recorded.
What is one of your most memorable moments from being on the road with the band?
I will always remember Rod and I performing a piano and voice arrangement of “I Want To Fly” to an absolutely packed Albert Hall in London. There was absolute silence in an electric atmosphere and when we had finished, the audience erupted in tumultuous applause. It gives me goosebumps to even think about it!
What would you say has been the biggest blessing of the band’s career?
Rod Argent and Chris White’s writing.
How long will The Zombies live on?
Until we can’t play anymore.