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Interview:
Zombies at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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The Zombies are proof there can be life after death -- or at least disbandment.



The British group's brief seven-year initial history during the 60s produced hits ("Tell Her No," "She's Not There," "Time of the Season") and a lauded album in 1968's "Odessey and Oracle." The Zombies called it quits in 1967, just before the latter's release, but the group --led by frontman Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent -- has been active and together since 2004, releasing three studio albums and also performing "Odessey..." shows with original members Chris White and Hugh Grundy in tow (guitarist Paul Atkinson died in 2004).



During April, meanwhile, the Zombies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, giving the group a stature it deserved but didn't quite achieve during its initial run...



Argent, 74, says the Rock Hall induction experience "was fantastic...really, really lovely. The actually ceremony itself was about five hours and we were the penultimate band on, just before Def Leppard, so it was a very, very long evening. But it was magical, and all the other bands, some of which we'd never met before, were fantastically friendly and went out of their way to say, 'Oh, we've been influenced by you' and things like that. Everybody just went out of their way to be friendly and non-competitive."



The Zombies are again performing "Odessey & Oracle" in its entirety, something they did during 2017-18 and "weren't going to do" anymore, according to Argent. But this year's offer to tour with Brian Wilson changed their minds. "We always felt that a link-up with Brian Wilson would be perfect, and when it was offered to us to do ('Odessey...'_ one more time around we couldn't say know, 'cause this really feels like a very special thing to us. We were completely knocked out by (the Beach Boys') 'Pet Sounds' when it came out. That was several months, I think, before we started to record 'Odyssey & Oracle,' and it make us really want to get involved with the songs we were writing and extend our own areas like Brian did on 'Pet Sounds.'"



Prior to the tour Argent says he'd only met Wilson cursorily, "to say hello;" Chris White, he adds, has had more encounters. But Wilson did contribute a testimonial to a "The Odessey," a book about the Zombies that was put together by the group's management and record company. "It was the first or second endorsement in the book, and I couldn't believe it when I opened it; Brian Wilson said, 'Oh, man, the Zombies really blew me away.' He quoted some of the early songs and he said, 'Those harmonies, they were just great. To get Brian to say that was just fantastic. I remember being very touched by the fact he wrote that in the book."



The Zombies plan to get to work in earnest soon on their next album, a follow-up to 2015's "Still Got that Hunger." Argent has already written three songs and says "there are ideas for a couple more that I have in my head. We've recording most of the first song and that's always the most exciting thing to be involved in, something new and creative. I love still playing the most well-known songs, but when you have something new that's the most exciting things, and it's always been. When that happens it feels the same as you did when you were 18 years old -- and that's a real privilege as you get older."



In addition to the Zombies, Argent is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Argent, the band he formed subsequently, which had an enduring hit in "Hold Your Head Up." "Once you get quite a long way from an original band, recording, whatever, you see things a lot more objectively. when you're young or just doing it, you remember all the problems, maybe on a particular track or bits and pieces. But when you get far enough away and you can hear it you can hear it almost for the first time. I've been experiencing that with Argent; I hadn't listened to Argent for ages and ages and recently, for various reasons, I have, and some of them sound absolutely terrific to me -- maybe not every track, but I'm really proud of the Argent stuff."



The Zombies and Brian Wilson Brian Wilson and the Zombies perform Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors at 7 p.m. $39.50-$179.50. Tickets for the Masonic Temple Theatre, where the show was originally scheduled, will be honored. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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