On September 18, 2021 at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT/8pm BST, Rock royalty The Zombies will be coming live from Studio Two, Abbey Road Studios for their first and only “World Tour in One Night” Livestream September 18, 2021. Tune in via this link. Fittingly, this event coincides with the start of Abbey Road’s 90th Anniversary celebrations. The concert will be broadcast by Veeps.com, the streaming platform founded by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden in 2017.
The concert will be followed by an online Q&A Session from Abbey Road with founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone. Hosted from “across the pond” by legendary Rock journalist David Fricke, the band will also field questions from a virtual audience of surprise celebrity guests. Special ticket packages with exclusive merchandise are also available to purchase via this link.
With all their touring plans postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Zombies jumped at the chance to do a “world tour” in one night.
“We’re really excited for this opportunity to reconnect with our fans”, says lead singer Colin Blunstone, “and especially to reach places around the globe like Australia and South America, where we’ve never had the chance to play live before!”
The band is also excited to try out some new songs during the concert. With this forced break from touring, The Zombies current lineup – singer Blunstone and keyboardist Argent, along with Steve Rodford (drums), Tom Toomey (guitar) and Søren Koch (bass) – have been pouring their creative energies into recording the long-awaited follow-up to their Billboard charting 2015 album, ‘Still Got That Hunger’. According to Argent:
“Of course I know these last fifteen months have been testing for everybody. What’s suddenly feeling terrific for us though, is at last being able to continue the recording of our new album! We pretty much just completed the fifth song, and there are already three more currently in the pipeline to be rehearsed and recorded. The initial reaction to the completed tracks has been great, and the feeling of excitement is almost like starting again!”
The Zombies also going to be touring in 2022, with tickets and further information here.
Lisa had the opportunity to speak to lead singer Colin Blunstone about “The World Tour In One Night”, The Zombies 2022 tour, and their upcoming album.
Hello Colin, it’s Lisa Hafey here from Essentially Pop!
Hi Lisa how are you doing!
Good good! Thanks so much for speaking to us – we’ve been supporters of The Zombies for as long as we’ve been around, and it’s nice to finally to speak to one of you.
Brilliant, brilliant! Thanks so much for your support!
No worries at all! Congratulations on being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame the other year as well! Long overdue I think!
I mean, it was an absolutely brilliant experience, it was 2019, almost the last one they’ve held, they’ve held one more since. It was at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, in front of 17,000 people, and we were inducted alongside Roxy Music, The Cure, Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, and Def Leppard, so it was such a wonderful evening, and something I’ll never forget! And of course, it’s so great because to a large extent, you’re inducted because of the support of your peer group, so it means that we have been appreciated by our peers, and it helps to validate everything we’ve done – the band’s been together for 60 years, so it’s a long career, so it was a wonderful experience.
It’s definitely a nice crowd to have been inducted with as well, so many of the other artists who were inducted at the same time have had that same longevity as you have.
Absolutely! There was a feeling of camaraderie amongst all of us getting inducted, and at the end, not all the bands, but some of us, Def Leppard played, and certainly Rod Argent and myself helped out, and we played ‘All The Young Dudes’, and Ian Hunter (of Mott The Hoople) came out and sang it, he was absolutely fantastic! We played this wonderful tune, what a great feeling at the end of the show! And of course it went down incredibly well.
I can imagine! It sounds wonderful! BUT – we’re in a different era these days…
Yes, we certainly are!
So how’s the pandemic been treating you?
Well, the same as everyone else really! Everything’s ground to a halt, but more recently we have been able to get into the studio, and we are in the process of recording a new album, I hope we can get it finished by the end of the year, we’ve got tracks down for, probably six or seven.
Wow! How many are you planning?
Well, I would have thought it would be ten tracks.
Okay, so you’re nearly all in the can!
Yeah yeah! We are also doing this livestream show from Abbey Road Studio 2, on September the 18th, so anyone can get a ticket for that. They’re calling it “A World Tour In One Night”, because it is going out all around the world, and you can get all the details and tickets for that from The Zombies’ website, and then February next year, we will be starting a UK tour, which will then lead on to dates in the States. And in the autumn we’re playing Scandinavia and Germany. It’s quite a full calendar next year, but of course, that’s so much dependent on the pandemic!
I was going to say – you’ve been answering all my questions before I ask them – but that’s okay! I’ve still got more! How did the “World Tour In One Night” at Abbey Road come about? Did you approach them, or did they approach you?
Well it was driven by our management company called The Rocks, in New York, and it’s completely their idea. I’m not sure of the mechanics of how it came about. I think one or two people have done this before at Abbey Road, but for us personally, as the band, it came out of the blue, and our management company said, “well we’ve arranged this World Tour In One Night from Abbey Road Studio 2”, one of the interesting things is, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to rehearse, and we have a new bass player, who is actually based in Denmark, so it’s actually been very difficult for him to travel. So we’ve got intense rehearsals for a couple of days beforehand, but it’s going to be very exciting, especially as we haven’t played for nearly 2 years. The last time we played was 2 years ago in Spain, in December, I can remember it really well, so we have got to get back into our stride very quickly, and I think those two days rehearsal are going to be pretty intense.
How do The Zombies end up with a bass player from Denmark?
Well, in a way it’s a very sad story…this incarnation of The Zombies, which has been going for over 20 years now, our bass player was a wonderful player and a lovely guy called Jim Rodford, and he just had a terrible accident, he fell on his stairs at home, and unfortunately, the way he fell, he died, very suddenly. I was talking to him on a Friday night, at 9 o’clock, and first thing in the morning, 9 o’clock the next day, his son, who is also in the band, called me and told me there’d been an accident. I couldn’t believe it! I’d been talking to him, and gone to bed, and woke up to this news that he’d died. And immediately we had to decide whether the band was going to continue. Jim loved playing live, he was a phenomenal live performer, and always wanted to play live, and we thought, come on, we’ve got to keep going. We had an American tour starting in 10 days time, and we were introduced to a friend of a friend, this Danish bass player, who came over and played with us, and it just happened that he was really interested in The Zombies. He’d come over from Denmark to see us play many times, so as well as being a wonderful musician, he knew our repertoire, so he played about 5 tunes with us, and we thought, this is incredible, not only does he know the bass parts, but he knew the harmonies as well!
We’re a harmony based band after all! He played a few numbers with us, then went back to Denmark, and just before we went to New York we had a day’s rehearsal with him, and then we opened in New York! He was note-perfect! Obviously the background of that story is a tragedy, but out of it came this intriguing story of a bass player who is absolutely note-perfect, and who can play a two-hour Zombies set, with one day’s rehearsal. His name is Søren Koch, a lovely guy as well.
Well given that, he’s bound to be quite alright for Abbey Road, isn’t he!
Oh he’ll be fine, I’m not at all worried about him, he’s a guy who doesn’t make mistakes. He’s incredible.
What is it about Abbey Road? I mean, aside from its association with The Beatles and so on…What is it about that studio, do you think, that has such an appeal? Everyone’s going to be tuning in to this – not only because it’s The Zombies, but also because it’s Abbey Road.
It has been for the last 50 years, and probably before that, accepted as one of the best studios in the world. The engineers are absolutely world class, they’ve always got – they actually invented things there – they will have equipment there that no-one else has got, because they’re so advanced, when it comes to that side of things. It’s a wonderful environment to work in. I’ve worked there quite a lot, sadly I’ve not worked there particularly recently, but it’s going to be a homecoming for me, I worked there with The Zombies on ‘Odyssey and Oracle’, and I did three solo albums there, and also I’ve worked there with Alan Parsons on The Alan Parsons Project – he always used Studio 2, so I’m no stranger! There is just a wonderful history to that building, and it’s backed up by having incredibly wonderful people working there, with the very latest equipment.
That brings me back to your own music, and the music of The Zombies, which has long lasting appeal. The classic hits of The Zombies are sought after all the time, and they’re instantly recognisable. ‘Time Of The Season’ was picked up by Chelsea Football Club for their new kit launch advertising…
Yes! I’m a lifelong Chelsea fan…
Ah! Is that the connection!
…it’s very exciting for me! They have an online presence of 110 million people [that’s incredible!] because they are supported all around the world – so many people will be introduced to ‘Time Of The Season’, and The Zombies, through that kit launch! We’re very fortunate because our repertoire is used in that kind of environment a lot. Just this summer, Zombies songs have been in three films. The Disney film, ‘Cruella’, used ‘Time Of The Season’. There’s a new Cate Blanchett film called ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette’ has ‘She’s Not There’ in it – certainly in the trailer, I’ve not seen the film, but I’m told it’s in the film.
The film that won the Cannes Film Festival this year is a French film called, ‘Titane’, and that had ‘She’s Not There’ in it. We’ve also got a national commercial on in America which is using a non-hit song, called ‘This Will Be Our Year’, all over TV in the States this year. The general category for this is called sync, and we just seem to be very fortunate in that area, and although we’re not getting into the charts, we’re reaching people in a different way. I think in this day and age you really need to find new ways of approaching people, to let them hear your music. You can’t just be chart-dependent. The charts are…well…a two hour conversation – but they’re controlled so much by radio play, and radio play is very very tight, you have to have a certain profile to get on the radio, it’s very very difficult.
But you still manage to get radio play – and your most recent album, ‘Still Got The Hunger’, that got a lot of radio attention.
Well it did! A lot of bands of our era find it really difficult to get onto the radio. It’s kind of simple, Top 40 radio is age dependent, anyone over 25 will find it very difficult to get a record played on Top 40 radio; and then you go to the gold stations – they will play your records, but they’ll only play your old records, they won’t play your new songs. A band like us, with a profile like ours, tends to slip through the cracks if we’re not careful, with regard to radio play.
Yes! It’s fine to have classics, but when you’re still a working band that is producing new music…
…it becomes quite difficult! I think that we are quite rare in that we’re a 60s band who’s still writing and recording new music. Of course we incorporate that in our concerts when we play live, and the most heartening thing is that when we do that, the new music gets a stronger response than the classic hits. It’s really heartening for the future that we can still get that reaction from an audience with our new material.
How do you keep your music – and your voices – so fresh after all this time?
Haha! I’m just waking up and I was singing yesterday so my voice is not as fresh as it could be! But I think we’re fortunate with the songs, especially the ones Rod Argent wrote, in that they do have a timeless quality about them, and I still feel as I sing them on stage, that they’re still as fresh as when we first recorded them. We’ve got that repertoire that hasn’t really dated. We can entwine it with the new songs that we’re writing. There’s a kind of seamless join there, that the new songs and old songs all work together – we’ve got the principal songwriter, Rod Argent, and the principal singer – myself – performing these songs, so it helps. As regard to voices, both Rod and I studied with a singing coach called Ian Adam, and one thing we learned from him, he gave us a set of singing exercises, that we both do, especially on the road.
I do those exercises twice a day, before soundcheck and before the show, and that really helps to strengthen my voice, and to make it more accurate. And in our concerts, all the songs are in their original key – you’ll often find when people reach a certain age, they’ll drop the keys – but I’m really fortunate that I’ve kept my range. As long as I look after my voice, we can do all the songs in their original keys. I do think that, as I say, you approach the autumn of your career, you have to change your lifestyle on the road. You have to make sure you get enough sleep, that you eat well, and most of the older musicians that I know don’t drink at all. That’s perhaps the price you have to pay for staying on the road. When you’re young, every night is party night, but as you get older you have to adjust your lifestyle if you want to stay on the road.
I was thinking about that! Because alcohol changes the timbre of the vocals as well.
It can be a help in some ways, because it makes you very relaxed; but it can make you sloppy, and it can make your intonation be a little bit suspect if you drink. I think for most people your intonation will suffer.
Well we’ve covered most of what I’ve wanted to ask, but I have one more question, and that is, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
Oh gracious me! I’ve never been asked that question before! It’s funny, I was asked once by an American DJ – this is not the answer to your question – about four or five days ago – “I want to ask you a question you’ve never been asked before”, and I thought okay, come on then! And he said, “what size shoe do you take?!” (both laugh). It was a good way to start an interview. Can I think about it for a minute? You’ve taken me aback a bit!
I sometimes think I’d like people to ask the more serious questions, about singing technique. I don’t profess to be an expert on it, but I do feel that people think you’re born being able to sing, and it’s an effortless experience. But you do have to work at it. I think some people are amazed at the speed the guitarist can play at, and the keyboard player, and the drum solo, but they just kind of think that the speaker was born being able to do that, and they haven’t had to work at that. But I do think we’ve kind of covered it when we were talking earlier on. I do have to be in control of my lifestyle when we’re touring, because touring is physically demanding.
Whenever you’ve got a long way to go on your holidays, you usually arrive and you’re exhausted. But we have to do that day after day for weeks, often travelling 500-600 miles; and we generally do that by road – if it’s really long we’ll fly, but we tend to choose to go by road. And it’s really draining. You have to make sure you drink enough water. When I was a kid I never used to think about things like this! You get so dry, especially for a singer, it has a big effect. You have to make sure you don’t eat too close to the show. Some of the guys in the band will be eating steak and chips 10 minutes before we go on stage – I couldn’t sing if I did that! I have to be so careful. As a rule, two or three hours before the show I don’t eat. I don’t drink alcohol, I make sure I get enough sleep. If I could, I’d like to walk off stage and go straight to the hotel and get to bed. It is a lifestyle thing, and as you get older, you have to get stricter and stricter. I’ve noticed, I don’t think it’s just me, when we’ve played with other bands, if they’re of that era, they seem to roughly work in the same way.
Well your voice IS an instrument.
It will show. It really will.
I had singing lessons when I was younger, and when I went to sign up, the teacher made me sing scales, and her thing was, “not everyone’s a born singer, like Barbra Streisand”. You can sing, but you have to train your voice, you have to look after that instrument.
It’s absolutely true. I think you have to develop some sort of technique for you, because if you don’t, on the days when you’re not quite on top of your game, you’ll suffer, because you’ve got nothing to fall back on. Sometimes I think, everyone’s going to have better nights, but you’ve got to protect yourself, you can’t afford to have bad nights. When you’re not fit, when you’re tired, got a cold coming on, when you’re run down, that’s when you’ve got to fall back on your technique, and you can give a performance that the audience will really appreciate.
Thank you so much for talking to me Colin, it’s been a lovely chat!
Oh well I’ve really enjoyed it Lisa! I’ve got this feeling that I volunteered answers before you could ask the questions! You can put that down to me being very keen!
I think that’s good, it means I’m on the right track too with my questions! I’m so looking forward to the livestream, “World Tour In One Night”!
Absolutely! I’ve got my passport ready!
The Zombies 2022 Tour Dates:
|26.2.22||Floral Pavilion||New Brigthton|
|3.3.22||Apex||Bury St E|
|4.3.22||Under The Bridge||London|
|5.3.22||TBC/ new Venue||Harpenden|