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Preview: 1960s cult heroes The Zombies play Islington Assembly Hall

07:59 20 September 2012

The Zombies

The Zombies

Archant

Half a century on, the rock legends continue to sell out across the globe

»More than half a century on from hitting the British rock scene, The Zombies are continuing to sell out venues across the globe.

The legendary band, which will perform at the Islington Assembly Hall on Wednesday, hit the road for their 50th anniversary tour last year with a new studio album in hand, and haven’t stopped since.

After forming in St Albans, Hertfordshire, in 1961, they went on to have a raft of worldwide hits including She’s Not There, Tell Her No and Time of the Season, with their iconic album Odyssey and Oracle – released in the year the band disbanded – ranked among one of the best of all time.

The Zombies went on to become major influences for countless artists spanning generations across the world, including Billy Joel, Paul Weller, Badly Drawn Boy and the Arctic Monkeys.

Then, back in 2000, a chance encounter between two of the band’s founding members – Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone – was to pave the way for their most recent reformation.

Rod, 61, explained: “I was doing a charity concert and Colin was in the audience, so he got up on stage with me on the spur of the moment, and it was amazing. It was like it had only been two weeks since we’d worked together, not 30 years.

“So we decided to do half a dozen gigs for fun and ended up doing 12 years of touring around the world, but it has only been the last four to five years that we’ve been going under The Zombies name.”

In the band’s current line-up, Rod and Colin are joined by Rod’s cousin and bassist Jim Rodford, formerly of Argent and The Kinks – who was present on the day The Zombies formed in St Albans – as well as his son Steve on drums and guitarist Tom Toomey.

Last year, the quintet released the album Breathe Out, Breathe In. Rod said: “We wanted to capture what we enjoy so much about playing on stage and the interplay between musicians, because we’re such a tight group.

“I think there are huge resonances with the old stuff. But it’s interesting; some people have said it isn’t what they would expect from us while others have said it is.

“We enjoy playing it and the new stuff goes down just as well as the old stuff, which is really important for us as we really don’t want to just be raking the embers. It’s very important to us to be creative and move forward.”

Indeed, Rod said those at next week’s gig can expect sixties chart-topping classics, as well as some “obscure” old tracks, and some solo material including Colin’s hit What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.

And – despite the additional years – Rod said that being on stage is as enjoyable as ever: “It feels 100 per cent the same and – if anything – we have more energy now.

“But one thing we don’t do now is burn the candle at both ends. Within an hour of a gig we’ve usually caught a cab back to the hotel.”

And the band doesn’t show any signs of slowing down – another studio album is already on the cards, as well as several US and European tours pencilled in for 2013.

* Visit thezombies.net for tickets to Wednesday’s gig, which start at £17.50.

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