Thursday, May 4, 2017

Episode 303: The Zombies

Episode 303: The Zombies
Pat welcomes to the show Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and Hugh Grundy original members of the legendary British Invasion band... The Zombies!
From May 4, 2017

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. Today he has three, count 'em, three special guests in studio. They are Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, and Hugh Grundy, three of the original members of The Zombies. Pat starts by gushing over the band's seminal album Odyssey and Oracle. He was late to the party, but he loves it. Even his daughter is like "This isn't as bad as the other stuff you listen to." Pat saw the band play the album live in concert and commends them for their performance. Colin says that it's amazing to have audiences give them standing ovations every night.
00:05:00 The band loves playing live so much. Rod comments that they're not performing this album simply for the money; they're doing it because they get a buzz out of playing the songs live. Hugh points out that they are all still friends too, which is a nice bonus. Pat takes us back to 1964 and the first Zombies single, "She's Not There" off the debut album Begin Here. It went to #1 on the Cashbox chart, #2 on the Billboards chart, and #12 in the UK. Rod wrote it and Colin remembers being amazed that Rod was able to write songs; if he hadn't written that song, they probably would have done a R&B cover, which every other band was doing.
00:10:00 Rod says that they never liked copying the hit of the day, they liked writing their own stuff in their own way that worked for them. With "She's Not There," Rod was influenced a lot by jazz. The other players on the song are Chris White, the bassist (who plays with them live on the tour), and Paul Atkinson, the guitarist. Pat brings up the single "I Love You", which opened the concert he saw. It's on the box set Zombie Heaven.
00:15:00 Pat playfully says that it's cruel for the band to make Colin sing those high notes right off the bat. Colin points out that all the songs they play live are in the original key. To save his voice, Colin tries to not shout after a show is over and a bunch of people are around him talking. He and Rod also started working with a singing coach about 15 years ago who gave them vocal exercises to do before the show. Pat goes back to the debut album, he plays the song "Tell Her No".
00:20:00 Even when The Zombies were broken up, the guys were still involved in each other's projects. Rod explains that the band broke up because he and Chris, the songwriters, were getting all the income from royalties and the other members were not making any money from the live gigs because their management was screwing them over. They tried to protect themselves from this, but they were just 18-years-old. It's a tale as old as time. Colin says that this crooked manager would have made far more money if he didn't screw them over.
00:25:00 When Santana covered "She's Not There," Rod loved their take on it because it was their own thing, not a copy. Another "cover" that Rod was proud of was Dusty Springfield singing a song that Rod wrote. Pat gets to the real meat of the matter, Odessey and Oracle. Hugh says that it's so much fun playing together with the guys and going to all these cities because of this album. Hugh talks a bit about the special drum pedal that he invented. Pat asks them about the name "The Zombies." Why, in the 1960s, did they grab that word? Colin answers that they tried a few names: The Mustangs, The Sundowners. It was their original bass player Paul Arnold who came up with "The Zombies." Rod loved it, Colin hated it. But it was a catchy name and it caught on.
00:30:00 Rod loved it because A) No one else would have that name and B) There was an exoticism to it. And he thought that no one would think about the name, they would just think about the band members. Rod remembers meeting Manfred Mann at a TV taping. He loved the band, but he suggested they change the name. Rod tells another story about how when Odessey and Oracle came out, the band had already broken up. There were a bunch of fake Zombies out there; one of those bands featured Frank Beard and Dusty Hill from ZZ Top. Colin tells a story about one fake Zombie band playing a concert and an audience member went backstage and pointed a gun at them. The thing about Odessey and Oracle is that it was released with indifference (no one even knows how many copies it sold), but nowadays it has quite the following and critical acclaim.
00:35:00 Pat once again praises the album and puts it on par with Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's. He never gets sick of hearing it. Hugh says that the band never gets sick of playing it. Pat plays the opening track, "Care of Cell 44". Pat then plays a little bit of the cover by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. Susanna joined them at soundcheck a few years ago. We then hear another track, "A Rose for Emily".
00:40:00 Rod talks about replicating the songs on the album that have overdubs and multiple instruments live on stage. They wanted to recreate the magic of the studio recordings. Colin comments that Zombies songs are not easy to play, you really have to concentrate. The three guys go over some of the tricks of the stage.
00:45:00 Hugh has no problem with Rod and Colin and other Zombies members performing the songs live in their own projects; they help promote the catalogue and keep the music alive. All three are in agreement on that. Pat wants to make clear that The Zombies are not just about Odessey and Oracle: There are the newer Zombies albums like New World and Still Got That Hunger, there's Rod's band Argent, Colin's solo stuff. Rod makes a point to mention the first two Argent albums, Colin suggests listening to his debut album One Year (which heavily features Rod and Chris).
00:50:00 The cover art for Still Got That Hunger was done by the same artist who did Odessey and Oracle. Thankfully every word was spelled correctly this time. Rod remembers seeing the artwork and realizing that Odyssey was spelled wrong, but they weren't able to change it. Pat brings up "This Will Be Our Year" being used on Mad Men. The album was mixed in mono, then remixed in stereo. The stereo mix of that song does not have the brass.
00:55:00 We end the episode with discussion about "Time of the Season". The band talks about the process of recording the song with the handclaps and the "aah." It's a difficult song to clap along to, according to Pat and the guys. Pat thanks the band for coming onto the show and being so great. Plugs: You can find The Zombies on Tiwtter @TheZombiesMusic and their website
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:05:00 She’s Not There Begin Here The Zombies Pat
00:10:00 I Love You Zombie Heaven The Zombies Pat
00:20:00 Tell Her No Begin Here The Zombies Pat
00:35:00 Care of Cell 44 Odessey and Oracle The Zombies Pat
00:35:00 A Rose for Emily Odessey and Oracle The Zombies Pat
00:50:00 This Will Be Our Year Odessey and Oracle The Zombies Pat
00:55:00 Time of the Season Odessey and Oracle The Zombies Pat

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