Sure, zombies are really hot now – sorry, bloodsucking vampires. Just take a look at pop culture today and the stiffs are all over TV, movies, comics, video games, and even literature. Can zombie porn be far away? (Though, by the time this column comes out, I’m sure there will be some flick titled The Walking Head or Warm Bodies (Slapping Hardly) available to download at $16.99 on certain websites.)
But even without that cool kids cache, there’s one group of these creatures who are going to have a pretty busy year – spreading their musical innoculations from town to town and making three separate tours of America. Not bad for a couple of nice sexagenarian English lads from near St. Albans.
The Zombies career in the ’60s didn’t last long – only two full albums and a handful of singles and unfinished projects. They are best known for hits like “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No,” and “I Love You.” Their album Odessey and Oracle [sic] is widely considered a masterpiece and influential piece of pop rock.
But their influence has far outstripped their output, and since 2000 when original lineup vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist/vocalist Rod Argent reconvened, they’ve played consistently all over the world to diehard fans old and new, and releasing both new studios albums, a live effort and a DVD. Their most recent CD is Breathe Out, Breathe In.
So where did their horrific moniker come from? One that – save for ZZ Top – a comprehensive music guide might be titled From Abba to the Zombies.
“The name was actually suggested by our original bass player. We were desperate for a name. And you know, I’m not even sure we knew what a zombie was! I’m not sure I know exactly now!” Blunstone told me from his home in England recently for a two part interview to come out next month in The Houston Press. “But once a name sticks to a band, and once it assumes the identity of that band, you aren’t thinking too deeply about what the word means. You just align it with the music.”
The Zombies are certainly one of my favorite classic rock bands, and I got to see them in a small club in 2004 after interviewing Rod Argent and spent a little time with them after the show as they laughed and chatted with a small, but dedicated crowd. One couple had driven eight hours just to be there, clutching their copy of the import-only box set Zombie Heaven.
Ironically, when “Time of the Season” became a huge radio hit in the U.S. in 1968 (after keyboardist Al Kooper, a fan, pushed for the stateside release of Odessey and Oracle), the original Zombies had already broken up!
So if those lumbering, slathering, grey-skinned beings on screens all over can have a second life, so can the British Invasion’s most criminally underrated bands. Coming to haunt you, sometime soon.
Check out The Zombies official website here.