It's the time of the season for the annual SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and the Zombies will be among the scores of musicians in attendance. The legendary British band, fronted by original members Rod Argent (keyboards/vocals) and Colin Blunstone (lead vocals), are slated to play songs from their current studio album, Breathe Out, Breathe In, alongside some of their most familiar ("She's Not There," "Tell Her No") and fabled (1968's Odessey and Oracle LP) material.
"It’s just a question of getting it all in, really," says Argent, who at 67 is very much at the top of his game. In fact, he modestly scoffs at the age-old adage "that one of the essential ingredients of being able to play rock ‘n’ roll was that you were under 30."
Truth be told the Zombies are in demand now more than ever, consistently selling out venues around the world—a new live album, Extended Versions, featuring performances recorded last year on tour, was just released—and making vibrant, uniquely soulful music.
Considering you and Mr. Blunstone are the only original members of the band in the present lineup, was there any effort to make Breathe Out, Breathe In reflect the music the band made in the ‘60s, so listeners could draw some parallel in recognizing the music as that of the Zombies?
In the sense that we deliberately tried to record very much using some of the same criteria that we always naturally used in the early days… We tried to use a lot of those same criteria not because we wanted to try and recapture something that was gone. That came out of the fact that in 2008 we did the only live performance we’d ever done of Odessey and Oracle from start to finish. We got the original surviving members of the Zombies—Colin, myself, [bassist] Chris White, and Hugh Grundy on drums—along with the guys that always work with us now, because if we were going to do it we wanted to reproduce every single note that was on the original album. And [it was] the only way of doing that, because there were some overdubs; it was the first time we were using seven or eight tracks instead of the four that we’d had before. And we made a live album from that. That experience, it just felt so nice doing it that when we made this new studio album we put some of those parameters in place.