It’s the ‘Time of the Season’ for the Zombies to play Park City
Singer Colin Blunstone originally joined the band as a guitarist
Colin Blunstone remembers how he landed the job of lead singer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee The Zombies, because it was the same day the band’s founder Rod Argent became the band’s keyboardist.
“I originally joined the band as a rhythm guitarist because Rod, who was a superb keyboard player, said we needed three guitars,” Blunstone said. “He wanted it to be a rock band and was going to be the lead singer because he thought keyboards weren’t supposed to be in rock bands, which was slightly questionable to me.”
Argent changed his mind after the first rehearsal.
“He had heard me singing to myself, and he said, ‘I’lll tell you what, if you be the lead singer, I’ll play keyboards,” Blunstone said. “So it was a strange, mixed-up start to the band. That was the first time I knew I had a voice. And Rod thought it was worth pursuing.”
Park City will get a chance to see the results of that mixed-up start when the Zombies play a three-night residency starting Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre.
The concerts will feature a mix of the band’s classic hits, deep cuts and new songs, Blunstone said.
“There will be a real cross section of material that will include a selection from our album ‘Odessey and Oracle,’ an album which Rolling Stone named one of the Top 100 albums of all time,” he said. “Then we’ll play some obscure gems, and we’ll play four new songs from our brand new album that we just finished recording. This album isn’t released, and you can’t hear these songs anywhere else, unless you come and see us in concerts. Hopefully that will be a treat for people.”
In the meanwhile, The Zombies have released “The Zombies Live from Studio 2,” which was Recorded live at London’s Abbey Road Studios. The CD/DVD combo is only available at shows.
Argent puts the set lists together, Blunstone said.
“It is quite a delicate process,” he said. “There are some people who come to see us who are much more interested in the hits and the more well-known tracks. And there are others who are excited to hear new material. So he has to somehow find a blend that can satisfy the two extremes in the audience. Usually we get that fairly OK.”
While both Blunstone and Argent, the only two band members remaining from the Zombies’ heyday in the 1960s, have enjoyed solo careers throughout the years, the three nights at the Egyptian Theatre won’t include solo works.
“We have done things like that as an acoustic duo, but on this tour, as far as I know, we’ll play with the whole band in all the venues,” he said.
Both Blunstone and Argent were 18 when they began playing together. The lineup at the time included guitarist Paul Atkinson, drummer Hugh Grundy and bassist Paul Arnold.
Arnold left the band to become a doctor, Blunstone said.
“Since he wanted to be a doctor, and really had to study, he didn’t have the time to come to rehearsal,” Blunstone said. “And that’s when Chris White joined, and he became one of the big writers in the band.”
In 1964, the Zombies released its first bonafide hit, “She’s Not There,” a song written by Argent that hit No. 2 on the Billboard 100.
“We were 18 years old when we recorded that song,” Blunstone said. “We were in an amateur band in a little town 30 miles north of London, and that song suddenly changed all of our lives.”
Even today, nearly 60 years since its release, Blunstone enjoys performing the song.
“It is a bit of a timeless classic, and it sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did when we recorded it,” he said. “So I have a very strong feeling towards that song, and I do always really enjoy playing it.”
“Our relationship with our fans means everything,” he said. “I think artists dream that their songs will mean something to their audiences. When fans tell us how much these songs mean to them, it’s really heartening and energizing for us to get such a positive response.”
That response, along with writing and recording new songs, keeps the Zombies on the road.
“It’s always exciting because they go down as well as the classic hits, and it’s from the new songs we get our energy to be involved in touring on the level that we do,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful we’ve had this opportunity, particularly to tour and play live in the autumn of our careers, because none of us thought we’d be out there at this age playing these songs.”
Still, Blunstone is happy to be out performing until he can’t anymore.
“I think the time will come when physically we won’t be able to tour like we are at the moment, which is like we’re 18-year-olds,” he said with a laugh. “Rod and I have talked about it a lot, but there is no book that tells you how to slow things down towards the end of a touring career. But in my heart of hearts, I think that gradually we will start to tour less. So I’m so grateful we’ve been able to tour all of these years.”
In the meantime, Blunstone is honored to be touring with the current lineup — drummer Steve Rodford, guitarist Tom Toomey and bassist Søren Koch.
“This incarnation of the band has been together for more than 20 years, and I’m very privileged to be standing in front of them singing,” he said. “And from the whole band’s point of view we’re really looking forward to coming out to the States — the home of jazz, the home of the blues and home of rock ‘n’ roll. Every British musician loves to play in America.”
See updated screening schedule. Summer may be over, but Park City Film’s Twilight Drive-in at Utah Olympic Park series is holding on for one last hurrah.
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