Interview with Rod Argent

By Aiden Perrins – Editor

Last week, Trident Media spoke with Rod Argent of The Zombies.

We asked him about what made The Zombies get back together and start playing again in 2000, he said: “Well it wasn’t quite that, back in 2000 I did a charity event with John Dankworth (jazz musician), who is a friend. Colin (Blunstone) was in the audience and got up and sang a couple of songs in the spur of the moment and it really felt like we’d only been together a few weeks previously. A few weeks later he phoned me up, he said ‘I’ve started doing a few solo gigs again, why don’t you do them with me?’ I thought oh you know, I don’t want to do that, but in the end he persuaded me. We had such a ball doing it, and in a very slow way, we started doing more gigs and building up the momentum.” He then points out: “At first we didn’t do any Zombies material at all, the last thing I wanted to do was look back and rake over the coals.” However, after a little while of doing this he says: “It suddenly occurs to us that because we’d broken up so early, there was a lot of Zombies material that we’d never played live.”

Once they started playing some more Zombies material, he is quick to point out: “It’s not because it’s ‘giving people what they want’, but because it interested us from a musical point of view.” It was in 2008 when Chris White, who used to play bass in The Zombies, who actually mentioned that they’d never played Odessey and Oracle live because of their early break up. He suggested getting the original line up back, and using members which were playing with Argent and Blunstone, in order to get every single note of Odessey and Oracle. Argent says that next year they’ll be performing Odessey and Oracle as a complete performance next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the album.

Talking about his new album ‘Still Got That Hunger’, he says: “It was a bit of a long journey, and one that was in no way planned. But we did it at a point when it felt right to call ourselves The Zombies again.”

The interview took place the day before he took to the stage at St Albans Cathedral, which is where he grew up, speaking about this he said: “I’m really looking forward to it. When I was a boy I was in the St Albans choir and so I’m quite apprehensive actually, I’m quite nervous. I’m apparently going to open the performance on the abbey organ. I’m going to really enjoy it, but there will be a tinge of nerves. I never get nervous when I play with the band now, but this is sort of outside our comfort zone really. It can be exciting because of that as well. So one part of me is looking forward to it tremendously, and the other part of me is a little bit nervous.”

Credit: Aimone
Credit: Aimone

There’s a 50 years difference between present day and the days that The Zombies first started, the music industry has changed in that time. Argent says: “It’s a totally different landscape. People don’t buy as much ‘product’ anymore with all the streaming and downloading. I hated that at first, and from the point of view of musicians it makes things much more difficult. There are one or two people about who own streaming services who are billionaires I believe, but that’s because all the money that used to go to the musicians, artists, and writers is more or less going to them. The artists and musicians are getting a fraction of what they used to get. On the other hand, what I hated at the beginning I’ve come to love. We tour so much now, people of all ages can go online and check out the fact that we can still cut it, and there’s still a huge amount of energy in the band etcetera. It’s a real promotional tool and advert for us, so that side of things is great. It’s a two edged sword.”

The songs they wrote really have stood the test of time, they can still tour and perform them after so long, and they are still being used in popular culture being sampled by modern artists and used in promotions. He is amazed: “I thought the singles would have had a life of about three months. I remember my Dad, he was a dance band musician, he was very supportive, but I remember him saying to me: ‘Just don’t base too much on all this, rock and roll is only going to last a few years.’ I think it’s been the longest lasting form of popular music ever.”

Rod Argent was great to chat to and we wish him all the best for his future endeavours.

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Interview with Rod Argent