-- It's been quite a busy year for The Zombies, who launch their third North American tour of the year tonight at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, Oregon. The British Invasion band's latest trek will visit mostly West Coast cities before making its way eastward for a series of Midwest dates that finish on September 28 in Ames, Iowa.
Original Zombies keyboardist Rod Argent, who leads the group's current incarnation along with founding frontman Colin Blunstone, says this lineup is "the best band that I've been involved with."
The 68-year-old musician tells ABC News Radio that "there's more energy on stage now then there was when we were 18 years old," adding, "When we're playing, we have a ball." The Zombies also feature ex-Argent/Kinks bassist Jim Rodford, his son Steve Rodford on drums and the group's latest addition, guitarist Tom Toomey, who joined the band about three years ago.
Fans who come out to a Zombies show can expect to hear their classic hits "Time of the Season," "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No," as well as a few early obscurities and some gems from the original band's acclaimed 1968 swan song, Odessey and Oracle. In addition, Rod says the concerts include performances of his post-Zombies band Argent's trademark song "Hold Your Head Up," a few tunes from Blunstone's solo career and "maybe four tracks" their 2011 release Breathe Out, Breathe In.
Meanwhile, Argent credits the enduring popularity of Odessey and Oracle with helping draw young music fans to their shows, as well as celebrity word of mouth.
"It is lovely sometimes to see a young component in the audience," he tells ABC News Radio. "They often get turned on to it by some of their favorite contemporary bands who are kind enough to give us name-checks." Among the artists who Argent says have sung the praises of The Zombies over the years are ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller, Tom Petty, the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and a hot new U.K. band named The Vaccines.
Argent also reports that he's begun writing songs for a follow-up to Breathe Out, Breathe In. "One is a song about New York, which I'm really pleased with, so I can't wait to get that recorded," he says.
Rod adds that, unfortunately, The Zombies' busy schedule may delay the band getting any new studio project done in a timely manner. "It's just a question that we're doing three American tours this year," he points out. "It's the question of getting back and having the time to write...arrange and record all this stuff."
However, the band does have a new concert album, called Live in the U.K., that they're selling at their tour stops. Argent says the record was "made out of four of the best gigs that we did last year," adding, "It's the best live album we've done." Fans also can purchase the collection at U.S. retailers under the title The Zombies: Extended Versions.
You can check out all of the band's upcoming tour dates at TheZombies.net.
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