"In a sense, it came about by accident," says keyboardist Rod Argent about the reunion of '60s legends The Zombies. Known for oldies radio hits such as "Tell Her No," "She's Not There" and "Time of the Season," the band split in 1968 after releasing Odyssey & Oracle. By the time the album became a hit in the '70s, Argent was a solo success with songs like "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You" and "Hold Your Head Up." Vocalist Colin Blunstone was also charting on his own.
"I did a charity concert to raise money for the refurbishment of [a] theatre," Argent explains. "I did a little bit of classical music, played a bit of jazz and so on. I also reformed the original Argent for the second half of the show, just as a one off. And in the audience was Colin."
Halfway through the set, Argent used the microphone to invite Blunstone to the stage. "Now that was about three years ago," he laughs.
Since, the pair have toured and recorded an album together-but they held off resurrecting the Zombies name until the new release, As Far As I Can See.
"We weren't going to... but because some of the building blocks were the same as years ago, it felt honest for the first time," Argent remarks, noting that he wrote a handful of songs specifically for Blunstone.
The album features the Zombies' signature orchestral pop and lush harmonies-updated, of course, particularly in the guitar sound. "Even though it's been 37 years or something since the last Zombies record, I can see elements of continuity in the new music," he says.
Though all new recordings, there is a new take on a Blunstone's solo hit "I Don't Believe in Miracles." Argent explains he had just finished upgrading his studio and wanted to "record something [familiar] to try out the place."
The current Zombies tour, which brings them to San Diego for the first time, will include both classics and new material-the latter is especially important for Argent. "I'm the type of person that's always liked to look forward," he says. "To just go out and do your old stuff seemed to me like saying, "OK, my career's over, I'm just going to see if I can make a buck.'"
He and his band, which includes former Kinks bassist Jim Rodford, are pleased with the response the album and tour have received, particularly live. "Within the context of actually having new songs to perform, I'm really happy to do the old stuff-it's a gas.
"There are very few other professions in the world that in your late 60s you can actually think about doing those things again.
"And I find that amazingly energizing."
The Zombies and Love with Arthur Lee play at 4th & B, 9 p.m. on Oct. 2. $20-$30. 619-231-4343.