Thursday, June 02, 2011
The Zombies return! Neil Young, Thrice, Hurricane Bells set dates for new releases
The Zombies featuring Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent return
New studio album 'Breathe Out, Breathe In' garners UK press raves
Celebrate 50th Anniversary with U.S. Tour
Includes Two Nights at City Winery in New York
“…Rod Argent’s rippling Hammond organ and Colin Blunstone’s pinpoint harmonies…Factor in some pristine songcraft and Breathe Out, Breathe In is a reminder that these frisky sexagenarians have plenty of life left in them.” – Q Magazine
“Argent and Blunstone find Zombie Heaven again” – Uncut Magazine
“There are echoes of ‘The Long and Winding Road’ in ‘Shine on Sunshine’, while the reflective ‘A Moment in Time’ could have come from Odessey and Oracle itself.”
– The Independent
The Zombies, helmed by founding members Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone, are marking the group’s half century with a new album – Breathe Out, Breathe In – and a tour, with U.S. dates this Fall. The tour kicks off on the east coast, with several dates (below) already confirmed. More dates to be announced shortly.
A magisterial work, Breathe Out, Breath In, is everything you could possibly hope for from the group who back in the 1960s provided such signature works as the singles “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time Of The Season;” and the album Odessey And Oracle, their 1968 Brit-psych masterpiece. The ten songs that make up Breathe Out, Breathe In are impeccably crafted pieces; the harmonies are rich, the melodies full, the arrangements exquisite, the organ and piano fresh, the production intuitive.
“There was a clear brief,” says Rod Argent today. “We wanted to use as many two and three part harmonies as possible and lots of Hammond organ, Mellotron and Memotron. We didn’t want to recreate the past, but we wanted to capture The Zombies’ essence and meaning. Our energy and enthusiasm for making music is the same as it was when we first started and the magic and mystery of the whole music making process, we are still thrilled by it all. So we thought it would be great to celebrate when that all began. I first met Colin outside the Pioneer Club in St Albans for The Zombies’ first rehearsal. We didn’t know each other but Colin turned up with a broken nose and two black eyes. I thought, oh no, what have we got here? But he was a keen rugby player and was injured during a game.”
“That first rehearsal went really well because we got to borrow The Bluetones, a local St Albans band’s equipment. Jim Rodford who now plays bass in The Zombies was in them funnily enough,” says Colin Blunstone. “Our own equipment was dreadful, though, so when we played on that it brought us down to earth. I would judge how well our gigs went by the amount of blood Rod would lose from his thumb when he played his Jerry Lee Lewis runs on the piano. He’d have to press down really hard. These days he still bleeds for The Zombies of course… spiritually, though, not literally.”
Breathe Out, Breathe In was recorded over a year in Argent’s own Red House Studios, the band line-up completed by Colin and Rod’s touring group – guitarist Tom Toomey, bassist, Jim Rodford and his son, drummer Steve Rodford. Rod would put down lead voice, piano and some harmonies on a demo, the band would listen and then lay down the bones of the song in a day. “Colin and I have been playing with this band for the last ten years,” explains Rod. “And during those ten years we’ve grown into a very tight and sympathetic musical unit and so going into the studio was a really enjoyable experience, we have a telepathy.”
“We often just know what the other person wants and needs and means without speaking,” says Colin. “There is so much history there, we understand each other and The Zombies are like a cottage industry. We have complete artistic control. We run our own label, we book our own gigs, we provide our own transport and hotels. Rod writes most of the songs, we record in his studio and he produces the record. It keeps it very exciting being at the centre always of everything.”
In his role as producer, Rod wanted to “capture the energy of the performance; that’s what recording is all about, whether you are laying down a lead vocal or a guitar solo, you’ve got to gee yourself up and think this is the only chance you’ve got to do it. It was important to try and get the joy we feel of playing together on the record too. We wanted it to feel very organic, so when you are listening, you can imagine us standing there playing and hitting things.” Musically, the benchmark for Breathe Out, Breathe In is their 1968 album Odessey And Oracle, which the original Zombies -- Colin and Rod with drummer Hugh Grundy and bassist Chris White -- played from beginning to end in 2008 to celebrate the album's 40th year.
“Chris and Hugh hadn’t been on a stage playing music for a very long time and for a moment I thought how on earth are they going to cope with this,” says Rod. “I thought they were incredibly brave to do it and just a few bars in I knew it was going to work out fine. Returning to the album, it’s funny, it did subconsciously influence Breathe Out, Breathe In, just in the album’s genesis; we wrote the songs upfront like we used to, and did some of the songs live on the road first. We also used the same ingredients – bass lines being central to the song, lots of harmonies.
“A Moment In Time” is one of the album’s many highpoints. Written by Rod with Tom Toomey in the last week of recording, it is quintessential Zombies with delicious melodies and harmonies and the perfect balance of emotion and restraint in Colin’s heavenly vocal artistry. Inspired by Laurie Lee’s book on the Spanish civil war, A Moment Of War, says Rod, “Lee was writing down from the very start everything that happened to him leading up to the Civil War and how all the things that happen from when we are born to this very instance, they take us somewhere but they are all also individual moments in time, that thought just struck me as extraordinary.”
Of the other nine songs, six are penned by Rod solely including the peerless harmony title piece and “Let It Go,” which first aired on the road as a voice and piano piece, but in the studio became a full band work out. “It’s based on an idea I had of weaving the middle movement of Bach’s F minor keyboard concerto in and out of a song, such a ravishing piece of music,” says Rod.
Other influences include The Beatles and Elvis. The former’s “Hey Bulldog” impacts on the psychedelic rocker “Play It For Real” – “there’s no denying what an extraordinary effect The Beatles had, every band has a debt to them really, their music was so fresh and vital, it was like we were winning the world cup every week when they came about,” says Rod. The latter’s version of “Blue Moon” inspired the Rod Argent sung “Show Me The Way.” “In the falsetto singing, and I wanted that lovely slap back single repeat tape delay on his voice and I went to (drummer) Steve Rodford and asked him if he had some coconuts as I wanted some on the record; sadly though we had to make do with bongos instead!”
Three songs are revisits – two were penned by Rod with Zombies’ original bassist Chris White for their post Zombies outfit Argent back in the ’70s. “Shine On Sunshine” here gets a total reworking and in The Zombies’ hands is expansive, transcendental. “Christmas For The Free,” meanwhile, remains faithful to the Argent version, an intelligent plea for peace and love with a majestic guitar solo. The third, “Any Other Way,” already a live favorite, was written by Colin and turned up first on his 2009 solo record, The Ghost Of You & Me. Colin and Rod are both enthused by their new record, as they should be. It is a remarkable work. “I think it’s one of the best things we’ve done,” says Rod. “Listening to the finished record, it reflects the good time we had making it.”
Says Colin, “We are still learning, and new discoveries energize us, it’s all part of being an artist, we are very proud of our achievement here. We hope it moves and touches people like it has us. The Zombies have been a fantastic journey, we’ve gone from playing in the back of pubs to headlining festivals and it still feels like it is just the beginning.”
Breathe Out, Breathe In is available for purchase at iTunes and Amazon.com using the following links:
For More Information:
The Zombies 50th Anniversary Tour with special guests Acoustic Strawbs – More dates to Follow:
9/15 Thursday MusikFest Café Bethlehem, PA
9/16 Friday Montgomery College Silver Spring, MD
9/17 Saturday Keswick Theatre Glenside, PA
9/18 Sunday Tarrytown Music Hall Tarrytown, NY
9/19 Monday Rams Head On Stage Annapolis, MD
9/21 Wednesday Showcase Live Foxborough, MA
9/22 Thursday Tupelo Music Hall Londonderry, NH
9/23 Friday Infinity Hall Norfolk, CT
9/24 Saturday Mohegan Sun Uncasville, CT
9/26 Monday City Winery New York, NY
9/27 Tuesday City Winery New York, NY
9/28 Wednesday State Theatre State College, PA
NEIL YOUNG LAUNCHES BRAND-NEW ONLINE STORE AT NEILYOUNG.COM
STORE FEATURES BRAND-NEW MERCHANDISE INCLUDING SOUNDCLOUD LINK TO HIS NEW SINGLE “GREY RIDERS” FROM UPCOMING LIVE ALBUM, 'A TREASURE'
Neil Young has launched a brand-new online store at his official website that is the best place to get official Neil Young merchandise and music. Visitors to http://store.neilyoung.com are invited to take a drive down a country road, walk up to Young’s porch, and enter the living room where they can visit a theater room that hosts various Young-related videos, play a jukebox that features audio samples from the legendary singer-songwriter’s catalog of music, and browse the store room to buy official merchandise and music.
The new store offers items from Young’s tour supporting his current album Le Noise, including accessories, tour books, and limited-edition posters and lithographs. Visitors can also purchase Archives Volume 1 apparel, Young’s extensive catalog music on CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and special-edition vinyl, and much more. To celebrate the launch of the store, a Soundcloud link to “Grey Riders,” a track from Young’s upcoming live album A Treasure, is also available – click the provided link to hear the track now. Due June 14, 2011 on Reprise Records, A Treasure is a 12-track live album that includes songs recorded during Young’s 1984 U.S. tour with The International Harvesters and contains five previously unreleased tracks.
Items now available in the new Neil Young Store include the following: Rust Never Sleeps Concert Litho, A Treasure CD & T-Shirt Exclusive Bundle, Harvest T-Shirt, and The Hitchhiker Hoodie. Be sure to visit http://store.neilyoung.com for links to these great items and much more.
Thrice are set to release 7th studio album 'Major/Minor' on Sept. 20, 2011
Orange County, CA: On September 20th, 2011 Thrice will release Major/Minor, their 7th studio album. The band also released their 4th installment of the behind the scenes look into the recording process. View the video here: www.THRICE.net.
The recording of Major/Minor began May 2, 2011 in Santa Monica, CA with Dave Schiffman at Red Bull Studios who mixed "Beggars" and engineered "Vheissu." As a band that continues to push boundaries, Major/Minor will be no exception.
"It's definitely the most natural progression from record to record that we've had in a while. We did The Alchemy Index, which was totally different [from Vheissu]. Then Beggars was kind of the reaction against that. This kind of makes sense coming out of Beggars, but it's definitely a different record," says lead singer Dustin Kensrue.
The California-based four-piece formed in 1998 and quickly exploded onto the modern rock and heavy music scenes with their 2001 full-length debut, Identity Crisis, which was followed by fan-favorite scorchers The Illusion of Safety (2002) and The Artist In The Ambulance (2003), as well as the breathtakingly brilliant Vheissu (2005). The Alchemy Index's Fire and Water installments introduced the album's elaborate concept in 2007, and then Earth and Air completed the project's scope in 2008. For the 2009 release of Beggars, Thrice found themselves with the luxury of playing whatever came naturally, with no preconceived direction. From the outset the vibe was a welcome change from the rigid framework behind the Alchemy Index's element-based concept, and soon all four members were deeply immersed in the project. This will lead the band to the release of their 7th studio album, which they could not be more excited about. "I'm really proud of the record. I'd probably say that for anything we've done, but I guess that's just because of the approach of the record. We've been pushing ourselves really hard, and I like to think we're probably our own toughest critics," says Kensrue.
See a recent "In The Studio" interview with AltPress.com here: http://bit.ly/mvm2s2.
Thrice will tour in the Fall to support Major/Minor, to be released on Vagrant Records.
For upcoming announcements, tour dates and more, please stop by:
HURRICANE BELLS LAUNCHES PLEDGEMUSIC CAMPAIGN FOR SOPHOMORE ALBUM 'TIDES AND TALES'
Hurricane Bells has launched a PledgeMusic campaign to support the completion of its sophomore album, Tides and Tales, which will be released this fall via band architect Steve Schiltz's own label, Invisible Brigades.
As with Hurricane Bells' debut album Tonight Is The Ghost, Tides and Tales was recorded, produced, and mixed almost entirely by Schiltz (longtime front man of Longwave) over the past few months. The funds raised through PledgeMusic will directly contribute to the mastering, manufacturing, touring and promotion of the album. For pledging, multiple incentives are offered to fans, including exclusive vinyl, signed CDs and t-shirts, a house concert by the band, and a vintage Gibson guitar, among many others. Fans who pledge will also be able to stream new album track "Let's Go" immediately via the Hurricane Bells PledgeMusic page.
Hurricane Bells has chosen to donate a portion of all campaign proceeds through PledgeMusic to Education Through Music (http://www.etmonline.org/), a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports music instruction in disadvantaged schools. For more information on the Hurricane Bells PledgeMusic campaign and to view a full list of pledge incentives, please visit: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/hurricane-bells. Additional news about the release of Tides and Tales will be announced soon.
Earlier this spring, Hurricane Bells digitally released two live albums, Hurricane Bells Live At House Of Blues Boston and Hurricane Bells Live At House Of Blues San Diego. The two albums were recorded last fall during the band's tour supporting KT Tunstall. The band released an EP, Down Comes The Rain, last September and Tonight Is The Ghost, in the fall of 2009. The Hurricane Bells song "Monsters," a Tonight Is The Ghost B-side, was featured on The Twilight Saga: New Moon official soundtrack.