Rod Argent of The Zombies is more interested in today than yesterday

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Rod Argent isn’t interested in dwelling in the past.

Argent is the keyboardist for The Zombies, which was part of the British Invasion and gave the world hits like “Tell Her No,” “She’s Not There,” and “Time of the Season.”

But, before their second album “Odessey and Oracle” was released in the 1960s, the band was already no more.

Argent went on to lead the band that carried his name (which had the hit, “Hold Your Head Up.”) The band’s lead singer Colin Blunstone, a longtime mate of Argent’s, went forth on a solo career.

Decades later, Argent and Blunstone reunited under their own names, playing concerts where the focus was on their solo efforts. However, they never shied away from the legacy of The Zombies. Eventually, with permission of some of the older members, Argent and Blunstone resurrected the name of The Zombies—and picked up a few new members. In time, they recorded a few albums.

Then in 2011, they released “Breathe Out and Breathe In,” which gave them a needed shot in the arms as their creativity was firing on all cylinders. And it confirmed the band as more than an oldies group but as a ongoing creative concern.

That version of The Zombies will be coming to Hartford’s Infinity Hall on Saturday, July 15.

The Zombies’ most recent album is “Still Got That Hunger,” another collection of new material from the band, which also includes Argent’s old bandmate from Argent Jim Rodford on bass, Rodford’s son Steve on drums, and Tom Toomey on guitars.

Argent, calling from Quebec, said if The Zombies weren’t recording new music, he would probably have walked away from the effort.

“Personally speaking,” said Argent, “I never wanted to do this for the sake of nostalgia.” He said band mate Blunstone also would agree.

“That process of creativity, that’s what turned us on in the early days,” said Argent.

Don’t get the keyboardist wrong.

Argent said he is appreciative of the work The Zombies’ did in the 1960s. He also has a great deal of affection for their catalogue. He especially loves playing the older tracks that provide room for him to improvise on the tracks and allow him to keep the tracks fresh by injecting them with contemporary creativity.

But if all he did was mine the nostalgia for the British Invasion, Argent said he would retire. After all, he said there is too much hassle with touring if you didn’t have the sweet reward at the end of the night of playing for an hour and a half in front of a live audience.

The Zombies, however, did a little bit of reflection this past year when they reunited with the surviving members of the original band—Chris White and Hugh Grundy—to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their classic second album, “Odessey and Oracle,” from beginning to end.

Argent said it’s likely the last time all of the original members will gather.

“I’m very proud of (‘Odessey and Oracle’) and the accolades it received,” said Argent. But constantly revisiting it is of no interest.

“That was then,” said Argent. “This is now.”

For the latest album, “Still Got That Hunger,” the current lineup of the band went into the studio looking “to capture the live feeling of how we used to record then (in the 1960s).”

Rather than laying down tracks piece by piece, said Argent, “We made sure we were all in the studio at the same to time so we could play together and interact together.”

Blunstone also was in the studio to sing guide vocals so he could react to how the band was playing, said Argent. The intention was to go back and re-record the vocals, said Argent. But in the end, Blunstone’s guide vocals were so good, they opted to keep them for the final product, said Argent. The guitar solos in those initial recordings also were intended to be re-recorded. But Argent said they also had that certain spark that they stayed as is.

“Still Got That Hunger” is an album that is clearly an effort that reflects where one would think the band would be now.

“We feel that it’s an honest record,” said Argent.

After this tour, Argent said the band’s collective thoughts are now turning to a follow-up to “Still Got That Hunger,” which was released in 2015. He said he’s got one or two ideas for songs but he said he’s never been someone who could write on the road. More than likely, writing and recording will take place later on this year.

In terms of a set list for Hartford, Argent said there will be the obvious hits such as “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No,” along with a mini-set dedicated to “Odessey and Oracle.” That interlude will include “Time of the Season.” There also will be some solo material, such as Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up.” And there will be newer material from “Still Got That Hunger” and “Breathe Out Breathe In.”

The Zombies come to The Infinity Hall, 32 Front St., Hartford Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $74 to $89. For more information, go to www.InfinityHall.com

The Zombies perform in Hartford on Saturday.