After the album was finished, the band broke up. What led to that?
We had been touring continuously for three years, and we were very tired. On top of that we had pinned all of our hopes on Odessey & Oracle. We all believed it was a special album. We felt that it was the best we were capable of. That’s how I remember it in my mind. It did pick up some good reviews, but commercially it was not a success.
It just seemed like it was the right time for us to move on and get involved in other projects. We just could not get any commercial acceptance for what we were doing and it just seemed like a natural thing to move on. There was no animosity between the band. It was just a joint decision.
More than a year after the band broke up, “Time of the Season” became a big hit in the United States. What were you thinking then?
It took me so by surprise. At that point I wasn’t even in the music business. I felt incredibly sad when the band finished and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in the music business at all. People started contacting me about the possibility of touring again, and very, very slowly I started getting back in the business.
My feeling about “Time of the Season” being a hit record — it just seemed like a miracle to me because I had accepted that no one was interested in what we were doing. That was the general feeling in the band, and it seemed to be what the world was telling us — that no one was interested.
First there was huge radio play for “Time of the Season” and then over a period of months it worked its way up the charts until it was #1 in Cashbox and #2 in Billboard. It was very, very exciting.
Was there any temptation to reform the group?
It was never ever mentioned. Never. I think everyone was too connected to what they were doing. As a band, and this is very true for the present incarnation of the Zombies, I know we’ve been talking about the past, but in terms of when we’re working on the road, recording and writing, we don’t look back that much.
It’s very important to this incarnation of the band that although we’re very happy to play a selection from Odessey & Oracle and the hits, we always want to play new songs as well. It’s very important. It’s a delicate balance to get that right for a concert audience. There are people who want to hear the hits like we play them, and there are other people, and the band itself, that also want to play new material. To get that set to flow properly is quite an interesting and intricate maneuver.
I have to ask you about artist Terry Quirk, and the misspelling of the word “Odessey” on the album cover.
Terry was a really fine artist. The artwork for Odessey & Oracle was a painting. It wasn’t on a computer. We happened to be away on tour when the painting was completed. It went to CBS. The guys in the band spotted the mistake, but when we got on to CBS they said that it had already gone to the printers. There was nothing we could do about it.
It amused me that Rod always told quite an intricate story. Rod tried to make up a story about how it was a play on words, using the word “ode,” to differentiate the spelling. It was quite believable, that it was done on purpose. He told me and the other guys in the band the same story.
We were doing an interview two or three years ago and he admitted that he knew it had been spelled wrong and he made the story up to cover for it, and hopefully make it more acceptable to the public and the media. We’d been telling that story for nearly 50 years and now he admits in a radio interview that we’d made the story up. That was quite interesting. Poor old Terry. He was a fine artist, but it would appear that he can’t spell.
Aside from the four original members, who will be in the band for the upcoming Odessey & Oracle tour? Are you using any of the current Zombies?
They’ll all be on stage at the same time, helping out with harmonies and little bit of percussion. We’re also using Darian Sahanaja of the Brian Wilson Band. What a wonderful musician, and a fabulous guy. He played with us in 2009 in the UK. He knows the album better than we do. Because we’re a very keyboard-based band on lots of the tracks there will be a piano track and something else being played on keyboard at the same time. So we need two keyboard players, and Darian is going to play the second keyboard.