In December 1964, America was in the grips of the British Invasion’s first year, and England’s The Zombies shot to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their debut chart hit “She’s Not There.” The smash kicked off a successful five-year period in which the band notched three top 10s on the Hot 100 between 1964 and 1969 (including the No. 3 hit “Time of the Season”), followed by a breakup that lasted over two decades.
Fast-forward to 2015 where, half a century after their first hit, the band is back on six different Billboard album charts, thanks to a new album and a previous project.
On Top Rock Albums (dated Oct. 31), the band’s new album, Still Got That Hunger, debuts at No. 35 with 3,000 copies sold in the week ending Oct. 15, according to Nielsen Music (the band’s best sales week since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991). The set also bows at No. 15 on Internet Albums, No. 24 on Independent Albums, No. 94 on Top Current Albums and No. 100 on Top Album Sales. In addition, Odessey & Oracle, perhaps the band’s most well-regarded record, enters the Vinyl Albums chart at No. 24 thanks to 1,000 in LP sales.
The band last charted on an album tally in June 1969, when Odessey & Oracle finished its run on the Billboard 200 chart (dated June 7).
For Rod Argent, an original member of the five-piece group, the news came as a bit of a surprise — but then, the band felt it was their best effort in a long time, so if any record was going to bring them back, it’d be Hunger.
So why are fans still onboard 50 years later?
“I think maybe in part it’s because they sense the honesty,” Argent tells Billboard. “We’re still driven by exactly the same things as we were when we first started. The excitement of seeing song structures really starting to work, both on record and on stage. Onstage, nothing beats the thrill of feeling the energy of the crowd really responding to what you are doing, and on record absolutely nothing beats the thrill of hearing a new track being played on the radio for the very first time — and sounding good.”
Part of the success of Hunger could be attributed to the fan-involving process of crowd-funding, which the Zombies used via Pledge Music, allowing contributors to receive early releases of songs and video from the studio pre-release. Thirty dollars scored funders the record on vinyl as well as a digital download, with other levels featuring various gifts and incentives as well.
“The crowd-funding route has been brilliant for us,” Argent says. “It’s provided us with the money and the freedom to make exactly the album we wanted to make, and we’re really grateful to everyone who has been part of the journey. Being able to involve the fans in the whole process from the beginning, for instance by showing a very early rehearsal where harmonies were being worked on, felt remarkably good: intimate moments shared in the nicest way. And successful, I think, from the point of view of making people feel part of the final record — and wanting to buy it.”
The band plans a worldwide tour in support of the record; after concluding a brief U.S. set later this month, the group will head to Europe.