Have you ever done something and instantly knew it was a once in a lifetime moment? Something you know will never be repeated? For me today was that day. Of all the gigs, festivals, backstage, VIP, taking photos and interviewing bands over 35 years and one day can turn it all on its head and everything pales in comparison.
The day started very differently, a stormy Scotland had an instant effect on my journey as delays hit everything from trains, planes and everything in-between. The day was definitely sent to test me but after seven hours travelling and almost 500 miles(no mention of that song please) I had gotten off at St john’s Wood station and hurriedly was making my way to THE Abbey Road studios.
Now I will be honest and say The Beatles never had a big influence on me or my musical taste as that always veered to the heavier side of the tracks but I admired what they achieved and I could never dismiss the sheer talent and influence they have played on music as a whole. Even I was too young to see first hand Beatle mania apart from all those black and white footage videos…I had never witnessed first hand what an impact this band really had until I turned around the corner and saw the amount of people stood on that famous road crossing taking photos. It was at this point I was taken aback. 50 years after Sgt peppers was released and people were still to this day flocking to that zebra crossing.
The 50 years also hit home as I recently celebrated that milestone myself and to think people have been coming here longer than I have been alive is quite humbling. I made my way past the throng of selfie takers and headed towards the studio but unlike everyone gathered outside I was going through the gate and into the studio itself. I checked in(yes, a bit late) and made my way to studio number two where 50 fans were gathered for the show of their life.
It all seemed a bit surreal as the whole idea only came about a few months ago when the band decided to try and record a live record at Abbey Road. They wanted it to be on the very day that saw the 50th anniversary of Sgt peppers but they ran into a brick wall immediately…and that wall was called money. We all know bands today just do not make money but rather than throw in the towel they jumped on the pledge bandwagon(which was brave because they had a complete nightmare with Pledge for the not too long ago release of their passionfruit album) and came to us the fans to help bring a dream to life and today was a culmination of a bands dream and a fan bases loyalty and love.
I had to sneak into the studio quietly as it was already in full swing with the first session of the playlist. I grabbed a set of headphones and stood in awe. Firstly it was very unusual having never been in a studio before. We had one poor drummer stuck away from everyone else like an endangered animal, then we had Hollis and Davey stuck behind glass windows and then the rest of the band spread evenly about in the open. The pledgers are sat in the corner and up in the balcony.
The sound through the headphones was incredible, seeing how all these individual elements were being strung together to produce the magic was incredible to watch. We were not, however, there to watch in silence, oh no, the love Zombie army were here to do a job and quiet was never to be part of that. We brought our singing voices(being in key was optional), we brought our dancing pants and we brought a huge dollop of humour.
I will be honest, even on a rugby club stag do I have never heard 50 people make so much noise. We sang through every song, we needed very little encouragement and when it came to “Blitzkrieg Bop” it went through the roof. I am sure the free standing mics that were there to capture this little crowd were shaking.
Before we had ran through the whole set I knew today was special and this was not just about the music. It was about every single person in that room being involved in this dream. Davey and Hollis had brought in Love Zombies band members past and present, they wanted everyone involved in this and when Davey and Hollis spoke in between songs to thank everyone for making this come true you could see the reality and humbleness on their faces…they could not have done this without the fans, for once we could give back and make a bands dream come true…there can never be a price too heavy or too large for something like that.
As well as Bop we had some other touching moments as we had a song that was written by two very special fans being included(you know who you are) and a very special moment where Hollis took to the piano where john Lennon played to sing a song that was written days before just for this recording. They played the song “Pollyanna” twice with a full on electric and a haunting acoustic version. I fell in love with this song immediately played on the piano. You could feel Hollis’s emotion coming through on every word and every note of those ivories.
As the cheers rang around the studio that was a wrap(hey, I can get into this whole studio thing) and we all took a break before doing it all again but a hell of a lot louder. The break was to say hello, pass on thanks and to catch up with old friends. Love Zombies is a family(no, we weren’t fighting and wearing each others clothes), there is a real bond between everyone and that emanates from the driving force that is Hollis Mahady. I have been lucky to speak to Hollis on many occasions and I always leave thinking she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She is a free spirit and was born in the wrong era, she is a 70s girl if ever there was one. She has not one ounce of badness in her tiny body and all the love of a brontosaurus on ecstasy.
This was on show as we made our way to the balcony and were presented with hand made gifts and hand written notes of thanks, nobody treats their fans better but as I left that day when we had all finished, clutching my goodie bag I realised the gift was not inside the intricate package but in the experience itself. Nothing could ever take away today, not even the horrific events that happened the following day in London as myself, the band and many others were enjoying Camden Rocks, no, it just solidified the moment and the feeling that the only thing that will ever cure this world of hate is Love…and if that love is wrapped up in a zombie all the better.
Images and review Ritchie Birnie
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