Blue Zoo made their debut in the 80s and pro­duced three hit sin­gles (includ­ing Cry Boy Cry), tours includ­ing sup­port­ing U2, and an album. The band dis­solved three years lat­er and the mem­bers all bus­ied them­selves with new careers away from the music busi­ness, so one could be for­giv­en for assum­ing that “Blue Zoo Two” was not going to hap­pen. But things can bub­ble under the sur­face for many years. Andy describes the reform­ing of the band in 2010 as a sort of ‘teleke­n­e­sis’ – for their long-term fans, it was a wel­come surprise.

It’s strange to think that Blue Zoo have been togeth­er for longer this time round than in their 80s incar­na­tion. Since reform­ing, they’ve sup­port­ed T’Pau in 2013 (ex Blue Zoo gui­tarist and co-song­writer Tim Par­ry was in the audi­ence and was delight­ed with how the band were sound­ing), and 2014 saw a Blue Zoo mini-tour includ­ing a gig at Isling­ton 02 –  Ani­mal Mag­ic: Blue Zoo at 02 Isling­ton –  and one in Andy O’s home town of Brain­tree. The newest mem­ber of the band is Tom E Mor­ri­son who, apart from play­ing in sev­er­al bands, com­posed and pro­duced the music for a cor­po­rate film which won two awards at the New York Fes­ti­val 2015. A Japan­ese short film that he com­posed the music for won an award at the Hous­ton Film Festival.


Andy O is still the band’s front man – a charis­mat­ic fig­ure, tall, lean and retain­ing his youth­ful looks. He’s blessed with a mag­net­ic stage pres­ence and voice to match. What first strikes you when you speak to Andy is how incred­i­bly bal­anced he is. He’s been hap­pi­ly involved with oth­er suc­cess­ful projects away from the music indus­try, and bring­ing Blue Zoo back into his life is quite clear­ly an enjoy­ment, but there’s no sense that he has any­thing to prove. My first ques­tion is to ask him what has been occu­py­ing his life since the orig­i­nal split. I dis­cov­er that he’s into mush­rooms. Before images of a burnt-out mid­dle-aged band mem­ber float­ing on a per­ma­nent cloud of the mag­ic vari­ety hov­er into view, I should add that I’m talk­ing about an alto­geth­er more seri­ous­ly culi­nary and edu­ca­tion­al path – as one glimpse of his web­site Fun­gi to be With, reveals.

Andy: “I’ve been doing doing the mush­room thing for 20 years… I start­ed back in the ear­ly 90s and I start­ed host­ing walks around Lon­don, under my busi­ness called Fun­gi to be with. The world of mush­rooms and toad­stools is fas­ci­nat­ing and I’ve been edu­cat­ing peo­ple about them ever since dis­cov­er­ing this inter­est. And I’m cur­rent­ly in the process of writ­ing a book about the mush­room and toad­stools – of Greater London!

Blue Zoo on stage
Tom E Mor­ri­son (left) and Andy O. Pho­to: Steve Lavoie

How did the band get back togeth­er after so long?  
Mick­ey Spar­row and I had a spon­ta­neous ‘call­ing’ of sorts. We both felt it was time for unfin­ished busi­ness. So we arranged a meet­ing, and got the oth­ers, includ­ing Tim Par­ry, to come along. We met at The Ship in War­dour St in the sum­mer of 2009. Tim was­n’t inter­est­ed in being a part of the revival. I then pro­cured the ser­vices of Gra­ham Noon on key­boards and his broth­er-in law Neil Pyz­er on gui­tar & sax (he’s now play­ing with The Selecter). Then Tom E Mor­ri­son joined in 2013 when we vis­it­ed the Philippines.

Who else is in the band now, and who is going to be going to be play­ing at the gig in May?
Apart from orig­i­nal mem­bers Mike Ansell (bass) and Mick­ey Spar­row (drums) we have Tom E Mor­ri­son on gui­tar and Gra­ham Noon joins us on keyboards.

Blue Zoo rehearsal

Have you man­aged to find time to write any new mate­r­i­al?  
I come up with ideas, but see­ing them through to some­thing con­crete is more of a chal­lenge. I’m wait­ing for a point when it feels nat­ur­al for the band to do new songs, but we’ve been so on and off that it’s not quite hap­pened yet. You need to have a focus, and then you start bring­ing in new songs. So for now, we’re con­cen­trat­ing on play­ing the old favourites.  And inci­den­tal­ly, Cher­ry Red re-issued 2x2 in 2013 – it’s an extend­ed ver­sion that includes B‑sides and the orig­i­nal sin­gle ver­sion of Love Moves in Strange Ways.

How often do you get to play togeth­er… and how easy, or hard is it, to make sure the band are sound­ing good? 
We get togeth­er to jam, and get our stage act togeth­er. I felt that last year we were sound­ing at our best, at the Isling­ton gig. And then we dis­ap­peared for a year! Mak­ing sure that Blue Zoo sound real­ly good is hard work. And of course it gets hard­er as you get old­er. The voice is a mus­cle which gets weak­er, and it takes a lot to build it up again, to the point where you feel you are ready to be on stage. We real­ly need to keep the momen­tum going.

So what can we expect at the gig in May?  
Well, I’ve decid­ed to delve back in to the orig­i­nal stuff, right from the begin­ning. I lis­tened to the old demos see­ing what I felt worked, and refresh­ing them up a bit. There will be a few from 2 by 2 – orig­i­nal num­bers like Cry Boy Cry, Some­thing Famil­iar, John’s Lost, but I don’t want to recre­ate the flavour of the album, so I’ve gone back to even ear­li­er stuff like Nights Like This and Affec­tion. Both were sung by myself and orig­i­nal mem­ber Dave Woolf­son’s wife, Ang­ie and we would like to ded­i­cate a song to her memory.

Are younger peo­ple pick­ing up on your music? 
It’s a good mix, obvi­ous­ly lots of old­er peo­ple, but we do have some young fans.

So we should­n’t expect any­thing new for a lit­tle while then… 
In Novem­ber 2014, Tom offered to re- pro­duce our song Some­where in the world there’s a cow­boy Smil­ing in his North Lon­don stu­dio and also got Ger­man DJ Hein+ Klein involved to remix the track and release it on his label.

But as far as new mate­r­i­al is con­cerned, we don’t want to dis­ap­point any­one but that will take time. For now we enjoy play­ing we like to play but we aren’t think­ing “there’s a career here, let’s write a new album”. We enjoy play­ing what we have writ­ten and tak­ing it out there. We will know when the time is right.

Blue Zoo poster

Blue Zoo: Nam­buc­ca, 596 Hol­loway Road, N7 6LB on 15th May 2015. Doors 7pm, music 8pm.
Ear­ly bird tick­ets £6 plus book­ing fee or 2 for a tenner.

Sup­port: Plex­i­phones, Thomas O’Brien, The Reflections


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