Eighties band Blue Zoo got back together in 2010 with ‘unfinished business’ as far as their old material was concerned. Now the band are shaking off the past and moving forward with new material set for imminent release plus live dates on the calendar. 

Blue Zoo rehearsal

The band still com­pris­es front man Andy O, with drum­mer Mick­ey Spar­row and bass play­er Mike Ansell. In 2013 they were joined by gui­tarist, engi­neer and pro­duc­er Tom E Mor­ri­son (www.bigskysong.com), who has worked with Under­world and Bon­nie Tyler among oth­ers. I inter­viewed Blue Zoo’s front man Andy O…

Going back to 2010, what was it that moti­vat­ed you to reform Blue Zoo after such a long time?

“One of the main rea­sons was because of our ‘lost album’, which was nev­er released, on Mag­net, back in 1981. There were some songs that we used to play live a lot, we record­ed them but Mag­net nev­er released them, they said they weren’t com­mer­cial­ly viable – even though Strange Ways and Cry Boy Cry were on it. So it was shelved. Some of the songs end­ed up on 2 x 2 but a cru­cial part of the sto­ry was lost. These were pieces of the jig­saw and we want­ed to put it all back togeth­er again.

So there was no thought back then of pro­duc­ing new material? 

“No, it was not an exer­cise in a new chap­ter for Blue Zoo at that point. And it’s tak­en six years or more for us to get to this point. That’s longer than the time Blue Zoo were togeth­er back then, haha!

How did that moment come about where you shift­ed from the old to the new? Where did the cre­ative impulse come from?

“It was around Octo­ber last year. We were rehears­ing at Tom’s stu­dio –Big Sky Song – ahead of an ear­ly Jan­u­ary gig at Ding­walls in Cam­den. It was an organ­ic process real­ly, I was work­ing on some lyrics, and Mick­ey just came in with the drums. Sud­den­ly, it was as if a dam had burst, and all this cre­ativ­i­ty flowed. It felt like a total­ly nat­ur­al thing, and all the band were on the same page. And in the back­ground, the edit­ing, mix­ing and pro­duc­tion was done by Tom.

Talk us through how new sin­gle Fun­gan­ista came about…

“Well, once I get into the swing of it, I’m away. I get the melody down and the gen­er­al idea for the song and the lyrics. I just start­ed singing Fun­gan­ista [the new sin­gle, out on March 25th] to Mick­ey and he imme­di­ate­ly got the rhythm on the drums and then we were away. This was the essence of the song and Tom cru­cial­ly record­ed and cap­tured it all, as well as adding tasty key­board and gui­tar ideas. Then Mike added his bass. In the past (not the pre­vi­ous Blue Zoo) I would often write the gui­tar parts – I used to write lots on the acoustic gui­tar but now I find it a tad restrict­ing, espe­cial­ly with a song like Fun­gan­ista, its rhyth­mic, pri­mor­dial, you just go with it, I love that process, as opposed to being method­i­cal about song writ­ing, its some­how more pure. The most cru­cial aspect to the process is the vibe. If you haven’t got the vibe, you’ve got nothing. 

Adds Tom: “I think every­one has to be on the same plane.  The chem­istry was right at that moment, it just clicked. 

Video below includes a taster of Funganista, which is set for release on 25th March 2017

How’s the new mate­r­i­al going down with the fans? 

“We had two songs ready by the time we did the Cam­den gig in Jan­u­ary this year and we test­ed them out. They went down real­ly well, and we got lots of pos­i­tive feed­back. These new songs feel real­ly fresh, and very positive.

What expo­sure has Fun­gan­ista had so far? 

We’ve had some radio cov­er­age – so far BoltonFM, Arte­fak­tor Radio and Extend­e­dRa­dioFM NL have played it. Actu­al­ly, Extend­ed Radio FM NL remarked on how dif­fer­ent Fun­gan­ista sound­ed com­pared to Cry Boy Cry and said that what tied them togeth­er was my voice. How kind I thought. Amaz­ing­ly it has been 35 years! Bolton FM are big fans and love Fun­gan­ista – they are run­ning a Blue Zoo com­pe­ti­tion, a spe­cial prize awaits someone….

The lyrics of Fun­gan­ista are inter­est­ing! What are they about? 

“There’s a lot of what’s going on at the moment in those lyrics. I even bring Brex­it into it at one point, but it’s all quite sub­tle, it’s in there some­where. The lyrics are part­ly about for­ag­ing. There’s been a back­lash against the for­ag­ing move­ment, against that type of free­dom.” [Andy’s ‘day job’ is as a fun­gi and mush­room expert, see his web­site www.fungitobewith.org and my ear­li­er inter­view with the band here]. Fun­gan­ista is the spir­it of the hunter gath­er­er, a spir­it under a lot of stress at the moment. Beat­en up by the landown­ers, old mon­ey and the pow­ers that be. So Fun­gan­ista is the spir­it of this, voic­ing his con­cerns, and his pres­ence. The words are fair­ly min­i­mal but the spir­it is there.

Are there any more songs in the pipeline?

“We have two more songs down – we just have to fine tune them. The plan is to release one every cou­ple of months or so and then there will be an album out. I think that an album has to be the end point of this par­tic­u­lar exer­cise, some­thing whole and round­ed that ties it all up.

Can you reveal what sort of style the new num­bers will be? 

“They’re in the same style of the first two.

blue zoo cover art


So who are your influ­ences, who are you lis­ten­ing to right now?

“I get obsessed by things, so I’ll be into an artist for a long time and I’ll play them non­stop. The last band I’ve been like this about is Radiohead.

What gigs have you got lined up?

First, Birm­ing­ham at The Flap­per, and then we’re going to be back at Nam­buc­ca, Lon­don. Bul­let­proof Bomb are head­lin­ing. This is a com­plete new thing for us, it’s tak­ing us away from that 80s thing. What’s impor­tant to us right now is get­ting those new songs out, we’re very excit­ed about it. And we may have more gigs to announce soon. Watch this space.

Blue Zoo birmingham poster


Lon­don, Nam­buc­ca: 30th March. Line­up: The Bul­let­proof Bomb, Blue Zoo, Loifior, The Bak­er Lee Blues, She Gaze. 

See relat­ed articles

Blue Zoo at Isling­ton 02

Blue Zoo inter­view 2015

With Matt Backer at 80s club night

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