Birds of a feather rock together

Published: 22 May 2008 07:000 comments

ICONIC British rock band The Yardbirds are embarking on their first UK tour since the launch of their last album Birdland four years ago being accompanied by The Zombies.

The Yardbirds laid much of the groundwork for rock guitar as we know it today with legendary members including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and most recently Gypie Mayo. Together with rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarthy they created driving rock from a blues-based background.

Chris Dreja said: "I think the bill is very interesting with The Zombies and The Yardbirds who are both electric bands, but of different styles. I'd known Rod Argent (of The Zombies) for some years and we talked a couple of years ago about touring, but it just didn't happen but I'm very happy to be working with them now."

Having taken a sabbatical during most of the 80's and 90's The Yardbirds have reformed with new members and collecting a whole new legion of fans.

Chris said: "Obviously being originally a 60's band there are a lot of people who were interested in us who are still around and will come, which is very flattering. But we are also getting a lot of newer fans, I guess it's a real mixed bag - it is very nice gathering new fans at this stage in our careers. After shows we meet the audiences and it's amazing that we have more people coming now than in the 60's."

In recent years the Yardbirds have played a variety of smaller summer festivals but now hope that with their upcoming tour they will be back at the front of people's minds and will find a new fan base.

Chris said: "Judging by the festivals that we've played in recent years we get a fairly equal balance of fans, we played The Wicker Man festival (a large independent music festival in Scotland) and that was a whole new audience for us. We are one of the only large scale bands left and I think that gets across to a new generation of listeners. It is great to have teenagers come up to you after a show saying that you're the best live band they ever seen."

Chris added that he was surprised that their legacy had lasted so long because when the band ended in the late 1960's they thought that the band would only be remembered for a few weeks rather than touring again some 40 years later.

Back when the Yardbirds were touring regularly life on the road was not as luxurious as it is now and bands were forced to do many more shows to make it, all of which were a lot more basic than the shows we see today.

Chris said: "Actually we got burned out in the 60's with too many shows - it was very primitive then, but maybe more glamorous. Technically, in those days all of the sound came from the stage, the PA system was ineffective, now there are very advances PA desks so you can control sound and now there are much better lighting rigs, so you can put on a better show."

Unlike other bands, the Yardbirds don't go for over the top flashy shows and would rather let their legendary sound do the talking for them.

Chris added: "We don't rely on pyrotechnics of anything like that, we rely on our music and the energy of the show more than others - it's a very electric show, but there are no explosions - keeping it real is what the Yardbirds are about."

See The Yardbirds and The Zombies at the Hexagon on Friday May 23 8pm. Tickets are available from the box office 0118 960 6060.

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