Over the years the rushonrock team has enjoyed few chats more than those with Thunder boys Danny Bowes and Luke Morley. This time we talked to the latter on the eve of their traditionally tremendous Newcastle City Hall show. Read the review here first!
Luke Morley: I think so. It’s been a fairly prolific 18 months for us and in terms of songwriting it’s weird really. Maybe it’s getting easier. Sometimes it feels like that but there have been times over the years when it’s felt difficult. The EP is the third in a series of three and the idea there was that we thought it would be interesting to drip feed material to our fans so they weren’t waiting for new stuff for too long. Of course we ended up writing an album at the same time and they’re inundated with stuff!
rushonrock: But if that’s what you want to do who’s stopping you?
LM: Nobody and that’s the point. Now that we’re the band and the record company rolled into one we can do what we like. We can release as much or as little music as we want but it has to be of a certain quality. In the last couple of years I suppose we’ve been writing more good songs than we normally do and there’s no point keeping them under wraps. We’re still very conscious of what our fans demand. We don’t want to be like Prince – I think he thought that everything he ever did was wonderful! But I’d say that once the band got back together in 2002 pretty much everything we’ve done has been released. And I think it’s good enough.
LM: During the EMI years we spent a lot more time touring and so there was less time to write. Now that our touring schedule is more controlled there’s more time to make music. There was a lot of stuff we wrote when we were on EMI that never saw the light of day because there wasn’t the time to get it right. But some of those demos and the unreleased material is starting to make it onto reissues and the like. They’re releasing everything they can lay their hands on and what worries me is the quality of some of that early stuff. We have no control over it.
rushonrock: Is that a problem?
LM: Not really. It’s just the way of things these days. There’s no point getting upset about it. I suppose I’d be a bit miffed if they weren’t releasing our back catalogue and I still get paid as the songwriter! But over the years I have taken great pride in making sure the quality of our work is spot on and some of the stuff isn’t up to scratch. I heard Backstreet Symphony on the radio the other day and while I love that song it sounded very frantic. Exciting but frantic. These days we’re just a bit more relaxed about recording and with the time and money you’re inevitably going to slow the whole process down and get it exactly right. There are some of our old songs which make the toes curl and you think ‘Oh God’. Over the years I’ve learnt what to leave out. Economy is the name of the game.
rushonrock: Does Luke Morley have a life outside Thunder?
LM: If I’m honest I don’t do a great deal other than writing! The writing turns into the recording and the recording becomes the touring and then I start again. We record in short bursts of two weeks to keep things fresh but I’m still writing during those periods too.
rushonrock: But you must take some time out to do something different?
LM: Yeah, Ok, I like to play some golf and take it easy. I play with a few other old rockers and I’ve got to say Alice Cooper is a bit tasty. Out of my league. I’m down to a handicap of around 16 and Danny plays the odd round with me from time to time. We’ve played with a few of the boys from Maiden and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott plays. I see them all at charity events and that kind of thing.
rushonrock: And you’re still involved in the Childline Rocks charity event?
LM: Yes and no. We were heavily involved with the O2 event in March but I’ll probably be too busy to get as involved in the same way again. It was great, great fun last time and it’s great to be involved. It was great to play with some of the people who were there that day – and be in charge! Whether it happens the same way depends on a few things. We’ll see how things unfold.
LM: When we got towards the end of the recording process we had a short discussion about possible title and Danny came up with it. We think about what our album titles mean in relation to the songs but also in graphic terms and in terms of T-shirts and album sleeves. The last album (Robert Johnson’s Tombstone) was a bit more complicated in its title and we wanted a sharp contrast. This is in your face.
rushonrock: What do you like about Bang!?
LM: I suppose Retribution’s my favourite. It has a strange arrangement and appeals to the obscure muso in me! Watching Over You is a traditional ballad in the Thunder tradition of lighter-waving slow songs. I like the Tex Mex flavour to Turn Left At California and we’d never used a banjo before. There’s a lad called Peter from County Durham who plays the banjo on that song. He’s been a friend of ours for a few years now and he always joins us at our Christmas show. He’s a talented young man.
rushonrock: And talking of the annual Christmas show when and where is it this year?
LM: Rock City at Nottingham on December 17. It should go with a Bang!, so to speak.