He spent two decades doing the business with one of the UK’s best blues rock bands but former Thunder man Luke Morley has entered into an exciting new partnership.

The Union kick off the Main Stage action at High Voltage on Saturday but fans expecting an extension of the axe slinger’s former band beware – this is an all-new Morley.

In the latest of our festival exclusives we catch up with Manchester City fan and guitar hero Morley.

rushonrock: A lot of Thunder fans will be hoping The Union is an extension of their favourite band – will they be disappointed?

Luke Morley: I think the only criteria for The Union was that we’d sit down and write a bunch of songs and keep the ones which made the grade. We didn’t put any constraints on where the music would take us – we just wanted to write good songs and in that respect it’s job done. I can’t change who I am or what I do or the 20 years behind me and it’s pointless trying to get away from that. Some people aren’t going to like The Union because it isn’t Thunder but hopefully some people will like this band. And what they will see and hear is a genuine 50/50 effort – a collaboration in the truest sense of the word. In Pete Shoulder I have found a great partner in crime.

rushonrock: Tell us about your vocalist…

LM: With Peter it’s all based on one hell of a voice. The voice is the first thing that drew me to him 10 years ago. A friend of mine sent me some of his demos and before I knew him I knew I had to find out more about that voice. I assumed he was black and from America not white and from County Durham!  It was a bit of a shock when I heard he was 17 and from Chester-le-Street. But he’s a fantastic musician and very musical. In the decade I’ve known him the thing that’s changed about Peter is his writing – it’s developed beyond belief. And he has, and always has had, a really good handle on how to articulate melody.

rushonrock: So you’re a big fan then?

LM: You could say that! Some people have a great voice but don’t know how to use it. Peter gets right inside the lyrics and is so good at making an emotional connection. He’s up there with Danny Bowes, Robert Palmer and Rick Astley in that respect. But as far back as Eric Burdon there’s a tradition of fabulous singers who have come out of the North East – think Paul Rodgers, David Coverdale and the rest.

rushonrock: How much are you enjoying being part of The Union?

LM: It’s great for me. Starting something mew at this stage of my career is great. It’s not like we’re two geezers who’ve just met and decided to start a band. It is like starting again but then it feels very familiar and very comfortable. I really hope we get out in front of as many people as possible during the next few months because when people do here Pete singing they will hear something very different and very exciting. There’s still a lot of untapped potential there but something tells me he’s ready to up his game.

rushonrock: How much of an opportunity is High Voltage to a new band like The Union?

LM: It’s a great opportunity for us to play to a lot of people and give them something which is new. Some people won’t know what to expect from The Union and some will feel they do. Some people probably won’t care one way or the other! But to have all of those people in one big field is a golden opportunity for a new band.

rushonrock: The big festivals apart you’ve gone from playing theatre-size venues with Thunder to clubs with The Union. Is that a tough adjustment?

LM: Not at all. There’s the whole atmosphere that’s unique to smaller venues and there’s nowhere to hide. You can’t rely on big light shows or huge productions – it’s all about the music. It’s still the best proving ground for new bands and it’s something The Union needs to do. Despite the fact that Pete and I have worked together as writers for many years we need to discover our band’s live identity.

rushonrock: And is The Union your sole focus right now?

LM: First and foremost I don’t think either me or Pete would be averse to involving ourselves in other projects. But right now The Union is our main focus and that’s the way it should be. If people are going to take me seriously in this band – and if The Union is going to have any credibility at all – we have to get out there and get our music heard. That means lots of shows in lots of towns and very little time off. But when time allows I will always look at getting involved in other things.