They’ve already been nominated by Classic Rock as one of the best new bands of 2010 and this week sees The Union’s self-titled debut album hit stores.

Bringing together Thunder’s Luke Morley and Winterville’s Pete Shoulder, the record is a tour de force of retro British blues rock.

In the latest of our exclusive interview we caught up with Shoulder to talk the past, the present and the future.

rushonrock: You’ve known Luke for quite a few years now but did you always feel you’d work together?

Pete Shoulder: From day one we hit it off. I first got to know Luke when I was 17 and when I was starting out he invited me to London and said I could stay with him. We had a few beers, got on really well and wrote a song together which eventually appeared on a Thunder album. When I was with Winterville he took us out on the road and he has always been really supportive.

rushonrock: How did Luke first hear what you could do?

PS: When I was 17 I signed to Sony and went to New York on what they call a development deal. My manager was giving out demos and he gave one to a publicist friend who also knew Luke. After that Luke got in touch and when Winterville split up he and Danny managed me for a while. I wrote a whole album’s worth of material at that point but there was no money about to do anything. I’d been working with Luke throughout 2008 and when Danny decided to leave Thunder last year Luke just said ‘why don’t we wrote some more stuff together?’. It just made sense.

rushonrock: As a County Durham lad did you enjoy your formative years on the North East’s live scene?

PS: I started playing gigs when I was 13 and played throughout my teenage years. I was gigging all around the North East as The Blue Shoulder – we were a blues rock band who did our own stuff as well as a few covers. We played the Stanley Blues Festival and the Fish Quay Festival at North Shields and at the time there were a lot of good blues bands knocking around. A lot of older players would teach you invaluable stuff but when I hit 16 or 17 I felt like I didn’t want to go down that 12-bar blues road any longer. I wanted to explore different things and write some different material and didn’t want to be stuck in that genre. But don’t get me wrong – that whole scene used to be brilliant and I loved it.

rushonrock: So what happened to the much-missed Winterville?

PS: Well we got signed to Island on another development deal and they put us into the studio to do some demos. They put a bit of money into us and then they suddenly dropped all of their rock bands apart from one. And that was it. But we had a little bit of money left from the Island deal so we finished the album and released it ourselves. Ultimately we just ran out of money – it got to the point where we couldn’t do any gigs or even afford to rehearse. We had a year where we just couldn’t do a thing and it’s just such a shame that you do actually need money to be in a band and make it work. To do any kind of touring you need a van and petrol money at the very least and by the end we didn’t even have that. We just decided to have a complete clearout.

rushonrock: So where are you based now?

PS: I’m a bit of a gypsy at the moment. I’ve been spending most of my time between London and Bristol – we wrote a lot of the record at Walton Castle near Bristol. We took Luke’s portable studio down there and recorded half of the album there and half in Norfolk. But it’s always nice to get back to the place I still call home and as soon as the record was finished I was straight back up to the North East.

rushonrock: And is The Union’s debut album everything you hoped it would be?

PS: We’re both genuinely excited about it. It was great to play the songs live at High Voltage and the reaction was pretty good. We just let the music be what it wanted to be – we never set out to make sure The Union sounded like this kind of band or that kind of band. We just wrote what came naturally and decided to wait and see how we felt – if it sounded good we’d record it. There’s a thread that runs through the album but I think it’s a record which will appeal to a wide variety of rock fans.