The saviours of British blues rock play The Pepsi Max Stage prior to headliners the Mission on Saturday night.
And frontman Pete Shoulder can’t wait to tackle Castle Donington in the company of fellow Geordies Spike (Quireboys) and Ginger Widheart.
RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth spoke exclusively to the former Winterville frontman ahead of the band’s biggest festival show to date.
rushonrock: Bring us up to date with what The Union have been up to since the band’s co-headline tour with The Answer…
Pete Shoulder: We’ve just been writing pretty much solid since the tour with The Answer. We’ve been working on the next album and getting some ideas together. It looks like we’ll be starting to record in September.
rushonrock: Where are you now?
PS: We’ve been based at Walton Castle near Bristol where we did most of the work for the first two records. It’s a nice little retreat and we work well together here.
rushonrock: You’re on course to release three albums in as many years – how come you’re so prolific as songwriters?
PS: In all the time we’ve worked together Luke and I have always been quite productive. When we’re not playing shows we don’t like to sit around and we’re always working on new ideas. The fact that we’re writing most of the time – even on the road – means that there’s never a shortage of ideas. It’s just finding the time to get them all down!
rushonrock: Is it important to keep things ticking over to such an extent?
PS: The first two albums were released within 14 months of each other and we’re hoping the third record will be following soon. I think as a band these days you have to keep getting new music out there as often as you can.
rushonrock: Looking back how much did you enjoy the tour with The Answer?
PS: It was brilliant. I think everyone hoped it would be a good combination but the tour couldn’t have gone any better really. The two bands were very well matched and we made a lot of new friends on those dates. There are still a lot of people who haven’t heard of The Union and that tour opened us up to a whole new audience. We did well with the merchandise sales and that’s always a good indicator on terms of whether people like what you’re doing.
rushonrock: And do people like what The Union is doing?
PS: We’re broadening our fan base and getting the message out there. It’s going really well. The number of people coming out to see us grows every time and as a band we’re on fire at the moment. We’ve got a settled line–up and we’ve really found our feet.
rushonrock: Was a Download Festival appearance always on the cards?
PS: We were always hoping that we’d get the call to do Download this summer. We knew our management were working away trying to get us on the bill but we didn’t hear anything for a while. Then I think it was Andy Copping who Tweeted that we were on the bill just after we’d found out – we were dying to tell people but of course we were sworn to secrecy!
rushonrock: Will you have time to enjoy the event and catch a few bands?
PS: We’re probably going to get there around midday on the Saturday and I think we’re due on stage at 9pm. I’m looking to catch the Quireboys and Ginger if I can – I’m hoping there’s not a clash. I’ve never seen Ginger live – he’s someone I’d love to tick off the list. It’s great for the North East that there’s some homegrown talent playing Download this year. It’s still a great place for rock but these high profile shows are a great reminder. And I’m hoping we stay until the Sunday as I’d love to see Soundgarden.
rushonrock: North East bands at Download are a bit of a rarity – how excited are you that there’s a serious presence in 2012?
PS: There’s so much talent in the North East and there always has been. The music scene has always been exciting and that’s never changed. It’s important that the likes of myself, Ginger and Spike are sharing a stage with some of the biggest names in rock. It’s good to see the Geordie boys making their presence felt this year!
rushonrock: After Download how’s The Union’s schedule shaping up?
PS: We’ve got a really busy summer coming up. We’re playing Bospop in Holland and we’re one of the supports for ZZ Top at a festival in Belgium. And we’ve just been confirmed for the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain the week after Download – we’re playing the same day as The Darkness and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Later in the summer we’re playing the Steelhouse Festival and the Bulldog Bash and we’ll be working on the new album in between! And we’ve both signed up to do the Childline Rocks charity motorcycle ride across America again. I still haven’t learnt to ride a bike though – in fact I still haven’t learnt how to drive!
* The Union are giving away a new summer mix of crowd favourite Make Up Your Mind. Go to www.theuniononline.com/site/ for details.