Even better they’re bringing along a new album for good measure – with third long player The World Is Yours released on Monday.
You can read a full review of that record on this very website from Sunday but first hear what guitarist Luke Morley had to say in an exclusive interview with RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth.
rushonrock: You’re the latest band to release an album (The World Is Yours) via PledgeMusic. Why does it work for The Union?
Luke Morley: There’s lots that’s good about from our point of view. For bands like ourselves that are self-financed it really works. When you’re in the process of making an album and marketing it there comes a point where you have a cashflow headache. PledgeMusic allows you to have a flow of cash coming through when you need it. From the fans’ point of view you can make the campaign as interactive and inventive as you like. We’ve had people in the studio and we just did a playback party. We’ve had open rehearsals and given our fans a glimpse of what really goes on. They get to see what really happens behind the scenes in a typical band scenario and we get to spend some quality time chatting to our fans – it’s a lot less pressurised than your traditional meet-and-greet on the road. Everyone’s a winner!
rushonrock: And you’re certainly winners when you bring in more than 225% of your target – what does the spare cash go on?
LM: Well I’ve just bought myself another Ferrari…I wish. No, it’s already spent on the marketing campaign, the tour, the merchandise and maybe the odd bit of new equipment in the studio. It’s certainly not allowed to sit around or wasted. Everything that we make from the campaign beyond the initial target for the album is reinvested. But at least all of that money comes to the band and doesn’t end up in the hands of a record label.
rushonrock: You offered the pre-launch listening party as a Pledge extra – did it work?
LM: It was a roaring success! It was an unusual evening for the fans who came along but a pretty normal night for me and Pete…we listened to the music and adjourned to the bar before some dinner. Then we played a little set. It was a very familiar scenario for us – get drunk and get the guitars out! It’s just like the normal rehearsal environment for us but again it gives our fans the chance to see who we really are as people. It shatters the illusion of aloof rock stars – or at least I hope it does. I have to remember to hide that Ferrari in the garage! But seriously I think Pete and I are nice enough blokes and hopefully that comes across when we do things like the listening party.
rushonrock: You’ve only gone and delivered another 14 songs on the new album (plus the intro and outro) – you don’t do things by halves do you?
LM: I think the nice thing for me is that I’ve got a fellow songwriter to work with. For 20 years I was doing it all on my own in Thunder and now suddenly Pete’s there to share the load. He was the same in Winterville. So basically there’s two of us bringing those songs to one band and we have twice as many songs! It doesn’t feel as if we’re overly prolific at all – it’s just our normal pace. It’s always a nice position to be in when you’re struggling to pick the best songs for the new record.
rushonrock: Did you set out to deliver a certain set on this album?
LM: As far as I’m concerned there are no set rules. I suppose as a band we could go completely digital and release more music more often exclusively for download. That works for dance artists, in particular, but the rock fan has always favoured something a bit more traditional and something physical. Our fans like a package that they can hold. They like the artwork and the physical aspect. But funnily enough I don’t think that goes as far as a demand for our music on vinyl. Fans of The Union aren’t that fussed about a vinyl release right now – they seem happy with the deluxe editions that we specialise in. That’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. But vinyl is very expensive to produce without a guaranteed return.
rushonrock: You use a choir to complement Pete’s vocals again on this album – is there a chance we could see this in the live arena?
LM: It’s not actually a full choir! It’s just two young ladies – but they are both from Wales. They were an accidental discovery as we were putting together the last record and they were so good we’ve brought them back! On the second album we were recording down in Wales and we’d booked a couple of backing singers to come over from London but they let us down at the last minute. So I literally went on Google and typed in ‘backing vocals Cardiff’. Their names popped up and I gave them a call on the off chance they might be ok. We didn’t have high expectations but we thought it was worth a punt – at the very least we’d only have to pay their petrol! When we met them we were actually quite nervous. They were only 22/23 and we really didn’t know what was going to happen. But within minutes it became clear they were actually better than the two girls who should have been there. So they’re back. And their voices do blend very well with Pete’s. In terms of taking them on the road – we’d like to. When we were first putting The Union together we did talk about creating a Fleetwood Mac-style band dynamic and I think our sound lends itself naturally to that concept. I think if things continue to go well for us and we move up to bigger venues then it’s something we’d take a serious look at.
rushonrock: Last time out you opted for a co-headline tour with The Answer that allowed you to play bigger venues – this time you’re headlining and you’ve downsized. Is it a difficult decision either way?
LM: Personally I’d rather play a smaller venue that’s absolutely rammed than a bigger venue that might sell more tickets but still not sell out. I’d much rather demand outstripped supply because we’d like to tour again in the UK later this year. And at the same time I don’t want to go to the well too often. It’s so important to us that the gigs have a good vibe. Playing live and getting our music heard on the radio are still the priorities where The Union is concerned. I still believe they’re the best opportunity we have to grow as a band and so the more tours we can do and the more places we can play the better. If that means playing smaller venues then it’s not a problem – there’s no rush to get too big too fast where touring is concerned.
rushonrock: You’ve been a fan of Pete Shoulder for many years now but is the new album his most consistent and confident performance yet?
LM: I think that’s what happened is that over a period of years Pete has become more assured and more focused. Maybe before The Union he felt he was out there on his own a bit more – even fronting his last band. At least where the music was concerned. Hopefully the fact that I’m a grizzled old pro means he can lean on me and look at the way I go about things. I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years so he doesn’t have to. I’ve got so many things so badly wrong as a musician that there’s a benefit in that where Pete’s concerned. Then there’s our writing relationship – it’s matured and grown really well to such an extent that we’re both completely comfortable with what each other brings to the table. That all contributes to how good he sounds on the new record. But the biggest reason he comes across so well on The World Is Yours is that he’s been doing this job for a while now and he’s had a bit of success. He’s being himself and growing into the role.
rushonrock: Of course The Union isn’t your sole focus in 2013 – there’s the small matter of Thunder opening up an arena tour with Whitesnake and Journey…
LM: Well Danny and I agreed last year that we’d roll out the old band for a few festival shows in summer 2013. We let our agent know our intentions and word got around. In the end the promoter running that tour came back to us and offered us the opening slot. We checked that we weren’t going to be the oily rag of the tour and made sure we’d be treated ok! Once those assurances were given we didn’t think twice. It’ll be a 40-minute blast through the hits and we can’t wait. We’ve also got a few festival slots in the book in Europe and there’s the chance of a couple of UK festivals too.
rushonrock: How about High Voltage – if it’s happening again this year?
LM: Well I actually mentioned that to the guy who organises it a few weeks ago and he said he wasn’t sure whether High Voltage would happen or not this summer. Let’s wait and see.