With a new live DVD and CD to promote the band embark on their second UK headline tour of 2013 – playing eight shows and kicking off in Sheffield tonight.
RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with singer Pete Shoulder for an exclusive chat. And look out for a review of the band’s Newcastle show later this week.
rushonrock: It’s seven months since you last hit the road with your Union buddies – how have you filled the time?
Pete Shoulder: I actually fell ill towards the end of that tour and we had to cancel a couple of shows. So the first thing we did was rearrange them! But once we’d sorted that out I recorded a solo album over the summer. We also got together for a couple of one-off Union dates and filmed a live DVD at the Derby Guildhall. There were only 250 people there but they all happened to like The Union! It was a great night and we couldn’t have picked a better evening to capture the band live. It will be on sale on this tour you know…
rushonrock: So tell us about the Pete Shoulder solo album?
PS: First off I suppose it’s a little more mellow than the usual Union stuff. I brought in Phil Martini on drums – who was the original Union drummer – and Joss Clapp on bass who I played with in my previous band Winterville. It had a nice vibe. We’re just getting it wrapped up ready for release sometime in the New Year. I’ve had my eye on recording a solo album for a while but The Union is such a busy band that I’ve just never been able to find the time. I did find that time after the last tour and during the summer so I took my chance! Right now the plan is to release the record myself but I’ll be putting the word out and seeing if there’s any interest. And I’ll be doing a few dates around the release as well.
rushonrock: On your previous tour your Newcastle performance was described by RUSHONROCK as a ‘coming of age’ show – did the new album The World Is Yours inspire you to hit new heights?
PS: I think what it was – the third album was the complete Union sound. It was a culmination of the previous two and all of the hard work we’d put in. It was the sound we’d been building towards and aiming for. All of the different styles came together into one cohesive sound. All of the songs were great to play live and just slotted seamlessly into the set. At the same time Dave [McCluskey] had established himself as the band’s permanent drummer and the current line-up had toured so much together. A solidified line-up was playing the perfect songs. And then I got ill…
rushonrock: Did those shows inspire the decision to record the live DVD or was it always part of the long-term plan?
PS: Somebody actually approached us. A film crew got in touch, admitted they were fans of the band and said they had access to this venue in Derby. They were very keen to film a Union show and it was something we’d talked about doing. We’d already discussed releasing the bootleg live album because we manage to record a lot of the shows that we play. A complementary DVD just seemed like the next natural step. We actually filmed our first show which, in hindsight, wasn’t the best decision we ever made! It was time for another DVD. This time we had a longer set and, as I said earlier, there was a settled line-up playing some great music.
rushonrock: Are you in a position where you can make money from short UK headline tour or is it still a financial gamble?
PS: It is a gamble but not like it used to be. The trouble is these days bands don’t make their money from record sales. We have to look at other ways to bring in money. We actually make more from T-shirt sales – in fact my mates joke about the fact that I’m a bit of a mover and shaker in the fashion industry these days! We can take that merch on the road and it’s a shop window for us. But we are in a position where we’re selling more tickets and playing bigger venues. The trick is to make that step up and we’re heading in the right direction. The last time we played Newcastle we were moved from the smaller room to the main venue a few days before the show and that was the first evidence that we were starting to make that step up.
rushonrock: You and Luke [Morley] are such a prolific songwriting partnership that fans will already be expecting a new Union record in 2014. Is it on the cards?
PS: I think there’ll definitely be some sort of release next year! My album’s done and dusted now so it’s time to start thinking about a new Union record. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t get back in the studio. I suppose the worry is that you start to saturate the market and we don’t want the band to be over-exposed. We don’t want people to become sick of us! So far there’s been a demand for new music and we love making records. So it’s the ideal situation!
rushonrock: Your drummer Dave has just jetted in from a stint with the Quireboys. Those lads love him – can you understand why?
PS: He’s brilliant. I still remember the first time I saw him. It was in Glasgow on the first Union tour and he was playing in a local band. He just shone and I thought this guy is really good. The rest of the lads weren’t there to see him in action but I did mention how good he was. When it became clear our previous drummer couldn’t do the next tour I suggested we checked out Dave. He’s got better and better since then.
rushonrock: Who have you got supporting you this time out?
PS: There’s a band from Bristol called Tax The Heat who will be the main support on all of the dates. In addition we’re bringing a local support on board to add to the show.
rushonrock: As former Classic Rock Magazine Best New Band nominees how do you feel about the quality of this year’s shortlist and how important is it for an emerging band to make that list?
PS: I saw that The Temperance Movement were on there and I suppose they have got to be favourites. Those guys are a great band. But for all of the acts nominated it’s a huge help in terms of exposure and helping to get your music heard by a wider audience. Just being nominated, getting some space in the magazine and getting your name out there is huge. And people respect Classic Rock Magazine’s opinion.
* The Union’s Official Bootleg Live Recordings 2011-2013 (CD) and Live At The Guildhall (DVD) will be available at this month’s shows along with a new range of merchandise. Or visit http://theunion.tmstor.es