NICOLA JUNCAR talks to rockers Thunder, who are at Newcastle City Hall tonight.
THUNDER once described themselves as the “biggest rock ‘n’ roll band you’ve never heard of”.
And it’s not hard to see why they feel that way.
They’ve toured the world several times over and have been on the same line-up as rock legends such as Aerosmith, Metallica, Kiss, Van Halen and Bon Jovi.
Yet despite their success and an eventful 20-year career which has just seen them release their ninth album, they’ve received very little TV or radio exposure.
So how can they still be selling records and pulling in the crowds?
The answer’s simple to guitarist and the band’s main songwriter Luke Morley, who believes their continuing success is down to hard work – but more importantly, enjoying themselves.
Having met in 1971, when they were 11, Luke and singer Danny Bowes have been playing in bands since they were 15.
Their first show, with Harry James on drums, Ben Matthews on guitar and keyboards and Mark ‘Snake’ Luckhurst on bass, was in front of just 35 people in July 1989.
But more shows followed, including two dates at the NEC in Birmingham opening for Aerosmith.
Luke said: “We just decided to get out there and play. We knew our ability to play live would make us friends and if we only played to 10 people we felt confident that those 10 people would tell their mates and another 10 would be along to the next gig.
“We grafted and we enjoyed it, and it worked!
“We went from a pub in Shepherd’s Bush to headlining three sold out nights at Hammersmith Odeon within 15 months.”
Their debut album, Backstreet Symphony, was a huge success and their follow-up album in 1992, Laughing on Judgement Day, went straight into the album charts at number two – being held off the top spot by Kylie’s Greatest Hits.
However, the rest of the 90s proved to be a tough decade – not just for Thunder, but for all traditional rock bands, as grunge and Brit Pop took over the airwaves.
Luke said: “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect us but it was hitting all the rock bands. We didn’t want to go down the grunge route. It didn’t suit our style of playing, so it was better to just persevere.”
The gamble has eventually paid off as the last 18-months or so has seen a huge rock revival, kick-started by the reunion of Led Zeppelin and last month AC/DC found themselves at the top of the album charts – something that probably wouldn’t have happened a few years ago.
Thunder have also benefited from the return to form as they toured with Whitesnake and Def Leppard this summer – two other casualties of the 90s grunge phase – and were able to put all their efforts into recording their ninth album, Bang!
Unlike most bands, however, Thunder decided not to record their songs in a studio and instead plumped for a castle, in Somerset.
Luke said: “We’ve always made our best albums in a rural, English setting so Walton Castle was the perfect location for us.
“We had cables and wires running everywhere but it was definitely worth it, as it’s the best sounding album we’ve ever made. We even befriended the local landlords, who were inconsolable when we moved out.”
Source: Chronicle Live