Luke Morley Interview / The Thunder legacy, future and Danny Bowes Health

Thunder release Backstreet Symphony, Laughing On Judgement Day and Behind Closed Doors as expanded editions on 28 April 2023 via BMG. In Part Four of our extensive interview with Luke Morley, we talk about the band’s status in the rock world and the future as Danny Bowes’ health improves.

Thunder continues to be one of the country’s best-loved and most consistent acts, album after album filled with the sort of high-quality classic hard rock that most bands would give up everything to have written. Graduating from clubs to theatres and then on to arenas, as well as gracing some huge festival stages, Thunder have had a loyal and ever-expanding fanbase that has been a constant feature as much as the peerless songwriting and stagecraft of the quintet themselves.

This MetalTalk writer [Paul Monkhouse] has seen the band numerous times and was fortunate enough to witness them from the side of the stage when they played the Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2016 and to see the crowd in the palm of frontman Danny Bowes hand was a thing of wonder, the band on fire again that day.

It’s not been plain sailing for the five-piece and having split up twice due to external pressures, guitarist Ben Matthews having undergone treatment for cancer, and Bowes recently having had a very serious head injury that required surgery has put things on hold for them, they’ve certainly seen some storms.

Thunder - Dopamine
Thunder are now easily one of the best British hard rock bands of the past three decades. Photo: Jason Joyce

There has been a real resurgence in recent years. Thunder were back with Wonder Days, and things have gone on with songs of All The Right Noises and Dopamine covering some adult themes… Last One Out Turn Off the Lights… The Smoking Gun… Force Of Nature… St. George’s Day…

“I wonder how many people really look at the lyrics in any kind of depth,” Luke says. “I mean, obviously, some people do. Some people will blithely sing along without a clue what they’re singing about, which is odd. It doesn’t matter, from my point of view, if people enjoy what we do at whatever level they enjoy it on. I’m happy with it. If I can just get a few of my little points across in the meantime, I mean, great.”

People should have a voice, I say, and as Luke says, it can’t be all about an Englishmen on holiday and good times with girls. You have to write from your heart.

“One thing you can’t deny is that I’m getting older,” Luke says. “We’re all getting older, and it would be weird if you just wrote songs about chasing girls when you’re in your sixties. That would be fucking weird. I mean, some artists do, and I’m not gonna mention any names, but I just think, well, God almighty, what’s the point of that? It’s just repeating yourself and repeating yourself. For fuck’s sake. I’d rather retire than do that. I mean, honestly.”

Thunder - OVO Arena Wembley on 28/05/2022
Thunder, OVO Arena Wembley. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

I suggest to Luke that Thunder hold the same level of love and passion by the fans as Status Quo. It’s similar in that there is a genuine fervour for you. There are people who have been fans for years, and new fans are coming along all the time. It must be so nice to have that sort of support.

“Despite the fact that musically we’re not particularly alike, I get what you’re saying completely,” Luke says. “I think that’s probably because they’re from the South of London, and so are we. Different parts, you know. Francis Rossi’s uncle used to run the local ice cream van near me and his cousin. I lived in a flat up on Blackheath. His cousin was a local cobbler. I had to take my cowboy boots around there and get them heeled. Whenever we worked with him over the years, we always had a love, particularly with Francis. A very funny man.

“I do get that. I hate the phrase, but it’s a kind of ‘band of the people’ type thing, and I think it’s probably because we are and they are. I think we’re fairly unpretentious as people and are not particularly starry. I’m proud of the way we’ve always had availability to people. We started doing after-shows before they existed, unwittingly, and it’s something that we still do to this day. I think it’s great to meet people. I mean, obviously, the industry has changed enormously since we’ve been in it.

“Now, most bands sell VIP tickets, and to be honest, you have to because the touring business has got very expensive. So whilst we charge for VIP tickets, we still give away an amount every night randomly for free, tickets to come backstage and meet the band after the show. And I think it’s important, and we’ll continue to do that because it’s nice to be around people that like what you do. And it’s good for them because they get to meet us and say what they want, and some of them are brutally honest, believe me.

“It’s a nice thing. We’ve always done it, and I see no reason why we would change that. I think it was Phil Collins, actually, that said there’s no point in making people think you’re an arsehole if you’re not.”

Thunder - OVO Arena Wembley on 28/05/2022
Thunder, OVO Arena Wembley. Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

Luke says Danny is making really good progress. “He’s getting there,” he says. “Coming back from any kind of brain injury is a tricky business, and you can’t rush it. You’ve got to take your medicine, metaphorically speaking, in terms of the physio and all the re-educating you’ve got to do with your body. He’s applying himself as I think you would expect him to do. He’s a very determined character.

“When people say to me when do you think you’ll be doing gigs, I can’t answer that. It’s a little bit of a piece of string question. I think we all feel good about him coming back, but it’s just a question of us giving him as much time as he needs to make a full recovery.”

You know it will be a big rush for the front at that first gig back.

Thunder. Photo: Ross Halfin
Thunder. Photo: Ross Halfin

You can read all Four Parts of the Luke Morley interview here.

Backstreet Symphony will be pressed as a double LP, one gold disc and one silver disc.

Laughing On Judgement Day is a double LP, one white disc and one blue disc.

Laughing On Judgement Day is a double LP, one white disc and one blue disc.

The albums will also be available as a CD Digipak. Visit https://thunderband.lnk.to/bsslojdbcdPR for more details.

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