Thunder: Shooting for a new lease of life.
Thunder vocalist Danny Bowes talks about life as an independent band in 2003 and the challenges of everything that involves. And there's plenty of Thunder still to come!
Danny, as you know I'm a big fan of the new CD - what made 2002 a perfect
time to reform Thunder?
It was all down to the UK Monsters Of Rock Arena tour. I convinced the promoter it was a runner, having answered all the technical and logistical questions and queries. My plan was always to be involved in it on a promoter and business level, but they made Thunder reforming and playing a part of the deal (they knew it was a big risk to put on the show and Thunder would sell them lots of tickets). I took it to the band, who agreed instantly. After that one thing led to another, as always seems to happen with Thunder.
Was the reason for you disbanding a sense of frustration in the scene, or
did you just all require a rest?
Luke and I agreed as kids that we didn't want to end up sad old gits prancing around a stage with our Zimmer frames, just doing it for the money. I always need to feel I'm able to compete and the last couple of record deals we had didn't really give us that chance. That combined with the constant touring became very wearing. Getting back together and self releasing a new record has been a real eye opener, very interesting to play record company and try to do it better than they did it. So far the sings are good and I'm enjoying being in control.
Has the Internet been responsible for breathing new life into the band, being that fans can so easily voice their support of the band and requests for you to come back to life?
The Internet is a very effective tool, and has made it possible to spread the word cost effectively. The ability to swap information with the fans is valuable, though it's not always a positive experience, so it has to be properly managed like any other resource.
You got together with Luke to record an album together - which was a step in another direction. Did that lead to discussion of a full Thunder re-union?
No. B&M was and is a separate project. No one had a problem with Luke and I making B&M records, as he and I have no problem with the others doing anything else. We're all good at what we do and the stimulus of other projects is all good for Thunder. We love making Thunder music and playing shows, and when we got back together after 2 years plus it was as if those years hadn't happened.
The sound of the band had changed over the years and you have always been a
diverse group of musicians, what do you attribute the sound of Shooting At The Sun to? It's like you guys went right back to the start and started all over again!
We felt if we were to come back it had to be with a much more straight ahead rock record. Very much a case of back to the roots. My words to Luke were "write me LP one and a half", I think he did that admirably. He's such an accommodating chap.
You guys chose to release the album yourselves in the UK. Did you not get any label offers for the record, or was it worth more to you guys to do it yourselves?
We had offers, but for reasons mentioned previously I didn't want to come back and go with a record label and possibly repeat the mistakes of the past. I've always been interested in how the business side of record making works, and got very frustrated with the labels when they ignored obvious things. It seemed natural to do this ourselves and use all the ideas and knowledge we've accumulated.
And why now release the album to Frontiers Records? What did they pitch to
you to make it an attractive offer to do so?
It soon became clear to me that I couldn't release a record internationally and be able to do everything. It's simply not possible to be everywhere all the time and do a good job. I could have not bothered to try to sell the record in the shops and keep it as an internet only release, but that's not playing the labels at their own game (we're back to competing). In light of this we decided to take on partners to help spread the word and extend the sales. JVC are doing it for us in Japan, and Frontiers have licensed the record from us for Europe. They are very enthusiastic and will hopefully do a good job for us. I'm talking to others about other territories but we'll see. What matters is that we are in control, I have all the headaches but we are in control (ha ha).
Do the band plan on touring anywhere in Europe in 2003?
We're in discussions, our agent is negotiating, but no firm plans can be revealed yet.
How about the response from fans to the record - what's your favourite
comments about it?
Too many to mention, but it's clear a great many people are very glad we're back. This is gratifying, because we need them (and others like you) to be our unofficial sales force and sell the LP to rock fans everywhere who may be interested.
And favourite tracks on the album?
Loser is a real stand out song, that's why we released it as a single around the last UK tour (it got to no 48 in the UK singles chart - not bad for a band with no label!). No one mentions it very much but I really like The Man Inside too, it's not that popular with fans, I guess that's why I'm drawn to it, awkward!
What about playing live - what new tracks have you been you using in the set?
Loser, Spin Doctor, If I Can't Feel Love, Everybody's Laughing were all played in the UK set in May. As to what we'll play when we tour again in Nov, who knows?
Is it hard doing everything yourselves? Producing/making the album, then
In a word, YES!
You have to be able to wear several hats at one time. It is hard, but I'm seeing good results and I'm enjoying it immensely.
As a big player in the British hard rock scene over the years - how has it
changed and is there anything that can be done to improve it?
How long have you got?
We need more "launch pad" venues where kids can get out of their bedrooms and play in front of people. It's not just about being able to work the computer and DV, though the technology is great and is obviously here to stay, there's a balance to be struck. I believe we need to have a structure that enables bands to learn how to entertain a crowd too. I also believe we need more nurturing of talent, giving writers time to develop their craft. I have some theories which I'll keep to myself for now thanks.
What's next for Danny Bowes and also for Thunder in the 12 months ahead?
New B&M LP, studio soon, released early 2004. Thunder will release a DVD in October (content to be decided), we have the Thunder UK shows in November, possible European shows before that... I'm looking into the idea of a filmed acoustic Christmas show, possibly to form part of another DVD in 2004. It's in development so no details on that either right now. Next year we'll get back into the studio and write and record a new Thunder LP, more shows. There's lots but...
Anything you would like to add mate?
I don't think so, the new LP is great, so anyone who hasn't got a copy should get one asap (ha ha)
Thanks for your time!
Thanks for the interview.