Thunder’s Danny Bowes takes time to chat to Metal Express Radio about their UK Tour, their limited edition EPs, and Terraplane.

First things first. You have just released a new EP entitled Six Of One. This features 3 new songs and 3 live. Is this your way of getting some new material to play during your forthcoming shows?

I think it is that and also we looked at how long it was going to take for us to get our new album together, and when we could tour around that album and it became clear to us that we weren’t going to be ready until at least October next year. We really didn’t want to go that long without releasing anything new and Thunder fans are voracious for new stuff. They never stop asking for new stuff. We thought if it was going to be a while and we’ve got a tour coming up then maybe we should use some of the stuff we’ve recorded already together with some live stuff we recorded out on tour last year and stick it out there. So, we’ve got 3 new songs and 3 live ones, so we thought it would be nice to put that out as a way to keep things going.

Your last studio release, Robert Johnson’s Tombstone, was released at the end of last year and was probably your strongest in a long time. Your EP follows on from that. You seem to be in a rich vein of form at the moment. What is inspiring you to write at the moment?

I think we are actually. We’re having a real good time at the moment. I think that’s down to us being in control now. We’re completely in control of what we do now. When we came back 5 years ago, we decided we didn’t want to be attached to a record label again and the internet was making it possible for people like us who had an audience, take control and do it ourselves; not that it hasn’t been a steep learning curve, though, because it is. The only limitations then are what you can afford and what you can think and we’re fortunate really that everyone in the band is good at something. Luke writes the tunes and produces the records; Ben engineers them and mixes them; Chris does a bit of that too and does a lot of the art work and I take care of the label and Harry is our professional smoker!!

“Chain Reaction” is a real shit kicker. Are you looking forward to playing this live?

Yes, we’ve done it a couple of times already when we’ve been over in Japan. It’s interesting really, a while back we ran a soundcheck competition and there were 25 to 30 fans in the hall and we played the song in the soundcheck for our own amusement and the whole throng stood there in complete silence as if to say “What on earth is this?” And then we chatted to them afterwards and a couple of them asked if it was a cover!! We told them it was going to be released on an EP and their faces lit up.

Is “Midlife Crisis” an autobiographical piece?

You’ll have to ask Luke about that — he writes them. It’s nothing to do with me. I don’t think he’s bought himself a convertible car yet!! He’s a very good lyricist. He has a very good knack in writing music that goes together very well with a lyrical theme. People assume it must be autobiographical, but in my experience it’s not usually like that with Luke. He has a good imagination.

This is a limited edition of only 3000. Why such a small run?

I think we decided early on not to make the EP a general release type of thing. It is something that’s in-between albums and we wanted to make something that’s very collectible and one of the best ways is to make it limited so people rush out to buy it to get it before it becomes history. There’ll be another one out in March or April 2008, and the third one will come out around the same time as the album, and it’ll come in a sexy box for all the EP’s to fit into. Hopefully if people buy the first one then they’ll buy the next two as well.

Is it only available from your Web site?

There’s links on our Web site to buy it on-line, but you can’t buy it in the shops.

Do you still have any left?

There’s not many left at all. It’s sold very, very well, so if anyone is dithering, get in quick or you’ll be disappointed.

Luke Produced it too. Is it strange having Luke in the Production chair as well as playing in the band?

Not really as he’s been doing this for years now. He’s been producing the records pretty much since the second studio album. Our first album was produced by Andy Taylor from Duran Duran, who was fantastic. He’d actually produced a Rod Stewart album just before ours, which was his most Rocking for years, so we thought we’d give him a try. We met him through our accountant of all people, who was in fact one of the most Rock ‘n’ Roll people I’ve ever met. He introduced us to Andy and we got on with him right away. He recognized the key character traits in Thunder and said we should just keep doing what we were and to turn it up, turn it up, turn it up!!! He’s a real Rocker and is the loudest guitarist I’ve played with on stage. He was a really nice guy and helped us out and actually started the second album, but there were a couple of strange events and he didn’t end up finishing it and Luke stepped in and has been doing ever since.

Is it difficult for him to be objective with your performances?

I think he writes a song with a view to producing it and he knows how he wants the whole thing to sound when he writes it. He has a tremendous musical knowledge and appreciation of how our records have been made over the years. His knowledge of music trivia is amazing too. If you are ever in a music quiz, sit next to Luke and you’ll win. He’s like an encyclopedia.

Do you ever tell him to sod off when he bosses you about?

He’s not really a bossy type of person, to be honest with you. He’s a good man manager and knows how to get the best out of people. He’s being doing it a long time … in fact he and I have been making music together for a very long time and we know what buttons to press and what not to press. It’s very relaxed in a way and we all know what to do. He writes the music and gives it to us and we sprinkle our fairy dust on it and he’ll say “yeah, that’s great” or “No not quite like that, more like this” or something like that. He’s very open in some ways and very controlling in others, but that’s what works. We don’t fall out very often. We get on very well. We’re very different people, but we work very well together due to our shared desire to do what we do. We make each other laugh all the time, we just never stop laughing.

The E.P is planned as the first of three E.P’s you’ll be releasing over the coming months. Are they going to be in a similar format?

We have some of it done and some of it is getting done as we speak.

I mentioned about your up-coming shows. Where will you be playing?

Pretty much all over … Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester, Wolverhampton, and Bristol. Norwich and London.

You’re also fitting in a Christmas show in Nottingham too. What have you got lined up for that?

It has a tendency to change. We nearly always do covers as well as our own material and it’s a lot of fun. With the extra players on stage, it enables us to be a bit more musical. The people attending the show get a CD of the highlights as part of the ticket price and it proves very popular. People come to the gig then send us their ticket stub and they get a CD from us. You can’t buy these and it’s a great souvenir for the fans. People just bite our arms off to get the tickets. We did hit a snag as people who can’t come to the show are left disappointed as they’ve bought everything we ever did and they can’t buy this. Some people actually bought tickets for the gig, but couldn’t come to the show just to get the CD. We actually had people from America doing just that. It’s always staggered me how avid some people are. We now offer a CD containing some of the highlights of the show for those people who can’t make it, but not all of the highlights.

We do these shows every year at the Rock City in Nottingham. We were planning on moving it every year, but it became clear to us that there was a lot of demand and Rock City is just perfect. The venue needs to be intimate enough, but big enough to accommodate demand. It’s really difficult to recreate that atmosphere in a lot of different venues, and we’ve tried looking at different places, but it hasn’t been the same. Anyhow, the guy at Rock City really looks after us and even cooks us a Christmas dinner, so it’s really hard not to go back there. We’ve now played there for years and years. It’s a great venue.

Have you ever considered doing a Terraplane set?

Oh, no!! The whole Terraplane thing ended more or less the day that Thunder began. We’ve had calls form people after we released the Terraplane box set, where the two albums were re-released along with live stuff by Sanctuary a couple of years back, and we were asked if we’d do some shows. I mean we could as all of the guys are still around, and we still talk, but it’s not something we’ve really thought about doing. Terraplane was strange and we had a lot of problems getting any kind of recognition or success and it was very hard work. A lot of our memories are tainted, and we actually ended Terraplane, so we could start Thunder and do things differently. There were some good songs on those albums, but the moving target popped up too much and the record label got their hooks in and changed our image and got the keyboards in and it just took over. We made the fundamental error in thinking that the record label knew what they were doing. The warning bells were going off, but to be honest when you’re in the middle of it, it’s not that easy to say “Stop this!” It was a very stark lesson and we thought what have we allowed to happen here? On the back of this, however, we took nearly a year off and travelled America with Luke and it became obvious that if we were going to do it again we’d have to do it on our own terms and Thunder came out of this. We’ve been very honest with ourselves and we do what we do and we think we know what our audience wants and we try to give them that.

Once your shows are over, are you starting work on your new album or will you be working on the second EP first?

The second EP is almost done, but we just need a couple of live tracks from the Tour. We record every show with our own mobile rig and we’ll pick the best of the performances.

Would you consider selling live recordings of the shows straight after a gig?

We’ve thought about it, but Ben is our engineer … he is always concerned that the mix is always as good as it can be, and the problem with the Instant Live concept is that it’s recorded on the go. Unless you have someone who knows the songs inside out, and unfortunately those people are up on the stage, then it’s not ideal. We’ve always made sure we can give as good of sound as possible, so we’re not that keen on the Instant Live recordings and have always resisted them. They have limited interest and scope.

You were active in resurrecting the Monsters of Rock name. Will you be doing something with that in the near future?

The door is always open. Anything is possible. It was my idea to bring it back, and in fact the promoter said that it was a pre-condition that Thunder got back together again to play it. The first one with Alice Cooper, Thunder, and The Dog’s D’Amour did really well and everyone was glad to see it back. I think it was a mistake doing it with Whitesnake 6 months later. By its very nature, you aren’t dealing with bands who make records every 5 minutes and you have to find the right bill and it’s not that easy to do. I also didn’t think it was right to make such a demand on fans wallets by doing it too often. The promoters had their own view and went and did it, but they admitted afterwards that I was right. I’m still involved and they consult me about the bill, but it’s their baby as I’m not the one sitting there plotting and planning on how it’s going to be done.

For more on Thunder, visit the Thunder Official website


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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