Our interview with Danny Bowes, Thunder’s lead singer, about the release of their brand new record “All The Right Noises”!
Hi Danny, how are you doing today?
Danny Bowes (vocals): Not too bad, not too bad.
There is a lot of production on this one. Backing vocals, brass and so on. How did you achieve this kind of production in spite of the sanitary situation?
Danny: The record was actually recorded in 2019. We did the album in three sessions : July 2019, November 2019 and then January 2020. So, we just got it finished and mixed in March, actually, of last year. And then, the lockdown happens, so… we were pretty lucky. Otherwise, we might had to stop.
The songwriting was spontaneous?
Danny: Yeah. Luke (Morley) writes the tunes, he writes them at home. He’s got a studio at home where he records the demos, and then he basically sends the demos to us. He did all that during, I think it was the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. The reason why we got into the studio in three sessions is because we only had to record the best songs that he’s written at that time. So, it enabled him to write some more songs afterwards, and then we got back in a few months later to record some more. It takes longer, it ends up costing a lot more money to make a record that way, but we prefer it, because it just means that we get fresh perspective every time we go back to the studio.
We especially love the song “Destruction”, also with “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” and “Don’t Forget To Live Before You Die”. Any anecdotes on “Destruction”, and what’s your favorite song of the album?
Danny: “Destruction” was the first song that he played us, when he said that he’s written some new songs. So you can imagine, when we first heard that one, the demo just blew us away. We thought: “wow, this is gonna be a great record if this is anything like this”. We were pretty happy when we first heard that song, it’s a great song to play, and obviously, it’s a very serious subject matter. It’s about mental health. That’s obviously kind of a social convency but it’s lightly different from Thunder (song), it’s very direct throughout the song, we love that.
There are a lot of really good songs on this record. It’s got a lot of different styles. It’s still us, but it explores a lot of different avenues on what (styles) the band can perform. It’s a very diverse album. Like you said, there’s song like: “You’re Gonna Be My Girl”, a song that’s is us, like “Dirty Love” (1990), going back to the bands of the 70’s, that we were listening to when we were kids like The Faces (ed: with Rod Stewart on vocals). It’s got that kind of swagger. We grew up listening to bands like that. So, you got serious stuff, fun stuff, there’s a ballad, song that sounds like it could have been on a spaghetti western. I mean, I think this album is very strong and very diverse. And it was enormous fun to make. I think you can hear it on the record.
About the lyrics, is there a special meaning for some of the titles like “Last One Out Turn Off The Light”, “St. Georges’s Day” or “She’s A Millionairess” for instance?
Danny: Of course. “Last One Out Turn Off The Lights” was written about the stupidity of the Brexit. How a stupid country votes to exit the E.U. and many years of idiot government negociations and how they screwed it all up. It’s written from a very frustrated point of view. It’s basically saying: “you people are fools!” and (that) we all should leave the country, and go live somewhere else! It’s a very strange frustrated song but, it’s very angry but weirdly, great fun to perform. It’s a brilliant song to perform, it makes you wanna jump around the room, and that’s great. We love that one, and “St.Georges’s Day” is basically about multiculturalism, and preaching it leads to tolerance. It happens all around the world, not just in our country. There are people that aren’t trying to embrace other cultures, and the song basically says: “don’t be foolish”. And if you look back long enough, you’re possibly not the pure breed you thought you were. Because everybody comes from somewhere.
And then, you got song like “She’s A Millionairess” which is inspired by Luke meeting some people in the 80’s, when he overheard conversation between two very rich women and they were talking about the difficulties of their lives. And Luke obviously had no money at this point, no success, and he heard this conversation and thought: “these people are like aliens”. The things they’re worried about are not the things we’re worried about (laughs). He has this idea for years and years, to do this song. You got to be very careful if you around mister Luke Morley, you can’t tell anything because he’s always carrying a notebook. (laughs)
What’s the meaning of the artwork? That life is fragile and in constant balance?
Danny: I think it could be, I think that’s a nice interpretation (but) that certainly wasn’t the way we saw it. We chose the title from the lyric of “Destruction”, and once we’ve got the title, we start looking at, searching interesting or crazy musical instruments. Not just regular musical instruments. We started there that might give us inspiration for a cover. We discovered the singing ringing tree, which is a sculpture. And the sculpture is the thing that is on the cover of the album. It’s a real thing, which is about seven years old, and it was constructed on a hill in a very bleak, exposed part of the world in the north of England. It overlooks a town called Burnley. When the wind blows, it makes a very strange sound, like a whistling sound.
All the bits of the tree are metal pipes and they all got hose cut inside, so they all resonate a certain frequency when the wind blows. It’s very eerie when you stand there apparently. The thing we liked about it, more than anything else, is that it looks completely wrong on the hillside, but also completely right. It’s like an alien who could be looking down on Burnley, protecting it from invaders. But on the other hand, it could be the invader about to attack Burnley. We liked the fact that we couldn’t work out which kind it was. The fact is that it’s a stunning image. The image that you see on the cover is a picture taken by our friend Jason, our photographer, at 3.30 in the morning when the sun was coming out. And there’s no Photoshop on that. That’s how it looked like at three thirty in the morning. I can’t imagine just how glorious it must have been to being there. He said it was cold. (laughs) And the people of Burnley are proud that one of their local landmarks is on the cover.
What was the hardest song to finish?
Danny: There’s a song on the album which is a ballad, “I’ll Be The One”, where there’s probably the best guitar solo Luke has ever played. I love that solo. It’s a guitar solo I actually sing along with. I don’t think I ever sing along with other guitar solos but I do sing that one. It’s a very strange idea, I know. But the song itself, the verse is, from a singing point of view, very hard for me, because it’s very quiet, very soft. I’ve spent all of my adult life trying to make a lot of noise. I never really tried very hard to sing softly. I never really had a call to do it, until he wrote that song. And I tried to sing it during the first session, as I already told you that we did the album in three sessions, and I failed. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get it right, it just wasn’t working at all. I became very frustrated so I gave up, and sang something else.
And then, in the second session, a few months later, I tried it again, and same, same outcome! I got it a bit better, but it still wasn’t there. I’ve been singing the song, over and over again, between the sessions, on my own. Walking down the road, doing whatever, I was always singing, and trying to get it right. So, when we did the third sessions, in January of last year, I knew that it was my last opportunity. So the pressure was on, and I finally got it, but it was much harder of what it should have been.
I’ve never had to take three sessions, three different run-ups for a song before in my life. So, to me, this song really stands out because it was so hard for me. But, the strange thing is, after one year since we recorded this album, it’s only now that I can listen to the recordings and finally feel ok about it. Because every time, since then, until recently, all I can hear was all the things I’ve done wrong. But now, I accept it, what it is, and I can’t remember what I did wrong or what I was trying to do. It sounds OK, so I’m happy, but it took me a year.
It sounds very good to us.
Danny: Thank you. I wish you could have told me that one year ago. (laughs)
Is there a non-musician person who is or was an inspiration to you?
Danny: Our first ever manager, many years ago. He wasn’t a musician, he couldn’t play an instrument, and he was probably too old at that point. He was a 70’s man in a 80’s world. The music business had changed. But he told us a lot of very important lessons and things you keep for life. I called him “pearls and wisdom”. He helped us in a lot of ways, and I met a lot of bands along the way that didn’t learn that sort of things. And I think that’s why some of those bands don’t exist anymore.
Any musical guilty pleasure?
Danny: I would say Frank Sinatra.
That’s very good music!
Danny: Almost every Sunday morning, I play Frank Sinatra. For Christmas, for years, my father used to torture me by playing every Sunday morning Frank Sinatra. In the early days of my drinking, when I first left home and went out, when I was old enough to drink, I would be laying in bed with like an outraging hangover, my father would put on Frank Sinatra at full volume, and I knew it was time to get up. And as I went downstairs to the kitchen, my father would ask me: “how you feelin’?” while Sinatra was on, and I had a very bad headache and my father would say “Frank will heal your headache!”. For years, I grew up hating Frank Sinatra, but when the time came, and I had my own children, I did the same thing to them. (laughs)
And our last question! We’re “RockUrLife”, so, what rocks your life Danny?
Danny: I think exercise is rocking my life right now. The need to exercise my body, make sure my mind follows suit. I found that, when the lockdown began in the UK last year, I felt an overwhelming desire to get out and exercise and being in the fresh air, and I’ve done that every day. I started running again, because I haven’t run for years. I have a bad knee and a bad back, but mostly, I was enjoying it, feeling very fit and strong. And I think my mind was working better as a result. So I think exercise rocks my life. The stimulation, definitely. I feel very happy with life, even though there’s a lot of misery going on.