Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Good evening Danny its Mark From Myglobalmind
Danny”Hi, how are you?
I’m fine-you made it home then eventually?(Interview was running later than scheduled)
Danny”Yeah, literally just got in the door(bloody trains)
OK, our time is limited so I will crack on. You have recently released two live albums which I understand were from the Christmas shows?
I’m just wondering about the idea of releasing those, as the band have released several in the past?
Danny”Well, basically we do a Christmas show, with the exception of a couple of years pretty much every year since 2003. The idea is that everybody who buys a ticket effectively preorders (because the CD is included in the price). For years we basically gave away one CD to everybody that bought a ticket. Then we did a slightly different version of that CD, roughly 40% the same and 60 %different and we sold the other one to the people that moaned because they couldn’t come to the gig. People that lived in Australia, America, Japan.. and that kind of stuff. Basically we had to come up with a second idea to pacify those that were shall we say “geographically challenged”
And still I read ,that people are complaining?
Danny”Yeah, and it is just been something as I say that we have done on and off for years. To be honest each one has worked out really well. The problem was that in the early years the people that bought a ticket had to claim their CD because we weren’t able to collect the ticket data from the ticket sellers. The problem is not everyone got around to claiming it. Sometimes the washing machine, you know claimed their ticket, or their voucher or whatever it was. They had no way of proving that they bought a ticket. We had no way of verifying that they were who they said they were. Problem was that if we gave Cd’s to people that claimed them and didn’t exactly deserve them we would end up with no Cd’s left for the people that did. We kind of got a bit caught out. It’s one of these things that you think is a great idea on paper and turns out to be a nightmare. We did it and eventually we found ourselves in a situation where we had all these Cd’s left over-which is why we have ended up with a load that we sold at the back end of last year because we knew people would never claim them. It’s worked out really well, so this year we decided rather than just give one away and sell the other we would sell them both.”
Can I now conclude from the live Cd releases and some Thunder live activity that the band are actually out of retirement.?
Danny”Well(sighs)its really hard to say and the reason I say that is because we have had no formal discussion between us about getting back together full-time. We are all busy doing other things and have had no formal discussion about abandoning those “other things”and just concentrating fully on Thunder. To be honest with you I doubt that will ever happen. I think that everybody is very happy doing “other things”as well. I think that we will have to try to find a way(and we have spent ages) working out how we think we could do it. Just remember part of the reason that we went away in the first place is because we found it so hard to get together to do things that we needed to do. In order to sustain a meaningful attempt to having a career for Thunder. Our approach was almost “well if we cant do it properly maybe we shouldn’t do it at all” Now we are in that situation where we have been talking on and off since the start of the year, trying to work out how we could schedule it so that we could potentially make another record. Could we then go through that process of making sure that we are all available to tour it and promote it properly. None of us want to do it half-arsed, we want to do it properly.”
The bands fan base are passionate, they want it to be a full-time thing-hence my question. Perhaps they don’t accurately realize the situation.
Danny”Well I think it is very hard if you are a fan and you love the band then you want to see the band and you want to hear new records from the band. I think that is completely understandable that fans would be frustrated.”
Thunder are still widely loved.
Danny”You know something,we are very grateful for that fact. Unfortunately it doesn’t really change the other facts which mean that it is practically very hard for us to do that thing. I think that the big problem is that we cant possibly let fans know what goes on day-day in our world collectively and individually. If we could I am sure they would understand. The fact is that we cant do that and its up to us to try to find a way to do the best thing we can. Not only for the fans but for ourselves. We have to make sure that everybody comes out feeling good. We are very aware of the fact that fans are frustrated and to be honest so are we. It should be a very easy thing, you all want to do it, you all want to get on. The trouble is none of us are under twenty anymore, we have all got responsibilities and mouths to feed. We have got things that we need to do.”
It has been recently been announced that Thunder have been added to the Calling Festival in London with Aerosmith in the summer.
Danny”Yeah, that is the only show that we are going to do in the UK this summer.
How did that come about, because you toured with Aerosmith before? Did they personally request you, or was it done through management/pr?
Danny”I seriously doubt that. I would imagine that Aerosmith have long since forgotten that they toured with us back in 1989. I am sure that they have forgot about that. They are Aerosmith for Christ sake they travel the world having hits and doing their thing for many many years. It would be lovely and very flattering to think that they would walk in to Clapham common, see us and go “hey, man how are you? Great to see you again, pleased that you are on the bill” I would love that, but if they said it I don’t think I would believe it. It’s one of those things, for us to get on this it was very,very simple. I heard via somebody that I knew that it was going on. I spoke to our agent, and said”listen if we do one show this summer, it has to be this one “He said “right I will get on it”and he phoned me two weeks later and said “It’s on”
Danny”And we were chuffed to pieces, the idea of being on that festival with the likes of Aerosmith and Joe Bonamassa and even Duff to an extent you know its brilliant. We are chuffed to pieces, and very,very pleased.”
Just steeping away from the promotional side, now to ask you some general questions. You always seem to be a happy go lucky and jovial character. What angers, frustrates and upsets you?
Danny”I think in the main I try to make sure that I am as happy and jolly off stage as I am on stage. I find pettiness really gets on my nerves, people that are small-minded that gets on my nerves. People that are grossly inefficient and try to cover it up. Those are the three things that really get on my nerves. Apart from that I am pretty pragmatic and I am pretty philosophical about life. I am not a young kid anymore so I’ve seen a lot of things. I have met a lot of great people, and I have met a few wankers over the years. I like to think that in the main we have been very fortunate. We have steered clear of the latter, and had the good grace and good fortune to work with a lot of the former.”
Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, ambitions and goals?
Danny”Yeah absolutely, there is loads of places in the world that I would like to play that I have never played. Loads of places that I would like to visit that I have never visited. I am not about to give up on any of those places yet.”
Are there any particular artists that you would like to perform with?
Danny”That’s a hard one to say. That’s a hard one to call because there is such a lot of stuff that is associated with that question. I think that the problem is when you do get to share a stage, or get to perform or sing with other people there is lots of other things at play. There is a lot of ego involved with a lot of artists. I have never really suffered with that, I will be honest with you. I am very much a straight forward sort of person. If I like it, I like it, if I don’t like it I don’t do it. Whereas I have worked with other people over the years that tend to be a little bit insecure. Thunder as a band can be quite intimidating. There is a whole bunch of bands that we have toured with who don’t want to tour with us again. I wont mention any names, but it is a fairly long list. Some of those bands would never have us on the same stage again. Purely and simply because we made them work too hard. That is their problem not mine. (laughs) I tend to be fairly philosophical about it. I think if I was to stick my neck out and say people I would love to have actually maybe been a fly on the wall in the studio or been on the side of the stage while they performed. I am not really that bothered about whether I got to perform with somebody, but I would have liked to actually be there to witness things like-the recording of””Electric Ladyland”you know Jimi Hendrix. “Free Live”perhaps,” Sergeant Pepper”, you know “Dark side of the moon”even to feel the moment. Records that I grew up with that even now still give me chills when I hear them.”Rumours”even by Fleetwood Mac to be there while they were recording that record, feeling all that friction. Led Zeppelin, God there is any number..The Who.Just listen to any of those records, and I think that these are special moments and I would have liked to have been there. ”
Leading on from that, and discussing your musical heroes-is there one particular song that you wish that you had written?
Danny”I think probably, I know this is a weird one but I think it is probably the best riff of all time. For me it stands out, whenever I hear it and makes me jump up and down. Twentieth Century Boy- T.Rex. Every time I hear it-I just hear him do that little thing at the beginning and I think”Here it comes” When it happens it just makes me want to jump around the room.”
It still has that effect on you?
Danny”Ever since I heard it on the radio not long ago, and as soon as it came on I just turned the radio right up and said to the person sitting next to me”You will never hear a better riff than this”We just started jumping around the room, it was fantastic.”
That is the power of music I suppose.
Danny”That is what its all about”
Career highs and lows, looking back for you with Thunder?
Danny”I think Donington in 1990 has to be a massive high”
I would concur with that, as I attended that show myself.
Danny”There were a lot of people there, and it was a fantastic thing to say that we were all part of something that special. It really was a special day for us considering it nearly never happened. I had a problem with my voice, air conditioning on the bus and I wrecked it at one of the warm up gigs. Then I had to go and get a doctor, and he basically pumped my arse full of steroids and forbade me from basically speaking for three days. Which for anyone who knows me will tell you that is not an easy thing because I do like to rabbit. We got to do it, the gig was amazing and to be honest with you I am pretty sure that most of the reason that the gig was as amazing as it was is because of the fact that we were all so relieved that I could sing. It was just like this collective release of adrenaline which was a bit off the scale really. Yeah that was a big one, I would say Wembley stadium with Bon Jovi 95. You are in that situation where you have got sixty thousand people on a boiling hot day, and you say”stand up”and they all stand up. You just think “wow”
What about The High Voltage Festival in London in 2011? I was also at that one.
Danny”High Voltage was a massive, massive homecoming for us. I mean we had absolutely no idea that there would be that many Thunder shirts in the audience. We were really genuinely blown away.”
And the weather was good which helped.
Danny”The weather was amazing, we have always been very lucky with the weather, and had very few outdoor shows where we got rained on. The Weird thing about that High Voltage festival was they asked us to do a signing in the Hmv tent…..”
I was also at that…
Danny”It was supposed to be, like 45 minutes and it lasted an hour and a half. We couldn’t get away. There was guys from Hmv standing there asking”are you ever going to be done” Well as long as those people keep coming we are going to keep signing stuff. I mean they have queued up, it was so shocking. We had absolutely no expectation of anything like that, and we were blown away. To be honest whenever we put a show on sale and it sells out it is exactly the same. We are always surprised, we have never taken anything for granted, we certainly never tried to take our fans for granted. People come to us afterwards and go”you should have done two nights” We say that we have no reason to do that, we don’t believe that it is going to happen. Until you show us that you are going to buy these tickets and sell the show out we don’t believe it will happen. This is quite a big moment, like our Christmas shows, when they go on sale and they sell out we look around each other and go”wow guess what we’ve done it again”
With regard to those Christmas shows would the band have any plans to release those on a DVD? Or do you prefer them to be retained in the memory of those fans that attended them?
Danny”That’s certainly been the reasoning behind it so far. The problem once again is when you go for a DVD you have to make sure that the DVD stacks up as a watching experience. I think that the problem with the Christmas show is its not a regular show, it’s our Christmas knees up. To be honest with you, it’s the last thing that we will do. I get myself so drunk afterwards that I cant speak because I wont do anything then, that’s me because I am on holiday. It is a very unique experience the fact that we do as many covers as we do. We don’t do them for any other reason that we want to do them.”
Reason I asked the question is that a few of my friends had attended those shows and wanted to know..
Danny”No, I think that as it stands our feeling is that the Christmas show is a “have to be there”type of experience and we want to keep it that way. We have released a lot of DVDs over the years, and at the last count we have released eight DVDs since 1997, and that is a lot. That’s even without the ones that the record company has done. We are not in any massive rush to release something until such time that we have got something that is very different from something that we have done before. At the end of the day when a band plays live-a band plays live and there are only so many formulations that you can factor in.”
Ok you have referred to a few career highs, but any particular lows?
Danny”Not getting to play in America in 1991, we were all set to go out with David Lee Roth and Cinderella in America. The first album had been re released on Geffen,” Dirty Love”had gone number 1 on Dial MTV for 6 weeks. We hadn’t got to play there, and were really busting to do that. The tour was all arranged and suddenly literally over night the radio programming changed They went from liking bands like us, to loathing bands like us. The tour wasn’t selling it was all about Pearl Jam, and Nirvana and that all just happened almost over night on radio. One minute they were playing bands like us, the next they had dropped everyone like a stone. Our manger in America he rang us and said “You need to unpack”we said “why? and he said because the tour is not selling and” I reckon if you get over here, and you start playing that this tour will close within a week” You will get known as the house band on the Titanic, and so we reluctantly just sort of walked away from it”. We went to play in Canada which was great just to try and make up for it. Then we played a couple of shows in America while we were waiting to play at a party for a guy who ran a magazine that was a huge fan and he asked us to play. We had a few days off so we asked our agent to book a few club shows, somewhere they hadn’t heard of us but there was an audience sort of thing. We played these shows, all the audience were in the dressing room afterwards saying”who are you, and where can I buy your records” At that point we thought that this is the most ironic situation ever. To know that we had a tour that got cancelled and yet we have come and played a few club shows and the audience loved it, and we just thought “how different this could have been nothing you can do about it…It was 1991, but this is the twenty fifth year for Thunder.”
Just a couple of questions then to finish, out of your long musical legacy with Thunder do you have any particular favorite songs? Maybe one ballad, and one rocker that stand out.
Danny” I have got a love hate relationship with “Love walked in” It’s probably the most popular Thunder song, among fans and it is also the one that I like to sing the least. Purely and simply because it is an absolute pig to sing, It’s such a toughie, and unfortunately I am not made in such a way that I can half sing it. I have to sing it completely or not sing it. That is kind of my approach to singing, when I was a kid if I went to see a band playing and the singer didn’t really hit the notes it really used to bother me. So I am pathologically programmed to do it or die trying. I cant do anything about that, its’ not been good for my health over the years but its the way that I am made. “Love walked in” is a love hate song for me no doubt about that. That one kind of qualifies as both really but there is loads of songs which I just love singing. “I love you more than rock +roll” I love. I love singing”Dirty Love”I know that we have sung it pretty much at every show that we have ever played but I love singing it. It is just a good time make you want to jump up and down. A bit like the T Rex tune you know.”
Keeping an eye on the clock, I could just finish with one more. If you had the opportunity to be the interviewer yourself, who would be your ideal subject, why and what would you ask them?
Danny”I think Muhammad Ali, yeah it would have to be him. Back in the day when Parkinson interviewed him. I think he would be a fantastic adversary and obviously with the ever present fear that he may just jump up and punch your face in.”
Thanks very much for chatting to me Danny. Cheers.
Danny”No worries, thanks. Bye”