With his partner in crime, vocalist Danny Bowes, sidelined for the foreseeable future following a stroke suffered last August, Thunder guitarist Luke Morley is finally set to release Songs From The Blue Room, a solo album he has tinkered with for the past couple of years.
We caught up with him to find out more about that record, and also about his optimism regarding Bowes returning to the live stage at some point.
Your debut solo album, El Gringo Retro, was released in 2001 during a hiatus from Thunder. Now, regrettably, the same seems true of its follow-up, Songs From The Blue Room.
I hadn’t thought about that but, weirdly, you’re right. El Gringo was just a bunch of random songs I had hanging around, but this time there was much more structure. I wrote a lot during covid to keep sane. It was my wife that suggested putting out the songs under my own name. And why not? It’s been twenty years, I think the world is ready.
What’s your mind set with these extracurricular activities – just a bit of fun, or do you still have something to prove?
Probably a bit of both. I’m sixty-two years old, and I’ve learned that it can be healthy to step away and do other things. That was certainly true when I did The Union with Peter Shoulder. Returning to Thunder with lots of new ideas, I saw the band much more clearly.
You’re a rather decent singer on the sly.
I don’t know about that.
Don’t be modest, it’s true.
Somebody said to me: “You can carry a tune, but not far” [laughs]. The problem is that I’ve worked with such incredible vocalists in Danny [Bowes] and Peter Shoulder, and when I got involved with The Power Station they had Robert Palmer. Fucking hell, that was a bit intimidating. Having a home studio, The Blue Room, allowed me to spend some time on the process.
It’s easy to imagine Danny singing See The Light, Errol Flynn or Cry Like Rain.
That’s interesting, because Errol Flynn is quite a personal song. It’s about my father, perhaps about me too. But none were submitted to Thunder because they didn’t seem to fit. Danny does sing on this album, actually. He’s on Nobody Cares, along with Ricky Warwick [from Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy]. I thought it would be funny to have a couple of proper singers doing backing vocals for me.
Who else appears on the album?
My very old school friend Tony Myers plays the guitar solo on Cry Like Rain, Dave McCluskey, who was in The Union, handled the drums. I did everything else.
Killed By Cobain is a whimsical reflection on the bad luck that scuppered Thunder’s attempts to break America. It’s great that you can laugh at something so important in your life.
From one point of view, our timing was incredibly good in that we did so well in the UK, Europe and Japan. But America was different. Had we come along two years earlier, before grunge took over, things could have turned out better. I’m at peace with it all now.
How did you hear the terrible news about Danny suffering a stroke?
I was there when it happened, at a bit of a celebration for a few of us passing our sixtieth birthdays. Everyone was having a lovely evening until Danny fell down some stairs. All the evidence pointed towards him having a stroke which caused his imbalance. But he’s doing really, really well. I had dinner with him a few nights ago. Mentally speaking he’s still a hundred per cent, and his physicality is coming back but he’s having to work hard. Talk to him on the phone and you wouldn’t even know what had happened.
Credit to Thunder’s fans, who in less than forty-eight hours smashed a target of thirty thousand pounds to pay for his treatment in a neuro-rehabilitation centre.
Yeah, that was incredible. It was life-changing. With brain injuries you have to move fast. We were a bit uncertain about asking our punters for money, but it was important, and we’ve always had such a good relationship with them.
Is your gut feeling that Danny will make it back to being on stage again at some point?
I think so. Danny’s motivation levels have always been very, very high. It’s just going to take some time. While the outcome is not one hundred per cent certain, knowing him as I do I’m quietly confident. What I will say is that we need to be patient. It will take as long as it takes, and brain injuries require lots of time to heal.
Your good friend Andy Taylor, the former Duran Duran guitarist and producer of Thunder’s first album, has announced that he has prostate cancer. Have you spoken to him?
Yeah. After he went public with the news, I went to see him at his place in Ibiza. He’s getting really good treatment and remaining extremely positive.
While we keep our fingers crossed for Danny and Andy, will you be playing some dates of your own?
We’ll have to see. With The Union it was back to smaller venues and staying in Travelodges. After that ended I promised myself to never stay in a Travelodge again [laughs]. Putting a band together involves a lot of work. I might do it, but at the moment I’m still undecided.
How heavily were you involved in the recent reissues of the first three Thunder albums?
Not particularly. They’ve been reissued god-knows how many times, so the vault is fairly empty. What we did was find some live stuff from the era that hasn’t been released before.
You re-posted a video of the singer Terje Harøy covering Thunder’s Low Life In High Places on Norway’s version of The Voice. It must be gratifying to see new generations discovering your songs?
Of course, it’s the biggest compliment that anyone can pay to a songwriter. But, fuck, it does make you feel old.