By Geoffrey Rowlands
It is 25 years since Thunder hit second spot on the UK albums chart with their sophomore LP, Laughing on Judgement Day. The English rock quintet recently released studio album number 11. Their enduring popularity was confirmed when Rip It Up entered the UK chart at number three.
“We can only say a big thank you to our fans for supporting us during all these years,” smiled singer and band manager Danny Bowes. “It all started with our debut album, Backstreet Symphony, in 1990. This did well, reaching number 21 in Britain and also charting in America.
“We’ve had a really loyal following throughout our career. We actually call them the Thunder Massive. We haven’t just released the studio albums. We’ve had 29 live albums, nine compilation albums, a bunch of EPs and all the singles so there’s been a lot for our fans to buy.”
Thunder formed in 1989 from the ashes of pop rock band Terraplane. Danny, lead guitarist, main songwriter and producer Luke Morley along with drummer Gary ‘Harry’ James stayed together and co-founded Thunder. They completed the line-up by recruiting guitarist/keyboard player Ben Matthews and bassist Mark ‘Snake’ Luckhurst.
“Luke and I had met at school,” Danny explained. “We formed the band Nuthin’ Fancy and played in small venues around London. Harry joined us after our original drummer quit.
“We eventually renamed ourselves Terraplane. When that band split up, Luke, Harry and I decided we wanted to move our music from pop rock to hard rock and heavy metal. That’s why we chose a new band name rather than just recruit replacements for the guys who left Terraplane.”
Mark quit the band in 1993. He was replaced by Mikael Hoglund who, in turn, was replaced by Chris Childs in 1996. Since then, the line-up has remained unchanged.
“We all get on so well,” Danny remarked. “I’m sure our friendship is what has kept the band together and made touring, performing and the process of creating new songs so enjoyable.
“The one problem is rehearsing for tours. We enjoy talking amongst ourselves so much that we don’t want to plug in the instruments and start the work of preparing our shows. Give us an audience and we love performing but playing to no-one during rehearsals is hard work. As I said, we’d rather just have a chat.”
Despite their delight in each other’s company, Thunder have split up on two occasions. They had a break from 2000 to 2002 and another between 2009 and 2011.
“There were no arguments,” Danny insisted. “Luke did a solo album but was backed by the rest of the band. We helped each other on various music projects and got back together as Thunder when the time was right.”
As with their previous album, 2015’s Wonder Days, the band have issued an EP to accompany Rip It Up.
“We always start the album recording sessions with too many songs,” Danny explained. “Luke writes the tunes, always has, and he is so self-disciplined that he’ll keep writing until we have quite a few more than we need. We’ll then begin the process of whittling down the number of songs until we have an album.
“For Rip It Up, we started out with about 25 tunes. We recorded them over three sessions in six months always trying to reduce the number. We only discarded one. Others we abandoned for the time being but will work on again at a later date.
“We ended up with 15 songs which we loved but only needed ten for the album. That became 11 but the others were so good that we’ve put them out on the EP, Broken Mirror, as a kind of companion to the album. We did the same thing for Wonder Days with the Killer EP. The fans really seem to enjoy hearing these additional songs which nearly made the album.”
The band are supporting Rip It Up through British, Australian, European and US concert tours.
“It’s not quite like the old days when we were gigging every night,” Danny laughed. “But the schedule is much more intense than the promotion we did for Wonder Days.
“Ben had throat cancer when we were making that album and he was really suffering the after effects of his treatment when we promoted the record. We only did three really big shows and they exhausted him.
“We did a few shows last year to see if we could build him back up. Ben still has to live with the side effects of his treatment but he’s almost back to his old self so we hope he’ll be okay.”
The murder of Christina Grimmie in June, 2016, shocked the pop world. Apart from the probability of being an obsessed fan, no specific motive was ever discovered for the actions of her killer, Kevin Loibl.
Despite having no criminal record, Loibl armed himself with two handguns, plus a hunting knife, and travelled from his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, to Orlando where Christina was performing at The Plaza Live. His sole purpose was apparently to kill Christina as she signed autographs after her show.
Although they have by no means recovered from the loss of their daughter, Christina’s parents, Albert and Tina Grimmie, now plan to establish a memorial foundation in her name. To that end, the Grimmie family have joined with Republic Records and ZXL Music to release a new EP, Side B. Christina had previously issued another EP, Side A, last February.
The EP is preceded by lead single, Invisible. A lyric video for the track can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDMqonakNKo
All proceeds will be donated to the Christina Grimmie Foundation.
There will also be more music for Christina’s fans to enjoy. She had recorded approximately 50 unreleased songs before her tragic death. The best of these will be released over the next few years.
US rockers Linkin Park will release their seventh studio album, One More Night, on May 19.
Lead single, Heavy, has just been issued. Featuring additional guest vocals from singer/songwriter Kiiara, an official lyric video is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp00DMy3aVw
A live performance on The Late Late Show with James Corden can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ljErwNs6_g
Initial reaction from Linkin Park fans has been decidedly mixed. Known primarily for their nu metal sound, Heavy is rather more of a pure pop song. Indeed, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda says Heavy was chosen as the first single because it reflects the core sound of their forthcoming album.
“This isn’t a case of the single being a different sound from the rest of the album,” Mike stated. “Everyone can now get a sense of the direction we’ve taken with this body of work. The new material maybe challenges our fans but we hope it will also inspire them in the same way that we have been affected by the songs.”
Kiiara may well be a new name not just to Linkin Park fans. But anyone who keeps an eye on the pop charts should at least have a familiarity with her.
The 21-year-old Wilmington, Illinois, native began her career in 2013. Under her real name of Kiara Saulters, she independently released the single, Bring Me Back.
A deal with Atlantic Records and change of stage name to Kiiara saw her enjoy significant chart success in 2015 and ‘16 with the EP, Low Kii Savage, and her single, Gold.
Described as an electrifying mix between Scandinavian electropop and Atlanta trap, Gold peaked at number 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It also made the top ten in Belgium, Canada and Australia and sold well in numerous countries around the world.
The video for Gold is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO9cBXRcBvo
Despite this critically acclaimed start to her major label career, three subsequent singles have failed to make any impact on the charts. Guesting on Linkin Park’s Heavy may well be just what is needed to put Kiiara’s career back on track.
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