Why have you delayed your new album, 'Giving The Game Away', until March?
From page 40 of Classic Rock Magazine March 1999
It's my fault, actually. Just for the sake of getting it right I wanted to go back into the studio. And by the time we'd got round to doing that, and then the artwork, and then I changed the running order once.., well, it was time for next year, basically.We'd missed all the deadlines, and as has been our experience in the past, it's better not to rush when you can do something comfortably and in more time.
It's not the first time a Thunder album has been delayed considerably. Doesn't that give the band a bad name with the fans?
Yeah, I'm sure it does, but I'd just ask them to trust us. It's not that long since the last album. The live album came out at the start of the year and it's not like it's been years and years since we've released an album. And it is for all the right reasons. In your ten year career you've released five studio albums. Do you consider that a good work rate?
That's pretty good, yeah. For a band that tours quite a bit I think that's pretty good; one every couple of years notwithstanding the live album. If you were to compare it with other bands that have been around for ten years it's probably a bout right.
Do you feel that Thunder have reached a point where you will get no bigger? And, if so, does that frustrate you?
Well, you have good days and you have bad days and you have good years and you have bad years. The thing that's always made Thunder worth it for us is that we've always enjoyed it. I know that sounds really fundamental and basic, but that's it. You always hope that things are going to explode but we have to face the reality that we're not on a major label and we don't have the resources behind us that we did have once. Having said that, I do think that artistically and creatively, the band has got better and stronger.
We still enjoy it as much as we did back then. If you look upon this business like working at a bank and gradually wanting to work your way up the different levels of responsibility, well that's fine for some people, but for me it's always been about the music, We are what we are and we can't change it. And if we did try, the people that have stuck with us for so long would say/What the fuck are they doing?: Given that when you first broke through there was some kind of resurgence of British rock do you ever feel like maybe you've since missed the boat, as it were?
Maybe in America, yes. Our timing, despite being very good in England, was bloody awful in America. Because of the grunge thing in '91/'92, anything that was bordering on traditional was stuck in the bin immediately.That was a problem. And if you look back through history at bands that have done well internationally, they've always scored well in America. It's a direct correlation for us we've never toured in America and that's a big problem. But I'm not going 'Oh my God, we've had such a bad time; because we haven't. The stars haven't been aligned correctly in America. But we love playing live and there's every possibility that it will happen next year.
How many albums do you sell these days? [Laughs] I actually don't know the answer to that. The last studio album we released, there was a bit of a cock-up in Germany. The record company disintegrated the week of release, which was a bit of a problem as that's a big territory for us, which was a bit of a pain in the arse.So in Germany, we'll be making up a bit of lost ground, and we'll be touring there. But in answer to your question, I don't know. I think, worldwide, if we sold less than 200,000 albums we'd be concerned.
What is your proudest Thunder moment?
Uhhh... I dunno. Every time we sell out I'm very proud of that. Of the fact that we've kept on going. Finishing the last album, the most recent one, you always have this feeling of relief and accomplishment. In hindsight, I'm not that proud of the third album (1995's 'Behind Closed Doors'). The fourth album ('96's 'The Thrill Of It All') is like finding its way somewhere else. So with this album coming a year after the live album, the live album kind of summed up the first bit, if you like. I never really saw it that way until now, looking back. So I guess this is kind of like a new beginning in a way. A lot of things have come and gone since the band started and we're still here and I suppose that's what I'm proudest of.
What really happened with the Whitesnake scenario? (After the release of 1992's second album, 'Laughing On Judgement Day; the press was full of reports that David Coverdale had asked Luke to join Whitesnake, and that Luke was seriously considering the offer, prompting a public outburst from Thunder vocalist Danny Bowes amid fears the band would split).
Nothing happened at all [laughs]. There's been a couple of occasions over the years where Coverdale has, by the back door, suggested that I should work with him. And I've apologised and said 'No' both times. And that, coupled with the fact that Danny was under a considerable amount of strain with his family, which I don't want to go into 'cos that's up to him... But one thing led to another and there you go.
How close to splitting up did you come at that stage?
Not at all. I don't think there was any problem within the band and no question that the band was going to split up, either.The closest the band actually came to splitting up was later than that, but nobody realised. It was after the EMI thing [they were dropped by the label in 1995] and we had all sorts of legal hell to go through for eight months and that was very tough. Everybody got a bit down during that. But without wanting to sound melodramatic, the thing that stopped that happening was to go out and play a couple of gigs. We did that, the response we got was great and here we are.
Luke Mode 'Arry parks
What is the worst thing that's ever been written about you?
Okay, it's quite an easy one, actually. It was a publication that didn't last two issues. There was an article about groupies in it and there was this suggestion that during the making of our first album we were having sex with so many groupies that our members were bleeding [much laughter]. It was very funny, but a bit disturbing. My mum actually read it. She'd buy all the papers with us in them at Charing Cross and she phoned me up. I was like 'No, mum!: It was a bit shocking but then I just roared with laughter. Oh, to be that virile... What is the best groupie story you've been involved in?
One of the few shows we actually did play in America was at a place called Hammerjacks in Baltimore, which isn't there anymore. It was like the Newcastle Mayfair or Glasgow Barrowlands. And they had all the wonderful-looking barmaids wearing very little. We had a night off and we walked into this stripping establishment close by and there was this absolutely stunning-looking pneumatic American girl taking her clothes off. She walked up to me and said 'You're the guys from Thunder. You're Luke', which was great because at that point no-one had heard of us. She said, 'I'm going to private dance just for you' and took me into this room, put on 'Dirty Love' and took her clothes off. And the rest was history. It was great! just thought,'This was why I wrote this song in the first place: All was right in the world for those few minutes.
Does the fact that you write all the songs and therefore receive the publishing money ever cause problems of a fiscal nature with the rest of the band?
Only if they crash their Escorts into my Porsche (titters). Sorry, I couldn't resist that. No, not really. It's just the way it's evolved. I would rather it wasn't that way, that everybody wrote. Over the years Harry's started to write more, which is great. But I'm obsessed with it, it's all I do in my spare time. And I guess over the years the others have thought, 'Oh well, Luke'll do it' and it just worked out that way. If it bothered them that much they'd start writing.
What is your favourite Thunder song?
That's hard. I'd have to pick two. One would be 'A Better Man' and also the song that's gonna be our next single/Just Another Suicide:'A Better Man' is a songwriting thing. Everything works. It's very simple.The lyrics suit the melody which suits the music which suits the arrangement which suits the delivery. It's quite a sentimental song but I don't
think it's slushy. '...Suicide', because it's lyrically unusual. It moves in slightly unusual ways, it's got a very exciting groove to it and probably because it's new. It makes me want to get up and play. But then ask , me tomorrow and it'll probably be different chctices..
And your least favourite?
'The Moment Of Truth; the last song on 'Laughing On Judgement Day: But then I didn't write that one, the others wrote that, ha ha! That's not the reason, but I just don't think it works. There's a couple here and there that, given my time again, wouldn't have got through the net. But that's another thing, as you go on you get better from sorting out the wheat from the chaff.
How do you keep the enthusiasm going night after night?
It's very difficult to be unenthusiastic when there's a couple of thousand people going nuts. And we all still get a buzz out of playing with each other, I suppose. Even in rehearsals it's still fun.We still do it because we enjoy it.