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Thunder: From Backstreet Boys To Seventh Heaven

In 2005, Danny Bowes and Luke Morley explained to Classic Rock how they'd survived in the music business for two decades

In the hotel bar of the Langham Hilton, a wiry man with greying hair and glasses is holding court. At a glance, he could pass for an eccentric businessman or enfant terrible of the art world. At a push, he could even be the thrusting young MD of an online media agency. In reality, Danny Bowes is none of these. Slumped in a mahogany armchair, shorn of his trademark poodle perm, eyes flitting nervously around the austere oil paintings that line the walls, the Thunder frontman still has the whiff of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s there in his cockney accent and waspish turn of phrase. And right now, it’s there in the story he’s telling Classic Rock. “Robert Palmer – bless ’im – once said to me in a very drunken moment at a record company conference: ‘The trick of this business, dear boy, is to stay around long enough to have another hit.’ And you can. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Across the table, Luke Morley grunts his approval. The passing years have done little to sandpaper the guitarist’s rough edges. He sits beneath a mane of sandy hair, cradling his iPod mini like a grizzly bear holding a quail’s egg (“What a queer!” Danny will sneer when he unveils it) and dipping into a stockpile of yarns that hint at his band’s hellraising past. If there’s some ambiguity about Danny’s profession to the impartial observer, then Luke’s appearance leaves little room for doubt. As implied by his 30-a-day chuckle, and confirmed by the faces of the staff as they scuttle past with trays of cutlery, we are addressing a man whose adult life has been spent drifting from stage to studio; from hotel suite to hotel bar. He doesn’t speak as much as Danny, but such is his towering presence and way with a one-liner that he doesn’t need to.

Thunder are speaking to us to promote their latest album, The Magnificent Seventh. At least, that’s the theory. After a moment in their company, it becomes clear that Danny and Luke are happy to hold forth on any number of subjects, from the size of Axl Rose’s hands (freakishly small) to the effects of alcohol on sustaining an erection (detrimental). The two men will spend the next hour sniping at the music industry and each other, throwing spot-on impressions and schoolboy innuendo into the mix, and pausing occasionally to tell Classic Rock to stop asking such serious questions and lighten up a bit. It’s a sprawling conversation; rife with interruption and difficult to follow at points. It’s refreshing.

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