Thunder: School's Out
It’s been a 30-year rollercoaster ride for reunited rogues Thunder, but they found themselves facing their ultimate challenge when guitarist Ben Matthews was diagnosed with cancer.
On a cold and rainy morning, the five members of Thunder are gathered at the place in South London where it all began. The place where singer Danny Bowes and guitarist Luke Morley first met and became friends more than 40 years ago.
Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College was a traditional grammar school in 1971, the year in which Bowes and Morley started their first term at the age of 11. It’s an appropriate place for a photo shoot, given the title track of Thunder’s new album, Wonder Days, is a hymn to their youth, its lyrics filled with memories of the school and the rites of passage in their formative years.
As they walk around the college, there’s no dewy-eyed nostalgia. “I couldn’t wait to get out of this place when I was a kid,” says Bowes. But what developed here, the relationship between him and Morley, has defined much of their lives since, with the bands Nuthin’ Fancy and Terraplane in the 80s and then with Thunder for the best part of 26 years.
Wonder Days is Thunder’s comeback album, their first since the band split for the second time, in 2009. Bowes quit for an alternative career in the music industry and Morley formed a new group, The Union. But in the ensuing years, Thunder never disappeared completely. The band continued to operate on a part-time basis, playing annual Christmas gigs and occasional tours. But with this new album they’re making a statement. “We’re back,” Bowes says. “It’s that simple.”