Pete Shoulder – The Union - Interview Exclusive Print
Written by Matt Phelps   
Monday, 10 May 2010 22:31



When it comes to being a purveyor of the finest that British Rock and Heavy Metal has to offer, you’ll have to go a long way to find someone as dedicated to the cause as Uber Rock’s Matt Phelps.  By and large if a band has got a British hallmark anywhere on it, or even near it, our Matt is a going to be a bonafide fan of that band.  From Tigertailz to Wolfsbane via Terrorvison and the Wildhearts you can bet Matt will have more than a generous opinion on any of these bands.

So in 2009 it was with mortal dread that Matt bade a final tearful farewell to one of his all-time favourite British bands, the hard rocking London combo Thunder.  Fearing the band’s legacy would be reduced forever to his CD collection and a few choice worn out VHS tapes, we sympathetically tipped Matt the wink about Thunder guitarist Luke Morley’s next planned course of action, the all-new blues rock sound of The Union, and Matt suddenly had a favourite new band.

A few well placed emails and telephone calls later, and we had an offer of an interview with Luke’s partner in crime in The Union, the band’s lead singer Pete Shoulder.  So who better than our Matt to find out exactly what this new band is all about, as The Union were midway through their first full UK tour?

Hi Pete, first off thank you for taking the time to chat with Uber Rock today duringPete_Shoulder what must be a fairly hectic time for you. Finishing touches for The Union debut, a brand new website and preparations for the U.K tour. Have yourself and Luke been taken by surprise by just how quickly The Union has taken off and the amount of interest shown or has it been about what you expected?


Yeah it’s all going great. We finished the album in March and we’re now in the middle of our first tour. The audiences have been great every night. Even though they’re not familiar with the songs yet the reaction has been fantastic.


The material you’ve released so far is quite different from both your previous band Winterville and also from what Luke is more commonly known for with Thunder. Was it a conscious decision by the two of you to make The Union a little different from what came before or was it a natural result of the two of you writing together?


It was very natural. We didn’t have a particular genre of music in mind for this band, we just decided to write whatever came to us and as long as it was good, we would use it. So it’s quite an interesting album with lots of twists and turns.


You made your live debut at the Relentless Garage in London late last year, were you happy with the way the new material was received?


For a first ever show I think it went very well. We were lucky to have such a warm crowd.


Pete_Shoulder_BWMore live dates are lined up for the U.K in April. What can we expect to see on the set list for the forthcoming tour, is it likely to be solely material from The Union or are you considering featuring a few choice songs from yours and Luke’s respective histories?


We won’t be playing anything from our previous bands. They’re all new songs, except for one CCR cover.


What about overseas fans? Any plans to take The Union abroad yet?


Absolutely! We want to take this band everywhere! Hopefully later on in the year.


Recording for the album saw Luke’s ex Thunder comrade Chris Childs coming in to lay down the bass tracks. Aside from Chris who else have you had in working with you?


On drums we had Phil Martini. He’s a great drummer, very quick in the studio and he was perfect for the album.

Are those guys going to be out on the road with you in April or will you be having different musicians with you for the tour?


Chris is coming with us; Geoff Holroyde is playing drums on the tour.


The_Union_CliffYou’ve known Luke for quite some time now. I believe it was as a session player for a Bowes and Morley album that you first became acquainted, how did you become involved with them on that?


I met Luke a few months before that session. Somebody had handed him a demo CD of mine and he got in touch. I was doing a showcase in London and he came along and we met there. He very kindly asked me to play a guitar solo on the Bowes and Morley record.


Luke has obviously brought a lot of Thunder fans to The Union camp with him. Although this is a brand new band there will undoubtedly be comparisons made between yourself and Danny Bowes. Is that something that concerns you at all, trying to win over the arm folders?


Nah it doesn’t concern me at all. It would only concern me if we were playing Thunder songs.

Has recording the album been a pain free process? With both of you having backgrounds where you have been the main creative forces in your previous bands it would be easy to imagine some butting of heads at times between you?


Apart from our livers, it was all pretty painless really.


Can we take a minute to move away from The Union and find out a little bit more about you? You started gigging at just 13 years old, with such a young start on the live scene it goes without saying that music must have played a major part in your childhood? Who were the main artists that first grabbed your attention and made you want to pick up a guitar?


Nirvana was the first band that made we want to pick up the guitar. I was eleven years old. I then discovered my Dad’s record collection. He had loads of Blues and rock records. I got obsessed with late 60’s and 70’s albums.


The_Union_BeachCould you tell us a bit about the “development deal” you signed with Sony when you were 17, how did they become aware of you?


I did a showcase in London at the Kashmir Club. They had a webcam set up so people could watch the gigs at home on their computer. An A&R guy from Sony was watching it at home and they offered me a deal.

What did the deal involve/offer you?


They sent me to America where I wrote songs with some amazing writers. I learnt a lot about putting a song together. It was a great experience.


Signing with a major label at such a relatively young age must have brought with it as many challenges/problems as it did rewards. What kind of overall effect would you say the whole Sony episode had on you in relation to your confidence and your feelings towards the big labels in the music industry?


I learnt that you have to watch your back at all times


You won a WC Handy (Blues Foundation) award for co writing the "American Blues Song Of The Year" 'Think Of Me' with Little Milton in 2006, making you one of only 3 Englishmen to have won that particular award. (The other two being Eric Clapton and Peter Green.) How did it feel receiving such an accolade that put you alongside such legends?


It was cool; I just wish I could have made it to the ceremony in Memphis.


Winterville would be where most people know you from. You seemed to be doing everything right, well received live shows, a critically acclaimed album, but then it all came to an unexpected and sudden stop in 2007.  No public reason was given at the time for the break up. What the hell happened to derail you?


We got dropped from our label and we ran out of money. We couldn’t even afford to rehearse. Our drummer lived in Belgium too, which was difficult. It had come to a natural end. It was a shame because it was a good band.


Early last year you hooked up with Scott Gorham as the new vocalist for 21 Guns.  The 3 demo clips up on their Myspace offer a real taster of what you came up with together. I believe an album was in the process of being recorded but it seems all has gone quiet on the 21 Guns front. Where do you stand in relation to them right now? Are you still officially a member?


I’m not sure to be honest! The album is actually more or less finished. But I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day.  I’m pretty busy with The Union at the minute though. But who knows.


Finishing up back with your relationship with Luke Morley, you're roughly half his age. With that in mind where would you hope to be in say twenty five years time with regards to your career, do you have any specific targets that you still aspire to fulfilling? A Grammy perhaps?


I want to have loads of albums under my belt. Making records and touring are my favourite things to do, so I just want to keep doing it as long as I can.


Finally, what have The Union got planned for the rest of the year?


The album will hopefully be out in July. We want to do as many shows as we possibly can. We’re playing the High Voltage Festival in July too.


Thanks for the answers in advance Pete, looking forward to catching you guys in Bristol next month. Keep Rockin'


My pleasure.


Matt was also lucky enough to catch up with the band live on their recent tour at the O2 Academy in Bristol and you can read more about what he thought of the band here.  But we at URHQ can testify that with The Union both musicians are doing something rooted in authentic blues-rock that sounds both refreshing and vibrant.  Check out The Union’s Myspace and see if we are not bang on the button about this (about to be great) British band.


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