Tony Mills (TNT) interview 2011
Hi Tony (Mills of TNT)… What are you currently up to?
“Preparing for all the promotion in Scandinavia for the new TNT album – it’s called “Engine” here and “A Farewell To Arms” where you are, and it’s just been released..!”
And a fine album it is… Could you take us through the songs on the new album?
“Sure… “Engine” first – Guitarist Ronni Le Tekro wrote this song, so I really wasn’t involved that much in it’s construction, but it is indicative of the motor that is very much driving inside the TNT camp. It starts off pretty heavy, but lightens up as the vocals kick in and pretty much bounces from thereon in….”
“Barracuda” – When I first heard the music to this song, I thought it was erratic and mad and really demanded a raucous vocal approach, which is pretty much how it ended up, actually. For some reason, it came across as having some sort of Poison / Motley Crue feel. It has a lot of balls and has gone straight into the live set!”
“Refugee” – This is my favourite track, simply because of the chord structure in the chorus patterns that always appealed to me. The melody was always going to work out well and I think the general consensus, is that it is one of the top tracks on the album. This will also be in the live show.”
“Someone Else” – I co-wrote this with Ronni and he just prompted me with the hook. I kept it as light as I could, because I thought the music didn’t really demand heavyweight vocals on it.”
“God Natt Marie” – This is the only ballad on the record. It was a completed recording with no vocals when I first heard it but it’s worked out great…”
“The song is very much about a lady who has done nothing but break hearts in her life and eventually, without knowing, she follows her own tracks of blood in the snow, and they lead her back home to find that she has take her own life without knowing. It sort of comes across as almost a Christmas song at times, but it is far from that!”
“Come” – This song should really have been called ‘One Word Away’ in my opinion, but it was not to be. Again laden with busy guitar and quite a suitable live track, it’s yet to be decided whether it will convert as well as the other songs have, but we’ll see.”
“A Farewell To Arms” – This was primarily meant to be an end section on the record, but somehow found its way to the middle. It’s really just about leaving one town to play in another. It was thought at one point, with my health scare and such like, that this might be the last TNT album, and a suitable title was agreed to go with that if it worked out like that; but I don’t think we shall be calling it a day just yet, somehow, so I’m glad that song found its own place!”
“Take It Like a Man, Woman!” – Terrific live song and great song all round; with lots of energy and strong guitar riffs.”
“A Signature On A Demon’s Self Portrait” – This interlude is definitely one for Ronni to respond to because its very much his baby!!”
“Don’t Misunderstand Me” – Probably as commercial as the album gets and already being one of the tracks requested on TV and Radio here, this is a really nice song. Full of that essential TNT sound.”
“Ship In The Night” – An instant candidate for video etc, as it carries a lot of TNT elements in the song and yet still retains its commerciality. This was the first song I worked on and I didn’t actually like it at all when I first worked on it; but I’m really glad with the way it turned out in the end…. It’s a great moment!”
There’s been mention that the band made a conscious decision to go back to the earlier, hard rock sound on this new album after the last two albums didn’t meet with positive reactions from some fans? Is this the case?
“There was a great desire to return to all of our roots, I’ll say that. That’s definitely what we did. The music has veered in different directions since I became the vocalist and much of that was the frustration that Ronni Le Tekro still felt after Tony Harnell’s departure in 2006. He had a lot to get out of his system, and did. This time, we recognised ourselves, the need to get back to basics and make a hard, melodic rock record. I think we achieved it!”
Will TNT be going out to tour more on the back of this new album or is it too expensive to venture outside of Norway for more than the odd festival appearance?
“Well, we are in the process of funding a lot of projects for the band right now, so watch this space… The first batch of gigs will be in Norway while we film the video etc., then we’ll venture into Sweden and further on as the year goes by.”
Does the band have any plans lined-up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the debut album next year?
“Yes, it is definitely being discussed, and I foresee a live album release, possibly, when we can.”
What have been the live highlights for you and why?
“Well, there are many, so many. Predominantly the live touring dominates – it has been extensive and I’m really privileged, working and playing with so many talented people.”
What made you want to take up guitar, which I believe you also do, and who are your musical influences?
“Ha! Ha! I’m not sure about that… I only really played guitar as a recreational pastime or in church, so I don’t think you could say I ever really took it any further than that.”
Any plans for another solo album sometime soon? You’ve been prolific in recent years…
“It’s not really practical at the moment… TNT have to stay in the forefront of my mind this year. I am involved in some musicals but I haven’t planned another solo album… The Serpentine is done pretty much…, and they have a new singer in Matt Black now, so it’s TNT for me.”
In the age of downloads and declining CD sales has the internet helped you get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads etc.
“I think it’s pretty much a double edged thing, with its benefits and it’s downfalls, but over and above that, we have all come on hugely with regard to progress and technical ability, so, on the whole, I’m very much in favour of it.”
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
“Away from music? Well, I’ve moved to Norway now and I haven’t had a lot of spare time recently; but we listen to a lot of different music and go out and see more live bands, which is something I haven’t done for a long time actually!!”
Anything else to add finally… A message for your fans…
“Not much to add, but again I’d just like to re-iterate that the album has two titles; “Engine” in Scandinavia (where it is packaged with a book) and “A Farewell To Arms” elsewhere which is due to some politics from last year. That’s important, but, either way, videos will be on the net over the coming weeks to support the album during its first weeks on the shelves, and the touring kicks off very, very soon, so, hopefully, it won’t be too long ‘til we see all of you!!”
“Thanks for all the recent support!”