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Tony Harnell interview December 2002 :

Rock Of Norway had 20-25 minutes with the legendary Tony Harnell of TNT, Westworld and Morning Wood fame at the end of December last year. Due to computer- and surverproblems we have been unable to to bring it to you until now, anyway here it is.

Rock Of Norway:

Firstly Tony on behalf of Rock Of Norway, welcome back to Norway, and also thank you for last nights show (with Wild Willyís Gang 20.12.02 see live review elsewhere on the page) something both participants of R.O.N really enjoyed.

Tony Harnell:

It was good fun, but in all honesty it could have been better if we have had the time to rehearse. You know I haven't sung songs like "Caught between the tigers" in almost 10 years! But as I said it was good fun, so it was OK I guessÖ

R.O.N:

So what is TNTís futureplans?

T.H:

First weíve got an Ep of 4-5 new songs coming up, so far itís only scheduled to be released in Japan but it also might be released in Europe at a later time. What I can say about the songs at the moment is that some of the songs will sound more like our older stuff, and 2 of the others will be something totally new stylewise. The latter 2 will show a new side of TNT, with a more modern feel. As Iíve said we might end up using only 4 of them. The titles are the following:

"Satellite"

The lead track of the whole Ep, a pop influenced melodicrocker in vain of the legendary Sweet, Queen and Cheap Trick and the song has a sort of novelty feeling about it.

"Give me a sign"

Give me a sign is more of a straight ahead rocker, in the vibe of The Cult! Really cool stuff.

"Live today"

This is a classic TNT song, which I expect that the fans will love. Itís arranged and written the exact way that I like with a modern dark moody verse, before it kicks into a big fat 80ís chorus.

" Magic little nightmare"

An acoustical ballad with a great stringsarrangment, and weíve never done an acoustical ballad, so itís really special to us.

"Hey love"

This is nothing less than a classic Rock ballad, with an orchestrated guitar that I suspect TNT fans will love!

R.O.N:

Weíve heard that BjÝrn Boge of Street Legal & Da Vinci fame is going to produce the forthcoming Ep, is there any particular reason for that?

TH:

Heís not going to produce it, thatís all I can say at the moment. Weíre trying to produce it ourselves, and that sounds a lot better in my opinion.

R.O.N:

Since this interview was done weíve learned that the Ep will be named "Taste", and that in addition to all these songs it will also include a demotrack from the Tell no tales sessions called "Destiny". It will be released April 23rd in Japan.

TH:

Then weíve got a Best Of coming up, to be released on Universal with a couple of new tracks that is left over from earlier recordings. On top of that we are recording an album of all new material next year (2003), which hopefully will be released by the end of the year, or early 2004 at the latest.

R.O.N:

So thereís a lot of things happening in the TNT camp, how about touring then?

TH:

TNT will tour all over Europe this year with the emphasis on Germany, Spain, Italy and Sweden but probably some other countries as well, and we will probably play around 10 shows in Norway. But nothing is confirmed at this moment. Iím also hoping to bring Westworld over to Europe this year, after the American tour. It such a good band you know, I canít wait to bring them here. Then again nothing is confirmed as of yet, but if possible weíll do it and that includes Norway as well.

R.O.N:

A TNT Rockumentary is also rumoured, what can you tell us about that?

TH:

NRK (Norwegian Broadcaster) is working on some stuff, but nothing is definate as of yet, we have a long way before agreeing upon anything. To be honest Iíve got mixed feelings in terms of doing such a thing. As a look back at the past itís good, but on the other hand it also makes me feel like weíre finished as a band. Cause most bands thats doing these are bands that no longer exists. Itís almost the same feeling that I get from the many tribute albums out there, itís for artists thatís called it a day. In my opinion most of them (read tributes) cheapens the value of the artists primary work, whereas my point is to remain as exclusive as possible. I guess I shouldnít be saying this since some of the guys involved are friends of mine, but thatís how I feel about it. Shure I have done a couple of tributes myself ,but I always make shure that I never overexpose myself with stuff like that.

I can tell you that Iím not too happy with the way the Deep Purple Tribute Smoke on the water turned out, because Mike Varney only gave me 15 minutes in the studio to sing Woman from Tokyo. On the other hand the other Purple Tribute I have done Black Night Iím quite pleased with.

Then again, I was more into bands like Queen and Cheap Trick in my early days.

R.O.N:

We have have to agree to disagree there Tony, in mu humble opinion the SOTW Tribute is far better than any of the versions on Black Night, because itís much more true to Purpleís own versions and the Purplesound. Speaking of tributerecords in general I would have to say that youíre partly right (on the overexposal of some artists, etc), but having said that itís great fun listening to musicans from various bands playing together. Finding out how they sound together, and finding out how close to the originals they sound. Personally I would have to say that I would rather see mixed constallations than a permanent band on any tribute record. I can stomach a few bad ones (both versions and records that is) if I can get some good ones, and in addition to that itís also a great way to find out of the partcipants roots, and for the artists themselves to pay their tributes to their heroes.

Well this was a little detour but letís get back on the track again.

So whatís the difference working with TNT today compared to earlier?

TH:

First of all I think that weíre a better band, much because of the fact that weíre more experienced. On top of that weíre more focused than ever before. The thing thatís harder is to find the time to work together since weíre all working on different projects apart from TNT. But one thing is for shure; itís easier to restore conflicts nowadays than it was before since we all have a more relaxed attitude towards it all.

Having said that, there are things that Iím not too comfortable with. I have some problems listening to some of the stuff we made in the 80ís, and I truly hate the American cover on Knights of the new thunder.

 

R.O.N:

What do you think is the reason that Firefly and Transistor sounds so different from all other TNT releases?

TH:

Most of it is own to natural progression, given the nature of all the other projects we were involved with at the time. On Firefly it had also been 3 years since the last time that we played together, and that certainly made an impact. Thatís why that album is so diverse stylewise. As for Transistor thatís more cohesive with tracks like: "Wide awake", "No such thing" and "Because I love you" even if it has more of a contemporary sound.

R.O.N:

Some claim that itís the choice of drummer for these two records that makes them stand out soundwise, whatís your opinion on that?

TH:
I donít think it has that much to do with Frode LamÝy, as I think that he is a very good and talented musican. He made an impact to some degree, but truth be told is had not that much to do with him as some might think. And as Iíve said earlier it was a natural progression, being influenced of the other projects we worked on at that time.

R.O.N:

Your acoustical project from the early 90ís, Morning Wood is finally released outside JapanÖ

TH:

Yes, and that makes me feel good. Can you believe that most of that album was done live in the studio, on the first take..?? Iím really proud of that album!

R.O.N:

Here we leave the interview with Tony as heís out of time. All I can say is that this sounds promising for "hungerstaved" TNTfans, as I can litterally see mouths are watering alreadyÖ

MyselfÖ, I canít wait to get a taste of Taste!

Roar Kleven