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Interview:  TONY MILLS

Rock Stars...

Tony Mills

TNT vocalist Tony Mills has been very busy of late with two albums coming out via AOR Heaven, State of the Rock and Serpentine, both featuring him on vocals and later this year a new TNT studio album.

Before TNT of course he came to prominence as the lead vocalist in 80's UK melodic rockers Shy and has had a series of solo albums. Time to catch-up then with a very busy singer...

How did State of the Rock come about?


I had a call from George Segel who runs AOR Heaven and he wanted to see Robby Bobell play live again. He got the original Frontline members all ready to crack on but they fell out with their original singer, for whatever reason and he asked me if I'd be prepared to join the party.

I got the wrong end of the stick to start with as he said can you record an album's worth of songs Robby's written and I said yeah. What he didn't tell me was that he hadn't written any vocals!

He put me in touch with Robby and after hearing a few songs I was blown away. The music was right up my street and the album was finished in eight weeks. It happened like a flash in a pan. Before I knew where I was I was in Nuremburg playing with them. We got on great. It was the quickest one ever I think.

State Of Rock

It's a great album and good to hear it will be a band rather than a one-off project which you get a lot of now, with say a name vocalist or guitarist producing a studio based album and no touring.

That's right and we're in discussions for a some UK dates, possibly festivals. We get on like a house on fire.

Then you've got the Serpentine album due out a month later on the same label?

Yeah. That's a totally different kettle of fish. They are much younger and I am old enough to be their dad and it feels like it as well.

Really good vice and a younger approach to the writing. Again they had an American singer and it was not feasible as the band were in Wales. I received an email whilst in Oslo asking if I'd be prepared to look at the project and I said yes after I had finished touring.

This took considerably longer most probably as I was in and out of the country. It was snapped up again by AOR Heaven and Marquee Avalon in Japan. Comes out in Japan this month and Europe in March.

We shot a pro video in Manchester a couple of weeks ago and that comes out on the CD as well. There is every intention to do a lot of gigs with them. The songs are very high key and hard to sing in a concert.

Tony Mills

Plus of course you have TNT. Why is the band never seem to play much outside of Norway?

There's lots of reasons to be honest. Economically because the financial satiation is so strong in Norway the band get paid a lot of money to play and there is no way it can be matched elsewhere. There is an element of satisfaction in their own market.

We always use our own equipment and Ronnie Le Treko won't use anyone else's equipment so it costs thousands of pounds to fly it out.

The way the band has developed since I've joined as lot of the ideas in the songs have always been what Ronnie Le Treko wanted to express but wasn't always possible with the previous vocalist.

Lots of 70's vibes in the material and it doesn't suit many markets outside of Scandinavia who get it, unlike many other places outside who don't. We took a lot of flack for this in some areas. It suits the band to stay where they are.

Any more news on the 25th anniversary DVD?

A lot of that has been edited and done. But I don't know why the process came to a halt. It was a massive concert with the Royal Naval brass band from Oslo, a twenty five piece woodwind band. It was a great concert and the clips are really good of what I have seen. I don't know whether the intention is still to release it, I've been a bit in the dark on this one.

Is there a new album in the pipeline?

Some backing tracks have been recorded already. For the last two records I have been outside Oslo in the mountains miles from anywhere and you are very isolated. I don't want to do that again and being away from my family in England for 2-3 months. I have just upgraded my studio and pushing hard to get my recording done here in England. Three new backing tracks have been done and we intend to do more in the near future. Ronnie is currently mixing an album for another band in Denmark.

Speaking of working with other bands you've done some work with Winterstrain?

I just bumped into them at a festival just north of Trondheim. Great set of talented musicians. I only worked on backing vocal arrangements to support the vocalist. The first album took them fifteen years to write and the second one was done in eighteen months. I was like wow.

I see on your MySpace you're working on a solo album of opera arias. How's that going?

I am working on it. I am about halfway through it. Its something I have had stuck in my system since I was twenty years old. When I started singing I started with an opera singer. I started work on it 2-3 months ago and have three songs already mastered although I still have another seven to do. Because it is not income related it has to wait until I have time to do it.

I am not working with other musicians on this although my original plan was to get some female vocalists in for duets. This is still my plan but I've got to find the right songs to suit us to sing together. It's a bit of a tough search.

You start out thinking I fancy something easier today and you pick what looks like an easy opera aria and it ends up being the biggest nightmare you've ever had.

You also appear on the recently released Acacia Avenue album as well?

Yes that is Torben who played me some of his song but they didn't sound right with his vocals, too Danish. So he said okay scrap the vocals and start again which I did. It's one of those albums with a variety of singers involved. They are playing live in Italy next month I see but I didn't get an invite. I doubt they want to fly me out just to sing the two songs I appear on the album  though. He's a very pleasant chap and no doubt we will do something else again in the future. It seems to have been going down very well.

It's a good album although a couple of songs have that Euro hard rock sound which never seems to go down well in the UK?

TNT has exactly the same result. Ronnie will sing me something and I'd say 'Dude, you can not sing that'. You can't sing songs about the size of Peter Sellers cock because I would be hung as an Englishman singing this. So we have to write it differently, very much so. They don't get us and our upbringing in music. Very early pop groups from England in the early 70's that disappeared over here are still very famous in Norway.

It's like the 'Hello, Hello' the music is very 70's and is a wake-up call to the band's early fans saying we are back. I rewrote the lyrics based on 'Quadrophenia' and my growing up in the 70's. Some of the festivals in the UK just won't consider booking TNT as they just don't get it. But playing in front of fans in Norway where they sing every word back to you, you think we must be doing something right.

We play big outdoor festivals. When we played with Ozzy we played at Trondheim FC and 17,000 turned up but when TNT finished their show 8,000 people left. I was gobsmacked. We played an outdoor gig in the city centre of Oslo when we played to 30,000 people,. It's very common to play to between 2-5,000 people each gig in Norway.

How do you priorities what you take on as you are involved in so many albums. Do you ever turn any down?

There have been ones I have turned down and there were some I wished had turned down, that's the benefit of hindsight. I am working on three now. One in Milan, Norway which I finished yesterday. The Milan one is a prog metal album with John Payne (Asia) and Greg Bisonette appearing on it. It's like Yes, a 'Star Wars' themed set of three albums and you get involved on each of the albums. Simon Hanhart is producing and it's called Docker's Guild, written by an Englishman whose lived in Milan for years.

What were your favourite live shows or tours with Shy?

It's all ground to a halt last year with Steve Harris illness so we'll just wait and see how he does. It wouldn't be Shy without him and it would be pointless touring. Gary Moore tour in 1987 across Europe. Good fun with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson. The US tour with Badlands, Enuff Z Nuff and Gun. Because they were so long they became more memorable,. Meat Loaf was fun and Mr Jovi as well.

Message for you fans?

Its amazing how people never let you down and try their best to stay in touch across the websites and everything else. Its commendable and the support is wonderful. I have a big thank you to say to all of them for staying in touch and supporting my music. God bless 'em.


 


Interview February 2010 Jason Ritchie

Album review (State Of Rock)

Album review (Serpentine)

 


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