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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(State Of Rock)