Myglobalmind Webzine interview with Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld, Tony Harnell and the Mercury Train) conducted on July 17, 2010
Interviewer: Denys – Site Founder/ Senior Staff Writer/Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Hey Tony!!! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions from your fans and readers of our webzine.
Tony: It’s what I do:)
Myglobalmind: How are you doing? Exciting time with the release of “Round Trip” finally coming to fruition after some bumps in the road right?
Tony: For sure. The bumps were not related to the album but personal stuff, and the biggest relief is that stuff is behind me.
Myglobalmind: Take us behind the scene if you could about how you chose the musicians to record “Round Trip” being that they we’re not associated with the Hard Rock limelight?
Tony: They were gathered from two camps. On one side, my friend Brandon Wilde, the bass player for Mercury Train and an amazing songwriter/singer in his own right pulled together Brad and Chris from his band to record this album with me. On the other side my buddy Jason who is a vocal student of mine and a stellar guitarist came on board to be my main arranger or re-arranger as it were and then rounded off of course by my beautiful wife Amy.
Myglobalmind: From my listening experience on Round Trip you guys manage to breathe new light into the songs and I think the group did a good job of implementing their own take on the original songs to create something unique. Was this the goal?
Tony: That was the goal. I saw no point in re-recording songs unless I could do something special with them, even the ones with subtle differences I think are important to bring the songs forward somehow. But the main purpose of this was to give something back to the fans and with this album let everyone know I am saying goodbye to that part of my career.
Myglobalmind: As a long-time veteran of the Melodic Hard Rock scene, amongst your music peers you are recognized as an amazing vocalist, how does Tony Harnell view himself when you look back at your career?
Tony: I think I was a really good technician but sang way too high, I wish I had the realization that came in the mid 90’s a bit earlier, but we didn’t really ever have a top level producer during our hey day to give us that sort of direction and with that said, time brings maturity and I am always striving to get better. I think I am and I think it’s something I can continue to do as long as I know my voice and where it’s at as I grow, dare I say, older. But I don’t think the band TNT or myself accomplished nearly what we were expecting or maybe even deserved, but I still hold out hope to be recognized simply as a singer people want to hear in many contexts and not just a metal screamer, I just don’t think that describes me. From this point on I will work hard to dismiss that label the best I can, and besides there are many other guys who sing metal better than I do.
Myglobalmind: In your younger years you grew up in California, where surfing is king, what was the turning point in your life when you decided to approach singing professionally? A totally contrast of lifestyles.
Tony: I was always going to be a pro surfer in my mind until I was uprooted and forced to move to New York. It was there that the music thing took over as it was kind of hard to eke the surfing thing going on the level I was used to.
Myglobalmind: How and when did you find out you had such an amazing voice? I know you have received many requests through the years to teach people as a vocal coach, do you still have your online vocal teaching school?
Tony: I used to sing in the car when I was a kid and it sort of developed that way. Lots of driving and singing to my favorite music. I don’t really have a “school”, I have a small online practice and take on only a few students from time to time. I like it but when I get busy it’s hard to keep it going.
Myglobalmind: I know you we’re recently in Norway for the Rock Festival in Kvinesdal, you got a chance there to perform the “Northern Lights” acoustic version, how did that go?
Tony: I’m not sure, it felt ok, but it’s always weird performing outside during the day. Just feels odd. But I think we did pretty well considering it was my first show together with my Swedish hard rock solo band. Met some great people and had a great time.
Myglobalmind: Speaking of Norway, you left TNT in April of 2006 for personal and professional reasons, how did that come about? Was it hard to walk away from the chemistry that was there for so many years?
Tony: It was a hard decision because there were people inside the band I wanted to help on a personal level, but it wasn’t to be and I had to get out of there. It wasn’t a good environment for me any longer and hadn’t been for some time.
Myglobalmind: Do you still remain friendly with Ronni Le Tekrø and former members of TNT?
Tony: Not really.
Myglobalmind: Other great projects you have been involved in are Westworld and of course Starbreaker, any future news on any of these 2 projects? I know that both of the Starbreaker releases received some well deserved praise.
Tony: You never know, right now it’s not what I am focused on so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Myglobalmind: Any particular type of music that you are into at the moment? Do you follow the Melodic Hard Rock scene closely?
Tony: I love many kinds of music, I’m all over the map. I do not really follow the melodic rock “scene” at all except that I know that all those bands are on Frontiers:)
Myglobalmind: Any word on future USA tour dates particular here in the Southern part of the United States?
Tony: Not yet, but we are open to any offers that come in. We’re working on getting good agents set up in all territories and just keep making music.
Myglobalmind: What has been the most memorable experience of your music career that you remember the most?
Tony: Probably arriving in Japan to hundreds of fans waiting at the airport. That was weird and exciting.
Myglobalmind: What was the best live performance you have ever witnessed in person? Yourself doesn’t count here haha.
Tony: There are quite a few. Chris Cornell at the Beacon a few years ago was pretty insane as far as singers go. He is a monster vocalist. That guy makes me want to pack it in.
Myglobalmind: Thanks Tony I wish you the best of luck in future endeavours and hope to hear more new material from you soon. From all your fans at Myglobalmind Webzine, rock on brother!!! Any final words?
Tony: Thanks for the interview and thanks to all the fans out there that keep me motivated to create something special.
Webzine Review for Tony Harnell and the Mercury Train – Round Trip.