TONY HARNELL Discusses TNT’s 30th-Anniversary Concert

Marko Syrjala of recently conducted an interview with former TNT singer Tony Harnell. A few excerpts from the chat follow below. Okay let’s start from this current thing which is [that you took part in] the 30th-anniversary show of TNT [on June 2] in Trondheim [Norway]. I think that the three main words here are “never say never,” right?

Tony Harnell: Well, I mean, look, when you have a history as long as the one that we had, 22 years, this was a celebration. It wasn’t really a reunion. It was a celebration and it was a way for me to close the door in a much better way than I was able to do the first time. I didn’t have as much control. I left in the best way possible. So this was a really nice, very nice, way of closing the door on this part of my life because it’s been, like, hanging around, you know. This was, like, great for the fans. That was the number one reason I did it. Really, I turned… We’ve been having this discussion for a year about this. I turned it down about I don’t know how many times and finally I said, you know, for the fans and for me to kind of walk through it so I can get through to the other side, it’s important. It’s sort of, yeah, it’s just a happier way of saying goodbye to the band. So was this the final goodbye from you to the TNT fans and family?

Tony Harnell: For TNT, not necessarily for other possibilities. But for TNT, I would say so. I never close the door on working with Ronni [Le Tekrö, TNT guitarist]. We always talk about that and we talked about it this trip as well, but we don’t know what that’s going to mean. But, of course, the music world that likes rock, you know if Ronni and I did a rock record together called something else, there would be, I’m sure, very much a lot of excitement around it. Yeah, of course. If you are under the old name, there’s lots of past weight on it?

Tony Harnell: Yeah, I think the best way for Ronni and I to do anything together should be done without the weight of that and I actually think the possibility of something really great could come out of it. Like you said, you turned this anniversary show thing down for many times and I don’t wonder it because of things what did happen in the past. Once you did split with the band, there was a lot of negative writing for years, from both sides, so are things settled now?

Tony Harnell: I don’t even remember what I said, but I think probably I said something along the lines of feeling that something had been taken from me, yeah? And you know what?! I came to get it back. Now I can go. Now I can go and leave it behind. It’s different. You know, when I left, there were a lot of attacks in the press and a lot of lies, a lot of lies, and it’s very hard to deal because I’m in the U.S. I’m hearing about it. I’m reading the newspapers, but I’m there. They’ve got total control over this situation here. What do I do? Do I call the newspapers and answer every time I get attacked? So we just decided, you know what, leave it alone. Ronni‘s book came. It didn’t really sell. So even though there was a lot of negativity there, he was just angry that I left him. He wasn’t really angry at me, the person. He was angry that I left him, you know, left the band. He didn’t ever think that I would do that for real, you know. So he was just… We worked all that out, you know. He just took it very far. Over the past years, you’ve, unfortunately, lost many of your close people and friends. How much those sad things have affected your life and world view?

Tony Harnell: Yeah, I lost, you know, I’ve lost a lot of people in the past couple of years starting in 2009 with my mom and then Dag [Stokke, TNT keyboardist] in 2011, my grandmother in 2011 and then Mark Reale [RIOT] recently. It’s getting a little old and so what I did is on my way home from Dag‘s funeral, I decided to do something about it. So I came home and I enrolled in a university project, a university course which is one year long and it’s all about being a holistic health counselor. So I’ve been studying for one year and now I’ve been certified as a holistic health counselor in the state of New York and in the U.S. and I’m not going to do it so I can sit there in an office and take clients all day. I did it so I could learn more about health, also for myself, and I’m writing a book with a natural doctor for artists and musicians and not just some shitty, you know, book. I mean, a really cool rock and roll, very awesome book that’s going to be not heavy, but light, like, just some basic, basic things you should do all the time when you’re touring and when you’re being an artist just to try to stay a few levels above the normal thing because our lifestyle is basically… Forget the drugs for a minute. Forget the alcohol and the drugs. You’re mostly awake at night. That’s not healthy. No sunshine, right? You need sunshine for health. You’re not sleeping the right way. You’re travelling. You’re eating. This is number one. You’re eating the worst fucking food on the planet. You’re eating hot dogs and shit food and whatever mostly because there’s nothing else around, you know. But if you’re smart and you do what I do, you fill half your suitcase with protein powders and greens and all kinds of things so that when you’re traveling, you can supplement. So these are some of the things that I’m working on. The book will come out and then I will probably do a little line of traveling things for artists to take with them. That’s a great thing and I think that might help some people.

Tony Harnell: You know, I want it to be something that has a rock and roll vibe to it, but I want it to be something that appeals to a businessman just because all businessmen want to be rock stars anyway. So if it’s like a rock and roll kind of very basic health kind of thing — it’s not about bodybuilding or anything. It’s about basic health and if it’s something like that and it’s got a cool cover, I think it’ll appeal to anyone that travels for a living and anybody busy that doesn’t have time to be healthy, but I was inspired when I watched at the funeral when I watched Dag‘s… And losing my mom and going through what I went through, when I was watching Dag‘s eight-year-old son watch the coffin go down. I mean, you know, I’m just flying home and I’m just going and so many people I know in music, Ronnie James Dio, I mean, all these other guys that are lesser known, cancer, heart attacks, you know, diabetes, all this stuff and it’s like, on and on and on and then you get into the drug stuff. Then you get into Whitney Houston and then Michael Jackson and who did we just lose now, someone else just died; a big star? Donna Summer to cancer, Amy Winehouse, drugs. It’s just, it’s enough. It’s enough. If the book saves two lives, I’m happy. A girl came up to me, you probably don’t have it, but a girl came up to me after I recorded the first STARBREAKER album, which has some great lyrics in there, and she said I used to cut myself all the time and one of your songs touched me so much that I just woke up the next day and I stopped. It wasn’t even like, just something in your lyrics hit me and I just stopped cutting myself. Now, when you hear stuff like that you go, “That’s why I do this.”

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Harnell rejoined his former TNT bandmates for their 30th-anniversary concert on June 2 at the Clarion Hotel in Trondheim, Norway. The group performed a special setlist while accompanied by the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra (Trondheim Symfoniorkester). Also making a special appearance with the band was TNT‘s original singer, Dag Ingebrigtsen. Fan-filmed video footage of the concert can be seen below.