Tony Mills (Shy, TNT)
Blast Magazine: Growing up who
were your earliest musical influences?
Tony Mills: Mott The Hoople, David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Blast Magazine: At what age did you decide you wanted to be a vocalist?
Tony Mills: When it was Obvious I couldn't play anything else !!
Blast Magazine: Do you remember any of the songs you, Richard and Vic learned to play?
Tony Mills: Hang Onto Yourself, Sloop John B, many Bowie and Beatles songs and we did quite a few punk covers and stuff like that.
Blast Magazine: Did the band try to write any traditional songs?
Tony Mills: Dont really know what you mean by 'traditional'. We started off playing Beatles and Beach Boys tracks and emded up playing all our own material as a punk band.
Blast Magazine: How did the ‘Overdrive’ vocalist position come about?
Tony Mills: I was rehearsing in a complex in Birmingham, and singing some early Preist track, I think it was Dreamer Deceiver, and the door opened. In walked John Ward, who would eventually sing for SHY after I left, and said 'Hey mate, great vocals - why dont you audition for Overdrive - they just gave me the sack !!'
Blast Magazine: From 1976 to 1983 you played with several different bands that recorded demo’s. Have you ever considered releasing some of that material?
Tony Mills: Not really to be honest, it’s a little dated now, and all the work was recorded on tape, which I have no doubt it has long since perished.
Blast Magazine: At what point after Shy recorded, “Tonight” were you asked to be a full-time member of the band?
Tony Mills: A few weeks later when the label decided they wanted to sign the band for a complete album.
Blast Magazine: Were you expecting the offer since it was you that helped secure the band a contract?
Tony Mills: Not really, it came as a bit of a shock, but it was perfect timing...at the time.
Blast Magazine: After bouncing around from band to band were you finally glad to have a permanent vocal position?
Tony Mills: Without a doubt. A little more structure to life and a good guitarist to write with, was what I needed.
Blast Magazine: How thrilling was it for you to not only have ‘Brave the Storm’ to be in the top 100 UK chart, but also one of the singles to be in the top 100?
Tony Mills: Wonderful ! Until the label started giving away T-shirts with the album without the authorities consent, so the album was removed from the charts altogether.
Blast Magazine: In ’86 you relocated to the United States. How much, if any, did the LA music scene affect your song writing?
Tony Mills: Greatly. The people we worked with showed us a completely different attitude to the approach of songwriting and the result was astounding on 'Excess All Areas'.
Blast Magazine: You sang back-up on Cinderella’s first release titled, ‘Night Songs”. Do you have any regrets for taking the cash instead of .25%?
Tony Mills: Ahem. Wouldn't you ?
Blast Magazine: Shy’s next release was recorded in Los Angeles. How different was the writing and recording process of this release in comparison to those recorded in Europe?
Tony Mills: It was too much like a three month long party for it's own good. The producer was alienated, he sacked several sound engineers, he even left the recording session for two weeks. It was a disaster, a real case of too much too soon and too young to cope with it.
Blast Magazine: While state-side did you co-write any songs with LA musicians? If so, were the songs ever used by you or anyone else?
Tony Mills: Don Dokken, Michael Bolton, Bob Kulick, John Parker, Michael Des Barres, Michael Jay, Jeff Scott Soto and Duane Hitchings. All of this work was included on 'Excess All Areas'.
Blast Magazine: What was the deciding factor that caused to leave Shy on June 19 1990?
Tony Mills: The songwriting had taken a massive downward turn and the songs embarrassed me. Not only that, they were written without me knowing and when I heard them I was appauled.
Blast Magazine: You were approached by the guys in Judas Priest to replace Rob Halford. Would you have taken the gig if it had of been offered?
Tony Mills: Probably, although I would have wanted a say in what material was performed. I was real into the early albums, but never really liked the more recent material.
Blast Magazine: In the autumn of 2001 you released your first solo CD titled, ‘Cruiser’. The CD consisted of songs you wrote right after leaving Shy. Why the long wait?
Tony Mills: The album never saw the light of day, because it was never really complete. Because SHY were taking so long to record 'Unfinished Business' the label asked if I had a solo album I could release in the interim. I did, so we put that out to bridge the time and it worked well.
Blast Magazine: Was ‘Cruiser’ going #1 in Germany your justification that you made the right decision to leave Shy in 1990 or for you was the end already in site?
Tony Mills: Yes. The album that SHY had released in my opinion was nowhere near good enough material to sing on, so I was more than happy to write and record with different musicians from Sad Cafe and 10CC and I was real happy with the result.
Blast Magazine: What were you personal reasons for getting back together with Shy in 2001?
Tony Mills: I had been singing for a RUSH tribute band for nearly a year called YYZ, and it drove me crazy singing other peoples material in a tribute act; I had to be more constructive than that.
Blast Magazine: This time around with Shy you were also concentrating on your solo stuff. Was it difficult to keep the two projects separate?
Tony Mills: No, not all, SHY work really slowly and my hunger wouldn't let me sit around too long doing nothing, I had to be otherwise occupied.
Blast Magazine: Before being offered the TNT position, you fronted the legendary 70’s group Sweet for their tour of Denmark. Why such a short stint of less then a month?
Tony Mills: Major personality differences. We just weren't right for each other. As much as I enjoyed the shows, we shouldn't really have worked together at all.
Blast Magazine: How did you first hear of the TNT position?
Tony Mills: Through a UK based label that were in contact with TNT through past releases. They called me up and asked if I would be interested and I said, yeah, probably, so they made the call on my behalf.
Blast Magazine: The new TNT CD is awesome!!! How involved were you in the writing process for ‘New Territory’?
Tony Mills: Thoroughly, from pre-production to mixing decisions.
Blast Magazine: “Now We’re Talking” is the ultimate tribute song a band could write. Who came up with the idea?
Tony Mills: Ronni LeTekro, he's a big Beatles fan. Just reading down the titles in a Beatles music score book one afternoon and it all just fell into place.
Blast Magazine: How difficult was it to get different song titles to match-up as song lyrics to be where they will have a point?
Tony Mills: Not very, just a little twisting and turning here and there, that's all.
Blast Magazine: At any point did you feel, “I have pretty big shoes to fill, and though I know I can fill them, it will ultimately be up to the fans”?
Tony Mills: To an extent yes, but that never deterred me. They could either come join the party or not. Most did and some didn't; that's the way the world turns.
Blast Magazine: What has been the response from longtime TNT fans live?
Tony Mills: Mostly positive. Difficult people to swing, and understandably so.
Blast Magazine: Every song on ‘New Territory’ except “Now We’re Talking” and “Lets Party Mills” has a Tony Harnell lead vocal accent sound. Do you think this has helped with the fans accepting you as the new TNT vocalist?
Tony Mills: Does it ? I wouldn't have said it sounds anything like old TNT material at all !!!!
Blast Magazine: When you’re performing classic TNT songs like, “Every One’s A Star” or “Caught Between the Tigers” are you making them your own or singing them as written?
Tony Mills: I'm cutting it pretty close to the original, but maybe that's because I'm used to hearing them now. I dont specifically try and copy Tony Harnell and it doesn't worry me if it comes out different, that's rock n roll.
Blast Magazine: With TNT are you getting the chance to perform any Shy material or any of your solo stuff?
Tony Mills: No, purely TNT material.
Blast Magazine: Looking back through your career are you fairly happy with the success you have had?
Tony Mills: I think it is still building, I'm definitely at a peak with TNT at the moment.
Blast Magazine: From Shy to TNT what do you consider to be the best thing you have ever written?
Tony Mills: Probably 'PRAYER' with SIAM
Blast Magazine: Out of everything you have accomplished is there any projects you regret doing?
Tony Mills: Definitely Misspent Youth by SHY was a disaster musically, but that's about it.