Former TNT vocalist Tony Harnell says the band's record company brought in co-lyricists to help with the songwriting on 1992's "Realized Fantasies" album, resulting in what he calls "lowbrow" lyrics that make him "cringe." Released when the grunge rock movement was at its peak, the LP's lack of commercial success led to TNT's original dissolution the same year. The band subsequently reformed in 1997 for the "Firefly" record.
Harnell has been in and out of TNT several times, most recently in 2016 and 2017, and was also briefly the singer for SKID ROW in 2015. He is currently making the press rounds for his STARBREAKER project's third full-length, "Dysphoria".
In a recent interview with Chris Akin of "The Classic Metal Show", Harnell was asked about the "relatable" nature of "Dysphoria" and why some of the songs start with a "somber" tone, but eventually build toward some type of resolution.
"One of my least favorite movies is 'Trainspotting'," he said. "I bring that movie up because — and there are a few movies like that I can't stand — it's a great movie, but I hate it. Another one is 'Requiem For A Dream'. Real dark movie. But there's no nice conclusion. There's no, 'Okay, but this happened and this person made it out okay.' It's literally just everything bad happens in the movie, then at the end, it ends badly. [Laughs] It just leaves you feeling really bad. But you know, we all go through these things.
"For me as an artist, I'm lucky that I get to write songs, which is a form of therapy and I get to kind of use those songs as a way of working through my own things," he continued. "The way I've always looked at it and started to look at it more and more this way as time went and as I wrote more and more songs was, the more I could just write my truth and write my experiences, the more I was going to connect to other people."
Harnell admitted that "Realized Fantasies" was one album where he "tried to be something else" on "a little over half the songs." He explained: "The record label wanted to try something experimental, so we brought in another lyricist to co-write with Ronni [Le Tekrø, TNT guitarist] and I. That was the only time we ever did that. I look back on that and I just cringe because it's got themes and words and approaches that I would never say or want to say. It was the label trying to make us 'cool.' [Laughs]"
He added: "We came off of 'Intuition', which is a pretty successful record. Coming off of that record, we were on a pretty good roll, I thought, after 'Tell No Tales' and 'Intuition', and suddenly our new label, Atlantic, said, 'Yeah, let's try to make you guys… and let's bring in some...' All those themes of searching for something more, which is basically 'Intuition' was all about if I sum it up into one sentence, searching for something beyond what we see here in front of us, call it spirituality, call it whatever you want, into suddenly these lowbrow songs about just silly stuff that I would never really want to write about.
"I think the point is to be truthful, to be honest, to be yourself, to write your truth," he said. "As people, it seems and appears that we're very different at the moment, but that's all surface stuff. If you're talking about politics or this or that or the other, underneath all of that, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, when it comes down to love and relationships and addiction and all this stuff that we all deal with, that stuff has no divide, no party lines, no racial lines, no nothing. I mean, everybody on this planet, we're not that different. We're different, but we're not in certain ways — we all experience a lot of the same things."
"Dysphoria" was released on January 25 via Frontiers Music Srl.
STARBREAKER also features guitarist and songwriter Magnus Karlsson of PRIMAL FEAR fame.