TNT guitarist Ronni Le Tekrø recently spoke with "The Classic Metal Show". The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On parting ways with longtime vocalist Tony Harnell:
Ronni: "The departure of Tony was not expected. I just felt like we went into different musical directions. I won't elaborate on that, but in general, I speak to Tony weekly almost, so we're sitting on a green branch. There's no hard feelings. I just think it was necessary for both parties to go different directions. Then we discovered this beautiful singer from Spain after receiving 35 demos from North America, South America, everywhere. Baol Bardot Bulsara is his name, and he's from southern Spain. He got the job after auditioning with 35 other singers, and he convinced us, and he was able to be a part of creating this new album. I think what he brings to the table is youth and aspiration."
On whether it was difficult to "break in" a new band member:
Ronni: "Luckily, he was very experienced in working on overdubs for Disney on cartoons, doing theater and a lot of studio work, so he just came straight into the environment and ruled it from day one, pretty much."
On whether Harnell's departure added more pressure during the writing process:
Ronni: "I think especially on this album, it pushed me to go much further into the songwriting process. When shit like that happens, sometimes I go in the basement and into the darkness and I kind of lose it. This time, I felt like there was some white light shining over the recordings, and also the lyrics. It feels like we're a champagne glass in a dirty sink sometimes."
On how Harnell's departure caused the band to adapt:
Ronni: "Originally, I think me and Tony wrote about 20 songs, where we maybe finished two, three of them. But there were some great ideas. Some of them, we agreed on that I could develop and finish them, and they turned out great, I think. Then again, it always feels weird when you part from your songwriting partner, but it gave more inspiration song to go on and try to write even better songs."
On new album "XIII":
Ronni: "It could be the very last album in TNT's career."
On whether the poppier sound of "XIII" is a result of evolving as a songwriter or wanting to "reset the identity" of the band with its new vocalist:
Ronni: "I think it was kind of a mix. At the same time, TNT was barely hard rock. I see TNT more like power-pop when we started, so within those type of frames, I think we're allowed to experiment. On this album, we kept QUEEN in sight — the second QUEEN album was a big inspiration for many of us, to try to create some kind of diversity and fresh hard rock sound. It's always a risk to explore music because you risk to lose some fans, but then again, real bands, they kind of just follow the music, where the music takes the band. It's a hard combination, and I would say if we were first edition band like IRON MAIDEN or METALLICA or AC/DC, I wouldn't risk to experiment in the formula, but being QUEEN's little brother, we can do that."
On Bulsara's first live show with TNT, which saw the group supporting SCORPIONS:
Ronni: "With Baol, it was such high pressure, and luckily, the SCORPIONS guys, a couple of them came in and gave us some really good mental support. I think he did a great job being the very first show, and it kind of shows that TNT can survive and we're willing to survive, and that we're going to be one of the classic old European hard rock bands."
On ignoring naysayers:
Ronni: "The haters are beautiful, because those motherfuckers, with TNT, there are about 87 guys that create that shit on the Internet. I never read the comment fields, but I always understood that TNT is like RUSH — it's something you hate or love, and we're willing to carry on the legacy yet risking the past."
On whether he's worried that TNT fans will reject a new singer in the same manner that VAN HALEN fans rejected Gary Cherone:
Ronni: "The thing is, we didn't get Gary Cherone — we got Baol Bardot Bulsara. I love Gary Cherone — there's nothing wrong with him — but sometimes there's wrong combinations. But this guy we had entered from the underground just to do a musical, spiritual thing with us, so that would be the difference. And hey, if people don't want to come and watch the band, they should go and watch a different band."
On whether the door is "permanently closed" on Harnell:
Ronni: "The door is never closed with me and Tony. My home is open for him; my summer house is open for him; and my spiritual life and economical life, we're always connected in one way or another. But I think in the future, it will be much better for me and Tony to do a kind of PAGE AND PLANT album where we can be grown-ups and go further."
"XIII" was released June 8 via Frontiers Music Srl. The band's 13th studio album to date features founding members Le Tekrø and Diesel Dahl (drums) alongside bassist Ove Husemoen and Bulsara.