Tony Harnell says that he regrets quitting SKID ROW via social media, explaining that it was "a really dumb" and "very unprofessional" thing to do.
Harnell joined SKID ROW in April 2015 as the replacement for Johnny Solinger, who was the band's frontman for fifteen years. Tony quit the group only eight months later, writing in a Facebook post that "being ignored and disrespected isn't my thing."
In a recent interview with "Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon", Harnell said that he "had a great time" with SKID ROW, but that the collaboration between the singer and the formerly New Jersey-based outfit "wasn't working" and that he left the band because he "unhappy."
Asked by host Mitch Lafon if he regrets the way he left SKID ROW, Harnell said: "Oh, absolutely. I was upset about some things. It's fine. That happens. And things were a little tense between myself and the guys. But we were going forward. And the last shows we had done together toward the end of the year — I think they were in November, leading into the holday season — they were probably the best shows we had done, with me."
According to Harnell, "it took a while" for him to become really comfortable singing SKID ROW's classic songs. "Whoever is not [former SKID ROW vocalist] Sebastian [Bach] in that band is gonna have a rough time with the fans," he said. "But I actually felt, for the most part… I felt pretty warmly embraced when I was in that situation, and I felt lucky about that. And I think the fans were really kind to me. But I don't think that I got my footing with the songs till the last month or two that I was there… I could easily say, yeah, it definitely took me a while to wrap my bones, or my body, or whatever you wanna say, around those songs. They are unusual songs to sing. They're iconic. People know the songs from hearing them so many times on the radio, so they're burned into people's minds… Some of them are in unusual keys for a singer, and that may sound funny to people that don't know music, but traditionally, for rock, or hard rock, those keys tend to be somewhat common. And not all the SKID ROW keys are common, so some of the songs fall into unusual places. But they worked really well for Sebastian."
Harnell said that it was strange stepping into SKID ROW as a replacement for Bach, who fronted the band during its classic and most commercially successful period. "He and I were friends — really good friends — going way back," Tony explained. "He's a great guy. We had a good history, a good friendship in the early, early days of SKID ROW, and it was unusual for me, being a guy that he used to mention as someone he looked up to, to kind of replace… Usually, it's the other way around, so it was a weird position to be in. But I went way back also with the guys in the band. And although we never had a close friendship, we knew each other from afar."
Tony went on to say that various circumstances in his life — including his on-and-off gig as the frontman of the Norwegian hard rock band TNT — led him to accept the singer position in SKID ROW when the job was offered to him. "It was kind of a perfect storm for me, in a way, because I wanted to do it," he said. "I was discontent with TNT at the end of 2014. The opportunity came along, and I thought, 'You know what? I haven't really been in a successful American band, and I'd like to play more shows on my own turf. Let me do this.' And I liked the guys a lot, and I thought that they were a great band. The possibility to write new music with them was also on my mind. Wouldn't it be cool if I could be me in the context of what they do and maybe bring something to the table? Not to take away from what they do at all, but to kind of combine the two things. That seemed along the way… I wasn't sure how that was playing itself out."
According to Tony, "it was very different" for him to join an established group that had such a successful career in its own right.
"In all of my professional life, I'd never been in a band situation where it wasn't my band," he said. "And it was something I knew going into it, that it was gonna be an adjustment for me."
Despite the fact that his stint with SKID ROW ended acrimoniously, Harnell says that he "had a great time" singing for the band. "There were a lot of shows that were so much fun," he said. "The travel in between, a lot of fun times afterwards and hanging out with everybody. But it was a bit of a perfect storm for me in that I was going through the beginning of what would be one of the most difficult times in my life. And the climax of it was the end of 2015, and I was in a bar, drinking way too much, was pissed off at the world, and did a stupid thing. And that was it. And it was very unprofessional. I've never done anything like that before, and I haven't done anything like that since. And I'm not proud of it."
He continued: "Regardless of whatever was happening between us… I'm not even gonna get into that, because it doesn't matter — any of that doesn't matter — because even if it wasn't working and I was unhappy, that move was lame, and I take full responsibility for it. The best thing for me to do would have been to have continued on and figured out a way… sat down and done it professionally, if I wasn't happy. And did it in a way that didn't hurt them and didn't hurt me. And, honestly, it probably hurt me more than it hurt them."
Harnell says that there were other factors that played into his Facebook outburst more than three years ago.
"I quit drinking a year ago, and I'm really proud of that," he said. "And that does play a role in the stupid thing that I did at the end of 2015. And a lot of people that know me would be, like, 'What? We never saw the guy drunk.' It was my little private thing that a lot of people weren't really aware of — not even some people that were very close to me. So that definitely played a role. I wouldn't say that it was the only thing that was 'wrong' at the time, but it did play a role in the whole scenario."
Tony claims that he has since "apologized to both the band and the fans." He added: "It was a really dumb thing to do. That's basically all there is to it."
SKID ROW guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo told the "Trunk Nation" show that things fell apart so quickly with Harnell because "some things just aren't meant to work… they just don't work together. Knowing him before and then working with him, it was two separate… it really was two different things," he explained. "A lot of conflict, a lot of butting heads, and it just… it never meshed, it was never right. We knew him for a long time, [but we] never worked with him — never worked in a band situation, in a band environment with him. And you know what — for better or for worse, this is our band; it belongs to us. And so if someone is gonna come in and work with us, we have a certain way that we do things, and that may not work for some people. It didn't work for him. Look, [he's] a talented guy; it just wasn't right for us."
Harnell was replaced in SKID ROW by South African-born, British-based singer ZP Theart, who previously fronted DRAGONFORCE, TANK and I AM I.