Every now and again you come across an album that is perfect, and this is vocalist/song writer Tony Mill’s, Streets of Chance. The album was released through BATTLEGOD Productions in September, his second album with this label (the first entitled Over My Dead Body). It is a Metal album rooted heavily within the melodic sounds of the 1980’s, but with structure and complex arrangements, that at times, lend itself to a Prog-Rock/Metal feel. The vocal prowess and intricacy of Tony’s shines through on the album, and it ultimately is a testament to his expertise and experience.
Tony really needs no introduction, but to the uninitiated, he has been a stalwart on the Metal/Hard Rock Scene for over thirty five years. Hailing from Birmingham England he has fronted English based bands SHY and Siam in the 1990’s, as well as TNT, and has sung on, and played with, countless other acts and notable musicians. Of late he is residing in Sweden, where most of his contractual work hails from and I was fortunate to catch up with him to discuss the new album and his career to date.
Tony your new album Streets of Chance is amazing, how do you see it, now that it has been recorded and released?
“Well, I’m very pleased with the new album. It has turned out a really respectable record with a lot of good reviews and I’m glad for that and for the good of music in general. It goes without saying that I am very happy to have had such a supportive team around me this time around, from Pete Kotevski at Battlegod Productions to the co-writing and production of Pete Newdeck and the collaborations from special guests such as Joel Hoekstra and Tommy Denander. The album is what has become expected from a singer with my style of vocals and I think achieved the demand for the music with the right supply.”
You have collaborated with a lot of musicians on this album, can you talk us through how this came about?
“Pete Newdeck I had wanted to work with for a few years, as we got on very well socially and I sang on his first album with The Shock back in the early 90’s but we never had the chance to work together again. We tried to hook up on my last album in 2012, but we were both tied up with other people at the time. So this time I made a point of it and we worked together very well. I fully intend to do the next album with Pete Newdeck as well. Tommy Denander had co-written songs with me also three or four years ago, but they didn’t sit in the right style for that album, so they were banked for this record and worked great. We always communicate very well and he is a very fast worker, which I think suits everyone with their schedules. Eric Ragno, I have worked with for years, since the China Blue album, I think he has worked on most of my albums since then. His co-writing and recording last time included Paul Sabu, this time around it brought along Pete Fry from Far Cry, which was great. My wife Linda is a strong songwriter, singer and bass player, so what could be better than to work together on such a record, the style of which we both love. Neil Fraser came by the express recommendation of Pete Newdeck and played some really sweet lead work on the record, as did my final special guest from Whitesnake, Joel Hoekstra. I have followed Joel for some years and I believe he used to like my old band Shy, as does his band mate, Michele Luppi who I intend to co-write with on my next album. The Martin Brothers from Vega, contributed a backing track which we used, but re-recorded with Tommy Denander, so they were co-writers, although they did not perform on the album. I have been connected with Toine Vanderlinden for some years and I know he was a great supporter of Shy, since they recorded in his homeland of Netherlands back in the 80’s. Toine played most of the bass on the album and did us proud.”
What songs stand out for you as a musician?
“As a vocalist, I was quite stretched in some places, but my favourite songs are Scars and Seventh Wonder. They reach new heights for me in various ways and I thought that Seventh Wonder should be the opening track, but the consensus of opinion was that it should be the closing track, so I went with the vote on that. Both great songs. I like all the songs a lot, so there’s not much in it really.”
Are there any solid plans to tour in support of the album?
“Not at the moment, not until next year, I am tied up with other recordings in Norway and Germany and I think I’ll give it time for the album to sink in for a while.”
Tony you have had an expansive career across punk, metal and hard rock, spanning nearly forty years, what stands out for you as highlights?
“Well, this is probably the best sounding record I’ve made, which is why I will do my best to repeat the recipe for the next album. Touring with TNT was probably the most intensive live period in my career between 2006-2013, and the highlight for me personally was performing live with Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter from the Bowie/Mott the Hoople era, which really meant a lot to me in my younger years.”
Your time in SHY during the 1980s saw the release of a number of strong albums, and albums that were critically acclaimed, but it seems that SHY never received the success they deserved, why do you think this was the case?
“I think there were two factors regarding this failure. The second factor was the import of the grunge era into Europe, which completely wiped out all investment of mainstream rock by major labels. We were dropped by RCA as was everyone else on the roster at the time, even though we were in our prime and hot off European touring. The first factor was that the band were very self-destructive toward each other and we literally tore ourselves apart on tour, so it was a very dysfunctional family.”
Can you talk us through your time in TNT and how this gig came about?
“I was contacted by a small record company who had heard that TNT had lost their vocalist and were looking for an English replacement. I had just had a short stint singing for The Sweet in Denmark and I was clear of any contracts, so I spoke to the band and they agreed to fly to Berlin and see me do a concert there. The next day I was in Norway, which is where I stayed for the next seven years. I worked and co-wrote five albums and sang around 250 shows with the band in Scandinavia, Spain, the UK and the States. A call for the original line up reformation came and I walked and let them get on with it. By all accounts after several attempts, it never worked, but I ended up living in Norway, but have now moved to Sweden. I played a concert with them last week and we got on great. Probably because it wasn’t a permanent arrangement.”
I read recently that you collaborated with the late Cozy Powell but never released any material, how did you come to be working with Cozy?
“My 90’s band SIAM, were managed by a lady called Linda Bruce (RIP) who co-owned the studios in Birmingham, Rich Bitch Studios. SIAM rehearsed and recorded there a lot as did Sabbath, DIO, UFO, Slade, Cozy and hordes of other famous acts. Linda asked me to record vocals for Cozy Powell’s new album and I was in the middle of doing that when he passed away. I don’t believe the recordings were ever released.”
So where to with your solo career Tony, is this the principle focus for you as a musician, or are there any other more pressing projects that you are prioritising?
“I have not long moved to a farm in the north of Sweden, so I intend to spend some time working here with my wife and our animals into the summer of next year, before I look at anything else. Although I am contracted in Germany for the latter half of next year and Greece as well.”
How did your partnership with Australia’s Battle God Productions come about?
“I worked for an artist called Andreas Nergard in Trondheim, Norway and I was so impressed by the quality of the product, that I contacted the label direct and asked for a meeting with the label manager. We hooked up in Oslo and now we have had two successful albums together. I look forward to a third.”
Finally, do you have any final words for your Australian fans?
“Opportunities to visit Australia have been few and far between. I’ve been advised against it, but told by others that it’s the best place to play in the world and that the fans are unmatched anywhere else. I’ve had a great reception regarding my records and I love you all for that. I have to wait and see if my co-operation with my Australian Production company pulls me as far as playing in some major cities in Australia, only time will tell. Thank you all for your continued support in keeping rock music alive into this millennium.”
It was a real pleasure to catch up with Tony, a gentleman and an amazing musician. I strongly urge people to check Streets of Chance out it wont disappoint!
Interview by Mark Snedden
For more information on Tony and his latest albums head to battlegod-productions.com