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Interview with Westworld's Tony Harnell
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
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Westworld is an exciting new Rock group. With the recent release of their self-titled CD they are ready to Rock your senses with their fiery brand of Rock and Roll. Tony Harnell is the exquisite lead vocalist that helps to put the whole thing together. Tony took the time to talk with me for awhile about music, the group and his life. MuzikMan 9/28/99

MuzikMan: Tony, your range is incredible. Did you ever have any formal training before you became a full time performer?

Tony: Thank you.....Not really, I have always been singing since a very young age, later I did get some training to keep my stamina on long tours.

MuzikMan: I noticed a real good chemistry on the CD. Do you feel that it's a spontaneous thing or it's always something that's been there from the start?

Tony: Well, this is a new group and we really didn't know how it was going to work at all since it was an experiment of sorts. It seems to have worked out all right though, we're happy with the results.

MuzikMan: When you decided which direction you were going to go in when choosing a particular genre or style what came into play in that decision making process?

Tony: Well, all the members have been part of the hard rock scene for most of our careers in our respective bands so it was natural for us to go for a hard edged sound.

MuzikMan: I understand that you were brought up in family that encouraged singing. Can you tell the readers a little bit about your background and upbringing? Major adult influences? Major musical influences as you were growing up?

Tony: Yes, my Mom was an Opera singer and I was always hanging around backstage and soaking up the madness of that world. I grew up in California mostly, lived in Belgium for a while as a kid and pretty much traveled through my childhood with my Mom's career. Influences that still hold from my childhood would be Paul McCartney, Beatles, Eagles, Bowie, Elton, Beach Boys, Aerosmith, Zeppelin, Three Dog Night and the list goes on. Currently I'm listening to everything I can get my hands on, I like a lot of artists that are out there today.....Francis Dunnery, Alanis, Radiohead, Chris Cornell just to name a few.

MuzikMan: How did the group come up with the name Westworld? What's it's significance to the group?

Tony: We wanted something American sounding and I liked the cult film from the 70's starring Yul Brynner.

MuzikMan: Have you ever been driven to play an instrument opposed to using your voice as an instrument?

Tony: Driven yes, but not too successful so far, I play a bit of guitar, badly, but I hope to get better as time goes on. That's what guitar heroes are for, to play with singers!!

MuzikMan: Is it difficult to work out shifts and changes in the music with your singing? I have always felt it must take a tremendous amount of talent to work out a song with any rapid or abrupt changes. Do your vocal cords pay the price from going from real high to a few steps down from that level so quickly and precisely? Do the same principles apply when holding on to an extreme high for an extended amount of time? I remember reading about Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant drinking tea & lemon, is that still a good remedy for a raw throat?

Tony: That is a long question! I think the more you do something the less you think about how you're doing it and I think that is where I'm at with singing. Sometimes when touring it can be a strain when you're singing real high and real low throughout the night cause your voice doesn't know where it wants to settle down to, but usually if you sing properly as I try to do it works itself out along the way. Yes, tea is still great but I just drink a ton of water which is really the best thing.

MuzikMan: You have some excellent musicians behind you driving each number. Do they andrenalize you and push you to limits you thought were once unattainable as a singer?

Tony: A live band behind you is always going to push you harder for sure and these guys definitely do their job very well.

MuzikMan: Any plans in the immediate future for the group as far as touring and recording?

Tony: We are starting the second Westworld album now and plan to be recording in a few weeks, I think a tour will follow the second one. This first album has been out in Japan and Europe since January so we've already been working on new songs for a month or so.

MuzikMan: Are any of the group members into solo projects or outside endeavors involving music?

Tony: I play in a group called TNT which has released six studio albums, the first five were on major labels, and have toured the world with them several times. Mark Reale plays in a band called Riot which has released many albums with majors and enjoyed great success over the last twenty years, Bruno Revel is from the band Danger Danger which was also very successful in the late eighties and John O'Reilly plays with everyone but is best known for his work in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.

MuzikMan: Who do you think are the top groups in Rock right now?

Tony: I like Chris Cornell's new album quite a lot and always Alanis. There are some cool bands coming out of England right now like Sterophonics and a host of cool trance, loop type things that I really dig. Some good American hard rock as well like Sevendust, Filter, Powerman 5000. Overall I think rock is back and will be back on the top of the charts by next year!

MuzikMan: If you had one night to hand pick the people you could play with, a dream night, who would the people be that you would like to front?

Tony: The remaining members of Queen.

MuzikMan: Good choice!

MuzikMan: What are your thoughts on the Internet? Is everyone an avid cyber surfer?

Tony: Mainly myself and Bruno. I think it's great for indie artists like myself, it really opens the door to more fans that you could never be in contact with before.

MuzikMan: Any closing thoughts or anything that you would like to say to your audience?

Tony: Westworld was originally intended as a one off side project and we never thought it would be received as well as it has been. The critics have been very kind and that has translated into new fans and a new four album recording deal. I just want to say that I look forward to touring with this band and seeing everyone out on the road real soon.

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