Former TNT singer, Tony Harnell, states that he does not believe that the ’90s Grunge movement was responsible for the dissolution of the ’80s glam metal scene.

“I remember seeing the Nirvana video on MTV, and I instantly knew,” Harnell told the Cobras & Fire podcast (transcribed via “I think the first time I saw it, I just was, like, ‘Yeah, this is gonna change things for everybody.'”

“A lot of my peers and a lot of the fans are, like, ‘Oh, I hate that shit. Grunge killed our music,'” Harnell said. “I don’t see it that way at all. I think the labels started signing way too many bands that looked and sounded like other bands. And there was never really a rock era that was like that before. Because if you think about the ’70s, you had a lot of different styles of big hard rock bands. On one side, you had Led Zeppelin, you had Deep Purple — they were very different from each other. You had Aerosmith — they were different. You had KISS, you had Judas Priest, you had Black Sabbath. You had all these different bands that were very, very not like each other at all, but they were all hard rock. And they looked a little different, they had their own image. And then, all of a sudden, in the ’80s, everybody wanted the same clothes, the same hair, the same guys, the same producers, the same songwriters.”

He continued, “If anything, when Nirvana and Soundgarden and these bands came out, all it did is it shined a really harsh light on how boring and repetitive everything got. Because it would have made more sense to take the bands that were already established — big and medium — and develop them more rather than to get all these other bands that sounded like other bands… Like I said, it was the same look, the same songwriters, the same producers, and it just started to be… Nobody was offering anything… Don’t get me wrong, there were a few that got in there that were interesting and different, but, for the most part, they were all just sort of rehashes, slightly, of other bands.”

Harnell has been in and out of TNT several times, most recently in 2016 and 2017. He was also briefly the singer for Skid Row in 2015. He is currently promoting Dysphoria, the third album from his Starbreaker collaborative project with Primal Fear guitarist Magnus Karlsson. It will be released on January 25th through Frontiers Music Srl.

31 Responses

  1. I love grunge music because I like to wear flannel clothing.

    For me, some of the music holds up and still listen to it.
    Same thing regarding the hair bands….but definitely a lot less depressing.
    The most depressing thing about the hair metal scene was Gene Simmons look during that time – dude looked like a drag queen on stage.

  2. So for me the music just got real boring and repetitive. It seemed to me that most everybody started to concentrate on ballads which really sucked the life out of our genres of rock music. I remember hearing firehouses song ” love of a lifetime” i think its called and thought wow this crap sucks ” stop the insanity”. All the balls were taking out of our music wtf.I`m sure it was the record companies who were behind it most of the time. Then I heard man in a box . Wow that was new and refreshing at the time and got the blood pumping. The same with STP. I started to listen to Pantera and Megadeth alot more those guys were badass and not to many ballads on there albums. Korn, early red hot chili peppers infectious grooves were other bands that were unique at the time. So I kinda felt these guys were a evolution to the music I listened to before. So for me I blame it on the ballad,lol. They milked that cow dry,lol.

    1. Yeah, right, I mean, a rock/metal band had never done a ballad before. Hmm… Anybody remember Black Sabbath’s “Changes?”

  3. I’m not sure why everyone is taking issue with what Harnell said. He didn’t say that Hair Metal was better or worse than Grunge. He expressed what he felt was the reason for the death of Hair Metal – that there were too many bands who looked, sounded, and were essentially the same, and that when something markedly different came out (Nirvana, etc.), label focus and public tastes immediately changed and went for something new. In that respect, he is correct. The ’70s hard rock/metal bands were all very distinct. As the ’80s went on, everything became the same. Every band wanted John Kalodner as their A&R guy; they all wanted to write with Desmond Child, Holly Knight, or Diane Warren; they all wanted the same few producers – Beau Hill, Bob Rock, Ron Nevison, etc. – to produce their albums; the labels first released a rockin’ single, then a power ballad, and then a mid-tempo single; they all had the same “live” videos on the giant sound stage with some hot chick; and the bands all had the same hair and makeup and leather outfits. Sure, there were some exceptions, but for the most part, I’ve just described the 1980s Hair Metal genre and marketing. I think that’s pretty much what Harnell said as well.

    1. NO, don’t try to speak for everyone, public taste did NOT immediately change, not at all! Especially for me & my buddies! Don’t blame the grunge invasion on ballads, or oversaturation, blame it on drugs!! (Most of it)

    2. I blame the record companies, and MTV, who were always looking for the next trend, so they can ride that money train all the way to the next stop, for the next new thing. 🙂

    3. Absolutely, Dana, I agree with you 100%. But, not to be repetitive, I also put alot of the blame on the drug use, it f–ked up alot of bands’ judgement and creativity.

    4. Where was I “speaking for everyone”? My point was that Hair Metal got too formulaic (and I pointed out the exact the formula). That’s not an opinion. That’s just a fact. It’s how bands got signed, songs got written, records got produced, and singles were marketed. If you liked the formula, sure, it was a catastrophe for you and your friends when Grunge took over. And sure, the record companies and MTV began pushing the Next New Thing, but no one forced more people to buy Nirvana’s Nevermind over Warrant’s Dog Eat Dog. They just did. Tastes changed. No one (ok, very few people) are still sporting the same haircut they had in 1988 or wearing the same clothes they did back then. Music’s the same. What’s popular changes. That was my point. Based on the Tony Harnell quotes, that’s what he seemed to be saying too. So, NO, I wasn’t trying to speak for everyone.

    5. My tastes never changed, I never bought Nevermind, but I did buy Dog Eat Dog! When I first heard “Teen Spirit,” I thought it was one of the worst songs I had ever heard, (and I still do) and I’m not even going to waste my time on Pearl Jam. As I said, the only exceptions were AIC, STP and Soundgarden, they were a lot more rock than “grunge.” But I never abandoned the 80’s or stopped listening to the music I liked just because that’s what MTV and the record execs wanted everybody to do.

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