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Ten Questions with...


Tony Mills, one of the UK's top vocalists (in my humble opinion...) who has sung with Shy, Siam and has released his own solo CD 'Cruiser'. Shy made a big splash in the 80's, along with fellow Brit hopefuls FM. Check out 'Brave the Storm' and 'Access All Areas', great melodic rock albums - they are back with a new CD via Z Records called 'Unfinished Business'.

1. What are you currently up to?

We have just played two unplugged shows in Birmingham and we are readying ourselves for the Z show in Germany. After that we shall be playing another show organised by Z Records in Wigan and various othe shows in the north of the U.K. before we go back to Germany to tour in the new year. As regards recording, a live album has been contracted and will be recorded in Germany in a months time and I will be commencing a new solo album this month, for release next year.

2. Who were your influences?

The people who read rock magazines are not always into the mainstream rock acts; I was mainly influenced by Bowie and Iggy Pop. The primary reasons i ever became a singer in the first place. Later on, when i encountered the main rock market, rather than the pop and punk scene, I became a great admirer of Rob Halford & Steve Perry. Later, I admired Geoff Tate & Queensryche, Rush and Floyd. I might put you off, if i enlighten you on some of the more obscure stuff.......

3. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoint(s) of your career to date?

Highpoint of my career ? Singing 'Ships in the Night' for Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson on tour, just before Mick sadly passed away. Lowpoint of my career? Having the power pulled on stage with 'Manowar' in Italy and having to leave the tour because the main band considered us 'inappropriate' - we walked back into the tunnel in Turin to the crowd chanting our name....... Or perhaps being stabbed on stage in Spain, for being English.

4. Great to see Shy back! How did the reunion come about? What is the line-up? How easy was it to record again as Shy after so long?

The reunion came back, due to a hardened fan base, and pressure from certain people within the business to write new material.

The line up is:-
Tony Mills - vox
Steve Harris - Rythmn and lead guitar
Ian Richardson - Rythmn and Lead guitar
Roy Davis - Bass Guitar
Bob Richards - Drums

Believe me, it was damn difficult to record as Shy again; much had happened in ten years, but it was not impossible. I think the main thing is, that Steve and Roy were positive and they had many meetings with me to discuss how worthwhile it could be. I did not have to work with the old drummer, which was my preference and we could really move on and approach a fresh project with clear heads. I have no doubt now, that recording any future projects will be far easier now we have become re-aquainted.

5. Any plans to tour? (You have the Z Rock date in October I see). What countries are your strongest fan bases?

Touring is a definite. We already have a German tour on the cards in the New Year. this is very important, as Germany and Japan are still our biggest markets, as indeed they always seemed to be.

6. Shy exploded in a blaze of publicity originally (I still remember the free t-shirt I got with the debut LP!) - how successful did you think you would be? What would you have changed looking back in hindsight?

How successful did we think we would be ? I cannot speak for the other members of SHY. Personally, growing up with rock music, was always very exciting. There was always something exciting to look forward to, be it rehearsals, recording, gigs, I always took my life day by day. To reach the level of your peers was never something I considered. I just felt myself lucky to even have the chance to attempt a shot at all of this.

That t-shirt crippled our original chances of really charting in the UK. It was done without Gallop Pole's permission and we were handicapped in our chart position because of it.

What would I have changed ? Difficult to say. I would have accepted the 1/4% of royalty for singing on the 7 million 'Cinderella' album ' Night Songs' instead of doing it for a favour!!!!! I might have even taken up John Sykes offer of singing with 'Blue Murder'.

7. You did a solo CD 'Cruiser'. How was this recieved? Would you like to do further solo work in the future? What style of music do you feel most comfortable in playing? Would you like to do a covers album sometime in the future of your favourite artists/songs?

'Cruiser' was fairly well received, considering it was an afterthought and something that bridged the gap between my only other full time band 'SIAM' and the release of the new 'Shy' album. I have signed a further contract to write another solo album for Z Records, which I am due to commence this month. The style of music I am most comfortable playing, is whatever has a driving guitar base to it, although I have done fairly well with ballads in the past. I love uncommercial music of all sorts and writing with a great variety of people can be a great catalyst to developing new directions and ideas that you had previously not considered. I intend to co-write songs on my new solo album.

I had not considered doing a covers album to be honest, but it never did Bowie any harm with 'Pinups' in the early '70's. Why , do you think this may be a good idea ? i would be spoilt for choice with the songs I have listened to, over the last 30 years!!

8. What do you think of the state of rock music at the moment? Is it still viable to tour the UK/Europe or are multi-festivals of a few bands the best way to play live now? Do you listen to radio much at all? Has the Internet helped music grow or hindered it?

Rock music will be ever-changing and that is something you have to accept. There will always be various angles on old themes that the young generation come up with, peoples views will always vary. As for the viability of touring the UK, I dont think that can be doubted, peoples views change, but their love for live music never seems to die. You need current product out,and to back it up in the press with discussion like this- we are all in the business of keepimg music alive and kicking, whatever we write and record.

I listen to lots of radio through I-Tunes on the Mac at home while I'm working and writing - this is a net based receiver. I think the net is doing a great job in helping keep music alive.

9. What was the last thing you read?

The last thing I read was Dennis Potter's biography.

10. Message for your fans...

A message for any followers of any music I may have ever recorded is :-

Thank you. As a recording and live artist, it is always in the forefront of your mind, even when you are writing something, how that song will be received. When it is received well, you feel a certain success and a sense of worth. When it dies on its arse and nobody wants to know, you have to reflect and understand where you went wrong - perhaps it was the sort of song you wrote to get out of your system and was not really meant for public consumption, you cant get it right all the time. I don't aim to please all of the people all of the time. But it is satisfying to strike the happy medium and release material that you get on well with yourself, and it gets received well, too. Thanks for the support and the feedback . Big, bad or good.

Interview © 2002 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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