Heart of Steel: Interviews

FIREFLY
TNT's Morty Black
Interview by Keith McDonald

Morty Black came into the hard rock community as the bass player for the Norwegian based band TNT. Having started out in the 80’s with so many other hard rock bands, TNT was able to survive for quite some time. They recently released a new studio album 'My Religion' which sadly enough, will be Morty’s last with the band. I had the opportunity to catch up with Morty who gave me the lowdown on his departure and what he’s been up to recently


Why did you leave TNT?

There are many reasons really, but the main reasons are personal and that I disagree with the business philosophy! I want to play as much as possible, and that’s a bit hard with TNT, since we are spread all over the planet.

 

 

What are you currently up to?

Right now I’m touring with an Artist called Åge Aleksandersen. He’s been around for many years and is probably the most selling and heavily touring Norwegian artist. He’s singing in Norwegian. If I where to explain his popularity and profile, the closest get is: A Norwegian Bruce Springsteen. If you want to check him out go to his website: www.levvalivet.no


Above picture taken by, and used with permission of, Petter Stene.
(Picture explanation from Peter: This picture was taken by me in the late 80s. It's from a bar in Trondheim, Norway called Baronen & Baronessen - a place where musicians used to hang, and sometimes play for free beer. The picture is of historical interest for TNT fans. It's rare to see the original singer of TNT without his fluffy stage boots. :) Even though a few years later he left the band. But this was was a session where Dag Ingebrigtsen, Morty Black and Diesel Dahl played, and that was indeed a rare event.)

 

What other artists have you recorded and toured with?

Oh my god! There are so many artists I have been working with here in Norway both touring and in the studio! All kinds of music styles from pop to Jazz. Even Mariah Carey I did a recording for through some Norwegian producers. I’ve been working all the time as a session bass player for about 25 years.

 

 

Why do you think TNT lasted so long?

I think TNT lasted this long because of our faithful fans and the demand to stick around! We would never be where we are today if it wasn’t for you!

 

 

How did you join TNT in the first place?

I got an offer from the band after 1 year of existence. I had to prove myself for the band by playing one gig first. I joined on August 12th 1983.

 

 

What happened with the TNT 'Big Bang Anthology' that was supposed to be released in the US?

To be honest I have no idea what happened in the US. This was only meant to be released in Norway, but I guess that Mercury/Universal in the US did not pick it up.

 

 

How is the hard rock scene in Norway?

The hard rock scene in Norway is GREAT! The population in Norway is only 4.5 Million, so we aren’t that many, but there are a lot of talents out there! Unfortunately there we don’t have that many clubs either working for hard rock, but we work hard to get outside of the country to play!

 

 

Is there a big musical difference from the US and Norway?

There is a certain difference, yes! First of all we aren’t that many people and clubs around. The good thing about that is that we don’t copy each other as much, and we get a bigger variety between the bands. Plus we have all kinds of music on radio/TV to get inspired by, which again affects the music. It’s a different culture here. We are a mountain people ;-)

 

 

How did you start playing bass? Who would you consider your influences?

Once upon I time… Hehehe I started playing bass when I was 16. Before that I was a sports freak, playing soccer and handball. I was blown away by the bass playing on Grand Funk Railroad’s Live album (1971). I just had to learn how to play bass like that! So I started by plugging different albums in my room. After a short while I started in my first band (A three-piece band), and since then I’ve been playing somewhere between 100-180 gigs almost every year. My first influences was Grand Funk, Gary Thain (Uriah Heep), Neal Murray (Whitesnake), Geddy Lee (Rush), Abraham Laboriel, David Hungate (Toto).

 

 

What was TNT most successful album? Tour?

In the US it was “Tell No Tales” both album and tour! In Japan it was “Intuition” both album and tour, but all in all “Tell No Tales” started the International success TNT has. We toured all over the US together with Stryper in 1987 and met a lot of great people!

 

Why don't you think TNT had better success here in the US?

I think the main reason, and this goes for the whole world really, that TNT was never available enough. It is very easy to sit back now and say what we could have done etc., but since we leave this far apart from each other, and we have grown up in different cultures, I think we either should have stayed in the US much more and simply just been around more! That would have helped! Also there where some trouble with management etc.

 

 

How much support did US radio and MTV give TNT in the early days?

I think they gave us a lot of support! We where played a lot on MTV, and the same goes for the radios on the costs.

 

 

How did TNT get signed? Was it a difficult time?

TNT got signed in Norway pretty fast. The singer at that time: Dag Ingebrigtsen, came from a success band called “The Kids”, which sold a lot of albums in Norway and Sweden. When he formed TNT, the record labels wanted to sign this, even though it was a Hard Rock band. We worked real hard for a few years playing all over Norway, until the second album, which was presented for Mercury in NY, and they loved it, so we where suddenly an international recording artist!

 

 

What lies ahead for you?

First I will be touring until October 2nd. After that I really don’t know. If there is anyone out there who needs a bass player, send me an email. I have a lot of ideas I would like to pursue. A solo album is of course something I will be working on, but also working with other artists. I’m constantly writing music, so something has to be released! I would like to thank everyone that has been supporting both TNT and me for all these years. I have just started I feel! There will be a lot more to do, and I hope you visit my homepage www.mortyblack.com. Drop me an email or just say hi!

Forever Shine On!
Morty


www.mortyblack.com