Known or for his flashy guitar antics with Norwegian heavy metal band TNT, Ronni Le Tekrø is expanding his skills on a new solo album titled Bigfoot TV, inspired by his obsession with supernatural and expedition TV shows during lockdowns. COVID-19.
He shared some time with 519 to explain why he made this delectable new album.
You have a new album coming out. Why did you choose Bigfoot TV as the title?
Since Corona hit us, I’ve had a lot of TV to dig into. Eventually I started watching stuff like Expedition Unknown, Hunting Hitler, the Treasure on Oak Island, Finding Bigfoot and all those TV shows – the ones where you’ll never get the answer. When I started writing it, it was a concept album, but I ended up writing lyrics about myself. Then I realized my life was a bit like Bigfoot TV, an unsolved mystery.
The album cover is extremely interesting. Tell me about this concept.
Bigfoot TV was made by concept artist Carl Eek Torgersen. What he does, he kind of mounts this television and they put detailed plastic figures on it. So, it’s a mix between some data, animated stuff and real photography. I think he described the title very well with the thing. Again, if you watch Amused To Death with the Roger Waters, you see a monkey in front of the TV, so it’s sort of an extension of his ideas. I’m a big fan of this type of design thinking.
What made it the perfect time to release a solo album?
It was the perfect time because it seems like every time I put out an album, whether it’s with TNT or my solo, there’s always a fucking war or a crazy election. Trump screwed up TNT’s latest album – it got all the attention. The Gulf War got us twice. TNT would release an album every time this shit was unleashed. So, in a sense, there’s a war with every album. What could I expect with a group name like TNT? It’s obvious…
What are the differences between writing for yourself and writing for TNT?
I think I have the right to go further with my solo stuff. The TNT guys don’t necessarily like my influences and vice versa. I’m a big fan of stoner progress, if I may say so. I don’t expect the guys from TNT to like or use the songs I feature on this album. It is not TNT material. It’s beyond in a way, and it’s very personal lyrically. That said, if you look at the lyrics that Tony (Harnell) wrote, I think a lot of those things are very personal to him as well, the way he wrote the emotions that are in the lyrics.
My favorite song on the album is A Handful Of Time. Tell me about this one.
It’s strange that you say that, because it’s obviously inspired by folk elements and if you listen you will hear Russian folk music. I wrote it about friends I’ve lost over the past two years, very close friends. I mean, I’ve lost three or four in just two years. A handful of time is just a reminder. If you listened to the lyrics, the first verse I sing about my dead friends, then the second verse I sing about my friends who are alive. We only have a handful of time, especially at my age, 58. I realize that I have a handful of time.
Life On Long Island seems very autobiographical. What made this Long Island experience so unique?
It’s a good question. When I first came to Long Island and smelled North American territory, it smelled totally different – that’s what I remember the most. I immediately fell in love with the smell. It’s like I’ve been there before. It reminded me of something. It was really weird. TNT moved to New York in the Long Island area, so I moved in with band assistant Bob and his mother Mary. They lived in Bay Shore. Instead of renting hotel rooms, I just moved in with the family and stayed there for seven years or something. It was really good because I got to see middle class America and meet the average American, who had the same dreams as me.
Your video for Moving Like A Cat features videos and photos of fans with their cats. Are you a cat fan yourself? I have three. They usually appear on the back of my chair during these interviews, but they are not here today.
Hey, if you play the song, I, of course, one will appear. At the end of the song, I sampled my own cats. I must say that the cats gave me a lot of pleasure. They are really affectionate, but not overly affectionate. They can have their own life and they don’t need a lot of comforts. They are mystical with the way they communicate, and sometimes if I hurt somewhere you’ve probably had that too, the cat comes and lays down where it’s actually hurt.
I love cats, but I’ve only had one at a time. I could have more because I live in the forest. It started with a riff that kind of sounded like a cat. That’s how the subject was born because one thing inspires another.
You are obviously known for your guitar playing, especially with TNT, but on your albums you also sing. Was it difficult the very first time you decided to do it?
As a guitarist, you’re easily labeled ‘the singer guitarist’, that’s what they call it, you have the voice of the guitarist. If you look back, a lot of those guys didn’t have the best voice on the planet, they just quieted down their guitar playing. And I would say Joe Walsh, Ace Frehley, there are so many of these guys who aren’t technically amazing to my ears, but they have character.
I’m inspired by David Bowie, a lot of low register stuff and mid range stuff. While TNT is obviously written in a higher key, I can’t sing that. I had to sing in a key that works with my voice.
You’re lucky in a way, because if you started singing that high-pitched stuff at the beginning, the older you get, the harder it gets to sing.
Many singers may struggle. To play it live, they have to transpose the music and, of course, it won’t sound the same. This is TNT as an example. I think that happens to a lot of bands, bands from the 70s and 80s. The best bands are the ones that just go with the guts – AC/DC and those guys – they don’t give a damn about the keys, they just go and do it.
To learn more about Ronni, visit ronniletekro.com.
Photo: Carl Eek
Photo: Carl Eek