Known or for his flashy guitar antics with Norwegian heavy metal band TNT, Ronni Le Tekrø stretches his skills on a new solo album called Bigfoot TV, inspired by his obsession with supernatural and expedition television shows during COVID-19 lockdowns.
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?
Ever since Corona hit us, it was a lot of television for me to dig into. Eventually, I started watching stuff like Expedition Unknown, Hunting Hitler, the Treasure on Oak Island, Finding Bigfoot, and all those TV series – the ones where you’re never going to get the answer. When I started writing it, it was a concept album, but I ended up writing lyrics pretty much about myself. Then I realized that my life has been kind of like Bigfoot TV, an unsolved mystery.
The album cover is extremely interesting. Tell me about that concept.
Bigfoot TV was made by conceptual artist Elmer Laahne. What he does, he kind of mounts up that TV and they get detailed plastic figures into it. So, it’s a mix between some data, animated stuff and the real photography. I think he pretty much described the title very well with the thing. Then again, if you look at Amused To Death with the Roger Waters, you see an ape in front of the TV, so it’s kind of an extension of his ideas in a way. I’m a big fan of that type of conceptual thinking.
What made this the perfect time for releasing a solo album?
It was the perfect time because it seems every time I release an album, if it was with TNT or my solo, there’s always a fucking war going on or some fucking lunatic in an election. Trump fucked up the last TNT album – he got all the attention. The Gulf War got us twice. TNT had an album out every time that shit broke loose. So, in a sense, there’s a war with each album. What could I expect with a band name like TNT? It’s obvious…
What are some of the differences in writing for yourself and writing for TNT?
I think I’m allowed 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 dare say. I don’t expect the TNT guys to like or use those songs that I present on this album. This is not TNT material. This is beyond in a way, and it’s very personal lyrically. Saying that, if you look at the lyrics Tony (Harnell) wrote, I think a lot of that stuff is very personal for him too, 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 that one.
It’s strange that you say that, because that’s obviously inspired by elements of folk and if you listen back, you’ll hear Russian folk music. I wrote it about friends that I lost the last couple of years, really close friends. I mean, I lost three or four of them 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 that are alive. We’ve got just a handful of time, especially at my age, being 58. I realize that I’ve got a handful of time.
Life On Long Island seems very autobiographical. What made that experience in Long Island so unique?
This is a good question. When I came to Long Island the first time and smelled the North American territory, it had a totally different smell – that’s what I remember most. I fell in love immediately with the smell. It’s like I had been there before. It reminded me of something. It was really weird. TNT got based out of New York in the Long Island area, so, I moved in with the assistant of the band, Bob and his mother Mary. They lived in Bay Shore. Instead of renting hotel rooms, I just moved in with the family and I stayed there for seven years or something like that. It was really nice because I got to see middle class America and met the average American, which had the same dreams that I had.
Your video for Moving Like A Cat features videos and photos from fans with their cats. Are you yourself a cat fan? I have three. They usually pop on the back of my chair during these interviews, but they’re not here today.
Hey, if you play the song, I’, sure one will pop up. At the end of the song, I sampled my own cats. I have to say that cats have given me a lot of pleasure. They’re really affectionate, but not overly affectionate. They can have their own life and they don’t need that much comfort. They’re mystical with the way they communicate, and sometimes if I’m hurting somewhere, you probably had that too, the cat comes and lays on the spot where it’s actually hurt.
I love cats, but I’ve only had one at a time. I could have more because I live out in the forest. It started with a riff that somehow felt like a cat. That’s how the topic came about because one thing inspires another.
You’re obviously known for your guitar playing, especially with TNT, but on your albums you sing as well. Was that difficult the very first time you decided to do it?
As a guitar player, you easily get labeled ‘the guitarist singer’, that’s what they call it, you got the guitarists voice. If you’re looking back, a lot of those guys didn’t have the best voice on the planet, they just kind of soothed their guitar playing. And I would say Joe Walsh, Ace Frehley, there’s so many of those guys that are not technically incredible in my ears, but they have a character.
I’m inspired by David Bowie, a lot of the lower 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 sense, because if you started singing that high stuff in the early days, the older you get, the harder that stuff is to sing.
A lot of singers can have difficulties. To play it live, they’ve got to transpose the music and, of course, it’s not going to sound the same. That’s TNT as an example. I think that’s happening to a lot of bands, the bands from the 70s and 80s. The best bands are the ones that just went with the gut – AC/DC and those guys – they don’t fuck around with keys, they just go and do it.
For more on Ronni, visit ronniletekro.com.