Jeffrey Harr - Lead Vocals
Randi-Mike Field - Guitars
Wayne Swinny - Guitars
Eric Lewis - Guitars
Kelly McDonald - Bass Guitar
Michael Gumm - Bass Guitar
Eddie Matlock - Drums (R.I.P.)
TNA. We all know what the acronym stands for and it’s not the Tennessee Nuns Association. No, the fleshly objects those letters stand for are as much a part of the ‘80s metal scenery as spandex and Aqua Net, so it is no surprise that this group of Southern sleaze-metal mavericks selected this for their moniker.
TNA, began to roughly form circa 1985, cobbled together from the dissolution and remnants of other local acts. Parts of the line-up rotated a few times, a revolving door of musicians, including Todd Poole who auditioned for the drummer slot before moving on to minor commercial success as the front-man for Roxy Blue. Apparently some of these auditions were accomplished with the help of Wild Turkey, because back in hair-metal’s halcyon days, the ability to sing or play while your blood bubbled on the brink of alcohol poisoning was pretty much a mandatory skill-set. Anyway, after a few years of fluctuating rosters, TNA solidified into a serious, like-minded, cohesive hard rock band.
In the beginning, they played cover tunes, but once their line-up stabilized, they turned their collective attention to writing originals, influenced by everyone from Kiss and Aerosmith to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. They focused on delivering heavy hitting riff-rock that got straight to the point like a sniper’s bullet. No time for bullshit, no time for fluff. They wanted to rock, they wanted to groove, they wanted to prove they weren’t posers, so they tore into the club scene with relentless energy, fine- tuning their chops until they were, in the colorful words of bassist Michael Gumm, “so tight you couldn’t drive a toothpick up our ass with a twenty pound sledgehammer.”
The band was hungry. Literally. After rocking out a club in Baton Rouge, TNA and their road crew returned to their hotel and stopped at the vending machines to satisfy their junk food cravings. Well, the machine was apparently feeling ornery that night and decided to steal their money without dispensing the purchased items, so the crew picked up the entire unit, transported it back to the room, dumped it upside down on the bed, and rocked it until every last item spilled out. They then returned the empty machine to its original location before going back and gorging themselves on candy bars and potato chips. Word on the street is that the victimized vending machine never recovered from the vicious violation.
But TNA craved more than food, they craved success, and as they invaded what seemed like every dirty dive and crummy club in the country with their Memphis-tinged metal, they began turning heads, eventually landing a spec deal with Ardent Studios in 1988. Following some recording sessions, Ardent arranged a showcase for numerous major labels and A&R representatives. The band eventually hired Elton John’s entertainment attorney and fielded some significant agency offers that they declined for various reasons. With the retrospective clarity that comes from 20/20 hindsight, the band acknowledges that refusing those offers may have been a costly mistake. Then again, none of it may have mattered, because soon thereafter, grunge came along on a killing spree, murdering sleaze-metal practically overnight, and TNA became just one of its many victims.
While no new music is currently in the pipeline, the band is talking about possibly doing some reunion shows. Most all of the members continue to be affiliated with the music business in some form or fashion.
Guitarist Wayne Swinny is now the guitarist for major label act Saliva. TNA’s other guitarist, Eric Lewis, now plays the bluegrass circuit. Bassist Kelly McDonald can be found most nights plucking the strings with various rock/blues acts on Beale Street in Memphis. Lead singer Jeffrey Harr tours as a video tech and camera operator for various artists, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Martina McBride. Music is in their blood, as necessary as breathing, as vital as the hearts that beat within them.
So while the band no longer wears ripped shirts, neon-colored spandex, and leopard-print leggings, they still consider T&A to be a few of their favorite things, and they still consider their time as TNA to be some of their favorite memories.