Interview By Jason Brown
"Well legends are made from Rock, Metal and Tony Martin is one of those at the top along side the likes of Rob Halford, Ozzy, Geoff Tate, Glenn Hughes among others.... With the success of 5 Black Sabbath albums such as 'TRY', 'Headless Cross', 'Cross Purpose' among others and also projects such as 'The Cage', etc.. Tony has become a legend in his own right. I managed to catch up with him a couple of months ago on the 'Whole Lotta Metal' tour that shook the UK, along with Carl Sentence ex 'Persian Risk' and members of 'The Royal Family' a tribute band to 'Queen'. The tour was a success and saw Tony and the boys playing covers from the 70's to the 90's by such acts as Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy, Sabbath, Whitesnake etc... I spoke to Tony before he went on stage to find out more about his musical background to to find out what the future holds for him, here is what he had to say.."
OK Tony, first of all could you tell me who your roots were when you were growing up and also was there any member of your family who as musically talented?
"Well I am a child of the 70's, I grew up on that era and that is why this 'Whole Lotta Metal' tour came about, to pay tribute to the band that have influenced so many of us, it is not only interesting I also feel part of it. As for my family, well nobody really was a musician and my grand parents were Italian and they were musicians playing violin etc... So it kind of skipped a generation and landed on me. I am the only member right now who is a musician."
So who are the vocal influences that really inspired you?
"Well that's a tough question, I really can't say one in particular as there are so many and I grow up listening to melodies and I found there were a lot of melodies in the 70's and I still find that today. It's like even if you cant remember the word you will always remember the song. So I grew up with think kind of mind listening to melody hooks etc... As for singers, I'm a big fan of Glenn Hughes and he has one of those natural voices were there are not many people who can match is talent. I am also inspired by Karen Carpenter and going back to the 1940's it was Nat King Cole and these people could do anything and still sing. As for me I really have to work at it and I have to make my voice do what it does today."
Who was the first band you were in? Also what about your first recording artist, who were they?
"God I can't remember that one, I think I was 7 and I was in school. Well I actually work in different types of music before I joined Black Sabbath. I worked with Reggae, Pop, and Rock. I was actually working for 'Musical Youth', from the UK who wrote 'Past The Doochie', and they were still at school at that time and I was helping their father who is also their manager. There dad had another band who also had the same number of musicians in another band, so he would ask them to write songs and then play them to his sons when they came home from school to learn. I was in the production team helping them get the songs together the way they wanted to play them. I was a guitar player then so I taught them the melody hooks for the songs. After that I worked with 'Dixie Midnight Runners', 'The Alliance', 'Orion' I was about 20yrs old back then, and before that I was doing cabaret stuff."
OK Tony, moving on, let's talk about you auditioning for Black Sabbath, who else was in the pipe line for the job?
"Well to be honest, Sabbath was on the floor when I joined to were they took an unknown signer under their wing and nobody wanted to work with them really. They had 6 singer before I had even got in the band. It is hard because you are always standing in somebody else's shoes all the time. So it is always hard to live up too so many expectations and a stayed with the band for 10yrs and gave it my best shot, but we could not take it any further, so the only place they could go was to get Ozzy back in the band.
Would you ever go back Tony to Black Sabbath?
"No!! I would like to work with Tony Iommi again. I have no problems with the whole thing at all, best of luck to them."
Looking back to the albums you recorded with Sabbath, which are your favourites and why? Also do you have any least favourites and why?
"My least favourite is 'Forbidden', (Ed: I have heard it but I don't agree that a rapper should produce a metal album, it just does not work, do you agree?). Well I remember having a meeting with the band and manager and we were writing songs for the album. There was Cozy Powell there and myself and we looked at each other and said 'This is not going to work'. The management said it would be great and it would work!! At this point I was not even sure if I was going to be the singer on this album right up until the studio i said 'Am I actually doing this or is Ice T coming in to do the whole lot??" That really did spoil it for me, it just does not work especially with Sabbath, Sabbath is Sabbath!! I didn't have a problem with the Run DMC thing because that was cool but it just did not work for us. My favourite album would have to be 'TYR', that is the son of Odin and when Geezer joined the band and we did 'Cross Purpose' I really got into that album and it had some great songs on that record. Not all of the songs sounded like Sabbath, we even did a ballad on their. My favourite song on 'TYR' is ' Anno Mundi', and I also like most of that album. I also like a lot of stuff on the 'Cross Purpose' album too!! I do remember doing a lot of slower stuff with Sabbath back then, and I had hair then (laughing)."
Looking back Tony, I preferred Sabbath back then when you were the singer, because the music was more mystical, whereas when Dio was the sing it was more dungeons & dragons sort of stuff.
"Well thanx Jason for your kind words, I really do appreciate them."
OK after the departure of you & Sabbath, what did you then do?
"Well I went home to raise a family, because I got really disillusioned with the whole music industry and I really didn't want to do it anymore so I decided to stay at home and had 2 more kids and built a house etc... I also ended up having my 2nd divorce and after that I thought it was stupid to do something which I wasn't really good at, so I decided to go back to the music where my heart belonged. All the past faces I knew back in the days had gone!!!"
What was your reaction when you heard about Cozy Powell's death?
"I was devastated, I had known him for 13 years, but I didn't get the chance to go to his funeral. I did however do a tribute show to him and his urn was actually under the drum kit that night and it was also his drum kit we used."
So after the split with Black Sabbath and your divorce you decided to do some projects like The Cage etc... could you tell me more please!!
"I did the M. Calvin stuff and I hate that guy, because all the songs on the album I did were songs that were wrote by 'The Alliance' and he took there names off and put his on. have no respect for him. After that I did 'The Cage' albums with Dario Mollo and he still asks me to sing with him live and I think he wants to me record another album in the near future. I really want to concentrate on my solo album, it has been a while since I last did a solo album. I just found out that somebody want's to re-release my 'Back To Where I belong' album so I will have to see what happens as I did not have the rights to that album the first time around."
What about the 'Empire' album, was you happy with the way that album turned out, by the way Lasse say's hello from Lion Music'.
"Cool!! Hi Lasse!! I was really happy with the way that album turned out, I had such a fun time recording that with Rolf Munkes and he made me feel very at home and welcome. I also helped him to put some of the songs together and I really like that album. I almost forgot how melodic that album really is, it's a great record!!"
OK, lets move on, so how did the idea and tour for 'Whole Lotta Metal' come about?, Who approached you etc...?
"Well Simon Wright, the keyboard player is also the promoter and it was his idea, and he has been trying to get this together for some time now. He actually called me up and asked me if I was interested in doing the tour. So I asked him who is playing in the band, and what's it about?? SO when he told me who was in the band we then had 2 rehearsals and then we were playing together."
So how well has this tour been going for the band?
"It has been going great so far!! Everybody has been singing along and having a great time.
When I was sending you e-mails before today, you said that you were not going to play a Judas Priest song because of Dave Holland's actions, why was that? After all he has not been in the band for over 14yrs.
"Well it was a rough choice at first because like you said he was not been in the band for many years and I wanted to do a song by them and some of the members did not, because of his actions. They thought it was cause problems and the band started to have arguments about it. So we decided to not put their songs in the set, until recently when we decided to do 'Living After Midnight' as we thought it was not the bands fault for their former members actions. That would of been unfair!!"
So what is your next move after the tour has finished?
"Well I have to concentrate on my solo career which will be a trilogy of everything I have done from the lighter stuff to the heavier stuff."
Well Tony's thanx for taking your time out and for doing this interview. Do you have anything to say before we finish?
"It was a pleasure to finally meet you Jason, to the fans thanx for sticking by me over the years and thanx to those who came to the shows on this tour.
to Tony for his time doing this interview, and also Simon Wright for arranging
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