Singer Tony Martin has been part of the hard rock/metal scene for well over thirty years and has played with numerous outfits in that time, but for many he will be remembered as that ‘other’ BLACK SABBATH singer. Long time fans will point to The Eternal Idol, Cross Purposes and even Headless Cross as essential while bemoaning the Tÿr and Forbidden albums. Regardless of how fans debate the albums, one thing is for sure, Tony Martin helped Sabbath survive and ever prosper in a time of uncertainty. He recently lent his vocals talents to Aldo Giuntini for his new GIUNTINI PROJECT IV album and still tours.
Rock journalist Mitch Lafon had a chance to speak with Tony Martin on behalf of BraveWords this week and he talks about the past, present and future.
BraveWords: You’ve recently recorded music with Aldo Giuntini. Tell me about the project?
Tony Martin: “Well Aldo is a distant musician who writes riffs and sends the files to me. I sing vocals at home and then send the result to Dario who puts the songs together in his studio. I kinda like working on Aldo's riffs but they are difficult to make them Tony Martin. I have to give a lot of thought to it, but overall it’s enjoyable though.”
BraveWords: Over the years you’ve been involved with many bands and projects, but only two albums and a single as a solo artist. Why haven’t you done more as a solo artist? And will there be more soon?
Martin: "Opportunity is all really. I have not been regarded as a solo artist by the industry and so I usually end up singing for other bands.”
BraveWords: With the exception of Ozzy - no one has fronted Black Sabbath longer than yourself. First off, how did you get the gig? Secondly, how did it affect you as a person and a performer? Were you a fan of the band?
Martin: "Lots of questions in one!!! I was a fan since I was a teenager but not a close follower. I got the job via my then manager who used to be with the band. It was a huge confusing moment and hard to get to grips with, but it developed my voice and performance.”
BraveWords: It’s been reported that no one from Black Sabbath has spoken to you since you last left. Is that a disappointment to you? If Tony Iommi called today - what would you like to say to him? Even if it were only a side-project would you like to go back out with Tony and perform your Sabbath-era songs live?
Martin: "I met Tony Iommi once in Russia and he was very amicable. He thought I did good on the show we were on and that's about it. Haven't seen or heard from him since or before that. I would have liked to hook up with him again but now that he has cancer it’s unlikely.”
BraveWords: The Tyr and Forbidden albums are much maligned, but Headless Cross and Cross Purposes are considered essential Sabbath for many fans. How do you view those albums and your contribution to the Sabbath legacy?
Martin: "I hear many great comments about Tyr!!! Forbidden is a bit weird… Well, a LOT weird. But the others are cool. I don't usually listen to my OWN recordings but I regard them all as relevant in the big scheme of things.”
BraveWords: After leaving Black Sabbath for the last time - were there moments of depression or was it a relief? I can imagine there must have been enormous
pressure being in the band.
Martin: "The hardest part was reading between the lines. There wasn't much in the way of direct talking, mostly done by others and relayed through managers etc., but I felt like I hadn't finished! I thought there was better to come so it was disappointing.”
BraveWords: Who are some of your favorite musicians you’ve played with and why? Other than the Black Sabbath albums - what albums that you’ve been involved with - would you urge fans to check out? And what makes them special?
Martin: "My voice appears on 45 albums - too many to name here - but I hope one day to collate it all so people know where to start looking. Some of the best ones are with artists you probably wouldn't realize… like AYREON. And I have worked on everything from reggae to rock... lots of TM related stuff.”
BraveWords: Vocally how would you rate Ozzy, Dio and yourself? Was it harder, for you, to sing the ‘Dio’ or ‘Ozzy’ songs? And what made it harder?
Martin: "I don't really have a rating system. They were always just part of the history of the band like (Ian) Gillan, so it was just a matter of can I reach the notes or not. I could get around most of them (not always but I did what I could).”
BraveWords: You were involved in the recording sessions for Dehumanizer, but were recording a solo album at the time. Tell me about your decision to not commit to Sabbath at the time. Is it a decision you regret? Was anything recorded with your vocals for the album?
Martin: "Oh, I was working on Back Where I Belong (1992 solo album) and Polydor refused to let me go. I did go to a recording session ‘cause they were having problems with Ronnie (I was told) and it was to try a few things, but nothing came of it until I finished BWIB.”
BraveWords: Black Sabbath, in the last few years, released Deluxe Editions of all their albums except yours (other than Eternal Idol). Do you think we’ll ever see Deluxe Editions of your era albums? And if so, what would you like to see included on them?
Martin: "There has been talk of releasing it, but so far nothing materialized. All of my albums were removed from sale so it would be nice to see them reinstated.”
BraveWords: Where can fans find you online? And what else would you like to plug.
Martin: "I’m a Facebook
junkie and you'll find me mostly on there, but I shall be working on a new website and hopefully that will cater for everything.”