Singer TONY MARTIN Discusses New Solo Album, BLACK SABBATH Years

Garry Sharpe-Young of Rockdetector.com recently conducted an interview with former BLACK SABBATH frontman Tony Martin. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Rockdetector.com: I guess a question a lot of BLACK SABBATH fans are wanting to know is why you've been relatively quiet on the recording front the past ten years. All your ventures have been relatively low key, such as the CAGE project, BAILEY'S COMET and WHOLE LOTTA METAL tours. Just why has it taken ten years?

Tony Martin: "I wish I knew! [Laughs] It took quite some time to get out of the BLACK SABBATH thing, because it was all left unsaid. You don't get any formal notice, just a deafening silence, so it's difficult to move on. In the past that has happened so many times before, but I always got the phone call to come back. I was still being asked to be an official member for the compilation 'The Sabbath Stones', even though the band wasn't doing anything. After that, it took a long time to discover what I wanted to do and musically where I wanted to go. A lot of people wanted me for guest appearances, rock operas and all kinds of things, but all that stuff just isn't me. I didn't see any benefit to that because I think there are people out there that have spread themselves too thin like that."

Rockdetector.com: OK, onto [your new solo album, "Scream"]. It's taken quite some time for you to put it together.

Tony Martin: "Yeah, about two years actually. I was a bit of a perfectionist over it, I must admit. It was a big learning curve too. A big part of that was the drums. I had Cozy Powell's [late BLACK SABBATH/RAINBOW drummer] tracks from the 'Raising Hell' song and I really felt the need to pay Cozy respect with that. The trouble was that I then had to make the rest of the drums fit in, so it sounded like a whole album. There was a lot of work bringing songs in line just on the drum sound. Actually, I need to make a slight correction there. 'Raising Hell' was never a BLACK SABBATH song. It was being put together at the time of the COZY POWELL'S HAMMER band, so the demo you have is me on guitar, Neil [Murray] on bass, Geoff [Nicholls] on keyboards and Cozy on the drums. The other song, 'Wings of Thunder', which we didn't use in the end, was a BLACK SABBATH song."

Rockdetector.com: What's your view on the rapidly changing state of the music industry and how is it affecting you?

Tony Martin: "That's a tough one. You have to keep up or you become redundant. I think that's where my interest in recording technology and the fact that I do have a solid history with a big band really helps. I would hate to be starting out in a new band today. To me, it seems like everything has flipped over. I remember that being in BLACK SABBATH was a bit like being in a bubble. We were kept distant. You know, that whole backstage thing, you mustn't talk to the band. We had this entourage of crew and minders to keep the public at bay. I used to break that quite a bit because I would often try and have a chat with the fans. I got told off for it too! It was like, 'You can't do that, this is BLACK SABBATH, don't you know? We wear black and nobody is allowed to talk to us.' Now, it's totally flipped. Now bands have to interact with their fans because they are all glued to computer screens. That's why on this tour we just did I made a point of talking to people, taking photos, signing stuff. It was very useful too because I found out just how much the Tony Martin years of BLACK SABBATH meant to people."

Rockdetector.com: Finally, it seems to have taken you a long time to recognize how important a part you played in the BLACK SABBATH history. Am I right in thinking that?

Tony Martin: "I guess you must be, because a lot of people have been telling me that recently! It's an odd one. Even Tony Iommi is a bit like that too, I think. We're the kind of people, just like Geoff Nicholls too, who just get on with the job. We were not interested in outrageous press stories or scandals when we were working on an album or a tour because, as an artist, you're focussed on the music, putting on the best show you can. I guess also Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie [James Dio], Glenn Hughes and Ian Gillan all had that big history too. I was the only new guy, besides Ray Gillen, of course. It's a hard act to follow, but I've spent too long thinking about that. So many people have told me that, yes, those guys were a hard act to follow, but I did it. Tony Iommi obviously thought so too, because he kept asking me back! Right now, though, I'm feeling happy and confident enough to start shouting about it. 'Hey! Remember me?! 'Headless Cross' and all that.' The weird thing is the fans who have come out to the shows are all saying, 'Great! About time!' I think a conversation I had with Bernie Marsden kind of got me thinking like this too. Obviously he's been through it with the whole WHITESNAKE thing. You spend years in denial before you come full circle and recognize that people know you for one thing. In his case, it's WHITESNAKE, in mine it's BLACK SABBATH. You can only ignore it for so long. And you know what? I love singing those songs. I have no artistic problem with any of them so there are no compromises. For all those years those BLACK SABBATH songs were sung by me. Hell, I even sang songs the guys before me couldn't sing! 'Scream' has really opened all that out for me again so it's a whole new stage in my career about to start."

Read the entire interview at Rockdetector.com.

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