To some former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin has seemingly been out of the spotlight for quite some time since recording albums like Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, Tyr, Cross Purposes, and Forbidden with the heavy metal legends in the 80's & 90's, but the reality is he's quietly kept busy, and just recently finished recording a third album with Italian guitar master Dario Mollo. The Third Cage has recently been released on Frontiers Records, and SoT Publisher Pete Pardo was able to track down Martin to talk about the new CD, his busy schedule, and time spent with Black Sabbath.
SoT: It's been quite a while now since your Black Sabbath days, but for the most part you've been out of the spotlight. Can you talk a little bit about that final year with Sabbath, and what you've been up to since then?
Tony: Well the final year of Sabbath was VERY uncomfortable!!!!! .. I had NO IDEA
what was happening although i knew some change was being concidered. I had
no idea if i was going to be on the last album or not. Even right up to
being in the studio i still didnt know..... When i spoke to the management
about it they just said do it anyway and we will see what happens. ... This
of course was relating to Ice T ... The forbiden album was suposed to be a
concept with the Rap thing..... But they wouldnt tell me if Ice T was doing
the whole album or one song or sections in songs.... i had no idea. The
rehearsals were tense and we were making some good tracks but it didnt feel
right. ..... after it all was produced my manager rang and said it was all
over. I was quite dispondant with the whole scene after that and it took a
long time to get inspired but in the mean time i raised a family, and did
the odd session from time to time.
SoT: The Third Cage is your third release with Dario Mollo. Can you talk a little bit how you both met, and what differentiates this release from the previous two?
Tony: We met because i was offered a session with an Italian guitarist called Aldo
Giuntini. He had a producer, Kit Wolvern, who asked me to be involved with
the Giuntini project. As we progressed through the session they played me
some other tracks and asked if i liked them, it was music written by The
studio engineer/owner Dario Mollo ..... I took them away and worked on them
a little and found it was possible to get some songs out of them, we
eventually decided that we should try making an album i suggested the name
"The Cage" it was a name we had concidered using when i was in Cozy Powells
hammer but never used it. We had a little success with the Cage albums,
nothing major but the talent was obviously there so we continued to explore
it. We arrive at Cage 3 and it is about as far as we can go with it really.
It is by far the best of the 3. It took 4 years to write it..... I decided
that only the songs that i could make work would be concidered. In the past
i had tried to make songs out of everything... but this time i felt like it
needed to be concidered more. It has to be said there arent many riffs i had
to reject. When Dario sends me riffs they usually come as a track and then i
would cut them up to suit what ever melody and lyric i felt apropriate and
then he would re record it in that form. ... Very patient ..... A lot of
work . .. but it really does mean that you are hearing the best things from
SoT: This new CD has a lot of variety on it-from catchy melodic rock,
power metal, some 70's hard rock, to our and out riffing heavy metal.
Is there a specific style you like to sing in, or has working with
Dario allowed you to try your hand at different styles?
Tony: I'm not really keen on the 80's melodic rock type things... we had started
the first cage album and as i said i would make songs out of anything that
came my way..... that became a kind of format for us on the scond album too
so then the 3rd came and Dario sent me the same kind of track and i thought
.. ok, i guess we have to keep the image going .... I prefer the mysterious
and riffy type things.
SoT: It's pretty obvious that your voice is as strong as ever after
listening to The Third Cage. What do you do to keep your voice in such
Tony: Well remember I took nearly 4 years to make this... and given that amount of
time its possible to use the best takes that you can perform.... when you
are writing AND recording things get changed .. chorus sections become
bridge sections or vise versa .. lyrics are changed etc etc... so its
written sometimes as you go along. My voice clearly works in some ways
better than others... I am aware of that and try to make the sections work
with my voice. To be honest i have the same problems with age and power that
most singers have and i have to work constantly to keep it in form.. even in
the studio i am always doing apropriate excercises that keep my voice going.
.,..... It is a constant battle..!!!
SoT: Has there even been any discussion between the two of you to take
this project out on the road for some live appearances?
Tony: Dario has mentioned it but i have not heard anything positive, but i dont
think i would tour it....
SoT: "Still In Love With You" reminds me of vintage Rainbow, Deep Purple,
and Dio styled heavy rock. How much are the both of you into that
style of material?
Tony: Well the music only comes to life when the vocals go on top and i didnt
realise that it was taking that shape ... I was just writing the best melody
i could get for those riffs.... The lyrics were almost a post melody
invention.... i had the melody way before i had the words ,,..... It was one
of the more enjoyable songs to write for me. Dario said he loved it so i
guess we were both in the same zone for that one.... i would find it hard to
write a whole album of that though.!!!
SoT: Are there any other musical projects that you either currently
working on or in the plans to?
Tony: I have 5 other things .... and as they come up i will be happy to talk to
you about them... The ones that are no secret are the new Giuntini album
which was sounding great when i last heard it! .... And a project called
Silver Horses which is beautifull bluesy stuff ... different for me but very
exciting..... the other projects are in the making and will be announced as
they become cemented.
SoT: You appeared on some impressive Black Sabbath releases that sadly
never really got the exposure they deserved. What were some of your
favorite songs and albums from that period?
Tony: Apart from Forbiden .. I love them all really.... and for different
reasons.... there were 7 different line ups when I was in the band so being
able to work with Cozy Powell and Bobby Rondinelli was cool.... and Geezer
and Neil Murray ..... they all made unique writing partners and so the
albums Headless Cross and Cross Purposes were very different but wonderful
to work on.
SoT: If you could make your own supergroup to perform & record with from
musicians currently active today, who would they be?
Tony: My kids! ... They are awesome!!
SoT: There are a lot of excellent newer bands on the hard rock/metal
scene today, as well as classic bands out there still making a go of
it. Are there any that you currently follow and admire?
Tony: Almost all of them... from Radio head to Foo Fighters.... Ramstein to
Hawkwind.... Vanessa may to Elgar..... and Reggea .... love em all. Apart
from GLEE and those sickly nasty sticky mind numbing pop rock type things
.... the rest is cool.
SoT: Anything additional you'd like to tell our readers?
Tony: Well , a million and one other things ..... but you dont have space!
I wouldnt be a serious working musician if i didnt have something to say
about the music industry as a whole, which needs replacing by the way.
Music is a worthless art these days -it only benefits those that live
off the back of it mostly, and the artist gets little from it. We are
the first person in the chain that writes and creates the product .. but we
are the last person in the chain to get paid .... in between are all the
labels and publishers and promoters and managers etc etc that still take the
same percentages that they all did. And the attitude towards music in the
consumer has been crucified!!!!! Now its expected that music should be
FREE... its not for FREE!! The result is a much poorer industry i
beleive.... The changes i beleive must come from the artist .. We are the
ones that sign the stupid contracts.. and apart from the work that is stolen
are the ones that allow our work to be given away. Stop giving music away
for FREE- it's not working! Stop working for FREE - its not working!!!!
We need to get worth back into music.. to make it worth it!!!... Otherwise
there is no point ....
(Click here to read our review of The Third Cage)