Tarja Virmakari of Metal Shock Finland recently conducted an interview with former BLACK SABBATH singer Tony Martin. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Shock Finland: For many BLACK SABBATH fans, “Headless Cross” (1989) was the last masterpiece of the band. What are your memories of that album?
Tony Martin: VERY exciting… and pleased to be on board, as I am sure you can imagine… especially having Cozy Powell [drums] on board. All was fine at that point.
Metal Shock Finland: Do you think it’s possible to see a reunion tour with Tony [Iommi] and the other [members of BLACK SABBATH]?
Tony Martin: At this point I can’t see how. SABBATH haven’t talked to me in 15 years. All of the albums that I was on was removed from sale completely by them and it would take unbelievable changes to get it all back together.
Metal Shock Finland: What do you think about the other SABBATH singers — Ozzy Osbourne, Glenn Hughes, Ian Gillan and Ronnie James Dio?
Tony Martin: I don’t have any particular issues with any of them. I know Ian slightly and got on well. I know Glenn Hughes quite well and get on well. [I] only met Dio once and he wasn’t happy at the time. I tried talking to him, but he was just unresponsive. [I have] no idea what that was about. [I] never met any of the others. They all have a place in the history of the band, of course.
Metal Shock Finland: What can you reveal me about your project with Andy La Rocque (KING DIAMOND) and Magnus Rosén (HAMMERFALL)?
Tony Martin: I met them earlier this year and went to see them at the invitation of Magnus. He told me that he and Andy were looking to do a kind of final big thing and wondered if I would be interested. Well, Magnus is such a great guy, and Andy is, too. I could not resist the chance to work with them. So we recorded two tracks and they turned out really cool. But the problem at the moment is we all have previous things to complete before we can get on to any more, so we are making plans, and hopefully have a new sound for you all to hear later this year.
Metal Shock Finland: Tony, you have 45 years of experience in the music business, and you still have the flame inside of you. Tell me, what is your secret to keep it alive?
Tony Martin: I have been a musician since I was seven, and I can’t get it out of my system. I am trained in many things, from electronics to plumbing! I even worked in a sex shop once, hahaha!!! That was hilarious!!! But music is the thing that has kept me and the thing that I have been able to live on in some ways. It never made me a millionaire and it never will, but I have had most of my adult life involved in it someway or other.
Metal Shock Finland: Talking about the music business of today, is there something that makes you angry? And if you could, would you like to change something?
Tony Martin: Oh, hell, yes! If you think about it, the artist is the FIRST person in the chain. We WRITE the stuff that EVERYONE else earns their living from. Promoters, managers, labels, publishers, press… ALL of ’em live off the back of the thing we create, but we are the LAST person to get paid. We are the same person! All of those people get their cut and percentage and wage, which they STILL take, even though there is far less money in the industry, which leaves the artist with nothing. It has to change, the whole thing, but it has to start with the musicians and artists. Firstly, stop working for free! It’s not helping… Stop giving music away for free… it’s not helping… And start changing the contracts and percentages we give away. Labels are NOT the answer, not these days, when so much is available to the individual. We never had access to the world when I had my last record deal. We NEEDED labels, but not now. I honestly think they are a hindrance for most of us. Time to rethink and take back the value of the thing we create. Music is a worthless art these days; there is no value in it. I approached lawyers to find out why we, as creators and manufacturers, don’t have the same rights as other creators or manufacturers. They are able to expect a basic price for the things they make, but we are not. It seems that the world does not like price fixing, and we, as a group, were considered to have our own mechanism that was supposed to give us our basic rights — contracts — but those are useless today in the download age. Once the artist has got to change the way we work, then we have to show the public the VALUE of what they are taking from us, and the way I see it is with comparison. Take going to the cinema — you go to see a film and pay 10 bucks, for example. You see the film and leave your ten bucks there! If you want to see it again, YOU PAY AGAIN!! Not so with music. Once you have bought the song, it’s yours for LIFE! We don’t ask you to pay every time you PLAY it. And STILL some people think it’s too expensive. Well, that’s just fuckin’ crap! Also, it used to be that we could earn money from shows, but in MY experience the past five years, we now have to pay the PROMOTER just to stand there and sell it, and I have had to pay everything between 20 and 50 percent of the merch! So that isn’t so attractive either. LOTS of things need to change, and I could go on for weeks.
Read the entire interview from Metal Shock Finland.