This is Lee Walker from Planetmosh conducting an interview with Tony Martin.
LW – Hi Tony, thanks for taking the time out to discuss things Tony Martin and The Headless Cross related for the Planetmosh readers.
TM – Hey!… no problem .. nice to talk to you.
LW – For the people out there just discovering Tony Martin as a musician, how did you become involved with the music industry?
TM – Well…. not enough space here. It was a very slow gradual thing, I did my first show when I was 7 years old as a guitarist… and after many years of slow gradual progression I finally ended up being professional when I was 25.
LW – What bands and artists have influenced you over the years?
TM – Everything really…. In my early years we listened to everything from Zepplin to T.Rex . Now it spans styles from Foo fighters to Elgar!!!!!!!!!
LW – In terms of the Tony Martin’s Headless Cross band, how did it originally form?
TM – Oh that’s just a name I give to my live band at the time. There have been a few different versions and the name is from one of the albums I did with Black Sabbath in a similar way that they used Heaven and Hell for the Ronnie reunion.
LW – I believe you have recently put together a new line up for the Tony Martin’s Headless Cross band. What made you choose these talented (and lucky) people to work with?
TM – Well Danny Needham has always been my drummer. He currently works with Venom but for some years he has been in the TM band. He is completely trustworthy and amazing so there was no real choice there. Geoff Nicholls is a great friend and although he is semi retired he is always willing to lend his time to the TM band and I love having him in there. Dario Mollo is a new member to the TM band. I have recently released an album with him in a project we have called The Cage and it is great to have him on board. Magnus Rosen is my new Bass player for this time round. I met him in Sweden and was completely taken by his talent and what a gentleman of rock he is.
LW – Will this version of the TMHC band be for live shows only or can we expect any new studio releases from you?
TM – TMHC is essentially what will bring you all the tracks of my career to the stage. It’s not impossible that one version may attempt a studio album but essentially it is the live version of TM.
LW – In terms of your own musical history you were involved with a little know band by the name of Black Sabbath. How did you end up being a part of it?
TM – My manager at that time was a good friend of Iommi and also their tour manager through the seventies. He called me one day and said he was gonna take me to meet someone but wouldn’t tell me who. When we rang the door bell on a rather large house in the Midlands, Iommi answered the door !!!!!! That was a moment to remember!! He got me an audition I sang one song… The Shining .. and got the job. …… Sounds easy don’t it… Man …it was far from it.
LW – What was it like being a part of Black Sabbath ?
TM – Quite distancing really. They are all 10 years older than me so our circles didn’t really mix and it was always a kind of me and them situation in many ways because of that mismatch of backgrounds and circles but it wasn’t a bad thing most of the time. I’m afraid you are never really a full member of Sabbath … it’s too protected and revered at times Jealously!!!!!
LW – From the albums that you released as part of Black Sabbath which was your favourite album to work on ?
TM – Better to say the one I DIDNT like was Forbiden – the rest were very cool !!!!
LW – What is your most memorable experience from your Black Sabbath days ?
TM – Every turn was memorable.. the good ones and the bad ones… farrrrr too many to list but it was an experience you don’t forget.
LW – Why did you leave Black Sabbath?
TM – Oh they were always plotting and planning various things. There were 7 different line ups when I was in the band.!!!!! They tried a reunion with Ronnie for Dehumaniser but they quickly lost interest in that and asked me back again and then they decided Ozzy was the next reunion. You always had to read between the lines with Sabbath . No one ever told me it always came from someone else or you found out some other way.
LW –With the sad passing of Ronnie James Dio, did you come under any pressure to rekindle your association with Black Sabbath?
TM – Nope!
LW – You was recently quoted as saying that you have not spoken to “Black Sabbath in 15 years”. Is this really the case or was it a misinterpretation of something that you have said ?
TM – Its true. I met Iommi very briefly in Russia a few years back and he congratulated me on doing a good job with my band but no Sabbath haven’t spoken to me in over 15 years. The fone stopped ringing and that was that.
LW – In terms of your post Black Sabbath years you have been involved in many musical projects ranging from the Tony Martin’s Headless Cross band through to The Cage. Which of these has your favourite project to work on ?
TM – Well the Whitesnake guys, M3, Phenomena, Cage. Giuntini quite a few. All of them enjoyable for their own reasons. I only take on things that I feel I am going to enjoy. I’m not a session singer – never was able to get my head around that… so all of them really.
LW – How would you compare this new Tony Martin’s Headless Cross band to your time with Black Sabbath or your earlier versions of the TMHC band ?
TM – This version is far more up there I think. We will see how it turns out. I am happy to be moving forward again… it wasn’t always possible to use the previous versions of TMHC cause the various promoters around the world want names to sell the act and with only me and Geoff and Danny it meant that we were doing stupid singer only shows where they hire the rest of the band from local musicians… very good ones usually but still not my band .. so I stopped … The other players in previous versions always did a good job!!! … But this version has got a great response so far. I REALLY need to know if it’s genuine and workable so I am really excited to get the band on stage.
LW – Why did you decide to only do the one UK show this year ?
TM – That’s easy. All the other players have commitments and it was the only dates I could get em all together. If it works, we have to talk about what to do next.
LW – Why did you decide to choose Birmingham to base this one exclusive show in ?
TM – That’s easy too. I had agreed to do a festival on the East Coast but the half wit promoter dropped out of the festival cause he didn’t have the acts he thought he had … instead of asking first .. he promised the dates and then we were left finding another venue. Fortunately The Asylum in Birmingham came to the rescue, an old friend of ours Roy, the bass player from a band called SHY, runs it and was able to slot us in. ALMOST on the same date that we had to recover.
LW – Besides the UK exclusive Birmingham show, what can we expect from Tony Martin for 2012 ?
TM – I have 5 projects running… and I will be happy to talk to you about those as they crop up. The Cage is the first one to be released recently and I am just on my way back to Italy to record another new project Called “Silver Horses” its a kind of blues Zepplin style thing that is just wonderful to work with and its a departure from the metal vocal thing so I am looking forward to that.
LW – If you had to choose one song to sum up the Tony Martin’s Headless Cross band what would it be ?
TM – Well .. the drama of the Sabbath material has always worked well for us so far… songs like Eternal Idol and the Shining etc from the forgoten years …. all great stuff.. but there are some new additions now too that we never played before …. EVER ….
LW – Are there any bands out there you would recommend keeping an eye on right now ?
TM – All of em.. you NEVER know what is gonna shine and what is gonna tarnish. I dont have TV in my house… BY CHOICE!!!! and everything is radio borne for me so I listen to EVERYTHING!!!!!!
LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?
TM – Nope!! hahaha.. They are wonderful, faithful dedicated people that give most of their waking hours to absorb what we do and get up to . Its always a pleasure to meet them and its not very often I get that chance to. I am sure if they are able they will come support us. It’s a very special event we have comin up!! And I know already there are people coming from afar as Canada and Sweden and Italy just for this one show!!! .. VERY cool !!! Friday July 27th … Asylum Birmingham…. where else would you possibly want to be!??? hehe just kidding.!
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