On February 25, reporter Jens Lundell of Swedish web magazine CriticalMass.se conducted an interview with former BLACK SABBATH vocalist Tony Martin when the singer took part in a workshop in Gothenburg, Sweden. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
CriticalMass.se: You made quite clear that you are not interested in reuniting with BLACK SABBATH again.
Tony: Not the band. But I don’t have any problems with the people, though. For example, I would work with Tony Iommi, maybe. It’s just that I wouldn’t like to do the same thing that I did before. Just singing Ozzy songs, Dio songs and all the rest of it and my music being pushed aside. That was my issue.
CriticalMass.se: You also made quite clear that the fans will unfortunately not see you on tour that much anymore.
Tony: No. It’s just too hard. Every time we go out on the road, we lose money. They expect us to play for free or for less and less each time and we can’t run an operation like that. It’s just not possible. That’s disappointing, ’cause I want to be out on the road! It’s a natural place for a musician to be. Playing gigs is part of the fun. But you can’t do it for nothing, and if you have to sell your house or your car or have to get a day job as an electrician or something to pay to go and play, then that’s no fun and it’s also damaging to your family and your life.
CriticalMass.se: How does your life look today? Are you a full-time musician?
Tony: Well, yes. Music is my job. I left school about 30-40 years ago with very little qualifications. Although I’m not a stupid person, I didn’t get a lot of paperwork to give me a regular day job, so music is my career. But it’s really hard to make your living out of music now. Even from my position, having been in BLACK SABBATH, which is a good place to start from, you would think. It’s getting harder and harder to survive. It’s not really comfortable at all.
CriticalMass.se: Many people consider “Headless Cross” (1989) to be the strongest album that you made with BLACK SABBATH. You said that you actually prefer “Tyr” (1990) and “Cross Purposes” (1994). For what reason do you do that?
Tony: “Cross Purposes” were slightly more intelligent lyrics. The stories were about different things. “Tyr” was more about the Scandinavian vikings although there was some Russian stuff as well. “Headless Cross” was more English folklore stories and I just liked the music and the harmonies of “Tyr” and “Cross Purposes” better. But I still love “Headless Cross”! I don’t hate it at all. I think it’s great, and I’m really proud of it.
CriticalMass.se: How strong do you consider those albums to be compared to the ones BLACK SABBATH did with Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio?
Tony: Very strong! For the fans who prefer the Tony Martin era, those albums are the best! It all depends on who you ask. If you ask an Ozzy fan then maybe he says “Master of Reality” (1971), or whatever. If you ask a Tony Martin fan, he says “Headless Cross”. Personally, I think that they’re all equally as good, and after all, they asked me to be a part of the band for a reason. They liked what I did and I was there for ten years. That must have been worth something; otherwise, why would they ask me to be in the band?
CriticalMass.se: What are your future plans as an artist?
Tony: I have no idea. It might be that I have to stop completely. That’s very sad, but it’s just not possible to make a living out of music as it is at the moment. The industry does not support musicians as musicians. You have to have another job these days. At this moment, I’m trying to make new things happen. I’d like to get into theatre or stage management, maybe. But I can’t give you a definite answer. I have various Facebook sites and that kind of things and as I will find out what’s gonna happen to me in the future, then I will let everybody know.