Photo: Daniela P
I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Martin and Cozy Powell for an interview a few hours before their show in Karlshamn, at the Karlshamn Festival in Sweden, June 15th 1995. This is the very first time the entire interview is made public - so consider this an exclusive!
I had a great time talking to the two gentlemen, there are a few pretty funny things here -read on and hear them reveal all their darkest secrets..!
D= Daniela (me)
D: You released "Cross Purposes live" and "Forbidden" almost at the same time. Howcome?
C: Pretty stupid, innit? That's not really anything to do with the band, that's a record company decision... Not exactly the greatest marketing thing that you could ever do really. Particularly when "Cross Purposes" is a different line-up to the one that's coming out now. That's a record-company decision that I honestly can't explain...
D: Quite confusing...
C: It's very confusing, not only for you, I mean, to try to review two albums and two whatever... But for us as well, I mean... I cannot understand it, but that is a record company thing. Sometimes they don't do things that we agree with and you have to put up with that in this business.
D: Oh, there he is..! "The Man" himself..!
(Tony walks out of the glass-elevator, wearing his sunglasses - indoors..! Johan from EMI introduces us by saying simply "you met before, right?" Tony lifts up his sunglasses and goes:)
T: It's YOU..! You sent me so much stuff !
D: Just a letter...
T: Well, that was enough! It's huge ! How are you? Good to see you at last.
C: Grab a seat! (points at a chair)
(Johan from EMI asks Tony what he'd like to drink and Tony orders an orange-juice with mineral water, mixed up)
D: See, he's my "hero"..!
C: Can't be bad!
T: Yeah, you should see the letter she sent, it's like this big!
T: Mhm, well, anyway, go on... You were saying..?
C: We only just started. She asked me the first question why they released both albums at the same time, and I said "I don't know!"!
T: No, that really had nothing to do with us, we weren't exactly happy about that. I mean, we obviously have a good situation here, and we're very pleased with what we've put together here, but... They, for some reason, decided to release it at the same time amd we had no control over it, so we're kind of taking a side step about it...
D: What can you tell me about Ice-T appearing on the album?
T: We had a phone call basically. He wanted to work with us. Tony went to meet him, they got on well and from Ice-T, Earnie C was recommended to us as a producer for some of the tracks on the album, so it all started to develop, step by step. And in the end, Earnie ended up producing the whole album, which is quite good. His input really was a "feel"-thing, all the songs were already written by the time he got there.
Well, you see, we didn't know what he was gonna sing... In fact, he didn't know what we were gonna write, and we didn't know what he was gonna rap ! So it was kind of rap by post if you like. We did the songs in the UK, sent one of them over to him, he rapped on it and sent it back. It turned out quite good.
C: I mean, if it had been a typical rap-thing with us it would have been ridicilous, but what he's done on the track he's done is actually really good.
D. It is different..!
T: It is different, but that's the point, it was supposed to be.
C: It was meant to be a guest appearance on one track, nothing more.
D: That was the first song I heard when I put the CD on, and I went: "WHAT is THIS?"
T: ...that stands before me!?
C: It's just a little bit different...
T: We had to ask a lot of questions... It's not something that sort of came up, like, "oh yeah, let's do that", we all looked at eachother and went: "Are you sure ??" Do we really wanna do this? But it turned out good.
C: I think Ice and Earnie were a lot influenced by Sabbath anyway, so...That was where the connection originally came from, not that we absolutely wanted some rappers on a Sabbath-album..!
D: So, who knows who will appear on the next Sabbath-album!
C: Goodness only knows...! We'll probably have Madonna on the next!
T: (laughs) NOT!!
D: You've been very productive. You release an album almost once a year. Is that something that you feel is important to do, not to be forgotten?
T: Not to be forgotten, well, we try to keep the spirit of Black Sabbath alive, which is very important to us.
D: Some bands spend years in the studio...
T: Oh no, we wanted to get right away from that. I mean, it was something right from the beginning that... All we knew really, when we went in to start this album, was we were gonna blow away all those days of spending thousands of pounds, hundreds of hours in a recording studio trying to make songs work. We figured that, if we can play them, and we can, cause this is a great line-up here. The musicianship is excellent, so if we can play it, record it! That was pretty much what we did - recorded the whole album in less than two weeks.
D: Isn't it hard to have that kind of pressure on yourselves, that you have to release an album every year..?
T: It just comes...
C: The band has always been pretty productive and we had more songs than we needed.Every year it just comes out...
D: YOU are very productive..! One never knows which bands you're gonna be in..!
T: Yeah, honestly, he's on like, everything..! In fact, I won't tell you some of the things he's been on!
C: I mean, I enjoy playing, and it's nice to be asked to play on all these different things.
I mean, it's nice to be part of a band unit again.
D: So, do you feel you're a member now, or do you feel like you just "jumped in"..?
C: Weeell... Yeah, I feel like I'm a member. I mean, if this was the first time I've been with the band, it may have been... Well... You know, we all seem to get on well and it works well, and as you say - we had the "...cross" and "Tyr"-albums that were pretty productive and very enjoyable times and this is just gonna be an extension of that.
D: How would you describe the sound of your new album "Forbidden" to someone who hasn't heard it?
T: Different... The thing with this band is... Sabbath is not scared of experimenting with music. If you look through the albums every one is different. Like, this is my eighth year now with the band, 1987, so if you look at that one, "Eternal Idol" which is very different to "Headless Cross" which is different to "Tyr" and different to "Cross Purposes" different to "Forbidden"... Every one has got a different twist to it, and for me, personally, that keeps the freshness of this band alive, because... we can . And those bands that tend to go on sounding exactly the same or even try to sound exactly the same, it gets...a little tedious.
C: Yeah, you have to come up with slightly different things, you know... You have to try and make every album just a little different, otherwise it just becomes monotonous. It's just an extension of the one before and so on. I mean, that's one thing about the band, that we try to vary it a bit.
D: You said that you'd been in Black Sabbath for eight years, but there was one album that you weren't on... What happened there?
T: Well, I got kicked out, basically! (laughs)
T: It was a temporary laps of reason there, I think, like Pink Floyd said. Momentary laps of reason.
C: I think there was a lot of politics going on at that point and I mean... We had a successful line up, the one we've got now. It worked well, we'd done two good albums, we were starting to work on a a third...
D: It was such a stupid idea..!
T: Not really, I mean, I understand there was the temptation to think that we could recapture some of the success that they had with Ronnie in the early days, with "Heaven and hell" and all that, great albums! So I can see the point, and I can understand it, I mean, I wasn't happy about it, but hey, I didn't sort of, go and cry in a corner somewhere. I did a solo album and had a good time making that. And then, it was very soon after they started the Ronnie-thing, I had a phonecall saying "would you come back?" and I couldn't do it, cause I'd started my solo album, so they continued with the Ronnie-thing, did the tour and then, at the end of the tour I had another phonecall saying "look, this really isn't working...Do you wanna come and have a chat?". So I sort of went over. By that time I had finished my thing, they had finished the Ronnie-thing, so we managed to actually get back together, which is great for me.
D: There were no hard feelings?
T: Naaah! I mean, anybody who's in this industry who really believes that those things don't happen is kind of naive.
D: Do you find it hard to live up to everybody's expectations when you're singing the old songs?
T: No, I don't have a problem with it. I'm happy about who I am, and what I am, and I'm happy about the position I have in the band. I have no problems with singing any of that stuff. It's all valid material as far as we can see, we enjoy playing the old stuff as much as the new. So, you know, we have no problems doing what we do.
D: Black Sabbath didn't visit Sweden on the last tour... Howcome?
C: Yeeah! Where were you?! (laughs and looks at Tony) She was waiting, the world's biggest fan!
T: It's kind of expensive to get over to this part of the world and it's not always possible to fit it into the budget of the tours that we do. We're still visiting countries that we've never been to before. I mean, after the 26 years that the band's been going, we're still visiting places like...Chile. We went to Chile last year. Up until recently that was a dictatorship, you couldn't get in there! And so, we went to Russia, Moscow, Leningrad, the eastern block countries, Hungary...
D: What's it like to play in those places? Is it much different from playing here?
C: Well, I mean, kids are kids, they're just more enthusiastic. I think you'll find a lot of audiences here that are blasé, because there's so much stuff going in and out, and it's like, "who shall we see this week? Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin..?" Whereas they, when you go, it's an event to them. They really are grateful that you've taken the trouble to go to play. Cause it isn't easy to play in these places, it's a lot of hassle, a lot of aggrevation, a long way, and they think, well, "if they've taken the trouble to come and play for us..." they come and support us. They're great. A great audience.
D: Is there any Black Sabbath song that you're sick to death of playing?
T: Not particularly, no...I mean, we're pretty lucky that we can cover any Black Sabbath-song in the repertoir. I'm lucky to have that kind of voice that can do it, and so we do. We're pulling out songs that haven't been played for 25 years. Not even Ozzy used to do some of the stuff that we do, and that's a good feeling.
D: A song like "Paranoid" for instance, isn't it boring to play it night efter night..?
T: Noo...It's a classic.
C: You couldn't kind of not play it, really. The fans would be disappoined if we didn't play it.
D: Yeah, but from your point of view..?
C: If we really didn't like a song, we wouldn't play it, believe me. I mean, there are some songs that maybe we would think that maybe aren't so good live as they are on record. There are a lot of those, but generally, the stuff we do on the road is stuff we like to do. Because we have such a fantastic repertoire to pick from that's the good thing about it.
D: Okay. Now to the part of the interview where I ask you very stupid questions..! Like, "Things you didn't know about Black Sabbath"!
(Tony and Cozy look puzzled and both have nervous smiles on their faces! Like, "what's she up to now ?")
D: Stuff that doesn't have anything to do with your music. I know that people hate this...! Do you ever cry?
C: Yeah...Not often!
T: I have a very close family and I feel for them sometimes, that kind of makes me cry. I don't cry about anything in the music industry, it's just more... personal things.
C: I cry if my motorcycle falls over! (big laugh!)
C: That brings me to tears definitely, cause I know how much it's gonna cost to fix it!
I've had animals in the past and when they've been injured or passed on it's... You know... I've got a soft spot for animals, not too bothered about people, but...
D: When you watch TV, do you know exactly what it is you wanna watch, or do you just sit there with the remote?
T: Oh, I'm a remote-freak! I sit there with the buttons and I go thrugh everything ! Then again, and again..! And I've watched all 64 channels in about 5 minutes!
C: I tend to know what I wanna watch, except for news programs, then I'll just flip through. It depends what it is. I'm not a great TV-freak to be honest.
D: So what do you do instead?
C: I'm playing music, more than watch TV. The TV's not always on, you know... I don't only play rock music, I play all sorts of different kinds...
T: Yeah, me too.
D: Do you prefer hamburgers, pizza or fish'n'chips?
C&T: Aaaah, that's a tough one!! (laugh)
C: Original style English fish'n'chips for me, I think.
T: Yeah, I think I'll go with that one too.
D: Are you up early in the morning, or do you sleep all day?
T: God blimey... Depends on what we're doing...At the moment, on this tour, we have to get up bloody early! (laughs and stares at the tour manager who's sitting a few tables away)
C: Personally, when I'm at home, I'm up early, but on tour I always sleep late. Because I know how important rest is, you know. You just don't get any time to rest. It's always travel, travel, travel. So when you're on the road, your hours are so much later. That's only because you're working later, I mean, we're on stage at eleven o'clock tonight. Most people have fallen asleep by then!
T: Me...Hhmm... I pretty much rest. Also, I regard rest as being pretty important, so I'm pretty late up.
D: Who's your favorite comic-book hero?
T: I think we have to say Ogry, don't we? (looks at Cozy, they both start to laugh)
C: Yeah we do! We do..! It's a character in Bike-magazine which is on the album sleeve. If you looke carefully you'll see this figure with a motorcycle there...
T: That's our bit of diplomacy for the day, hahah!
D: When you go to the movies, what kind of films do you want to see?
C: I like thrillers. Things like... Let me think...
T: I haven't been to see a movie for...four years. Five years, something like that.
D: What was the last movie you saw?
T : I think it was Dustin Hoffman. The film was called "Hero" and it's about a guy who rescues some people out of an airplane..?
C: Oh yeah! Dustin Hoffman, yeah! That's right, that's it...
T: Was it Dustin Hoffman? I thought that was brilliant!!
C: Yeah, really good!
T: We went to the cinema, it's like a multi-cinema, and we sort of looked in all the doors, and it was packed..! And the only one that was empty was this one, so we were like, that's where we're going! And we went to this place just purely because it was empty, everybody else was watching "Jurassic Park" or something like that. And we thought, oh, "can't stand there in the middle of that..!" so we went... The whole place to ourselves we sat right in the middle with nobody there and watched this film. It was great !!
D. So that's how you choose your movies..!
T: Well, sometimes... Sometimes I just wanna be away from people eventough I go to places where people are.
D: You mentioned Dustin Hoffman, is he a favorite actor..?
T: One of them, yeah. I do like what he does, I like the characters that he gets into, like "Hook"!! How did he get that ??
C: Goodness only knows...
C: I like Clint Eastwood as well, I think he's anything he does is great. I know it's a bit cliché, but... He's great.
We were in this hotel last year when I was with Brian May, in the States, and I looked around, and he was actually walking across the lobby to get into the lift, and I was: "gg-g-hh!!"! It's the first time I've actually been completely speechless ! "I-i-i-i-t-t's CLINT EASTWOOD!!" You know...! (smiles with his whole face!)
T: Is he tall?
C: He is tall, he is. He looks great, real cool !
D: What did you do?
C: I didn't know what to do! I mean, what should I do? "Hello Clint, uuugggh...!" You know, it's like... What do you say ??
T: "Do you wanna come to our gig?"
D: "Could I have your autograph, please?"
C: I wouldn't stoop so low to ask him for his autograph, it was just nice to see him.
D: Do you get speechless when you meet a certain celebrity..?
T: No... I don't get star struck. Not very much, no... I have people who I regard pretty highly, you know, but I don't get star struck.
D: Can you name five artists or bands who influenced you when you first started out..?
C: Five bands that influenced me ?
T: He was one of them! (points at Cozy and laughs)
C: The Shadows, The Hollies, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Sabbath I suppose...In some respects.
D: One of few people who doesn't mention the Beatles...
C: Well, yeah, the Beatles as well, yeah...
T: He was one of mine !(looks at Cozy) I got really interested when I heard the Rainbow "Rising" drum-riff that he did, so that sort of... "That's what I wanna be! That's the job I wanna be doing!" Another one of my, I suppose you can call him, "heroes"... Glenn Hughes! Fantastic voice, fantastic natural voice. He's become a friend, kind of. He's turned to God now though, I think he's a fan of religion. Uhhmm.. Who else..? Blimey...!
D: A little bit of everything?
T: Well, it was cool then to have all kinds of different kinds of music in your collection. You could listen to a different kind of album every day! And now, the kids tend to get so focused on, well, it's either gonna be the the Nirvanas or the Pearl Jams or whatever, whereas in the 70's it was really cool to have all that variety. So, I've got some of his, "Dance with the devil" and that sort of thing, right through, you know, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd...
D: Do you think it's important to be friends within the band in order to become really successful?
T: I've sensed some pretty successful bands that aren't friends...We know a few of them!
C: Dowe think it is important..? I think if you're gonna... well...Hm. I was gonna say long term, but the Who didn't do too bad and they hated eachother's guts! And they kept going for quite a long time.
T: Eagles - they hated eachother...
C: Yeah, Ritchie Blackmore, Rainbow, Guns'n'Roses...
T: It's not essential, but it makes life so much easier!
C: I think when you get older... I mean, when you're young it doesn't matter, cause it's an attitude-thing anyway, you don't give a shit. I think the older you get, the longer you've been doing it, if you don't get on - it starts to become...tedious. And it isn't gonna work. You're gonna say "I don't wanna do this anymore, sod it", and so the band's gonna change. I think that's what happened with Sabbath when they tried to re-do the old line-up. The chemistry was just wrong, it was never gonna work, and the Ozzy-thing, that was never gonna work either.So my question there is, why spoil something that's already good to regrow old grounds? It's pointless. To me.
T: Well, that comes into it. But you know, it's a very romantic thing to think that you can get the guys back together and do it all again, but... When you think about it: Ozzy's been out of the band longer than he's been in it! He's been left for 16 years, Ronnie's been out of the band for 10 years, and when you try to get these people back together, they... Ronnie's done his thing, Ozzy's done his thing, Tony's done this, and when you try to make people just suddenly fit back together again, it don't work! You've got five different people, five different managers, five different record-companies and they're all in there doing this, and so... It ain't gonna happen. You have to let the past be sometimes. It's not always possible... See, we were kind of still fresh, cause it'd only been about a year's difference between the Ronnie-thing falling apart and getting back together, so...Then getting Cozy and Neil back into it, it was like coming home. We were still kind of close in respect of time.
D: But it works okay for Black Sabbath now?
C: Yeah, I mean, we always got on great before. The reasons for the split-up were, again, a little bit political...I had an accident so I couldn't play for a while, and then I got on to do something else...You know. We all drifted apart for a bit, but now we're all back together again, and it seems to be fine.
T: And the new album is...
C: ...is a result of that. Yeah, it sounds good. I think the chemistry is still there, for sure. Well, you'll see for yourself later!
D: Can you name a record or a band whose CD you just wouldn't wanna have in your collection?
T: Tiny Tim, probably!
C: Wouldn't wanna have?
T: Ronnie..? (smiles)
C: I have his records...
T: Yeah, I have too actually.
C: There's not too many bands I can think of I wouldn't want to have, cause eventhough you may not like them, they've always got something...
D: So you're quite openminded to anything..?
C: Yeah, pretty much.
T: Wouldn't want... (thinks so hard that steam is coming out of his ears..!)
C: I'm not overly keen on some of this thrash-metal stuff, I mean, it's just... (deep sigh) "pleeeaase"...
C: I'll tell you what I wouldn't wanna have in my collection, and that's anything that has to do with opera! I cannot STAND opera!! All that high screeching in Italian - never appealed to me ,that!
T: High screeching in Italian?? (laughs with a sceptical expression on his face) I've heard you in the bathroom! "Laaaa-laAAAAAAA!!"
D: If you could go back in time, what musical events would you like to have attended?
T: I'd like to have been at Woodstock. I'd like to have seen that. That's one of the original festivals, isn't it? I mean, that's where it all, sort of... They don't have festivals like that now.
C: I'd like to have been at Cream's farewell performance at the Art Albert Hall. I missed out on that. I nearly went, but I couldn't go. I'd like to have seen that, cause I always used to... You said before - there was another band... I mean, now I'm thinking of hundred more bands I could say! Cream was definitely a big influence on me. As were the Beatles. I'd like to have seen them play live. I mean, I have. I saw them when they first started. But you couldn't really hear anything cause of the screaming. But I saw them, yeah, in Shelton where I live.
T: I just thought of an album I wouldn't like - Take That! (big laugh from both gentlemen!)
C: Wet Wet Wet, we aren't too keen on them either! Hahaha!
D: What do you hate the most about reviews? Reviews of Black Sabbath?
C: I think... I'll steam in first on this...(turns to Tony for approval)
T: Oh, go ahead!
C: I think people tend to be negatively critical for the sake of it. And I find that a little bit tiresome, because, they've obviously just listened to the album once, and... I don't know... It's because it's Black Sabbath they think "Black Sabbath, we must slag them off". They don't really give it a listen, they don't listen to what's gone into it, or anything else. I mean, I'm not saying that everybody does, but you get such a lot... Particularly the rock-mags, just for the sake of it, they're gonna stick the knife in. Can't possibly say "actually, I really like this record, this is really good", no, couldn't possibly do that, would be totally uncool... That's what annoys me. Journalism for the sake of it.
T: Yeah, I'm pretty much the same...I'd go along with that.
C: If someone genuinely doesn't like it and criticizes it musically or lyrically or whatever, and it's constructive, then fine, that's alright. But when they just write it off without even giving it a chance, that's what annoys me. Cause we put a lot of work into it, for somebody to just dismiss in an instant. And then kids read it and think "oh, it isn't really good, it says it isn't good.." but they never hear it, you know. True fans don't think that way, but people on the edge might think "well, I don't know..."
T: We're in a strange situation in a, kind of, technical sense. The magazines have narrowed the "box" that they put us in. Over the years people started to give things labels, right? When Sabbath started they were a rock band. And then they started getting all these labels - it's progressive, then it was underground, then heavy rock, then it was metal then heavy metal, then black metal, death metal, and all these labels. Then when they totally labeled it , it knocked out all the little side-bits and they get you into this really narrow channel. And you can't get out! The moment you try to get out of it, then you either don't appear in the magazines, or you don't appear on a program, and now we got to the state when we're losing programs like "Headbanger's Ball", cause there's nothing else to play! They've just exhausted it, and so you kind of... get fixed with these reporters who can only ask questions about this little area, and it becomes... tedious.
D: If you died and had the choice of being reincarnated or just be dead - what would you prefer?
C: The way earth is going, I'd just fertilize the gound, and that would do for me.
T: I'm much more of an optimist. I'd actually like to come back and make more of an impression on the world! Be there when it's going downhill, why not?! Hahaha!
D: You must be sick and tired of being asked the same questions over and over again. What are the most common questions that you get asked?
T: That one! (laughs)
D: Is it?
T: What's the most common question we've been asked..?
C: "Why are you still playing?" !! Hahaha!
C: It's usually when you have a new album out, it's like: "Why have you made it?" (laughs) That's usually the one...
D: "Are you satanists?"?
T: No, we don't get asked that so much anymore. It's probably because you can't get good quality virgins to sacrifice these days..! Hahaha! And the babies don't taste so good...
D: Where do you see yourselves ten years from now?
T: With a zimmerframe, probably..
C: I think I wanna take up motorcycle-racing in ten years...
T: God blimey..!!
C: Break what's left of the few bones I've still got! Hahaha!
C: Or do you want a serious answer..?
D: Well, yeah.
C: I mean, twenty years ago people were asking me what I ws gonna do in ten years, and I'm still doing it. I think, if I'm physically able to carry on playing, I'll keep playing. I think that anybody in this business, unless they're really sick of it, will keep going. If you can still do it, then do it well. I don't wanna do the bar-circuit. I'll carry on doing it right, or... get out!
(at this point, record-company representatives and managers are nervous, cause they need to do a photo-shoot for another magazine, so I have to end the conversation - just when it was going so well..! But I got to talk to both gentlemen after the show that evening, "off the record", and learned a great deal about this and that. But more about that some other time - maybe!
Photo: Cozy Powell
... And Cozy & myself three seconds later..!
Photo: Tony Martin
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