My interview with Tony Martin

The Black Sabbath albums featuring Tony Martin on vocals are some of my favourites – especially Cross Purposes and Eternal Idol. Martin is more than one of the coolest voices in metal – he’s also a talented multi-instrumentalist and lyricist. I recently interviewed him for Gibson.com and you can read it here. Here’s a snippet.

How did you develop your multi-instrumentalism? Did you have formal training or is it more organic for you?

Well I started playing things when I was five years old. I had my first guitar when I was seven, which I still own! It’s an acoustic guitar that is completely warped and the action is about half an inch! But I got sounds out of it and I kept exploring with other things – electronic projects and taking things apart and rebuilding them. The most famous of my musical explorations was harmonizing with my mother’s Hoover! I learned a lot about note interaction just by using the constant drone note from the vacuum. Also I had an AKAI 1721 reel-to-reel machine and I wanted to multi-track record stuff. I figured out that if I unsoldered the wires off the erase head, I could get it to record over a previous take. It of course faded the more times I recorded over it, but it was another step in exploring stuff. It hasn’t stopped to this day. I still explore with samples and sounds and electronic stuff. Guitars are my main instrument. If I want to write, I always pick up the guitar first. My original first pride was a Gibson 335 semi, which I am gutted to say I sold for £2 sterling when I was 14. Clearly had no idea what I was holding! And I also destroyed a Reslo ribbon microphone – a genuine 1940s-ish one – in the interest of exploring the inner workings… I don’t think I want to reveal anything else or I might slash my wrists!