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Criss Martin Rock Dawn Blaze Bayley Thunderstick Barry Purkiss
Legacy Project: Hi Chris, thanks for agreeing to answer some questions today.  We know you are busy with the new album launch so let's jump straight into the first question.  What inspired you to play the guitar?
Cris Martin: I first began playing in 1976. I borrowed my brother’s classic guitar which was terrible to play as it had a wide neck, high action and nylon strings, and, I didn’t really know what I was doing back then! But I found the sounds produced by strumming the strings mesmerising and realised this was something I wanted to explore more.

Bert Weedon guide to guitar playing cris martin Rock Dawn
I bought a Bert Weedon “Play in a day” paperback and taught myself how to tune the guitar and then worked out a few chords. It was pretty slow going at first, you have to remember there was no internet or YouTube back then. But I remember after a couple of years, I began to improve very quickly and then I started to seriously think about wanting to play in a band.  
Legacy Project: Who were your earliest musical influences? 
Cris Martin: I remember seeing Jimi Hendrix play live on the Lulu Show in 1969 and being amazed not just by his playing but also fascinated by how he looked and showmanship, bearing in mind there was no one else who looked or played like him back then. But I think the track that really got me hooked was Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar in 1973.  
That Bell-like Stratocaster tone combined with Eric Bell’s melodic playing blew me away. I was also into the Glam-Rock scene, bands like Slade and the Sweet wrote these fantastic commercial but heavy sounding riffs that had a habit of sticking in your head and they were the forerunners of bands like Guns & Roses who carried on that tradition. I was also a fan of Rush, especially the 2112 and A Farewell to Kings Albums. I liked how Alex Lifeson constructed his guitar solos with a strong melodic edge although he could also show off when he wanted to! 
Whiskey in the Jar thin Lizzy 1973<br />Criss Martin Interview Rock Dawn
I think my main early influence was Gary Moore, especially his playing on Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose” album, that raised the bar in terms of balancing speed with melody. Iron Maiden was, and still is, a major influence. I remember an amusing anecdote around 1978 or 79 when I was looking for a bass player to form my first band, this guy came round to audition and brought his mate along who happened to be Dave Murray! I can’t imagine what they thought of my rubbish cassette demo tape I played them!   
Legacy Project: What was the first single you bought and what made you buy it?
Cris Martin: The first single I bought was “Lay Down” by the Strawbs in 1973. I remember going into my local record store wanting to buy a Slade’s “Cum on feel the Noize” but they were sold out so I bought that instead!

Legacy Project: What were your first guitars?
Cris Martin: Well as I mentioned, I started playing my brother’s Tatra classical guitar, which was almost unplayable. I then bought a Top Twenty electric which was my first electric and it was little better but I remember my fingers stinging trying to play it. I then persuaded my mum to get me a Satellite les Paul copy. I actually remember it was former Angel Witch and Tytan bass player Kevin Riddles who sold me that guitar. It was a cheap Japanese copy with a plywood body and cheap pickups. However, I did learn how to setup a guitar by trial and error. In 1980 I was lucky enough to win £1000 (equivalent to £3500 in today’s money), on Premium bonds and from that bought a sunburst Gibson Les Paul with DiMarzio pickups as well as a metallic red Ibanez Destroyer.

Kevin riddles Angel Witch Criss martin guitar Angel Dawn
Thunderstick Feel like rock n roll Barry Purkiss Criss Martin
Legacy Project:  What guitars did you use during your time in Thunderstick?
Cris martin:  When I joined Thunderstick in 1983, I was still using the Sunburst Gibson which is pictured on the back cover of the “Feel like rock & roll?” EP. I used it on that as well as the “Beauty & the Beasts” album. I also played on the second currently unreleased “Don’t touch I’ll Scream” album and used a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe as well as the sunburst. I think I sold it in 1985.

Legacy Project: How did you come to join Thunderstick?
Cris Martin: Around 1982 I was playing in a band called “Predator”, whom were heavily influenced by Maiden but they were not really going anywhere so I used to check the classified ads in Melody maker. I remember answering one ad and went down to Nomis Studios in Shepherds Bush, London, to audition and it turned out to be Ozzy Osbourne who was looking for a guitarist to replace Randy Rhoads. I remember there being a long line of guitar players twiddling away waiting their turn to have a go. I gave it my best rendition of “Crazy Train” but it wasn’t to be. Not long after this, I answered another ad and this turned out to be Thunderstick. After the audition at John Henry Studios I was offered the job and the rest is history.

Thunderstick Beauty and the Beasts album cover Barry Purkiss Cris Martin
Legacy Project: What is your favourite memory from your time in Thunderstick?
I remember when we were rehearsing for the first tour in 1983, at John Henry Studios in London, and walking into the canteen to buy a sandwich and seeing Gary Moore, Neil Murray and Ian Paice sitting at a table drinking tea. I really thought to myself I had “made it”. And I also recall listening to MSG rehearsing in the studio next door and in the other room Gary Moore shredding – I was in guitar heaven!

Legacy Project: Jodee Valentine recently passed can you share a fond memory of the time you performed together in Thunderstick?
Cris Martin: I used to get on well with Jodee and was upset to hear of her passing. She was a very capable singer and could have gone on to greater things and I did hear that she once turned down a gig with Meatloaf.

Legacy Project: What amplification did you use in Thunderstick?
Cris Martin: I used a Marshall Master Volume 50 watt head, with two Marshall 4x12 cabs, sort of the ultimate rig at the time. I did have a home-made pedal board which had a chorus and distortion pedals but don’t ask me to remember what make they were! (Chris Laughs)

Legacy Project: Do you have any preference with regards to strings and plectrums?
Cris Martin: I use Dunlop Tortex, 1.14mm picks, which are fantastic and very durable. They allow for very fast picking, although I mod them by sticking some tape around them otherwise they tend to slip out of my hands. I use 9-42 strings, although recently I have been experimenting with 9-46. I prefer Ernie Ball strings but I do use other brands if I can get discounts! (Chris Laughs Again)

Thunderstick mask Barry Purkiss Iron Maiden
Legacy Project: With regards to Thunderstick (Barry Purkis), what made him stand out as a performer?
(Chris smiles before he answers) Well I better be careful what I say here. Barry is a showman and as such, is a natural performer. I always thought he would have been a great frontman if he could sing. The mask was a great gimmick as it set him apart from other drummers right away. I would say in his prime, he could have played in any band he wanted.

Legacy Project: What guitars did you use on your new album?
Cris Martin: That’s a good question. I am a bit of a collector and currently have around 35 guitars, basses and mandolins so it’s quite difficult to remember which guitars I used on each track. For the heavy rhythm parts I mainly used an Ibanez Xiphos fitted with active EMG pickups as it seemed to stay in tune and deliver the tonality I wanted. I recorded the solos over a six week period and as the album is quite diverse, each solo required a different feel. For instance, on the track Witches Tower, I wanted a combination of a bluesy but fast feel so I used a Westbury standard, which is a mid 80s Japanese guitar fitted with Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups. For the track Metal Go Round, I wanted more of a “Yngwie” sound, so for that solo I used a Fender Strat, which was a bit harder to play but delivered the sound I wanted. I also used Ibanez S420, RG1570, Xiphos with EMGs for the bulk of the solos.

Legacy Project: Regarding amplification who do you prefer to use?
Cris Martin: Well for the album I almost exclusively used Line6 Pod Pro and a Pod X3 Pro. It wasn’t possible to mike up an amp and cab so all the guitar parts were recorded direct. I did dabble with “reamping” – that is, recording guitars clean and using software amp emulation but I didn’t enjoy working that way. The new Kemper amp modellers look very interesting and it’s fair to say that recording has changed immeasurably since the ‘80s.

Legacy Project: What pedals will we find on your effects board?
Cris Martin: All you will find is a foot controller, as mentioned previously, I use racks effects although I have to admit it still looks great to see a stack of Marshall amps and cabs onstage.

Criss Martin Blaze Bayley Thunderstick Rock Dawn Barry Purkiss Iron Maiden
Legacy Project: What inspired you to record your new solo album ‘Rock Dawn’?
Cris Martin: Another good question. It was only around 2013 that the idea began to emerge to record an album and work began on demos. I had some health problems and other issues which delayed production for several months but I was determined to finish the project. To me, the album summarises the trials and tribulations of the past few years and encapsulates what can be achieved despite all the setbacks. I found the recording process very therapeutic and I am a great believer that music can be a great healer.

Legacy Project: It has been three decades since you last worked with Thunderstick (Barry Purkis). You invited him to play on Rock Dawn, how was it working together again?
Cris Martin: It was great to see Barry again after all this time. We had not played together since 1985. But despite the ravages of time, he laid down some great drum tracks over one weekend and still has a Thunder Stick!

Legacy Project: We were interested to find out that Blaze Bayley also plays on the album. How did that come about?
Cris Martin: I contacted Blaze asking if he would be interested in singing on three tracks. After listening to the backing tracks he agreed so I sent him a guide vocal and lyrics. We had to fit in with his busy schedule so it was recorded over several sessions at Robannas Studios in Birmingham. I remember he recorded the lead vocal to ‘Witches Tower’ on Hallowe’en, we both thought that was spooky but very appropriate!

Legacy Project: What was the inspiration behind the tracks that Blaze and Thunderstick played on?
Cris Martin: I think that Barry and Blaze both bring their unique styles to the album. ‘Call of the Wild’ especially gels, with Blaze really pulling out all the stops with a fantastic power-blues vocal delivery and Barry’s, almost John Bonham-esque, stomping drums really makes this song come alive.

Legacy Project: Your album contains a range of styles do you have a favourite style to play?
Cris Martin: I do have quite a varied music taste from blues, country through to classical and shred so it’s fair to say that these influences come through on the album. I like to push myself whatever style I am playing and I believe it is the song that is King. The solos have to fit otherwise, for me, it does not work.

Legacy Project: We were amazed to discover you play almost all of the instruments on Rock Dawn. What was that like compared to recording with other musicians?
Cris Martin: Less arguments! Lol. You have to be very disciplined when you are working on your own. You have no one else pushing you so it is easy to fall behind schedule. The upside is, you can work at your own pace to get things right. The new album tracks ‘Heretic’ and ‘The Calling’, for instance, took several days to get all the parts recorded tight. Back in Thunderstick days, you had maybe half a dozen goes to get the solos down but with this setup, I could take 3 days to nail a particular solo and no one complains, apart from maybe my other half!

Iron Maiden Download festival 2016 June Book of souls tour
Legacy Project: As the son of immigrants have you found any barriers to playing music?
Cris Martin: Interesting question. I grew up in the 1970s and back then, racism was certainly less taboo than it is considered now but I cannot say I have experienced any discrimination. What is an interesting observation is the apparent lack of ethnic minorities in Metal. I recently attended the Download festival and noticed an almost total lack of representation from ethnic minorities in the audience, which was 99.99% white Caucasian. Is this because minorities don’t like metal music per se or don’t go to concerts? I cannot be sure but it is a disappointing statistic. I certainly would like to explore far eastern and asian territories and markets, as I personally think there is a big and largely unexplored market for metal and rock acts.

Legacy Project: Who are your current musical influences?
Cris Martin: My influences have changed over the years. Early on it was Gary Moore, Al Dimeola, Alex Lifeson and Jimmy Page. In the 90s, I was seduced by the “speedsters” as I like to call them: Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai and Allan Holdsworth. Currently I really like Eric Johnson, Guthrie Govan, Joe Satriani and I also like Dave Kilminster. In fact, in the early 90s, Dave and I used to do support gigs together at the Royal Standard in Walthamstow, London. Now he’s playing arenas and world tours………. and I’m not. Lol.

Legacy Project: What was the last album you bought?
Cris Martin: I actually bought ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC after seeing them play in London earlier this year with Axl Rose. It’s a classic album and the songs, which although are simple and straight-ahead come to life in a live environment.

Music video by AC/DC performing Back In Black. (Live At River Plate 2009
Legacy Project: The internet - is it the musicians friend or foe?
Cris Martin: Well that’s a hot topic. I have to say the web has taken away the power of the big record company monopolies and made it easier for smaller bands to distribute their music. The downside, of course, is the ability to steal music by way of illegal downloads. I don’t know what the answer is but I fear that a lack of investment will stifle the nurturing of new talent. It’s a brave new world out there but it does make me wonder if I will be in a position to record another album if my costs are not recouped. I always say to people, if you like a band, don’t download their music illegally, pay for it! Otherwise you are enjoying their music without the support that all artists need to survive. Maybe I’ll release my next album on cassette only……… Lol.

Rock Dawn Blaze Bayley, thunderstick, Iron maiden Barry Purkiss Cris Martin
Legacy Project: Having heard the new album in advance, thank you, it really sounds like you are playing from your soul. How would you sum up ‘Rock Dawn’ for our readers?
Cris Martin: Yes, this album was created without trying to fit in to any particular style or genre. I wrote whatever “came through”. I lost my mum just before I began recording and I think producing this album helped with the grieving process and my hope is that my music can not only be enjoyed by others but also help heal anyone that’s going through hardships in life.

Legacy Project: Thank you very much for speaking with us today Chris, it’s been an absolute pleasure but one last question before we finish, where can our readers purchase your album from?
Cris Martin: That’s an easy one! “Cris Martin’s Rock Dawn” will be available to download or buy from 22nd August on iTunes, Google Music and also at:

Chris Martin's Rock Dawn Cris Martin with Blaze Bayley and Thunderstick
Click either CDBABY or AMAZON logo
The website give you a 30 second sample clip of each track.
Chris Martin's Rock Dawn Cris Martin's with Blaze Bayley and Thunderstick

or search on itunes in the normal way.


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