By Nicky Baldrian
legend tells us that there are no egos in Contagious, and if you
believe that then you believe the stories going around about
Welsh Men and their sheep. Contagious guitar player Tony
"The Bad Ass" or "Wiggy" Marshall is always
in high spirts, so I caught up with him just as plans have been
made for a UK trek with newcomers Friction in tow. So read on and
enjoy this interview......
Nicky : - So tell me how Contagious got together and what you did prior to the band?
Tony the Bad Ass : - We got together after a conversation between Mark Alger and at the Gods in '99, I asked why he didn't have any British acts on his roster, He gave me a frank answer that no-one he had heard at the time was good enough to sign. I told him I had the songs but not the band....he listened to some of them and said "I'll get back to you"...he did with an offer of a keyboard player and guitarist, Ged Rylands (ex Ten) and Pete Frank. I had met Pete a few months before and liked him so I said OK I'll get a bass player and see if I can find a singer and drummer. Brian Dixon stood in at the beginning until we found Norman and Glenn was just a very, very lucky find from out of the blue
Nick : When you hooked up with your new musicians did the chemistry hit right away? You must have thought would this work as most bands grow up together?
Tony the Bad Ass : We got along really well, first rehearsal we spent most of the time in the pub...as you do, and then really set to work writing...We were very lucky that there was...and still is no egos in the band...which we have all suffered from in the past, the guys in Contagious are confident about what we do but not egotistical about who we are and if we are better than others....every band has it's merits and we feel that we do too.
Nick : You mentioned earlier that you had songs already written, did any of these get used or was the writing of the album a total team effort?
Tony the Bad Ass : Some were used on the EP, 'Danger' was one, but the album was totally from scratch and everyone had a part in the writing
Nick : How long did it actually take to write all the songs, and were then any left overs that didn't make the album?
Tony the Bad Ass : The album took around 9 to 10 months to write and as we are probably the laziest band in the world it could have been done in half that time, there are songs that aren't on the album that maybe on the next one but WILL be in our live shows on the upcoming tour...Most of the songs were ideas that we already had but needed finishing off... except 'Love Can Always', that was one of my old songs I wrote some years ago.
Nick : Can you clear up the confusion over the Treat song on the EP, and how that came about?
Tony Bad Ass : Mark had the song lying about and asked me if we needed a song to get us going, so we didn't start rehearsing with nothing, I heard the song and said "that'll do" we beefed it up somewhat and away we went, we actually used to do another one off that album "Streets Cry Freedom" but we never thought of recording that. And now, everyone who has heard the EP told us they liked that song...so we keep playing it. No confusion on our part by the way!
Nick says : So have you had any comments from the band themselves regarding the song?
Tony Bad Ass : In what way?
Nick : Did they like what you had done?
Tony Bad Ass : There is nothing negative about the song or the way we changed it or why we do it, it's now part of Contagious as is 'Hear It Calling' or 'Fantasy'....no difference apart from we didn't have the original idea, Our version is way heavier than Treats version...no one seems to have a problem with other bands doing covers...why should they with us? I want to do "Going Loco Down In Acapulco" for our next album....but I think there'll be words spoken if we do!!! heh heh heh only kidding!
Nick : You could always do "La Bamba", lol
Tony the Bad Ass : mmmm good idea that! There you go...you're getting into the Tony Marshall way of thinking...beer, sex and insanely stupid things!
Nick : Bring Jeff Scott Soto up on stage with you for that one he he The Wiggy Knights
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah...Jeff is cool, No ego off stage, very nice guy! I love their new Humanimal CD...it RAWKS
Nick : I would love for Mark to bring Soto's The Boogie Knights over for Z Rock, that would be just so much fun to watch
Tony the Bad Ass : Humanimal still might be on for the show.....if they can sort it out, you'll see another awesome band...God I'm beginning to sound like Mark now!!! heh heh
Nick : hahaha Tony Alger
Tony the Bad Ass : A slimmer and better looking version though, lol
Nick : Yes
he's on the cover of your EP isn't he, oops sorry that's
Churchill ha ha
Tony the Bad Ass: Good ol' Winston...everyone I've talked to about that cover loves it...even the Germans!
Nick : Yes
that was bizarre, how did that come about?
Tony the Bad Ass : The name came up from a conversation about the name of the EP, Mark said Red white and blue I said SLIGHTLY blue...I thought Union Jack...he told Matt (Z's resident artist and all round style guru) to find a pic of a flag..he did better than that and got ol' Winnie on there.
Nick says: So how come the band don't go on stage wearing union jack boxer shorts like Axl Rose then?
Tony the Bad Ass : because we are not stupid...we play because we like having fun...there is not a lot serious about Contagious when we're onstage. My mate Bunt (our big bloke and piss taker) says we are a mobile shambles everywhere but on stage..I think that sums us up.
Nick : haha, I saw you play at the last years Z Rock, how did you personally find the show? The year before was your first live gig right?
Tony the Bad Ass : The one in 2000 was our first, the THREE in 2001 we're better , the more we play the better we get, we've still got a long, long way to go but we're getting there
Nick : Nonsense I thought you were, next to Vaughn one of the best bands that day
Tony the Bad Ass : Thanks..sound wise we are nearly there but we don't have the stage presence that we feel we need to take us to the next step. As Bunt says.."I'm the least talented in the band and it's a fuckin' good job I can write a decent tune"...I will go along with that..I will never be the best player and I don't want to be either, but I like what I do and it fits with what the rest of the band do.
Nick: You got do what you feel is right and follow your heart right, honesty goes along way in my book.
Tony the Bad Ass : Exactly...I love to watch good guitarists, Doug Aldrich and Danny Danzi are awesome players to watch but I know I'll never be in their league but I do what I do and I think that's as good as I can give. I am honest...have I told you I'm handsome and good in bed?
(laughing) we really wanted to know that Mr. Marshall, I thought
you said earlier there were no ego's in this band, lol !!
Danny's a very honest player
Tony the Bad Ass : Very...but he's a freak!
Nick : oh leave him alone
Tony the Bad Ass : He has no tuning straight like everyone else for Mrs danzi's lad..Noooo he has to be bonky and have something different...but can he wail....fucking right he can...magnificent player and a good guy to boot.
Nick: That first time he played at Z Rock is still one of the best gigs I've seen, isn't it about time now his new CD came out?It's been 3 years!
Tony the Bad Ass: He's in the process of recording it...and let me tell you, it's 100% better than "SLIT", what I've heard is going to blow your mind if you liked his first outing. Did you know he only played about 5 songs at that gig?...but he blinded everyone so much with his playing that they didn't care...I hope he gets what he deserves, and a smack in the mouth for being too good
Nick: Yes he's great, was it only 5 songs? fuck
Tony the Bad Ass : - Yeah...maybe even 4...I thought it was awesome too and when I found that out I said the same thing. Told you...he's a freak!
Nick : A guitar freak
Tony the Bad Ass : Totally...
Nick : I think the tension and nerves of that first gig showed through same as it did with you guys
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah...but we had nothing to lose, the whole thing was a bonus for us and we hopefully made a few friends doing it, I know Danny was in the same boat, he had a few days rehearsal with his band and went and did the business.
Nick : Talk of tension, I heard there was some sort of scuffle between you guys and Gary Hughes, care to enlighten us on this?
Tony the Bad Ass: No
Nick : why?
Tony the Bad Ass : A case of mistaken identity that has been sorted out now, it was between Gary and I, and we are OK about it now.
Nick : OK cool, there was allot of things being said
Tony the Bad Ass : Not by me or Gary.
Nick : Typical press again always making a scandal
Tony the Bad Ass : Of course...
Nick : Moving on, how has the band been received in the land of the rising sun?
Tony the Bad Ass : Scunthorpe? we are big in Scunthorpe....
Nick : hahahaha, you'll be the only ones mate, since when was Scunthorpe the land of the rising sun.
Tony the Bad Ass : I take it you mean Japan!
Nick : aye
Tony the Bad Ass : We haven't been released in Japan yet.....
Nick : Why not isn't the album getting released over there?
Tony the Bad Ass : Nope, No one wants us...sniff
Nick : How come? I thought they would have lapped it up with them loving British Rock
Tony the Bad Ass : They do??? well damn them, they don't seem to love our brand of British rock. I don't mind really there are many other places to play and sell in first..maybe they'll see sense and ban us before we go there...sorry, welcome us into their country with open thighs...sorry arms
Nick : Very strange that one, have you been reviewed in Burrn yet?
Tony the Bad Ass : I think so, we got a good review too if I remember, but they don't want us, sob sob
Nick : too bad that mate
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah well, that's the music business for you.
Nick : As you say there's more territories to sell, how has Afghanistan received the album? Will Bin Laden make the next albums cover as Churchill made the EP?
Tony the Bad Ass: (laughing) From the bomb door of a B52
Nick: So what is next on the horizon?
Tony the Bad Ass : Next on the horizon is a Contagious tour of the UK and anywhere else that will have us.
Nick : When will that be?
Tony the Bad Ass: First gig is on March 1st at London, Camden Underworld then form early April we will be out with monotonous regularity.
Nick : And what about a new album?
Tony the Bad Ass: No idea yet...later this year or early next year.
Nick : Are you writing for it?
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah, but I'm taking more of a back seat on this one, the other guys have good songs that need to be tried out. I wrote most of the original ideas for The calling so as we are a democracy it's time to let others have to say.
Nick : But it will still be a full band team work yeah?
Tony the Bad Ass: Yeah, everyone has their own point of view and it's always interesting bringing ideas into that environment.
Nick : Do you have a particular favourite Contagious song? If so which song and why?
Tony the Bad Ass : "Hear It Calling" is my personal favourite, it's easy to play, catchy and rocks from beginning to end...it has twin lead solos, a good chorus and was the song that we probably had most fun writing...and most arguments ha ha.
Nick : As a player who are you influenced by?
Tony the Bad Ass : Too many to mention, Paul Gilbert is my favourite ever guitarist...from the days of Racer x all the way through to Mr Big and now his solo stuff, he seems to have the whole package. Eddie Van Halen is another who never seems to be tied up in structure, he plays with freedom only a few others can match....I loath and detest widdlers.
Nick : Oh I'm glad you mentioned Racer X, one of my all time fave bands along with Cacophony and Van Halen, Paul is such a humble person, I love Van Halen but I feel Eddie hasn't really done anything new over the years and just does his thing, and not really progressing.
Tony the Bad Ass : That's why I like him....no need to do anything else.
Nick : He
did try to progress on VH III but he got ribbed for trying
something new, I don't think it was all Gary Cherone's fault
Tony the Bad Ass : I never liked Cherone anyway....he was never going to fit in VH....they should have gone with their first choice, Mitch Malloy...that would have been even better than VH with Hagar.
Nick : I don't think Mitch Malloy would have worked, allot of my friends said he sucked at the Gods and that judging on that performance he would have sucked in Van Halen, they should have got Eric Martin he would have been superb in VH! I hear he is still pretty pissed off that they turned him down twice!
Tony the Bad Ass : Mitch saved the gods and was by far the best thing on at the weekend
Nick : I wasn't there this year and can't really comment but, allot of them said his voice was to squeaky
Tony the Bad Ass : That would have been the mix...he has a fantastic voice and is a good friend, his live work is ever improving and if anyone should be a star it should be Mitch.
Nick : I agree with you to a certain extent, I loved his second album "Ceilings And Walls" which showed his voice in many different styles, what was that lovely song "Jessica"?
Tony the Bad Ass : Now that record shows how different people are, I personally don't really like that album, the first is the benchmark for all, and I mean ALL 80's AOR, that one has everything you'll ever need in a CD. "Shine" is a good album too, some great songs on there.
Nick : Yes, but I thought the second was class from a songwriting point of view it was very passionate
Tony the Bad Ass : Opinions are like bumholes...everyone has one.... I can't argue with you about what you like....and I won't try to change your mind
Nick : hahaha, I do like the debut don't get me wrong, he did a country album as well didn't he? did you ever hear that?
Tony the Bad Ass : Good...or I'd be on the phone to Mitch to get him to come round and kick your ass. Yeah, I got it here....it's...er...different, but good!
Nick : Garth Malloy
Tony the Bad Ass : Nah...it's got some great songs on there but not what you'd expect form him.
Nick : That's what I like about Mitch, people pigeonhole him as the ultimate AOR god, but he's deeper than that
Tony the Bad Ass : Absoloutley...he's a deep person, very intense about what he does. He tried something new, it didn't work for him and that's cool because he is doing now what he should be doing in my opinion....writing rocky songs (which if you listen now have a hint of country in them)
Nick : Why not ask Mitch to guest on your next CD? I can just imagine Mitch singing "Love Can Always..."
Tony the Bad Ass : That'd be nice to hear I will admit
Nick : I'm
actually playing that song right now
Tony the Bad Ass : Really....I like it, it's about a special person who I don't see enough of anymore.
Nick : My
girl really likes it
Tony the Bad Ass : (laughing) That's who it's about.
! so thats who she was with last night (laughs)
Nick : she wants to know why is it only men go to your gigs
Tony the Bad Ass : Because the music probably leans more towards the masculine being on the heavier side.....and we're not pretty.
(laughing) puts a whole new meaning to the lyrics "I FEEL
FOR YOU" on 'Suzi Ann' ha ha
Tony The Bad Ass: We might be gay icons"!!!! and Hard and raw!, I don't want to be a gay icon anymore......boo hoo
Anyway back to the music, all the girlie fans of yours will want
to know this has being in a band got you laid?
Tony the Bad Ass : Not this band....(laughing) My girlfriend wouldn't like it ha ha
the humour continued with Tony continuing to crack jokes about
Welsh sheep and their farmers, the subject broadened deeper about
Tony's love of sheep and to even more bizarre musical ideas that
would have Mr.Alger sending Mr.Marshall to an asylum, I mean I
ask you a rock band covering The Wurzels "Combine
Tony the Bad Ass : (laughing) Now then....I have actually thought of that for a laugh
Tony the Bad Ass : No really!!!
(laughing his head is off)
Tony the Bad Ass : It would be a scream, that's the sort of thing we do....we could get the actual Wurzels involved...with their quaint west country accents over a rocking guitar track!
have maybe Mitch Malloy joining in (laughing)
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah and then beat the c$^%s to death with their pitchforks for subjecting us to them!
Tony the Bad Ass : Bastards!!
Nick : On
a final note Tony before I have to completely sensor this
interview, is there anything you would like to say to your fans
(if you have any)
Tony the Bad Ass : Yeah, as you are aware, the scene is not in the greatest of shapes, you and you alone keep it alive by buying not just our album , but the albums of many bands. We are grateful to you for giving us the chance to do something that very few people get the chance to do, put ideas, dreams and memories into songs. Contagious would not be around if it wasn't for you. I know that all of this band will be forever grateful to you. Thank you, and as my dear old mother says "smile, it's free"...and get your feet off there Tony.
Nick : OK
Tony and we wish you all the best of British luck in your musical
adventures and we sincerely look forward to seeing you jam that
Tony the Bad Ass : We will be riding combined harvesters to all our gigs from now on
(laughing) What will your girlfriend say about that then?
Tony the Bad Ass : probably "fuck off"
And on that note we bid each other farewell. Check out a good site on Contagious @
and make sure you catch them on tour with Friction in March at a town near you, lord help those sheep!
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