Interview with Venom Inc.
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 24, 2017
Venom Inc. hardly need an introduction. The band consists of Tony "The Demolition Man", Mantas and Abaddon and we all know by know that is two thirds of Venom's original lineup (Cronos also has a version of Venom currently active).
Venom Inc. was born at Keep It True festival in Germany back in April 2014 when the guys were asked to come over and perform Venom songs. They did and nothing could stop the snowball effect after that. The band started getting gig offers from all around the world and have done as many as it's been realistic for them to do. They just did an extensive tour in North America, playing 32 shows to support the band's successful debut album, Avé.
The band was booked to the 2-day indoor Heavy Metal Cauldron festival in Helsinki, Finland, as one of the two headlining acts. Venom Inc. headlined Friday evening, October 27, 2017, while the Canadian Speed Metal merchants Exciter headlined Saturday, October 28.
The Metal Crypt was present at the festival and met Venom Inc. backstage before the band's late showtime. During the following conversation, all the fine gentlemen from Venom Inc. participated.
Luxi: First off, welcome to Finland. This is your first time in Finland as Venom Inc. What kind of expectations do you have regarding your tonight's headlining show?
Tony "The Demolition Man": Yes, absolutely. It's always very exciting. It's always very exciting to play somewhere that we haven't played yet. The whole idea is to take this band everywhere. If there's one fan in Costa Rica and he or she has been a fan all their life, then we should go and play there. To be able to come to Finland for the first time and to be able to do something in a club setting which I loved, personally I loved so much, is just going to be a thrill. I just hope we get to deliver.
We just finished the US and North America tour, which was incredible. We weren't expecting how amazing it turned out to be. We were selling out shows and the album was everywhere and people's responses were so amazing. This is the first show we were playing anything off the new album. We get to do it in Finland where we haven't played before. It's special. It's special for us, yes.
Luxi: You have played "Ave Satanas" and "War" off Avé before today, are you going to play some more songs off that record tonight like "Blood Stained" or "Forged in Hell", which are both heavy crushers, by the way...
Tony "The Demolition Man": On the North American tour, we played "Dein Fleisch" and "Metal We Bleed". We've got "Black n' Roll" ready to go in the set along with "Blood Stained", of course. We want to play everything but because the Venom catalog is so rich, fans always want us to add songs but they don't want us to take any out. We could be up there for four days playing everything.
That's the beauty of it. Not many bands have the privilege to have so many great songs that people want to hear. That's the beauty of Venom. Tonight, we'll play a couple of songs from the new album but the plan for next year is to do the whole album. We've got something "uber-special" we want to do. We want to just get out there, play some new stuff, support the album but next year do something incredibly special for everybody. Finland will be on the map again, absolutely.
Luxi: You had to postpone your UK and European tour dates for next year due to some health-related issues. What's the story behind this?
Tony "The Demolition Man": Well, I need a new hip. There was that. It's been going on for a long time. When we got to the end of the US tour we were wiped out because we did so many gigs back to back. Then we had some logistical problems with a couple of the bands and I had my hip problems. We thought, "This is crazy to try and do something just for the sake of it." We want to be able to deliver the best performance with everything and it looked like we're going to do it just because. That's not how we do things.
In the end, I called them and said, "Fuck it. We'll reschedule everything so we can do it properly, the best that we can and we'll put off Europe until next year." That's the idea; give a better show with better venues and better logistics.
Luxi: I also read that some people had spread false rumors about Venom Inc. playing shows in South America. Do you have any idea where those rumors started?
Tony "The Demolition Man": Yes, what happened was Cronos had taken his band down there. Then our fans started sending messages and talking about us playing in Brazil again. I said we were going later. They were saying, "Why are you coming now?" and other countries fans asked, "Why are you not playing here? Why are you only playing one show?" I finally said, "We're not going. This is not us."
I guess maybe a couple of the promoters had put "Inc." after the "Venom" and so I thought I should just put a post up tell everybody, "We're definitely not playing there. It isn't us." It wasn't saying, "Don't go and see him." It was just to say it isn't us and make it really quite clear. It was important to be clear because there's been some issues with Cronos, with the support bands, and with something in an airport. On the one hand, it's quite funny. On the other hand, I don't want that to reflect on us because the Brazilian fans, the Chilean fans, everybody has been amazing to us down there.
Hopefully, we've been congenial and humble when we've been down there and Venom spent all of our time with our fans. I don't want that to reflect on us. Whatever they do is what they do. They do it their way. It's not our way and I wanted to make that distinction.
Luxi: Did you feel any pressure when you booked the studio to record Avé knowing Conrad's Venom is also out there doing albums under the Venom name?
Mantas: To be perfectly honest, I don't give a shit about that, all right? I'm going to be brutally honest and say I don't give a monkey's fuck about what he is doing. Yes, there was pressure from the point of view of coming up with a good album but in no way a competition with what he's doing. I don't consider it to be competition or anything like that. I just don't care. It's like, "Get on with what you're doing, we're doing what we're doing and never the twain shall meet."
Everybody knows who he is. Everybody knows who we are. At the end of the day the fans decide. We've never once come out and said, "We are the REAL Venom". He has. He's done that publicly on stage. He's done it on his website. He's doing it all over the place. I find that quite sad, to be perfectly honest, because it's unnecessary. He's just trying to justify his relevance. The fans are deciding who they want to go and see. There are two Venoms out there. Go and see either or both, whatever you want to do. But for the writing of the album, we just did what comes naturally and the result is Avé.
Tony "The Demolition Man": I think that's what we do, what Jeff said. We focus on US - and the fan base and not anything else. Some people say, "They're only retro. They're not even making new music or anything" then we make new music and those same people say, "Yes, but it's not really this." There's always going to be something.
If they make a better album than Avé, well, brilliant. The only people that are going to benefit are the fans. If you want to do more shows because we're doing so many, again, that's great. If you do, then the fans are going to benefit. We're still going to do what we do. At the end of the day, two is better than one. More is better than some. If that's what they want to do, that's great. The fans should get as much as they can possibly get. That's what it's about at the end of the day.
The rest of it is just bloviating and shit talk that doesn't mean anything. At the end of the day, your fans are buying your product, your fans are coming to see your show, your fans are giving you the lifestyle or giving you the possibility to continue. If they probably rogue out and go, "Fuck it, we're not going to buy anything. You're fucked. Just sing in the bedroom." Invest in your fans then. It's as simple as that, really.
Luxi: To me personally Avé sounds much more enjoyable and pleasant than the last three Venom albums combined, so obviously you are doing something right with Venom Inc. I have read similar comments so I am sure you are pleased with how Avé turned out.
It sounds like you didn't want to go back to the roots of Venom but wanted to do your OWN THING with this album, a bit more modern but not TOO polished or anything like that. Feel free to correct me if my perceptions are totally wrong...
Tony "The Demolition Man": But that was exactly it.
Mantas: Yes, that's exactly it. I never once looked back and said, "I need another 'Countess Bathory'. I need another 'Witching Hour". Those moments happened 30-something years ago. Then there's never going to be another "Countess". There's never going to be another "Black Metal".
Tony "The Demolition Man": But maybe, you don't know. What happened came about on its own, not because we made it happen.
Mantas: Yes. I've read reviews from journalists and I've heard from fans as well, so it's not me saying this but, I've heard people say in print and to my face, "This is another classic Venom album." If that's their decision, if that's their take on it, then great, job done.
Tony "The Demolition Man": Well you know, I think the moment I realized there was something different was when we played at Keep It True. We closed the set with "Countess Bathory" and 2,000 people were singing. Brilliant. That was great. Then Abaddon walks out and stands up on his kit and the fucking place goes really crazy [*laughs*]. I mean, we only played five songs but we ended up with a full tour of Asia, China, Japan, Taiwan and a full tour of South America and a tour of North America on the table. It was like, "Fucking hell." We did two dates in Europe. A few live dates after five songs at Keep It True and we're being offered a live album. We said, "We've only done three shows and one of them wasn't even a full show." That's when we realized, "Hang on, what is happening here?"
Luxi: I guess you got this really nice snowball effect going on for yourselves after your show at Keep It True in April 2015...
Abaddon: That's what always happened with Venom. When we first did a set of demos and we were going to the studio to do some more, the guy said, "Do you have any more songs? Why don't you just make an album?" That doesn't happen to bands. That doesn't happen. You don't get that kind of thing. When we started playing properly, we played at a festival, I think it was a couple of thousand people. This doesn't just happen today. I still had a day job. I was still working in the factory. I had to come home from the Metallica gig and go and work in the factory. Then I'm reading about myself in magazines that I used to buy because Ritchie Blackmore's on the front cover. What the fuck? What the actual fuck? I didn't do that. He didn't do that. The management didn't do that. The record company certainly didn't fucking do that. It's just some sort of thing with this band.
Luxi: Now two years after Keep It True some great things have happened for you guys. You have toured half of the world, signed a record deal with the biggest Metal label in the world, Nuclear Blast Records, and have your first Venom Inc. album out. I guess things couldn't get much better for you, could they?
Tony "The Demolition Man": No. Exactly. I think we are...
Mantas: It's far exceeded our expectations. We never thought all this would happen to us. If someone would have told us at the Keep It True festival, "Look in the mirror guys, this is going to happen."
Tony "The Demolition Man": This will happen...
Mantas: I would have said, "fucking, no chance." [*chuckles*] I'll be perfectly honest and admit when the offer came for Keep It True I initially said, "No." It was only through talking that we said, "Okay then, well, let's do it." A couple of thousand fans, five or six songs. That's it."
Tony "The Demolition Man": We had to ask how is was going to work.
Mantas: How is it going to work? What's the point you know?
Tony "The Demolition Man": We did it knowing it was just going to be some fun. Fuck it, we'll go and have some fun. We'll play a few songs and that would be it. We didn't plan anything from that day forward. We said yes to the next thing as it came along. Must watch your own stupidity at times but we just said, "Yes, okay, yes, okay." These things that we've done and we've agreed to have made us thing, "Why the fucking hell am I doing this?"
Abaddon: I think it's like anything, don't look back at how it could have been done differently. I think we came to throw ourselves bodily at it [*chuckles*]. That's where the passion comes from. I think people see us doing this and just think, "Fuckin hell". I've seen bands who kind of go through the motions, I would say. Even Metal bands who...
Tony "The Demolition Man": With no names...
Abaddon: Who made vast waves but you think, "Are you really enjoying that?" It's not just a paycheck now. People are enjoying those sort of gigs but I think I'm passionate about it. Tony said in the previous interview that people who come to see us now are 20-something and younger. We're getting fans who are younger than us but the older fans are gonna see us and enjoy it, too. We're actually having an effect on youth culture again, which is the strangest thing to the three of us. The fact young people come out and are fired up by it.
Tony "The Demolition Man": Yes. We just did the Roxy in Hollywood and one of the shows was sold out. The demographic was probably 80% 20-somethings and teens. Last year, we played next door at The Whisky and as we were coming back from a radio station the PA said, "Oh, you just sold out." I was like, "Brilliant. Okay" I mean, it's not an arena but that was cool.
When we drove up, there was a fucking queue that went down the street around the block. It was like Hispanic girls like 17, 22. I said, "What are they a queuing for?" They went, "The Whisky." I said, "I must be at another club up there." They went, "No. They're coming to see you." I was like, "They do know we're three old guys, right?"
Abaddon: It's not Mötley Crüe...
Tony "The Demolition Man": But they went nuts. The older people don't want to see it without Cronos because they bought a particular moment in history and to them that is sacred and it will never change. That's brilliant but it is about the music.
These kids, this is their 1981, this is their 1984. They don't care. They want this, the same experience as their dads or their mommies and that's what's wonderful. We get to have that again, which is superb.
Luxi: It's actually funny that even though Avé sounds kind of brutal and all that but you also have sort of a Motörhead Rock 'n' Roll vibe as well. Take for example, "The Evil Dead". Perhaps some people can even sense Lemmy's spirit in it, eh?
Tony "The Demolition Man": I think so. If you take away the chaos from "Welcome to Hell", a lot of those riffs are Blues licks, boogie and...
Mantas: I mean, I love the Blues. I love the blues and stuff like that. My father was a drummer and he was into the big band era, swing bands, so it was always music like that playing in the house. My music of growing up sort of came through the '70s, all of the Glam bands, like Slade and T.Rex and Sweet. I loved all that stuff, all this...
Abaddon: ...and Gary Glitter [*grins*]
Mantas: Hahah...No. Basically anything that was guitar driven. Like Tony said, if you want to be one of those people that pull an album to pieces and analyze it, then Welcome to Hell and Black Metal, which 80%-90% of is mine, not Cronos, it's all Blues and Rock and Roll licks and progressions. And whatever the three of us did to those Blues and things, that's it.
Abaddon: That's what we did to it.
Tony "The Demolition Man": Teaches the twelve bar.
Mantas: It's a twelve bar.
Tony "The Demolition Man": If you listen to "Playtime" from Temples of Ice, I know that's not from the classics, but it starts like "Jailhouse Rock". It's got a boogie in the middle [*makes jamming noises*]. That's where we're all at, so it depends on how much distortion you put on it, how cacophonic it is. "Is it Rock and Roll? Is it Black and Roll?" We say yes. All those spirits come through. Lemmy spent 20 years saying, "We play Rock and Roll". That was the intro, no bomber, no fucking [*makes jamming noises again*], no fucking soundtrack, just walking on stage and playing Rock and Roll.
We played at the Inferno Festival in Norway last year and I read one review and the kid was a Black Metal fan and he came expecting to see this extreme band Venom and he wrote, "I guess they were good but I was expecting something, I don't know, something extreme but at the end of the day they're just a Rock and Roll band, aren't they?" [*laughs*] I was like, "That's a compliment." We don't need to be extreme. Look at the extreme bands that are out now, they need to be extreme, it's their turn. We can just go and play great songs like "Poison", "Schizo" and everything else in between and realize that they're just cool songs with a cool groove and a cool shuffle. That's what we've done on the album. Just being ourselves. Play the way we play, how we play, that's it.
Luxi: OK. Moving on as my interview time will be up soon. How does next year look for Venom Inc.?
Tony "The Demolition Man": We're booking right now.
Luxi: Nothing has been confirmed around the pentagram-shaped table yet?
Tony "The Demolition Man": No. Probably in the next few weeks we will have some announcements. We go to Japan in February 2018.
Abaddon: We have to stop doing what we were doing before, saying yes to everything. We now have management who say, "Shut the fuck up. We'll release it properly, in a proper manner." We're biting our nails, "Come on, let's just fucking do it." It's hard to be managed sometimes.
Tony "The Demolition Man": Considering we just had like 32 or whatever shows back to back. No days off, well, two days for the whole US thing because we included Canada and they were travel days so they weren't really days off. We slept and got up and that was the next day and we were at it again.
The idea of not doing any shows until next year was like, "What? No. No, we've got to get back out there." And then when we're out there, "We need a break." Then when you have a break, you go, "That was enough, I want to get back out there again."
That's the kind of momentum that we have with the fans. We're sharing that, they're driving us somewhere and were driving them. I mean that's pure, that's pure, absolutely pure to have that kind of thing. It's why Motörhead toured every single year.
Abaddon: Have you heard anybody say, "I've seen Venom Inc. four times now, that's good enough for me for a couple of years [*chuckles*]"? I think if people started talking about us in that manner then we'd say, "Oh, come on, let's rethink this." But everybody was saying just come back again, do it again. Do it again."
Luxi: I think my time is up now. Thank you so much for having this chat with me, guys. It honestly was my pleasure to meet you like this, chatting face to face, so thank you.
Tony "The Demolition Man": Thank you so much.
Abaddon: It was nice meet you, too!
|Other information about Venom Inc. on this site|
|Interview with vocalist and bassist Tony "The Demolition Man" Dolan on November 6, 2016 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
Copyright © 1999-2018, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.