VENOM INC is the closest thing that I can think to legendary VENOM and their (let’s name it ‘debut’) album entitled “Ave” is just an excuse to talk again with Tony Dolan. We call him in Canada and 2 hours and something later…
- Almost every fan of Venom knows the story behind your reunion, but nobody expected a new album, not something bombastic as “Ave”.
It’s because of the fans. When Johnny Zazula asked me to do some demos I thought “no no no”, we were playing the legacy music, but there was some purity in it. It was just the magic and the fans. And I didn’t want the money and the publicity to get in between us, but John was insisting, so we passed him four songs and he asked us to who should he pass them to, so we had to consider a label. And what I like about Nuclear Blast is their work ethic and that they get the bands across to the people. And they replied really fast and they told us, ok, make an album.
Then Mantas started writing riffs and he asked if they were going into the right directions and I told him that he didn’t have to have any direction, we didn’t have to copy ourselves, he just had to be Mantas and that’s it. The way we did it is not the ideal, but this was spontaneous and authentic. And that’s how we preserved the naivety of the 70’s and the 80’s.
- Keep It True and Oliver was the reason for this reunion. What is your opinion about all those true metal festivals in Europe like Keep It True and Up The Hammers?
Well, they are vital. I played Up The Hammers with M-pire years ago. Music can change the way you feel about things, maybe it’s one song, or one band and heavy metal and rock music brings you into the community and keeps you there. And through the years the crowd has become from old people carrying bags of records to practically everybody, young people, women etc. All people coming to our show, we are trying to make them feel that it’s not 1985 or something. And it doesn’t matter who is on stage, although there is a big conversation about that also. Since the bands want to play, the fans should get the opportunity to see them. What I hope is that I can give a moment to a new fan the feeling that a long term fan has and make the long term fans feel that also the new album can be a part of their collection.
- Can all these bands sharing the stage claim their place in bigger festivals like Wacken?
I think yes, because even for me playing these festivals I can see all these old bands like Cirith Ungol and bands that could have been forgotten, but they bring them in the attention of newer audiences and that stimulates the fans of continuing and experiencing even more bands of that era. And it’s amazing because back then those bands couldn’t even leave their countries and the fans in order to listen to their music they had to find a record store, there was no google back then. And that’s why I believe all these true metal festivals are important, because they care about the authenticity of the thing and they don’t just book the obvious headliners and they care about the fans and they want to present them something that maybe they don’t even know yet. And that’s why all these festivals are starting to have more stages, because these bands are being active again and recording again. And the underground pushes to the mainstream, because the fans want that.
- You were one of the founding members of Atomkraft, will we see again a reunion?
Good question. It was never a very known band, it was always a very working hard band. I get offers every year to do something and I am recording stuff here and there, but whenever I get close to an album I start questioning if this is the right thing to do and if anybody cares. But then Lemmy died who was the reason why I did the whole thing and it hit me very hard, as it did to a lot of people, the hero that he was to many. So, I went back to some recordings and I thought that I need to channel him somehow through my music, because that was the initial inspiration. And I scrapped everything and I started again having Lemmy and his approach to music in mind, because this is who I am, this is why I am doing this. But Venom Inc. is taking up all of my time and I don’t know if I will find the gap to fit it in, I hope it’s going to happen, but I have to do everything else first. It is always in my mind though.
- How did you come up with the moniker of Demolition Man?
Lovely, another good question. Back in the 80’s when you went to see a show everybody would get some time to play a solo, everyone. And it was kind of practical and artistic at the same time. So, we thought that we should do the same thing and in a show two guys were talking all the time and when it was time for my bass solo I jumped on the table they were behind and it looked really great, but I realized that all my gear was tied up around my amp and my bass stack just exploded. I caught fire and the road crew tried to put off the fire and I thought “oh fuck, it’s not even mine, I borrowed it”. And the original guitar player we had back then, Steve White, Grabbed the mic and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you the Demolition Man” and since then I have the reputation that I am breaking stuff, but that’s mostly because of enthusiasm. So, it stuck to me at ’79 and had stayed ever since.
- What was the reaction on Venom Inc. by the press and the audience and what about the new album?
The words people are writing are very humbly, I read everything but Mantas reads nothing. If you don’t hear any criticism in any negative way then you don’t know how to improve. But he found a couple of bad reviews, which were kind of critical but the whole outcome was that it is worthy, so I have to say that the vibe we get from the reviews is amazing. We did it for the fans and we put a setlist together and we don’t know where we are going, we have no plan. The album is for the fans, because without them wanting us to do it, we wouldn’t be doing that. So, all these positive reviews are so amazing and so elevating and at the same time are shocking as well as makes you feel good inside for doing the right thing and it’s amazing.
- Tell us more about the writing procedure and what inspires you.
Me, and I think Mantas as well, we are inspired by what we see and by life and what is going out around us. In the beginning of Venom there was this satanic, tongue in cheek approach by the guys to gain attention, but I loved the ferocity and the chaos of the whole thing, cause with Demolition Man I was dealing with nuclear power and world conflict. With M-pire of Evil it was more about the fundamental darkness there is inside us. As for the last record I just let the music tell me what it wants to say. Thematically it would be about two things, the fans that come to the show and the passion we share with them. The second half would be about the time to die, the helplessness of mankind, what are we doing here, our conflict begins and ends with us. It’s not a preaching album, it’s kind of a narration of what is happening around.
- You mentioned the song “Forged In Hell”, to me it sounds a bit like an Ozzy song, as if it’s coming out of Jake E. Lee’s guitar. Who wrote the main riffs?
Again it was Mantas, he wrote the main riffs of all of the album. We were two years constantly on tour before the tour and it seemed that we had everything ready and we didn’t even know it. When the pressure was put upon us to do something, then we came up with everything at once. And the riff for “The Evil Dead” sounded like Randy Rhoads, as if it’s out of “Blizzard Of Oz” and that’s why I worked on it, because I liked it so much. We didn’t polish much on that album, we didn’t want it to be predictable and linear, we wanted to show that there was something more to the eye. Maybe we could have taken care of the duration, some songs are too long, but I like to get lost to a song also, I like things and albums that make you lie back and listen and before you realize it’s done and you just say wow. But the riff you are asking about is like this, because it’s just Mantas, that’s how he plays, he plugs in the guitar and goes for it without doing much to it, that’s who he naturally is and I am glad you can hear that in songs like “Forged In Hell”.
- How important is it to try your things in music and how do the fans react? Are fans ever really satisfied?
No, haha. You can never second guess it and please everybody. For every person that says “Oh, I love that” the next one will hate it. Everything is individual these days, from the taste in food, the shoes we are wearing, our haircuts, the emotions that music gives us. The important thing is to hope for the people to connect to your music on a personal level and that can be done only when you connect with the music and not just trying to please someone with harmonies and melodies or whatever. And that’s all you can do as long as you are honest.
- Which is your personal favourite song from “Ave”?
Oh, that’s difficult. You know, “Black n’ Roll” means a lot to me, because of Lemmy, the lyrical theme has to do with all the songs that inspired us. I love “Blood Stained”, I love all of them, I can’t pick one of them, I am sure in time there will be something. “Dein Fleisch” was the most glorious thing for me on a vocal level, because I got to perform it, I got to pull off all of the character. When I hear music, I see images, the music tells me what it wants to say and I am simply putting down the words. And that song was so deep about creating each character and to narrate it was the best fun when making the record. I got very empowered by “The Evil Dead”, all of them, but picking a favourite I probably have to wait some time to do that. I know “Overkill” is my favourite song from “Overkill” and “Reign In Blood” from “Reign In Blood”, but for “Eve” I need to wait more.
- Comparing all the Venom albums and M-Pire of Evil ones, where would you put “Ave” at the band’s heritage?
I don’t know, I‘ve heard so many different opinions, some people say it’s better than any of my period with Venom connecting it with the “Prime Evil” period, others say it’s the best since “Black Metal”. Abaddon’s favourite album is “Prime Evil” and Mantas thinks that the only relevant four Venom albums are “Black Metal”, “Welcome To Hell”, “Prime Evil” and “Resurrection”. I am a bit different, I loved all the albums for all different reasons, and in my period I kind of think that we did go wrong in certain places and I do like some bits more than other bits, but with “Eve” I don’t know where to put it in the catalogue. I know the band has done some albums that have been better received than others, “From The Very Depths” and “Fallen Angels” were critically two better albums than “Hell” and “Metal Black” that were not so good and not so well received. Those two albums were an attempt to plagiarize and copy a moment in time, but you are not 19 and not that person anymore. So, I can say that “Ave” is the first album of something that I don’t know what it is. It is relevant with the very first albums and I know that from the very first show in Keep It True that we have a chemistry the three of us, a different one that the original three have, but we have something to move on with.
- Outside of your music career you are an actor playing in many known movies. Could you tell us about your experience in this field?
Well, that was about accepting challenges in my life and this is what I am always saying to my students, always say yes when an opportunity comes along. Because if you say yes, you can always realize that you tried and it didn’t work, but if you say no you will not be able to say yes again, because you will never know if you would have liked it and if you would have made it. Much like Venom, it wasn’t planned, I accepted it as I accept everything in my life. The experience is amazing, it’s a very much different world depending on the level you are involved in it. From all the points I went into it late in my life and I wasn’t in it to become famous. We have to set our goals, with music it was just to make an album and I surpassed that goal a million times. I didn’t even have as a goal to make a movie and I did much more than that. I don’t need the fame and the money, I measure success with how I feel inside and doing the movies was great, but when I found myself in Hollywood and the agents and all I thought it was good, but I can’t live like that, waiting for opportunities that may or may not come. You have to sacrifice everything else and I just didn’t want it that much in order to sacrifice everything else, I wasn’t prepared for that. I like my life travelling the planet and not being stuck there buying into the plasticness that is Hollywood just to gain fame, so I went back to the music which what I love.
- Besides Venom, Queensryche, Saxon and Entombed had the same or similar issues with their name. Do you think that name is so important after all or is it the audiences’ fault as we focus on the brand’s name more than we should? Or is it all about the labels that prefer to sign more easily more known names?
That’s quite astute of you to say, all of the above are true. The labels want something that they can market it, like Venom Inc. as opposed to Venom, or Entombed A.D., it is easier for them to market something that people can recognise and people get to consent with it. When we started people were saying that we were not Venom, well now we are called Venom Inc., where’s the argument? They don’t even realising that they are fighting amongst themselves for no real cause, the bands feel strongly about it. I wasn’t much concerned with that, but Abaddon wanted to use the logo, because he wanted to make a point I guess, the others were using the logo that belongs to everyone and were capitalizing on it without consideration of him. The whole idea of calling it Incorporated, was because the agents and everybody wanted to have an associate name with the band so the people could know straight away who we were and Abaddon decided to use his logo and I thought this is not how we should be starting off, with a conflict and I wanted to be in a more positive vibe. I just thought how to incorporate Venom into everything we have been doing and that was it, incorporated, it associates us to Venom, but it doesn’t say we are only that, but also everything else around it. I don’t think fans should be tied up with that, but embrace all the music. If Cronos can make relevant music then that’s brilliant, but then we can do that. Some of the old fans are defending it, but also the new fans should know all the characters and should have access to all the music. Don’t worry about the name of the thing, just question yourself if you like it or not.
- How do you feel about the whole economical and political crisis Europe and the world is experiencing? Where will this lead us?
Well “Blood Stained”, that’s my ultimate fear. When in the future somebody finds this red planet floating around will they land here and think once there was water? Or all we are going to leave behind is blood? With the Brexit and all, we shouldn’t need to do that, it’s just a small planet, why should we built borders and fences and all that? In the beginning with the Euro, I thought brilliant, that means we all get the same money and you don’t need to change fifteen currencies in every tour. And then England decided not to change its money, and now Greece is falling on each knees, that wasn’t the idea. The idea was to have a community that would help one another. All we can hope that the new leaders will come through, in the same way that this summer in the fast election that the conservative prime minister thought that would win easily, but she was stopped because all the young people came forth and stopped her. Where the whole thing is going, who knows?
- Your new tour starts soon, what are your future plans with Venom Inc.?
We start the US tour very soon, we do five weeks in America, then a bunch of shows in the UK, then a few more European shows and then finish over Christmas and then I will go to Portugal to finish off the M-Pire of Evil album with Mantas, “Unleashed”, because it’s waiting to be finished. Then again Australia, Japan, Malaisia and then again Europe, we will go everywhere, absolutely everywhere, Greece of course. Everywhere we can get to. It’s important to be with our fans, and particularly with this album that we feel very excited about and we want to play it for people.
- Have you already scheduled something for Greece?
No, but we are talking with some people right now who are desperately trying to work something out for us and if it doesn’t work by Christmas, it will probably be February or March, I want this to happen as soon as possible.
- I know it is rather soon for that, but shall we expect some kind of “Prime Evil” celebration tour for the thirtieth anniversary of the album in 2019?
That would be lovely, from my point of view I would like to do every song from every album, but it is very hard motivating the other two to do it, because they have their specifics. To do a celebration of “Prime Evil” would be amazing. How about doing an Up The Hammers special and perform “Prime Evil”? We get to be in Greece and get to play the whole album, that would be cool, just doing a bunch of festivals playing the whole album. That’s your challenge, I leave this to you.
- I promise I’ll try to make this happen. So, the closing is yours. Do you have a message to the fans?
I just to like to say thank you and to people who think that this is not real, because it’s me instead of Cronos, I just want to say that you don’t have to divide and take sides, just experience, let yourself go, allow yourselves the opportunity and give it a chance, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Thank you so much to all the friends in Greece, too many to mention. This is your album and please take it as a gift. We thank you.
- We thank you and hope to talk you to soon in Up The Hammers maybe…