by Lena Adamopoulou
I’m sure that every metalhead who respects himself is familiar with Venom, despite the fact that he may not be attracted to the legendary triad’s music (Cronos – Mantas – Abaddon). At least he can admit that their influence in the music industry is huge. In the end of the day, they are the creators of an entire movement; black metal. Not only musically speaking but also by name. Unfortunately currently the name Venom reflects the original singer, something that doesn’t resemble in any way the old prestige of the group. So, as a devoted fan and disappointed by the current path of the band – although the latest album is ok – learning about the reunion between Mantas and Abandon (2 original members) and Tony Dolan filling the position of the singer (Venom era 89 -92) caused an indescribable feeling especially after their first gig at last year’s KIT. Now, after the world tour, having returned to their bases, they talked to us about Venom’s future plans and much more…
What’s the main reason to make a reunion after so many years? Money, fame or fans?
Μ. It was never meant to be anything more than a one off event for the fans at the Keep It True Festival. The promoter had booked M:Pire Of Evil and had been at BroFest where I played with Atomkraft and Cauldron, Abaddon was in the audience and he had the idea that after the M:Pire set we could play a few Venom songs with Abaddon. I have to admit that my first reaction was to say no, we had worked so hard with M:Pire and I honestly did not ever see myself performing with Abaddon again, after all we had not spoken since 1998. After a few more conversations I agreed. Even at this point there had been no communication between myself and Abaddon. We agreed a set via email and I put an audio MP3 set together for everyone to rehearse with as we could not get together for rehearsals. I put the intro tape together and we were good to go. M:Pire at this point had just returned from a 7 show tour of Russia and about a week and a half after returning I began to feel unwell. Things just got worse and I was honestly at the point of cancelling K.I.T. The concert went ahead as planned but to this day, even watching the footage on YouTube, I cannot remember being on stage. I had a raging fever and do remember nearly passing out at one point but looking at the footage I look drunk or out of my head on something and considering I dont drink and I hate drugs, whatever it was it was fucking horrible. After the show we were getting contacted by promoters and agents from all over the world asking if we would play. We DEFINITELY did not expect that. Since that one appearance we literally have not stopped touring, it’s incredible and completely fan driven by demand.
D. FANS. I was approached by the promoter from Keep It True festival Germany who asked to book M:Pire of Evil & asked me if there was any way I could make it happen to have Abaddon join myself & Mantas onstage to perform some Venom classics for fans as a one off. Well after some discussions it happened. Without rehearsals we just all arrived (previously selecting some songs to play). Abaddon joined us following the M:Pire set and we played. 2000 people went crazy and that was it. From then the demand from fans all over the world and promoters took over and we haven’t stopped touring the globe and playing since. This is being driven by the fans and that to me is exactly how it should be. THEY are the most important thing, not money, not being a ROCK STAR but FANS + MUSIC full stop.
A. Well it’s certainly not the money hahaha! It was the reaction from the fans after Keep It True that is the only real reason for the reunion.
Did today’s revival of NWOBHM affect you at all regarding the reunion?
Μ. Personally, not at all. I never felt that Venom were a part of that movement even though we were placed there by the media. I don’t think we had anything in common with the NWOBHM bands at the time.
D. I told record companies 6yrs ago when we began M:Pire of Evil after they told me, your too ‘old school’ for today’s market, that the tide was changing and they’d see! Well?? Now all those labels have signed ‘old school’ bands!! That’s funny. Of course the resurgence in all that has an effect and I think that’s great! Music is forever not just a fashion even though major companies have and do try to drive it that way… No one wears stalk heals and flairs like in the 70’s but they do still listen to classic rock from the 70’s… Just one reference point… There are many more by way of explanation but you get my point. The older fans wanna enjoy what they loved from a period sure but even more now young fans are coming to see and hear what they missed out on because this IS their musical heritage too.
A. No…I’m still confused as to whether Venom ever were a NWOBHM band or not… I don’t think the resurgence has affected us.
How did the world tour go and where did you have the biggest response?
Μ. The responses EVERYWHERE have been AMAZING. Really, far exceeding our expectations. It actually feels as though it’s bigger this time around. I have to say that the South American tour was CRAZY. The fans are just so passionate about their music. But everywhere we have played has given us the warmest and most amazing reactions and NOT ONCE have I heard an audience chant ‘Venom Inc’, it has ALWAYS been just ‘VENOM!, VENOM!, VENOM!,’ fans’ words, not ours.
D. The world tour was incredible. We played so many shows and countries it is impossible to say the best place or even best show!! Standout moments? Paris, all Polish shows, New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo, Rio, Limera , Santiago… The others weren’t bad in fact far from it but those shows were special for other reasons. Everywhere the fans and organizers were just beyond incredible. I feel very humbled and very grateful.
A. The tour has been outrageous; every day another adventure, probably Chile or Mexico was best though in my opinion.
Why do you play all the classic songs only and why not from “Prime evil” era, now that you are all together? I’m sure that the fans would die to listen to these ones.
Μ. There are plans to include more of those songs. Honestly with the Venom catalogue we could play for hours and probably still miss someone’s favourite out, hahaha!
D. We will play from the entire catalogue but as we hadn’t planned this we put a set together quickly to be able to do shows. We all picked songs we thought would make a good set Mantas worked a running order that worked. My point was in order to be REAL so fans could see and hear we weren’t just trying to cash in on the name, it was important to go back to start and even play songs from the original albums not many people had head played live, certainly they wouldn’t have seen them played live. If we could play those and make people feel they were played with integrity and true passion and spirit like back they were in the day, then they’d understand why we are here. Material from MY era will come into the set also but to be honest? If we played everything fans want us to play, we’d need a show that started at 9am and finished sometime around midnight lol
A. We’re in the happy position of having too many good songs… Which ones do we drop from the set? Die hard? Countess? Black Metal???
Do you believe that you split the fans, dividing them into two opposite fields… Venom and Venom inc.?
Μ. Absolutely not. Τhey know who he is and they know who we are and as individuals we all have the power of choice.
D. I don’t think so. I think metal fans are uber loyal and we started with our fans and those accept ALL Venom material and incarnations too. There were those who didn’t want it because they felt they’d be disloyal by even listening to us. Βut that’s crazy. More is better!! Fans who prefer the Cronos band can still see and hear them if they want and ignore us but what I have found is that fans are getting it, they see what we are about αnd why we exist again and they are forgetting any divide. They don’t care at the end of the day. They want to see all the characters and just hear good new music and classics they love so it’s a win – win to me…
A. If we did divide the fans it was not our intention to do so… Venom fans are pretty unique in that they stay with us through all the changes.. So I think two bands are better than one.
How are the relationships between you?
Μ. Personally I would say that in the beginning, considering we had not been together or in contact for so long, things were a little hesitant but it was the music that drove us and brought us together. All things happen for a reason. Everything is fine and no matter what happens I will tell you now that there is NO WAY I will let this go again . . it stays right here!! You have been warned!!
D. Good. We all have our job to do and we do it. The important thing is that it works onstage, on recordings and with the fans… That’s what’s important and it does work.
A. We’ve a good working relationship it seems to come together every night on the road.
Is there any possibility to work with Conrad (again)?
Μ. I think that would be an even bigger shock than what has happened over the last few months.
D. That’s not a question for me to answer. I once thought on the anniversary of black metal or welcome to hell albums there should have been a Wacken or something headline spot, full on pyro etc and every member that’s been in the band appear onstage together but that’s a long gone idea now. I think too many bad things have been said on both sides on a personal level for there to be any coming together. Beyond that, there’s no need. You aren’t losing anything; with this you’re gaining! More shows, more music, seeing everyone, that’s gotta be better. Don’t forget too, barring one album and a handful of shows in the 90’s you’re taking about a line up from over 30years ago… those days are long gone… it’s 2016!
A. Not as far as I can see. Conrad does his stuff and we do ours.
What’s the element that keeps you as active members of metal music industry?
Μ. Simple. MUSIC AND FANS. Music is my life and the fans are what drive me.
A. I think it’s the family thing. Only metal really has this community feeling, it’s what I missed most when I disappeared in the years after 2000.
Do you believe that you could revive the feeling of the 80s, the sense that only the big concerts can give?
Μ. Absolutely yes. And we intend to. As yet we have performed with no stage show or set, no pyros or backdrops, just us and the music and I believe that that is the true test of a good band but I would love to perform with a full show. I love that shit BUT the music IS the most important thing.
D. We are…anyone who has seen us has said it. Fans, promoters, journalists…that’s what we are about. 100% real and if you play with passion and integrity that translates to the audience. Metal fans aren’t stupid. They smell fake from 100 miles away and won’t buy it.
A. Oh yeah…I’m all for big stage shows. Huge concerts. It’s what I’m all about…
If you could turn back time what would you change?
M. A few things, especially something in 1985, but hey, life is one big learning curve and you can’t hold onto regrets. Learn and move on. Remember, there is no such thing as failure. It’s just the Universe telling you that’s not the way to do it. Change something and try again.
D. Nothing. Maybe make decisions based on knowing things I didn’t but I wouldn’t change anything it was an amazing journey and like everyone there was bad stuff but also done great stuff and it all goes into making you who you are.
A. I’d make people realize that life’s short and we had a great opportunity…. Let’s not waste it.
What’s the most extreme thing that you ever did?
Μ. Form a band, hahaha. We are after all looked at as the Godfathers of Extreme Metal.
D. The most extreme thing I ever did? Jump out of an airplane!
A. Carrying my friends severed leg after he fell under a train and I pulled him away from the tracks…I went back to pick up his leg cause I thought it could be sowed back on.
What are the next steps and when should we expect new material from Venom inc?
M. Immediate plans are to return to America and European festivals and in the meantime I’m writing material for the new Venom Inc album and I would like to think it will be released around Summer time.
D. We have summer festivals lined up. The second US tour this year to do, a European tour and South America again (hitting countries we didn’t hit as well as countries we did) but first focus on the album. So far I have about 8 songs written and these I will present to the band for consideration but I think they are on point so it’s exciting times.
Α. A new album this year, and more live dates all year.
Do you also continue with the personal project and what’s your priority?
Μ. I continue with everything. I am planning a guitar album which I am also writing for and of course my book and many many other things. STAY TUNED!
D. I think that is very important yes. It’s ‘Venom Inc’ Incorporated… We said that was because we all have projects we enjoy and they are all incorporated into what we do. If we didn’t do the other stuff then what we said wasn’t true then was it? Lol. I am finishing up the ATOMKRAFT album tracks and will plan shows. Then there’s the M:Pire of Evil album that’s nearing completion, just needs my bass and vocals and there have been show offers coming in for that. Right now the focus is on Venom Inc dates and the new music. Basically I can’t do nothing or sit still so, I’m still doing guest spots, writing a column for Metal Hammer Italy, just become part of Alpha Omega Management on the A & R front plus other things lol it all fits if you want it to.
A. I’m still in the middle of the Abaddon album it’s going really well but of course this stuff takes over all the time.
When will we see you in Greece?
A. As soon as we possibly can, I love visiting Greece . . good friends, good food (Souvlaki, Stifado, Greek Salad), beautiful country and great weather
D. As soon as we get a good offer and can perform a huge show they deserve from us..I don’t see why we can’t come. So soon I would hope.
A. Greece will always be a priority to me…it’s where…after dynamo…I brought the reunion in 96!
The closing is yours…
Jeff MANTAS Dunn : I would just like to close by saying a huge thank you to every single fan who have supported my music for the last 3 decades, it is absolutely overwhelming to have such loyalty . . and to the new generation of fans . . WELCOME and my love and respect goes out to all of you.
See you on tour my friends.
Tony DEMOLITION MAN Dolan: Thank you for all the support over the years and especially now. As I said when we started back with M:Pire of Evil 5 years ago and still maintain today..without YOU there is no US!! This is for you and by you! It’s not about who doesn’t like it…it IS about who does!! Thank you, respect as always and SEE YOU ON THE DANCEFLOOR, OUT THERE, SOMEWHERE!!
Fuckin ABADDON cunt : I’ll see you all some day…burn in hell.