MANTAS Regrets Giving CRONOS The 'Okay' To Continue VENOM Without Him
August 8, 2015
Jimmy Kay of Canada's The Metal Voice conducted an interview with VENOM INC., the new band featuring original VENOM members Jeff "Mantas" Dunn (guitar) and Anthony "Abaddon" Bray (drums) alongside ex-VENOM bassist/vocalist Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan, at this weekend's Heavy Montreal festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. You can now watch the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how VENOM INC.'s formation affects Dolan and Dunn's other project, M-PIRE OF EVIL, which released its full-length debut, "Hell To The Holy", in March 2012, and a follow-up effort, "Crucified", in May 2013:
Dunn: "M-PIRE is still running side by side [with VENOM INC.]. Three days ago, we were headlining at a festival as M-PIRE OF EVIL in Italy. We came home on Monday, packed on Tuesday and flew out here on Wednesday. So the two things are running side by side. But the VENOM INC. thing came around because of the Keep It True festival in Germany. M-PIRE OF EVIL were booked by Oliver Weinsheimer [Keep It True promoter] for the festival. And he had said, 'Would you consider playing some VENOM songs?' And we were, like, 'There's VENOM songs in the set.' And he went, 'No no no no no no. If I got Abaddon [to join you on stage].' I was, like, 'Right. Okay.' I've said in previous interviews, myself and Abaddon hadn't spoken to each other since 1998… I mean, every band goes through it. There's bullshit in every band."
On how VENOM bassist/vocalist Conrad "Cronos" Lant feels about VENOM INC.'s existence and whether he has tried to stop VENOM INC. from using the "VENOM" name:
Dunn: "I don't know [how he feels about it]. And at the end of the day, [our band's full name is] VENOM INC. – IRON & STEEL. The fans know who he is, the fans know who we are. In this band, you have the two founder members of [VENOM]. I don't wanna get into this whole political thing, but every band who's got a frontman who is iconic, [the fans] look at the frontman as 'that's the band.' Not true. [Cronos] was the last person to join VENOM — at my invitation. I met him at a girlfriend's friend's house. And we needed a rhythm guitarist — that's what we needed. We didn't need a vocalist; we had a vocalist. We needed a rhythm guitarist, because our rhythm guitarist had left. Essentially, we were, what? Two guitars, bass, drums and vocals — so we were a five-piece in the initial stages. So the rhythm guitarist left. I met this guy. I'd never met him before. He said he was a guitarist; he had long hair; he was into metal; he worked at Impulse Studios owned by David Wood, founder of] Neat Records. I had been there and walked out with my tail between my legs, because, at that point, me and the other guys who I had around in the band, we couldn't afford to do a demo. So it was, like, 'Hmm, that might be an inroad.' So he was invited to a rehearsal, he came in as a rhythm guitarist, and the bass player left, as bands do. By default, he took over bass, and then I wrote 'Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)'. And the idea for that song was… I said to him, 'Can you sing?' And he was, like, 'I'll give it a go.' So the idea was that Clive Archer, our original singer, was gonna go off stage and do a costume change and come back on for 'Shizo'. A lot of these songs were written before he joined the band. And this is what people don't realize… And the other thing that people don't realize is… I'll say this. In 2005, my mother was seriously ill and I lost her… I lost my mother at the end of that year. My mind wasn't on music, it wasn't on fucking a band's name or anything like that. And I had already made my exit. Those things went on, and I was, like, 'That's it.' And [Cronos] called me. It was something to do with a license coming back for an album, which we were then gonna pass to Sanctuary Records. And I was just, like, 'My mind isn't on this. It's gotta be on family. And I don't care. I really don't care what happens with this fucking album. Put it wherever the hell you want.' And it was during the course of that conversation [that] he said, 'Are you okay with me continuing VENOM?' [And I said], 'Yeah.' Is it a decision I regret? Yes. Because, looking back, if my head had been right, if my head had been screwed on at that point, I would have said, 'I think we should just bury it now.'"
Bray: "But then, legally, he didn't ask me, and the name of the band, originally, was put together by the two of us. So if he had legal standing, he's asked one person, [and] you have to ask the other person. 'Cause I would have said no. And that's why he didn't ask me, 'cause I would have said, 'No, I'm not okay with it.'"
On whether Cronos has a possible legal case in wanting to stop VENOM INC. from using the VENOM name:
Bray: "No. The only thing he's got, if we have a legal argument about it, is the recent longevity. He's got [a period of several years] where he's been putting [stuff out and playing shows], so people know that's VENOM. And that's fair enough; we're not disputing that. None of us are disputing that. But we're saying is we have got what we've got and everybody knows what it's about and everybody understands it. And when we said, 'Let's call it IRON & STEEL,' everybody went, 'But you're VENOM. You're VENOM.' Everybody else said it. And we went, 'It's really nice to hear.'"
On why the Dolan era of VENOM didn't get the recognition it deserved:
Dolan: "At that particular time, heavy metal was trying to stay alive; it was on the floor, trying to breathe. And, you know, then grunge came in and we had a huge indie wave in Europe and throughout England — you know, OASIS and BLUR. And then NIRVANA landed, and everybody wanted to move to Seattle and be depressed. So metal was struggling during then. I got a call off Tony. And he said, 'Look, I've got a proposal. Do you wanna meet at the pub?' I went down to the pub, and he said, 'Look, Cronos has left. He's moving to America. He's doing his own project. We've got this album deal. We need the best vocalist. You've been associated with us all this time. You know us almost as well as we know ourselves.' And he said, 'Would you do it?' And I didn't think, 'I've gotta step into [Cronos's] shows.' I didn't think anything other than, as any player or a fan would do of a genre or a piece of music, I went, 'Would I play with you? Fuck yeah.' And that was it. We were off. And, you know, when people say, 'Yeah, but those are… And the time period and everything.' And I said, 'Look, my choice was: a world without VENOM, or a world with VENOM. And if I had to step in to keep the world with VENOM, then that's what happened.' And, you know, when kids come to me and go, 'You know, the first album I ever heard of VENOM was 'Prime Evil'. And then I found this old back catalog.' And I said, 'Look, I don't give a fuck when you find VENOM as long as you find VENOM.' Because the world needs a VENOM. They need a SEX PISTOLS, they need a VENOM, they need a NIRVANA. They need somebody who just doesn't conform, isn't what you wanna do, isn't homogenized, isn't perfect, isn't, like, 'It's about, 'Oooh. We've gotta look like this and look like that.' And, 'We should be like this.' It just happens."
On VENOM being a black metal pioneer:
Dunn: "You know, every forest fire needs a spark. And I think we were the spark… we were the crowbar that knocked the doors down and said, 'It's okay to do this.' And am I proud of it? Absolutely. Without us… Well, without us having an album called 'Black Metal', without us saying, 'We are black metal,' without having a song called 'Black Metal', none of it wlould have… All these genres wouldn't have happened."
Dunn, Bray and Dolan released three albums as VENOM between 1989 and 1992 — "Prime Evil" (1989),"Temples Of Ice" (1991) and "The Waste Lands" (1992).
The classic lineup of VENOM — Lant, Dunn and Bray — is often credited with kickstarting the whole black metal movement, but is more accurately seen an early example of extreme metal.
VENOM's second album, 1982's "Black Metal", was a major influence on on the early Norwegian black metal scene.