TONY DOLAN Fires Back At VENOM Purists Who Say Band Can't Exist Without CRONOS

December 28, 2022

In a recent interview with Australia's Metal Mal, former VENOM and current VENOM INC. frontman Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan was asked about some fans' criticism that VENOM cannot truly be VENOM without the band's singer Conrad "Cronos" Lant. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's quite an odd thing because there's a subversity that goes on with the VENOM thing, which was always there. And I go back to the scene of the crime, so I was there at the beginning. We're all from the same place. We all saw each other. Mantas's [former VENOM and current VENOM INC. guitarist Jeff Dunn] girlfriend lived across the road from me, so I saw him all the time. Cronos's girlfriend was my girlfriend's friend, so I know him. We used to go to the same pubs and same shows. I saw VENOM with ten people in a little old church hall with Clive [Archer, original VENOM singer]. And, of course, I had my band.

"When I went into VENOM, it was 'cause Conrad had gone and they wanted to make it happen. And I was instrumental in bringing Mantas back 'cause he didn't wanna [do it], but they knew that me and him are kind of like brothers so I could convince him to come back, which we agreed I would do it if he came and he would do it if I was there. So that's what we did. And at the time I didn't think about anything. These were my friends. I got to write new music and play and tour. And I got to play some great songs: 'Bloodlust', 'In Nomine Satanas', 'Warhead'. Who doesn't wanna do that? So I was, like, 'Fucking brilliant.' And they were, like, 'We can only think of one person who a) knows the band from the beginning, and b) can do the job and knows where we went wrong, and that's you.' So I was, like, 'Brilliant.' So I didn't consider I was 'replacing Cronos' and, 'Oh my God' — I was not thinking that. In fact, it was about 10 or 15 years later before the first person said, 'How did it feel filling big boots?' And I said, 'I wear my own boots. I don't fill anybody else's boots.' I just didn't think about it. Why would I? So the meaning becomes something else.

"Of course, those characters and those people from that time don't wanna let go of that, because they still wanna be 16 even though they're 50, or they still wanna be 20," Dolan continued. "Music is evocative and it gives us a sense of time — from an ABBA song to whatever it is. And kids these days will hear the new album that we're [VENOM INC.] doing, for example, but in 30 years' time when they hear one of those songs, it might evoke an emotion the same way, so you become quite protective about that. And I think initially his fans — the Cronophiles, I call 'em — and Abaddon [drummer Anthony Bray] created his own little bowl of wax, and Mantas has his too, and I have mine, when they feel that you're disparaging them or you're trying to make their place in history less than it is, then they attack. But they only do that when you're succeeding. So I don't get it at any other point from young fans or nobody else. But every time we release something or every time we announce a big show, like Wacken [Open Air], I got it, you'd find these people going, 'No Cronos, no VENOM.' … It's just word speak. But a lot of those fans that have done that I will challenge and just go, 'I don't mind that you feel like that, and I totally understand that — totally understand that — but justify why, why it's so important. What do you think that I'm doing…?'

"I can't change the history. I can't go, 'No. Now I'm this. The 'Black Metal' album was never recorded and doesn't exist. The shows that VENOM did never happened.' I can't — I can't do that. That's history. It's there. And the person who was there is still performing. He's on those records. You've got them. He's still performing and able to sing those records. 'So what do you think is really bad I'm doing? I'm not gonna shoot you.'

"It's just panic," Dolan added. "They wanna keep it as pure as it is. I totally understand that, but sometimes it's not so pure. And my view is exactly that. If a fan wants to hear a B-side that any form of VENOM will never play, as a fan of music, I wanna hear it too. So if I can play it, then I'm gonna do it — absolutely… And so far I've managed to play, or convinced us to play, every song off [VENOM's debut album] 'Welcome To Hell', every song off [VENOM's second album] 'Black Metal', and I'm halfway through [VENOM's third album] 'At War With Satan'. So I'm gonna get there. Even if they don't wanna do it, I'm gonna get there."

Released in 1982, "Black Metal" is considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. VENOM's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal. The band classic lineup trio of Dunn, Lant and Bray recorded two further studio LPs, "At War With Satan" (1984) and "Possessed" (1985),and live album, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (1986). Often cited by bands such as METALLICA, BEHEMOTH, CELTIC FROST and MAYHEM as major influences, they are one of the most revered bands of their generation. VENOM is still fronted by Cronos and headlines festivals all over the globe and continues to release new music while Dunn and Dolan have joined forces in the similarly named VENOM INC.

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).

VENOM INC. is not to be confused with the aforementioned Cronos-fronted version of VENOM, which is continuing to tour and make albums under the VENOM moniker. Joining Cronos in that group are Rage (a.k.a. Stuart Dixon) on guitar and Danté (a.k.a. Danny Needham) on drums.

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