Venom (Cronos, Rage, Dante)
Coined with starting the genre term Black Metal it is a welcome return again for Venom as they prepare to release their 14th album Fallen Angels which also showcases elements of thrash and punk that may come as a surprise to some. To celebrate this we got John Morgan to talk to Cronos, Rage and Dante in a return to London…
Article by SpazioRock - Publish on: 18/12/11

JM:  Welcome back to London guys, a stone’s throw away from the old Hammersmith Odeon, does it bring back memories?

Cronos: Definitely! It was a big time for us, nobody was interested in putting shows on for Venom at all, back in those days it was seen as you haven’t paid your dues and played every fucking shitty club on the planet and worked your way up like everybody else. We had a different way of doing things so we just hired the place for ourselves.

JM: I wasn’t there for the first but I was there for the second one.

Cronos: The only problem with the second one is the fire marshals were pretty clued up, we didn’t get to use the laser and things like that, we promised them not to get it in anyone’s eyes and all that!

JM: I wanted to touch about Venom’s legacy later on but let’s go to the present and talk about the new album Fallen Angels. How does it feel to have a new album for release?

Cronos: Fantastic, it’s hard work but fun and to have such a great album afterwards is a pat on the back for yourself. What we believed in for the past couple of years we were right and with the hard work on the gigs so far it’s the icing on the cake.

Rage: We’ve been playing together now for just over two years and the gigs have been going down a storm, we all get on well together and it shows on this album. The songs are really strong and the feedback so far has been positive and it’s an exciting time for this band.

JM: It’s the first time you guys have recorded with this lineup, how did it all come together?

Cronos: What we decided to do with this lineup once it was established was not to even worry about writing songs or album deals, it was about getting a band like we did back in the day, making sure the band is happy and establish ourselves on stage. The setlist we’ve been putting together is 30 years of Venom with a song at least off every single Venom album and gelling as a unit which we knew on the South American tour so that’s when we started throwing ideas together and during last year we were doing some of the bigger festivals. It was obvious straight away that we were writing really fucking great songs and everybody brought ideas to the table, I would go walking into rehearsals late one night and these guys would be jamming out a fucking riff.

JM: A true band feeling then?

Cronos: Yeah especially when it was time to get them recorded, from about Resurrection onwards was when we started using Pro Tools technology like everyone else, we thought fuck it back to square one, the drum kit sounds great, get some mics up, everything’s microphoned up , no triggers, no samples which is the way we sound live.

JM: The album does have a really live feel to it which is unusual as many heavy bands have that standard production.

Cronos: A lot of bands do unfortunately and we just thought to get back to sounding the way Venom really should, we work best the rawer you can make it.

venom_intervista_2011_02JM: There’s a lot of punk in Venom’s material which I think got glossed over with the metal scene and it’s nice to see that coming through.

Cronos: Everything’s quite natural because of doing these 30 years of Venom type gigs in writing these songs in the vein of Venom.

Rage: The vibe of the live shows was there and it just came out on this record.

Dante: We’re not one of those bands that gets together just to do something like a gig, we still rehearse every week, we just really enjoy playing and there’s the energy and diversity particularly as you just can’t write ten heavy tracks you have to push yourself.

JM: That’s what I thought with this record in a way that the last album – no disrespect- didn’t quite achieve.

Cronos: It was the right direction, the last release[2006’s Metal Black] was just to establish Venom as a band for the 21st century  and telling people it’s not a parody, we’re not trying to relive 1984 so Hell was cementing that in but the lineup was never solid from the get go because of one member saying they weren’t there for the full run but I’ll help you get this up and running. I even made it clear back in 1995 to the members that we do it properly or don’t do it at all, I’m really passionate about Black metal and I want to help nurture it and have people in the band who want the same things as I do not because of a pay cheque or an ulterior motive but because of respect for Black metal. There’s so many people such as Dave Grohl, Phil Anselmo and the guys from Slipknot who regard Venom as their main influence, I’m also super protective of the guys that have been part of this process from the very beginning, all the lineups were important for the time. Metal Black and Hell were great in 2006 and 2008 but in 2011 it needs to be up a notch. This is a line-up that wants to stand up for itself and I think the new album shows the tightness and integrity across.

JM: So after 30 years when it comes to writing a new album do you compare it to stuff you’ve already done to ensure some sense of continuity or more a sense of we’re here at this time and this is what we represent?

Cronos: Every time is different, the industry changes, people change, one example being At War With Satan. At the time it did get panned quite a lot whereas now some consider it a classic. We always like to be controversial and try new ideas but it’s like when we did the Warhead single and it got onto Radio 1 the label was like ‘we need another hit’ but we don’t work like that to a format as the next we came up with was Manitou which is a drum heavy song but it’s not like Warhead.

Rage: The fans would see straight through it as well. We’re not resting on our laurels, we want to do good songs, if you’re a musician you want to write songs that your band are proud of. As long as you can maintain and carry on that.

Dante: When the band’s on fire the fans can see that and it comes across.

Rage: When we were doing festivals it’s not ‘your crowd’ but there might be guys in there that like your stuff and there’s many that’ll hear it think this is a good band and still be there at the end.

Cronos: I can read what’s going on in the crowd’s mind, there may be some that think ‘We’re not going to buy a Venom album but we’ve never seen them before and heard all the they can’t play deals but they can fucking play!’ The testament was they were still there at the end.

JM: How difficult then is it to play live when you have the legions that want certain songs?

Cronos: During the Hell tour we’d get that, one gig we’d change one to include say seven gates and the next gig it’s all where’s this song and that song!


JM: How difficult is it bringing the new songs into the set?

Cronos: We started to do a medley thing to get all the songs in so the set isn’t five hours but there is a balance such as following At War With Satan into Nightmare, the medleys go down a treat as we’re able to play songs never played by any Venom before and also songs only played while being recorded.

JM: There’s a promo clip coming for this album I’ve heard?

Cronos: There’s a slight delay due to the video producer being ill but it’s for Hail Satanas, normally I would go through a video director as a business deal but due to it being a friend I’d rather wait until he’s ready but Venom have never been made or broke by a video.

JM: How did it feel to be part of the reissue/remaster of "Black Metal"?

Cronos: Excellent, I was just lucky to be asked. I really wanted to look after it the way it should be, with the way digital stuff is I didn’t want it just put out there due to how tapes can be destroyed.

JM: A lot of bands have seminal albums, ‘Black metal’ is the one many say started the genre so what’s your take on the scene?

Rage: I try to keep my hand in it, Arch Enemy were the newest band I got into and they’ve been going on for donkey’s years! I was more of a death metal person and that’s getting a resurgence, I mean Death are bringing out their stuff again with a whole set of fans, same with Venom fans saying Resurrection saved black metal and it’s good to see it blossom again.

JM: It’s a generation thing, all the friends I knew that have kids they’ll listen to Venom. How does that feel?

Dante: It’s a great feeling when you look out into the crowd, you still have the people who want to see us after not doing so for 20 years, you see the young kids at the front who’ve queued up all day singing all the words, wearing the t-shirts and it’s an amazing thing. When we meet our fans it’s just a fantastic feeling.

Cronos: I hope it starts a new generation of fans!

JM; I think with Venom it inspired a lot of people, you had the punk element of what they want to do, they don’t have to have solos like Iron Maiden and not just musically but in image as well.

Rage: With metal it’s both music and image mixed together so the kids while even if they don’t want to be musicians they like the art of it.

JM: Any plans for shows in the UK?

Cronos: There’s no solid plans at the moment. I’d love to play a festival like Bloodstock or Hard Rock Hell though rather than the more ‘commercial’ festivals.

Rage: European festivals are great for the more classic crowd!

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