About Me

Interview with Venom Inc

Venom Inc was born in mid-2015 as a new band that reunites all the strength and power of its members: Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan (bass/vocals) with Venom’s original members – Jeff “Mantas” Dunn (guitar) and Anthony “Abaddon” Bray (drums). The band has been touring worldwide to bring to their fans Venom’s classics as well as new songs. Released on the 11th of August, the new “monstrous” album “Avé” has just arrived. Let’s find out more with the Demolition Man...

M.I. - Could you tell us about this reunion as Venom Inc? Do you, as a band, feel more powerful than ever? 

Yeah, I think we do. It was kind of an accident, we didn’t plan it. Myself and Mantas we were working on the M-Pire scene and just a chance to show where somebody was there, they saw Abaddon in the audience and they just wondered what would be like if we played a show together after all these years and I didn’t think it was gonna happen. I asked Mantas who wasn’t interested. I asked Abaddon who said he was. So I went back to Mantas and explained it was just for one show, just a handful of songs, just for two thousand fans who wanted to, you know, maybe have some fun and we could just go and have some fun and that would be it, really. We just bend our tools and go back to kind of what we were doing before and we did it and it went crazy and from then on, we’ve just been pushed all over the world and ultimately to an album and the amazing thing is that in every step of the way, we didn’t plan it, we didn’t have an ulterior motive, we didn’t do it for money, obviously, we’re not making that much money from it but we didn’t need to, so we kind of were free to do it because we didn’t have managements and promoters and agents and labels all putting pressure on to try and make money of it, so we could just...; if our fans asked us to go somewhere and they could raise enough money to get us there, we can say “yes” and go and play it. And it was the purest way to do it and I think you don’t buy, doing the album; even the title of it, it’s for the fans, it’s for everybody, it’s to say thank you for giving us this chance to enjoy the music, to enjoy the fans, to enjoy the world that we live in and the community that we have through our music and just to enjoy that. (...) It’s like, at the end of the day, if the fans didn’t want us to go and play it, we wouldn’t be playing, if the fans didn’t want us to make an album, we wouldn’t have made an album. This is all because of the fans. So it’s wonderful and do we feel empowered by it? Well, yes, because for the first time in our lives, we’re not being ignorant enough or egotistical enough to think that what we’re doing is important for us and we realized that what we’re doing is what the fans want us to do and that’s empowering itself because we’re driven by those people and we’re delivering to those people and that gives you a great sense of being and it’s wonderful.

M.I. - What do you think about the metal scene in the 80’s and now?

You know, it’s quite funny because I talked to quite a young girl in France, a couple of months ago, during an interview and she said “It’s great being able to talk to you and people like you because you guys are legendary, ‘cause you’re from that era and all I do is I read it in books, I missed that part of History.” and I said “You are in History.”. Back then, there was no extreme “blackness” when we started so it became extremely later and then the “Metallicas” and the “Slayers” and the death metal and the black metal and the grindcore and all of these things grew.  (...) Napalm Death probably owes as much to the Ramones as to Venom and the black metal scene, as a genre, owes much more the “Bathorys” into it. Everything kind of integrated itself. I think, back then, there was a handful of people that seemed to try to push the boundaries forward and now, compared to now, it’s like everywhere you go in the world from Lima, in Peru, to Tokyo and Japan, to Leningrad or to Kazan, in Russia or to Australia, New Zealand, India, the Middle East... Everywhere you go, there’re young people creating every type of kind of metal genre that you can think of and great musicianship, fantastic music with cultural references, specifically. It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful. This is living history. This is the time to be in. When you can go and see, you could go and see Black Sabbath until recently, you can go and see, still see Ritchie Blackmore, you can still see Accept or Tom Warrior or Slayer or Metallica. But you can also see the “Mayhems”, you can also see everything else it’s going through and (...) I mean, it’s just a cornucopia with music and everything you can possibly want is here: old school, new school and now... everything! And it’s like so what I said to her was like “When you say you can only read it in your book and it’s History. No, you’re in History!” This is the best moment to be in. You have everything and so I feel it’s great, it’s like you spend all the time sowing your seeds in the field, and hoping that you have a good crop and it’s almost like the fields are overflowing now and it’s wonderful.

M.I. - Your new album “Avé” is truly monstrous and energetic. What are your expectations related to its feedback? 

Thank you very much. I’m glad you think it’s monstrous. 

M.I. - I guess it is. It’s powerful, really! 

Thank you. I’m glad. You know, I think we have no expectations, we didn’t have any expectations. In fact, writing it there was a point because Mantas was pulling out riffs and sending them to me and he wanted me to contribute riffs but I said just keep sending me what you’re sending me, I’ll focus on all because it was all working for me and it all felt right and when he questioned the direction we were going in and I said “There is no direction”. We don’t have anything to prove to anybody. We don’t have to be anybody else. We don’t have to try and copy something we did in the past. All we have to be is ourselves. We have to be us. It’s a lesson for life. You don’t have to be someone else. (...) (Because) it’s the honest thing. If you’re very “this is what I am” and “this is what I do”, then there’ll be people who like it, there’ll be people who don’t like it, but then that’s like tea and coffee, isn’t it? You like tea, I like coffee kind of thing. It’s like: it’s the choice of life, but like I said to remember, we’re not playing for the people who don’t like it, we are playing for the people who do like it. Iron Maiden and Metallica, they don’t go out and play shows for all the people who think they’re shit, they only play the shows for their fans who love to hear it. And so I think we didn’t have any expectations, we just try to put an honest album together the way we are, who we are, how we play it, how we write, how we perform and that was it and then it was our gift to all those people who had supported us over the years and wanted to hear it. So yeah, if everybody loves it, great, if people don’t like it, well, then there’s nothing we can do, that’s out of our hands. But the only expectation or the assignment we have now is we want to play these songs live. We want to be in amongst our set and the three festivals we did leading up to the American tour - the US North America tour - which was in September. We put “Ave Satanas” in, we did it four times in amongst our set of older classics with the band, at the three festivals, and people were singing along and jumping up and down and we were thinking “That’s really strange. How – we’ve only just done it? How come they all know it? ” But it seemed to fit into the set. We put it in place of “In Nomine Satanas” just before “Bloodlust” and it felt like it’s always been in there and I think, for us, that’s a good sense of our identity to know that we’ve made an album which is part of us and fits perfectly.

M.I. - Venom Inc has been touring worldwide since 2015. How are the concerts going? How is the audience reacting?

It’s incredible. It really is, Dora. Incredible because we didn’t know... we didn’t expect anything. When you put a band together, you struggle to try and get recognition and you wanna get a record deal and put a record out and then tour with everybody and you’re expecting responses each time and I think maybe because we’ve been at it for so long or maybe it’s the period we are in our lives, that we just thought we’re not deciding to do a tour because we want a tour and we don’t care if people want us to tour or not. We’re not deciding to do an album because we wanna do an album and we don’t care what people think. We were pushed to do an album and we didn’t consider doing one, by the fans who were going “Please, make some music. Please, make some music.” And also the same thing for the tour “Please, come here. Please, come there. Come to Mexico. Come to Costa Rica. Come to Taipei. Come to ...” So we only went where we were asked to go. So, to go to somewhere like that and to feel such an amazing response from fans who are just loving the fact that you went there - be it Chile or São Paulo or Osaka or Slovenia... It is really incredible. It’s just like everywhere we go, it’s like we’re their long-lost family. People come to us warmly and we greet everybody warmly and then they go away and a lot of times I’ve heard people say “Oh, it’s amazing!” They treat you like they always knew you and in a way I guess that’s because we have..., you know, we bonded with maybe a guy in 1985, but a girl maybe in 1981, another guy in 1989 or 1995 but when we bonded with the music, even though  we weren’t present when that person discovered and felt that connection. So, in a way, we have already connected. It’s like meeting old friends, so, of course, we’re warm and welcoming because here’s a person who has a collection of records which is our music, they’re wearing a t-shirt or patches which is our band, so these people are part of us and that’s what we’re enjoying more now when we go over. The reaction is so incredible that it’s really taking our breath away. We feel very humbled by it but also very invigorated by it because it shows what an amazing scene music is because it transcends politics, culture, religion, language... It just brings people together and it brings you into one real family, one real sense of community and all of the planet and so, yeah, the reaction has been breath taking.

M.I. - Is it tiring to be on tour or do you really enjoy it?

Well, tiring, you know, we said before, myself and Mantas, in particular, we read stuff where people said “touring is really difficult and you get so tired”. So, I guess if you’re playing shows like we do each night so you don’t really get any days off, it can be tiring, when you get into the mid-point or towards the end because it’s near the end, you started to get a little tired, pretty sure. But once you’re on stage, every night, because the audience is never the same every night and so we react to the audience. We could be playing the last show of thirty-six shows but that audience is brand new and so the songs should feel brand new to them and so you kind of find another kind of energy. The audience drives you so. I think, tiring is getting to start the tour where you’re having to fly from airport to airport, get picked up and take all your gear and all of that and at the end of the tour, you have to do that all again, because then you got a long trip with all your gear and it’s all over. But the actual travelling is amazing. You got your home and meals or you’re flying in and you got a hotel or you got your bed on the bus and every day you wake up and you’ll be in another part of the world with more amazing people whom I talked to, who shared their stories with you. So, I can’t think of a job that is like that; that I can’t possible say certainly a boring but tiring?! No, it’s invigorating! It gives you a new lust for life, because you meet people every day who are excited to be meeting you and to be hearing you and to be seeing you, so that keep you excited.

M.I. - Do you think that the existing tension between Venom and Venom Inc could be harmful to your work?

No, I don’t think so. I mean, I think the thing is that Conrad has a big problem with us. He always had. When he left a band in the early 80’s, he wanted the band to just stop, so he can do his solo thing and he didn’t stop and so when he didn’t stop, he hitted and then to have an album which was successful without him, he hitted even more, so he’s always had a bad taste in his mouth. For us, the tensions between the two, I think, we just ignoring it. The best thing... you know, I don’t like politics and music, I just want people to have good music and to enjoy it. So, for me, I don’t wanna focus on what he thinks or what he says on stage. He just did a show in Portugal, southern Portugal. We did one in the North a couple of months ago.

M.I. - In Barroselas...

Yes, exactly. And the reaction was incredible and we had such a wonderful time. He just played one in the southern Portugal and the reports that I got back was he spent most of his time on stage saying ‘he was the real thing, we were the real thing’. He had the signing session (...) and told people to fuck off when they asked photographs. Some people were showing our t-shirts and the new album, just to make him annoyed and it’s all a bit challenging with things I can’t be bother with. I think what he needs to do is focus on creating great music for the fans and touring as much as possible and not focus on what we do. That’s the most important thing, you know. People wanna see him and wanna hear new music, so you should do that. And if fans wanna hear the classics, he shouldn’t complain about it, he should just play them. The same as we do. We’re guided by our fans based on what they want and whether one person wants you to do something or not, doesn’t mean you should be doing it. You should do what you feel and I think it’s disrespectful for him to want us not to do shows, if the fans wanna see it and it is also disrespectful for us for him to not want us to do it, so he can do it. For him, it’s all about making money. For us, it’s not about that, it’s about just making music. So, yeah, I think our focus is away from all of that and let him do whatever he wants to do. It just a shame that we have to keep hearing this. If a fan doesn’t want to come and see us, then don’t come and see us. If a fan doesn’t wanna hear our music, (...) don’t listen to it. I mean, I listen to all kinds of music. People send me music all the time, some of it, it’s great, some is OK, some is not as good as some any other but I appreciate the fact that people want to send me music and feel that they can be creative. So I’m always supportive as I can but I sadly would never go out of my way to tell someone they shouldn’t listen to something or they shouldn’t buy into something or they shouldn’t follow something. It’s like I don’t understand. I don’t have that kind of power. I would never presume to be so disrespectful to tell another person what they should like or they shouldn’t like and so, you know, I think it’s about being individual, if you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t. But give yourself the chance to listen to it or do not listen to it. It’s like never eating ice cream and say “I hate ice cream.” because someone told you you won’t like it. How do you know? How do you know you’re not gonna like it? You might eventually eat some and think “Oh, my God! This is like the best thing in the world!” So, I guess, try it! Try it!

M.I. - Venom is known as the grandfather of black metal. Is Venom Inc devoted to its roots, concerning Venom’s early influences?

Yes, I think, for me, yes. I think, Dora, the thing is that we can’t be as shocking as Venom were back then because you see pentagrams everywhere now and everybody and their uncle singing about Satan and every demon that was ever written about. So, back then, in a catholic society, where we come from, to show a pentagram and then to say you’re illegal, to say it and then you’re gonna spit on the Virgin Mary and fuck your trinity, you know, that’s like “What?!”, it’s like burning a church “Holy fuck! What’s going on here?”. Also people got scared, excited and scared at the same time. But like now, in 2017, everybody’s done everything, said everything, burned everything. So there’s... you can’t really shock but I think, for me, the reason why we began to tour - I wanted to tour for the 1st single, not just going from the Dolan era, go right back to the beginning because I felt that three original guys had a kind of chemistry which was special and I found that the three of us have a special kind of chemistry, power, slightly different but we do have it and I thought if we need to play these old songs, then I don’t wanna do them as a cabaret. I don’t wanna do them like “Here you go, bang bang bang, there you go, there’s some nice old songs!”. They have to be played as they were originally played like with the intent, with the aggression, with the power, with the feeling it’s the first time, like if you came to see a story. You may have listened to black metal a million times, you may have seen on youtube but what I want you to experience is it’s the first time you have heard this song like it’s the first time we’ve ever played it to everybody. That’s the beauty of great songs like that. They sound fresh and they sound real and you can only make that happen, certainly with a song that’s thirty years old, if you feel it, if you mean it, if the intention is there and if you play it with the passion how it was written and so I want to prove to people, in a live performance, that those old songs were still relevant, still aggressive, still full of passion and then if we can create a new album in the same way, with the same passion, then we’ll be there and that’s kind of my intention... Yeah, it’s much like we do on the stage. When we play on the stage we go on - we’re 16/17 year olds on stage. When we come off, we might be 60 year olds or 50-somethings because we’re tired but on stage, we leave every piece of ourselves on the stage. We give every piece of ourselves to the audience because that’s what they deserve. I want people to leave the show feeling so exhausted but so happy and I wanna feel the show, exactly the same way. I wanna leave the same way. I feel absolutely exhausted but absolutely happy that we share that incredible moment together with an audience and that means we can enjoy playing great music as well. So I think it is important to connect to the reason that everybody loved Venom back then: was that fire, was that passion, was that aggression and I want them to experience it now so a 50-year-old guy who experienced then. I want a 16 or 17-year-old boy or girl now to feel what they felt, so that they can be the next generation to be inspired, to love the music so much more and so it’s important to keep that same kind of passion I think.

M.I. - Please let our readers know about the origin of your moniker “Demolition Man”. 

Basically, I was doing a show with my band Atomkraft. We were a three-piece. We were kind of extreme the Dickies meet Motorhead. We were kind of fast and loud, for then. I mean now it doesn’t sound extreme but back then it was quite wild and in the audience everybody used to do solos like a drum solo, then you have a guitar solo, a bass solo... All the big bands, the “Rainbows” and the “Kisses” but, of course, all of us - younger bands - who were playing pubs and clubs and stuff,  we all thought we should do that ‘cause this was our Madison square garden moment, so we got to one show we were doing and it got to my point to do a bass solo and there had been two guys sitting at a table and I could hear them talking throughout a whole set and it was really getting on my tits, so I decided when I got to my bass solo, I’d do it right on their table in front of them. So I ran across and I jumped up onto a table and as I jumped up, all the power went off and I turned around and I actually pulled over all my equipment and there were flames and sparks and it was all blowing up and people running all over with fire extinguishers and I was like “Shit! Shit!” The thing was I had borrowed the equipment, it wasn’t even mine. So I was thinking “Oh, fuck!”. So I ran back to try and stand it all up. While this, Mayhem was going on and the guitarist went to the microphone, my guitarist, by that time, Steve White, and just said “Ladies and gentlemen, the Demolition Man” and that was it. Everybody call  me that from then on because I guess I’m kind of... I worked as an engineer and a carpenter so I got very good hands, very dexterous hands and very strong hands. But when I’m on stage playing (...), I kind of wreck my instruments, I don’t kind of care so much, so I guess it’s that kind of chaos that give me the moniker, so there is why they call me The Demolition Man. I break things - people, things, whatever... I just do that, so...

M.I. - But you also perform... How’s your experience as an actor?

Well, you know what’s weird, Dora, that I said Venom Inc was kind of an accident, a happy accident; it was the same thing with the acting. I worked with the... I was a stage carpenter working for a company called ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’ and I worked for many years, when I wasn’t doing music, in the theatre, just backstage as a technician and we were in India and someone got very sick and we’re doing “The Comedy of Errors” and they didn’t have another actor to fill in and I turned up at work and basically he said to me “Would you go on and do the part?”. I never really acted before. I did bits and pieces but not really acting. I just thought, when in your life you get an opportunity, you should always take it, because you never know and you got to test yourself and if you say “no” to something, and you change your mind later on, you might not be able to say “yes”; but if you say “yes”, you can always say “no” later, if you find out you can’t do it. So, I just said “yes” and then I did it to help them out and then months later, they took the show into London and I got a phone call from the director asking me if I do the same thing again because they had somebody sick and he went to the cast and said “Who can we get? Who knows the part? We can get them really fast.” And then he called Tony Dolan. They called me and I said “OK” but I said I would do it if he teaches me how to act. So I went and did the part, then he did some workshops with me and after that, (bang) I thought I’d like to do a movie. I was interested. I thought I’d like to do some television. I was in a TV series and it’s kind of like... it just happened like that. (...) I mean, again, just accidently. Me deciding I’d like to do it and then, all of a sudden, I’m doing it. I don’t know what the trick is and I don’t know if there’s a fortuitousness about it, I don’t know if I was just lucky or I don’t know if I actually was focused, you know. But what I would say to people is like if you wanna do something, just do it because, everything, here I said with the new album coming out one of the many that I’ve done, through history of things that I’m really proud of doing, whether they were massively successful or not, I’m proud of everything I’ve done because I intended to do it. (...) Absolutely, you have to try. You’ll never know and that’s it. Never be the person who sits on the porch, thinking I wish I had tried to do this or I wish I’d done that. I always swore I would never be that person. Always try it. Challenge yourself and you’ll surprise yourself. The whole thing over this time started with a 13 year-old boy sitting on his bed, listening to a record wondering what it would be like to have his own record in his hands, you know. And yesterday, I went to a store in downtown Windsor, Ontario and they had the vinyl album and I bought it. It cost me 40 dollars but it was like I had to, ‘cause it’s like “wow”. It’s been a whole journey but everything has been just that positive attitude to challenge yourself. Sometimes it’s easier, most times it’s really hard but don’t give up. Don’t give up! Believe in yourself and just celebrate yourself. Set your goals that you can achieve; don’t let others judge you; if they say ‘Well, you did that but it wasn’t so good’, did you think it was good?! That’s the important thing. If you set your target and you attained it, then you succeeded. 

M.I. - Future plans for Venom Inc....

Future plans? Well, obviously, to take over the world, be dominant, be the king of everywhere and... No, just kidding... Future plans or as simple as this: we have the new album out, we’ve started touring in September through North America and then we’ve got a few dates lined up when we get back after, in November, in the UK. That’s kind of as far as we go. If someone comes up and says right in December do this, we go, ok? And then, in January, do this, we go, OK? Because we’ve learned to...

M.I. - Portugal again...

Yes, of course, of course, we must, we must, you know. It’s kind of like that, it’s kind of like let’s just do what we wanna do and they ask, rather than try to do a grand plan, a master plan. I mean, I deal with an album now, there will probably be maybe a 12-inch sometime over Christmas and then a new album for next year. But who knows, we may get to Christmas and we may write another album and will be out in January or maybe not. It’s like we’re trying not to plan, we’re trying just to experience. So we can just do it as it goes along. I’m desperate to get us to everywhere and get us to do as much music as we can. So, I would constantly tour forever if I could and everywhere. We’re open to whatever... The future is wherever the fans wanted to be, if the fans wanted to continue, the fans want more music, the fans want us to come out and play it and that’s what our plan is. Simple as that.

M.I. - Many thanks for your time. Please leave a message to your Portuguese fans.

Absolutely. I would say “Obrigado” to everybody! “A sério.” (...) Thank you to the Portuguese fans. I don’t want them to feel that they have to make a choice between the two bands, you can like everything. (...) We love Portugal so much. I hope everybody loves the album as much as you do. Thank you so much again. 

For portuguese version, click here.

Interview by Dora Coelho