VENOM INC. - Demolition Man, Mantas & Abaddon

In Flammen Open Air is the first of your shows in Europe this summer, what can we expect from you guys tonight?

Demolition Man: We literally just finished a tour of America which was 30 days non stop with one festival in between and now this is the first show of the summer. The idea was to do a few festivals in between writing the new album as we want to get the new album finished and then we will be ready to go back out and play South America and we also have offers from India, Malaysia, Australia and we are just trying to balance everything as fast as possible. Now for this one we have something quite special in the bag because we just did 30 dates with a set which is quite new from the first one so theres some other stuff in there but tonight we thought we would do something as a total one off, something that no one will be expecting, we haven't even put it in the set list yet but we just thought we would do something special for In Flammen as theres such a great collective of bands and people here, we love the way the festival is, everyone is like a family here.

Yeah it is actually, theres a great vibe here and there is big friendly, family feel to the festival which you don't get at the bigger festivals.

Demolition Man: Yeah you're right, you have Wacken, Hellfest, Sonisphere and all that  but you kinda get to a point where it all overloads itself and then you end up with too many stages with too many bands a day playing short sets where these ones are really important because there is a collective and its focussed on one stage, its focussed on the bands and the new talent coming through and from the opening bands until the last its just great talent showing through. I went out there and had a look just now and everyone is smiling, enjoying themselves and they are really up for it and thats why these festivals are really important and we have to show the world that there is a really strong metal community on every level.

I think these festivals are more important to play than say Hellfest or Wacken....

Abaddon: You know what it is, there is a lot of smiling faces around these places and its indicative of the whole underground scene. Metal isn't a main stream thing. Its underground, its meant to underground and its meant to be fed from within. All our kids get it, all our kids kids are getting it, everybody gets it and everybody is passing it on, its fucking gigantic, its fucking brilliant you know but its our secret. It belongs to us and it will always belong to us and like you say its like a family. Doesn't matter if you go to Dynamo, In Flammen or any other one, its just this feeling of everyone belongs to everyone else. Theres no superstars, theres no ego's, its just a family. Everyone helps each other and chips in and thats the way it should be. Its fucking cool you know.

So as you said before you've recently just returned from a US tour, what was the reaction like for you over there?

Mantas: It was incredible, just incredible. It got crazier and crazier the further down we went. I can't describe it really, it was insane. You know we had a couple of shows where the audience were just appreciative but the vast majority were unreal. The Whiskey was sold out in L.A. and it was great for us and that place just erupted when we went on stage and everything about the tour exceeded our expectations.

So this entire Venom Inc. experience has been a great thing for you guys personally then?

Demolition Man: The thing is with us is that we work so hard, we haven't stopped since April. In fact since we started this we've done about 300 shows. It started off as just one gig of like 5 songs, it wasn't meant to turn into a band so we flew in, picked 5 songs, we hadn't seen each other for fuck knows long, didn't rehearse or anything and we just played. I heard someone the other day say "we saw them at Keep It True and it wasn't so good, I expected a bit more" but you know Mantas was sick, he flew in from Russia and played without rehearsing but the majority of people that were there saw that there was potential there and the next day my phone went spastic with phone calls and messages with offers for shows all over the world and I was like no no no it was just a one off, we're not even a band, we just did it because we are asked to do it. The three of us sat down, looked at everything that was on table for us and said what shall we do so we just said fuck it lets do it. We didn't plan on doing an album or anything but we just went out and started playing. Two days into the European tour  there was an offer for a live album and we are like hang on we've only just fucking started and its just rolled on and on ever since. We have agents chasing, labels chasing and its like everyone wants it to happen. We get a lot of criticism for like chasing the other band but ole numb nuts and other people are like it can't be a proper band with out him but thats just all politics, its just bullshit that side tracks from the main idea. This is about the fucking music. The band is for the fans and the music is for the people. 30 years later and the fans still want to hear the music, they are the ones buying the music, they are the ones buying the t-shirts and they want to see these two guys (Mantas and Abaddon) on stage and hopefully me too but maybe not but I'm going to be there anyway. It got to a point where one guy raped it for 10 years make as much money as he could. Seeing online and seeing in magazines he says its all about the fans and then when being in front of the fans he's fucking them off. I f it wasn't for these people (Mantas and Abaddon) then you wouldn't even be there. You know theres no appreciation for them. He has no fucking right to tell anybody that they can't see these two guys playing those songs that they fucking wrote. Mantas wrote the original material so its like hang on you can't say anything, its like that annoying ex girlfriend that won't go away, moaning at you. Just get on with it. We generally don't say anything in public, we just speak honestly but its about our fans. The fans have asked for this, the fans, agents, managers wanted us the be called Venom Inc. 

If you had the choice would you personally prefer to play under the name Venom Inc. or Venom?

Demolition Man: Derek, Derek would be our preferred name. We could be called the Derek collective.

Abaddon: We are the black metal One Direction.

Demolition Man: The thing is for us is that its not important what we are called as it is for the fans to hear the music. If we go out there an play the whole of "Welcome To Hell" and the fans get off on it, why does that make someone who is a thousand miles away sitting at his computer saying why the hell are they playing that? Either come and see it or don't come and see it. We aren't trying to anything other than what the people and the fans have asked for. People want to see Cronos sing "Black Metal" because that was the voice that sang and some people want to see him so they can but a lot of people want to see these guys (Mantas and Abaddon) play the music that they wrote and they can.

For me personally you guys are more like Venom than you are Venom Inc. because like you say Mantas and Abaddon are the guys that wrote the music and you have two of the three original members so it feels more like Venom than it does if I was to see the actual Venom.

Demolition Man: Yeah its closer to the original source than what's been happening.

Do you want to try and get the name Venom back or are you happy to stay as Venom Inc.?

Abaddon: We don't care what the band is called. We just go out and we play. There are people who like the band or they appreciate the band and they call us Venom.

So how do you feel when people call you Venom?

Abaddon: People chant it at our shows. We don't ask them or tell them to chant it. They just do it. Were not going to say you can't come see us if you don't chant it, we don't say you can't come to our gig if you wear a Venom shirt. If anyone wears a "Metal Black" shirt then you're more than welcome to come down to the front row of our show, very very welcome. If anyone wears a t-shirt for whatever he's called any of his albums then come to the gig, you're very welcome.

Demolition Man: This guy came up to us in Phoenix and said these are the only two albums he has and asked us to sign the so we signed them but they were actually the last two Venom albums, there was this picture of Cronos with these two other guys and he handed me the pen and I was like ughhhh so I just signed it. I didn't deface it or anything like that, we just signed it.

Abaddon: One of the best things that I personally enjoy is when people bring a "Black Metal" album or something an its already got Cronos signature on it and then I think that Mantas is going to sign and then I'm going to sign it, that when we started the record in 1980 odd its finally finished. Once you get the three names on it, thats the completion of that record and I feel really excited when I see his name on it. I don't want to deface it, scribble it out or anything like that. I want to make this piece of art final and its a fucking cool thing. You have this guy who bought it and kept it all this fucking time, looked after it and he's really really pleased to have this autograph on it and he's so pleased to have the opportunity to have these other two to complete it.

Demolition Man: That the difference. Thats the difference between these guys (Mantas and Abaddon)  and hopefully me as well is that its a collective. What they've invested in this band, the world needs the music of Venom just like it need the Sex Pistols. You need those punches in the face. For these fans that is the completion. When they bought this album, it meant so much to them that they wanted to get the three of them to sign it that you can never refuse to sign it because someone else has already signed it. Your not having a go at him sitting at home watching his television watching goggle box with his feet up in Portugal on yet another lovely sunny day to me who's just like working and I just couldn't give a shit. Its about the fan right there in front of you.

I met this guy earlier when you were doing your signing session and I've never seen anyone so excited to get his Venom vinyls signed. He was on his knees looking up to the sky. He was so over whelmed.

Demolition Man: The opportunity comes along for the fans to get that done. We don't always get chance to do signings and sometimes it can be very rushed but today was cool and people asked if they could come around and have photos taken and we were like yeah absolutely. When we arrive at festivals we just wander around and watch the bands and we like people asking for photos etc but when people try stopping us from meeting the fans we are like well hang on.

Abaddon; For some people it might be their only opportunity. You know when we go back to the states we might miss a part of it because its such a massive country so we give people the chance for a autograph or photo as it might be their only opportunity.

Demolition Man: We went to Tampico, Mexico, the only Mexican show we did. Its right over on the Gulf Coast and everyone was like what the fucking hell are doing playing over there and not in Mexico City, no one goes to Tampico but they asked us to go there and it was off the map this show, absolutely crazy. We met this guy there who said he doesn't go to see shows in Mexico City because he can't afford it and its like a 25 hours to get there and back on the bus, he can't get the time off work but we played just down the road from his house and he lost his mind and thats the reason we are doing this. Its easy for us to be be invited and flown in to play somewhere and then fly out again. Its not so easy for a fan to get to some shows. Its easy to say that we only play festivals because we want a big pyro show, we can do that as well but we will also go and play your local if that means how we can get to you then we will do that. Yeah sometimes going to these random places might mean that there aren't many people at the show but your being accessible to your fans. We have to get a visa to go to these countries so why not make the most it and play as many shows as you can. None of it is easy, especially at our age and we just did 30 shows without a day off but its doable  because its like 30 days out of 365 days of your year so its not like your trapped in a prison cell. When bands give all these excuses for not playing here there and everywhere, I think its more of a case that they can't be arsed. What they are wanting is to go to a festival where they can play to 4000 thousand people which is brilliant, 20'000 people which is magic but they won't go play a club for like 100 people. 100 people I can touch, I can smell, I can bite their noses off and spit blood up their ass, 40'000 people at a festival, you play a 40 minute slot and you hardly see the fans.

Due to there being yourself Venom Inc. and Venom, are there any restrictions on what songs you can play live?

Mantas: No one will ever stop me playing the songs that I wrote. I wrote 80 or 90% of those songs. Theres Venom tribute bands out there so are people going to stop them from playing the songs, no. Anybody can play those songs. I can go out there tonight and play Judas Priest songs if i like so theres no restrictions what so ever to what songs we can play.

Abaddon: (to Mantas) You can't play those fucking songs because they are really hard to play. Maybe Bruce Springsteen or something  but not Priest.

Demolition Man: You know these guys created something and Cronos was the voice on those albums and thats something that you can't change and its something that will go down in history. You are who you are and be proud of that so don't denounce these guys and the whole idea. People say is Cronos ok with it well fuck him as its not up to him. Of course its ok to use those songs, they were written by a band and not one individual. These songs are just as important for him to play as they are to us. Those songs come to life when you have the original people playing them.

Obviously you are in the process of making a new album, when can we expect to hear some new material and will that album carry on from the last album that you three recorded together?

Demolition Man: Mantas is prolific.

Mantas: Ive got 10 songs at the moment.

Demolition Man: I have 5 or 6 songs that I think are worthy of us playing and you know we haven't been together in a rehearsal place. Our rehearsal space has been playing on stage so we haven't actually had chance to come together yet.

So is this going to be something that you would like to release before next summer ready to play the festivals?

Mantas: We would like to get the new album out as quick as possible really. I say as quick as possible but we obviously want to make sure its right but everyone is screaming for a new album.

Abaddon: I think as well at the moment we are just to saying no to live gigs so people want to see us play live and we don't like to let people down if we don't play and we feel as if we are letting ourselves down if we don't go and play these shows too. Lets be fair, we are having a lot a fucking fun playing these shows so thats been a priority and will continue to be a priority but the album is right there at the forefront of where we want to be and what we want to do. Theres a lot of labels there wanting it you know and its going to be a good album when it happens. We're not going to rush it.

Do you feel that this album will be like a clean slate or will it be a continuation from when you guys last worked together?

Demolition Man: No I think it will be a progression from the "Prime Evil" era but we've had people pushing for a live album so from whatever energy we've got its slightly different. Obviously there was energy there for "Prime Evil" but it was different just like it was different for "Black Metal" etc so I think it will be something from between that whole period. We feel genuine, we feel like its 1980 and when we go on stage we may hobble up there and hobble off again but while we are up there its like we're 20 again. Something magical happens when were up there and I think thats the energy that you will see come out on the album so who knows but it will feel genuine. Any managers or labels that try to drive us towards the album etc, we just can't because we can't say no to live shows because we just love playing live and that energy will end up on the album.

One thing that I've noticed is that the passion and motivation between the three of you is well and truly alive? Do you find that the three of you are now closer than ever due to everything that has gone on over recent years?

Demolition Man: I think so yeah.

Mantas: We have more of an appreciation for what we are doing now. We are not taking anything for granted any more. Not that it was taken for granted in the early days but I think because of the success of Venom in the beginning, it was so quick. It was virtually over night, zero to hero. You know one weekend we were rehearsing in church hall in the west end of Newcastle and the the next weekend we were playing in a sports hall in Belgium in front of 3000 people. I remember a roadie walking across in front of the stage as I was setting some stuff up and he was singing "Sons of Satan" and I was thinking "how the fuck does he know that". We didn't have a clue what was going on, the record company didn't have a fucking clue what was going on but back then it just seemed the norm, go to the studio, record a single, it does ok, do a show, it goes ok, do an album you know. The first album was just meant to be demos but then Dave at Neat Records said we had enough for an album so we were like yeah ok and we are given three days to do the album and that was it. It was recorded, mixed and packaged on the shelf in 3 days and then after that it just went BOOM! It just went fucking mental. That probably contributed to certain personalities going of the rails. Well myself, are you familiar with the series Father Ted? I was like Dougal. I was walking into these venues and was going "what the fuck is this". I walked into this colossal venue in Paris and was like "fuck me, who's playing here, we are, but this time now, going back to grass roots if you like, I think we all have an appreciation of the hard work that we all need to put in and that hard work is going to pay off. It will take us into bigger venues, it will takes us to bigger festivals and things like that. I will admit I'm a sucker for the big stages and the pyrotechnics and all that but the one thing I heard off of all the shows we've been doing and I've heard this a few times is that these guys are genuine. Its stripped back, there isn't even a backdrop there. Nothing. No production, not a thing. Just us and the musicians the fans and thats it. So by the time we hit a stage with the production your going to get all the bells and whistles plus a fucking good band.

Demolition Man: You know we've matured as people, as musicians and to be successful is about knowing each other. Not so much compromising yourself but understanding each other. You know if Tony wants to be quiet, have his own space and do some thinking then we recognise that straight away and let him do his own thing. Same thing with Jeff. You know I'm a fucking pain in the ass, I talk too much and I'm just chatting to everybody, they let me do it and its just about knowing each other. You can live with a girlfriend and she can be the best fuck of your life but a month later your not talking to each other and its over because she a pain in the ass and so are you but you can also marry someone and then 20 years later its solid relationship. She's still a pain in the ass but she loves you even if you're still a pain in the ass but she likes that and I think thats where we are at with this you know, after all these years we are comfortable around each other.

For me after everything that has gone on over the years it seems to have brought you guys closer together which will mean a better live show, a better album etc.

Demolition Man: Absolutely. We have an instinct together on stage. We have fun with it, we go with the flow and thats an extension of the off stage relationship that we have. We all have our things but none of us are assholes. We're not just going to come in and smash things and chuck tables around. You're sitting here with two icons and look how humble they are and they have nothing to prove to anybody yet they are still polite and kind, generous which is quite amazing as they could be walking around like they own the place but they are not and thats part of their wonderful nature that keeps me wanting to be a part of them. Its great.

Just a slight change in subject now and I wanted to ask about M-pire of Evil, could we ever see a joint show between Venom Inc. and M-Pire of Evil and where do things currently stand with M-Pire?

Demolition Man: The whole idea of the Inc. was incorporated so the reason we ended up with that was because everyone said we had to have Venom in the name because Abaddon had written a new album, Jeff had his thing, I had my thing so we decided to incorporate everything together so that was the idea behind Inc. to say that this is everything we do. We were close enough to finish everything on the M-Pire album and then we got offered by Oliver and then Tony came in and we haven't been able to get back to it. We really would like to finish it as its a really good piece of work with some really good stuff there but we want to do this Venom Inc. album and then we still have all the other stuff we work on that we want to finish so its like finding the time which is the hard thing but at this stage in the race its a really good position to be in. Ideally I'd like to do 150 dates with no days off with all of our bands playing every night but I think we'd probably be dead after that. I think it would actually be great to have one of our side projects on tour with us as well just for the fun of it. I think its important that Venom Inc. is our main focus but everything else is just as important. If you listen to Jeff's album or you listen to Tony's album you can tell who they are driven by and its kinda like an extension of our personalities so its important to have all them.

And just one final one from me seeing as you guys have been in the industry for so long, if you could turn back time then would you change anything?

Mantas: Oohhhh I'm sitting out of that one ha ha

Abaddon: I wouldn't change anything (Mantas shakes his head in disagreement)

Demolition Man: Someone asked us that before and Tony said no he wouldn't and I'm kinda leaning more towards that answer because theres always moments when we wish you hadn't done something but as Tony points out, good or bad, we probably wouldn't here right now if any of that shit hadn't of happened.

As I said earlier you seem so motivated and passionate about your current situation but I'm guessing that if there is any regrets then the one main thing could be to do with the naming rights with band?

Mantas: Well you know me allowing him to use the name Venom, that is something I regret but my head wasn't in the right place for that at the time. My mother was seriously ill and she died that year and i didn't give a shit about the band but in hind sight if my head had of been screwed on then I would have said no. It would all be buried now and forgotten about. You do your Cronos thing. I'll do my Mantas thing and thats it you know and if it came together in the future then it would have come together you know. Theres a few things that I'd personally change but yeah.

Right I will leave it there and let you guys get ready for your headline set here at In Flammen but thank you so much for your time and its been a great honour to talk with you.

Photos courtesy of Christina at Black Label Pictures