Venom, now there’s a name with a colourful history. Going from cult pioneers and godfathers of Thrash through various degrees of awful production, ridicule and indifference before, finally, being recognised for what they are.. a hugely influential home grown band who gave birth (and a name to) to an entire genre of music.
The band, cited as major influences by the likes of Metallica and Megadeth, have been on the rise for the past few years with albums like Resurrection, Metal Black and Hell showing that they had lost none of their impact.
2011 sees the band unveil their latest studio opus, Fallen Angels, which sees them move the traditional Venomous sound in new directions, with the bulldozer bass and gravel throated vocals of Cronos now accompanied by Dante’s thunderous percussion and the awesome fretboard talents of guitarist Rage.
We caught up with the Black Metal god’s guitarist recently to get the latest from the Venom camp…..
What’s it like being part of such a legendary and influential band as Venom ?
Amazing, I’m very proud to be part of a band that started off a new genre of Metal music and still put out great albums. When I was starting out everyone said “you have to be from London or you have to go to London to make it in a band” but here was Venom a band from 10 miles down the road doing everything I wanted to do, bring albums out play shows. It was a big thing for me and my friends, confirmation that what we felt we needed to do could be done. I still get a good friend phoning up saying ‘Dude you’re in Venom!’ it’s been nearly 5 years and I still have to pinch myself.
How did you land the gig ?
I knew the last drummer through an old friend and when the band needed somebody who could fill in due to Mike, the guitarist at the time being in the States, they called to ask what I was up to. I had my own band called Order of the Black Sun but our singer had just passed away so we were a bit up in the air. Obviously when I got the list of songs to learn I knew who it was straight away, I was asked if I needed any of the CD’s to help so I said you’re joking I have everything you’ve done. A few months later after helping out they called and I assumed it was to fill in again and at the end of the rehearsal Cronos took me to the side and asked if I would like the opportunity to join full time. It didn’t take much time to say yes.
“Fallen Angels” is out next month, I guess this is a busy time for you as the band get the promotional wheels turning ?
Yeah we’ve been back and forth to London doing Photo shoots for the likes of Terrorizer and Zero Tolerance etc. We’ve also been to the Universal building to do press. We are super buzzed with the album so it’s pretty easy to talk nonstop about it.
The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, you happy with the feedback so far ?
Yeah, Venom went through a period where the British press had it in for us so to come out with an album which is well played ,has stomping tracks on and have good reviews confirms what we set out 2 years ago to do has worked. I’ve always been more in to players who are good songwriters, Adrian Smith from Maiden was a big hero of mine so I’ve always been more about the song then a shredder guitar player and to have people talking about something I helped create makes all the years of hard work worthwhile.
What can fans expect from the new album ?
This album sounds more like a band, there’s no egos or people trying to outdo each other to the detriment of the band. We’ve played some great shows since Dante joined from South America in 2009 to the festival headlining slots last year and we’ve proved that we are now a tight band. We still rehearse every week as we love playing and that transferred to the songs. What I wanted to bring back which I think was lacking from the last couple of albums is the fire that drove the first 2-3 albums. We didn’t want to do a safe album just for the sake of doing an album and the songs on Fallen Angels are bigger and bolder. It’s an album the Legions can be proud of.
Fallen Angels has a different sound to the last couple of albums, is that you two “new boys” starting to exert your influence ?
I didn’t get a chance to express much of myself on Hell, it’s a big jump for me and it was a bit of a head trip to try and find what I could bring to band music and image wise. The last album maybe came a bit quick for me to get my teeth into. This time I was ready with all guns blazing and with Dante it was just so much easier he’s a proper Rock/Metal drummer in the hard hitting Cozy Powel, Bonham mode and he brought the real Venom double bass work back in. I think this album fully represents where Venom is heading for future releases. We’ve started on songs for the next release so we aren’t resting on our laurels.
How does the songwriting process work, is it a band effort or does Cronos come to you with more or less completed tracks ?
There was no set way things worked. The first two tracks we worked on for the album, Cronos brought in Hail Satanas and Damnation of Souls was a song me and Dan had been working on. They pretty much didn’t move or change from how they started. With others they got chopped up and moved around. Fallen Angels I had as a demo for a few years and that got chopped up and rearranged. We’d sometimes jam on something for 20-30 mins and then Cronos would come back in with it edited into a song. The song writing split worked out half and half so like I say it sounds more like a band then one person’s ideas of what the album should be.
What’s Cronos like to work with ?
I still go into fan boy mode every now and then , you’ll be playing away and think to yourself that’s Cronos playing bass next to me. He’s the easiest person I worked with band-wise because we all want the same thing, I didn’t come into the band thinking what Venom can do for me but what can I do for Venom and I think that went a long way with Cronos. He’s giving me an opportunity to do all the things I’ve wanted to do and I try and repay him by giving 100% with everything I do.
And will there be a tour to promote the album, surely we’re overdue a Venom show ?
Yeah we are finishing the year with a couple of shows abroad, Romania and the Xmas Metal Fest in Germany. We are also busy working with Universal to get the ball rolling and promote the album with as many live shows as we can get.
Are Venom a bit reluctant to play in the UK 😉 ?
It’s not through a lack of trying, we are proud to be a British band and when the band’s played the U.K in the past it’s always been great. We are talking about Bloodstock for next year and trying to get a London show organized where we can use Pyro and put on a good show. We’ve proved we can play without the flames and flashes but I think the U.K deserves a proper Venom show.
What happened with the High Voltage thing last year, you were playing then you weren’t ?
The tour manager and the promoter couldn’t agree regarding issues with the contract all boring stuff. I think the goal posts kept getting moved so in the end it was best to not do it. Listening to the bands that played and the low volume they had I think it worked out best, Venom not turned to 11 would have short changed the Legions!!
Do you think that the European legions are more appreciative of the band than the notoriously fickle UK audience ?
I think we are reserved in general and wait for someone to like things before we say we like it, where the Europeans don’t give a fuck if it’s good they give 100%. I hope this album will change things.
What do you make of the “other” Venom lineup that are on the go, with Mantas, Antton and The Demolition Man ?
It was mentioned when we were down at Universal by one of the interviewers, I knew Jeff was doing the Drill metal core stuff but I haven’t heard the stuff they are doing now. Any band that flies the flag for metal is good in my eyes. I think if you go out and play from the heart and be honest and believe what you’re doing people will pick up on it. That why I think people have latched onto Fallen Angels it’s not a parody or trying to recapture the past. Its 13 songs that make you want to raise your fist and bang your head.
Not too much to ask for is it?