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70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Interview

Venom On Changing The Face Of Metal, "Storm The Gates" And Why They Love 70000 Tons Of Metal

What more can be said about Venom? It's been nearly forty years since the band released their classic debut, "Welcome To Hell," which was followed a year later with the ground breaking "Black Metal" and in one form or another, the band has carried on ever since. The current lineup has been together for eleven years now and in that time, has released three of the most exciting albums in Venom's history, proving that they're not one of the "Whatever happened to them?" bands.

This year, the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise marked its tenth voyage and so it seems natural that such a milestone should be celebrated with a band as gargantuan as Venom on board. On the second day at sea, I caught up with the trio to discuss their live shows, their latest album, "Storm The Gates" and how they changed the game forever. You can watch it in full below.

Diamond Oz: What can fans expect from your performance based on previous times you've played 70000 Tons Of Metal?

Dante: If it's anything like the other two times, it's going to be fun, it's going to be rocking.

La Rage: Circle pits in jacuzzis!

Cronos: This is the tenth of edition of this (70000 Tons) and it just keeps evolving and getting better. Fans are so cool and they don't hassle you like they did the first time we played where it was just a scream fest and everyone was running around like headless chickens. We noticed the second time we did it that everybody had kind of calmed down and kind of got it. The fans and the bands are hanging out together and it, everybody's cool. Yes, you can go watch Michael Schenker from a jacuzzi if you want, it's not a problem but I just think that this thing's evolving to where it's so easy for bands to come and do this without any fear of getting hassled. We do our job, the fans get a great experience and you can hear from all the different accents that fans are from all over the world and I can't imagine it's any less expensive than going to a big festival nowadays, when you look at the prices of some of them.

La Rage: Just less muddy! Nobody's pissing on your legs in a field in Germany.

Oz: I think, like you say, everybody's realised that you're all on holiday together. Moving on though, you're still promoting "Storm The Gates" which came out at the end of 2018, now that the dust has settled, how do you see its place in the Venom catalogue?

Cronos: For us, it's better song writing and better production, so that was a win win for us, because we're a band that plays together and writes together and evolves together. We're now in the eleventh year of this lineup, which for me is just epic, working with people who get this and get the concept of black metal... All ideas are good ideas, get them on the table, a good song is a good song. It's not necessarily a good song just because it's about a certain subject, or a bad song for the same reason. We actually end up writing more than we use. We have daft jam sessions where we just go into the studio and just fuck about and you'd be amazed at some of the stuff that comes out, for a band like Venom who you wouldn't expect to jam like that, it's brilliant rock and roll. We're talking about releasing some of it.

Dante: Some of it's just really wacky, we just go off on a tangent.

La Rage: And sometimes it's like hours worth of music.

Dante: So to sit there and trawl through it all, it's like "Ehhh that's not so good" then all of a sudden it's, "Fucking hell! Listen to that!"

Cronos: We're turning into the Grateful Dead!

Dante: We'll take a little snippet and then do something with that and come up with some really cool songs from these very long jams.

La Rage: We're pushing the boundaries and with every album, our confidence goes up and it's like we have no fear of what we're doing. We just know when it's something good because the three of us are so into it and it's all about the quality, not the quantity.

Dante: It still excites us. We're not jaded, we love what we do. When we're coming up with new ideas, we'll stop and be like giggling kids again going, "Fuck man, listen to that!"

Cronos: I think the thing for me is that it's kind of come full circle because there is no politics in Venom. There never should have been any politics in Venom. This is a band that started with the idea of just breaking some rules and bringing some other ideas together that people hadn't thought of, like bringing a punk element into rock and roll. To me, metal was getting lame. When I first left school and was growing my hair, everyone thought that this kind of thing was finished. Rolling Stones were dead, Deep Purple were dead, everybody's gone... I even tried to convince the people at the studio that I worked for that rock and roll's not dead, metal's still a thing! It took the likes of Iron Maiden getting into the charts with that first single for people to start realising that there were still legs in this music.

But, people would not have been happy if it had stayed on the road that it was on, because there was nothing new coming out. I don't want to put any bands' names forward but a lot of the bands that were coming out in the late seventies/early eighties sounded very much like the bands that came before and it needed an injection, it needed something new and I think bringing the punk element into the metal, I think was the catalyst which sparked other people to create the other ideas and progressed it to the point it's at now, because it's massive now. There's so much metal now, it's glorious!

La Rage: They pushed the aggression and the attitude because, growing up in the seventies, rock music was getting ballooned and it was getting silly, the songs were getting far too long and all that. It needed the aggression and the DIY of punk to spark it up.

Cronos: And to me, the Americans weren't saving it because what they were doing with the glam rock; Motley Crue, Ratt and this, that & the other, to me that wasn't metal. Metal's always been something that tears your face off and I wanted to bring that back. For me, punk was so short lived. I was still at school when the Pistols and The Damned came out. I loved all that, then in an instant it was gone. So being able to put that into the rock, into the metal, it was just good fun. we didn't have any ideas about how long it was going to go and a lot of the other bands didn't see what we were doing; The bands that were around at the time and that had already established themselves and I think they were just scared!

Oz: Like you say there were certain bands you were working with who would say, "I want a sound like Led Zeppelin had" so it's important to be different but at the same time, you also have to be good and that's why Venom's stayed around and had the influence that its had.

Cronos: Well I worked in the studio and bands would come in and say, "I want my guitar to sound like this" or "I want my vocals to sound like that" and it used to frustrate the shit out of me. I'd be like, "Why don't you want to sound like you!? Why don't you just want to see what comes out of you?" because that's what the Stones did and that's what The Beatles did and that's what The Who did. They had nobody to kind of rely on for their sound, they just had to bash it out and that's why it was so original. Until people started switching off, looking for other people to give them ideas and start just coming up with their own... See, we live in a culture where we don't like change. We don't like new stuff. We like the safety of what we already know and so any new band that comes out with a new idea, everyone's going to say, "Oh it's shit!" You've just gotta have the staying power to believe in what you're doing and fortunately Venom did and just stuck the middle finger up saying, "We're having a fucking blast and don't give a fuck what you think."

Oz: And beyond that, again not to name names or bury anybody, but most of those bands were gone after two or three albums.

Cronos: Absolutely. There's only one Deep Purple and there's only one Led Zeppelin. We don't want duplicates, we want new and that's why I hate pop music so much. The X Factor thing, they're looking for another Whitney Houston or Robbie Williams and it's like, "For fuck's sake!" At least with metal, you want the next new thing. It's a bit like when Pantera came out, everybody was like "Yay!" because it was metal right back to the basics but didn't sound like Venom, didn't sound like Metallica, didn't sound like Slayer, but it was metal and another string to the bow.

Oz: Well moving on a little, next year marks the fortieth anniversary of your debut, "Welcome To Hell." Are there any plans to celebrate that?

Cronos: We just released a fortieth anniversary box set...

La Rage: Available at all good shops!

Cronos: The thing is, we had Venom before there were any records. We still haven't put that down to a day and a date, I'm just leaving that in the mists of time. It's like all these metal documentaries with all these facts about metal and it just makes me laugh. Also with anniversaries and that, it's not something that I ever thought was really neccesary with this kind of music. I think the fact that we're still here doing it is enough. I feel really priveleged to have such hardcore fans that love my stuff. It's why I get upset when people knock this because I've got no control over this. We're just gonna do what we do and the day that people stop buying it will be the day that we stop doing it, because we won't be able to do it, so I'm happy to just go with the flow and if people want more of this then we're happy to make more of this and I think that's the way music should be.

La Rage: You've got to have respect for the past, but you can't cling on to it and live your life through it because we're always wanting to go further. Going back to the songs, we're doing things different.

Dante: Continue to enjoy what you do. Some of the bands we see, it's obvious, they've got a face like a smacked arse, looking at their shoes while they're playing.

La Rage: Unfortunately there's some bands who can only play the first album and it must be fucking horrendous because that's when you lose the love for it.

Cronos: Sometimes there's bands who'll play their first album and it wasn't even their first album. *laughs*

La Rage: That's what we should do, just play another band's first album!

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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