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VENOM (CRONOS/ANTTON/MYKUS)

“THE FIRST QUESTION THAT GOT INTO MY MIND WHEN I SAW THE VENOM SHOW TODAY WAS WHETHER IT WAS A SET-UP WHEN YOU THRASHED YOUR BASS TO PIECES ON STAGE, OR WAS THAT REAL? Cronos: I fucked up! I mean, that’s life, that’s a live gig. You know, that’s the beauty of a live gig. It’s not safe up there, anything can go wrong. It was my turn anyway, his (points over to Mykus) went off on the last concert in Finland. So it was my turn to go off. His (points over to Antton) will go off on the next one. (laughs) I’VE HEARD THAT SANCTUARY IS PLANNING TO BRING OUT A DVD. COULD YOU GIVE ME SOME MORE DETAILS? Cronos: There is two planned. There’s one which is gonna be all the older stuff, which is the “Seven Dates of hell” video, and this “Nightmare” video, and all that sort of stuff. So we’re busy compiling that. And we’re kind of making it more like a documentary. We’re gonna go through, like where VENOM started, show you like the old rehearsal room, which was a church. And pull all that together. There is a lot of myth surrounding like the early band and that. So we’re gonna sort of put the record straight with that. But we’re also making a new video of all the shows we’re doing this year, which will feature this show tonight – as you’ve probably seen the camera man up there. So Earthshaker should be featured quite well in the video. SO, THE FIRST VIDEO IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING LIKE A DOCUMENTARY OF THE HISTORY OF VENOM? Cronos: Yeah, the original one. That video is more about the original line-up band, the band that was around in the eighties. RIGHT… BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PUT TOGETHER A HISTORY WITHOUT TALKING TO THE OTHER FORMER BAND MEMBERS? Cronos: They are gonna approach them. Whether they will do it or not, I don’t know. But they are also gonna talk to other people like Slipknot and Slayer, and other bands who either worked with us or were influenced by us. So, they are gonna try to cover the board. You know, they are going off to America to trying to get interviews with everybody, so there is gonna be a lot of people involved in this. It’s gonna take a while to actually make, but it should be really interesting. So regardless, I think Mantas will do the interview. I just don’t know whether Abaddon will, because nobody knows where he is basically. You know, but I think Mantas will do it. ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH MANTAS? DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SCOOTER-STORY? Cronos: Yeah, I just haven’t heard it. People have asked us but I haven’t heard it, yet. I mean, is it any good? ??… ?? IT’S EURO-DANCE! IT’S THE WORST EURO-DANCE POP YOU CAN THINK OF… Cronos: Oh shit… Oh, oh…! YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT? Cronos (visibly irritated): No! (pauses as the information sinks in) We knew that he was playing with some other band, but we didn’t know what kind of music it was. Euro-dance, eh? YOU MUST HEARD OF THAT BAND – IT’S THAT BLONDE GUY WHO’S YELLING “HYPER – HYPER!” CONSTANTLY. OK… YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW… Cronos: Well, he wasn’t having much luck with his Mantas band, was he? So, you know, maybe he’s just trying to make some money. BUT AS FOR YOU, MYKUS AND ANTTON, IS THIS THE STEADY VENOM LINE-UP NOW? Mykus: Let’s hope so. That’s what we’re shooting for. We just wanna keep it rolling and rolling and rolling. (TO MYKUS) YOU’RE FROM AMERICA – DO YOU LIVE IN ENGLAND NOW? Mykus: No, I live in America. I commute. ARE YOU SENDING EACH OTHER TAPES VIA THE INTERNET OR HOW DOES THAT WORK? Mykus: I go to England and stay in England, and then go back home and stay there. OK. ANTTON – IT’S PROBABLY NOT SUCH A PROBLEM WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE CRONOS’ BROTHER…DID YOU BUG HIM OVER THE YEARS TO BE A PART OF VENOM OR HOW DID THAT COME TOGETHER A FEW YEARS AGO? I GUESS, YOU COULD HAVE BEEN EARLIER… Antton: It was the right time, and I got asked to help out with the “Resurrection” album, and who would fuckin’ say “Nawt!” at that, you know, working with a legendary band. So I fuckin’ jumped at the chance. But I would have jumped in at any chance. But I used to play guitar, so they wouldn’t ask me to play the drums years ago, because I was a guitar-player. I would have been a pretty shit drummer (everybody laughs). Cronos: Antton has been around the band just about as long as me really. Because when I used to go to the early rehearsals of the band, in the church I was just mentioning, he used to come along, you know. He used to stay off from school and come along. Antton: If you watch the “Nightmare” video, when Cronos kicks the door open and walks in, it’s me that passes him the beers. Cronos: And that was the 1985 video. So, he’s been around for a long time. And that was one of the good things about getting him in the band, because you didn’t have to explain so much about the music and the style, because even like when I sort of took a time off to do me Cronos project, it was really sort of a strange concept. It wasn’t like this kind of a concept. It’s always difficult to get people into the sort of frame of mind of where you’re at, you know? And that’s why I asked Mike to join, because I’ve known Mike since ’86, when he was on the “Calm before the storm“ album, and then we did the Cronos albums together. So when this sort of opportunity came along I thought, you might as well give it a try, because he knows so much about the band anyway. It would be much better than getting somebody in from scratch. You know, because even he would admit, him and Jim who was on the “Calm” album, I mean, that wasn’t like a real VENOM album. It was more of a concept album. It was going through a change. And it was absolutely impossible to predict how that album was gonna end up from how it started, because everybody was trying new ideas, and tried to mould different ideas, whereas now it’s just solid back metal. So it’s easier to understand if you get the concept, you know. But you have to get the concept first obviously. YOU JUST BROUGHT UP THE CRONOS PERIOD. YOU NEVER USED THE NAME VENOM DURING THAT TIME, EVEN THOUGH YOU CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE HAD ANY RIGHT TO. HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED THAT YOU HAVEN’T KEPT THE NAME IN THE “MISSING YEARS” SO TO SAY? Cronos: No, because I wanted to do something else. I was actually a bit tired by then, because I didn’t think it was going anywhere. And, you know, I was working with a drummer who basically wouldn’t rehearse, and we couldn’t write songs. You know, it was just really a tiring time. So I just wanted to get together with some guys who wanted to jump into a van and go off and do some shows. And for more of the fun of playing the shows than sort of the big spectacle, you know. It was more about sort of getting down and dirty with it than anything else. It’s easy to be in the music business when you just stay in nice hotels, and you just play nice big concerts – it’s very enjoyable, you know. But you kind of ask yourself, would you still enjoy it if it was a small gig, and you weren’t getting paid as much, and you’re in the back of a van. Because I’ve always wondered how those bands keep doing gig after gig, tour after tour. And it’s because they really love the music. So I had to find that out. Because VENOM sort of started from nothing and then just shot up. We never went through that stage, you see what I mean? So I sort of went through that stage later, sort of came out the other end. RIGHT, I REMEMBER THAT YOU PLAYED YOUR VERY FIRST SHOW AT HAMMERSMITH ODEON IN LONDON. AND GOING BACK TO SHITTY CLUBS AFTER THAT – I IMAGINE THAT COULD BE HARD… BUT HEY, YOU’RE HEADLINING ONE OF THE BIGGER METAL FESTIVALS HERE IN EUROPE. WOULD YOU EVER HAD EXPECTED THAT, LET’S SAY, TEN YEARS AGO, WHEN THINGS WEREN’T LOOKING SO BRIGHT FOR YOU? Cronos: Not really, but you can’t expect anything. You know, I mean, we never expected… when we were doing VENOM, there was bands like Raven and the Tygers of Pan Tang, and all that. And they were all sort of destined to be the next big thing. You know, we didn’t think we would have been the next big thing. They now have day jobs, we haven’t. (chuckles) We do this for a living. BUT ACTUALLY, DO YOU REMEMBER – OR DOES ANYONE OF YOU REMEMBER – WHEN YOU REALIZED THAT AFTER YEARS OF BEING BASHED AS A BAND YOU EVENTUALLY GOT THE RECOGNITION YOU DESERVED? WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT? Cronos: But VENOM are the band that everybody loves to hate. OH, COME ON… Cronos: But a lot of that kind of stuff comes from bands though. You know, what I mean? Because this is a competition. And it’s – even like now – we just took somebody’s gig off them. You know, basically. Somebody else would have been headlining this, had we not come out. And so, you know, you have to admit that sometimes there is a bit of animosity from the other bands. Because, you know, I mean, maybe tonight “Edge-Guy” (editor’s note: he means the band EDGUY who played right before VENOM) would have headlined. You know, what I mean? Who knows? But this is what happens. It’s business. And everybody wants to be number one in the business. And what we found, is that it’s not… I mean, the fans, you can hear them, they go wild for VENOM. But, you know, the bands aren’t necessarily well-favourite friends, you know, because it’s a competition. But that’s good! DID YOU GET ANY HARD FEELINGS FROM ANYONE TODAY? Cronos: No, no. Not at all! (smiles) None at all, actually. It’s funny, cause this time around a lot of the bands – more-so now – are kind of influenced by VENOM whereas when we started out they weren’t. You know, RAVEN and TYGERS OF PAN TANG certainly weren’t influenced by VENOM, but bands like TESTAMENT. And you know, I met the HAMMERFALL guys, and they were all absolutely great and everything. I was on one of their albums a couple of years ago. So, a lot of the bands now, I mean, they know who VENOM are, and probably got VENOM albums in the house. RIGHT. EVEN BANDS AND ARTISTS YOU WOULD NEVER EXPECT TO LOVE VENOM GIVE YOU PROPS – FOR EXAMPLE DAVE GROHL WITH HIS PROBOT PROJECT. REGARDING THE TITLE OF YOUR LAST ALBUM “METAL BLACK” – HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING TO TAKE OUT OF THE PISS OF THE SO-CALLED BLACK METAL SCENE, WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY KNOWN FOR IT’S HUMOUR…? Cronos: It’s not taking the piss, that’s twenty-first century black metal. We had to make a definite sort of cut between what was “Black metal” and what was “Metal Black”, because “Black Metal” is the original line-up. This is now twenty-first century black metal. It’s a new band. The band is a lot tighter, a lot faster. i mean, we play those old songs with such a fury. I mean, if you got Mantas and Abaddon on that stage now, it would sound like shit. And it’s as simple as that! And they would have to admit that. So that was the whole point of calling it “Metal Black”, because this is re-inventing the music that we invented. And the best way to do that would be to actually stick a term that was familiar to people. But, oh yeah – I got loads of shit for the title. But, I mean, that’s what the record company loved about it: that it was gonna be a controversial title. You know, people would say: “What the fuck?! What’s the next album called: “Hell to welcome”?! Yeah?” (laughs) Yeah, why not? It’s a good title, eh? And we’ll use that! Antton: And the next one “Re-Possessed”? BUT DID YOU GET ANY HATEMAILS OR THREATS FROM THE UNDERGROUND BLACK METAL SCENE WHO DIDN’T GET THE HUMOUR? Cronos (with a very smooth voice): No, no. They are all little boys and girls. They wouldn’t dare. They’re just children! They are! They are all just little children. They don’t bother us. You know, why would they? They’re busy burning churches.. (chuckles) WELL, THAT WAS SOMETHING LIKE TEN YEARS AGO. I DON’T THINK ANYONE IS STILL DOING THAT… THESE DAYS EVERYBODY IS BEING BUSY ACTING COOL WITH GRIM FACES AND NOT SHOWING ANY EMOTION… Cronos: It’s just another extension of metal. This is something I’ve said for years: the wonderful thing about this music is that it’s a bit like an octopus. It’s all different legs. I mean, you would call PANTERA like a heavy metal band, yeah? But they are nothing like Slipknot, who are a heavy metal band. Who are nothing like VENOM, who are a heavy metal band. Who are nothing like Iron Maiden, who are a heavy metal band. See? So metal has got a whole load of different styles and types to it as well. And we can all go to a festival like this, and we’ve all got the same kind of crowd. You know, but the music is so radically different – but it’s still metal! And that’s the key thing. So it all goes off into different branches. You know, you got all that death metal, speed metal, power metal, thrash metal, you know, the whole fuckin’ lot. I mean, I think, that’s great, it’s really diverse. It shows you how rich the music is, that it actually has so many facets, I think. GIVEN THE FACT THAT IN THE NINETIES A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE CLAIMING METAL WAS DEAD, IT LOOKS PRETTY HEALTHY OUTSIDE HERE WITH THOUSANDS OF METAL FANS. Antton: I think, the problem was that with bands like LIMP BIZKIT it was like a rap-pop-nu metal thing, you know. Cause I was absolutely amazed when bands like Slipknot were roped into this nu metal thing. I got a copy of the first Slipknot album, put it on, and it ripped me fears off. You know, and I’m thinking, this is no fuckin’ nu metal shit. The track “Sick” kicks you in the face. That’s metal, you know! But you listen to (starts singing LIMP BIZKIT): “Rolling, rolling, rolling..” – that’s not fuckin’ metal, that’s shite! You know, what I mean? (Cronos starts laughing) That’s shite! It’s pop music with this nu metal thing stuck on it. Cronos: It’s pop music with a heavy guitar. Antton: Yeah, and he left! (everybody laughs) Cronos: Oh, you could probably say the same of like Evanescence. It’s the same as well, isn’t it? It’s a pop band but they got a heavy guitarist. They’re cashing in, really. SOMETHING I WAS WONDERING ABOUT WHEN I SAW YOU ON STAGE TODAY: CRONOS, ARE YOU WEARING THE SAME STAGE OUTFIT AS IN THE EIGHTIES? Cronos: Yeah! Exactly the same?!? Cronos: No, no, no. It’s just the t shirt. (with a broad smile) Yeah, I just thought I’ll wear me eighties shirt tonight. Cause I’ve been wearing all different shirts for all the gigs. BUT THAT IS YOUR LEGENDARY RED SHIRT FROM THE EIGHTIES? Cronos: That is the very same one, yes! Yeah! I wondered who would notice. It’s what I said: Let’s see who notices. That is THE very same shirt. NO WAY… THE STUDDED BOOTS AS WELL? Cronos: They’re all new. Everything’s brand new. I had it all remade. EXCEPT FOR THE SHIRT! Cronos: It falls to bits. Yeah, I was amazed that lasted. Because when I came off the last gig in eighty…, was it ’85 or ’86 – I just washed it and put it in the cupboard. And it was just a few weeks ago when I was going though some stuff. And I found it, and I thought: “Whoa, that would be cool!” I mean, it was tiny. I had to really fuckin’ pull that thing on, you know. I’m a bit bigger now than I was then. NAH, NOT MUCH! Cronos: Not much, eh? MAY I ASK YOU HOW OLD YOU ARE NOW? Cronos: Me? I’m 43! 43 years young, in my second twenties. HOW OLD ARE YOU, ANTTON? YOU’RE HIS YOUNGER BROTHER, RIGHT? Antton: 39. OK, FOR THE RECORDS – AND YOU MYKUS? Mykus: 41. Cronos: You’re fifty! You liar! WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT PERIOD IN YOUR CAREER? YOU’VE BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS NOW… Cronos: I wouldn’t say it was difficult, because I have seen my career has been like successful. Because, I mean, I’ve always been able to get out there and make albums and do what I wanna do. I’ve known a lot of people who’ve wanted to have a career in this industry, and they couldn’t. They simply didn’t sell enough records, they simply didn’t sell enough seats at a concert, and therefore they had to go and get a job. So I fell really fortunate that in this amount of time I have been able to make records and still do gigs. So, basically, do what I wanna do with me music. So I don’t say any of it was difficult because I don’t expect it to be easy. Never expect this to be easy. I think the more hard work you put into this, the more you get out of it. I mean, we were the band who put on the stage show, put all this stage up, the whole riggin’, you know. When, at a time bands like MOTÖRHEAD, you know, they would arrive in a little van, pull out a drum-kit and a couple of four/ twelves, and were ready to go, whereas we wanted to put the stage on. And on an independent label, when you haven’t got much money, it’s difficult to do, you know. So, it’s cause we’ve always had a passion for the music. But I don’t see it being one period being more particular difficult than another. It’s always difficult, and that’s the way it should be for everybody. DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA WHETHER YOU SOLD MORE RECORDS OR MORE MERCHANDISE? I DON’T KNOW ANY METALHEAD WHO’S NOT HAVING AT LEAST ONE VENOM BADGE ON HIS VEST… Cronos: That is hard to say. Because there’s been many sort of bootlegs as well, but the thing is that, that goes towards the records, probably being the most – is because we’ve been covered so much by other bands. So many bands have done covers of our songs. We were gonna contact the Guinness book of records because we think we got to be the most covered band, probably apart from Elvis, you know. Everybody has done a VENOM cover. That’s one of the things about, you know, also staying where you are in your career as well. Even if I go away from the industry for a bit, I’m still in all the magazines, cause there is some guy wearing a VENOM t shirt, and there is some fuckin’ album coming out with a VENOM song on. So, I mean, everybody else keeps perpetuating VENOM anyway. They won’t let it ever die, they won’t let it ever go away, you know.

Recorded by Steffi Mahsmann after the Headlining Show at Earthshaker Fest 2006 Copyright Foto: Thomas Riess

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