Shall I call you Conrad, mister Lant, or Cronos?
Wasn't it strange back then when people, you might or might not have known already, start to call you by the name you just made up?
No, that was never a problem
I'll dig into the past a little more, if you don't mind. But first, are you psyched up for the release of 'Fallen Angels'?
Yeah, absolutely. We're really, really, REALLY proud of the new album.
I only had a very few changes to hear it yet, but from what I heard it's got a really positive vibe to it and it's got an overall musical theme, wouldn't you agree?
Thanks very much. Yeah, there's so many different ways you can make a new album, how you're gonna can approach the album. Once we decided to reform Venom back in 2005, you know, we made the 'Metal Black' album in 2006 we showed everybody this is not a parody band, we're not trying to relive 1984. Venom still got plenty ideas, we still got some fresh, controversial, in-your-face… nobody has ever come out and replaced Venom. Nobody ever came CLOSE to Venom. We brought the 'Hell' album out in 2008 and it kinda reaffirmed what we had done on 'Metal Black', this is not a one-off thing, this is a serious thing. We live in the twenty first century. So another album comes out with great songs, fresh ideas and you know, it's all fine-tuning, trying out new ideas.
We knew that the America guitarist (Mike Hickey, R.-LoM) on 'Metal Black' was never going to be there for the long call. He made that point clear straight away, which was very good. I like honesty. As a friend we worked on the Cronos albums and he said: “you know man, I'll help you get the band up and running, I'll help you get out there and get some shows running. But in the meantime, realistically, if you wanna look for somebody more permanent… and that's when we had Rage coming in. Mike had to commute back and forth to The States. He had his own business and he had some problems when his father died of cancer, which was really shit. But we had Rage stepping in for him to actually help Annton (Cronos' brother, former Venom drummer. R.-LoM) and me with rehearsals. At that point, at the end of the U.S. tour Mike said: “Look, why don't you guys just ask Rage”, you know? “He knows the songs and he fucking loves you guys”. Rage was obviously jumping up and down with excitement. He was so fucking psyched for that…
I bet you could pick from about a thousand guitarist who would want the job, didn't you?
Yeah, absolutely. After 'Hell' we had some similar types of problems with Annton, you know. He wanted to do other things. And realistically, he is a NU metal drummer who was helping his brother out. But, you know the black metal, it's not his soul, it's not his heart. It was the same thing, find somebody more permanent, find somebody who wants to do black metal and be really proud of this music. Like I started off saying, there's so many different ways of how to approach how you make an album. We decided to take things back to the way Venom did things back in the beginning. We didn't think of record deals. We didn't think of publishing deals, we didn't think of money. We just thought: “hey, let's have fun, let's be in a band, let's fucking jam, let's play cover songs, let's play fucking new songs”, you know? Be in a band, be musicians.
One of the fun things was to be able to put a live stage set together which was thirty years of Venom. Let's put a song of every album on the set, songs that have never been played live. So, 'Fallen Angels' was a culmination of two years. We jammed, we rehearsed and we're practically telepathic on stage now. The good thing is we also get on, which is great. Nobody has got any ulterior motives, everybody is there for the music, everybody's out to make Venom great. Dante (drummer) and Rage got SO much respect for the old Venom and what it meant and what it created. The whole scene…
Were you lacking this kind of energy in the past, you think, this kind of commitment?
Well… It started off as very, VERY good commitment. But then people change. And I appreciate that. And that's why when we reformed the band in 1995, after all the different things we've tried, you know, I tried the Cronos project, when we got back in '95 we said: “you know guys, let's do this for real. I'm not playing with this.” And it was very obvious straight away that we changed. People wanted to do different things. Abaddon always wanted to more industrial metal, as you can hear back on 'Cast In Stone'. But at least people have caught the respect for Venom to walk away and let the members who do want to do it carry on the legacy. That's one of the things we've always said. Venom is bigger than any one member. Venom is much, much bigger than Cronos. I'm just one aspect of Venom… Venom belongs to the Legions (Venomesque for their fans. R.-LoM). They kept us alive, they kept us going, they gave us a career. Without the Legions, Venom would be nothing. They wear our t-shirts, they talk about Venom, they play our songs… we owe everything to our fans.
And a lot of fans are in bands as well. I kind of think you know what influence you've had in the past. You could easily lean back and enjoy the success of the past, so why did you feel the necessity to go along with a new record?
Even as we speak about it, you sound so full of energy about it, it's incredible…
It is! The other thing we love about the new album is the fact that in 1999-2000, when we did 'Resurrection' most people said in the past quite a bit that Venom aren't very good musicians and they will never stand up in a great studio. So that's what we decided to do. We went to Germany and recorded in the big studio, the same as Motörhead, Saxon and Priest and all the other bands. And 'Resurrection' was born out of that. From there on we really enjoyed using drum sampling and triggering, but, with this album we said: “no, no, no, no, no, back to 'Welcome to Hell', BACK to 'Black Metal', BACK to 'At War With Satan'. It's a drum kit, it's microphones, it's a Marshall stack and it's some more microphones. And the BIG reason for that decision was the simple fact that, DAMN, I really, truly believe that bands start to sound so FUCKING similar. I'm hearing these new albums and I'm thinking: “oh, that sounds like the last album. But with a different band”. The bands are now starting to sound the same…
Are there any new bands that you do like, then? Or maybe in new kind of genres?
In the last couple of years, no. Because they all sound like they're produced in the same studio and there's no stand-out frontman. Where's the new Ozzy Osbournes, the new Alice Coopers, where's the new Gene Simmonses, where's the new Lemmies…
…and where's the new Cronos?
Yeah, exactly. They're not there. This is what I miss, this is what I always thought was great about rock music. The individuality and the stand-out, larger than life characters. This is what we wanted to do with 'Resuccection'. To put a really professional album out that was Venom as a blunt force and progress it from there on. When we put 'Metal Black' together we we're like “let's show that we are a twenty first century band. We were able to re-establish that with 'Hell', but when we did 'Fallen Angels', we wanted to take away all the technology. Let's take away any tricks of producers. Let's make it as if we were standing on stage. I think that is why it's go so much energy.
What's with the song 'Punk's Not Dead'?
It is exactly what is right. I'm still a punk. From my early days. Punk is rebellion, punk is not letting any people tell you what to do, punk is having your own life, your own way. I believe a lot of people nowadays have got a punk attitude, although not as much people walk around with ripped pants and spiked hair. Punk is a part of your soul, it's a part of your being, it's not just a label or a name. It is part of who you are.
And it's not your clothing either?
Talking about your early interest, you were the first to take really dark matters in quite a serious way. Do you still have that interest in dark matters?
I think it is perfect for this type of music. People always say “the devil has the best tunes”. Honestly, I think it's such an excellent marriage with extreme music, all the death metal, black metal, speed metal, thrash metal. We always said it's sex, drugs, rock 'n roll and Satanism (laughs). Not everybody wants to feel safe. Not everybody wants to listen to Elton John. There's a lot of people out there that want something different. I don't know what makes a band great. I don't know why, when there was so many bands that came into Neat Records (Venom's first record label. R.-LoM) why we made it and they didn't make it. Who knows what's gonna be around the corner. To be able to think you got a good idea for a band, for some music, for some songs and people to hear people it say: “oh yeah, I like that as well and we wanne make a band like that”. I got people like Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Phil Anselmo and all those guys who stepped up to me and say “when we were at school, we bought Venom albums”, that's fucking great…
You even worked with Dave Grohl on Probot…
I did, it was FANTASTIC.
I can imagine, not to suck up on you, but your song was one of the highlights on the album.
I wasn't sure what he wanted at first, I was a bit apprehensive. I thought I didn't know if this was gonna work, but he said: “no, it's gonna be Venomous. We've been working on this song with Lemmy and it sounds like Motörhead. I wanna have an album with all of the bands that influenced me. So I want a Motörhead song, I want a Venom song, I want a Sepultura song, I wanna have fucking King Diamond song”. And the album sounds fucking great.
I'm not going to talk about your Satanic sincerity or you being true about it or anything. But would you still want 'In League With Satan' at your memorial service?
Absolutely! Hahaha, yeah. That's right.
I could imagine you being more proud of songs like 'At War With Satan', or (my personal all-time favorite) 'Seven Gates Of Hell'. Aren't those options either?
No, I just think it would be really good to have some up-beats, you know, big, powerful music and that thing would be excellent. If I'd pick 'At War With Satan', it is probably a bit long.
Well, that's a good laugh too…
It would be great if there's loads of Legions with fucking 'Welcome To Hell' and 'Black Metal' t-shirts, and everybody'd go (he sings): “evil, in league with Satan”. That would be so fucking cool. All these famous people wanna have an event of a big funeral, I'd just say: “hey, let's have a big party”, you know.
That's the way to go, isn't it?
But given this idea, you must have absolutely not a single doubt that both heaven and hell in the Christian sense are bullocks, is that save to say?
Absolute bullocks! Make a difference now. Make a difference while you are alive. Because, life is for the living. When you're dead, you're dead…
You're giving me great quotes now, hahaha…
If you would now be at the beginning of your career, would you have used more contemporary religious topics, like Islam or massive child abuse in the Catholic Church?
Not really. I really was influenced in the way that… in England we had the pagans and the druids and things like that. And then the Christians came along and fucked with that. It's one of the things when I first saw when I saw the Norwegian scene beginning in the early nineties. I thought: “ok, I know they said Venom are an influence, etcetera, etcetera; let's see where these guys are coming from.” And then when I started to read the lyrics, read the interviews and see they were kind of saying the same thing, but about their country, they had their religion, with all the Norse gods like Wodan and Thor. And then all of the sudden the Christians came in and they tried to destroy their religion. It's great that they stayed within in their country's beliefs for their lyrics as well. So, they're not the exactly the same things as Venom, they invented something of their own, which I think is fucking great.
And they used your musical style (black metal) to describe their own…
Pr lady: I am sorry to interrupt, would you mind making this the last question? We're pushing against the time…
Pr lady: Yeah, I am so sorry. It's been sixteen minutes now.
Cronos: When will the next interview be then?
Pr lady: It is actually going to be now.
Cronos: I am speaking to Lords of Metal now, right?
Yeah, you are.
Cronos: Well the next one, this interview hasn't finished yet, so the next guy has to be rescheduled to next week or something.
Pr lady: Well, I try to see what I can do, but I know it was really important to get this done today.
Cronos: Listen, I tell you what's important. I know what's important for Venom. The next guy can wait, I'm finished talking to Lords of Metal when I'm finished, not sooner. Now, next question my friend.
You must feel I have the best intentions, I guess.
You know, you can't do a good interview in five minutes. If they have tight schedules, than somebody has to wait. You wanted the interview, you were here first, you get your interview. It's cool.
What classic song is overlooked as a classic by the fans? In other words, which song didn't get the attention it deserved?
I like the way that the fans are really into everything. One of the things with pop music is, people either like it or they don't like it. With our fans, I think there's a lot more integrity there. I think especially with rock fans, they don't like things just to be cheap, to throw away. People back in the seventies were saying: “oh, rock music is dead”. But when you've got bands like Deep Purple who were standing on stage looking bored, I think the fans can see that. “Wow, you guys don't even look like you're enjoying yourselves, so why the fuck should they expect us to enjoy it?” I think that was one of the big, fundamental changes. If you see, not just the early Venom stuff, but also the early Metallica, or Slayer and everything… we were putting 110 percent into what we were doing. I think the fans appreciate that.
The fans are very clever with the lyrics. They ask me the most bizarre, deep, deep questions. “What did you mean by this; how did you take that”. So when we made the song “At War With Satan”, I deliberately made it so it had two meanings. You have “at war WITH Satan”, in other words “you're standing WITH the devil going into war”; and you have the meaning “at war with” meaning you're actually fighting the guy. There's two ways of taking it. And if people ask me which one it means, I always ask: “which way do you want it to be, because you can take it both ways.
Yeah, that's an all time classic, a song that is itself larger than life (as a figure of speech). But the initial question was “which particular song do you think overlook as a classic when they look at your entire catalogue?
Well, I think it's hard to tell, really. I know there's been some Venom songs, or even Venom albums, which when they were released, people would say that maybe it wasn't as good as other things. I know for example 'At War With Satan', when that album came out, people didn't know what to expect. And we got quite a few bad reviews for that album, actually. And then ten or more years later, people thought Venom were really brave to try and make a song that was twenty minutes long, rather than three minutes. And then all of the sudden people started digging it up and say how great it was, when at first they weren't really sure and actually didn't like it. So I think that can be really interesting.
But like I said: “sex, drugs, rock 'n roll and Satanism”… some songs really just speak for themselves. But when you got songs like 'Black Metal' and 'Witching Hour' and things like that, the fans know that the songs are about THEM. These songs are singing about the Legions. It's about the concert and it's about going wild. I don't think there's any songs that are kind of overlooked, I just think some songs maybe weren't recorded as well as we could have recorded them. Like say for example on the 'Possessed' album, I still think there are great songs.
I was actually aiming at the song 'Hellchild', I really liked that one…
The thing is, had we spent more time rehearsing that album, I think it would have been a much better album. I think it was done in a hurry, because of record company schedules etcetera, etcetera. I think it is excellent you like it. Also a song like 'Moonshine', I think they are fucking GREAT songs.
You were actually the first to really dig deep into the theme of Satanism, to dress up your lyrics. You were at, from what I understand, the worst school to be in, in Newcastle. So said Abaddon at least. But where did you find the interest to dig so deep into the topic?
Well, you know, It's because it's so fascinating. It can be read so many different ways. A lot of the stuff you can read about this is in the library, all this Satanism stuff is all in psychology department. It's all about how your mind works and how you think. I think a lot of the stories are more analogies of real life. A little bit in the way the Greeks used to do it. Like the story of Narcissus, the guy who never saw his own reflection and then he went to the lake and he saw himself. He thought he was so beautiful, he couldn't pull himself away from his reflection and he died of hunger. Obviously that never happened, nobody would be stupid enough to just stare at themselves and then die, BUT what it's trying to say was, vanity can be your downfall. I think some things within the stories you can read about things that have happened throughout history to deal with the dark arts contain some great analogies of real life. I like reading the stories like that and putting them into the lyrics sometimes. Even a story like 'Countess Bathory'. I think it is a fascinating, FASCINATING story.
The fight against getting old?
Yeah… When you look at people today and how everybody's running to the doctor for plastic surgery and things like that, we haven't really changed a lot in thousands and thousands of years.
Are you still a sports instructor?
Yeah, yeah I still keep fit. I mean, for me Venom is all about strength and power and all this things and I think keeping fit is just a basic right of life. My bass guitar is very, very heavy. And the way I sing, you have to be really fit. The first gig we ever did, which was in Poperinge (Belgium 1982, R.-LoM)… not to say the local stuff we did, but the first big gig we did in for the world away from home, that's what Venom considered to be their first real concert. Because the little concerts that we did around Newcastle, they were really just trying out new ideas, whereas the Poperinge show we were saying: “right, this is Venom's first real, real show, for the world. And halfway through the concert me and Mantas we were looking at eachother and we said: “WOW, this is hard work!” hahahaha. We were really fucking tired. That was like the fucking hardest workout in the world. We both went back to the UK and went straight to the gym and said “we need to be really fit to do Venom”, you know? It was incredible.
But you hurt you back once, didn't you?
I was climbing and I damaged my neck. When I went to school, there was no job opportunities like my parents had. They had work on the shipyard or the coalmines. England was quite a bad place at the end of the seventies. There was no jobs and a lot of my friends joined the Marines, or the army or the Navy. I was going to do that as well, I was going to the Marines. But I grew my hair and joined a band instead. But they're still my friends. I love doing the assault courses and I keep fit with my friends. And we used to go climbing up the mountain, which is good fun, it's great fun! But it's really difficult, because it is endurance.
Aren't you a little too big to do that, in a muscular sense, for mountain climbing?
Yeah, but I don't do that shit where you kind of climb underneath a rock, you know, hahaha. It's more like scaling , you know, where you go up the sides.
Have you been up the Ben Nevis, in Scotland?
…No, we go to places in England and in Wales. We have some great mountains here in England.
You said job opportunities forced your parents to move to Newcastle, but you were born in London right? Children that move to different places tend to be more creative, do you feel any of that?
I think that's true because you got more of an understanding of the world, how things work. When we were in London, there was a lot more opportunities for us and everything. And when we came up to Newcastle, we just had to work that bit harder, to make things work, you know? I think it gives you a better perspective.
But you also had to adept to the accents, didn't you?
Yeah, hahaha, of course. We got a lot of shit with that, haha! There used to be a big problem between people from the north and south of England. But not anymore. But I can speak loads of accents now, hahaha.
Do you still know any Dutch phrases?
Nooo, I was really weakened, because last year we nearly had an opportunity to come back and do a show in Holland, we are REALLY hoping that we can do the show next year. I haven't got the name on the top of my head, the management was sorting it out. But there was some restriction, some law and some of the bands were gonna pull. And the guys gave us a call and asked if we could step in and we said “YEAH!” we will manage to sort their problem out. But when we got back in touch with them again, it was like, can't we do it in 2012. Because Holland was one of the first places that Venom got famous. It was one of the first places that we kind of thought: “fucking hell, somebody likes Venom”. That was great.
Aardschokdag 1983 and 1984, Waldrock '95, the Dynamo show in '96…
It was IN-credible.
I still got a beep in my ear from that very first bang at Dynamo, it was SO incredible…
Well, I only just recently got the masters back for the video for that show. I'm actually gonna re-release that on DVD. I just think it has got to be out there, because it was an incredible show, it was an IN-CREDIBLE fucking audience, like 89.000 people there. I will send you a copy. It WILL come out on DVD, because now I got the masters. They were lost for years. Nobody knew where they were. But we now got them.
It was a memorable show for me too, I was standing in front. Was that the most memorable show you ever did too?
At that time it was mind blowing because of the size. That was the biggest show we had ever done. We knew before that a big stage and everything was going to be there and that's why we put a big set together and we had problems with the set and that, but it was still amazing, amazing, amazing. It is one of those shows you will never forget.
You have done some great touring schedules in South America last year. Did you even come close to that moment, or is the setting just different now?
The good thing about South America was, it was one of those territories you think you're never gonna go. We went down to Brasil at the end of the eighties and we thought “this isn't the place for our music, not for black metal”. So we always thought we would never go back. But we've had SO many offers over the last couple of years. All the promoters and endorsers now understood what the music is. We were signing autographs with the army guys with their fucking big dogs and guns and everything and they were SO happy to see western people in their country. It was amazing, I can't wait to go back.
I know people in Chili really like you too…
Yeah, and the first time in Argentina, halfway through the show the crowd actually stopped the show, because they were singing SO loud. They had a football song, but they changed it to say “we love you Venom, you're in our soul, you've come here for us and we love you so much, blabla…” and it was louder than the band. We had to stop.
You're life isn't that bad
Yeah, it was so emotional, fantastic. We do have a video of this and when we got backstage, we asked a security guard what it was that they were singing. And we got the camera and we filmed him singing it again and he translated it. We are busy putting together a video of lots of Venom live shows. And hopefully that's coming out early next year. I wanna include that footage of a Argentina. He said it was no problem if we'd put it on the video.
I could talk about things from the past for about centuries, but you got an album to promote...
When we put the band together and we decided to go on the South American tour, that's when we started to put the ideas together for the new album. It was just coming so quickly. We were doing the soundchecks in the afternoon and Rage would be playing this riff and I'd be going: “what's that riff”. I was just thinking he was playing a riff from another band. And he said: “I've just come up with it”, so we went “Dante, do some drums. We just put the ideas together so quickly. I recorded all these ideas with a tape recorder. And then we did the same thing last year, when we did the festivals. “Let's fuck about in the rehearsals”. Just bouncing off ideas from eachother and everything just came together so great. It was a real band effort. Everybody put the ideas into it to make it work and I'm so happy with the result. It's so raw, but it's also really Venom and it is really in-your-face. We're so fucking happy with the new album.
What are you favorite songs on 'Fallen Angels'?
When you make an album, you always look for two or three songs to put into the live set. Because of how this album is being made, it's impossible to choose, because we could play the whole album. So we have to deal with that. We might put them together in a hat and just pull some names out. You know, let's pick four songs and put them in the set for now.
Well, you could always sacrifice songs like 'Countess Bathory', Seven Gates of Hell', or 'Black Metal'.
Because we got so many songs, what we've done for the live set is, we've created these medleys, where 'At War With Satan' starts, and after a certain amount of time it will go to say “Too Loud For The Crowd', or something. And then we go to something from 'Calm Before The Storm', bursting up to 'Rip Ride, or 'The Evil One'. And we created this fucking fantastic medleys and it means that we can now play lots more songs in the live set.
I didn't even think of this question, but have you even thought of playing the song 'At War With Satan' in its entirety?
That was our idea, when we did the album we said it would be great to do the 'At War With Satan' stuff on a stage show. Lots of bands gone out and played their classic albums. I don't think it's ready for Venom just yet. But we do think we will do that one day; pick out all 'Black Metal', pick out all 'Welcome To Hell'… 'At War With Satan' would make a fucking FAN-TASTIC stage show.
Especially the song 'Aaaaaaaarrghh'.
Yeah, it creates fucking insanity for that.
Did you hear the Mpire Of Evil (the new band with Mantas, Annton and former Venom singer Tony Dolan), R.-LoM) works already?
No, I really don't have anything to do with what those guys are up to. So, not a clou.
I will not go into that any deeper, then. You are now the one to use the name Venom (although you have been the last one to join and the first one to step out in the eighties). I agree that Venom without you is hardly legitimate. Did you feel the same about it?
That's the way… we always said to eachother: “whoever wants to continue with the name Venom, and so long as it is Venom, then great!”. That's why when in the end of the eighties and I decided to leave and do other things, I said “the band that I've put together and the songs that we're writing, it's not Venom”. So I decided to change the name of the band and we're gonna be called Cronos. They were trying to keep on putting Venom things together and I just said “good luck to you guys”.
So there are no hard feelings whatsoever?
No, no, not a problem. When Mantas left, me and Abaddon kept going with two other guys. I left, Mantas came back, Abaddon left and I continued with Mantas… whoever really wants to make Venom work. Nobody has any jealousy, we all still love Venom.
So the stories about you guys hating eachother, that's all bullocks?
Yeah, it's bullocks, bullocks. We still have to do business together, we still have deals with the old albums. Ok, we don't hang out. We don't go out for a drink together, we don't socialize, but there's no fights or anything, that's some other shit.
Do you see the November show in Germany as a release party?
Right, yeah! The Christmas party coming up there, that's gonna be insane, on the 26th of November. We're REALLY looking forward to that. It's gonna be one of the biggest indoor metal festivals in Germany.
Will you be doing pyros?
Yes, pyros, stage shows, walk-ways, the whole lot. A couple of weeks before that, we're gonna play Bucharest, which is a place we've never been and they are doing Rock Star Legends festivals with Venom and some unknown bands, because we like to help the young bands to get up there and get started. And in Germany it will be RIPPING the roof off the building. Immortal are really good friends of ours and Immortal will be coming on before Venom. So, it will be a great show.
If you would let me, I would ask probably about a million more questions, but you must go on the next interview. So I thank you humbly for your time and say goodbye for now. Is there anything I forgot to ask about or you would like to say?
Legions, go out and get the new album. If you can't afford to buy it, steal the fucker, hahaha. Thanks very much, my friend! It was nice talking to you, mate.