Welcome to Hell, no, welcome to Holland
Abaddon: Hehehe, “Welcome to HELLAND!”
You could see that one coming, didn’t you? I couldn’t resist. How do I call you, individually? I know you like Jeff better than Mantas when we talk…
Jeff: Just Jeff, please
Tony “the Demolition Man” Dolan: Margaret!
Margaret, and then you would be Suey, right?
Abaddon: Yep, that’s all good!
Can I do Abaddon and Tony, because of the 2 Tonys?
Abaddon: Well, that was a thought!
I could have called you Tony and him Demolition Man all of the time, but…
Tony: yeah, but that’s too long, isn’t it?
It is, how did you ever come up with that name, Demolition Man, or THE Demolition Man even?
Tony: We did a show very early with Atomkraft, in the late seventies, into the eighties, I don’t know exactly. And I went to do a bass solo and one of the tech-guys, all my guys were like friends, and one of them decided, in order for me not to unplug the cabinet, he wrapped the lead around the head. So the moment I moved a bit wild, the whole stack fell over. Fortunately, the amps were fucked, but fortunately they weren’t ours, they were Avenger’s, we borrowed them. So yeah, it all just exploded and while they tried to fix them, Steve White, the guitarist, went to the microphone like “Ladies and gentlemen, the demolition man!”. And I consisted after that, ask Jeff, it is safe to say I have broken just about everything
Jeff (with a “oh sure, him again” look upon his face”): just everything, yeah. That includes equipment, human beings…
Abaddon: the tour bus is fucked
Tony: I’m just hopeless
It is not intentionally, right?
Jeff: the human beings are (all laugh)
But when you joined Venom in the late eighties, you could have chosen another stage name, maybe also a Greek mythology name, but you deliberately decided “that’s not me, I am a new guy and”…
Tony: No, no, because the thing is, the whole idea of the Venom thing was the entity of the band. I was a fan too and these were peers of mine, because we were from the same area and we were playing music as well. For me, when Venom broke through that fence and allowed anything else to float through there, it was SO exciting. So when Tony came to my at the end of the Atomkraft tour…
Well, you are Tony now, he is Abaddon
Tony: Yeah, Abaddon sorry, I am Tony (laughs). But Abaddon said come and have a chat. And Cronos left to follow his career in America. And one of the final dates of the Atomkraft tour in Poland, Abaddon was our tour manager and everybody said “fuck, you should play something to him. So I said “why don’t we do ‘Welcome To Hell?”, so he joined us on stage in the finale, we had people from all the bands and when HE came on, everybody went fucking crazy. So when he asked about me joining, I went “fucking hell yeah, that’s brilliant!.
You never felt you stepped into someone else’s shoes at the time, did you, you just wanted to continue Venom, right?
Tony: I never considered that. When you listen to the whole diatribe from “certain people” (Cronos, R-LoM) like, “he was never happy in there and the albums didn’t sell, you know, stuff like that, it was all just bullocks to cover how he felt something was taken from him.
Abaddon: Don’t forget, at that point, he WAS the Demolition Man! He didn’t have to come and be somebody else to be in this band, he was his own person. You don’t stop being Ritchie Blackmore because you join Stixx or something, you’re still Ritchie Blackmore.
Still, when as a kid I first heard a compilation (‘In Memorium’), there were times I couldn’t tell you apart at first, you are quite close together.
Abaddon: Yeah, and Clive was on there too. That was the whole idea, to be fair to everybody and give an equal share on the compilation
Tony: oh you were being fair, was that it?
I remember you saying on that, that it was the biggest compliment you ever got that Bon Jovi said about you “This is the kind of crap that gives heavy metal a bad name”.
Abaddon (laughs loud): ABSOLUTELY, still do. Bon Jovi spoke about us, what did he say? He said we are shite… HE-HEEEEEY (All laugh)
Abaddon, congratulations (he had his 55th birthday two days before the show). Did you ever think you would make it to this age?
Abaddon: Yeah, because I am an optimist! It is just what it is. I don’t consider age to be a thing. The younger guys, there are crazy good drummer out there, crazy speedy, that kind of stuff, but when we first got together, the first thing I noticed, was that it sounded the way the band sounded when we first put it together. It sounds like those early rehearsals in 1979.
Character before youth, right?
Abaddon: Yeah! This sounds the same now, it feels the same and it HURTS just as fucking much as back then (all laugh).
You should have practiced more in those days, it wouldn’t have hurt so much
Abaddon: yeah, I should have practiced more. But if we were just busking it and just be going on the name and blab bla bla bla, it would be a disappointment. But it doesn’t feel like that. Stepping on stage feels like a comfortable place.
Besides, I am a lot younger than you, but out of us four you have by far the most hair.
Abaddon: Maybe on me bullocks! Can’t get rid of that shit. (all laugh)
Well, if you don’t mind, we keep that a mystery
Abaddon: well, alright (smiles)
What have you been up to, the last fifteen years? No one, including these guys, even knew where you were.
Abaddon: I just stepped away from this thing. It wasn’t something I was really interested in. I did stuff with my own band, Abaddon, I did different versions of the band and I messed about with songs and there was a big clutch of songs. We did one album and there was no attempt to be a band, we didn’t do live shows, it was only about the recording.
But apart from that, that doesn’t pay the bills I assume.
Abaddon: Oh no, I’ve been doing jobs, you know, just day jobs, normal jobs like everybody else, you gotta pay the bills.
Ok, let’s keep that a mystery too then. Tony, how did this cooperation came to be, as I understand you guys were not in touch with Abaddon?
Tony: Strangely, when Antton (the first drummer of M:Pire Of Evil, Cronos’ brother, R.-LoM) was out, we got somebody else to come in. But everybody on the net was just going “where is Abaddon? You got to get Abaddon”, and I hadn’t thought of that. When JXN, our next drummer, when he left, we got an Italian drummer, again exactly the same thing about Abaddon. And there was a lot going on about them reuniting as a three-piece with Cronos. And they made attempts to try and see if it was possible. These guys would find ways to make it work, but Cronos didn’t wanna know. He had control over the whole thing, he was making his money with it, he wanted to keep it and didn’t want them to be a part of it, he didn’t want anyone coming in and destroying it. So because of his pony ride with it, they almost didn’t exist, he acted like he invented the world and the planets and the stars, but no one said “you aren’t who you were and you weren’t part of something of that with a huge character", nobody is saying that! But there was a whole entity that involves these (points his thumbs to Jeff and Abaddon) people. So I guess it
was in the back of my head a bit already.
Abaddon: the big point about the band is, I personally… I don’t like playing drums. There, I’ve said it. It is a really hard thing to do and it hurts like hell.
You now know what the main quote of the interview is going to be, right?
Abaddon: Yeah, hahaha. Well, don’t put it in then. Nah, fuck it, put it in, but don’t get it out of context. But, I like being part of the band, I like being in the group, I like being with these people. I like that SO much and that is why I do this. And Cronos doesn’t get that. He doesn’t get sharing and being part of something, he doesn’t get just doing his part and let somebody else do another bit, which makes his part better. And that’s why his band now looks like him with two guys. Brilliantly good drummer, great guy, good guitar player, great guy, but it’s Cronos with two guys. He won’t let them be a part of it.
That is not his part of the story, he said he forced the other guys to be involved in the last record.
Abaddon: trust me, we all live in Newcastle, it is a very small place.
Was doing this band now a classical no-brainer?
Tony: well no, it then transpired to, Oliver, of the Keep It True Festival had a part. I saw Abaddon’s presence coming up on social media, I saw he was present there and I thought “I can at least contact him”. I was playing an Atomkraft show and I invited Jeff on stage and Abaddon was in the audience. So Oliver asked if he could book us as M:Pire Of Evil or the Keep It true festival, but he also said “I’ve got an idea, if you want to go for it. When you play and I can get Abaddon there, would you be able to do a couple of Venom songs?”. But it was not that kind of thing when Jeff played with us and I just laid it off a little bit and he went on about us playing a couple of Venom songs with Abaddon and I was like “Yeah, I can’t see why not”, just for the fans. Then it evolved from there, we split the set into half and half. And we knew and everyone knew a Venom reunion is not gonna happen, but it’s NOT fair for these two people, who were part of my heritage and everyone’s lineage of what Venom is, not to be seen together.
That is always the thing, the frontman is always the image of the band, right? Justified or not, it is just how it works
Jeff: I tell you this, I’ve been saying this in every interview and I keep rhyming this shit home. Cronos was the LAST person to join Venom. He was invited into the band by ME.
Because of the position he had in the recording studio, right?
Jeff: yeah, we needed a rhythm guitarist, he was working at the studio, I was already in that studio with the other guitarist and we couldn’t afford to go in and we were like “Oh, that might be an inroad in". So he was invited, the band was already in existence, the songs were already written. I got a call from our old manager, who had been working with Twisted Sister. And he was asked by the promotor if he was still in touch with Venom. They were thinking about a Venom reunion. And I was reluctant, I didn’t know if it would work. So, I spoke to him and said “I am willing to talk, but personally I’ve got massive reservations about it and I don’t think it will happen”. I didn’t think it would happen, because in 2005 I gave Cronos permission to use the Venom name. Verbally, nothing signed, verbally.
That was when you had other things on your mind (Jeff’s mother was seriously ill at the time), right?
Jeff: Yeah, everybody knows the story, now. But people need to know the truth. So when we were doing the M:Pire stuff a lot of people were talking about a Venom reunion. And I was FUCKING sick of hearing it. I hadn’t contacted Abaddon, we hadn’t spoken since 1998 and I was absolutely up to the back teeth with this Venom thing. So I sent Cronos an e-mail and I wanted to see what he thinks. So I laid out all my points and reservation, everything I thought. I said “I am NOT talking to any fucking management, I am talking to YOU personally as somebody I’ve known on and off for thirty something years”. I got an e-mail back, a very polite e-mail, which said “I think we are all very different people, we had a great time doing it, but I’ve got no interest in doing a Venom reunion”. In my e-mail I said “If you are not gonna do it, I’ll issue a statement”. At the end of his e-mail he said he thought it was a good idea I’d make that statement and that puts it to bed and that’s it. It’s not gonna happen. Let the people forget about it and stop talking about it. The next interview that he did, there was fucking VITRIOLIC, foul-mouthed attacks on me personally like “fuck him, he’s a girl, he’s this, he’s that, he’s been sacked from twenty bands in the last six months”. And I went “Right, gloves are fucking off now, pawl”. That’s it, I’ve had it up to the fucking eyes with this shit. I am absolutely fucking sick of it.
You don’t even seem like the kind of guy to pick up gloves, even though you have this martial arts thing behind you…
Jeff: oh no, I am a pacifist, I am the quietest guy in the band.
The main feuds were always with you Abaddon, right?
Abaddon: yeah, yeah, when it came to pushing and pulling it was always us. Quite the opposite of how Jeff was. I said very early on, I believe that if three people are in the same room and two people are having a head to head and the third person comes down on one side or the other, you’ve got to convince me that I’m wrong. But in the end of the day I will agree you were right. At the same time, I will also come back afterwards going “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, you were wrong” if it goes wrong. And Cronos doesn’t work like that, he want to push your buttons all the time.
Tony, this is about the biggest any band you have ever been in at the moment, right?
Tony: oh yes, and the point is, none of it was ever planned. Now, none of it is planned. What is happening? We don’t know, we just let it happen
Abaddon: that’s the Venom thing, outside of music. Stuff happened quickly, stuff happens and we don’t have any control over it. When all starts rolling, we understand that, because it happened the first time around. You pick it up and run with it, you’re fortunate.
But besides the experience you have, you also have your lives at home I assume and all of the sudden you have to jump unto this and leave behind what you have
Jeff: that was very difficult for me. I am very happy with my girlfriend and I live in a very, very small village in Portugal, we are the only English in the village and I’ve got such a quiet, settled life. And it is very difficult for me to leave.
Other than that, I assume at home you have sources of income you have to park?
Jeff: no, no, this is it.
Abaddon: we have thrown everything into this.
Tony: if it is real, you’ve got to commit to it. And that means you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
Jeff: that’s the difference between us and other band from the Newcastle area. They love the idea of being out on the road. But when it comes to “there’s your guitar, you are gonna to be away from home for two months”, they usually draw back. I don’t know if we are crazy, or we got an absolute passion for this, but we were the first ones to say “let’s go, let’s go and do it”, but it is hard. I love performing, but I hate the travel and all the bullshit (not the interviews). I am not a social as Tony, who is very social. I’ll meet the fans and I love that, but I am naturally more introvert. When you see me on stage, that is not me, that’s something I let happen. Which is good, because that’s a release and I think I would go crazy without that.
Or you would go crazy if you were like that all of the time
Jeff: oh if I was like that all of the time, like somebody else we know who is, I couldn’t be like that.
Abaddon laughs continuously during this statement.
I think I can assume who you mean here, but I am not picking sides or anything
Jeff: oh no, please, we are not asking ANYBODY to take sides. All we are saying is the truth from our side, I am not ranting out to him. I would end up having a fucking heart attack if I would be at it all of the time.
Tony, I know these guys have their issues with him, but you are so social that if anyone could mend it, it would be you, you could be friends with anybody, right?
(Jeff points to Tony with a face that say “NO WAY, NOT HIM”).
Tony: I’ve always been very respectful of them. It’s him, he’s got a hang up about me, but he’s always had a hang up about me. I don’t know what it’s based on, I can guess a few things, but it’s just how it is. For me, it’s just do your thing, do it well and DON’T spend your time winging about everything. If it is THAT good what you are doing, just focus on that. In the end of the day, there is a fan.. I don’t give a fuck if Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris sleep with each other and they love each other and it’s the best sex they ever had. Is the album any good and is the concert any good?. That’s what I am buying in to, I am not buying into any of the bullshit, it’s the music in the end of the day. And the fans are bored of reading constant winging.
I also have a few guesses on his point to you, which is the copycat accusation. What did you feel when people first called you that?
Abaddon: that was SO long ago that people said that and it was so short lived, because we did a fucking great album. My favourite album was ‘Prime Evil’. We did a FFFFUCKING great album. The whole excitement began again, but back then we were better players as well. And nobody is saying that about Tony this time.
No, no, no, I am not saying that. What not many people realize, is that the lyrical contents of Venom and M:Pire Of Evil are closer to you and your look at the world than it might seem, right? The sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll and Satanism aspect of it. What does Satanism mean in your eyes?
Tony: Yeah, if I step in and I’m singing ‘In League With Satan’, that particular song, we played it when we were on tour with Master, Paul Speckmann (Master) said to us “I had a band, we were playing all this shit and one of the guitarists came in and let us listen to something. It was the seven inch single of ‘In League With Satan’ and I went straight back to my house and changed the whole band, I don’t know what it is, but this is what I wanna do”. That was a moment for him and if I myself am on that stage and I don’t like it any bit as much as the fans, I couldn’t give you that feeling. Than I am not doing my job and I am not doing these guys justice. I am me, and I am gonna do it like me, but I will try and give you the feeling and the meaning of the song. The atmosphere they created that I have experienced as well.
But were you already into the Satanic background by that time?
Tony: well yeah, it was all around and a part of that youth culture scene that I was in. But yes, there was quite a thing going on with the Church Of Satan and I am an affiliate member. I do consider myself a Satanist in the eye of the ideology. I don’t dance around a tree naked (smiles). I do that, but that has nothing to do with it as such (all laugh).
You didn’t feel the urge to leave after the death of Anton LaVey, like some people have?
Tony: No, it is because of the ideology. It’s the idea of when you are nice to everybody, that it is coming back to you. If Satan would walk the face of the earth, he wouldn’t be dressed in red and have big horns and a tail, he’d be the nicest guy to you and he’d be looking after you…
Abaddon: REALLY? No tail? Surely a tail?
Well, I am wearing a pony tail now…
Tony: Lucifer was the bringer of light. And if people come to me and say I have affected them in any way, that is bringing them light. It’s about sharing. But, if somebody wants to fuck with me, I will fuck ‘em. I am not a fuckee, I am a fucker. And the same guy who I have been really nice to, if he stands on my toes, I’ll bury him.
”An eye for an eye”, right?
Tony: I don’t want to, but… an eye for an eye, exactly. Don’t affect us when I don’t affect you. And that is the same shit with these guys and Cronos. We said nothing, five years we said nothing, we’ve been totally respectful and everything, but he kept calling us names. We said come to our house, knock on the door, make sure you’ve got your fighting clothes on and let’s do it. If you are not prepared, just shut up. In the meantime let the fans enjoy it and be happy.
Mantas & Abaddon, what is it about him? I heard people say that the drug really violated his personality
Abaddon: to be fair, everybody has been tampering with drugs, right?
Well, me not that heavily, actually.
Abaddon: well ok, but the person he became is really bad, he is schizophrenic. He stands in doorways and listening to people’s conversations and 99% of the time it is not about him, but he thinks it is all of the time. Then when you add fucking acid to that, what you’re gonna get, you’re gonna get a fucking maniac.
Jeff: one of the saddest things for me is, at one point myself and Cronos were really close. We used to train together, we were always at each other’s houses, coming up with ideas, stuff like that
Tony: and he was a funny guy, wasn’t he?
Jeff: yeah, yeah, he was always joking around. I tell you when it changed, after the success of ‘Black Metal’. That success was overnight. When ‘Black Metal hit and everything just went CRAZY, that was it.
Abaddon: we can sit here talking to you for you magazine and act like stars and go “yeah, fucking look at me, I’m fucking Abaddon”. That’s crazy. We want the magazines make us look like crazy guys, that’s all part of it, but the next time I see you I want to look you in the eye and have a beer with you. You’ve got to be able to peel that off. He thinks that is keeping it real, by acting like that all of the time. Take it off, relax. Let go on stage if you like.
Tony: yeah, we always take care of our fans. We had a sold out show in Canada and some fanclub members, of Deepest Hell, they didn’t make it, so we put them on the guest list. It was special moment for them, while for us, we didn’t have many guests on the guest list, it was easy enough to do.
You put this Satanic heritage into a realistic approach, I think. Wouldn’t it be a great idea of you put the true meaning of Satanism into a movie script one day, you’d be the perfect guy for it?
Tony: oh absolutely. Definitely. We have all these ideas, but they never got realized. I think it should be done, yeah. And we’ll do the soundtrack. But it is not easy to find the time to write a screen play. But I have not totally given up on acting.
Abaddon, would you consider writing new material with these guys?
Abaddon: yes absolutely, it is going to happen. But we just keep saying yes to everything that’s being thrown at us at the moment, so we don’t have much time to write.
That’s bullocks, I know you Jeff have enough material for at least three albums lying around somewhere, don’t you?
-- Jeff nods --
Tony: when we were writing the M:Pire album, we already started working on new material, before the Venom Inc thing came in the picture. But it’d be nice to have something ready towards the end of the summer. And we are already shooting a DVD about this thing, so be sure to be on it.
What (Mantas) do you think is the appeal to this project? You have been out with Tony a while, you have been playing classics, but all of the sudden, this explodes.
Jeff: Honestly, I think it’s the music.
Well, there must be more to it that, you have been playing this longer, but the way this now takes on…
Jeff: well, in that case I’ll answer the question in the same way I answer the questions about how I got my sound. I don’t know. It comes naturally. It’s not a contrived effort. I go on stage, I do what I do, when I write songs, I do what I do, that’s it. It’s weird, I’m getting more praise for my playing now than ever. I don’t consider myself to be a great guitarist.
Well, I think there is a great difference between a great guitar player and a guitar hero. A great guitarist can play just three notes and it’s be awesome.
Jeff: well exactly. I’ve always been the same. The Malmsteens and the Satrianis and the Vais, they are absolutely incredible, but when I hear Gery Moore or Dave Gilmour play one note and you are just sucked in.
Tony: you can have another guy play his guitars, or his drums, but you can’t untie it from the character that comes with it.
Same story with Metallica, you can say about Lars what you want, but if they had Dave Lombardo as their drummer, it would never have gotten this big
But when you, Jeff, wrote ‘Black Metal’ and inspired so many bands and even a new genre, what does that do to you?
Jeff: it is overwhelming! It is absolutely overwhelming. I’ve played with so many band now and when bands and fans come over and say “man, without you, it would have been so much different”. I honestly do not know what to say. All I can say is thank you, I am just a guy from Newcastle who wrote some tunes and people dig them. I just can’t get my head around that. But at the same point, I met KK Downing (Judas Priest) I would be exactly the same. “You changed my fucking life”. I met Rob Halford twice and I was nervous both times. I met fans who couldn’t speak to me, physically fucking shaking. It’s nice to have that respect from people, but my feet are firmly on the ground, I know who I am, I am not going to be different about it. I got a phone call from the journalist Joel McGiver a few years ago. And I had done a few bits and pieces for Joel, who wrote the Metallica biographies, and he was doing a book called ‘The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarist’. When he called me I assumed he was going to ask me if I would write some stuff, as obviously it is going to KK, and Glen and Zakk Wylde, Frank Marino and guys like that. But he said “No, no, no, no, no, you’re in, you’re in the book!”. And I went “Ooh, fuck off!!! Me?”. And even now when I think about it, I put the phone down and I told my girlfriend that I was among the 100 greatest heavy metal guitarists. I could not comprehend it.
Tony: that’s what I love about these guys. This is the reason why I wanted to make this happen, when they are not recognised for the role they had, as individuals, that’s a huge thing. They influenced so many people, but they are very humble about it. They are the first people to criticize themselves. But the influence that you have, on so MANY people, fucking hell, and the credits they give them. You know, Metallica is Metallica, they could eat gold for the rest of their lives, but you see both Lars and James proudly wearing, PROUDLY WEARING their ‘Welcome To Hell’ shirts.
Jeff: can I interrupt there. I met the Metallica guys for the first time in 25 year, it was 2009. I sort of know Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel (Machine Head). And Robb called me and they were supporting Metallica and he asked if I wanted to come over. But I didn’t have tickets. So I watched Machine Head, I love Machine Head…
This sums it up, you saying you can’t go because you don’t have tickets
Jeff: I don’t ring up and say “Hey, I’m Mantas from Venom, I want tickets for me waiting at the door, I’d feel embarrassed.
Abaddon: me too, I paid money to see W.A.S.P. last week, I don’t know why, but I did.
Jeff: So Robb invited me after their set and Robb and me were singing along to songs like ‘Seek & Destroy’ like two little kids. And afterwards I heard one of the security guys say “Mantas” and Lars looked up, ran up to me and threw his arms around me…
Yep, he is known to do that to guys.
Tony: yeah, it had nothing to do with you, hahaha.
Jeff: James came out and we’ve been chatting for a while. And I was explaining to Lars that what happened was merely because we don’t get along with each other and it was a mess. And James was standing to my right and he said (in a low pitched voice) “Yeah, but great songs man!”, and that meant more to me. To hear that from Metallica, and they deserve every bit of success they’ve got, because they work so fucking hard.
Tony: And Rob, the bass player in Metallica, and WHAT a great bass player, what a class act, he was smiling excited, saying “I just met Mantas”. That’s who you are, Jeff.
I am rounding this up. Please take your time to close the interview down, each one!
Jeff: for me personally I say it like I say it to ALL the fans in all the concerts, and I will say it again tonight on stage. The only words I’ve got for the fans are THANK YOU! Because, the fans are the most important part of the music industry. They are the life blood, the oxygen, without them guys in that tent, who pay money for their tickets, or for their CD, or even for turning up, that’s gold dust to us and I can never thank them enough. They mean the world to me.
Abaddon: I just want people to come and see us. If a band feels real, sounds real, people will get that. You’ll get something you understand.
Tony, the pressure is now on you to top that and take the famous last words!
Tony: All the respect these guys and we are now getting from the fans, it can be seen as some sort of diatribe, but it’s not. It’s about what WE are and the feeling that emulates from that. And I just wanna say to everybody to keep their mind open. Music is not politics, if you feel it and it’s real for you, let yourself experience it. Thanks for the interview man, brilliant.
Abadon: yeah man, absolutely, thanks!