Venom – From the Depths of HellSunday, 25th January 2015
Dead Rhetoric: Venom originated in the late 70’s as one of the most extreme acts in the NWOBHM movement – is it hard to balance out the band’s personal wishes in terms of image, outlook and songwriting against what the faithful, long term followers desire?
Rage: No, there are certain things that Venom have to do and other things we can’t do. We couldn’t do a jazz album – we would get lynched for this. We like to do things that are comfortable and make the band comfortable. People in the band still have the same belief as we did in 1979- it’s just different people. If you speak to 10 people, they may think one way – but 10 others have a different opinion. You can’t please everybody at the same time. We do what we do- we don’t want to be seen as a nostalgia act, as that would be wrong for the band. I look at the original pictures with the leather, the studs, and the weapons- but then even that changed. If you look at Venom during 1984-1985, Jeff (Mantas) used to wear the karate costume on stage and that was very different from the leather and chains. He progressed, he changed, and then things change. Even during the reunion, things changed. The whole point of Venom is a thing of freedom, dress how you want, look how you want, there are no rules and regulations. It would be silly if we tried to look like the band in 1979. I don’t think I would fit into those tight leather outfits anyways! (laughs)
Dead Rhetoric: What is Cronos like as a person off stage that separates him from his persona on stage?
Rage: He’s no different – he comes into rehearsals covered in blood, like he’s just killed three people and he breathes fire (laughs). Cronos and Conrad are two different people. Conrad is my friend, my compadre, very easy going and driven. He gives us free reign and treats us like equal members. He doesn’t overrule anything. You can’t have Venom without Cronos. Cronos is a Satanic master, the fans built him up and you can feel it. Even back stage we are chatting about the show, I see the change straight away like the light switch has been turned. You have to become larger than life, there are bands that can get away with milling about in the public, but I know Venom is not like that. Similar to Judas Priest, it gives the fans someone to look up to. They seemed above me, not as human beings but as performers. I think that’s good because it gives you something to aim for – that push. You have to have goals in life and that motivation, he’s very inspirational as a person, the lyrics he’s talking about, asking for our opinions. Conrad is a driven man and Cronos is everything you think he is and more.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us a special fan encounter you’ve had in Venom through the years – as I would imagine there are times that the level of passion certain people have for the band can be taken to the extreme…?
Rage: Yes, they don’t call fans fans for nothing, its short for fanatic. People can become completely fanatical; the first time we went down to South America in 2009, the first gigs with Danté but I couldn’t have built him up for what happened. We got mobbed at the airport when we first arrived, I’d never seen that before. When we played in Chile the crowd was so loud that we had to stop playing. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been in the crowd and sung along with bands, and you just think it’s just me, but you don’t realize how much power you have. South America was the eye opener. I don’t sense any negativity, people thank me for joining the band. I want to make those kids proud, I want them to be going to work saying, ‘yeah, I’m a Venom fan!’ and that they don’t care what people say about them. I want them to have a really good show. When we did the Maryland Death Fest, the response there was unreal too. Different fans have different sort of feelings, the French are reserved so they enjoy it that way. Americans are mad, South Americans are passionate, European are so hardcore. Being warmly accepted in South America was special.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the blitz of instant technology and the speed of information that penetrates us from all sides these days?
Rage: The Internet… it’s become a bit of monster. In one respect it’s great, in the 1970’s and 80’s, we didn’t have the Internet, if we wanted to learn something you talked to people or read a book, you had to actively search to find information and it was mysterious. Especially when it came to finding out what guitar pedals are, what strings does Ritchie Blackmore use: you would have to go to a concert to see it in person. You didn’t know much about these people, now with the internet you have everything in your home. The internet is a portal to the rest of the world, it’s brilliant for that respect and you can connect. I’ve met a lot of people on the road, you can phone them up which costs money, I’m friends with Jeff Waters of Annihilator so I can e-mail him now, I can Skype, I can talk to fans online from South America. You can reach a lot of people. In music it takes away a bit of the mystery, people know everything about you. People will say ‘I want to know what Kerry King had for lunch on Tuesday’, and then they will go on the Internet to find this out. It’s nice to have a little bit of mystery about people, I know you asked about what Cronos is like, little mysteries like that – some people online find this a little bit too personal. Things move so fast, technology can make human beings go a little bit backwards. People aren’t trying, all these phones strapped to their ears- put the phone down and have a look around the world a little bit. The beauty of the world, you can take a little bit of a breather.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve had to deal with tour cancellations in recent years due to visa/ government denials. How frustrating is it to put in all this leg work in advance only to be denied entry at the last minute?
Rage: Actually we’ve been okay, we’ve never been denied a visa, its more from the promoter end of things. A couple of years ago in Brazil he didn’t provide the paperwork. You can’t just walk in to have a visa. The Metal Open Air festival in April of 2012, it all went down because the guy didn’t process our visa applications. That’s annoying because it wasn’t the country that won’t let you in, it’s one person that hasn’t done their little bit of work. The promoter thought it would cost too much, the second time the promoter didn’t have enough money, so he cancelled Carcass, Onslaught, Destruction, and we had no option. I have my passport on me now with a Brazilian visa, we were all packed and ready to go. That’s just not right for the fans – you have promoters who are trying to put these concerts on and they don’t have the proper money. They think they will be able to swing it through ticket sales- you have to have the money to start with. Cancellations have happened through really poor organization. We didn’t want to cancel, up to the last minute we were working to get this to work. If (the promoter) won’t pay for flights or hotels, we can’t get into the country. We’ve toured South America successfully, and we will go anywhere as long as the promoters do the right thing. They have to make sure the bands get equipment covered, it isn’t good to do a concert with a little amplifier and half the gear, that’s not good enough for the fans or us.
Dead Rhetoric: What are the plans for Venom over the course of 2015 as far as shows, festival appearances, and possible videos down the line?
Rage: We’ve got 5 festival appearances that are already booked, and we are in talks with some more. I’d like to do more gigs in the United States, even if we did a few like at the House of Blues venues. We are trying to get things tied up, we may do some South American shows in 2015. There are a lot of places we would like to go back to, it’s just putting things into place. There are a lot of rock bands playing concerts at once, package tours. It would be great to get a package together with Judas Priest, Motörhead, and us, that would be great for Europe or the United States. Lemmy’s health concerns would be the issue.
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