I have no doubt when I say this; VENOM INC are on fire and have taken the Metal scene by storm bringing younger ages in the crowds. METAL KAOZ had the great opportunity to meet with Abaddon inside the band’s tour bus and had the following Q&A which - as always - turned out like a discussion with a good friend. Check it out.
Hi Abaddon, and once again, welcome to METAL KAOZ! I have to say that it was the first time I got a sunburn while listening to VENOM songs, and I’m referring to your set at the ‘Blackest Of The Black’ festival.
(laughs) That was ridiculous! It was a funny time to go out! Well, it was a funny festival set up by Glenn [Danzig].
Yeah, it was a strange mix of different bands from different genres.
It was strange indeed and I had the chance to talk to Glenn afterwards and he told me that he was thinking about making it more of a European than a US festival which I guess it'd work. He wants to do this every year and I believe it will work. Still, it was funny time for us to play and, as you said, getting sunburnt.
It was a great festival from our point of view so hopefully there will be a second edition next year. So, how does it feel having the finished product in front of view [pointing at the “Avé” vinyl].
It feels good and this is the first time I am seeing the vinyl edition of the album. As you know, I come from a background listening to BLACK SABBATH and LED ZEPPELIN, so I like getting the album with the sleeve, the inserts and the whole package... It is a piece of art, you know and it is very satisfying when you see it finished.
The only complaint I have from vinyls nowadays is that sometimes the picture disc ones do not have as good sound as the black vinyls do so I am hopping this one which is colored will not have any issue.
VENOM’s fanbase are very strong collectors and they will buy anything where a music collector wants to have a vinyl with great sound. So, maybe a record collector who buys all the different colors would probably never play them.
We’re buying records to listen to them.
So, you are music and not record collectors.
Well, yes, and I believe that having an unplayed vinyl is some sort of a sacrilege. You have to place the record on the turntable.
I am a music fan and I am not a record collector too, so I can definitely understand your point of view. But I have friends who are VENOM fans and like to collect everything.
Even bootlegs I imagine.
Yeah, even those and there are quite a lot VENOM bootlegs out there. And I am like "how do you buy these? Their quality is shitty” and their response is something like “It is like a sickness; I will never listen to them”.
I never liked bootlegs but to be honest I kind of miss that time; it was an almost romantic period.
As an artist, this pisses me off but as a collector of DEEP PURPLE I used to buy cassette bootlegs and it would be something their gig from Copenhagen and the quality was shit.
I have some cassette bootlegs too, and yes, you can hear nothing. You hear more the guys talking to each other and the band playing somewhere at the background.
Yeah, the cheapest shittiest cassettes. When we did “At War With Satan” we heard from somebody in Poland and he was very honest about it; he said that people in Poland did not afford to buy the records so what he was doing was announcing that he would play the entire album at a specific time from beginning to end without talking in between the songs and give people the chance to record it.
Ok, let’s talk about the new album; do you have any unreleased material?
I have put forward a lot of stuff and I know that Jeff has done the same so there is a lot of material. What VENOM used to do was putting singles in between albums which were like preambles of the albums. So, maybe if he do this now it will be conscious thing to do because it harks back to these days. Probably if the record wants this we can put together something from that stuff or maybe a re-recorded version of one of these. Either way we have to talk about it.
You said that you have a lot of material; does this mean that it is enough to start planning or even thinking about the next one?
Yeah, at the moment we are in a kind of weird situation; we are still the band playing the old material like “Countess Bathory” but now we are also a band that has put a new record out, so we want to promote it. It is like we are two entities so we have to find a way to mix this. On top of this, if we want to be a professional act and think about the future then we should be thinking about the second album. So, the answer to your question is, yes, we will use that material for the next album.
Have you signed a multi-record deal with Nuclear Blast?
Yes, we have.
How difficult was to choose songs for this tour’s setlist now that you have a new album out?
Well, we do have new songs but we also have the old material that we cannot remove. So, we are changing things like for example in Philly we played “Manitou” which we had not played before and it was ok. It was not brilliant but it was fun. So, we are bringing other songs from the past in the setlist too.
If you were to choose what you’d prefer to play more; the old or the new stuff?
For me, I would lean a bit more towards the old stuff. And this is because that’s what we cut our teeth on. That’s what we grew up with and that’s what people recognizes us for. I mean, if we would be talking to each other after 20 years from now, you could be wearing the “Avé” t-shirt thinking that this is a classic t-shirt and not the “Welcome To Hell” you have on right now.
However, you have to play them to make them classics.
Yes, of course. The new songs need to find their live versions too. I mean, “Welcome To Hell” and “Black Metal” are slower on the record than how we play them live. The VENOM songs find their own way live. And some songs that we used to play live we don’t play any more so some stuff comes and goes. We may have 100 songs to choose what to play live. Also, if we were to play the entire “Avé” album, then people who are not strong VENOM fans or people who had never heard of VENOM other than “Black Metal” and wanted to experience the live thing would be like “I don’t recognize any of this”. When you are 30 or 40 years old you may have seen VENOM live maybe with Cronos and have been in gigs before then you may think like that and want to hear the new material.
I definitely see what you’re saying but I was thinking that since “Avé” came out to be a great album then it is a shame not to give it a fair...
[interrupting] ...chance, yes, we are definitely doing that. Once we relax a bit from all these tour dates, we may do this and even change the old songs we are doing. Right now, it is full on and we are not moving things too much. We have some songs on rotation from B-sides, you know, more obscure songs so choosing the setlist is an organic thing and later on during soundcheck we won’t be panicking too much about the bass or the drums sound, we will know it is going to be good, so we will be able to spend more time sound-checking other songs.
Although, I don’t like getting into this stuff I think I have to ask; do you get a lot of crap from people who like to make comparisons between bands?
We are getting a lot of crap.
And Tony has been really active on Facebook...
He is into Facebook a lot. I think he needs to change his name from Tony “The Demolition Man” to Tony “The Facebook Man” (laughs). It does not annoy me at all and in fact it is fun. I have said it in the past; VENOM is not KISS so we don’t have hundreds of thousands of supporters. We have very loyal supporters and it is perfectly ok to like one band over the other. What we are trying to put forward is “go and see both bands”. You don’t have to say what band is better and you can just have two good nights.
Exactly, and in fact, I have the chance to hear more VENOM songs live from the two bands. If you are doing this right, then I am with you.
Right! A lot of people are comparing “Avé” to “The Very Depths Of Hell”. And I am like “you can do that but it is very redundant since these are two different albums”. These albums were done in different times, different ways and different dreams and expectations. However, you can compare the bands playing live the same songs and choose what version you prefer. That’s interesting.
We would love to see VENOM and VENOM INC on the same billing.
We would do that, we don’t care.
So before started writing new songs, did you sit down to discuss what sound you would like the new material to have?
Jeff had a clear idea of how he wanted the new songs to sound like. We had a very short deadline from the record company and a precise timetable and then the album did not come out for nine months. And we were like why did we push ourselves to finish the album and then wait for all this time... anyway. Jeff was in control and did all the stuff in his place in Portugal, the drum parts were done in Newcastle, UK just by myself something I had not done it in the past. It was weird hearing the guitars and the click track without someone in the room so it was hard for me starting at the wall trying to imagine, you know... I don’t know if you have recorded before...
No, we have never recorded music...
Normally, when you are with the band, you are looking at each other while playing, so it is easy to understand a specific part and respond with your playing.
If you had told me 20 years ago that VENOM would be using a click track to record music I would have laughed...
Yeah, this was first time I did that, and it was very frustrating from the drummer’s point of view and very difficult to do.
You cannot be fed from the energy of the other musicians.
No, there is no energy and just a blank room aside from you and the engineer who is just looking at you. I received the guitar parts in the morning and I was recording drums by dinner time of the same day. I had not hear the songs before, there were no lyrics no vocals and no bass just the finished guitar parts.
So, you did not get the chance to write any songs parts?
Not really, I just added what I could as I went along so it was a very difficult situation.
Do you think this will change for the next album?
I would like to change this for the next one. I want the next album to be more of a band thing and lot more intense.
Yeah, and judging from what we see when the band is onstage there is some great chemistry between you guys and this has to go into the album.
Indeed, it has to get there and comes from working together. You cannot get this reaction from working with a computer... at least, not yet (laughs).
[in unison] and hopefully we will never...
What about the lyrics? Did Tony write everything?
Tony wrote most of them and Jeff did quite a few. They both agreed on, you know, what form would the lyrics take and what the songs will be about. Sometimes it would be just a song title and then Tony would come up with a verse and this is how we always do this; something to get the imagination going or even spark the memory and especially with VENOM song it was a couple of lines like “lay down your soul to the Gods Rock ‘n’ Roll” to get the rest of the lyrics going.
However, the lyrics on “Avé” are more than just saying “Satan this or Satan that”. I mean, there is meaning behind them.
Yeah, in the old VENOM songs it was all about “if you want war, come and get it” and this time it more like the background of why we go to war, so yes, there is this type of depth you are talking about.
Like “I Kneel To No God”; it is not about God but it is all the things that people should not bend the knee about.
Exactly, like bending the kneed to drugs or too much drink or money or whatever.
So, how does it feel becoming a dad?
Oh my! It is outrageous, it is ridiculous. I stayed up until five o’clock in the morning the other day because Rachel was about to take a scan in England and we wanted to Skype, so I could watch.
Can you Skype during that?
Well, as it happens you cannot. The nurse told her that she could not do that because there would be an issue with the equipment. So, in the end I saw only the picture...
Damn... Will this make it more difficult to be on the road?
Yes, although Rachel is young and has a strong family around her. However, we will be moving in a new house which will be a bit farther from her family but we will make it work. When we have to do things like this festival in Scandinavia it will be something like a long weekend but for North US you have to commit for 30 to 40 days. And the same goes for Europe; you don’t go for a couple of days, so you have to think very much about that and work things out.
Speaking about plans what have you planned for next year?
We would like to do tour in South America. We had planned to do something like 20 dates in November, but the English dates come in, so we added them on the program. Although there are not that many English dates.
We never really played in England that much. We never felt that England wanted to see us. Maybe we were too extreme during the 80s and the English audience wanted to see bands like TYGERS OF TAG PANG, you know. Now, things have changed and bands like EXODUS, SLAYER tour every year. However, when we mentioned five shows in South America then other places came asking about having us there. But when we mentioned five shows in the UK, no one else bothered. I was thinking that once we would announce Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh would ask for us but nothing... Then, we announced Manchester and I was expecting, Liverpool. Birmingham and then could do a nice UK tour but, again, nothing. Even Newcastle where we live; I haven’t played in Newcastle since 1984... Even in my hometown where there are so many bands, there was no interest.
Maybe the UK scene is saturated from all these bands?
Sometimes people overlook that bands coming from their country.
Possibly; however, I did get a lot of people asking about not playing in Newcastle, so this is not about there would not be enough people to come to the show; it is all about the fact that there was no promoter asking for getting us there.
What else is on the plan?
We have to go to Australia and New Zealand. The Australians get us so we have to get there. And then we have the North US visa that is valid until August 2018, so we will put another tour before this happens. Since this tour is going great, the management is thinking how to make things better. It is a happy situation.
We see a lot of young faces in the VENOM INC shows.
Yeah, that’s the thing! If we were playing, and let’s not be horrible about this, for only the 40-50 years old people every night, then these people would only come because they got to VENOM when they were are at school. So, when you see all these young people wearing the t-shirts and the jackets as it happen when we were in Japan, it feels like there is a whole new cycle starting up.
It almost felt like we were in the wrong venue for today’s show. Ok, Abaddon we don’t want to keep you more than needed.
Listen man, you have been fantastic and every time we talked, never feels like a difficult thing to do. Thank you, guys! See you inside!