If Grinch was the one who stole Christmas, then it is Cronos who destroyed all the Xmas celebrations... Yeah, VENOM put three new songs on vinyl and that is the best present a child or a grown-up should be asking to find under the tree (before letting it bursting out in flames...). METAL KAOZ had the honor and the privilege to have Cronos on the other side of the Skype connection and talked about the upcoming VENOM LP and the plans to have some special live shows in 2018. Scroll down and see what was discussed.
Hello Cronos, how are you?
Excellent, my friend!
Thank you very much for accommodating my time zone to do this interview.
No problem, man, how’s the sunny Chicago? (laughs)
It is not sunny at all and it is freezing.
Well, we got the same shit here, it is fucking Christmas! (laughs)
Yeah, I love doing a VENOM interview during Xmas.
[Grunting] Black Christmas...
How was the show in Eindhoven?
Fucking excellent, my friend! We always love playing in Holland; Holland is a really small place and, you know, they do not get all the great festivals like it happens in Germany, so whenever we play there, it is really special. There was a short break in the set and I talked a bit to the crowd and I reminded them that the first ever VENOM’s Legions members were from Holland. Back in 1982, VENOM did the first sort of real concert outside England, so we did a gig in Belgium with two bands, PICTURE and ACID, and in the afternoon when we were setting up, two people came up to us (a guy and a girl) wearing all these VENOM patches. And man, they had everything VENOM-related; from magazine interviews, singles, everything and this was before we had released “Black Metal” so - you know - we were just starting out and everything was new to us. In fact, we gave these guys a mention on the back of the “Black Metal” album something like “thanks to Inge and Harm” and that was the start of an amazing relationship that we have with our fans over the years. We named them Legions straight away because this people became more and more… To me, Legions are the best fans in the world; they have stayed with us through thick and thin and during times when the band was not that popular. You know, when bands like PANTERA came out and suddenly everybody wanted to be like PANTERA, so they had the 15 minutes of fame (laughs) and it was back to VENOM again. So yeah, I wanted to remind these guys that they were the first.
Awesome! A kind of funny question now; what can we find “100 Miles From Hell”?
Hehe, 1000 days in Sodom and 100 miles from Hell (laughs). Well, you know, we wanted to do something for the fans because we are really taking our time with the new album and I have to tell you that the writing process has been incredible. When we put the band together in 2009, I said the guys “I want to get this band on the road, so I want to make sure that the band plays well together, travels well together” and all this; so what I was looking to do was to form a real band. The guys that I had for the “Metal Black” album were never meant to be in VENOM forever; they were really helping me to get VENOM into the 21st century and bring this new breath of fresh air. So, I wanted to make sure that this lineup would work and I had nothing but success after success with these guys because they have been so passionate and straight away, they learned all the albums. They were coming to rehearsals and I was like “what about “Women, Leather And Hell” or “Lady Lust”” and I was amazed that they really had done their homework. When it came to writing the album, they were expecting to learn songs that I had written and my response was: “yeah, we can do that but I would be more interested to hear what you guys have”. And they said, “we don’t really know VENOM, you’re the man” blah blah... but I said “how do you know? Give me some ideas and we’ll see what you’ve got”. This is how it started with some ideas, a drum roll, a guitar riff and that album, “Fallen Angels” came out great and everyone was happy. For “From The Very Depths”, Danté and Rage came back with more ideas and this relationship got stronger and stronger.
Making songs is what’s important; when I met people like Dave Growl or Phil Anselmo they were saying that it is the songs that make VENOM and it is not just making noise. And this is because my background is ROLLING STONES, THE WHO, JETHRO TULL, THE BEATLES so it is all about the songs, the songwriting. Of course, we will make songs all about mayhem, destruction and all that, but in the end of the day we are songwriters. In the last album, everybody was going fucking nuts about tracks like “Smoke” so we can do the mayhem but we are also allowed to do things you don’t expect and try different styles to really evolve Black Metal. Because, I never wanted for Black Metal to stand still; I could not be in a band playing the first two albums over and over again. That’s not for me, you know, I want to see what’s next. So, because we wanted this third album [with this lineup] to be fuckin’ awesome, it has taken a lot longer and I am not going to apologize for that because I will not release any shitty albums. I want every album to be the best we can possibly make, but the fans are like “where’s the album?” so we decided to give three of the songs from the new record as a little teaser to show the direction we are going. We throw the titles in a hat and we pulled those three songs and I think this is a good combination; we got “100 Miles To Hell”, a well-constructed song, with a nice power melody, a good theme, a hook like “Welcome To Hell” or “Die Hard”, you know, there is a good chorus. Next, we chose a track with mayhem that’s “Beaten To A Pulp” and then for a classic Speed Metal type with “We The Loud” one for the Legions. So, this is a cross-section of what is yet to come.
Is there any connection between “We The Loud” and “Too Loud For The Crowd”?
Of course there is; I love writing songs about concerts; “Black Metal” is about a concert; “Black is the night Metal we fight, power amps set to explode” it is about being up there playing the music fast and loud with crowd going crazy like “Hammerhead”, you know, fists punching in the air. I love writing songs that the Legions we think “hey, that’s about me; I am there doing that”. So, yeah, “We The Loud” is like saying “we are the loudest”, “we are the best”, “we are the most fuckin’ extreme”.
Speaking about songwriting, there is a killer solo on “100 Miles To Hell”; there are some really nice NWOBHM melodies there.
Good, I am glad that you say this, man. Trying new ideas and experimenting can become a bit scary for us because we go to areas that we don’t know if people are going to like it or not. So, all we can do is do our best. When I released “Welcome To Hell”, I was shitting my pants because I was thinking that everyone would say it was crap, so when people say “hey, this is amazing” the feeling we get is amazing and I want to keep getting this. Half of the fun when releasing music is that you don’t know what will happen; will people like this? Will we be able to play this stuff live... fuckin’ Hell, if your every day job was so easy and so boring, you may as well lie in your box and die. If you cannot do exciting stuff in your life, then you really lose the point. You should always try to do things that are scary and different.
You know, hearing you so excited about the new album makes me even more excited. So, to make it clear; will the songs on the EP be also in the new record?
We may have like 30 songs sitting there and will they make it in the new album? I am not sure at this stage; I mean, until we reach the point to hand over the album to the record company, we are not sure what songs will make it. The thing is, Dimitri, it’s a bit the laugh of the gods, you know; you can make plans for things but you should be also flexible. When I am writing songs in my little studio and have a new idea, I may be thinking “this is the greatest song I’ve ever written” and by the time the guys are playing it and we recording the vocals we may think “actually this is shit”. And this can happen the other way around; coming up with an average idea but the moment we try that in the rehearsal, it sounds incredible. So, you can never tell; you should just follow your heart and your instincts. Let time decide because it is music and it is on the eye of the beholder whether you like it or not. It is absolutely fine if I release some songs and people don’t like them because how can I increase VENOM’s experience if I don’t take a chance? Hopefully, things will get better and better –and I would not want it any other way – but I always like to take a chance and have the freedom to try new ideas and shock people. VENOM has always been controversial and the kind of band that you’d never know what will do next. So, on the next album I will be singing like Classical Opera... (laughs)
I’d love to see Cronos singing like that (laughs)… but that’s not going to happen and we both know it.
Do you have a rough time schedule in mind about when the new album will go out?
It will be in 2018; right now, we are putting down our last ideas and I believe that at some point you need to stop writing new stuff and concentrate on what you got. We’ve writing this one since we completed the last album, so it is time to focus on the songs we have. What I will say though is that I will hand over the album to the record label maybe before the summer and I think it will be released in autumn.
It is been a long time since the last EP release by VENOM and I’d love to see more releases like “100 Miles To Hell” (especially on vinyl) in the future.
Well, I’d like that to and it is impossible. However, it is not like the ‘80s when there were a lot of pressing plants everywhere and everyone could press whatever they wanted. In fact, we have big problems with this one and it was getting into the cue of the amount of people printing vinyl. The initial plan was to release this EP during Spring and have it ready for the ‘Sweden Rock’ show, but it was pushed back due to this issue. That’s the way the music business is nowadays, my friend.
Yeah, I know. You said that you want to take VENOM on the road and you have already announced some festival dates for 2018, so my question is this; I am in the US, so what are my chances to see VENOM live? Is there any chance to see the band crossing the Atlantic?
The problem when you become a well-known musician is that you cannot just enter the US without getting stopped with everything getting searched. This means that we need to get Visas and working permits to get there which all are very expensive and take a long time to get. I will be honest with everybody and say it is all about the money at the end of the day; you cannot schedule one show in the US without the money to cover all these expenses. Everybody knows that a gig in the States for a European band is very expensive. Now, there are a lot of bands that are so well-known who travel in through different airports saying that they just visiting to see some friends, they do not take any equipment with them and stay under the radar. If these guys get caught, they can go to jail and there are a lot of band touring the US like that. Look what happened to Dani Filth; he got stopped and got a 10-year ban because he was going to the US without a work permit and was caught. I am far too well-known to do this, because every time I go the States and even when we did the ‘70000 Tons Of Metal’ show and that was us just passing through to get on a boat, we still got the full treatment; all the bags, the gear and the paperwork were checked. We’re staying in customs for hours and hours and you may think that for someone like me who has been in the States since the ‘80s, they would know everything about me by now, but every time they check all this. But the bands that are not that well-known, they are taking the risk and good luck to them, but what they’re doing is hurting the big bands that cannot tour. And really it is not the band’s but the government’s fault because we are under the microscope, and unless we do the Visa thing, we’re fucked.
Trust me, I know all the pain about getting a Visa. For the ‘Party San’ festival in Germany you have announced that you’ll do a special show, so what is that?
It is going to be a show that nobody has seen before. We’ve got some new ideas that we’ve trying to put together for quite a few years and Germany is a great place to trying new stuff. The German Legions have been so hardcore for VENOM which is fantastic, so we are going to put together something awesome. It is not going only to be the usual drum riser with the 4x12 cabinets; it is going to be a really good show and obviously we’re not going to tell everybody what we are doing because we don’t want to spoil the surprise. This will be the VENOM show you won’t wanna miss. Although, if it was up to me, I would love to do this special show in every place we are going to play in 2018. So, let’s see how this will work out and right now I am talking to a production company to see how we can do this for every show. Maybe some shows will be more than others but all of them will be special in some way.
Are you talking only about festivals or about a full tour?
It is not going to be a tour because it would not work for an entire tour. Unless we were playing in huge places like IRON MAIDEN, because you cannot do this stuff in small venues. We are still negotiating shows, so we will be adding more.
One more question that is relating to touring; how much do you think Brexit will affect the bands traveling around?
Hopefully not too much; I mean, everybody here is talking about things remaining the same but one thing that will happen, as we already discussed, for the US is the Visas. And this is what we will have to do if we go through Brexit; you know, get a Visa for Germany, another for France and so on. So, that will be the worst thing, but in the end of the day, you have to look at the big picture; we are going through Brexit and it is going to happen and will bring a lot jobs to England, a lot of the industry we lost and as for the country, this will be fantastic. As an individual, well, we’ll have to wait and see. We will have to find a way to work with this. VENOM always said that all the money we get from doing shows, we will put it onto the show and this is something I am proud to say that it’s true. There are a lot of bands out there that go out there in their jeans and t-shirts and put all the money in the back pocket which is fair enough, but VENOM believe in making the show and the band better to increase the experience of the fans. VENOM has never been the kind of band to go and play a million little club gigs and put all the t-shirt & gig money shows in the back pocket. You know what I am talking about, right? There is only one VENOM and the Legions know this and hopefully we will be able to give them a surprise in 2018, not only with some fantastic shows, but with a killer new album.
Do you know the title of the album?
Yes, but we are not telling you... (laughs). I know it is frustrating, Dimitri, but from what we have learned in the past is that once you reveal the title, all of a sudden people start stealing it...
I don’t really care about the title as long as I know that you are working on new music…
Let me put it this way; it is a follow on “From The Very Depths”; you know, in the same vein of writing with Danté and Rage contributing with amazing riffs... You know, I’ve been coming to the studio listening to those riffs with my jaw saying ”whoa, I love that shit”. I am really happy with the direction the band is following.
Well, we can’t wait for the new album! Thank you, Cronos, for your time!
Thank you, my friend! Have a great new year! You take care, all the best!