We’ve moved on from just talking guitars to the dynamic of rock n’roll. Mantas is enthusing again. “There’s another band I loved, back in their heyday. I never saw them live, unfortunately but I’ve seen so much concert footage where the crowd is just bouncing up and down… every song sounds the same… fuckin’ Status Quo. If you wanna move a crowd… twelve bar! You can’t help yourself! Everything comes from the blues”.
Some reasonably frenzied appreciation of Status Quo ensues, before Mantas moves on to Slade. “When I was growing up I loved all the glam rock stuff, especially T-Rex, but then I saw Slade. Metal! Cum on Feel The Noize, Mama Weer All Crazee Now”…
Tony? Thoughts? “I did a whole series for Classic Rock Presents on classic albums. They did a poll and the result for the best live album was Slade Alive. So I had a listen for research purposes, thinking ‘I heard that a while ago’ but from the moment it went on it was like ‘fuckin’ hell!’ full throttle! It’s got everything. Heaviness, danceability, it’s unbelievable”.
Jimmy Lea I think was a very underrated musician. Great bassist, keyboard player, violinist… people often used to say that a lot of those glam rockers didn’t even play on their own records, but he was great. “If you think of Sweet at that time too, another one of those rock/pop acts… but their b-sides, fuckin’ hell, they give Queen a run for their money!”.
The word Queen has Mantas champing at the bit again. “The first seven inch vinyl that I ever bought with my own money… my mum and dad had bought me Ride a White Swan by T-Rex already, but the first one I bought with my own money was when I went to Woolworths with my auntie and bought Seven Seas of Rhye. When I heard the early Queen stuff like Brighton rock and Ogre Battle… come on!”
Tony – Queen? “The first heavy album that I got myself was Queen’s News of the World. I stole it and managed to get away down the street with it without being caught! I didn’t get it because I liked the music I got it because it was positioned close to the door! So I could have been a fan of Abba if that had have been near the door! Later on I ran the stage production of the Queen musical We Will Rock You in London. And whenever it was Freddie Mercury’s birthday, or there was a cast change, Brin May would come in and play the solo for Bohemian Rhapsody. I’d have to torch him into the backstage area, torch him while he was warming up, and every now and then it would just hit me like a brick – ‘oh my God there’s Brian May!’. That’s what I did for a living. And it’s unbelievable watching someone like that. That’s what inspires you. These musicians we’re talking about, this music. Look how excited we’re getting just talking about this stuff! And that’s what the kids these days deserve. Not only do they deserve it they want that kind of inspiration”.
But they won’t get it from the mainstream media anymore. Those days are gone. “ I remember pleading with my parents to be allowed to stay up on Thursday to watch Top of the Pops” Mantas recalls, “It was something important back then”.
Dolan laughs: “Britain used to stop at seven o’clock on a Thursday night to watch Top of the Pops! It was a magical show”.
Everything is a lot more matter-of-fact for today’s young fans isn’t it, Tony? Everyone is available on the web now. The sense of wonder and mystery has gone. As has the joy of collecting singles and albums. “When we released Dein Fleisch Decibel Magazine contacted us and said they wanted to put it out as a flexi disc. I’d wanted to do one previously but things hadn’t worked out, so we did it. And I brought it home and had it in my hands about to put it on the record player. And my daughter, who’s sixteen, said ‘what’s that, it’s all floppy?’. I SAID
‘Well, they’re not all floppy, but this is a flexi disc”. She loved it, and wants to collect them herself. It was like new technology to her!”
Times catching up with us now – it’s only be a couple of minutes before the band get back on the bus and head back to the venue for a meet and greet and then that history- making performance, so let’s leave it to Tony to sum up how he feels about Venom Inc. in the here and now. “When we did Ave in America, and we did the first show, in Philadelphia, and it sold out… they were in the streets, the album was only just out yet the fans knew all the songs. A great way to start, then we went to New York, a big theatre, the Paramount – rammed. Fucking hell! So we proved we can do the big and the small, but you still appreciate that you’ve worked on this stuff, you shit yourself with the pressure, is it any good? And then the fans are there and they are singing it back to you. That’s the purity of it. The finances, who’s doing what, it’s all there, but at the end of the day it’s the music that speaks to us and the fans, and how they respond to it, that’s all it is about. That’s all it is about. If you can stand on stage and play the music, and people can feel it, that’s it. And that’s what I want us to do. It’s the whole idea of this. To have young fans come to shows who’ve found Venom, maybe through James Hetfield, or Satyricon or whoever, is great. Have they seen great bands? Yes. Have they seen heavy bands? Yes. Have they seen fast bands? Yes. But they haven’t seen those bands in this kind of proximity. And that changes things. And it inspires us! I say it again, look how excited we are talking about this stuff tonight!”
He is, and I am. And an hour later Venom Inc are on stage exciting a whole venue full of people too. You must see this band when they hit your town.