Fun Fun Fun Q&A: Venom

New Wave of British Heavy Metal heads still bang

Venom isn’t a household name on par with Iron Maiden. The Newcastle trio, led by founding singer/bassist Conrad “Cronos” Lunt since 1980, nevertheless blueprinted thrash and black metal via a groundbreaking blend of guttural vox, Satanism, and punk-influenced attack. Their Texas debut falls on Sunday, 8:45pm, at Auditorium Shores for Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Austin Chronicle: Venom remains a huge influence on metal and has, in fact, held up better than a lot of the genre. You must be proud of that legacy, but do you sometimes look at the bands that have come after and said, “What have I done?”

Cronos: I used to always say – back in the day – that we get bollocked for the crap that emerged after we formed, but we never get the pat on the back for the good shit [chuckles]. I know the fans have been majorly, overly generous with the compliments about what Venom have created. I think of it more as a catalyst for something that was inevitable. I didn’t wave some magic wand and then everything got right, y’know?

When I was leaving school back in 1978, growin’ me hair and putting me Judas Priest patches on, people were like, “What the fuck, man? That music’s dead! Rock’s finished!” And I’m like, “No, there’s new bands comin’ out!” Priest hadn’t long been emergin’, and there was AC/DC comin’ over to England from Australia. Then obviously we got the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and all the Saxons and Samsons and Maidens. I was just not havin’ any of this “Rock is dead” shit.

Basically, punk really damaged rock. Rock music was the big extreme, and then punk came along and made it look so fuckin’ limp [laughs]. That was when I came in and looked at the scene. “Where’s the extreme? Where’s that flash-bang, in-your-face, controversial, dangerous, fuckin’ scary?” All the things you liked rock music for?

I was a fan of punk as well. It was part of my upbringin’. I don’t want to cry about it, but England was having a very bad time at the end of the Seventies. There wasn’t much to look forward to, and punk really spoke to us. I just wanted to put the two together. I thought, “Rock needs to evolve into something that’s more punk rock.”

I think this was inevitable.

When I look at some of the bands that were already emergin’ from the New Wave, there was a lot who were very samey as the Sabbaths, Deep Purples, Zeppelins ‘n’ that. I think there were quite a few bands followin’ on from that classic way of doin’ things, where you get yourself an image, work on your strengths, and try to create great songs people love. I think this was always gonna happen. We were just lucky to be at the beginning of it, when the likeminded people saw Venom and thought, “Oh, right – we can do it that way!”

People say, “Oh, it must’ve been great when you guys did that metal back in the day.” It was fuckin’ hard! When you look now, it’s quite normal, because there’s that much metal out there. People don’t see Venom as extreme as we were seen back in the day. Now metal’s everywhere. It’s easier now to do what I wanna do, play the gigs I wanna play, and write the albums I wanna write without people puttin’ up barriers and tryin’ to stop it.

AC: You have a strong new album in From the Very Depths. How does it sound to you now that you’ve lived with it for a while?

C: This is the band I’ve been trying to form for years. I’ve had so many people in this band now, and I’ve always felt that they join for the wrong reasons. They think they’re gonna be millionaires tomorrow, or buy a house in Hollywood Hills. I was lookin’ for people who want to do some hard work, take some pride in the musicianship. The guys I’ve got in the band now, Rage and Dante, are so motivated for this, and have such a respect for what Venom are and where Venom have been. They want to be the best they can be.

I have me own studio, and we rehearse week after week after week. And we don’t rehearse because we have a gig comin’ up or because we better write some new songs. We rehearse just for the fuck of it, because we just enjoy playing. The equipment’s always set up in the studio, so we just walk in, put the kettle on, make a fuckin’ cup of tea, and then the metal begins. It’s just such a great thing, to be able to play whenever we want. That’s what musicians should do: connect. Fuckin’ create.

AC: At this point, you’ve got 30 years of repertoire. Do you feel free to just take whatever you want from it?

C: Yeah, I don’t want to be playin’ the same set every night. So every gig we change the set. I don’t want the band or the fans to get bored. Both Dante and Rage have learned the entire Venom repertoire. We can play any fuckin’ song that Venom have ever recorded. We understand we’ve got fans who are as old as the band, so we’re gonna have to play some of the songs from pretty much every album. We like the fans to interact with us, through the Facebook or whatever, and tell us what you want. We’re always up for gettin’ the set for the fans.

I’ve always said, I make albums for me. I’m not thinkin’ of the fans or anybody else. That’s got my name on it, and it’s gonna be here a lot longer than I am. So I have to make albums so I’m 100 percent satisfied. If I’m not happy with an album, it doesn’t get released. It’s as simple as that.

But the gigs are all for the fans. They can mix the sets up however they like. Which is what it’s all about – givin’ the legions real Venom!

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More Venom
Fun Fun Fun Fest: Venom
Venom FFFF Review
Holding on to black metal

Michael Toland, Nov. 9, 2015

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Venom, Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015, Conrad “Cronos” Lunt, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sampson, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin

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