This atmospheric doom album features the powerful vocal delivery comparable to SHAPE OF DESPAIR – which is far more effective for this style than the black metal type of vocals that has snuck into some of the doom offerings. Indeed, it is better to hear a demon than any weaker spirit.
The four songs on this album have a long running time, so you are not buying an e.p. – in fact, two songs are over twenty minutes, and one of those is close to half an hour. This is perfect for the inner journey.
The music is plodding and morose, sweetened at times with nontraditional use of synthesizer, stamping a uniqueness to this style. Yes, the exquisite sorrows and pleasures of doom are contained in this work, but there is something new as well. The album does well to honor what is revered by lovers of doom.
The orchestral layers help the listener descend, but beware, a change in tempo hides in a song – perhaps I should not have revealed it, but it is worthy of mention because there is mastery in lulling the ear and then in frightening it.
If you love doom, you probably have decided to obtain this album within the first sentence of this review. It will be a worthy addition to your collection.
When I heard the first song i thought that the singer from WITHIN TEMPTATION had switched bands. I intentionally never read the press releases or album notes before I listen because I my impression needs to be based on what I hear. Getting back to the vocals, I really did think that there was a guest-vocal appearance which gave Draconian a new flavor. Afterward, i discovered that the band actually has a new vocalist. Despite singing in the same style as her WITHIN TEMPTATION counterpart, she beautifies the songs. If you haven’t heard DRACONIAN before, they combine several ideas, often melancholic, but not adhering to any on style, like doom or goth. It’s a hybrid that works very well. The contrast between angelic female vocals and gruff male vocals is not as stark as in early THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. You can discern every word, which brings the poetry to you for easier ingestion. I have enjoyed every DRACONIAN album and was pleasantly surprised by the change of vocals. The voice is quite beautiful. Each album has moments that stay in the imagination for a long time. If you enjoy being haunted by songs, then take a chance on this band.
Interview with Dani Filth conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
Art thou hung over?
(laughs) I’m fuckin’ massacred. I’m taking these “Energy Now” tablets. I am riding on some coffee, myself.
I just can’t keep myself awake. I feel like shit. And you know what? it’s all your fault! Oh?
Yeah. Because you’re American. Anyway… Art thou ready, head-ache man?
Do you have to say it so loud? Dost thy drummer play with a light bulb in his mouth?
Are you insinuating that he looks like Uncle Fester? Yes.
Well, that’s cool because nowadays in Europe and what-have-you, the press actually regards him as Uncle Fester, and for some reason, being a very violent character – he’s warmed to it, rather than just storming into the publication office and start killing people, which is fuckin’ amazing. But I think the new maxim for him is “Uncle Pester.” In the photo with the blonde woman who is being bitten by everyone, he does look like Uncle Fester. But in another photo in the CD insert, he looks like the typical Brit with a misshapen head.
(laughs) And not threatening at all.
I wouldn’t carry on too much about him because you haven’t met him yet. (laughs) Perhaps we shall have a…
Fight. It can be commentated for the next issue. Is he more violent than the bass player of Solstice?
The English Solstice? Yes.
A bunch of pussies! They really are. I’m about half the size of that guy and I gave him ‘large’ when we last met. They were doing some weird thing with… uh, you know, the circle… Well, I wouldn’t say they were pussies because John was in Solstice – our new guitarist. But there was one point when they had like a “doom metal council” or something, for no reason at all. They would just gather telephone numbers and ring us up, giving us loads of shit. So we confronted them about it and they were like, “Ooh. I don’t think it was us” . Anyway, do carry on. Oh! Is he more violent than him? Yeah. Well, most certainly. But not as violent as Carl from Cancer, however.. who is incredibly violent.
Is he violent because he puts out mediocre albums?
(laughs) Probably, yeah. They split up, didn’t they? Because they just sucked. I don’t know what they did. They were a cancer to the scene.
Hmmm. Dost thou think that thou art being typically English by ripping off the Scandinavian music?
(laughs) Do you mean showing appreciation for the likes of At the Gates?
I believe the word was blatant ‘rip-off’ of the most trendy aspects of Scandinavian black metal.
No. I think you’ve ‘got the message completely wrong. Enlighten me.
I will do.
And stop chewing.
I’ve got a tootie bar or whatever they call them. Tootsie Roll… No. I don’t believe that at all. What you misunderstand is that Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ good riffs. And I’m in a ‘position to say that because I’m not a guitarist. So I m not bragging. I’m just saying Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ great guitar riffs. They’re not Swedish. I think they’re more typically British than Swedish. If anything, the Swedish would rip off the English scene.
This will be a great interview!
When you listen to Cradle of Filth… no, I’m afraid there’s no comparison whatsoever, and Nick is a much more skillful drummer than anything they’ve got to show apart from the drummer from Eucharist. Wouldst thou liken thy vocals to those of a stupid bitch who is screaming that someone is pinching her breasts?
Is that all I sound like? I’ve failed miserably then, haven’t I? It should be more like a red hot poker in a virgin’s entrance, like the rings of her anus.
When singing, art thou…
I haven’t finished yet! Oh! I’m sorry.
No. That’s just plain derogatory. Goodbye forever!
When singing, art thou inspired by memories of thy mommy burning herself on the stove?
Hey? Excuse me? What do you mean? I thought thou wouldst be more evil in thy response.
No. It’s just that I don’t understand what you mean by that.
Perhaps the meaning is lost between American English and English English.
It was just a meaningless question.
I mean, there was a motive behind it. Otherwise, you know? Hey! I am doing the interview, not thee!
No, no! But you’ asking me a question. I’ve got to know what it actually meant. Otherwise you could speak in hieroglyphics, couldn’t you?
Only if there were a caption that magically appeared above my head because hieroglyphics is a writing style, not a language. How dost thou feel that Seth Putnam considers thy band to bee extremely gay?
He’s probably just jealous because he can’t string a song together. Seth Putnam. That’s a fuckin’ awesome name. Awesome band name. Awesome thought – everyone should be killed. But unfortunately, his music is absolutely shite. And I think that he obviously realizes that, and that’s his way of compensating. I’m sure everybody’s going to listen to him. Just as a break, what was that word?
“Shite?” Is it spelled “s-h-i.-t?
OK. That’s the Ahhhnglish (I pronounce english in the most gay way possible) way to pronounce “shit.”
It has derived from the Newcastle way where they say “Shite, man!” and things like that. Wouldst thou consider thy manner of speaking to be “common.”
No. I think I’m a bit of a snob, actually. Thou speakth the queen’s English?
Fuckin’ better believe it! I’ll hear nothing against the Monarchy.
Wouldst thou say that thou art vampiric?
Well, skinny and white, yeah. No. I can’t answer it seriously anyway because the question’s aren’t serious. Thy teeth last night had fake fangs overlapping the canine variety.’ That would lead one to believe that thou art “gothic.” And is not the “gothic” scene merely a group of bisexuals who are trying to be horrific?
Quite possibly. Nothing wrong with being bisexual.
So wouldst thou suck a man for thy nocturnaL sustenance?
No. I certainly wouldn’t. But there’s nothing wrong with being it. You’re actually being narrow-minded, I think. I was on the Internet last night and you can tell that everybody on there was about 14. You can just see them pouring behind their computer. They probably didn’t have a girlfriend. They probably never went out, probably wondering what sex was like. All the questions seemed to do with men’s anuses and wanking and shitting on people and just being derogatory toward women. Are not thy fake fangs a sign of stupidity?
A sign of stupidity? I wouldn’t call myself a goth either. I just like wearing black. I’m very sorry if that offends anyone. But most goths are pretty smelly and pretentious and not willing to speak to anyone and huddled in the corner in nightclubs, looking scary. No. I don’t like wearing fangs. I have other things that occasionally I wear.
And thy contact lenses make thy eyes appear to be those of a cat?
Uh huh. And cats are the original vampires?
You’re going back to Egyptian mythology, aren’t you?
I didn’t know that there was any meaning to what I just said. I was just trying to be funny. Is Cradle of Filth the most gay and trendy of all black metal bands?
No. I think that we’re just the best and the most popular. People just get jealous, and they have to laboriously argue. It just gets up my nose because we’ve had like 90’/o of the reaction in America has been utterly cool, and the other 10% are a load of jealous wankers who masturbate over pictures of Count Grishnack, thinking, “God! if onIy I had the integrity to do that! But I’m too scared, because if I ever went into prison, men would touch my bottom.” Art thou secure in thy gender, wouldst thou say?
You mean, do I cross-dress? In human myth, angels have wings , but in birdy heaven, do angels have arms?
Birdy heaven… (laughs) If there was ever issue. I don’t know. Ask one.
Christopher Columbus was in search of a new route to India. When he discovered America, the savages that he saw were mistaken for Indians. What if someone in India were looking for a shortcut to Spain? If they discovered America, would they call the natives “Spaniards”? Instead of cowboys and Indians, would we have Cow-worshippers and Spaniards?
(long pause) is there a relevance to this? The one question that I ask that I want thee to explore is blown off.
What if Columbus re-discovered Atlanta? Atlanta?
Yeah. Whatever it is called. That question was a bit too taxing for me. No. You actually must be thinking of a point. When you come out with that questions it couldn’t be random. It does seem a little involved, doesn’t it?
No. There must be a point to it, like there must be a point to the one I argued about and said, “What does that mean?” Thou wilt detect the point when seeing it in print after thy hang-over is gone.
Why? Am I being overly grouchy? No. Not at all. Thou art just not seeing what should be seen… It is just a joke.
Ok. Well, do go into that one. I’m just interested in why you cam with that. I cannot give thee the keys to the kingdom.
We’re just talking about perspectives here, yeah? How things are viewed in somebody else’s perspective? And the point of it is? .What?
The album began with odd time signatures, which compelled me, but the buildup seemed to fizz instead of resolving. This was jarring, but not as much as when I heard the harbingers of faggotry. The riffing took on the massively gay style of dance-friendly metal, so much so that I predicted that, if there were to be death metal vocals, the delivery would be fake, either as a mainstream person’s attempt at real brutality, or as a weakling’s inability to deliver. Whatever the reason for the pseudo-death vocals, my dismay soon focused on the clean vocals that bordered on the gay realm of the poser. I tried my best to give this a chance, but each additional moment took me farther away from metal. This felt like a contrived and pretentious album specifically made for girls who rather dance than read, and for guys who like guys. The final test came when I was going to see what the band members looked like. I predicted, based on the songs, that the members would be distinctly non metal, and highly gay.. Isn’t it sad that this band is so predictable?
I have long been aware of demo songs from Sanctuary. I begged Warrel Dane for copies but he resisted. Alas, my wish was finally granted in this polished version.
Of course I had to select “Battle Angels” as the first song to experience. I was among the lucky ones in the past who received an e.p. of live songs, and “Battle Angels” was on there when Warrel Dane hit the tough notes.
The demo version of the song far exceeded my expectations, both in production value and in performance. Warrel Dane’s falsetto was strong and true. I remember that day long ago when I heard this song on the radio for the first time and I had to pull over. As soon as the disc jockey identified the band, I drove to a record store. Hearing the demo version was a similar experience. It was like renewing my vows.
The demo version differed slightly from the version that was on the “Refuge Denied album. This is especially enjoyable – not only do I hear a different performance – I also enjoy an alternate structure. This is quite the gift for a fan.
There is also material that is completely new to my ears. The song “Dream of the Incubus” features an astounding falsetto performance. it was an intense listening experience, so much so that i had to hear the song a few times before moving on. It was just too good to leave.
This is unquestionably a mandatory purchase. “Inception” is so good that I would dare say that it can be mind-blowing to a person who has never heard Sanctuary before. I strongly urge you to drop what you are doing and to get this album immediately.
Interview with Alan conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #14
You are in Ireland. It’s a strange name for a country. Did the English name the country because the Irish are full of Ire?
Bizarrely enough, we were talking about this the other day – and I mean, what’s an “Eng”, and what’s a “Scot”? Obviously Iceland is called “Iceland” because of the ice. (editor’s note – it didn’t occur to me at the time, but Iceland is green, and Greenland is icy.). Why are we “Ire”, and what is the land of “Ire” – which makes more sense than the land of “Eng” or something, to be honest. What were we called by the Romans? Hibernia?
Is that because the Irish make music that causes one to fall asleep?
Ah! That could be it.
That was, I guess, a silly question to ask you.
Yeah, but it’s not something that I haven’t thought about before. I have enough time to think about stuff like that. We sit around… as films get too boring, your mind wanders and you begin to think.
You probably have ideas about what America is like. And we also have notions about Ireland. I think that most Americans know Ireland for the typical aggression of the protestants and the catholics. It’s almost as if the baby Jesus is a soccer ball that causes stadium riots. Is it possible for an Irishman to have pride in his nation if he allows his religion to define his brothers?
It’s an interesting question. I think when you’re talking about something like Irish history, you’re dealing with the fact that it goes back at least 800 years, which is not quite 3 times older than the entire history of America. It’s a struggle that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. And the biggest problem, above everything, is that it’s not really about religion anymore. It’s about a sort of ingrained bigotry in people. It’s about hatred being passed down from generation to generation. And that is something that I don’t think that any amount of open-minded teaching will ever change. I mean, to be in close proximity to either side is quite a scary thing. I can’t take any side with religious bigotry. But at the same time I would have to call myself, ethically, a republican. I believe that Ireland does essentially belong to Ireland. But at the same time, the way that the politics have been twisted and turned, it’s hardly about that anymore in a lot of ways. It’s epitomized, as you say, the analogy of the football – it’s actually quite like the hatred between two sets of supporters of football teams. They don’t really know why, sometimes, they hate each other. They just know that they have to to perpetuate the struggle that they hand down from generation to generation. That’s quite interesting. I like that analogy of Jesus being a soccer ball.
Oh there are more analogies to come.
I had a feeling there would be.
Do you know much about Emperor Constantine?
Probably not much more than his name unless I scour the back of my memory from history class. But that’s been a few years. So enlighten me about the Emperor Constantine.
Are you ready for your history lesson?
Yes. Go on.
Ok. Constantine knew that Rome was falling apart, and he cleverly used Christianity to bind the empire.
Ah yes. Now I remember Emperor Constantine.
He took over the religion, by the way. He completely took it over and changed it to become a tool of control. He altered the already-corrupted Pauline version of the Nazarenes, and he added elements of the Pagan religions. That would make it a little easier to swallow. The Nazarenes believed that they were led by the descendants of Jesus. According to them, Jesus actually had children, by the way. His marriage to Mary Magdalene was completely edited out of the gospels. So were a lot of the female disciples. Peter and Paul hated women, so that’s where that comes from. The Nazarenes, at the time of Constantine, were still around. They were people who did not believe that Jesus was any sort of god. They didn’t believe in the resurrection. That story was added by Paul. But the Nazarenes, and other sects that believed a more earthly version of the movement, were systematically wiped out by Constantine and his later replacements. So getting back to the struggle in Ireland, is it possible to make anyone in Ireland aware that the religion was politically contrived by Rome?
It’s really difficult. There is obviously an enlightened section of the population who don’t really want anything to do with that. And believe me, England wants nothing to do with the north of Ireland. Public opinion in England – if they could cut off the north of Ireland and float it out into the Atlantic, they would do it because they’ve had 25 years of the I.R.A. bringing their cities to a halt, killing their children, et cetera, et cetera. They’re really sick of the north. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of peace in the last couple of years because I think the I.R.A. has realized that only through political means are they going to achieve a 32-county republic. Well, for the moment. It’s as if the politicians have decided, “Look, give us 15 years of this and we’ll see what happens.” But the problem is, outside of the enlightened population, you’re dealing with people who have no real concept of history, essentially. They’ve re-written their own history between them, and they’re never going to reconcile their differences, as far as I can see. It’s the same with people who obviously are christians. Fundamentally, if you were to hold it up in court, it would be thrown out of court for obviously being quite a ridiculous belief, as it is now in the 21st century. But pointing out to people what seems so logical to you, especially in this country, considering our history, is especially problematic. It’s really hard, when you’re in close proximity to people to actually believe their blind naked hatred. It’s quite unfathomable. You’re talking nation-of-islam-type hatred. My answer is no.
I’ve met christians who seem to be sensible in other ways. Their reasoning is ok in other ways. But humans are also creatures of emotion and of mental illness. So a christian might be able to solve a puzzle, but a christian doesn’t see what you and I see in the religion. I think there should be a revolutionary drug that breaks people out of their brainwashing.
Yeah, it would be nice, all right. I think that probably that revolutionary drug is a bullet, or something.
Over here in America, politicians – especially during election time, like to use the word “god” a lot. “thank god” “god bless you” and things like that. Does that sort of stuff occur in Ireland and England?
This is actually an interesting difference between America and Europe. In Europe they view Ireland as the last bastion of white Europe. But that’s something different altogether. They also view it as the last bastion of christianity and catholicism. But in fact, Ireland, in truth, is probably far less zealous about its christianity than either Spain or Italy, the other two predominantly catholic countries. We have a very strange young generation growing up. The amount of church-goers in Ireland is absolutely decimated. There is nobody applying to be priests or anything like that. In fact, the church’s hold over Ireland was pretty much ended in 1992 when all the sex abuse came out. But often I look at America and I see the rhetoric that is being used, and there is a lot of heavy sort of evangelistic rhetoric used by politicians. We don’t get the same bashing from our politicians, actually. It’s quite strange. Ok, we have very extreme anti-abortion people, and we have youth defense, which is like a small group of very right-wing christians. But they’re very small, and they don’t have any particular public support, except maybe in very rural areas.
Is that like the Hitler youth?
Yeah. You can compare it like that. Just maybe a little more unevolved, if you can imagine. But very very unenlightened people. I think that christianity is very much dying, or dead, in Europe. It has no importance or relevance to a lot of Europe. The actual “god” rhetoric that I see – and I was following your election, is practically nonexistent in Europe.
I think I want to move to Europe.
(laughs) Yeah. Perhaps.
Some people claim that the bloodline of Jesus is alive in the House of Stewart in Scotland.
Yeah, I have listened to the guitar player in Primordial talk to me about this book, “The Bloodline of Jesus” – it traces his lineage from the south of France through somewhere in the north of England. I haven’t read it. I’ve only listened to him talk about it. I don’t know enough about it to make a proper answer, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.
I think maybe we’ll leave that part of the interview for another time.
The bashing christianity?
We might return to it in a bit more of a comical light.
I’m always up for a bit of bashing of christianity.
How does Primordial teach the world of the Irish plight? Are any of the lyrics based on leprechauns, banshees, or other Irish monsters?
I think in the last cd I said something like, “There is a deep-seated melancholy in the hearts of all Irish men.” or something, because our history is a litany of tragedy. I firmly believe that Irish people are generally friendly, quite passionate. But at the heart is a sort of melancholy that I think that you can hear in Primordial, and the songs about the leprechauns are a bit slow on the ground, actually. I used to get asked a lot, in interviews, did I ever see the film “Leprechaun”? I never even heard of it. That’s how popular they are over here. We spawned a whole film genre, and I’ve never herd of them, and you were probably going to ask me about that.
No. I just thought it would be funny to ask you a bi-level question – one part being serious, and the other part being ridiculous.
(laughs) Yeah, trying to get out the serious bit and then come to the stupid bit, but thinking of the smart answer while answering the serious bit – that’s the problem. So… other Irish monsters… hmm… I usually try not to actually use folklore references, to be honest. We leave that to other bands to sing about – our myths and our folklore. But I don’t think they’d be singing about leprechauns either, to be honest.
That part was just silly. I was wondering if Primordial was in essence an Irish band.
Oh yeah, completely. Obviously, the fact that we’re Irish is very important to us, and I think that you can hear that in the music. There is a sort of earthy basis to the music that is, essentially, for us, Irish. But it’s not Irish in a typical way.
When you take a shower, do you emerge “clean as a whistle”?
No. I’m not very good at washing I don’t think.
I just want to break all the myths. We have a soap here called “Irish Spring”.
Really? I’ve never heard of that.
It’s advertised as making you clean as a whistle.
Oh, I thought you meant “soap” like a “TV soap”.
Well, sometimes after watching a soap opera you can be as clean as a whistle because they don’t have any profanity or nudity.
It morally cleanses you, all right. I don’t think the Irish to be the greatest moral cleansers in the world. But this “Irish Spring” soap – I’ve never used it, but perhaps if I did use it I might come out clean as a whistle. But it’s pretty unlikely because I think it’s more to do with your maneuvers in the shower rather than what you’re maneuvering with.
I think that if there were an Irish soap, it should be like a joke soap- like after you wash with it, you’re bloody, like the people in Ireland.
I think that if it was a joke soap, the best joke soap it could be will be – it would really look nice, it would really smell nice, but after you washed with it a few times you would find out that it was sentex (at the core) and it would blow you up in your fucking bathroom or something. That would probably be better.
You know, it’s interesting that you say that because I was going to ask if the original name of the band was “Nitroglycerine”.
No, but I did know a band that used to have an album that was called “Sentex”, which was a bit of an explosive title all right. No, I don’t think you need nitroglycerine to make what the I.R.A. use anyway. You can make it with fertilizer. It’s very easy to make. You can probably find it on a web site somewhere – some sort of republican fucking web site.
The reason I asked about the band being called “Nitroglycerine” is because it’s a very unstable thing, and so is the line-up of Primordial.
You think so? I think I read a blurb or something about the many hardships of the band.
(laughs) The many hardships… yeah, that would probably be one of my many blurbs. No, me, the guitar player, and the bass player have been in the band for 10 years. We’ve had one drummer change, and that was about 4 years ago. And we’ve just added a second guitar player. I would imagine that we’re pretty constant. So the blurbs are obviously wrong.
I see that now. This is a very eye-opening interview. Your lyrics lead me to believe that you enjoy medieval fantasy. Is that true?
There’s a few allusions to medieval times. But I’m not quite sure what you mean.
Sometimes Primordial has a Manowar sort of feel.
You think so?
I think so. And their lyrics are blatantly medieval. But after seeing the band live, I think that they’re a bit too goofy to have read anything, let alone medieval fiction.
They’re actually my favorite band. But there you go. (laughs)
When I listen to Primordial songs, I don’t feel that I am in this time.
Well maybe we’re reaching back to a bit more than Medieval… For us, a relation to our Celtic culture and heritage, folklore and myth, is quite important. Obviously that’s pre-christian, so you’re delving back a little bit further. It’s not that we’re romantic people. We’re very much using that kind of ethnical influence as a springboard to move into this century. We’re not kind of hopelessly romantic people who are willing it to be 500 B.C. We’re not interested in that. But at the same time, it’s a kind of earthy, organic quality. We very much shun the industrial electronic sort of urban decay sort of feel that a lot of black metal bands have gone for. There’s a few perhaps urbane references in the lyrics, but mostly we try to keep things very much earthy. We don’t go for swirling keyboards or something like this. We try and make the music sort of pure and honest.
Is your breakfast magically delicious?
No. I usually don’t get up to have breakfast. Breakfast could actually be at 3 in the morning because it’s just that I happen to eat at 3 in the morning.
Do you have a cereal there called “Lucky Charms”?
We don’t. I’ve heard of them. They’re like Twinkies or something. They’re sort of mystical food that we don’t have here.
It’s got these marshmallow shapes.
It sounds disgusting. I’ve heard what it is.
It’s got green clovers, king diamonds…
Oh yeah? King Diamonds? I might eat that.
Do you like King Diamond?
He’s not just for breakfast anymore.
No, no. He’s for all seasons, banging out 2 albums a year.
You have a song on the new album called “The Soul Must Sleep”. It contains a quote from a philosopher.
Jean-Paul Sartre, yes.
Why is that in there?
It’s strange in that I have this sort of penchant for French existentialist writers. (laughs) That’s going to sound incredibly aloof. Sometimes something just hits me, in a book, and I write it down. I have this book where I write lyrics and scribble bits of shit and all sorts of crap, and it just hit me and it seemed kind of profound. I don’t know if you ever read “Nausea” but it’s this character basically dealing with trying to overcome his misanthropic nausea of human beings, and in a sort of fleeting moment this quote just comes out and just seemed to fit in. And when we did the song, we had this sort of dreamy – we called it the “seasick son” because it has this sort of claustrophobic quality, so we wanted to try to open it up and put this sort of speech, and it just seemed to fit in the lyrics. It’s sort of burning-your-bridges, closing-your-ties, just heading for something new and never turning back. As pretentious as it may be… why not?
It’s interesting that you like the existentialists, like Descartes. Remember, earlier we were talking about christians maybe being intelligent in other ways, but not when it applies to looking at the holes in their faith? Well, Descartes basically invented scientific method.
I find Descartes a bit hard to read.
Descartes liked to examine “How do I know that this is real?” And he went through the various processes. But he never applied that to christianity. He also believed very strongly and gave arguments that god does exist.
Yeah, I know. It’s strange the amount of incredibly intelligent men who just happen to have that oversight. I mean, the amount of incredible poets, incredible artists, incredible film-makers, and incredible historians who just seem to have this block, a stain on their mind, where they just can’t seem to question their belief in god objectively. Somebody like Descartes is just another in a long line of people like that. Even Einstein was like that. I can’t understand how somebody could reconcile science with a belief in god, or more essentially, a belief in christianity. But a lot of people do. It mystifies me, to be honest.
Do you also read the ancients, like Plato?
I went through a phase at the end of school of reading things like Plato, Aristotle, and various other things like that. But some of them I found to be a little bit heavy. Other ones I just found a whole lot of Manowar lyrics, like Homer and stuff, which was quite cool in its way.
Well I was just wondering if you ever agreed with some of the things that Plato wrote. I have something in particular, if you’re searching for something – if that’s a bit too wide of a question.
Yeah, I was just going to say that. It’s a bit too wide. Hit me with your quote. I’m trying to trawl my memory.
Plato – one of his beliefs were that you should never deny your body to anyone who lusts after you. And I was wondering if that was how Primordial landed on Hammerheart Records, with Guido perhaps.
The mighty Guido from Guidoland… if you ask me fundamentally if I believe in this quote, then, not really.
But how about as far as Guido lusting after your body?
It depends. He was trying to organize a tour with Thyrfing and Menhir (spelling?), who were on a label “Ars Metalia”. I don’t know if you know them. It was a small little underground tour, and he knew that Misanthropy was kaput. So he kind of said, (in a Dutch accent) “Oh, you must sign to Hammerheart.” At the time we knew him for a long time from Bifrost days…
Bifrost! (laughs) Well, it could be that too. I dunno. But we just thought, “Fuck it! We’ll go with it. We’ll see what happens” We never contacted any Nuclear Blast, any Century Media, any Osmose, any blah blah blah. And now Hammerheart grows and grows and grows, and the business giant awakes, et cetera et cetera. I always say, show me any label whose relationship is 100%, and I’ll say they’re fucking lying, because this business is made that the bands make fuck, and the labels make a lot of money. They just live off your desire to make music and to play gigs. That’s just the way that artists and businessmen deal. It’s a very fucked-up kind of world, you know, but maybe he did (editor’s note – referring to Guido lusting after his body), and we just didn’t see it. I don’t know.
It’s interesting that you said what you said because I was going to ask you if you were terrified after Misanthropy folded.
Oh I was very pleased, actually. I don’t know if people in America would have noticed this at the time, but there was an artistic clique of sort of left-field bands that all seemed to be the same kind of person who never played live, never wanted to make anything really of their bands in a commercial sense. And I can understand that aesthetic. Misanthropy stood for them. But a lot of the times, Misanthropy’s ethic was more important than its bands. Subsequently, In The Woods only ever went on one tour. And Primordial is essentially a metal band. You know? That’s what we are. We need to play gigs. We need to get out and do these things. We felt incredibly frustrated, and also I had my arm severely twisted behind my back to change the original cover of the album they did for us, “Journey’s End”, and it never got mastered properly because they refused to pay for the proper mastering. See? Just bullshit, this kind of stuff. But now there’s nobody left in Primordial who’s naive to the music industry, and I mean, we cut personal corners as much as somebody at a label. You don’t trust anybody but yourself, generally. We needed to do things like get out on tour. We didn’t need to be secluded off in this leftist art-house sell-nothing category with bands like “”Florentine” (spelling?) and “Monumentum”. So we had to just fucking break out of that. I think we would have left even if they (ed.- Misanthropy) would have continued. I mean, I appreciate what they stood for, against the whole usual music industry way of doing things. But eventually it killed them.
Misanthropy was a record label in England. Were you known in the underground then, before you were signed to them? Or did Misanthropy become aware of you because of their employee who was Irish?
Yeah, well there’s a few different things. We did a demo in ‘93. We sold like 1,100 copies, or something like that, and we were quite well known at the time. In fanzines it was like, us, Moonspell, Ulver, In The Woods – bands with demos out that seemed to be in every fanzine. We did an album for Cacophonous Records, also England, and due to legal reasons we got out of their contract after one album, and Tisiana (ed. -the German she-male who headed Misanthropy Records) just wanted to sign us. Also, I knew Antoinette who worked there. I have nothing against the people who worked there. I just firmly believe that somehow we got an underhand deal, and if anything, Misanthropy was in its death throes at this stage. It’s just, nobody quite knew. None of the bands really got the full attention that they deserve, at the end. You know? The exception is most notably Burzum and Mayhem.
Is it true that, around that sad time when you were cutting corners, you made a little extra money on the side by selling some of your woodcarvings to certain places?
Selling some of my woodcarvings?
Yes. I heard that you made crucifixes, but with a totally naked Jesus, and that you sold them to gay bars…
And they used to have circumcision inspections to see if you were a jew?
No, no. I heard that they had the option of having a flaccid Jesus or an erect Jesus.
Oh. Well this was back in the time when the gay funeralem (spelling?) was only burgeoning, and the church was crumbling a bit, and they needed that sort of interesting… I mean, making a sort of life-size Jesus on a crucifix in your front room without the neighbors seeing is quite a difficult thing, and carrying it into town to be sold in the gay bars – that’s the biggest problem. But often they went for the erect Jesus. Who wouldn’t? The sort of Marduk-themed gay bars. You know? The “Fuck Me Jesus” type of gay bar.
When you carried the cross to town, did you carry it on your back to romanticize?
No, I put wheels on it. Very practical. I do a bit of sport, but I wasn’t really up for it. So I thought “Fuck it, I’ll put wheels on it.” It really did look like I was suffering, but really it was just the wheels. You know?
America has very strict laws about beer. If the alcohol content exceeds a certain level, the beverage must be called “ale”, not beer. Most breweries consider that to be a stigma. Do Irish bands have the same caution about incorporating brutality? Do they fear being labeled “Death Metal”?
Well have you noticed that there aren’t very many brutal bands from Ireland?
I think you’re the first band from Ireland that I’ve ever heard. I was just trying to sound cool.
All right. I understand. We’re only both trying to do the same thing then. I think that with Primordial especially, we could pretty much appeal to most fans of nearly every genre, except brutal death metal fans. We have no chance, generally, appealing to those people because, I mean, we’ve been on tour and been confronted by those people… and very difficult. We do have one band, Abaddon Incarnate, who sort of lead the way with their own sort of homophobic nihilistic brand of really really brutal death metal, and they’re pretty good at it. But essentially, Irish bands seem to be more attracted to the sort of doomy gloomy end of things.
Are they homophobic or anti-homosexual? When I think of a band as homophobic, the lyrics would be “I’m afraid that maybe I’ll like it”.
(laughs heartier than I’ve heard so far, making me feel cool and brilliant) Yeah… I’ve never really put that to them. They have a few lyrics of what you could call “anti-homosexual”. they wouldn’t really appreciate me telling you that, probably. But it’s in the cd booklet, so anybody could read it. They’re just a very violent kind of band.
When I first heard Primordial I assumed that it was embraced by the black metal scene because of some of the similar traits, like the dissonant chords, the occasional black metal vocals, and the sporadic folkish parts. But when I played a Primordial song on my radio show as an act of mercy, because I usually play death metal, some black metallers, like Goatwhore, a girl who’s in the Canadian band Goatwar, emailed me her displeasure, asking me questions like, “How can you think that this prettyboy crap is black metal?” Now before I ask you the question, I just want to remind you that it takes a certain kind of person to call or email a radio show, and those opinions should not be generalized to the masses. So my question is, where does Primordial stand as far as black metal is concerned?
I’ll explain what my perception of what black metal is, and where we stand in relation to it. The doors within black metal, in Europe, have all been kicked down. And I do understand that, in America, a lot of people still hold onto the shall we say true 1993 flame of black metal, and that’s probably one of these girls who wrote in saying “This is fucking pretty boy shit, and blah blah blah.” which really doesn’t bother me. But essentially, Primordial is born from the 2nd wave of black metal that came out in the early ‘90’s. Our peers are bands like Emperor, Ulver, Moonspell, Enslaved.. those kind of bands… Gorgoroth. They were all the same age. I know these people generally. There’s been certain bands in the black metal scene who maybe started with us, who people in the black metal scene now may not have quite understood, back then, what they stood for. “Ah, Katatonia is such a wimp-ass band, et cetera et cetera.” The whole point of the 2nd wave of black metal scene was that it was open to divergence, and it was open to the influence of bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost. And their legacy, to me, is, you push in what direction you will. That’s what we take our inspiration from. There can really be nothing more fundamentally black metal than pleasing yourself foremost. For me, Primordial is as black as it ever was. It’s just that we don’t sound like Gorgoroth. You know? I think that if anybody saw us play live, they would get the same feeling. Black metal is such a wide-ranging and vaguely nondescript title in the year 2001 that I’m not exactly sure it exists anymore because I think part of the thing that was black metal was that it came from a network of mail underground writing scene, and that is all dead. Completely stone-hammer dead. It was very important to release your demos and sell them in the Post, and all that sort of thing. For people who maybe have only started to listen to black metal in the last couple of years, they’re not going to understand the importance of Rotting Christ’s demo, because to them, a band like Rotting Christ now are just wimpy. But everybody evolves as a person. And to deny your own self-evolution is probably fundamentally less true black metal than sounding like your demo forever and ever. But I personally think that you can sound like Judas Priest and be true black metal, if true black metal exists. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have 4-track production, et cetera et cetera. But there is black metal people who do like Primordial, probably more in Europe than in America. In America we seem to be appreciated more by the Opeth, Katatonia sort of people. If you’re going to play us in the midst of a death metal show, then we’re going to stick out like big fucking sore thumb.
In the case of new Katatonia, I don’t think that their changes were a move of being true to themselves. They were true to pop music.
Perhaps. I know some of the people from Katatonia, and I think what it was is that they just got bored of metal, and they just wanted to move off into something else. That’s not something that ever really happened to Primordial. I evolve as a person. I don’t change. I evolve, as opposed to stagnating. But some people just change, full circle.
I definitely think that Katatonia bought one of your crucifix sculptures.
(laughs boldly) Yeah, perhaps. I don’t seem to remember selling them to them. But it was dark. So it could have been.
Yeah, it sounds like it. America, would you say, got its first taste of you with the big article in Metal Maniacs?
Being on a Dutch label that doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the American market, that (article) was probably your milestone here.
Yeah, well Hammerheart America then opened very shortly after that article.
Yes, and the album usually had a starburst sticker that read “This is the band that you read about in Metal Maniacs.”
You can rage all day against crap like that, but that’s what labels do. When you were interviewed, was it Jeff Wagner?
Did he use the word “breath-taking” He seems to like that word, doesn’t he?
Yeah, I think he must have used it once or twice. He used it in the introduction.
See? That’s an easy way to make money – betting whether or not jeff Wagner uses the word “breath-taking”. You had asked me before why I don’t interrupt you when you talk. Is that the opposite of a Jeff Wagner interview? Did he go on and on and on?
No. I like Jeff.
Of course. He gave you 6 pages.
Well this is it… and yeah – he’s just a dedicated passionate metal fan.
Not a bag of hot air?
No. Well, I don’t know how Metal Maniacs is perceived by the underground in America.
I enjoy your bardic style of singing. It makes me feel like I’m in a tavern with a flagon of ale.
A tavern of ill repute, yeah.
I don’t know what your society is like, but in America, the English language has been stripped of its beauty.
So I find your eloquence to be refreshing. It’s one of my many escapes from the blight of this land. Earlier you admitted that you do like some death metal. Have you ever considered experimenting with that kind of voice?
There’s death metal vocals in the first verse in the song “Glorious Dawn”.
Hey, if I played that on the radio and said “This is death metal” people would call up and say, “You call that prettyboy crap death metal?”.
Well it’s death metal vocals in the way of Aeturnus or something. To me, death metal vocals is just low end brutal vocals. But I can’t really do it that fuckin’ brutal.
Understood. Is America known throughout Europe as the land of simple language… or bastardized language?
Yes, I would have to say. Unfortunately, what we see of America is pretty much Hollywood and Jerry Springer. American death metal is the big trend here in Europe now.
I can’t believe that. I though black metal had a hold.
Black metal is dead in Europe. Stone fucking dead
We’re behind the times, then.
Yeah, you’re about 5 years behind. Believe me. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way, but it’s true. What happened was, I think, in about 1998 when Morbid Angel released the Formulas album, death metal kicked back in in a big way in Europe. Bands like Marduk and Dark Funeral and Immortal all started championing death metal, wearing death metal shirts on stage.. and their playlists and everything, and bringing the bands out on tour – it had a big knock-on effect in the underground, and now you only have to look at the new “No Mercy Festival” – it has Mortician on the bill. It’s actually getting trendy in Europe now. Death/grind is the big trend. Obviously power metal is the biggest thing… like 10-15 times bigger. Death metal is the new big thing.
I don’t think I have too many enemies over there.
No, no. Not as many. You know, some people have said to me when I said I was doing an interview for the Grimoire, “Oh no, no. Don’t do that! He’ll just take the piss out of you!” And I went, “Ah so what? It’s just funny. Relax, will you?” It’s as if these people are only ever going to read one Cannibal Corpse interview with you and they’re pissed off that you’ve taken the piss out of them. But man, Cannibal Corpse is everywhere. Read a serious interview the next day. But no… you probably don’t have too many sworn enemies in Europe.
I’m glad about that. Well… they probably fight like Europeans anyway.
If they fight like Irish people, it’s a bit different.
In television and movies, women are sometimes depicted as having a headache to get out of sex. Would a headache ever prevent your arousal… or any other part of the sexual cycle?
It’s probably not gonna happen, to be honest. I think that any man that uses a headache as a reason why they can’t be aroused has got something wrong with them because you can be aroused sitting on a bus going over a bump. It doesn’t take much. I think it’s two little brains working independent of each other. You don’t really have that much control over it. Do you think that if you were crucified, that you might be able to attain an erection if a really hot girl came by to check out your execution?
(laughs) Emm… difficult question. It depends how hot it was or how many days you’d been up there. I think you probably could. It would be a good way to test that fine balance between pain and pleasure. I’m not quite sure how she’d manage to shuffle up the crucifix to sort of impale herself, so-to-speak.
Would you use your position up there to hit on the girl, like (in a smooth voice) “Hey, what am I gonna do?”
Or, “Hey, look, I’m so cool. I can have holes in my hands and still stay up here for hours.” Yeah, I think it would be a pretty definite advantage to be able to hit on a girl. And if she really fell for it maybe she would saw you down or something. But then again, she probably couldn’t get that close. I can’t imagine the Roman legionaries letting her get that close.
Well, if there were a revolt, with 20,000 people hanging…
That’s a good point, actually.
They just don’t have the manpower.
It would be a little difficult to pinpoint one girl particularly to wink at and hit on. I’ve been on stage, so I know (laughs). If you’ve ever played in a band, you know what I mean.
I’m one of those journalists who is a failed musician. Obviously, Romans crucified women too, mostly during times of revolt. If you’re in that city, too bad. If you were living in those times, would you sneak up to a cross at night and help yourself to a cheap feel? Seriously. I want you to really think about this, because this is a serious question.
It depends on how long the woman may have been there. But it also depends on how far your reach is. You have to shuffle up the crucifix to really have a go.
See, that’s a common misconception. It’s because of artists and what they had to abide by when depicting a crucifixion. There were no hilltop spectacles. Your feet were almost touching the ground, so you were there for the abuse of the passerbyer. (ed. – also, if the feet were nailed, it was almost in a spread-eagle position, each heel being nailed to each side of the beam, not in front of the beam. In some cases, the ankle bone was the zone of puncture).
This is true. It would be a pretty sick way to get your kicks. But seeing as I’m doing an interview for a death metal magazine, maybe I should just say “yeah”.
Let’s say you were a teenager living in those times…
How do you know I’m not a teenager?
Your lyrics just speak of too much experience.
(laughs) Ok, I’m not a teenager. I’ll admit to that.
Let’s say you were a teenager and you didn’t have any experience. There was no sex ed in those times. You just learned it from the street or from an animal. But if that was your first chance, would you go for it? They didn’t always nail you in.
Yeah. You could kind of cop a quick look more than a feel, really, and just sort of check out what’s up there. Then you might go back home and you might think about it. Your curiosity more sort of dampens your hardened enthusiasm.
Being that you are a woodcarver on the side…
Yeah, I am a woodcarver on the side.
If you were alive at the time, would you perhaps be a vendor who sold little stick crucifixions for the tourists?
Actually that’s a strange question because this reminds me of something that happened to me, being down at the Rock of Kershall (spelling?) which is like this traditionally famous rock with a castle on it. There’s a little gift shop in the town, and you go in, and there’s these little plastic monks about 4 inches high, and you press his head down, and this huge fucking knob erects out of his garment. And your question just sort of reminded me of that, these vendors selling these blatantly pornographic little monks with happy heads and little penises popping up. So perhaps, unbeknownst to me, that is some karmic link or something, that maybe I was actually before selling little crucifixes with erect Jesuses on them.
In later ages, executions were quite the entertainment. So I would imagine little memorabilia being sold. That might have been pioneered by the enjoyable crucifixion sites.
Could’ve been… you could buy little bits of fingers and little bits of toes, and programs probably.
Do you think it would have been an extra agony to be on a cross and maybe being pestered by someone whom you always managed to escape from at a tavern. You know – pass the person onto someone else to annoy. But when you’re there on the cross, you just have to deal with a person talking to you.
It’s like the stocks in the middle of the village. If someone managed to piss off a considerable section of the village, they used to lock them in the stocks, and people can piss on them and throw food on them. It has a certain sort of medieval charm.
Yeah, we’re really missing a lot these days.
I think we could bring back all sorts of great capital punishment. But you have the death penalty, so you’re not doing too badly.
Yeah, but we don’t really have that entertainment sense about the execution anymore.
Well give it about 10 years. You might get injections and electrocutions on TV.
They’re not much fun, I must admit. You can give people a little bit more of a chance – some sort of Running Man style of entertainment.
Or maybe just throw the body into a pool of ravenous sharks.
Yeah, that’s a pretty death metal sort of answer. I’ll go with that. There’s not many sharks around the coast of Ireland, I must admit, though.
Ok, I just thought they were not welcomed there.
Like snakes, you mean? Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland.
They wouldn’t have too many bathers to feed on. The Irish are known for their pale skin. I don’t think that they’re big beach-goers.
No, not really. Although, with global warming, that might change. We’re hoping for a few better summers.
When Jesus was alive, no one called him “Jesus Christ.” His actual name was “Jesus Penis-hands”.
Yes, he earned that after the crucifixion because that guy, Thomas, could not believe his eyes. So Jesus let him stick his penis through one of the nail holes. Thomas later moved to England, where he started a business, selling certain breakfast bread called “Doubting Thomas’s English Muffins”. Have you heard any of that alternate history?
Well, it could be doughnuts really, if you think about it. That would make sense where the hole is there.
Oh yes! See? In America things are altered. We have “Thomas’s English Muffins.” We got rid of the doubting part, and the hole in the middle is covered up.
It’s another one of life’s great conspiracies. That’s what the hole in the doughnut was traditionally for. It’s been quite an enlightening conversation. I’ve learned a lot about Jesus. What’s the story with so many questions about Jesus? Is that your angle on me?
Well I just feel bad because the last issue did have, ironically, an article based on that book, “The Bloodline of Jesus”, except the very first page of the article had an image behind the text that just blotted out the text. So that page was unreadable.
(laughs) So this is an opportunity for you to put forth some of your text.
Yes, instead of completely re-publishing that page, I thought…
You’d ask me something completely unrelated about something that you made a mistake on before.
Yes, you are my damage control. I’m very grateful that you obliged me.
Any other books or articles you’d care to…
INterview with Trey conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #6
Thy attitude, as a band, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Dave Vincent has made some bold comments when asked about how involved he is in thy local scene. He responded with, “What scene? There is no scene. There’s only Morbid Angel!’ Dost thou think that such assertions hinder thee?
Um … Not really.
But how canst thou say that? A lot of bands have taken tremendous offense to that.
Really? Like who?
I am not at liberty to mention. But let us step away from thy peers. Fans have found the arrogant statements to be distasteful. It is not really an attitude that they admire. But then there are those who worship thee and praise thy airs.
Well, let me put it this way – we just feel that what we say is accurate to what’s going on as far as fact. When you blow all the smoke away, we’re talking about what’s standing – a secure thing that’s real. There’s a lot of hype and stuff like that surrounding a lot of bands. We’re just talking about actually what’s the music all about – what’s going into it, you know, without any extra fluff ‘n stuff that people would talk about that really has nothing to do with music. We only just talk about our music and how powerful it is and how we feel that it’s the most powerful music there is. It’s just what we feel. It goes beyond just music. It goes in just about everything. There’s a lot of people who. . . their whole career is just based on hype and fluff talk and all that kind of stuff, and fronts. Our career is based on serious material that we put a lot of time and effort into. So we just believe in ourselves and believe in our stuff.
Didst thou find it to be humiliating to be dropped from Giant Records?
What is the next step?
As far as labels, we don’t know. We’re just gonna see who gives us the best offer. As far as music, I don’t see us changing really, anymore than it’s changed with all the previous records.
Thou art very proud of incorporating certain extreme tempo notes in thy arrangements. I have heard thee say that not many musicians are capable of such feats. Dost thou care to expound?
What is it about the Morbid Angel guitar that cannot be duplicated?
Well, I think really it’s not the playing – it’s the creativity. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s the vision that is behind the riffing. I’m not saying that people can’t figure out our stuff, or be shown and mechanically play it. But what I’m saying is that I don’t see any other band coming up with as many different types of rhythms and song struc tures as we have on our records, and covered as much ground. That’s what I think is the difference. This band has a little bit more creativity, imagination, and we create so much new stuff in this type of music as far as all the different songs. . . when you take them and dissect them for what they are, there’s a lot coming from one band. The two videos that we put on MTV, like, Rapture and God of Emptiness – those two songs are, like, totally different from one another. One is, like, really fast and brutal, and hyper speed. The other is , like, down-tuned and slow and really heavy and all that. They’re totally different. But they’re from the same band. I don’t see any other band that is producing such a broad range of music. I haven’t heard it.
Thou art heavily into the Sumerian gods?
Is that because of what thou hast read of Lovecraft’s fiction, or is it because thou dost possess an actual anthropological interest?
Well, I haven’t really read any H.P. Lovecraft. David has. Fiction… you know, fact… I pretty much study the actual books that are translations from the old. . . uh. . . I can say “scriptures’ and stuff like that, in those areas. It’s like, you know, fiction or . . . myth. Myths are, like, based on what people believed You could say, or I could say, that all religion is fiction because there’s nothing really physically factual about it. It’s just all belief. Belief is the power. You can invent your own kind of religion, and if you believe in it strong enough and anchor in a reality to it, then you give it power, and it is powerful. So it’s kind of a question between, like, something being all fiction, and then something being, like, factual religion. I mean, all religion is basically, you know, people’s ideas and what they would say about a belief about some kind of power or something that’s beyond the physical realm. It’s all intangible. It’s not really something like a car or, like, food, or something that you can see and hold and touch. It’s something that you believe in. It’s something that gets your spiritual powers going. Myself, the stuff that I’ve read, that was, like, very interesting to me. That’s the way I live my life. I choose things that I like myself . . . what do I feel a part of or what can I feel a part of.
Vincent says that his interest is pure belief. Is that the same with thee? Or is it just an area of study?
Um. . . I don’t know. Maybe both.
Dost thou think that it is absurd to adopt a culture that is not thine? How canst thou be seen as authentic in thy belief if it is not only a foreign civilization, but a civilization long dead?
Well, when you say, “to be seen. . .’ to be seen by who? By myself?
By others, of course.
Well, see, I don’t care what other people think. I don’t base anything on what other people say is cool or what other people say is norm because I create my own cool and my own standards. I really don’t base any- thing by other people’s ideas of what’s right and wrong.
But if thou truly did not care what other people thought, thou wouldst not profess thy unusual tastes to the world. Thou wouldst just dismiss prying questions with “no comment” or “this is not appropriate for discussion.’ Thou calls thyself by a pseudonym that is from that culture. So that would lead people to ask thee about it. Dost thou not think that thou art baiting people?
I just think that I’m living my life the way I choose, which is Satanism. See, I don’t think of it like that. I just do whatever I feel is best for myself. When I get the opportunity to say what I got to say, I say it. People listen to it. Great if they don’t. Big Deal! It doesn’t affect me much either way.
When thou did say “Satanism,’ Didst thou refer to the Anton LaVey school of Satanism? Or is it what occultists call “Christian Satanism?’
I’m talking about my interpretation of Satanism.
Wouldst thou care to share a couple of things about that view?
Well, to me, Satanism is believing in yourself and making your own decisions, and pretty much controlling the way you live your life and what you do and what you think… you know, doing it for yourself and doing things because you want to and not because other people expect it out of you or other people are gonna think it’s gonna be cool or whatever. But really, actually, you can do that too if that’s important to you. The bottom line is, doing what’s important to you.
Is there anything evil about Satanism?
Evil? How do you describe evil? Is that just the opposite of holiness?
No. Evil as in hatred, acts that hurt others. . . perhaps it is the common idea of evil than thy own. I know evil is a relative term. But understand that I will always use common conventions, as I am not aware of thy own definitions.
…probably. I’m full of hatred. But I don’t live my life trying to hurt other people.
How about horrific? Is there anything horrifying about thy version of Satanism?
To me, or to other people?
To others, obviously.
I would say that Christians would. Average people, you know, maybe not. It depends on the individual, really, because, see, I’m beyond that. I think of people as Individuals, and maybe sometimes they’re a little more sheep-ish than others because they wanna follow the leader or follow and be part of something as opposed to, you know, letting themselves be by themselves in a decision or idea. I would say that it depends. You take a group of people and you might have out of ten, 3 people are saying one thing and the rest are saying something else. It’s hard to say. I didn’t really spend my time thinking about what other people think that much because that’s their job. I’m more concerned with what I think and what I do. I just do what I feel is best for myself.
Is there rivalry between Glen Benton and Dave Vincent?
Well, I don’t think there’s any really from David. See, what it is, is, I mean, it all boils down to people and the way they are and their values and what they think. See, us. . .we’re always asked questions about that band and other bands and whatever. “Oh. What do you think about their latest record?” See, part of Satanism too, by our definition, is to speak what you feel is the truth for you. What is your reality? Say it boldly. Don’t kiss ass and say, “They’re cool.” and then by yourself you’re thinking , “Oh they really suck. Oh I don’t really like them. But I’m gonna say they”re coot because I wanna be cool” I don’t care about being cool. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So we just say what we think, and people don’t like that. So. . . whatever. But see, I know also that they say what they think, and they say things about our band, and you know, to me, when you look at the music, I don’t really see that it can be compared. I think there’s a big difference between our records and their records as far as accomplishments and as far as creativity and, you know, you throw away all the hype and you get to the music and you just listen to it and what it does it do… I just feel that our music does a lot more.
But philosophically, are they opposed diametrically, Glen and Dave?
I don’t know. I guess you have to ask him. I know, myself, I’m actually very supportive of Deicide these days because I personally think that the drummer and Glen… I think they do a great job, you know, what they do. I think the vocals are really very creative and I think the drummin’s really solid. But you know, for me, I just always kind of felt that the music was lacking something. I just didn’t really get much out of the actual songs from one song to the next. But I really hope Deicide stays around because I think that the scene or whatever needs more bands right now, it seems like it’s just us that is really doing something and selling records and making things happen. But I really hope that Deicide stays around. I don’t have any beef with them at all. I just think that besides maybe talking and making all this hype up or whatever, they should maybe think about their music a little bit more. But whatever. I mean, they’re doin’ what they wanna do.
With regard to the Satanic element, it has been observed that most people who are very loud about proclaiming themselves as Satanic are often of puny stature and that they only pretend that they are Satanists to compensate for their physical weakness. Wouldst thou say that this applies to thee?
As far as proclaiming that I’m a Satanist?
It has been suggested that thou and Tommy from Motley Crue are the same person, making fun of thy skinny arms, and stating that the only reason thou art in the occult is to create some sort of macho image because thy physical presence cannot possibly do so.
Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not, like, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some kind of prize boxer. So I’m certainly not trying to be some kind of massive macho fighter or whatever. I’m a guitar player. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m offering these people. . . is my guitar playing. I put a lot of time and effort into that, and I think that in that I’m very powerful and I’ve accomplished a lot. I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean.
Has anyone ever hugged thee and loved the and called the ‘George Emanuelle?”
Has anyone done what now?
Has anyone hugged thee and loved thee and called the “George?”
Not that I remember.
If thou ever played baseball, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
I don’t know.
If thou wert having gay sex with thy manager, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
Well, I don’t know. That sounds pretty weak to me.
Thy hecklers are may.
That’s the thing. Why aren’t these people who are saying all this stuff. . . how come they’re not, like, writing music that’s gonna just make our band nothing? I don’t get that. It’s easy to say a mouthful of nothing. But it’s a lot more work to create music and product, because that’s what a band is. A band is music. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making music and creating a statement, and devastating with chord structures and timing sequences and things like that. All this other stuff.. it means nothing.
This album is mortal to my ears, for it makes me a dead man, ebbing in a slow tide, rife with dread. The drone lulls me into a blackness where mere moments ago I beheld the world, and now my eyes are organs of the mind. On this stark canvas, the music makes a brush of every instrument, and woeful colors depict such scenes as only could be made by the feelings this album inspires.
The slow, plodding rhythm appears harmless, but it guides the imagination into depths without noting the passage of consciousness, and then the altered state is achieved without memory of the inner journey. This is when the theater of the mind opens, and no one can possibly know the same experience.
No such descent can remain without a guide, and the rumble of a demon god assures no joy can be felt in this sinking plane. So terrible is the tone, yet the voice deepens the trance. It is as a flame that causes no flesh to recoil.
All the while, despair overtakes the heart, and the pulse becomes a drum which compels life to move toward death. Amid the crushing threnody rides soprano so haunting that the sky could have released black angels and even they could not match the impact of the voices. This, coupled with the morose synthesizer, creates such despair that the only thing preventing suicide is the longing to hear the music again.
This band has made a grand contribution to atmospheric doom, introducing fresh elements and exhibiting a rare creativity that I hope will become appreciated by people who otherwise see nothing in such dark music. Hasten to the vendor, for it would be a painful regret to have missed the opportunity to know this music. How many things have you let fall between your fingers, out of your grasp forever?
I am the herald who sounds the warning
Interview with Cronos conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #21 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
I understand that you had a false media war with King Diamond in the early days. You were calling him King Billy and he was calling you Cronfag.
It’s all good fun. We’ve had this since the beginning of our career. The first label that we were with, there was a band called Raven. As soon as we realized that Venom money was being used to fund Raven, that was it! You know? The war was on! We’ve always thought that it sort of creates a good… A little bit of rivalry between bands can keep everybody on their toes. Sometimes it’s good fun.
Americans like it. Professional wrestling is proof of that.
I mean, the thing for me, was… this is why I called him King Billy…. because when I first met him, he tried to sort come across to me like he was some fuckin’ hard core Satanic dude. You know? Which I was having none of it. I really wanted to sort of go, “Hi. How ya doin’? Do you wanna have a beer?” which is sort of my way of doin’ things. But he sort of wanted to sit at this table, with these candles around him, and stare at everybody. So we just sat around and got drunk and just took the piss out of him all night. Eventually, when he left… this is in Holland… he stood up from the table to go to his hotel room, with a glass in his hand. Now he had no shoes on. He dropped the fuckin’ glass, stood in it, cut his foot, and had to get rushed off to the hospital. You know? Like… (he cackles like an old witch who is about to lower children into a boiling cauldron). Really evil. (again, the cackle).
I never thought he would act like that.
Yeah. He made a right dick of himself. But I forgive ‘im.
What do you think about his music?
It’s not really my cup of tea. But it’s still heavy, and I do appreciate heavy. I’ve never really been into that high voice/low voice thing. You know? I was always a big Judas Priest fan. I can’t really get past that, really. But hey. Good luck to him. I mean, he’s doin’ some good shit. He’s got some cool titles and that. But I don’t really have to like the music. That’s the thing about this. With a lot of bands, so long as they’re ok people, that’s also a lot of the message that we’ve got. You know? Venom want to be a super group. We wanna put on a fuckin’ cross between a KISS show, a Judas Priest show, and a Black Sabbath show. You know? We wanna be that huge group. That’s what influenced us. But at the same time we wanna still come down to earth and have a fuckin’ laugh. We’ve tried to do that with Venom, not necessarily successfully. Some people say, well you’re not serious… you’re takin’ the piss… and you don’t chill out enough.. and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Fuckin’ hell! You know? We’re musicians. We’re gonna do our job. But then we’re gonna get drunk and fall around like idiots.
So you won’t be doing any King Diamond covers on the next album?
Don’t think so. I remember goin’ through Germany once, when we played that first tape, and we’re all goin’ (in a high voice) “Hail Satan! (in a low voice) “Hail Satan! We just thought it was so funny. You know? I was runnin’ around with these fuckin’ bones in me hands, doin’ fuckin’ King Billy impressions.
The funny thin is that he is going to be in the same issue.
Hey, no problem.
There was a very brutal version of At War With Satan recorded in the old days. Will that ever be available?
Was that the demos? That was, wasn’t it? When we actually came over to do the Staten Island show… I remember we had Metallica on… ‘83. We had the demo for At War With Satan in our bag, and we went to these great parties with all these young kids and got fuckin’ out of our minds. I remember pulling out the tape and played it for everybody, and they thought it was great, and we got drunk and we left and we didn’t take the tape. That’s how that got out. But we didn’t mind anyway. We thought it sounded cool anyway. So we just went, oh well, what the fuck. Win some, lose some. We still had the album to do, anyway. So it was no problem to us.
Metallica actually opened for Venom. That’s very strange.
Not really. They were young spotty kids. I mean, that’s what we thought at the time. It was difficult for Venom to… fuckin’ hell! There was no fucker who really understood what we were doin’. So we had to really selectively choose who we were on the road with. A band like Metallica… we were sent over some stuff over to England and we heard it and we thought, well at least it’s fast. Because what we were hearing was all these Iron Maiden cover bands and fuckin’ Def Leppard shit. And we thought, no, these are gonna get murdered. We knew that the Venom audience was gonna crawl out of the sewers. We just knew that. You know? We thought, uh oh… this is gonna be fun! So we couldn’t have had some fuckin’ pretty boy band on support. They would have been murdered. But metallica were cool. Hey, they were young spotty kids. But at the same time they were really energetic, which we liked. It was the same with Slayer and Exodus as well. The energy that they had… plus they were young, plus they were pretty cool and everything. We had some good laughs.
So do your style decisions reflect those of Metallica? Will you be going down the same path?
My hair’s still down to my ass.. and I don’t wear make up… and I’ve got a girlfriend.
There are no pictures of you kissing a band mate?
I don’t think so.
By the way, there’s a severe thunderstorm in the area. So if I die, what a way to go.. die while talking to Cronos. There’s a backwards message on the vinyl version of Black Metal. Is the forward version message interesting?
Yeah! It’s on everything. I mean, fuckin’ hell! There’s more than just that. There’s that stuff on quite a lot of the records. The classic one that I always thought was when we first came to do the first single, I was all full of, I wanna do all these backwards messages. I was gonna do some lord’s prayer, or something. And then when we play it backwards it will be all wicked and spooky. And I was like, no… that’s fuckin’ really childish. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna shout “You’re gonna fuckin’ burn in hell! You’re gonna bleed for me!” When you play that backwards, then it sounds… you can say “Have a nice day” and it would sound evil backwards. But then when they spun the fuckin’ record backwards and hear us actually screamin’ that shit out… I just wanted to fuckin’ frighten people.
It’s good wholesome Satanism that the entire family can enjoy.
I think so. Yeah. Definitely for the fuckin’ family. Bring the pets too. They go really well on the barbeque.
This next question comes from a person who is quite knowledgeable about the Venom ways. His name is Paul Nestarok. He writes for me under the name “Paul Tergeist”.
Cool… Bill Zebub. (laughs in mockery)
When was the last time you smoked angel dust?
Fuckin’ hell! It’s got to be over 10 years now, when i was back in the States.
Would you like to talk about that, being that you are such a mighty role model?
Well it was just cool. I got stoned. (laughs) It was pretty cool. I really got nice and wrecked on it, and felt really wicked good after the show. I got it off some chick. She was Russian. She brought it. It was really fresh… still on the fuckin’ mint leaf and everything. It was really nice.
Any psychotic episodes?
No. We didn’t, actually. But somebody said we’d have to freebase it to have that effect.
I see. So it’s not a bad psychoactive drug, according to Cronos?
I’ve never had a bad one. I never had a bad drug. I loved them all.
You are quite healthy these days. I was wondering if you changed your habits… if you no longer partake of such things.
Yeah, I do my bodybuilding and I stay fit and everything. What it is, is I consider that if i stay fit then I can party harder because I recover quicker. But so does Mantas as well. It goes with the whole sort of Venom territory, I think. It’s healthy body/healthy mind. And plus, we did the first gig in ‘82 over in Belgium and sat backstage and looked at each other and went (in slurred speech) “Fuckin’ hell! I’m fucked!” And we just said that’s it, we need to get fit to do this. If we’re gonna be able to stand on stage and look like these cool dudes who we wanna look like, standing there all big and proud and hard core, not like (pants like a dog). You know?
You were rumored to be quite in love with Jack Daniels.
Oh yes. A rather nice thing to be drinking. Amber nectar.
Whenever your stage banter included Americans, it was not very flattering. I’m not American. So I don’t are. But I would be interested in your anti-American outlook.
I don’t think it’s anti-American. I think what it is is it’s a very realistic look at the differences between England and America. When I’m in America, if i take the piss out of Americans, you’ll find that I’ll also give the counter argument for the English. I just find that there’s some sort of good little conundrums that go down in America that seems to go over everyone’s head, yet it seems so obvious to me. The classic one is when you’re called a limy. I find that one really funny because when I say to people “What is a limy?” they say, “well, you’re a fuckin’ limy”. Yeah. Well, how do you come to that name? And they’re like, “Well, when the English got on the boats to come across to America, they had to suck on limes so they didn’t get scabies and shit. So that’s why you’re a limy.” But hold on. The English who came to America stayed in America. There were some English people who didn’t come to America. They stayed in England. That’s my ancestors. We didn’t get on that fuckin’ boat. We didn’t suck no fuckin’ limes. you’re the limy! An American is a descendant of the person who got on the boat and sucked on the limes. So the Americans are fuckin’ limy.
I got on the airplane, man. I had jack Daniels. Call me a fuckin’ jackie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who call you a jackie.
Yeah. Just call me Daniels!
On the first vinyl pressing of Welcome to Hell, a poster was included. Will any kind of special collector’s item appear in a future Venom release, or is the small size of a cd too much of a limit?
That’s true. i think so. I mean, I’ll tell you where I think everything’s going now. I’m really trying to get me head into the sort of computer thing as well. You can get the wallpapers from the web pages… all the multimedia stuff… all the icons and the buttons and the bits and pieces. A lot of people are finding that to be a good addition to things now. It’s just a case of convincing the record companies that this shit doesn’t take up much space an the cd, and blah dee blah dee blah. Then we can start putting more on a record, really. Sorry. More on a cd, than we could on an album.
Like a virus, maybe.
Yeah. (laughs) Matrix virus. Take the red pill. I’m also a vinyl fan, so I look at a cd fuckin’ booklet and I just go “duh”. I want it bigger. At the same time, if you’re gonna be able to have stuff on the cd, even like video stuff like the cd rom… you buy an album and you get more than just music. You can watch it and interact with it and fuck about with it and everything. Mix your own Venom album.
Am I right in saying that there are not many professional pictures that were taken of Venom in the early days?
What it was was , what we did was, we only had really a couple of select photographers that we would let take photos, and everybody else just used to get us at gigs or catch us in the street or coming out of the gig or whatever it was. We used to use a KISS photographer, actually. It was a guy named Fin Costello. He took all the classic KISS shots. He’s an English guy. We went down and he says, “I came up with this idea for a photo session”. So the ones that we did, we did mainly with Fin Costello. Wicked good laugh. He knew all the shops to go around and get all the skulls and the bones and the mummies, fuckin’ chains, and the snakes. So we had good fun with him.
At the end of From Hell to the Unknown, I guess it’s a fake interview. But in it was the denial that black metal was the name of a music genre. It’s strictly a name for an album. But throughout the life of Venom that was a changing statement. One day black metal is music, and another day black metal is just simply an album name. So what is it today?
I’ve never heard that argument, really. If somebody says, where does the name “black metal” come from? It was a term that I created before we actually wrote the song. This is the honest way that it is. Being a fuckin’ big fan of metal music and rock and everything else, I’m also a big Van halen fan, and heard that he was doing a guitar solo for Michael Jackson. Fuckin’ hell! Heard the song… I think it was “Beat It”. I just went “Duh!” You know? Why is a fuckin’ rock fuckin’ legend like that getting involved with shit? The next thing I see is in the rock press, where you’ve got the heavy metal charts. You’ve got #1 with Michael Jackson with “Beat It” just simply because Eddie Van Halen had done a solo. So I remember goin’ into one of the early Venom rehearsals… I was furious. I was like, fuck this! We’re NOT heavy metal. Fuck this! No way! I don’t want to be in the same chart as that! We started playin’ with words.. like we were longhaired punks. We were metal punk. Then we were power metal. And by the time we actually sat down with the press and they were sayin’ “Right, what’s happenin’ with this, that, and the other?” I was like, “Yeah. Look, I’m fuckin’ sick of this shit! Fuckin’ listen to me now! This is not fuckin’ shit! This is fuckin’ metal, this, mate! This is in your face. This will kick your fuckin’ eyes out! You know? Don’t fuck around with this! This is black metal! This is power metal! This is speed metal. This is thrash metal! This is death metal! This is will kill you, this shit, man! Fuck off!’ I was just so angry. I was just so pissed off. I just thought, NO WAY! So that’s where that was all born from. Yeah, we then wrote the song Black Metal. We thought, let’s describe Venom in a song. Black metal is describin’ Venom. The actual genre that fuckin’ followed was simply… I mean, we formed a band that we wanted to see. We wanted a band to look like Venom.. So what the kids obviously did, our fans, went, “We would like to be like that as well”, and they took little bits out of Venom like we would’ve taken little bits out of Sabbath and Judas Priest and fuckin’ KISS and whoever influenced us.
And King Diamond?
Yeah… of course. (cackles) So that’s how all these sort of things come together. It’s other people who say, “Oh Venom are responsible for this, and Venom are responsible for that!” If I’m in any way responsible for the huge explosion of a whole load of fuckin’ demons, it seems like the gates of hell have just opened up, and a million death metal ugly motherfuckers have come crawling out and have infected the whole world… hell yeah! That’s what I say!
How do you feel about the Norwegians claiming that the 90’s music that they seemed to create is called “Black Metal” especially since they pay homage to Bathory instead of to you?
A lot of them pay homage to Venom as well. I mean, they’ve all got the Venom “Welcome to Hell” t-shirts. The whole thing is, they’re not really encapsulating the whole thing of what black metal is because black metal captures all of the metals, and Venom play fast songs and slow songs and moody songs and atmospheric songs… and they play only one style of music. They play like a death metal more like, and with a (in a Popeye voice) wicky wicky wicky wicky we… sort of like speeded up Popeye lyrics. There’s one fuckin’ song we heard a while ago. it was really funny. It sounded like Popeye singing “Oh I do like the babyside, the seaside.” I thought it was great! We were fuckin’ pissin’ ourselves laughing!
I think that was Immortal.
I got two people, the singer Abbath and the bass player Iscariah, to sing actually sing the lyrics of Popeye because they don’t have that show. They don’t know why I was telling them to sing it.
I wrote down the words lyrics down. (Cronos laughs, quite amused) I’ll have to send it to you.
It’s going to appear on one of my cd’s.
Brilliant! It’s like when you go to France and you get some French girl and she can’t speak English, and say, “Here. Do you want to learn English?” and they’re going “Ke?” And you go, “Yeah. Just say this. Say ‘fuuuuck meeee.” And they’re just standin’ there goin’ “Fok may?” that’s the best. Great fun.
Do you find a similarity between your song “Manitou” and Bathory’s “Baptized in Fire and Blood?” from the Hammerheart album?
No. Manitou was actually written during the Welcome to Hell days. So I don’t know when the bathory track was actually put together. But, most certainly not! The song Manitou was actually the original riff for the song “Possessed” It should’ve actually went… in Manitou, where the riff goes dil noo noo noo noo noo… right? That should’ve went, “Look at me. Satan’s child!” Dil noo noo noo noo noo. “Born of evil. Thus defiled!” But then as we’d done the Black Metal and At War With… album, we were startin’ to look at the “Possessed” songs and goin’ “Neh neh nuh nih neh neh.” So I came up with a whole new riff sequence for the possessed thing and put the Manitou lyrics to the Possessed riff to make Manitou.
It’s a great joy for me to play those songs back to back on my radio show. But no one has ever called me, like “Wow! That’s very similar!” It’s just something that maybe only I can hear.
But I don’t hear voices or anything like that. How do you pronounce it… a-BAD’-on or A’-ba-don?
In England, we would say A-ba-don.
Abaddon is no longer in the band.
Rumor has it that he found the direction of Venom to be taking a turn for the weak.
No. What it was was he fell in love with Marilyn Manson. Yep. He’s now gone into some kind of computerized drum technical frenzy type very bad Nine Inch Nails rip off shit. No thank you.
So he couldn’t do that just as a hobby and keep true in the Venom way?
This is what we didn’t understand, because we want to actually progress Venom. We sort of want to take Venom into this century… you know… corny, corny… everyone’s on millennium frenzy. We don’t really mean that. It’ s not just a reunion that we put together. We saw immediately, when we were playin’ the live songs, like “Evil One” and the crowd reactions… that we could actually keep this goin’. You know? When people say “come back”, it usually takes a week and they’re fucked up again. It’s like. we’ve been sort of back together no since ‘95. So there is a future in this, and we want to push this band. But what we don’t want to do is be influenced by other types of music, whether it’s Marilyn Manson or whoever. I mean, I quite like the Nine Inch Nails stuff. I think it’s fuckin’ insane, especially the first couple of albums. But everything else from then has always just been a rip off of Trent Reznor. The originators usually have the best ideas. I don’t really see that Venom can go down that kind of path. Venom are all about fuckin’ pickin’ up guitars and playin’ drums and gettin’ hot and sweaty, not pushin’ a whole load of buttons and lettin’ a load of machines do it.
The songs on Resurrection seem very radio-friendly, that is, until the profanity kicks in, making them commercially unplayable.
That’s the Zappa influence.
It just seems very ironic to me because they do seem almost like they were written for radio at points, but then just blatantly saying “Fuck you!”… it’s just sabatoging it.
Well, it’s the Zappa bit that’s comin’ out there. But we definitely didn’t think that because it’s a fuckin’ angry album for us. I mean, we spent a year fightin’ with lawyers, and all sorts of bullshit, and not playin’ the music, which was very frustrating. And the only way that we could get that frustration out when we started doin’ the new songs was actually just to write the most aggressive shit that we could, and that even goes with the titles and everything. I mean, even walkin’ into rehearsal one day after I’d lent Mantas the “Load” album of metallica… and this is definitely a fact, DEFINITELY… 100%… I lent Mantas the fuckin’ “Load” album and he comes runnin’ into rehearsal, like threw it on the floor, and just yelled “What the fuck’s that SHIT?!” And he says, “Right. I’ve got a new song called ‘Loaded’.” And he played the, and he said, “This is my answer to that!” So the track “Loaded” is Mantas’ answer to Metallica’s “Load” and “Reload”. This is Mantas sayin’ to Metallica, “This is fuckin’ Loaded!”
It seems lyrics in bands like Bon Jovi and other glamsters were a whole bunch of cliches maybe thrown into a computer, and the computer selected the ones that rhymed. Venom lyrics, in songs like “The Seven Gates of Hell” are very godly. You can actually send them to a newspaper for a poetry contest. No, I’m just kidding.
I know what you mean, though, because that’s how they start. That’s how all my lyrics start. They just start as a rhyme, an anecdote, a saying, a quip, something I’ve caught off the tv, walkin’ down the street, whatever… I mean, i do just sort of pick up on generalizations, and then I try to plant the seed and let the thing grow. Even a funny way that one word will go into another word can set us off on a whole wave, writin’ a strange lyric. You know? But also things that you see immediately as well. I was standin’ on stage in Greece and the whole of the fuckin’ audience had a right arm up in the air, like a big fuckin’ fist. And i remember standin’ there and I said to meself, “Standing there, arms out toward you, clenching fists.” And I thought, fuckin’ hell, that’s a lyric straight away. They’re all stretchin’ their arms out towards you, clenchin’ fists, and it’s one of the opening lyrics to the songs on the new album… Pandemonium. Things can come to me at any time. If you start wrtin’ on a catchy riff, then it’s gonna become somethin’ that will have a flow. I’m not into one of these songs… even like the Bon Jovi stuff… it’s so predictable. Fell in love/fell out of love. You know… again and again and again. It’s good to have fun with words, sometimes. And being English, you know, fuckin’ we’re renown for it anyway. we like to fuck around with our wonderful accents. (cackles)
And you also like to use really intense adjectives for the most simple things… like “frightfully” good. The lyrics in songs like “Seven Gates of Hell” are timeless. However, on the new album… and this is not an insult…
Well I’d like you to speak your mind.
It just seems that there are more 20th century phrases… maybe cliches.
How did you let that happen?
Because I think it’s just NOW. I feel it’s right to do that now. A lot of that stuff seemed like the right lyric to use at the time. I think we’re bein’ more aggressive with the things we’re sayin’ as well. I mean, we seem to be attacking christ more. We seem to be attacking people more. We seem to be being stronger. I think all of those sort of classic elements of what Venom songs were are sort of peakin’ with this album. I think we’ve sort of encapsulated a lot what Venom is about. There’ll be a track on this album for everybody, type of thing. And that’s how we saw definitely the Black Metal album. We knew that there’s be some fucker who liked at least one song on that album.
Rumor has it that you’re an aerobics instructor. (he laughs) Is that true?
Really? So do you do the step… (we both laugh)
You see what’s so funny? Do you know what it is? I wanna know what it is with guys… they just think it’s so fuckin’ funny, and yet you’ve got me standin’ in a room with like 50 scantily clad women.
Yeah. that’s an enviable position. But aren’t some of them tubs?
No, no, no, no, no.
So do you add erotic hip movements to your routine?
Without a doubt.
That’s so strange. Are you employed at mantas’ gym?
No. He has his own. He mainly just does martial arts. Kickboxing ,tae kwon do, karate… all this sort of stuff. You know? I mean, this is why we were laughing at Abaddon calling his album “Dance Metal.” If you’ve ever seen Abaddon, he’s like tow left feet. So I said to the European press, “Well if Abaddon wants to book the venue, maybe he can sell tickets, and he can stand on stage and demonstrate how you’re supposed to dance to this shit.” You know? I’ll get up there. if he wants to show me the moves, hey, I’ll give it a try. Chances are, he’ll get on stage and fall down drunk and piss himself.
When you get a bad review, do you send Mantas over to the journalist’s house?
Yeah. He is deadly. No! We definitely think people should always speak their mind. We are never hurt by a bad review, the same as when we have a good review… we don’t have a fuckin’ party. We have always made albums for ourselves. Like Possessed… we should have done a lot more work on that album. We’ve only got ourselves to blame. So we kicked ourselves about that. We don’t need anybody else to do it for us. It’s amazing to say that Venom thought that they could have done better on that album. It sells just as well amongst Black Metal and Welcome to Hell and At War With Satan. A lot of people who listen to Venom mustn’t think what we think. They think it’s a cool Venom album. They weren’t in the studio.
I’ve never interviewed a band from England that like d Kerrang. Why is Kerrang anti-English?
They’ve got tongues that are 3,000 miles long and they land right on the New York shore. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what their problem is with England. But, like, they’re so renowned for bein’… it’s so obvious, it’s like the fuckin’ snake out of Jungle Book. You know it’s gonna turn on you. You just know. You go to Kerrang. They’ll lick your ass and give you a good review. But you know that next week they’re gonna turn. They’re so predictable and boring. Let’s hype them up and knock them down. Fans decide to buy the records to continue that career, not because some fuckin’ little goose egg in an office is gonna try to make you or break you.
I don’t know about England, but in America, the major metal press is not composed of metalheads. They’re all nerds who used to get beaten up by metalheads. So do you think that this is just revenge against people who stole their lunch money? Seriously. Whenever I attend an event and go into the press room, I never reveal who I am. I just watch, and I’m amazed that these are the people who write about metal. If one were standing next to you at a show and maybe shared an opinion, you’d probably slap him or say, “No offense, but go away.”
When we did the Dynamo in Holland, Slayer did the next day. We sort of hung around the next day so we could watch Slayer up at the side, and there were all these obvious record company dudes with this short hair and fuckin’ suits on. And all the crowd’s like bouncin’ at the same time to this certain Slayer song, and everybody’s got the same groove goin’ down. Everybody’s goin’ up down up down up down up down. There’s these two guys like swayin’ side to side, like as if they’ve got an itch. Totally out of rhythm with everybody else. But you can also see them lookin’ around like, hoping nobody can see them. They were just so out of place. they were so fuckin’ out of place… in the safety of that besides-the-stage ooh-I’ve-got-a-backstage-pass… I felt like runnin’ out and throwin’ the fuckers right in the middle of the mosh pit! It’s like, get out of that one!
I think all metal magazines should have pictures of the writers so you could see who’s writing these reviews.
What we were gonna do… I mean, we never got around to it, we had loads of threats… what we were gonna do was we were gonna put a magazine together that reviewed all the magazines. (cackles) We would be reviewin’ the magazine from a week before. “Well, they slated Aerosmith, the sad bastards.” And just really pull the magazines down.. well, the ones who deserve it, of course. There’s fuckin’ plenty of them. The English press have that… sort of need to want to be different. You know? Even though the rest of the world might say, “Hail Aerosmith! Best band on the planet!” England will go, “Oh, we think they’re shit!” Just to be cunts. just to be sad bastards. Like, “Look, I had to get up this morning. It was still dark, and it was pissin’ down with rain, and cold, and I had to get out of me bed and review this. So fuck you.” It’s really sad, isn’t it?
It was cool watching Venom at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Were you there? Excellent! We had a great time.
You played Seven Gates of Hell.
Indeed. We opened with it.
I heard you were at the bar, but i was loading in my stuff, and i though, well, maybe later. But later never happened. But it’s great talking to you now. I was wondering if you were happy with everything over there.
We never are. We always plan 210 things and then we get like 20 of them. And that’s always the case with Venom. We always have to oveplan and we always end up disappointed. But hopefully the crowd still get more than what they expected. So we try to get that sort of balance. Venom played 20 minutes late. The reason for that is because some fuckin’ suits came up to us with large fuckin’ wads of paper, saying, “Where’s the license for this pyro? Where’s this? Where’s that? Where’s your granny’s World War I teeth?” You know? It’s like, what a fuckin downer! We had all the signed stuff. We even had special pyro people. And these guys were just being a pain in the ass. One of the bummers with America is some of the laws are just too strict with things like that. Fuckin’ hell. we go to Europe and we practically fuckin’ detonate the country, and everybody loves it, and all the people come out of their houses and watch the pretty fireworks and applaud. And in America they go (in a grumpy voice) “Nope. Can’t set that off.” (cackles) America, the home of the free. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you can’t bring Venom’s pyros.
But you had plenty of pyro action at that show.
Oh yeah. But it was really touch and go because always Venom are in a situation where we say, “Where do we stand if we gotta be forced to walk on a stage if we haven’t got a pyro?” when it’s right there and we’re ready to go. Once the guys sort of tipped their hats and said “We’re out of here” and we got a chance to set the intro tape goin’, that was it. We just fired up in about three seconds. Boom! It was on. It was great. We fuckin’ ran out there. I fuckin’ loved it. It was great to see America after 10-11 years.
That’s more like the armpit of America.
But still, it was hungry faces. This is the thing. I mean, I’m not standin’ lookin’ at a crowd who are in their 30’s. I’m lookin’ at a crowd who are still in their teens. This is a new generation of Venom fans, and they’re singin’ all the fuckin’ lyrics. I’m like, oooh. This is fuckin’ wild. Probably some of the kids in the audience weren’t even born when Welcome to hell was released.
You heard the old Greek tale about the marathon runner who ran and ran and ran to warn his nation of some army advance, and as soon as he said his piece, he died.
That’s how i felt at the Venom show because I traveled 25 hours in one drive, and I didn’t sleep all day just to watch Venom. By the time you came on, I was the walking dead. And I forgot that there would be a detonation. When it went off, i really thought that I had died. I couldn’t see, and i couldn’t hear. And I didn’t know where I was. (Cronos was laughing the whole time)
That was very good. that was a good story.
That was the only concert event where I was horrified. It was because of the detonation. It just bewildered me. You robbed me of my senses.
(laughs) I tell you what, mate. After we got back to England, I got sent all the VHS videos from every fuckin’ angle. There’s a piece of video footage which is priceless. You could not pay for this. It’s from the mixing desk, and there’s a little bit of area where the mixing desk ends and where the kids start. There’s these two guys standin’ there. And you can see Venom on stage, and we’re goin’ through Countess Bathory. And when we set the huge big flames off, as the flames dies down, the two kids at exactly the same time turned around and looked at each other and sort of like waved a fist like “YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! DID YOU SEE THAT?!!” I could not have paid them to do that. That reaction was just totally genuine. It was Countess Bathory. There was the flames. YES!!! Wicked, wicked great watchin’ that stuff.
I heard that Venom commands quite a fee to appear.
Well, yeah. All we do is, we say to the promoter, “You’ve got to be able to cover the cost of a Venom show.” And that included what Venom are gonna bring with pyro and crew and all the rest of it. It’s like what any band asks. I mean, we don’t walk away from gigs with pockets full of money. It’s not feasible to do that. The promoter’s gonna say, “Well, we can put X amount of money into it.” And whatever a regular band would then do and say, “Well, this is fee.” we have to say, “Well that is pyro and that is this and that is that.” We always wanna bring our own equipment. We always wanna bring our own guitars and amps and all the fuckin’ rest of it. A lot of bands, they’ll just take their guitars, and they’ll have all the rest of the gear provided. They’ll use any old amp. They’ll any old speaker. What the fuck. Venom aren’t like that because we like to get that Venom sound, and we feel that we can do that with amps that we trust. So that’s all extra fuckin’ air fares. It’s all extra carriage and trucks and all the rest of it. It’s a realistic fee, and some people can do it. It all depends on the venue and the area and to whether we have a big enough following.
It’s great that you clarified that because when people say that Venom commands a high price, it’s more a snobbish sort of thing. So you’re not living in the lap of luxury because of your random appearances.
Not really. The less live work that Venom do then the richer we get because then we can spend our royalties on ourselves. But as soon as we get into road stuff, hands always have to go into pockets to buy things. I mean, mantas has already been out buyin’ personal pyro and settin’ them off in his backyard. Strappin’ them to his guitars… he’s tryin’ to get these Ace Frehley rockets. A big KISS fan. He wants to fuckin’ have fuckin’ warheads comin’ out of his fuckin’ guitars.
I’ve heard quotes that you said when you started you wanted to be the best. Is that the best musically, or as far as showmanship?
Well it was a combination of our influences because we loved KISS and Priest and Sabbath and Tull and all these bands who had a stage show and who wore stage costumes and who were slightly untouchable and larger than life. So we didn’t want to be the regular t-shirt and jeans band. So we were really influenced by supergroups, and we wanted to be a supergroup. I remember that we used to say that Venom are all of the bands that have preceded us, thrown into a pot and mixed up. That is Venom. We have the KISS show. We have the Judas Priest leather. We have the hard core Sabbath lyrics. So you can actually section Venom off into all those kinds of influences. The same as you look at death metal and speed metal and all that now.. you know, all the Norwegian metal. You can see where they took this off Venom or where they took that off Venom, and progressed it all in their own ways. It’s all about influences, and i think that’s what makes music grow. When people take a little bit and then move it on another stage.
In the old days the extreme metal art was new, and there was a lot to be learned about recording that kind of music.
I’m also pretty sure that the recording budget for you in those days was pretty low.
Welcome to hell… we had actually… because i worked at the studio, I convinced the engineer to work for free. “If we come in for a few hours, will you work for free?” Yeah, because he was a mate. So then i went and talked to the studio boss, and said, “The engineer said he was gonna work for free. Can I bring me band in? There’s nobody in the studio. Fuckin’ blah blah blah.” He’s like, “Yeah”. So I was able to scam Venom into the studio for free to get some demos done. Now I’m then playin’ them for the record company. they’re like, “No. It’s shit.” Yeah, it’s like little Conrad’s band. You know? I was like, “This is wicked, this is wicked.” And they were like, “No. It’s lousy.” They had all these Ravens and Tigers of Pantang and like lame shit. So eventually the record company said, “Look. There’s three days spare. Go in and see what you can do.” So we had three days, and we recorded all of Welcome to Hell. Now that was demos as far as we were concerned. But that was recorded… vocals,solos, everything, mixed, finished. Sunday night, home. And then next week we got the record company saying, “We will release this as it is, now, as an album, or forget it.” We were like, “It’s demos! We’ve got to do it properly. Give at least a week or something.” “No, there’s no more money in the budget left. You release Welcome to Hell as it is, or fuck off.” The next day I walked in with the album cover, sayin’ “Here. Go for it.” which was the same as the single cover. Just very large and gold.
But don’t you find it strange that there are many bands, especially today, who are using adjectives like “true” to describe their metal? They romanticize the recording quality of those old days. You can’t possibly prefer that sort of production.
Well not me. I wanna improve it. I mean, a guy in Europe I was talkin’ to, he said the new album production is really crisp, and he likes the sound of the dirtier old albums. And i said, “No problem, dude. Put it on your hifi. Take all the treble off, all the top end. Turn your fuckin’ speakers up to full blast. It will sound like shit.” If you like to listen to things like you’re in some fuckin’ swamp. No problem. Put the album on and stick your head under the bath. Stick your head in the fuckin’ water. What the fuck? we’re goin with the times and we’re cleanin’ up our sound. but we’re tryin’ to fuckin’ make it heavier at the same time. I don’t think the crispness of the album has taken away from the fact that it also rattles the shelves. If I put that on next to Cast in Stone, it’s a fuckin’ louder heavier album. you’ve got to turn the thing down. You know? It’s like a beast. Amazing.
What would you say to those people who accuse you of… maybe this might be a little strong to say… it’s inappropriate anyway.. of selling out, because it’s too clean compared to the primitive sound of the old days?
I just think Venom are dead if we don’t move on. I think that was the point of this reunion.. so that we could progress it into a resurrection of Venom, because it was obvious that, yes, we’re gonna do the reunion. But we’re not gonna tour that forever. We’re either gonna put some new songs into it, or we’re gonna become some fuckin’ parody of ourselves. There’s a lot of bands in England who were famous in the ‘70’s, like Sweet and Mud and all these sort of like glam rock bands. they’re now together with all these different members, and they’re doin’ the clubs. they’re playin’ to like 20 people a night. And they’re singin’ the songs of their hits. It’s really sad. And we didn’t want anything to do with that.I mean, we had to take this band on, and it works. If people don’t dig it and don’t buy the albums, well then that’s the death of any band. If fans don’t want a band to continue, then just don’t support them and don’t buy the records. So it’s really them who determine Venom’s future. The fact that Venom are here 20 years later is because we’ve had consistent sales with what we’ve done that’s had enough companies to keep their eyebrows raised to say, “Here are some deals.” You know? As soon as that stops, as soon as Venom become has-beens and are washed out and the deals stop and the money stops then the band is fucked. So I think the only way to do this is to progress. I do think that we’ve only progressed slowly, though. I think we’ve only progressed in a small way. We haven’t changed our music or style. We’re not wearing different clothes. We haven’t cut our hair. We haven’t put make-up on. All we’ve really done is crisped up the production. All of the other elements of Venom are there. It’s always been Mantas and I who write all the songs. So we’ve lost nothing as far as the writing team is concerned. So all we’ve got now is a tighter drummer and a better sound. So I think we’re a fuckin’ winner with this one.
In demonology there was a rebellion in hell, where one faction wanted to keep mankind ignorant, and the other wanted knowledge, saying that new knowledge is new ways of evil. And I think new Venom is like that. i really liked the newer version of Manitou that was on Cast in Stone. But some people laughed at me and called me a poser. How could you say that I’m a poser?
A poser likin’ Venom… this is not right somehow, is it? A punk with a suit on. You now?
You’ve probably seen it yourself. Some people just try to out-underground everybody around them. There are other ways to get social power than to just knock everything. But I think you make effective use of sound. Your voice definitely needs that better production. You should do some speaking parts on some cd rom games.
Yeah. I did some for the new Exorcist movie.
It was said that you once renounced the dark side to your lyrics, saying that it’s purely a gimmick.
I never really said that. I speak from experiences and emotions and all the rest of it. I believe that today a lot of people… we’re not under the inquisitors anymore, and we haven’t been for hundreds of years. everybody’s resorting to more natural methods. everybody’s standing up for themselves more. i mean, even to the point of using aromatherapy and getting into natural herbs and everything. The whole sort of belief structure is changing. around the whole world as well. The witches are free and roaming all over, and there’s nothing to stop it. So the factions of hell i would have been on the side of would have been the ones of knowledge.
Interview with Ronnie James Dio conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
I have heard that thou wert in a 50’s band.
Well, I never could understand that because everyone thinks I was a doo-wop singer or something. No, I mean, I had a band at the end of the ’50’s when I first started. But I wouldn’t consider us to be a ’50’s band.
What was that music like? Didst thou have the classic biker hair-doo?
I was never a biker, to tell you the truth – I think we were just getting pissed off about everything that “was” and didn’t want to be that anymore. So I think we were trying to create our own identity. That was a real transitional time anyway. We were just greasy bastards like everybody else. That music is no longer available?
I certainly hope not. It’s part of what your life is. But, you know… It’s so far away from where I took myself.
Art thou vocally trained?
How is it that thy notes are very true when singing live?
I got a great ear. I started playing when I was real young – playing the trumpet. I played all the way through high school. I got a real good sense of musicality, I think, from that. But I think most of it’s pretty natural. You either got a good ear or you don’t. It’s real hard to teach a good ear. So again,, for me, I’m pretty much always in tune. I heard something that happened when thou wert in Black Sabbath. It is very vague. But it had something to the effect of thou having an agreement with the band about public appearances with Ozzy. There was a show in which Ozzy might have come on stage, and the rumor is that thou walked off and never reappeared for the remainder of the tour, and Rob Halford took thy place for that one show.. Does that strike a bell?
Well, it had nothing to do with Ozzy being there, because Ozzy wasn’t there. We had about a month of touring to do from the East Coast, where we started, to the West Coast again. At the beginning of that tour it was already booked that we were going to be playing in Long Beach. We were going to get rid of that gig and open up for Ozzy, not once, but twice… in Costa Mesa. It was at that point that I refused to do those shows. We carried on and did the entire tour… until the last two shows in Costa Mesa, where Rob did go in and took my place. But that was all, really. It wasn’t a personal thing. It had nothing to do with Ozzy. Well, it being “Ozzy” made a big difference. I had left my band. They had left whatever situations they had… led us to reform Black Sabbath again, and to take it to other places… not just with one album… having thrown all those things away that were very personal for me, and going for the Sabbath entity, I felt that… for us to suddenly have to open for the actual lead singer who never really had anything good to say about any of us after it was all over, plus the fact that from the rumblings that I had heard… they were pushing really hard for a reunion anyway… So I felt that at that particular show they were probably going to announce that there was going to be a Sabbath reunion with Bill and Tony and Geezer and Ozzy. And that’s exactly what happened! I just felt that it was not correct for us as the Black Sabbath that we had re-invented to be the opening act for Ozzy. Whatever proportion that got blown out of is beyond me. It’s just me standing up for what I believe. I believed it for the band, not for me. It wasn’t a personal thing for me… opening up for the actual lead singer who had nothing but bad things to say about us, especially Tony. I think the sense of money was stronger than the sense of pride. They did the show. I didn’t. And that was the end of the day for me with the band.
The rumors made thee look like a brat. Well, that’s always the way. I’d have to take that everywhere that I’ve gone. “I’m difficult…” which is completely untrue. “I’m self-centered.. “ which is
absolutely untrue. Again, the things that I do, I do for all the people in the band. I thought every band I ever was in was going to last forever, each and every one – even the reformation with Sabbath. But you have to go into it with that attitude, not like Ian Gilan did when he did the album after me, the “Born Again” album. “Oh thank you very much. Oh, Purple’s ready? Off l go!” That was all so pre-planned and predisposed, and that really bothers me. But any way, I’m the one who supposedly took the blame for it because I didn’t do the shows. Maybe I was at fault. But what could I be at fault for? They DID play the shows. They seemed very happy to do them. They seemed happy with Rob. I’m sure he did a great job. And they got a chance to announce that they were going to re-form and make a lot of money, which I’m sure made them all happy until Ozzy said, “Aah… I was only kidding. “ By that time, whoever had set about to destroy what we had put together again,did a really good job of it. A lot of it was very well thought out by someone. Wouldst thou say that thou left Black Sabbath on bad terms?
As usual, we kinda left on “no” terms. We never had a lot of communication except for the early days. Tony is a really nice, funny person. I don’t think that we harbor any resentment for each other, except for a couple of little instances. But I’m sure that if we saw each other right now, it would be exactly the same as it always has been – a hug and a “hey!”
I heard that thou left because they wouldn’t let thee play trumpet on any of their albums.
Trumpet AND bongos. That’s what really pissed me off. ‘They wouldn’t let me play bongos. To a man who had once sold out arenas how does it feel to be reduced to a tour of small clubs?
It doesn’t feel any different to me. It never has. I’m a musician. I always have been. That’s all I ever wanted to do. And I have been all these years. So I accomplished goal #1. Playing in arenas just happens to be a by-product of some of the success you have. I never asked for that either. It makes you want to be on stage. It’s very impressionable to the young mind. But it wasn’t really the be-all/end-all for me. Luckily, I was able to get to that point. I just take life for what it is. I’ve always been really realistic about it. If you could have one good career that lasts you like 5 years tops, then you’re pretty damn lucky because this is a brutal business where you come and go very quickly. I’ve been lucky. I had careers three different times. Four or five, really… from ELF…