Venom’s Cronos Talks ‘From the Very Depths’ Disc, Metal’s Evolution + More
Venom bassist/vocalist Cronos was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The rocker spoke about the 'From the Very Depths' album, the band's variety of lineups and the evolution of metal over the years. Check out the chat below.
Creatively, what made the process of making 'From the Very Depths' most fulfilling?
Well, I had a big farm and folks would come by to harvest it and we dug all of the ground to create a huge big hole so that we could create a huge big studio in the ground on this farm. And the farm was originally used for growing Christmas trees. No I’m pulling your leg. You know, after we did the last album, the guys in the band had so much confidence in performing 'Angel Down' because it was just so well accepted by the fans. We went out on the road and we were asking the fans what songs do you want to hear expecting to hear a lot of the the earlier classic Venom tunes and the guys in the front row would shout 'Pedal to the Metal,' 'Hammerhead' and 'Nemesis' and were shouting for the songs off of the new album and it would give us a rapid boost in our f---ing confidence. There has been many years in this band where everyone has said bands don’t work and original works and blah blah f---ing blah and it's absolute bollocks now because nobody even wants to talk about that lineup.
People are calling this the second classic Venom. We don’t put these words into people’s mouths, this is what they are saying. So to go into the studio and be able to create an album that you know, the creative process is there, we have as much time as we want, we haven’t got the record companies breathing down our necks, hurry, hurry, hurry. Ideas have been flowing so fast and furious. It’s just been one of the most enjoyable albums I have ever made. You know, creative situations, I'll go into the studio and one day I was a little late and Rage and Dante were already all there. And Dante says, "Dude, I got a crazy new drum beat check it out" and I’m like, "I got a good idea for that" and then we started putting some stuff together and then next thing you know we came out with the song 'Evil Law.' It maybe took f---ing ten minutes.
That is the kind of thing I like about this band, that the ideas are not forced. Nobody is sitting there with a big stick saying you must do this, you must do that. I remember watching the 'Some Kind of Monster' video from Metallica and they were sitting trying to come up with some ideas for the new album and Lars pops up saying you’re really stuck man. You have no ideas left. And I must have said if I ever end up in that situation I would get a different job. So it’s great to be able to have a band where we have too many ideas. We know what the fans want, we know what the legacy of "Black Metal" is, we know how the music works, we try to give fans the best of everything that is great about metal. More studs and leather than Priest and heavier than Motorhead, more satanic than Black Sabbath. Bigger pyros than KISS. Venom can be just that extreme. To be able to create an album like 'From the Very Depths' which is kind of like the next album from 'The Fallen Angels' is great. We just can’t wait to get on the road and play these f---ing songs live.
Venom has made an impact on the bands that would establish more extreme styles of metal. What impresses you most about the way metal has evolved from what Venom did?
Well, Venom was right there at the f---ing right time. When rock music died, I mean I watched it die. I grew up listening to bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and the earlier bands that were considered the rockier bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who, Bad Company and then punk rock came along. I thought that was amazing. It was new, brash, arrogant, good and loud and f---ing amazing, but then it just died. Everything f---ing died. And it was a f---ing hard time for me as a teenager. I was just leaving school and I was thinking what the f---, I was into this s--t and now everyone is f---ing leaving.
I remember the first time Venom came to the stage in '84 and we did the shows in Staten Island and had Metallica open up. I was talking to some guys over there and they were saying that they were excited that you guys can have so much music over here. They said Judas Priest wouldn't even get arrested over here. What the f---! So I think it was really being at the right place at the right time that Venom came along, put that injection into the music.
I'm not one of these people that wants to pat me self on the back for doing something amazing -- what I think is, Venom were capitalists. Venom were right there at the right time where people needed an injection of fresh ideas. When we first went out, we were looking for bands who were taking that influence from Venom. That was the early Metallica, Slayer, Exodus even Anthrax and Testament. These were the bands that were looking up to us saying, OK we've heard this New Wave of British Heavy Metal but, there's another darker side which is a lot more exciting and really is the future of where we're going with this. Listen to the Steppenwolf song 'Born to Be Wild.' This is it, this is what we're doing. We're born to be wild.
It was billed that you'd perform the entire new album during the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. What made that the environment to do something like that? Are there any plans to perform the whole album on tour this year?
[laughs] Yeah. F---in' just out of the sheer excitement that we think we created a great album and it's been receiving such amazing reviews that we thought, we wanted to just take it one step further and actually show people how f---in' real this album is and to be able to play it live. The album was constructed by three guys playing in a room on a real drumkit, real guitars and real amplifiers. We know that we can get onstage and do it again. We've been at rehearsals, going through the songs and they're a f---in' joy to play. It's real rock and roll. There are no samples, no drum machines. There's no bulls--t. This is real rock and roll. This is what The Beatles started. Getting some guys together, getting in a room with some instruments and creating pure magic from fresh air.
The 70,000 tons, we did it in 2012 and we did some special stuff back then. We did two different sets on the two shows that we played. I said I'd really like to do something really extraordinary. Venom have a history of giving people that something extra, I know when we did Hammersmith back in 1984 and the amount of people I've spoken to since who claim to have been at that show. I mean, Hammersmith probably holds about 5000 people but I think I've spoken to about 50,000 people who said they were there [laughs]. It's one of those, yeah, what were you doing when Jimi Hendrix died? I think 70,000 tons is the perfect thing for that, where people can say "I was there." For all the people who weren't there, tough s--t.
The new album was initially expected to be released early last year. What delayed its release and what if anything changed about the album over that time?
The thing is, for many years I've always had 100% control over everything that gets released by Venom as far as the songs and the music. That's not down to being a control freak, that's down to the fact that nobody else f---in' contributes. It's always been the pain in my butt about this band, this is not a solo band. If it was, it'd be called Cronos. This is Venom and it's got a guitarist and drummer in it. I don't think that they should be lazy and sit and f---in' play drums when if they're a musician, they should have ideas. They should want to better themselves as musicians, want to challenge themselves and do things that scare them. That's what this is all about, you want those butterflies in your gut. You want this real, like a fight. You want to be anxious about your next fight. You want to be anxious about your next show. So when I started to put the ideas together for 'Fallen Angels' I asked the other guys to contribute. I said to them also, now you have to get involved in the production side. Yes, I'm the producer and I'm going to oversee the entire project but I want to make sure that you guys are happy with what you're doing. It's not just now my decision. OK, I can be sitting there at the end of the day, sort of the executive producer and give the yay or nay, but the delay was really where a song would be constructed, all the parts would be recorded and then I would sit there and say -- that's a go. Send it for mixing, get it out to be mastered.
Whereas now, the delay was I had to go see Rage, check all his parts with him make sure he was happy with it but also that he was happy with what I was doing, happy with the vocal, bassline, drums and I had to do exactly the same thing with Dante. Not just check that he nailed his s--t and he was happy with his drums, but are you also happy with the way the songs is? Are you happy with the whole band? That all takes time. So really, it took three times longer than it normally would but I think at the end of the day you get a better product because you get a better album that you know everybody loves.
I've always said, we make Venom albums for Venom. I have to stand there and get behind that album and say, I believe in this album. I trust this album, this album is what I f---in believe to be Black Metal. When we do concerts, that's for the legions. If the legions want to tell me what f---ing songs to play, I'm happy to play the songs they want to hear. But when it comes to the ablum, that's up to us. If you like it, great. If you don't, go and f---in take a hike because we dont really care. But it is f---ing great when people dig your s--t.
What makes the current lineup of Venom special to you?
I think the fact that we've had so many members of Venom in the past who've been in the band for very wrong reasons. Whether they just wanted to get rich quick or if they just wanted to have a bit of fame and get laid or whatever. I don't know. But it's been kind of like my mission, to find what I had back in the early '80s which was guys in the band who were in the band for the right reasons.
I've had many lineup changes and I've been very vocal about the fact that I will sack somebody so f---ing fast if ... I don't give a f---ing s--t who they are, if they're not in this band for the right reasons, I always find out. Of course when they first join the band, they're all full of smiles. Putting the effort in, putting on a show. Yeah, it's hard to tell but time will always wear them down. Eventually you start seeing the cracks, then it's like, "OK I understand what we've got here." They're a f---ing joker.
Once we got Dante in 2009, and he just gelled so well with me and Rage, we went out to South America, did the f---ing shows over there and we had such a blast. I felt like a f---in' teenager again. It was a pleasure to play. We couldn't wait to get on stage. Then we went across Europe and we did other shows in Canada and the States. This band has just gone from strength to strength. People are calling this the second classic lineup and I believe that's true. This is a classic lineup now. I think a lot of the fans who are in the front rows of the audience, they're singing along to the new songs. They're shouting for 'Pedal to the Metal' or they're shouting for 'Hammerhead' 'AntiChrist' and a lot of the songs from maybe the last 4 or 5 albums. Proof's in the f---ing pudding.
There's a double vinyl version in the works. How will that be significantly different from the CD and download versions?
Well vinyl has been making a comeback over recent years, I'm a big fan of vinyl. There's just something about it, you know? Whether it was that was the first s--t I ever bought, I don't know. But, not just vinyl, f---ing cassettes! People are asking for f---ing cassettes! What the f---! They'll be wanting 8-Tracks next [laughs]. Vinyl is great, isn't it? You get the big f---in' gatefold sleeves, you can do more with it. Everything is larger, you can read the song lyrics you don't need a magnifying glass, just showing my age now. Yeah, we've done vinyl for quite a lot of the albums now and they go over really well. Even a lot of the hardcore fans will buy the CD and the f---in' vinyl.
What can you tell us about touring plans for 2015?
After we've done 70,000 tons we've got some studio work to do and then by May onwards we're going to be attacking Europe. We've got quite a few shows this summer and quite excited about this because a lot of the shows have agreed that we can have the show so it'll be the whole pyrotechnics and the walkways and the classic Venom stage show, which is always a great thing. We made it known years ago, we are happy to play the smaller venues in the countries that can't get the licenses because there are still a lot of countries where the authorities just will not permit the licenses to permit the pyrotechnics. It's always great when you can put the show on, so we're going to be headlining the Rock Hard Festival in May and we're off doing a whole load of stuff. We're doing Hellfest, we've got Summer Breeze, Tons of Rock in Norway. It's going to be a great summer for Venom.
Thanks to Cronos from Venom for the interview. The band's 'From the Very Depths' disc is currently available at Amazon and iTunes. And check out Venom's upcoming shows here. Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.