Interview with Jeff “Mantas” Dunn (Venom Inc.)

Venom were the band the coined the term BLACK METAL with their 1982 album of the same name they are the godfather’s of Black Metal and one of the most influential metal bands of their era and Rohan spoke to one if the founding members Mantas about their current band Venom Inc. and their new album Ave

We tried to shape Avé so that it comes at you dark, then it gets bright and heavy and just keeps growing into some kind of monster.”Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan

The name VENOM is both loved and loathed in the metal world, but regardless of your take on the band they are known first and foremost as the pioneers of extreme metal as we know it. Almost 40 years after their inception, the revitalized 1989 – 1992 line-up of guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn, vocalist/bassist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan and drummer Anthony “Abaddon” Bray have returned with a monster of an album, »Avé«. It’s a reunion that was unexpected at the outset – even by the band members themselves – but the end result after getting their collective legs back is an album that true VENOM fans will gladly add to the top of their playlists.

VENOM INC. was born on April 24th, 2015 at the annual Keep It True Festival in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany. Mantas and Dolan were focused on M:PIRE OF EVIL, having invested years’ worth of blood, sweat and tears in recording and touring to keep the band alive. An offer to play Keep It True was accompanied by a request to have Abaddon – who would be in attendance – to join the band during the set to perform some VENOM classics as a treat for the fans. Mantas and Abaddon hadn’t spoken in almost two decades, leaving Dolan to try and make the epic reunion a reality.

Dolan: “I called Abaddon about it and he said ‘yes.’ I asked Mantas and he said ‘fuck off’ (laughs). The one thing he said was that Abaddon’s style isn’t M:PIRE OF EVIL’s style, so how could it possibly work? I pointed out that if we played the old VENOM songs we’d be playing to Abaddon’s style anyway, as they were meant to be played; noisy and loud and dirty. It was something that was meant to be done in fun, and eventually Mantas agreed to it. We played our set, finished off with ‘Countess Bathory’, and everyone went nuts. We went off stage, came back on with Abaddon and played four or five VENOM songs under the VENOM INC. name and the place went crazy.”

The on-stage reunion was a rousing success amongst VENOM fans and music industry personnel alike. Many industry people thought it was smart the way M:PIRE OF EVIL presumably changed their name to VENOM INC. because their performance had been brilliant when in fact it was only done for fun. Dolan received numerous show offers for VENOM INC. from booking agents from Asia, Europe and South America who had seen the live footage online. What started as a reunion to celebrate VENOM’s history turned into serious discussion about touring with the old songs “to see if VENOM INC. had legs” according to Dolan.

“The whole reason we call it VENOM INC. is so that people realize we aren’t just VENOM II or anything like that,” says Dolan. “We’re incorporating everything we do in our music including our VENOM history, and that’s the idea behind the band.”

Going in to writing »Avé«, their Nuclear Blast debut, VENOM INC. realized their live performance was the key to creating an album that would be a metal classic. It was clear that any songs the trio came up with had to have the intensity, the honesty and the aggression that was happening for VENOM INC. in a live situation. Simply put, they needed to translate what they do on stage onto a record. Not once did they look back on the VENOM catalogue and think “We have to write another ‘Black Metal’ or another ‘Schizo’…” The focus is on VENOM INC. and everything the rejuvenated three-piece do in the here and now.

»Avé« will see an official release on August 11th, 2017. It’s a major victory for the trio to have proper label support in such a competitive metal world, but having Nuclear Blast leading the charge for VENOM INC. is the icing on an already fattening cake.

Dolan: “We have friends at Nuclear Blast, so it means more to me than just being signed to a record label. Our manager was asking me about labels that we wanted to approach for the new album and I told him that if we get Nuclear Blast, I’d be happy for the rest of my life. We focused on them in particular and we’re really happy. It feels like we’ve come a long, long way and that the work me and Jeff have done over the past 10 years has really been worth it.”