The man who can rightfully claim to have invented a music genre leads us through an array of questions and hilarious anecdotes about Venom.
HS: Hiromi Sugou (UPP-tone Music + Host)
GW: Glenn Williams (Moderator)
MK: Mariko Kawahara (Interpreter)
21st October 2020
5th December 2020
Warm Up (pre fans joining)
Once we had the levels sorted and sound-check done, we had a few minutes spare so I asked Jeff a couple of things.
GW: You know when you were chatting during John Gallagher’s fan meeting, you mentioned that the Hammersith Odeon was Venom’s first gig...
JD: In the UK, yes.
JD: Yeah. Previous to that we used to rehearse in a church hall in the West End of Newcastle so we did a little gig there and our very first gig as a four piece with Clive Archer singing was my girlfriend:s birthday party. It was in a social club on the dockside in Wallsend which is the home of Neat Records. It:s weird Glenn because as I’m writing more and more of this book, I’m finding everything is interconnected. A place I’ve been, a name from here, a face from there...but yes we did that and then we played a church hall in Westgate Road, then the Church Hall of the Methodist Church on Station Road in Wallsend called The Meth which was actually round the corner from Neat Records! It was a Friday or Saturday night, a youth club that had sort of morphed into a Rock club so we did a gig there and after that two Social Clubs in Newcastle (laughs). Literally after that, one weekend we were back at the church hall one weekend and then the next weekend, we were in Belgium playing to 3,000 kids; it was as quick as that. That was our first international show, then we went to America, then back to Europe for the Seven Dates Of Hell tour which was six in Europe with Metallica supporting us and the Hammersmith Odeon.
GW: You’re still doing your book then?
JD: Yeah I’ve written shitloads Glenn! I honestly had no idea there world be so much involved in writing this thing and I’ve written it like I:m talking to you. I’ll be talking about something and then go off down another avenue - it:s not ABCD...
GW: Let’s get more to that later. Time to let a few more people in.
Fan Meeting begins
In addition to the above mentioned, we are joined by fans, several of whom ask Jeff questions, namely:
MK: Mirai Kawashima
MB: Mike Bessler
GS: Gabriel Stan
GW: Ladies and gentlemen we are live with the one and only Jeff Dunn AKA Mantas! How are you sir?
JD: I’m very well and good morning, good evening, good afternoon to wherever you all are around this planet! Hope you are well.
GW: Now I believe you have a little ditty to open the proceedings.
JD: Yeah why not? Apparently some band called Venom did this song a long long time ago and some nut-job called Mantas wrote it so I thought I’d play it for you and see how it goes.
Jeff plays live guitar to a backing track of Live Like An Angel, Die Like A Devil.
GW: So what’s the story behind that one Jeff?
JD: Well many many years ago when it first came out, I bout the album Overkill by Motorhead and Venom in the early days - even as a four piece with Clive Archer - we used to play a track off that album called No Class. If you go even further back, ZZ Top did a song with the same riff called Tush. What I’m getting at is that they both have these little things called double-stops which became very prevalent in all of my writing in Venom songs. They are also prevalent in Blues and everything comes Blues at the end of the day and they are the 5th and the high octave of a power chord. So if I were to play Live Like An Angel with power chords, it’s far too much work on the guitar so we started doing these little double-stops. We used them in Welcome To Hell, Die Hard, Leave Me In Hell and all the way up to Ave with The Evil Dead and Forged In Hell. Every songwriter in every band has a formula of some description. There are very very bands that I can think of who have had massively successful careers who don’t have a formula to their songs. One of the few that hasn’t is Queen and I think the early Queen stuff is Progressive and massively Heavy. My first single as a child was Seven Seas Of Rye and much later on you get Fat Bottomed Girls. Forged In Hell by the way is my little tip of the hat to the Jake E. Lee era of Ozzy Osbourne. I am nowhere near the guitarist Jake E. Lee is because he:s phenomenal but if you listen to the song you can hear the influence, again with the double-stops. The other thing I got from Motorhead is that really loose rhythm (plays a brief excerpt from Motorhead and then demonstrates the same rhythm in Live Like An Angel). As you get older, you realize where your influences have come from and both Fast Eddie Clarke and Ace Frehley had a massive influence on me.
GW: Ok let’s throw this open for fan questions now. First up is Mirai Kawashima.
MK: In 1984 when Venom played at the Hammersmith Odeon, there is a legendary MC that you said that everybody was waiting for Venom to make mistakes. Were there many people back then who were jealous of the band back then?
JD: In Newcastle where we were from, there was a lot of fans from our hometown but there were also a lot of people that hated us. At that time, there was this thing that you were supposed to be working class and do your job and all this and I was talking to Mark Gallagher when we were in Sweden together a long time ago and he told me that the bands at Neat Records were watching us going away to play stadiums. They were all hard working bands - we just got a lucky break .Every band on Neat Records were far superior musicians, far harder working but we did something different that the world latched onto. We were in the right place at the right time but there was a lot of people waiting for us to fall and Mr Geoff Barton* was one of them. He admitted in a review of that Hammersnith Odeon show that he went along there to see us fall flat on our arses; that’s why I made that speech. You know, if want to listen to Venom, stay at home and listen to the records because tonight you are getting one and a half hours of pure fucking mayhem. To add to that, a lot of things did go wrong at that show. The drum riser rose up at an angle and tipped Abaddon off the back and all sorts of stuff and we knew there was a massive potential for things to go wrong. We actually set fire to the Greater London Council’s fireproof curtain! On the video you can see what looks like smoke billowing out from the sides of the drum riser; that was fire extinguishers and the GLC trying to put their curtain out. Just before we went onstage, our manager Eric Cook said to us ‘If anything goes wrong, smash the fucking lot and run! (laughs) That was the premise.
GW: Classic! A question now from Sylvain.
S: Hi Jeff. You said some time ago you wrote a song that would change Heavy Metal forever - Black Metal. Do you feel proud of that song now?
JD: Absolutely! Probably everybody now has heard the tale of how I wrote it but just in case anybody hasn’t and this is absolutely true. In the morning when you get out of bed and have a cup of coffee and then you need to go to the toilet - you know what I mean right? Well some people take a magazine or a newspaper and one day, I took my guitar. So I’m sitting on the toilet, messing about and the first few chords for Black metal came out. When I had finished (ahem!) I went back into the lounge, I had my father’s little cassette recorder and recorded the little riffs I had come up with and I finished it in probably ten or fifteen minutes and then myself and Cronos put the lyrics together. To think that that song gave birth to a genre which is still thriving today and that it changed a lot of things....it’s a very simple song. People say ‘Where Venom Black Metal?’ and the answer is yes. We said ‘We are Black Metal’ and that was just youthful arrogance and it was meant to individualize us and alienate us from everybody else. We didn’t feel a part of the Metal scene at that point as everything was very squeaky clean and we were rebelling against that.
GW: Your next question comes from Mike Bessler Jeff.
MB: Hello Jeff. S there anything particular that lead you to your exclusive use of Caparison guitars?
JD: Basically what happened was that I was on tour with Empire Of Evil in 2012 an we were out with Onslaught and on that tour I had an Epiphone SG Prophecy. Onslaught’s bass player, Jeff Williams, had something to do with the artist relations for Caparison and their guitarist Andy Rosser-Davies had one and Jeff asked me if I had ever tried one. I have to be honest and say that at that point, I had never even heard the name but I tried and thought :Oh yeah, that’s pretty nice’. When we got back off tour, I got an email saying would I like to try one as they were doing a new series called the Angelus C2. I received the prototype and still have it. It’s the first one I ever received and it’s been around the world now. That was the start of my love affair with them and all I can say is I wish I had discovered them years and years ago. The other one I use now which is my back-up to the red one and is a Horus. I also have an Orbit but my favourite of the whole range is the Angelus.
GW: Next up is Gareth.
G: Hello Jeff.. Is there a guitar you don’t have in your collection that you would really love to own?
JD: I’ve always liked the look of the Zakk Wylde Bullseye - I’d like to have one of those. I’m not really a guitar afficionado and Caparison is my main brand and always will be because they’ve served me well. The company has been amazing with me and you just can’t beat the guitars but I did some research on a brand a while ago and my family got me for my birthday, a Harley Benton Les Paul. I have since bought a Strat and a Telecaster; the Les Paul was 249 Euros (aprox 31,000 yen) and it is amazing! For the price, I don’t know how they do it. Other than that, the guitars I would love to own are Greeny which was owned by Peter Green and Gary Moore and now Kirk Hammett has it and well done to him because he is out there playing it - it’s not locked away and I have much admiration for that - and the other one is what started everything for me and I bought a copy of it and that is KK Downing’s Gibson Flying V which was bought by a collector. I think that was cherry or wine red.
GW: I think there’s a third one Jeff, I think you’d like to have Ace Frehley’s rocket firing guitar from the seventies.
JD: Awwwaaggh! You know what? When I did the Scooter tour in 2006, I was using a Jackson Randy Rhoads and I used to fire rockets off that guitar every night! Brilliant! I fucking loved it!
GW: I’ll bet you did! Let’s have another question , this one from Gabriel Stan.
GS: What is your opinion of the Norwegian Black Metal scene in the 1990s?
JD: I’m going to be absolutely honest here and say I really never explored the scene and the reason for that is because I didn’t want any other influences into my music. I’m old school and everything comes from Priest, Motorhead, Sabbath and all that kind of stuff. There’s two bands that came along but they may have been later but I do very much respect and that’s Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth. As for what was done in the name of Black Metal, you know the murders and the church burnings, (holds hands up in defiance and despair) it’s music guys, it’s fucking music.
GW: I think you also had another question Gabriel...
GS: Yes. What made you start a band?
JD: Oh that is the easiest question on the earth to answer! 1979 Judas Priest at Newcastle City Hall.** That moment I saw KK Downing run onstage, the leathers, the flying V...everything! I had been going to shows since 1977 and my first gig was Blue Oyster Cult. Before that it was T.Rex, Slade and all those. I was always into guitar driven music as a kid; guitars and martial arts have always been my thing all the way through my life. I always had this fascination of what it would be like to be in a band and I bugged my Mum and Dad to get me a guitar for a long time and the first guitar I ever got was a cherry red SG copy with a single humbucker. I think it cost about 30 pounds (4,200 yen) and even back then, my Mum had to finance it because we didn’t have the money to get it but yeah, 1979, Priest Newcastle City Hall. I still have the tour program and the ticket. (Jeff goes and gets and proudly displays his program, ticket from the tour. The ticket has KK Downing’s signature on the back and the program is signed by Rob Halford). Rod signed my program in 2012 when I went to America. I knew he was going to be at the same trade show so this program was the first thing I put in my suitcase. When I met Rob he said ‘My god! You’ve kept that all this time!’ (Jeff then displays a silk scarf from the tour).
GW: Wow! Whatever happened to silk scarves? Nobody sells those anymore...
JD: Oh come on! (Jeff waves silk scarf in the air)
GW: Let’s move on. Mirai I think you have another question.
MK: Yes. In 1985, there was a North American tour with Slayer and Venom and Exodus but you didn’t go.It was reported that you were ill but others said that wasn’t true and that you didn’t want to go. Do you mind telling us about that?
JD: Right. The actual reason I didn’t go was that the week before the tour was scheduled to start, I got ill. I thought it was the flu or a cold and I didn’t feel too good. At this point, the whole band were still living at home with our parents and this was a Monday and I was due to fly on the Friday. So on Monday I felt a bit rough and by Wednesday I couldn’t move. Wednesday evening the doctor was called because I looked like a pizza and it was Chicken Pox. It was horrible, the worst...but anyway, I missed two weeks of that tour and I actually joined in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom. To get there, I traveled from Newcastle to Heathrow, took a helicopter from Heathrow to Gatwick and flew from there to O’Hare airport in Chicago. This was the time I was ready to leave remember and Les Cheetham from Avenger and David Irwin from Fist had been doing my parts and I got picked up from the airport by our manager Eric Cook and I remember saying to him, ‘If the two guys are prepared to stay and finish the tour, I’m going to get on the next flight and go home’. I was that adamant about leaving the band. In actual fact, I stayed a lot longer than I anticipated and it was when the Brazilian and Japanese tours came up that I thought I couldn’t do it anymore and left.
GW: A question from Koga-san...
K:I am a big fan of the first Mantas album, Wind Of Change.Could you tell us something about that album please?
JD: Thank you. Well I left Venom in 1986 ad I’ve never disclosed the actual reason that I left but it had nothing to do with finance or musical differences. It was an incident that happened in 1985 at the Loreley Festival in Germany which was absolutely disgusting and totally unnecessary. Certain things were supposed to happen and they didn’t and at that point I said That’s it, no more.’ and actually, it was at that that point that Venom were supposed to come to Japan for first time. I got a phone call to say we were going to Japan and it was my lifelong dream to get there and I had to refuse on moral grounds. The Winds Of Change album basically came about when Dave Woods at Neat Records called me at home and asked me what I was doing and I was actually working in the operating theatres of a hospital in among the blood and guts so I told Dave I wasn’t doing anything and he offered me the chance to do a solo album. Now, if I’m going to do something different or something outside of what I am known for, I like it to be radically different. You know, if you have a white wall in your room and you want to change the decor, why paint it white again? That’s what Winds Of Change was. It was fun, it was a relief from what was going on in Venom at that point and what was going on in Venom in 1985/86, it wasn’t a band anymore, it was a traveling circus. You know the guy in the video, the keyboard player Steve? He doesn’t play a musical instrument at all! He just looks good so we said come along to the video. We were due to do some shows but then I got contacted to do the Prime Evil album. The video for Deciever by the way is the first time myself and Tony Dolan appeared onstage together.
GW: We are well overtime here Jeff, are you ok for a few more minutes? (We had originally scheduled a 30 minute chat but we had already hit one hour).
JD: Yeah don’t worry about me mate!
GW: Thanks Jeff so let’s go back to Mike who has another question.
MB: I was wondering if you know what happened to Clive Archer. Everything I’ve read says he just didn’t show up to practice one day. Do you know if he is still alive?
JD: Clive is very much alive. I have been in touch with him and I need to get in touch with him again about the book I’m writing because I want some input from him. The last I heard he was singing with a Blues band and it wasn’t a case of he didn’t turn up and he wasn’t fired either. With Clive, I don’t think he was comfortable with the direction the band was going. Clive and I had a really good connection - huge Judas Priest fans. I remember the first time I ever met him and he had The Ripper embroidered on his jeans and I thought ‘He’s a good man!’. You know, it often makes me wonder, particularly now that BMG have released this church all tape what would have happened if he stayed and let me clear up a few things about that church hall tape. It was recorded by me, at a rehearsal in Westgate Road church hall on a Saturday afternoon, 1979 and recorded on my father’s cassette player here my friends, is the original tape. (Jeff shows the tape to camera) That’s the original tape with all the takes of Angel Dust, Buried Alive and it also proves that a lot of those songs were written before Cronos joined the band.
GW: That’s Rock history there Jeff. Now, time to wrap this up but Gareth has come up with one more magnificent question that I think may end this with a smile. Gareth...
G: Thanks Glenn. Jeff, would you consider bringing back the silk scarf as part of the next range of Venom Inc. Merchandise?
JD: Oh absolutely...we’ve got to! Those things are iconic; who wouldn’t want one of those? They were a brilliant item and I remember the bootleggers outside City Hall used to sell more than the official ones! They were great. In fact, in the early ‘80s, Venom actually had silk scarves. I don’t have on anymore but they were around.
GW: I can tell you the last one I bought, Queen on the Crazy Tourin 1979.
JD: Wow! Have you still got it?
GW: I don’t think so. It’s not in Japan but it maybe with some of my stuff in Australia.
JD: I think there’s another question just popped up...
GW: There is Jeff and it’s from Anna. Anna, over to you...
A: Hi Jeff, what do you consider Venom’s most Spinal Tap moment?
JD: (laughs) Have you got a few days? I think probably what were speaking about before, 1984 Hammersmith Odeon. That concert had just about every Spinal Tap moment you could possibly think of. We had this hydraulic drum riser that was built in Wallsend and it worked on a scissor system and at the front we had the pentagram so as it went from two feet to ten feet (60cm to 3 metres) it revealed the pentagram at the front. Now the GLC came in at the soundcheck, they put a flame to it and it burnt so they told we couldn’t use it as it wasn’t fireproof and gave us a black cloth to use instead. Now during the gig, when we played Seven Gates Of Hell, this riser was supposed to take Abaddon to the top and the riser was loaded with gerbs†around the kit and these motherfuckers threw sparks for 45 seconds over 15 feet (5 metres). They started firing at the bottom, the place goes nuts but the scissor mechanism jams - you can see it on the video - and eventually as it goes up, you can see the smoke at the sides which is from the fireproof curtain that caught fire. The best part though is that as the riser goes up, the cameraman jumps on it and completely unbalances it. Watch the video and you’ll see Abaddon playing away but looking at the cameraman saying ‘Fuck off! Fuck off! Get off!’ The riser was going up at an angle, the front higher than the back and Abaddon and his kit were sliding off the back and it took all of our roadies to push the back end up and they held it up with pieces of wood for the rest of the concert. And that’s only one story!
GW: That’s brilliant. You must tell us more next time Jeff. Thanks so much for doing this, it’s been a real pleasure. Finish us off with the imminent future.
JD: Yeah there’s a website coming with all my stuff, new stuff, all of my animal support things and in the next few weeks, there will be a video that goes up that a lot of you will go ‘Really?!’ So stay tuned!
GW: We will! Take care mate.
JD: You to and thank you to everyone attending and will watch this because without you guys, I wouldn’t even be doing this now. It’s all down to the fans, they are the lifeblood and the heartbeat of everything that we do.
*Geoff Barton was a journalist and editor for Sounds newspaper and also started Kerrang! Magazine.
** The Hell Bent For Leather Tour. Priest played two nights in Newcastle, 23rd and 24th May.
† A pyrotechnic that throws a jet of sparks
GW: Good evening everybody y and welcome to the second Jeff Dunn fan meeting. How are you Mr Dunn?
JD: I’m very well, raring to go and thank you for inviting me back; I love doing these, really good fun.
GW: I see you’re holding a guitar there. Got something to play for us?
JD: yes I’m going to do a song which opened up our first album. The last time I was here I did Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil) which was our first single so this song is what hit people in the face when they first put the needle o the record of Welcome To Hell and this is Sons Of Satan.
Jeff plays Sons Of Satan
GW: So what’s the story behind that one Jeff? Another one you wrote on the toilet?
JD: (laughs) no. Actually, this was one of the first songs that Cronos presented. The first one was Bael – the demon Bael – and it was terrible (laughs) so it was rejected so this was one of the only ones he did which made it onto Welcome To Hell and because of its opening ferocity, there being no intro to it and the title being Sons Of Satan, it had to be the opening track. I added a few little bit’s into it as well and what we did was (obviously in those days it was on vinyl) we asked them at the cutting plant to make sure that as soon as you put that needle on, there would be no lead-in and it was going to take your face off. Whether or not they achieved that I don’t really know but that was the idea. The thing was – and we touched on this the last time I was here – we used to play No Class by Motorhead and the interlude I that is similar to the interlude in Sons Of Satan.
Jeff demonstrates the difference between the two interludes.
So the Motorhead influence was there from day one and that rundown before the solo is typical Motorhead along with the loose clattering rhythm. As I’ve been writing the book and going back and analyzing things and getting deeper into them, I’ve realized that the album Overkill had more of an effect on me than I ever knew. All the Fast Eddie Rock ‘n’ Roll stuff on there and the double-stops so him along with Ace Frehley’s playing had a massive effect on what we did in the early days, long before what I discovered what a flattened 5th was.
GW: Tell us more about your influences.
JD: Everything I was influenced by was guitar driven. I was born in 1961 and so my first experience of music was in the 1970s when the Glam Rock era was coming around. The first album I bought with my own pocket-money was (shows the Music For Pleasure, Ride A White Swan, T. Rex compilation MFP 5274) so T. Rex and then very quickly Slade, became my favourite band.
Jeff plays Ride A White Swan including the solo
JD: That gave me the ‘A’ chord and little bit more. I didn’t know what I was doing but it was the pentatonic scale. There’s a track on the album called King Of The Rumbling Spires which was heavy too me and then going on to Slade with Cum On Feel The Noize and al that kind of stuff. I remember being in school in about 1972 and it was raining so we were not allowed to go outside. We were kept in the classroom at lunchtime and the teacher put the radio on and the Top 10 countdown came on. I sat there waiting and waiting and when the No.1 was announced, I was so happy because having a No.1 meant a guaranteed appearance on Top Of The Pops and No.1 that week was Metal Guru by T. Rex. Come Thursday night, I was in front of the TV to watch Marc Bolan and that was the first time I had ever seen him and you know what? Look at Marc Bolan in those early days and then look at Paul Stanley; where did he get that from? Look at Dave Hill from Slade and then look at Ace Frehley…everybody has someone where they came from and apparently, certain members of Kiss were in the audience when Slade played their first shows in America. Whether that is folklore or not I don’t know but it could be true as they have already said they were an influence but yeah, for me, T. Rex and Slade. Do you remember 10CC Glenn?
GW: Yes of course. I interviewed Graham Goldman a couple of years ago.
JD: Right so the had a song called I’m Mandy Fly Me and what I’ve just played here, at the end of the solo in Sons Of Satan, there are a few notes from the 10CC song, they appear in Sons Of Satan. Not exactly the same but it just goes to show that certain things, especially music, get ingrained into you. It’s the same with double-stops which are the fifth and the octave of a power chord which appear in so many Venom songs.
Jeff demonstrates fifth and octave note double-stops in several Venom songs
JD: there’s a song that I discovered and love which you can play all on the double-stops.
Jeff plays Rainbow’s Man On The Silver Mountain
JD: There’s loads of songs like that and I still use all those little things in everything that I do. It doesn’t matter where your influences come from, it’s how you interpret it and how you use it and sometimes, subconsciously, you will interpret it in a completely different way than it was meant by the originator. I’ve said a lot of tims that the early Venom stuff is Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues. There was nothing sinister about it; it’s just what we did to it at that point. We were three inexperienced guys, no studio experience, very inexperienced players and we didn’t even know what tuning we were in when we went into the studio! It is what we did when we got there, the whole ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude, that’s the way we played.
GW: Excellent advice to future musicians there Jeff. Right, let’s have the first question and it’s from Mirai Kawashima…
MK: You just played Sons Of Satan which is the first song from the first record which must be monumental for you but as far as I know, you hardly ever played that song in the eighties. How come?
JD: Honestly, I really don’t know. We never really bothered with it and I don’t know why so I haven’t really got an answer for that. It wasn’t that it was particularly difficult to play although having said that, if you listen to the record, the centre section seems to meander on for a while and then we pull each other back together again so it was a bit of a jam in the middle. There wasn’t much structure and we just went in and went for it so whether that put us off or not I don’t know. It’s been mainly resurrected for the Venom Inc. stuff and I have to say we do an absolutely blistering version of it now – the speed is incredible – but as I say, I don’t know why it wasn’t done. There were quite a few songs in those early days which were actually recorded and then forgotten about and that’s why with Venom Inc. we’ve pulled out things like Lady Lust and Dead Of The Night. I’ve been doing some play-throughs on Facebook and we’re now planning to do Chanting Of The Priests, Mystique, Too Loud For The Crowd, Nightmare…there’s all kinds of stuff we want to put in now because we are all capable of doing it.
GW: You next question Jeff comes from Sylvain.
S: Personally I would love to get some re-recordings of some old Venom stuff, is that something you would think about?
JD: We did do some from Prime Evil, Temples Of Ice and The Waste Lands and we did an album as Empire Of Evil called Crucified where I think we re-recorded nine tracks and put two new ones on there as well. My problem with re-recording the original songs – and it has been mentioned quite a few times – is that those songs were moments captured in time. It’s the same for me with Kiss’s Hotter Than Hell album. That was the first album I bought by Kiss when I was a kid and I would hate to hear that re-recorded because it wouldn’t evoke the same memories. Sonically it wouldn’t be the same although it would probably be much better produced but the actual feeling and the memory you get from it, it wouldn’t be there. With those early songs, I wouldn’t like to re-record them to be honest. We did do some on Cast In Stone but I didn’t particularly like them. Maybe, when all this world gets back to normal, let’s wait for a live album from Venom Inc. (smiles).
GW: I shall look forward to that Venom Inc. live album Jeff. Next is David Prosser…
DP: I’d just like to know if you would like to be reunited with an old friend?
David holds up a broken piece of guitar
JD: Oh my god! Look at that! (laughs)
GW: What is that David?
DP: That is Jeff’s guitar that he smashed up at Hammersmith Odeon in 1984 during the Bloodlust song. I have got the bottom of it – the real thing – and my question is what is your fondest memory of that Hammersmith gig in 1984?
JD: 1984? Oooooh I think just the achievement of doing that show David because it was a massive step for the band. I remember going down to London with our manager Eric Cook just to view the Hammersmith Odeon to see if we could get our big stage show on there – that’s how arrogant we were. The ramps on there with the 666 logo on them, I was painting those in s friend’s garden as the truck pulled up to deliver them to Hammersmith Odeon so the paint was drying in the truck on the way down. The riser was built by an engineering firm just around the corner from Neat Records as were the other two and in the dressing room, just before the show, the remit from Eric was ‘If anything goes wrong, smash the fucking lot and walk off’. I remember running on and it was a glorious moment, looking out and thinking ‘Wow! This is Hammersmith fucking Odeon!’ My heroes had been on that stage and I still remember the next day, when we got back home to Newcastle, we all went to Eric’s parent’s house (he was still living at home with his parents as well), and he was the only one with a video recorder. He had the master tape, the one camera out front shot and he put it on, we sat back and for that moment, we were Kiss with all those pyros – a lot of which misfired by the way.
GW: Thanks David. Next we have Gareth from Wales.
Gareth: Apart from Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen and Marc Bolan who you mentioned earlier, who are your other Rock/Metal influences?
JD: Well it’s no secret that the man who did it for me was K.K. Downing at Newcastle City Hall n 1979. That was the man and I had heard a couple of things but wasn’t immersed in them; it was just a friend who said ‘I’ve got a couple of tickets for Priest’ and I said yes. We used to go and see anybody who had a guitar hanging around their neck…Squeeze, Rory Gallagher, Japan…my first gig was Blue Oyster Cult in 1978. Anybody who had a guitar hanging around their neck be it at the City Hall, the Mayfair or the local pub, we would go and see them but that night in ’79, the curtains opened but it was when K.K. ran on from stage left and I thought ‘Wooooagh! Who the fuck is that!’ All I saw was the blond hair, the leathers, the Flying V…I was into costumes and stage shows with Kiss but he just personified the English Heavy Metal guitarist. I’ve told K.K. this in a conversation, I modeled myself on that bloke. I remember I got the Priest video called Metalworks 73 – 93 and during the course of the documentary there is a series of still shots and I paused it on K.K. and my daughter who I think was about three years old at the time sat on my knee and I pointed at the TV and said ‘Daddy’. Job done, off you go (laughs)
GW: Another question Jeff and this one is from Stefan Nilsson.
SN: Yes I’d like to talk about band chemistry. In Venom Inc., the band is split between London, Portugal and Florida. How does that work in practice?
JD: easily because we don’t get on each other’s nerves. (laughs) The thing is, as Venom Inc, we have actually rehearsed only two or three times in the entire period we have been together and that was when Jeramie first came in to replace Abaddon Tony and I had come back from all over the place and we had a day off in London and then drove up to Bristol and met Jeramie there. We had one day’s rehearsal and then the following day we were on the European tour. The thing with Jeramie is that he’s a professional; he’s what he should be. When we decide to put a new song in the set, I’ll come into my studio here and practice and then send it to Tony without bass on Jeramie without drums on so everyone has the same thing to practice to. We’ll then knock it out in a soundcheck and play it that night. This is sad to say but this is why Abaddon isn’t here anymore. This job requires effort and we three put the effort in and when we hit that stage, I hope it shows. I’ve been playing these songs since 1979/80 and yes sometimes – especially after this lockdown period – I have to remind myself of stuff because I won’t have played it for so long. The little nuances do slip away and only a few months away from being 60 years old so things do go I one ear and out the other.
GW: Thanks Jeff. Let’s go back to Mirai who has another question.
MK: Yes Jeff, in 1986 you released Eine Kleine Nachtmusik which has a song on it called Love Amongst The Dead which is the only one I don’t know about. What’s the story behind that one?
JD: That was I believe part of the Deadline demos. The follow up album I believe was going to be called Deadline and we did a tape called The Deadline Demos. There were a couple of things on there that I wrote for the original line-up, one of them being Chanting Of The Priests Now if anybody has Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, The Chanting Of The Priests was recorded live (at The Ritz in New York I think) but the interesting thing is, if you look at the writing credits, Chanting Of The Priest is my music and Cronos’ lyrics so it was Lant/Dunn. If you look at Calm Before The Storm where it was actually recorded in the studio with the new line-up, you’ll see it’s credited as Lant/Bray. So basically, Mr Abaddon put his name on my song. Myself and Glenn were talking just before we went live today and we were saying that bands can destroy friendships and I’ve always said that I’m really envious of a band that can stay together for years and years.
GW: I know exactly what you mean Jeff. Back to Sylvain again for another question.
S: It’s with regards to future releases. Can we expect some limited editions with bonus material?
JD: Quite possibly. I’ve stopped writing for the new album because we have 24 songs, all recorded and preliminary mixes and if you like, I’ll put one of them up now for a listen.
GW: Waddaya say people?
A stream of ‘Yes’s, come flooding down the chat feed…
GW: A big yes from everybody Jeff.
JD: Ok so what we’ve got is a list and the list is 12 of the songs which I’ve sent to the guys which I feel are the strongest. Essentially what we have is two albums or one album and a lot of bonus material. One of the ideas that I had was to send all 24 to Nuclear Blast and say Ok, you choose’. I’ve never been in that position before where a record company has all the songs to themselves and it would be interesting to see what they would choose as there is a lot of strong material. For now though, I have the mixes mixed down for mp3s and I’ll pick a couple of them and play a couple of snippets.
Jeff plays two segments of material which are, in my words, bloody superb!
JD: There’s a ton of stuff I could play you and that’s a couple of examples of, shall we say, the more melodic stuff.
GW: Ok I’m going to bring in Ritti Danger now…
RD: Sorry, I’m a bit drunk…
GW: Ok I’ll come back to you. Gareth you have another one?
Gareth: You were saying about Bristol where you had the one day rehearsal with Jeramie, was that the day before we went to see you in that warehouse thing?
JD: Yes it would have been.
Gareth: Well it was an incredible set and you never would have known it. I noticed the odd nods back and forth between you but the sound was thrashing.
JD: The thing is, when we did the Bloodstained Earth tour…look, I’m going to be honest. I’m not holding back anymore and saying things happened because of this or because of that, that’s all bullshit and covering things up. The first show we did in Philadelphia, we had two days rehearsal before that show with Abaddon and the rehearsals were abysmal, terrible; I walked out after the first song we played which was Metal We Bleed – he hadn’t learnt the songs. He was saying Oh well I tried to this and that’ but this was an American tour to promote out comeback album on Nuclear Blast, the biggest independent Metal label on the planet and he didn’t know the songs! When we played that club in Philadelphia, it wasn’t sold out, it was over-sold! We were on the bus, looking outside and see the people in the street and the promoter comes on the bus to ask if we are ready. We say yes and say we hope everybody is going inside and he said ‘No. We have had to open the side doors to venue as they can’t physically get in so they will be watching from the street.’ Now, remember this is the first show of the American tour to promote Avé and we come to the track called Bloodstained which is from the album and the tour is called ‘The Bloodstained Earth Tour’. I turned to Abaddon, looked at him, one, two, three, four…completely fucked it up, he didn’t know what he was doing. We stopped the song, we didn’t get four bars into it and I looked at him. He started it again, fucked it up AGAIN! Then he shouted at me ‘Just play something different!’ so we had to move onto the next song. If that had been videoed and put on YouTube, that would have killed the tour as the next show was the Gramercy Theatre in New York which was already sold out. People ask me why isn’t Abaddon in the band anymore, well there’s your fucking reason.
GW: I and I am sure everyone really appreciate you clarifying that Jeff.
JD: You know what that is Glenn? It’s the truth, the absolute truth and I would like him to appear onscreen right now and deny it.
GW: Somehow I don’t think he will and thanks again Jeff. I want to go back to Stefan who has another question for you.
SN: Yeah if there is going to be a live album, where are you going to record it or where would you like to record it?
JD: Oooohhh….Hammersmith Odeon! (laughs) I’ve actually got a load of recordings right now which I’m going to mix for an official bootleg kind of thing…maybe…we don’t know. If we are going to do a live album, I’d like to think we do it indifferent places all over the world so you get to hear us in Germany, France, Holland, Japan, Brazil, wherever. We’ve been all over the place now and I’ve see some live footage from places and wish it had been recorded because it would make a great live album but we have time. I would love to do the whole DVD thing again but the problem is, getting out there with a production. I’ve always said is that all Venom In. needs is that one shot at the title. Essentially at the moment we are a ‘turn up and play’ Rock n’ Roll band but give us one shot with all the lights and the pyros and we’ll do some serious damage - I promise you.
GW: One last question from Ritti…
RD: I play in a band and my stage name is Ritti Danger. You all have your stage names as well, where di they come from and why was the band called Venom?
JD: The band was called Venom because…well why not? (laughs) there was a guy who used to come to the early rehearsals and I can’t even remember why he used to come but he had a motorbike and I believe his name was Kevin. He used to help us set up and we were sitting around one day looking for a name and I should say that the band was called nothing before Venom, we didn’t have any name at all no matter what you read. We were all making suggestions and he just said ‘What about Venom?’ and we said ‘Yeah, that’ll do’ and that was it, as easy and as quick as that. The names Mantas, Abaddon and Cronos all came from mythology and the Satanic Bible. Now there is a little tale about the name Venom because when we first started to get into the press, there was another band in Manchester called Venom and both bands were interviewed about why we should have the name. The band in Manchester gave all these reasons and we said ‘Change your name or we’ll come to Manchester and kick your fucking heads in’. (laughs)
At this point, several people on the chat fall into hysterics.
GW: As always you come up with a brilliant anecdote to end these sessions. With that I have to say thank you Jeff as we are already 35 minutes overtime so we have to wrap this up. Thanks to all who joined in, asked question and apologies to those who couldn’t but I have no doubt Jeff will be back for round three at some point…
JD: Absolutely Glenn! I’ll see you all in 2021.