Jeff returns to shed more incite and anecdotes on his life with Venom and up to the current Venom Inc.
5th December 2020
HS: Hiromi Sugou (UPP-tone Music + Host)
GW: Glenn Williams (Moderator)
MK: Mariko Kawahara (Interpreter)
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.