All of this starts the day before the interview, 25 May 1996, at the Dynamo Open Air festival site. At 09:00, so Venom manager Eric Cook had said, there would be a photo/backstage pass lying ready at the reception of the local hotel. All I needed was to get there, get them, and voila, suddenly I’d have an uncle called Bob. I went there at around noon. First I had to get off the Dynamo Open Air site, which was not half as easy as I might have anticipated. Also, it was raining rather ever more copiously. It’s actually quite difficult to get off the site, as there are fences all over the place, like a zoo or something. In the end, however, I managed to get out. I hitched a ride to the hotel he had mentioned.

I wasn’t actually surprised when it turned out that there were none of the promised items there. Things go wrong all the time in the music biz’, I already knew that, so I wasn’t even disappointed. The trick was to get into the backstage area anyway. The same girl that would otherwise have handed me the backstage pass now wrote out a temporary one that got me into the general backstage area (after hitching another ride, this time from a beer lorry). There I just asked around a lot until, eventually, I met Eric. The bad news: They didn’t have any more photo passes available what-so-e-ver. No chance in hell (yeah!). The good news: Sure I could interview Venom. I just had to be backstage again the day after (Sunday 26 May) at about 2 in the PM. He gave me a backstage access pass, and off I went. Just before the actual Venom gig started I saw Mantas and Cronos briefly. I asked Cronos if he was ‘psyched up’. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Nervous?’ - ‘No.’ Some conversation, right? He had to be on soon, so I decided to leave them be.


The next day started off so great...the sun was shining so much that my entire - somewhat thinly behaired - scalp turned out to got sunburnt the next day. At 14:00 I was backstage, where eventually I met Abaddon at 17:15. Cronos wasn’t there with him, so we made an 18:30 appointment at "the hotel". Cronos and he would be there.

At 18:20 I was at the same hotel where, earlier the previous day, I should normally have obtained the backstage/photopass. At 18:40 I started to get concerned. I had the reception call up to the Venom rooms, where someone cheerily told me that this was the crew hotel and that the band members themselves were actually located at the Holiday Inn hotel in the centre of Eindhoven city. I called the Holiday Inn - ‘I am supposed to meet two guys called Cronos and Abaddon who are sitting in the bar’ (the person on the phone must have thought I was mad) - but there was nobody waiting in the bar anymore.

When I stepped outside, it had started to rain. You can always trust the weather to have an impeccable sense of drama. I was not feeling chuffed at all. As a matter of fact, I was beginning to feel quite depressed. I was missing the beginning of the Metallica part of Dynamo Open Air, the weather turned progressively crap and I felt the interview slipping through my fingers like eels in a bucket of nose excreta. It took 20 minutes until there was finally a way to hitch another ride to the festival site, where I immediately went backstage to check if perhaps the band members had shown up there. They hadn’t. I knew they were going to see Slayer, so all I needed to do was keep my eyes peeled and hope for the best. I saw some of Metallica, which wasn’t really the actual band at all (quite a letdown for me and a lot of others, too).

I caught myself thinking that the only words I would ever have exchanged with Cronos were going to be ‘yeah’ and ‘no’, the evening before. Hardly an interview, is it?


Then it happened.


At a certain instant, when my watch showed 21:25 (which was close to "half an ulcer" on my body clock), I noticed Abaddon descending the stairs that I had seen him climb to watch Slayer play. Probably, he wasn’t that much impressed by them after all. I actually said something along the lines of, ‘yeah,’ out loud, when I saw him appear. I had another shot at the interview! He took a detour before he entered the artist backstage area, where I instantly locked on to him. I explained about the Thing That Had Gone Horribly Wrong Somehow. I had potentially expected "well that’s tough shit" sarcasm, but he was really warm-hearted about the whole thing. He told me we could do the interview right here, as soon as Cronos had finished watching Slayer. Would I hang around here until that time? ‘Sure,’ I said.

About 15 minutes later it really started to rain heavily. It’d merely been dripping all the time before, but now it was enough to have an excuse to ask if I could wait in what had the day before been the Lynx studio production office. There were various people, and it was OK for me to sit and wait there. I listened to Slayer playing one of their utterly tight songs at breakneck speed. I was missing all of the Slayer gig, except the actual sound, but somehow I didn’t mind that much at all.

At around 21:45, Cronos walked into the shack. I had observed it correctly the day before; he really wasn’t big at all, quite on the contrary to the looming figure of Abaddon. Abaddon explained to him that I was the guy they’d missed at the hotel, but he’d already forgotten all about that, so it seemed. A couple of minutes later we all sat together, the both of them alternately sipping from a bottle of Jack Daniels, Slayer making a hell of a racket in the background, and the interview started.


They were initially talking about yesterday’s gig, probably in connection with what they’d seen of Slayer.

Abaddon: Jeff (Mantas, ED.) is playing a lot tighter these days. Before, it was ‘I’m playing I’m playing I’m playing’ and now the band as a whole was more a band.

He notices I’ve switched on the walkman.

Abaddon: Did you get that?


He was obviously keen to show that Venom had improved as musicians. I nodded, then fired away my first question, ‘so how about yesterday’s gig?’


Cronos: It was fuckin’ insane!

Abaddon: This is the show I’ve wanted to do my whole life.


I had seen the set list the day before and noticed they had skipped at least three songs. I asked why the set had been shortened.


Abaddon: We were going to have a five-minute change of set in the middle of the show, where the stage appearance was altered, but instead of five minutes it lasted a fuckin’ quarter of an hour. So we had to cut a few songs. Two, I think, "Bloodlust" and "In League with Satan".


And "God of Thunder" (a Kiss cover, ED.).


Cronos: (Surprised) He knows the set list better than we do!

Abaddon: And "God of Thunder", yes. (To Cronos) It really was a fucking nightmare! That moment will never happen again. You will never sing that song ("Nightmare", ED.) again and mean it like that. It really was a fucking nightmare. I was really angry when I got off my drums during the set change. Really fucking angry.

Cronos: A lot of things went wrong. Some of the pyros didn’t go off because the electric cables had been damaged by the fucking rain. And the hydraulic elevator didn’t work like it was supposed to.


I think the crowd really got into the show around the time the laser light show started, with the big pentagram being formed in the stage. I suddenly noticed a spontaneous roar of applause and cheering.


Abaddon: (Obviously pleased) That was new Venom, that was during "The Evil One", a new song!

Cronos: We really wanted to involve the people in the show. Have the lights shine on them, too, and the lasers right in their faces. That is the new Venom. There may have been only a few hundred people of the, let’s say, 80,000 that were there yesterday that had really heard of us. But the rest were interested. They wanted to see what Venom was all about, had maybe heard something through word-of-mouth. That’s what we cater for: People who are interested. And then we just try to impress hell out of them by giving it all we’ve got. And we rely on more word-of-mouth, because we’re an unsigned band and don’t really have any other promotion than through what we do ourselves. These are hard-core fans, of metal music I mean, because they’ve been standing in all this mud and rain for three days just to see the bands play.

Abaddon: There are plans of another festival type thing in Greece in July, but it isn’t certain whether that will actually happen. I mean, we want to really give everything and make a really great show, but I mean, Slayer is headlining that festival and, well, I don’t know, but do you see Slayer playing a show after we’ve just been on stage?

Cronos: We don’t want to be responsible for when people get hurt. When the promoters don’t take all possible precautions, we can’t play. We do have a few ground rules, a few demands, whenever we play somewhere. We don’t want to kill people. Of course we are responsible for the whole show and the pyros and that, but we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives in jail.

Abaddon: There’s definitely a few demands that we have. But once that’s out of the way we can really give one hell of a fuckin’ show.

Cronos: It would be interesting to see when we really got the crowd’s attention yesterday.


(I mimic the "7 Gates of Hell" intro drum roll) I guess after "toom-toom to-toom to to-to-toom BANG." At this instance during the gig the day before, something virtually nuclear happened to the stage, pyro-wise.


Abaddon: (Almost laughing his head off) That will have to make it onto the video! You know, we really had to stand like this far off (indicates a distance from us to the wall, about 15 feet) from the explosions.


Cronos: (Laughing, too) Hell yeah! That’s a good one. You know, this really made my day!


It’s entirely mutual, I can assure you. This interview has really made my day! But, to get back to the questions (I was a bit embarrassed, after all I hadn’t considered my remark to be that funny), after a show of such eponymous proportions, what will be the next step?


Abaddon: It might not be a really big festival. It doesn’t have to be. It might be small, but it would be a real eye-opener. People would not easily forget it, that’s the least we try to do. (Fantasising) We could have the stage rising upwards, lifted by two zeppelins or something.

Cronos: (With an air of feigned secrecy) Yeah, that will be the new show (laughs).

Abaddon: We’d like to be the first band to play on the moon or something.


I’d like to try to get rid of some of the myth enveloping Venom. Venom have formed into what I think can be compared, almost, to a sentient being, a legend of sorts. I already know a fair bit about Tony (Abaddon, ED.), but I don’t really know much about you, Conrad. When were you born, what schools did you go to, that kind of thing.


Cronos: Well, I was born in 2,050 BC...

Abaddon: No, you were born earlier!

Cronos: No, that was in a previous life, then I was a T. rex.


No, come on, really.


Cronos: I was born on 15 January 1963. I’m a capricorn.

Abaddon: As for our background, it was really hard. The north of England was really industrial back then, and things were pretty terrible. We used to be in pretty bad schools in Newcastle. There was this kind of top 10 or something of the North of England, or perhaps of the region around Newcastle, of worst schools. At my school they were breaking the windows and everything, it was a bloody nightmare. My school was second in that list. And you know which school was first? His (points at Cronos)!

Cronos: And there I was thinking that those were the lessons!


Do you really hate each other’s guts, or is that story just all media hype?


Cronos: We do everything together. There is not one of us who can’t put pen to paper and come up with some decent artwork. I designed the "Welcome to Hell" sleeve, and Tony did that of "Possessed", for example. The little girl on that cover is his daughter. Even the fuckin’ height of the stage when we used to practise, even that was decided together.

Abaddon: We work together as a team very well. It’s a sum-of-the-parts things, we really work great together, but it’s like an ordinary job.

Cronos: (Interrupts) You wouldn’t necessarily want to work an office job with people that you all really like? You can work together even if you don’t really like the guy next to you.

Abaddon: We just can’t do a tour like other bands. We work together great but at a certain moment we start stepping on each other’s toes. We need to have space to breathe and work. Nowadays all bands are expected to be close to each other, touring for months in a tour bus and that, but I bet all the bands are in some way like us in that respect.


Won’t that make it more difficult to get a record deal, not being able to support it by touring, I mean?


Abaddon: We don’t give a fuck, really, because we aren’t in it for the money. We are an unsigned band right now but we headlined Wâldrock and now one day at Dynamo. I’d like to see another unsigned band try that.


A lot of people are suggesting you’re doing this all for the money and not for, let’s say, artistic merits.


Cronos: That’s just not fuckin’ true.

Abaddon: All the money we make goes back into the next show. I know for a fact that a band like Slayer will go away from this show with big money. But we’re just happy when the organisers want to invest a lot of money in our show. We’ll be leaving here and we will not have earned any money. As a matter of fact, we’ll be happy if we don’t lose some of our own! Everything the organiser was prepared to invest in us went into the show, into the pyros and the effects.

Cronos: I mean, we all have our daily occupations. I do stuff with fitness schools, and Tony has the studio (Lynx studios, who also do most MTV live footage and production, ED.). Jeff has a Tae Kwon-Do school, he’s into martial arts and that kind of thing. We do Venom because we like doing it, not because we need the money.


Venom will be recording again?


Abaddon: It definitely looks like it, but we’ll first look at what the "Venom 96" EP does (a CD single with some re-recorded tracks and the new "The Evil One").

Cronos: Yesterday a guy told me what it cost here at the festival. Outrageous price.

Abaddon: But the Dynamo organisation wants a 20% cut too, that really drives up the price.


For a band that has been an example to countless bands in the last 10, 15 years...


Abaddon: You know James Hetfield, of Metallica, right? Well, I would swear that he suddenly started to walk like Cronos (he mimics it a bit, walking like a Neanderthal might have, with arms really loose from the body, and waggling, bobbing slightly). All of a sudden he did.


I see. Well, Metallica was seen wearing Venom T-shirts in the early clubbing days in the Bay Area, before they’d even teamed up with Cliff. The influence seems clear, anyway. But, to finish my question, which music actually inspired you?


Abaddon: Kiss, of course.

Cronos: (Intoned with feeling) They were fucking insane! They had all these pyros and bombs and stuff blowing up. Amazing!

Abaddon: And Black Sabbath, of course.

Cronos: They were already doing all this dark shit, evil lyrics and that.

Abaddon: And Judas Priest. They had all this leather image with the studs and all, leather and hell!

Cronos: And Deep Purple. They had the attitude and presence we wanted. And bands like the Sex Pistols, the Who, the Tubes, Van Halen, Rolling Stones and even Elvis, with the controversy and the like.


Some people might say you are a caricature of yourselves. I mean, for example, you have a very specific stage image that hasn’t altered one bit since you did the "Seven Dates of Hell" tour in 1984, with Cronos ominously crying "oh yeah" and "hell yeah" all the time.


Cronos: Ah! Let me explain. I’ve been in a lot of places and I’ve got this knack for languages and dialects. I’ve been known to surprise the audiences with a bit of their native languages now and again. You know, I was born in London and talked jus’ like tha’, I was a real Cockney, you see, I used to talk quite different back then. I’ve been living in Newcastle now since, well, since I was 6 or 7. And I used to get beaten up because I was a Cockney, so I quickly learned to talk Geordie (the Newcastle dialect, ED.), that’s the dialect I talk now. But I can also talk Brummie, you know, the dialect of Birmingham. Most bands just sing in American English (he sings, with fittingly exaggerated self-importance, some cheesy American pop song thing that you only hear at weddings or at your local oldies station). And we’d play Birmingham and after a song I’d suddenly lean forward and go, "how are you doing?" in Brummie, you see, and they would be right surprised. And then I’d say something like "all right?" (looks at me with penetrating eyes, giving a real demonstration of what this aspect of a Birmingham Venom gig must once have been like), and they’d go "yeah!" and I’d shout "oh yeah?!", and they’d go wild and shout "yeah!" even louder, and then I’d go "hell yeah!" People have come to expect this of me, it’s the thing I do, it’s part of the whole thing.


So it’s a bit like Gene Simmons breathing fire, part of the spectacle, part of what Venom are.


Abaddon: And I didn’t just, you know, just throw my drums 20 feet down at the end of the gig. I wanted to get the hell out of there, to go to the audience. I really wanted to get out there! It’s not just some kind of gimmick.


But, Cronos, you didn’t even smash your own guitar. At the end of the gig you just brought your bass backstage and smashed another guitar that you’d fetched.


Cronos: Let me tell you something. I recently got an offer from Kramer guitars. They wanted to offer me a deal, but I already have a deal with Aria and whereas I had to pay for those Kramer guitars, Aria gives me the guitars for free. So I bought this Kramer guitar and erased the "K" and "er", so it was called "ram", bought it for something like £ 140, and smashed it. Just to make a point. I use the Aria SB 1000 series, though I also have an SB 100 which is modified with EMG pickups, semi-fretless and a Kahler Trem system and LED fret markers.


Did you ever read the ‘Venom’ entry in the "Kerrang Heavy Metal Direktory"? It wasn’t exactly positive about you guys.


Abaddon: We hate "Kerrang". "Kerrang" hates us. The German "Metal Hammer" only writes good things about Doro, Helloween and Scorpions and the like, German bands, you know, but the British press is just different. We’d do a thing and the next day the press would say it was shite. They just like to put their own products down, you know. There used to be this heavy metal show on TV, "E.C.T." it was called. Finally, we were getting a heavy metal programme on TV, at prime time, at 6 o’clock. There were six episodes in total. Something like that had never happened before, and it could have been really promising if it hadn’t been for the fact that "Kerrang" just saw it and printed that it was shite. No corporate suit would touch the show after that, and it disappeared off national television.


It’s pretty scary, almost, this power of the press, isn’t it?


Cronos: That’s why we have Eric (Eric Cook, their manager, ED.). Eric used to be in a band, too, he used to have long hair like me, but we said, ‘eh, Eric,’ and he became our very own suit, our corporate man. He could represent us, and be taken seriously. The power of the press is enormous. If some large corporations out there decide they don’t want us anymore, they could make life really hard for us.


What was Venom like in the ‘pre-fame’ days?


Cronos: We used to practise in this church in Newcastle, the Methodist Church on Westgate Road which we’d rent for £5, every single Saturday. Or Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, but generally every single Saturday. And every time Tony’d take with him some small bits of explosives and detonate them during the rehearsals. We were rehearsing and he was setting off these fucking pyro things! People used to come down to watch us play and they’d just about be choking. Once a neighbour called the fucking fire brigade because large red clouds of smoke were billowing out of the church. And one time he’d bring these small things that went - wham! - and the next time he’d bring things that went - BANG!! - and it just grew worse and worse. It was an ideal venue, and I believe it had a great atmosphere for writing Satan’s Love Songs! We used to have this singer, Clive, that was in 1979, Clive Archer. He used to wear white face paint with black eyes and mouth, you see, he was a big Alice Cooper fan. And in the middle of "Schizo" - you know, "Cree-ping and sear-ching for vic-tims un-kno-wing..." - I just smacked him right off the stage. And the stage was this high, a metre and a half or so, and I just gave him a right smack with the headstock of my bass guitar like this (demonstrates the movement, the chair moving wildly under him, his hammering left hand extending in my direction), and I’d smacked him right off the stage. And we continued to play the fucking song! And there he was lying on the ground, and there was blood all over him, and he was whimpering and twitching, ‘me leg, me leg.’

Abaddon: We used to have crowds of up to 350 people in that church, every single time, and those were just rehearsals.

Cronos: We used to play covers, Priest stuff and the like, "Living after Midnight", "Hell-bent for Leather", "Green Manalishi". And "Detroit Rock City" and "God of Thunder" by Kiss, and Sabbath of course, "Children of the Grave" and "Paranoid".


What about the various solo albums that were made by the various ex-Venom members who are now in Venom again? Any comments on those? Cronos, your solo albums were quite unlike Venom, more AOR.


Cronos: I just had these other tunes in my head, more complex tunes, and I wanted to write those, do my thing. Work with other people. I wanted to try a somewhat more commercial approach, do an American style of music, wanted to see what could be done there.


Jeff (Mantas, ED.) did solo work, too, under the monicker of ‘Mantas’, I seem to recall?


Abaddon: We told him, ‘Jeff, it’s just not you.’ He had an album of good songs but then had some crap production put over it. ‘That’s Keith Nichol, not you,’ we said. It was far too polished, some kind of glam production. I went over to his place one day back then and he said, ‘OK, play a 4/4th beat,’ but I said, ‘You just play the fuckin’ riff and I’ll do the drumming.’ It was really strange.

Cronos: We improvise.


Now for something quite different. What do you think of there appearing to be ever more racist and fascist tendencies among black metal audiences?


Abaddon: Oh no, I think that’s really exaggerated. They aren’t as gullible as that, I think. I know that a lot of black metal bands out there are treading the borders. I mean, there’s a very strong identity thing going on out there. People really want to belong to some sort of group. Maybe that comes out with black metal music, with certain black metal bands, but you can’t just feed them anything and make them racist of fascist or something like that.


You say the audiences aren’t gullible, but how would you explain that marketing people can just put the ingredients of Slayer, Metallica and Pantera in one band, call it Machinehead, and it becomes massively succesful?


Abaddon: (Laughs) You hit the nail right on the head there. But I think it’s the other way around. The audiences already like those aspects of music, they already like Slayer and Metallica and Pantera, and then Machinehead is just a success because people already liked those ingredients. It’s not as if you’re changing their attitudes or tastes. It was there all along.


What do you dislike about the modern music industry?


Abaddon: There is too much back-stabbing. And there are too many unoriginal bands these days. We’d rather hear a band playing original stuff, not like fuckin’ Oasis who just take some old stuff and rehash it. Bands like Stuck Mojo or White Devil (both at Dynamo, too, ED.) could be promoted a lot more heavily, but instead you get all this shit on TV and the radio. And those bands don’t even have to be technically brilliant or anything.

Cronos: You know Kirk of Metallica, right? Well, he went to have lessons with Joe Satriani and you know what he said? He said, ‘Joe, I wanna play "Die Hard" by Venom.’ And Joe had never heard of Venom or of "Die Hard". ‘I wanna play those Venom songs’. And then real musicians say, ‘but you can’t play like that, it’s not in the scales, it’s not in A or B or F sharp or whatever’ (rolls his eyes).

Abaddon: There are also a lot of insincere bands in the world. I’m not saying anything to put Def Leppard down or anything, but it’s the same thing every night with them; ‘We love you Birmingham, you’re the best,’ and they say that every fucking night, in every town. And, you know, Paul McCartney could have continued doing Beatles songs for the rest of his life but he didn’t do that. Wings sound quite different from the Beatles. It wasn’t as commercially successful as the Beatles stuff, but what the hell.


Cronos, when you die, what song would you want to be played on your funeral?


Cronos: "In League with Satan".


It doesn’t have to be a Venom song, by the way, just any song you’d want.


Cronos: No, "In League with Satan", definitely.


OK, now for the last bit of the interview, the "words and phrases to react to section". The first word is ‘MTV’.


Cronos: Multi Talented Virgins.


That isn’t especially applicable to Vanessa Warwick, now is it?


Cronos: Severely Ugly Dog. That would be SUG. (Thinks for a bit) No, SUD.




Abaddon: Wâldrock was the dress rehearsal for a show like this, a show like Dynamo.


Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan (the guy who played bass and sang in Venom after Cronos had left).


Cronos: I remember watching a Venom live video from 1990, the Marquee or something, and they were playing this song, "Harder than You" or something...

Abaddon: "Harder than Ever" (off "Prime Evil", ED.).

Cronos: "Harder than Ever", and those friends I watched it with droned, just like the chorus of the song went, ‘You ain’t Cronos, you ain’t Cronos,’ I swear it’s true. Here was this guy trying to be Cronos. A skinhead trying to be Cronos. The thing is, I knew Tony as Tony Dolan from Atomkraft. I could never see him as the new singer in Venom. If he had been just an unknown Tony it might have been different, but now I just always thought, well, it’s Tony from Atomkraft.

Abaddon: The thing is, he might have been a better musician or a better singer, but he just wasn’t Cronos.

Cronos: I remember one day, that was the "Calm Before the Storm" days, and we had Mike Hickey and Jim Clare play guitars. They’d each play part of the set, but they just weren’t Mantas. They were probably better guitarists, but they weren’t Mantas. Once Mantas was ill, he had pneumonia or something, and we had this replacement guitarist and he played part of the show but he just wasn’t Mantas either. The crowd thought he wasn’t Mantas, he just wasn’t, so in the end we had to get back Mantas, pneumonia or not.

Cronos: We’ve had no musical training what-so-e-ver, but somehow the Cronos-Mantas-Abaddon combination is very special, where the sum of the parts is bigger than the individuals. Mantas, for example, just picks a riff and plays it backwards or something. He had a left-handed approach to guitar playing (taa-daas the "Red Light Fever" riff). He just thinks of all these real heavy riffs.

Abaddon: That was one hell of a song.

Cronos: We could fucking play that all day long. When we got together for the Wâldrock rehearsals we just played a song, and there’s 100 Venom songs and we could just pick anything and we’d pull it off like that (snaps his fingers). There was instant chemistry again. We were interviewed by a reporter once and we told him we were all music college graduates and that we did the stuff we were doing to make a statement, you know, consciously not minding musical theory. He bought all that crap!


Black Sabbath.


Cronos: Fu-ckin’ insane! (Starts to sing in his Venomous voice) ‘Generals gather in their masseeeees, just like witches at black masseeeees’ (Abaddon then joins in, as well as a Venom crew member annex Cronos’ brother, and Abaddon’s wife, eventually all taking up on the drums and guitar sounds as well. I find myself wailing the guitar part and can’t help realising, ‘I’m singing a Sabbath song with fucking Venom!’, then all coming to the bit where we shout ‘Oh lord, yeah!’ and going to the instrumental bit until that tapers off. It was then that I realised this was definitely not just another interview!).


Raven (a contemporary metal band in the early 80s, also on Neat Records).


Abaddon: We don’t like Raven. No, let me explain that. The thing is, we didn’t do things the hard way. First you had to be clubbing for 20 years and then you could have a breakthrough. We were really screwed by Neat Records. Raven and Tygers of Pan Tang always got all the attention and we were bringing in shitloads of money but all of it was used to promote Raven and Tygers. We like them as bands, but somehow through Neat everything went wrong.

Cronos: We got them signed to Neat in the first place. We saw them playing and went to Neat to say, ‘check these bands out.’




Cronos: We have this special thing about Holland. When we think of Holland we always have a real laugh. I mean, Zwolle was great, that was tremendous (Aardschokdag appearance, February 1984, ED.), and Wâldrock, and once we had to play at Den Bosch and all we did was appear on stage to say that we couldn’t be playing because our gear had been impounded, and they still cheered and everything.


It’s interesting that you should bring that up; the story that went around at the time was that customs had found, let’s say, illegal substances in your equipment.


Abaddon: If we’d done that, we would have gone to the press with it. ‘Venom brings 70 kilos of marihuana into Holland and sells it all,’ or something like that. That would have been fucking hilarious. No, the thing was, they thought we were fucking IRA sympathisers.


Cronos: Among the stuff we’d brought were a lot of detonators. They look a bit like cigarettes, but can make quite a vicious bang. They thought we were trying to support the IRA or something.


Abaddon: The thing is, you can’t fly detonators, or put them in a truck. You have to buy them locally. But we needed the detonators for the show. No, if we’d brought narcotics into the country we would surely have made the most of it in the press. (Seems to reminisce, going back in his mind to naughtiness of his youth) You can tie a detonator to a lamp and when the lamp gets warm - BANG! - everybody gets a nice little surprise.


Cronos: But the crowd was great. We just stood there to apologise that we wouldn’t play and they were great. We’d tried to use the stuff of other bands. Accept was playing there too and I asked fucking Udo, ‘Can I use your mike? Can you lend me your bass?’ At least we could have played a few songs, without the show and all, but he just said ‘no.’




Abaddon: That’s level 42, the highest level of a car park in Birmingham. (Mimics tour guide’s voice) ‘And now we have arrived at level 42 of the car park, the level that the band got the name of.’

Cronos: Hey wait, isn’t that the answer to life? Something to do with "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy"?


I always ask people to reply to this when I interview them, just to see what it does to someone. Some people identify it as the answer to Life (and the Universe and Everything), but one of the members of Gwar, for example, just connected the number to the name of his favourite baseball player who just happened to have that number on the back of his shirt (and here I had been, thinking that at least Level 42 definitely got their name from Douglas Adams’ books, another illusion gone!). Anyway, the next word: British Beef.


Abaddon: We eat lots of it. Prices have halved so we can eat twice as much!

Cronos: Shall I let you in on a secret? It’s really all a giant conspiracy. A conspiracy by British body builders. It’s all those steroids they inject into cattle, you see. Those body builders just conceived some fake cases of people with a disease that could be linked to the consumption of British beef, and then suddenly there was this ban and prices of British beef plummeted. And you see, now all these body builders can eat more beef and get all these steroids into their bodies. That way I will also get bigger biceps (strokes them lovingly in what I hope to be a jocular fashion, which suddenly brings to mind a line from the song "Muscle" - "So I can put my muscle between your legs"). One day I want to be able to go up to the edge of the stage and just lift up a fan with one arm, right like that (demonstrates it with an ‘air fan’, convincingly menacing), and say, right into his face, ‘oooh yyeeaahh?!’


This one’s for Cronos: Kate Bush.


Cronos: HELL YEAH! Oh man. I have all her videos, and she did "The Complete Story" recently, which is a collection kind of thing. She recently re-recorded "Wuthering Heights"...(sings parts of the "Wuthering Heights" chorus, not all that badly one might add) ...and in an interview she said that she gets really embarrassed when she sees that old video again. She’s really like a virgin, and with those lips (acts like he’s Kate Bush, doing stuff with his lips that would have looked enluring on Kate but somehow different on him), and, well...she’s the bitch for me.


Around that time, the second side of the audio tape was full. One and a half hours of pure-fucking-mayhem (!). Apparently, the girlfriends/wives had been getting every more restive, wanting them to get the fuck on and finish the damn interview. I felt really cool about them two having taken their time, and I have to say a kind of tranquil satisfaction was spreading through me. A couple of fans wanted to have their snapshots taken with Cronos, so I decided to split and share my euphoria with some friends that I was at Dynamo with. No such luck. It was raining ever heavier, it was dark, the interview had taken so long that I was more or less forced to spend another night on the putridly muddy mess that the Dynamo Open Air site had become, and only one of my friends was there (who wasn’t even a Venom fan, particularly, and most of my euphoria went him by).

But it had surely been a really interesting evening.


 Written May 1996


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