INTERVIEW: Tony Dolan – Venom Inc.

Interview by Robbie Tannous

Venom Inc

Formed as Venom in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. And coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom’s first two albums—Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982)—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. Venom’s second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of an extreme metal sub-genre: Black Metal. The current line-up of The Demolition Man, Abaddon and Mantas is now revered as the mighty Venom Inc. With brand new album Avé out now on Nuclear Blast Records, hear select tracks from this album, as well as all the early Venom classics live and for the first time in Australia! We talk to Tony “The Demolition Man” Dolan about the tour.


Metal-Roos: Hey Tony, lovely talking to you today, how are you?

Tony: It’s good talking to you too, Robert. How’s the weather in Sydney?

Metal-Roos: It’s hot but today was a beautiful day, how’s the weather for you?

Tony: Well you’d be pleased to know that in England, it’s wet, cold and grey. Same as fucking ever, doesn’t matter what month it is, it’s all the same. So you enjoy your heat, because I’m very jealous! Hopefully I’ll bring me budgie smugglers and get some of it myself. I’m so excited to go to Australia, I’ve never been before and on a personal level I just want to see it all and eat everything, drink everything and see everything in Australia.

Metal-Roos: How do you feel coming to Australia for the first time with Venom Inc at your age, is it hard to tour so many nights with the travelling?

Tony: Any kind of touring is tough at this age, but when you’re in your nineties – only kidding – we always try to keep fit anyway and relatively in form and since 2011 I’ve been touring the planet and you kind of get into a groove and it become difficult at times and I’ve never taken days off, so if we do a 30 day tour with 30 dates on the tour and no days off, lots of bands would need to take breaks. To that, we’d suck ‘fuck it, let’s just play’, if it’s a club or a hall or an arena we’ll just play it. That’s the reason we’re alive, so it can be tough but what’s amazing about coming to Australia is that our band, Venom, since day one with any configuration to our lineup, have been working for two to three years trying to get our band down there, and managed now to get to America and Mexico and China and places that the band would never have gone to before and one of my biggest goals was getting down to Australia. Thanks to Doug at Hardline Media and Flaming Arts to be able to help me and help make this tour happen, and for us to play shows down under. We didn’t just want to play a show in Sydney or like just one or two shows, we wanted to tour the whole Australia and play to everybody. Even though some of the shows are weekdays, hopefully we can get to everybody and everybody can enjoy our show. It’s amazing that all of this is happening and we’re really excited. We just want to fucking go for it and we’re really grateful this is happening.

Metal-Roos: We’re so keen for you guys to come down under. How do you describe the live shows you’re bringing to our country?

Tony: Well, I’m sure there’s people that are divided about going to Venom, but what I’m going to say is: ‘free your mind, everything you thought you wanted from the band in a live situation is what we hope you’re going to get. If you want to close your eyes for the whole show and just listen you can do that, but come to the show, get yourself in there, free your mind and just let the music happen. Venom is a legacy of music that’s expanding. It’s aggressive and vibrant and multiplied 1000x in your face to what it is on record. I challenge anyone to leave the venue and not be moved. You’re going to get an experience from us that you thought you never would have had. We will deliver everything we can try to deliver and I swear to god you will leave happier than you came. Just come and be part of it. Come and talk to us and meet us, watch, listen and just let yourself go. Think of us as a pinata at your party, it’s really nice there at the party, all your friends are there celebrating and having a good time, then someone brings you a pinata and someone hands you a baseball bat. You just let yourself go and don’t have to worry about the furniture. That’s what we’re about. We’re your pinata. This is your night and I encourage everyone to be a part of that.

Metal-Roos: Sounds heaps exciting and I don’t know how people could pass up a gig like this.

Tony: On a footnote, for the Sydney show, I’m making a documentary for the band about Australia. I will be releasing a DVD for Australian fans and we’re going to be recording the Sydney show. So everything that we do in Sydney is going to be in there. The cameras will be outside the venue too, we want to mimic those 80s videos where we record the fans in line and their excitement so make sure you get into the camera and get into the DVD.

Metal-Roos: You’ve got a lot of material to play, how do you go about picking the perfect set for each tour.

Tony: It’s very difficult to make the perfect set because it’s heading towards 40 years of Venom. For every song we play we put a song the fans want to hear that we don’t usually play. There’s always a lot of songs like Black Metal that we play at every show, but there’s songs that we rarely play or have never played that the fans really want to hear. So we try and fit as many songs as we can that we think would be perfect for each show into our setlist. What we did from the beginning is take it to the fans and ask “if we played for two hours what would you want to hear” and the fans would recommend many songs, so in a series of shows we can play as many shows as possible. We do this to keep it exciting so people at the start of the tour don’t ruin the setlist for the rest of the shows, because of social media it’s like a spoiler for a movie. To get around that we play songs the fans want to hear to keep it fresh and exciting. One night we will play a specific song and then the next day we will play another to replace it. There’s always something different for the fans every night. The perfect set is very difficult to do so we just give it our best and play two hours of what we think the fans would think is the best.

Metal-Roos: Hopefully there’s a lot of tracks from the new album too, it was my favourite! Let’s talk about inspiration for a second, what inspires you musically and creatively today?

Tony: It’s the same thing for me from the start, the people. The world we’re in and the effect we have of each other. In a religious context, the church created Hell and Satan because they couldn’t explain the shit stuff we do as humans so they blamed something. Just like the government, they use propaganda and telling you the load of shit you want to hear while their hand is in your back pocket. They’ll tell you that everything is good and all the other stuff is not their fault. It’s a symptom of mankind, so those are what my themes about, the darkness is inside each one of us, because on one hand you can have 50 countries in the world trying to develop cancer cures to save people, and on the other hand you can have someone walk into a rock or pop venue and explode and kill themselves and other people for no reason. It just makes you think “fucking hell, we’re the same humans trying to develop cures for things that are killing us, while we’re killing ourselves and chopping heads off. That’s mankind. I don’t think we have to look very far to see that humans are the best things in the universe and yet at the same time we can be the most destructive, menacing and evil things in the universe. So that is my theme, that is always the thing that has grabbed me, you can watch a movie like Secrets in Seattle with happy and romantic endings and then you can watch a movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre where everyone is dying and killing each other and it shows that we’re the light and the dark in the world. We have to find that balance tand that’s what I always like to talk about. Like the new lyric video for War, if you read the lyrics it’s about war, but not just about war between countries and religious factions it’s also a war between bullies at school or your mum could be at war with your neighbours because they’re twats or some shit or your dog pisses on someone’s lawn and they hate that, it becomes war. It’s about constantly struggling, like you walk into a bar and bump into someone and they say ‘oh sorry mate’ or they may turn around and go ‘what the fuck are u doing’. You may not be able to get onto a bus because somebody pushes you out of the way, or they may go ‘sorry mate’ and drag you on the bus, that’s what war is about, we’re constantly having these battles and it ends up with huger conflicts. I’m always interested in how that happens and where we take that from, being passive and ultimately aggressive.

Metal-Roos: Very well said. Very understandable coming from your lyrics too. One last question, what can we expect from the future of Venom.

Tony: It’s always a progressive thing, next week we begin in Japan, then Bangkok and Singapore then Australia. The thing about Australia is that we wanted to play everywhere to as many people as we could. We don’t know how far away these places are from each other but who gives a shit, lets just go and play it, we’re gonna go to Tasmania because that’s important in Australia then we go to New Zealand. Then we go back to the UK and do a European run, then to Turkey then back home, then straight to America, the South, Central and North of America. By the time we get to North America, we’re ready to do the new album, which will be the end of the year, we will be demoing some songs this summer and look to start recording with Nuclear Blast so hopefully we’re looking to release it by March 2019. In the meantime, we have an EP coming out in about a month, featuring an extended version of War and on the B-side we will have a couple of juicy live songs. I’ve been shooting this documentary so I’ll be using that as a special release for Australia to say thank you. So hopefully that will be out after the new album in 2019.

Metal-Roos: Thank you for chatting, Tony. You’re a lovely bloke and I’m very grateful we got to speak with you.

Tony: You were an absolute pleasure to talk to and I sincerely mean it when I say we’re so excited and I hope everyone comes and sees us play our 100%. If you see the cameras, get your fucking face in there and have a great night.


supported by Desecrator

Thur 22 Feb – Canberra – The Basement
Desecrator + Reign Of Terror – event page

Fri 23 Feb – Sydney – The Manning
Desecrator + Murderworld – event page

Sat 24 Feb – Brisbane – Crowbar
Desecrator + Laceration Mantra – event page

Wed 28 Feb – Hobart – Republic Bar
Supports TBC- event page

Thur 1 Mar – Melbourne – Max Watts
Desecrator + Black Jesus – event page

Fri 2 Mar – Adelaide – Enigma Bar
Desecrator + Hidden Intent – event page

Sat 3 Mar – Perth – Amplifier
Desecrator + Psychonaut – event page


 Venom Inc Australia Tour 2018