Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan (VENOM INC.) Interview

Q. Introduce Yourself.

A: Hi, this is Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan from VENOM INC and I am the Bass/Vocalist.

Q. You first came to prominence with Atomkraft (who were formed the same place and time of Venom), tell us about Atomkfraft.

A: Atomkraft was formed as a punk band at in 1978, then we morphed into a metal band, fusing the two elements in the same year. I returned to the UK in 1978, after a stay in Canada. There I witnessed the punk movement, and my fate was sealed. A band who stood out was Motörhead, they had long hair but were supported by punks. It was then I knew my fate was sealed.

The band (Atomkraft) started as punks because we had not yet mastered playing instruments, and with punk that wasn’t important, only the expression was. As I followed Motörhead I wanted to get that heaviness, but keep the speed and intensity of punk. The energy of punk bands was indisputable. I loved a US band called the Dickies and their speed was furious. I decided that a cool idea would be to fuse all of it, and our ‘punk’ band became Atomkraft and an uncompromising Metal band (at the time).

Tony in Atomkraft.

Our [lyrical] themes were mainly nuclear war and humankind’s behaviours. By 1979, we had recorded many home demos and continued as a metal band. Great times of discovery.

All the local bands at that time were New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands (NWOBHM) including Raven (who I loved).

I wasn’t enthused by that style, so I guess we went sideways from all that. I saw an image from a photo session a year later when my girlfriend’s friend showed us a copy of some photographs from her boyfriend’s band. They were all on a beach and I thought they looked funny. That band was Venom. I was intrigued, and I recognised her boyfriend from a year or more before we (Atomkraft) had gone into Impulse Studios in Wallsend to talk about a studio demo. We were shown around by a young skinny tape op called Conrad (Cronos). That was him in the photo. Another guy in the photo was going out with a girl who lived with her family literally across the road from my house! That was guitarist Jeff Dunn (Mantas). The third guy I had seen around Newcastle in pubs was drummer Antony Bray (Abaddon). They were Venom.

The original Venom. L-R Abaddon, Cronos, Mantas.

I was interested, and Jeff’s girlfriend’s brother used to come to my house sometimes. He was learning guitar and we talked about Jeff and the band. When Venom’s first single was done he brought it for me to listen to.

I enjoyed the dark theme, the chaotic sound and the speed. It spoke to me and the Satanic elements were very similar to my own band and our approach.

We ended up as label mates and toured together.

In 1988 I joined Venom as bassist and vocalist (laughs) …funny how life twists and turns…

Q. In 1988, you replaced Cronos for Venom’s ‘Prime Evil’ album. How did this happen?

Venom: Prime Evil album.

A: I joined in 1988 and started writing for Prime Evil straight away. Basically, Atomkraft had just completed a tour with Nasty Savage and Exumer, we were riding high with a new album demoed. After the tour the singer left as did the guitarist. And I wasn’t sure why, but I had the impulse to start all over again looking for people to form a band. I was considering what I wanted to do when Abaddon and the Venom manager Eric Cook called me and asked if I would meet them in a pub. I went, and they explained Conrad (Cronos) had left because he wanted to do his ‘David Lee Roth’ thing in the USA, and were due a new album on MFN (Music for Nations) and I could get £10,000 if I signed up. I thought about it and realised I’d be with my mates playing cool songs, having a laugh AND I’d get £10,000!! Which was cool, but I felt if Mantas wasn’t there, it wouldn’t be Venom.

Jeff (Mantas) was hard to be convinced at first for Abaddon but when I spoke to Jeff, we agreed we should do it together. Thus, the next phase was born. I never did get £10,000 by the way (laughs), I didn’t end up getting publishing either (laughs) Even though I wrote so much of the albums. Guess that’s just how it goes. I was never just about the money, I loved the playing.

Q. You did four other albums with Venom, before leaving in 1993. What are some of the highlights from playing with Venom?

A: Yes, Prime Evil, Tear Your Souls Apart (E.P.), Temples of Ice, the Wastelands, the Live ’90 video and Kissing the Beast.

Highlights? The fans and shows. The first recordings were great fun to do, the playing out was great, so many great shows. The fans were respectful, and the reviews were flying for Prime Evil. As we progressed the shows and reviews got better and better. I had immense fun also playing classics and new tracks, but we didn’t tour enough, and the management chose some lower key tours that we never should have done. That was when I decided that I should move on and take a new job I had in London. There were no arguments or anything, it just came to a natural conclusion for me and Jeff.

I’ve heard all sorts of stories from Conrad about what, when, why and how, but it’s all propaganda. He featured in zero of any of it, until long after I left and the did the Dynamo for money.

Q. Where did your nickname ‘Demolition’ come from?

A: Atomkraft were doing a show and I went into a bass solo (everyone did solo’s in those days) I leapt up onto a platform and pulled all my amps over and everything exploded and caught fire, myself and the roadies raced back to put all to right and the fire out (laughs). While my Guitarist at the time, Steve White, calmly spoke into the microphone…. Ladies and Gentlemen….THE DEMOLITION MAN!! It stuck. I’ve been breaking things ever since (laughs).

Venom Inc.

Q. Obviously, Venom Inc has a lot to live up to. How have the fans responded to Ave and the shows?

A: It has been incredible. We always had support, but we’ve done hundreds of shows now in such a short space of time and then the album came out, and it went ballistic. It is impossible to put into words, but it is better than it ever was…

Q. How was Venom Inc formed?

A: Oliver Weinsheimer asked me after an Atomkraft show I did (at a retro festival in the UK) if he booked M:PIRE of EVIL (My post Venom band with Mantas) to play his festival in Germany (Keep It True) and Abaddon was there, what would be the chances of inviting him onstage to play a handful of Venom classics?

He seemed enthused that I had got Mantas onstage with me as Atomkraft to play some songs and Abaddon was there in the audience.

I said I didn’t think it could happen, but he insisted, telling me, if anyone could make it happen, I could, so long story short…I did. And here we are (laughs).

The idea was to play as a surprise for the 2000 fans there and then go apart again back to what we were all doing, but it went nuts, and by the time I was returning to the UK, I was booking us for Japan, China, Taiwan, South America etc, etc…(laughs) Crazy BUT ALL fan driven…

Q. How was Ave recorded?

The cover art for Ave.

A: Well, we wanted it organic as much as possible, but were limited for time as it hadn’t been planned to do any release and also, Mantas lives in another country and myself and Abaddon opposite ends of England. We then utilised technology as much as we could and did analogue recording, to keep it real.

Mantas sent tracks to me to work on, then when we had all the files, they were sent up north to Abaddon who went into a studio and recorded all his drum parts.

Those files were then sent to Portugal where Mantas lives and works in his studio (a real one, not one is his bedroom, no mics hanging off sock draws like they did for the WELCOME TO HELL album). I then flew to Portugal, where we completed the writing and spent a week doing all the bass and vocals.

Mantas then mixed and mastered, with help from our engineering mate from Germany, Kalle, who is a genius in the studio. I returned to the UK while they completed that process and completed all the art and layout for the album.

A relaxed Demolition Man.

Q. After the tour, are there plans for a new studio album?

A: Yes, end of 2018 we will knuckle down to complete writing, and the next album will be early 2019, but there are some release surprises planned before then too. I already have a clutch of stuff and Mantas is always writing too, so he has a tonne.

Q. I’m seeing you guys in Adelaide, have you ever played Australia before, and if so, do you have any favourite memories?

A: NEVER played Australia before and I personally have been trying to get us there from day one. And now, with great thanks to Hardline and Flaming Arts, we are coming. I cannot wait and meeting you will be great. Show me Adelaide, what you’ve got…I hear the women are top notch too so, all’s well…. (laughs)

Q. What are yours and the band’s thoughts on Cronos’s new Venom?

A: We all have our own views. For me I think the fans deserve to see everyone, not just one aspect. I thought by us doing so much touring etc. it would push them to tour more, but it isn’t about anything more than money it seems, which is a shame. Still, as long as there is new product and the spirit is there then that is great for the fans. But it must be real and not faked.

Q. You played guitar before bass. Who are your main influences in music?

A: Yes, well, I was raised on Rock N Roll, so I started young. I have so many musicians I respect, perhaps influenced by, but Lemmy was my main influence for sound and rhythm. Bass wise? Billy Sheenan and Geddy Lee. Guitar? Gary Moore and Peter Green. Oh just too many now I think…

Q. What advice would you give young metal musicians starting out today?

A: Go for it, believe in you, trust only yourself. If 1000 say no, it is okay, because you only need one yes so learn to be tough skinned for every 10 who says you’re the best, 5 will say you are shit and they hate you. NEVER stop if YOU do not want to. And remember, you aren’t out there playing for the ones who do not want to hear you…. only the ones that do!

Q. Final words?

A: Thank you for this cool interview and thank you all for reading. For the support to myself and my bands in whole or in part for this whole journey, THANKYOU!

See you soon Australia. CANNOT WAIT TO DELIVER…It’s about fucking time…!! AVE!

Text Copyright Jakam Kourasanis 2018. All Rights Reserved.