VENOM INC.’s MANTAS On Life After Death - “There’s No Conversations With God, No Fucking Devil Sticking A Fork Up Your Ass, There’s Nothing”

November 29, 2019, 15 days ago

By "Metal" Tim Henderson

feature heavy metal venom inc.

VENOM INC.’s MANTAS On Life After Death - “There’s No Conversations With God, No Fucking Devil Sticking A Fork Up Your Ass, There’s Nothing”

It was late April 2018 that original Venom guitarist Jeff (Mantas) Dunn had one of those life-altering health issues that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. He literally was dead for five minutes after two valves in his heart were blocked. Soon after he underwent emergency double bypass surgery in Lisbon, Portugal to save his life. Just over a year later he met with BraveWords to discuss his near-death experience and how it has reshaped his body, mind and soul. 

Keep in mind, there are essentially two Venoms currently spreading their blasphemies. Cronos with the original moniker and Mantas with the Inc. alongside the beautifully darkened presence of singer/bassist Tony "Demolition" Dolan. Venom Inc. released their last album - a true gem - Avé in 2017. The Cronos-led Venom released Storm The Gates in 2018. Confused? Justifiably. But the overly feisty Mantas shines a light on both incarnations and his relationship with Cronos today and the sacking of Tony "Abaddon" Bray, whose drum tracks were never used on Avé and to quote Mantas; his studio performance was “fucking abysmal.”

Mantas has dropped the gloves, so watch your head! 

BraveWords: How would you describe your health and recuperation? 

Mantas: "It’s been fine, but mentally it’s been a lot tougher than physically. I tend to distance myself from a lot of people now. I tend to put the barriers up.” 

BraveWords: And that’s because of everything that happened?

Mantas: "The only way I can describe it is, wherever I was for those five minutes when I wasn’t here is something that hasn’t come back. I don’t feel the same.” 

BraveWords: What do the doctors say?

Mantas: "Everything’s fine - physically everything’s fine. I still can’t breathe properly, because of the surgery I suppose. It’s definitely the psychological side - let’s just say I’m not as accommodating as I used to be.”

BraveWords: Venom is like a tattoo on my dark soul. BraveWords celebrated 25 years this year, so you are one of the key pieces that built what we do. But you’ve built a lot of people.

Mantas: "Apparently so. Well, the way I look at it, we fucked a lot of people’s lives up.”

BraveWords: Well I think you taught them how to turn the cross upside down. 

Mantas: "Do you know what? You’re talking about that and since this happened to me, there’s no god, there’s no devil, there’s fuck all. So when you go, you’re going into complete blackness. There’s nothing. From experience, there’s nothing.”

BraveWords: Five minutes of experience.

Mantas: "Yeah, there’s nothing. There’s no conversations with god, no fucking devil sticking a fork up your ass, there’s nothing. So all this Satanic stuff, all this Christian stuff, all this religious stuff - everything that everybody’s fighting about - it’s a waste of time. It’s an absolute waste of time. Take it from someone who’s been there and come back and discovered that there’s absolutely nothing there. A lot of things have come to the surface since this happened; now that I’m nearing completion on writing a book, I’ve had to analyze a lot of things and even the way I write my autograph. I’ve compared it to the other two guys; one of them writes fucking Abaddon cunt which is a true statement, the other one just writes Cronos. I’ve always written Jeff Mantas. I’ve always retained my identity, that’s the way I’ve looked at it. But there was always three 6’s on the end of it. Not anymore. I just don’t believe in it. And I think that rings true for a lot of people who have been in this situation, who have come back. A lot of people who have been on the other side of Christianity, and now are just total atheists. I might upset a lot of people, but I’m speaking from experience and I’m speaking from truth, and personally what I feel. You can sing about it as much as you want, but until you are there in that moment, and you shit your pants and you cry like a fucking baby, that’s the god-honest truth - if there is a god.” 

BraveWords: So the chapter in your book could be called Dead. What would you be writing in that particular chapter? How would you describe those five minutes if you can? 

Mantas: "Everything that I experienced, that I remembered, was completely wrong. It didn’t happen. Because my girlfriend was there and she saw me die. She had come to the side of the ambulance and she had said ‘how are you feeling?’ And I turned to her and I said ‘actually I think my pain’s gone’ - and then boom, lights out. That was it. She told me at that point my eyes had just rolled back and I was dead. The doctor then kicked the door shut and they fought for five minutes, they shot adrenaline straight into my heart, they had the paddles on - it was just over five minutes before they brought me back. Now, the first time I spoke to her after this happened and I was able to see her, it was actually hours later - but for me it was minutes. I had been rushed straight into surgery where they tried to put a stent in through the arm which didn’t work, and then basically I was kept alive for two weeks before the operation. And I was actually just kept alive, because I was wired up to machines and I was on tons of medication, blood thinners. So many blood thinners in me I was bruised, I was pissing blood, I was vomiting blood, blood was coming out of everywhere. For me though, I had heard my own voice screaming. My angry voice screaming ‘don’t you fucking give up, don’t you fucking dare, you keep fucking fighting it’ and then I died. But that’s not what happened. My girlfriend witnessed the whole thing, she saw it.  She told me that none of that happened. But to me it happened, it was real. When I came around, the only way I can describe it is my whole body was buzzing, it was like electricity. And then I went freezing cold, and while I was lying down I looked down and the only way I can describe it is was that it looked like a vortex. I watched this thing, it was just spinning, and it got faster and faster and faster and then disappeared. And I don’t know what the fuck that was, I haven’t got a clue. Now, I’ve spoken to a consultant who said that nobody knows what it is - even though you’ve been there you yourself don’t know what it is. It’s like booting up a computer one day and it works fine - then the next day you boot it up and there’s a file missing off the desktop and you ask ‘where the fucking hell has that gone?’ That’s what it feels like, like some files are missing. There’s some stuff gone. I definitely don’t feel complete.” 

BraveWords: Does it make you angry?

Mantas: "Yeah. In a way. But apart from the people that I totally and utterly care about, I’m so emotionally detached. I’m not a welcoming person anymore. I’ve always been the shyest person in the band, the quietest one, I know that for a fact. I’m an introvert at the end of the day, that’s what I am. I’ve always found it difficult to meet people, but now even when people want a photograph I’m very reluctant.” 

BraveWords: Well, it’s strange because you are just such an elite. You’ve had so much influence on so many people, so that’s what you attract. 

Mantas: "And that’s what I can’t handle now.” 

BraveWords: Everyone up to Metallica, it’s all about Venom. 

Mantas: "I still realize that, and I’m justifiably proud of that. I think to myself, yeah, no matter how dysfunctional Venom was as a family, in any of its configurations, and I mean in every configuration of Venom we had conflict, but you cannot deny the influence that the band had. Now, Welcome To Hell and Black Metal are the two albums that are cited as the big influence, and 80-90% of both those albums are me, which is music and lyrics. And I want to again put the records straight, you know where fucking Cronos is coming out and introducing, ‘oh well Mantas didn’t have that much influence on the band.’ You better shut your fucking mouth motherfucker, because don’t forget you were the last person to join this band, at MY invitation, and a lot of those fucking songs were written before you even set foot in that church hall. And the first thing Abaddon said when you walked in the back of the church hall was ‘whoa, who’s she?’ And now they’ve put out a boxed set out with the church hall records with Clive Archer singing those songs. Clive Archer in 1979 singing ‘Buried Alive’ and Raise The Dead?  So who wrote those before he fucking joined the band?”  

BraveWords: Did you have any part in building the In Nomine Satanas box set?

Mantas: "Yeah, I did. They contacted me about the church hall tape, and I emailed straight back and I said you do realize that that church hall tape is mine. It’s not Cronos’ tape. I recorded that rehearsal on my father’s cassette recorder. I still have a photograph of the cassette recorder and I still have the original tape in my possession. And I sent them a photograph of that cassette tape and a photograph of Clive Archer and I on stage at that very church hall for the book. No, it’s not his tape, I recorded that.”

BraveWords: It cost a fortune but it’s worth it, for me as a fan. Is it worth it? Should I return it? 

Mantas: "I don’t know…”

BraveWords: If Cronos walked in that door right now, what would you say to him?

Mantas: “What would I say to him? He’d be on his fucking ass before he knew it. I’ve got no loyalty or affinity to either of those guys whatsoever. There’s a lot of people who are still loyal to the both of them, but if they knew the truth - which they will when the book comes out. I’ve written the beginning and the end of this book, and right at the end I actually say there you go, there you have it. Choose to believe what you want, but what I’ve put on these pages is the absolute fucking truth. Some of it’s hilarious. You know, some of it’s so Spinal Tap, it’s beyond Spinal Tap. But some of it you’ll read and go ‘what the hell? Has this part been checked over?’ But it’s all true. It’s everything that fucking happened.” 

BraveWords: I’m sure you must agree that as die-hard fans, like myself, it’s a little confusing to see that splinter.

Mantas: "It’s confusing to see Ace Frehley is not on the KISS reunion tour.”

BraveWords: Well, that’s a shame...

Mantas: "It’s confusing to see that Judas Priest don’t want K.K. back? It’s confusing to see that Peter Criss isn’t on the KISS tour? So it’s not exclusive to us.”

BraveWords: Well Gene and Paul have their heads up their asses because Ace is really the star of the show - hence your t-shirt. 

Mantas: "In that case, I think there are two people in Venom who have their heads up their asses. And that’s not me being pedantic about it, or holier-than-thou. Again, it’s just the absolute fucking truth. Why do you think Abaddon was let go from Venom Inc.?” 

BraveWords: I was curious. 

Mantas: "Do you like his playing on Avé?” 

BraveWords: Well, I love the record.

Mantas: "Yeah? You think he plays well on it?”

BraveWords: I’m happy with it.

Mantas: "He’s not on it. I programmed those drums. The drum takes he sent over from Newcastle were fucking abysmal. When we went to Philadelphia to do The Bloodstained Earth tour, which was promoting Ave Santanas the album we had two days rehearsal in Philadelphia. We had chosen about seven songs off the album, and five of them are songs which had never been played. I walked out of the first rehearsal, I was disgusted. He couldn’t even be bothered to learn the fucking songs. And the first night in Philadelphia, that concert was not sold out, it was oversold. They opened the side-doors of the venues so that people in the street could see the show. We came to the track ‘Bloodstained’ - and he fucked it up. Twice. In front of a live audience - and then shouted just play something else. Let him deny that. Call him now and let him deny that.” 

BraveWord: Well Tony (Dolan, not Bray!) says he just loves playing rock star and sucking on Jack Daniels.

Mantas: "All the time. All the time. That’s all he was interested in. Actually, I’ve seen correspondence between him and a fan, saying how he doesn’t really like playing drums, but it’s fun being a rock star because it’s easy money and you get free fucking Jack. That’s the attitude. He can deny it as much as he wants. I’ve seen a fucking interview with some two-bit fucking journalist that he did - he was asked what would you do if you saw Conrad? He said, ‘Oh, I’d buy him a beer.’ Would you buy him a beer? Really? After what you said about him to me, on the bus? And then he was asked, ‘What would you do if Jeff walked in?’ He said, ‘I’d tell him to go fuck himself.’ No, he wouldn’t, because he hasn’t got the fucking balls to say that to my face. He thinks he knows me. He knows nothing about me. I’ll fucking wreck him.” 

BraveWords: But when we were at Heavy Montreal (in 2015), where we presented you guys with your jerseys - we had a killer interview and you seemed to be getting along just fine.

Mantas: "Yeah? And you know what? I’ll admit now, for me that was all front. It was all to present a united front. I did not want to do that Venom Inc. thing in the first place. When Tony contacted me about the Keep It True Festival, Mpire Of Evil (the band that featured Dunn, Dolan and drummer Antony ‘Antton’ Lant, brother of Venom frontman Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant) had been booked, I was like great, because it’s a great old-school festival. I even told Abaddon this - I was sitting next to him in several interviews where I said I didn’t want to do it. I had no intention of walking on stage with that guy again because I know what he’s like. Once he’s comfortable, with his feet under the table, it’s business as usual - which means laziness. Nothing. Fuck all.”

BraveWords: And he’s fucked off, he’s out of the band. 

Mantas: "He’s out of the band completely. He can get on with his fucking Abaddon U.K. band or whatever it is. I don’t give a flying fuck. I really don’t give a shit. And for any of his little fucking minions who are reading this interview, contact me, I’ll tell you the fucking truth. Hey mate, I’ve been dead - I don’t give a shit anymore. I don’t give a flying fuck. Really don’t. Anyone who thinks I care about those two are sadly mistaken.” 

BraveWords: I’m loving the anger here, is that going to fuel the next record? What’s going on with the follow-up to Avé?

Mantas: "There’s eight full songs finished, and there’s easily another ten sitting there, waiting for completion when I get back. Once I go into writing mode, I just go, go, go, go.” 

BraveWords: Can you describe the Venom workshop where you create? 

Mantas: "Where I live, which is in a very, very quiet village in Portugal, at the bottom of my garden there’s a huge 500 year old barn, which the landlord very kindly restored and converted, and that’s where I have my recording studio now. It was an absolutely derelict building when we moved in, but it’s all restored. One side is my workshop where I do a lot of things, and the main body of it is the recording studio. I built everything in there - once the shell was built, then soundproofing and everything I did myself. I re-equipped the whole studio so it’s all ready to go for the next album. Avé was recorded at my place in Portugal as well. The only thing that will be getting recorded elsewhere is the drums, Jeramie (Kling; also The Absence) will be recording them. I’m going to get him to do a mix of the drums the way he sees them, and then we’ll insert that against the guitars, the bass, all those. I’m not going to go as lo-fi as Welcome To Hell, because come on, who fucking wants that anymore? But it will be on a similar level of Avé. With Avé what I wanted to do was I wanted to try and capture the essence of the band live - and I love the production on Avé. I was very nervous about handing it over to someone like Nuclear Blast because it was the first time I’d ever done something for anyone that big.”

BraveWords: One of the greatest labels on the planet. And it has devout metalheads that actually run it. 

Mantas: "Yeah. It was still a nerve-wracking experience to hand it over to a company which is so prominent. I’m happy with the production on Avé though. I think it’s full, it’s big, it’s still got that ferocity to it. But what I like about it is there’s a lot of separation there so you can actually hear everything that’s going on. Vocally, I think it’s Tony’s best performance ever. For ‘Dein Fleisch’ and ‘Metal We Bleed’, that’s still the demo vocals on the album. I wouldn’t let him replace those takes. When we came to record the album properly, they became the template for the rest of the album, I was so happy with the vocal sound that we captured.” 

BraveWords: I’m curious about your thoughts on the mainstreaming of the black metal thing. How it went Hollywood with the Lords Of Chaos film, and the infamous church burnings. Venom ignited that fire so to speak.

Mantas: "You know, I think everybody fucking missed the point, I mean on Welcome To Hell there’s a song called ‘Poison’- it’s about venereal disease. It’s about catching a dose of clap off a girl that you just shagged. Fucking Black Metal’s got ‘Teacher’s Pet’ on it - and it’s actually kind of a true story about a kid who was actually doing that in class - having a wank under the fucking desk while his fucking religious education teacher was sitting there with her skirt up. They missed the fucking sense of humour. We did definitely go out to shock. Yes, we went out there to shock people and if they run away screaming, then great! Job done. Which band doesn’t want that reaction, come on. If your parents hate the band, then you’re going to love them.”

BraveWords: Elvis, The Beatles...

Mantas: "Elvis - in the fucking ‘50s and ‘60s - they wouldn’t film Elvis from the fucking waist-down. But would it be shocking now? No. I’ve said this a million times, you turn on any news channel and there’s far more shocking things happening than some fucking band looking like a bunch of fucking pandas singing about the devil. You’re looking at world crisis, and us human beings suffering. What’s the most evil thing on the planet?” 

BraveWords: Cronos actually did give me a fun quote, he said you guys were just giving the finger to the church. 

Mantas: "That was part of it, yes. But, I don’t give a fuck either way. It doesn’t matter to me. You know, the village that I live in, there’s a church at the top of the road and every night you can see this huge fucking neon crucifix on top of the fucking church. And every Sunday morning you see all the old people in their Sunday best, all walking up to the fucking church. Now, unbeknownst to me, they had actually said prayers for me in the fucking church when I had the heart attack. Now, if that’s your thing, if that’s what you want to do, and it brings you some comfort, then great. I’ve got no problem with that. The problem I’ve always had is when people try to force it upon you, or force their opinions on you. Everybody on this planet is an individual. There will be stuff that I will put in my mouth and eat and swallow that you will reject, and I’ll be the same towards you. There are things that you like to do, that I would not even fucking consider doing. I used to like going into the gym, putting the gloves on, sticking a gum shield in and kicking the fuck out of each other. There’s not a lot of people who want to do that. I used to love all the fucking MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) stuff, the pain of it, the blood, the snot, everything. The gym that I had in Newcastle City Centre, there was spit and sawdust on the fucking walls and everything. It was one of those gyms, but all the guys in there had respect, and that’s what I loved about it. But on the other side of it, there’s people who would walk into the gym and go, ‘no fucking way, let’s go for a pint.’ I’ve spoken to people who, when you see them on a Monday and ask them if they had a good weekend, they’d say they had a great weekend. And when you ask them what they did, they can’t remember a fucking thing. So full of alcohol and drugs that they can’t remember what the fuck they’d done. Brilliant. Excellent. What about these fucking people who go on stage, fucking out of their minds on stuff? And you hear all of these stories about all this wild activity that happens backstage. I don’t give a flying fuck what you do backstage, are you doing your job onstage? That’s what people come to see. Those people out there, who have bought their tickets, don’t care what the fuck’s going on in here now, they want to see you do your job up there. And if you’re incapable of doing your job up there, time to leave, Abaddon.” 

BraveWords: KISS were being interviewed by somebody from Brazil and the interviewer had an Iron Maiden t-shirt on, and Gene and Paul made him take it off. 

Mantas: "I saw that. It was cringe worthy. I watched that, and as much as I love KISS, that’s totally unnecessary. That’s like me saying, ‘You! What’s that t-shirt you’ve got on? Razor! Who the fuck are Razor? You’re here with Venom.’”

BraveWords: I can take it off.

Mantas: "You wouldn’t do that.”

BraveWords: Of course I wouldn’t. I would have seriously walked out of that interview saying “Fuck, you Gene, you’re an asshole.” 

Mantas: "Of course you would. What musicians have got to realize is that if you’re getting interviewed, you’re fucking privileged to be interviewed. If you’re on a stage you’re privileged to be on that stage. To be able to present your music to people who actually paid to walk through the door - there’s not a lot of people who have reached that status. There’s a million kids on YouTube who can play guitar better than me, and they’ll never set foot on a stage. And that’s unfortunate. I don’t even know why I’m here. I’m a kid from Newcastle who wrote a few songs that people dig. That’s honestly the way I look at it. I’m nothing special, I take a shit in the morning and I like a cup of coffee.” 

BraveWords: Let’s go back to Elvis - because it was the US that had the blues and Elvis, then the UK came into play with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and I think in terms of anger and attitude you had the Sex Pistols and you had Venom. There were two pillars pushing extreme music to the next level. Am I correct?

Mantas: "From the outside, you probably are. From the inside, as the person who formed the band and wrote the songs, I don’t know. And I’m not going to say yes it was all formulated and calculated and we knew what we were doing - we didn’t know what we were fucking doing - and Cronos wasn’t a fucking mixing engineer or anything like that. He made fucking coffees and he was a tape-up. Abaddon worked in a fucking factory and he didn’t know how to tie his shoelaces. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing. If you’re one of these people who analyze the early songs, they’re all rock ‘n’ roll and blues licks. It’s a fucking power chord and a few rock ‘n’ roll bits and pieces, because that’s all I had to write songs with at that point. I bought a book called Improvising Rock Guitar (first published in 1973) and it was by somebody I’d never heard of and it had a flexi disc inside. One side was just a background track, and the other side had the solos you were supposed to learn. One was called ‘Shaker’ and the other was called ‘Homage To Hendrix’. So, from that book I learned the first position of the pentatonic scale, and I learned how to move a power chord up and down and I was like ‘Fuck! This is brilliant!’ The guy who wrote the book was called Pat Thrall, and I didn’t even know who he was until much later when the Hughes And Thrall album came out. But I was armed with that, that’s all I had. And there’s one thing I’ve always said - I’ve got no interest in being a virtuoso guitarist. Not one shred, I don’t care. You don’t need that to write songs. And I’ve always said that someone could offer me two gifts - one to be the greatest guitarist you’ve ever seen, and one to be the greatest songwriter - and I’ll take the songwriter every day. Let’s start somewhere quite current, would you consider Paul Stanley to be a virtuoso guitarist?” 

BraveWords: Absolutely not and he is struggling singing now.

Mantas: "How many great songs has he written? Would you consider Paul McCartney to be a virtuoso base player? Great song writer, right? Dream Theater, Opeth - phenomenal technicians. AC/DC’s Highway To Hell - three chords, 250 thousand people in Rio jumping up and down. You don’t need that shit and I think that’s what we proved. You don’t need to be particularly fucking good to write songs and just get out there with an attitude. And that’s what we had. So whatever people say about the songs, just go and analyze there’s rock ‘n’ roll and blues progressions in those songs and that’s all it is. It’s whatever those three fucking maniacs did to them once we were in the studio, cause we didn’t know what we were doing, and we just fucking went for it. Without a sense of timing, no fucking tuning, no fucking anything like that, we just fucking absolutely went for it.” 

BraveWords: I actually finished K.K.’s book and he said that Hendrix, that was his moment, and it’s interesting because Mustaine has been on that Hendrix Experience tour. I just love talking to people from the thrash or death metal world, but their influences go back to the godfathers in the ’60s. 

Mantas: "You know what it is? We did a tour in Europe - Venom Inc. headlining, then there was Suffocation - death metal, extremely death metal, underneath that was Nervosa - thrash from Brazil, underneath that was Aeternam - which was from France, they were progressive rock. Underneath that was a band called Survive from Japan, fucking brilliant. So all those different genres, and on the day of its release we downloaded this album and we sat in the dressing room and every one of those bands came in and said, ‘Whoa! Have you heard Firepower man?’ Everybody went back to fucking Priest. That’s it, that’s where it fucking comes from. I’ve spoken to K.K., I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to him when I was in New Zealand. I’d never spoken to him before, I’d never met him, but he was the guy who started it for me. So when I picked up the phone, I said ‘I’m going to get the fan boy shit straight out of the way’ and I told him what he would probably have told Hendrix, and what Hendrix would probably have told whoever was his moment, you know? And then people who’ve told me the same thing, that I was their moment; that’s hard for me to take. When people say ‘you’re the reason I play guitar; without you there, none of this would’ve happened.’ Whoa.” 

BraveWords: There’s a passage in his book, because I think he met him in the Isle Of Wight festival, on a picnic table. Just really briefly, but he met him!

Mantas: "I spoke to K.K. - we text each other every now and again - and he texted when I had the heart attack and stuff - he’s mentioned me a few times in his interviews. Fucking hell, brilliant. When I spoke to him on the phone I was so nervous, and the guy who knows him, a journalist, passed the phone over and to me he went, ‘I think he’s a little nervous’ I went fucking ‘HE’S nervous?’ I was shitting myself. I’d met Rob a couple of times and I was nervous, so I thought if I ever meet K.K. I’m going to need a diaper.” 

BraveWords: Was there much camaraderie as you were growing up, with Iommi, or Ozzy? Do these bands know what Venom was doing, because they literally passed the torch to Venom? 

Mantas: "As far as I know, every band was aware of Venom. Because we were sort of the upstarts, if you like. Nobody wanted to associate with us, which was fine by us. Even when we came out and said we’re black metal that was just a fucking statement of youthful arrogance. It was something to alienate us from the norm. We didn’t want to be part of this standard thing, we said we’ve got nothing in common with that. The NWOBHM was very prevalent at that point, and we didn’t want anyone to say we have any affinity with this thing that was going on. From our area - Tygers Of Pan Tang, Fist, Raven, Tysondog - all these bands, and we said we didn’t feel like we had anything in common with them. Since then, I’ve spoken to Mark Gallagher - and even though we were label mates and used to see each other all the time, we never really spoke - and we were in Sweden and we were both doing the same festival and Mark was downstairs in the hotel lobby and we just sat down and for the first time in years we had a conversation. And there was always this fucking rivalry that was forced between Venom and Raven, and he said ‘What was all that about?’, and I said, ‘I don’t know!’ It was just people making up shit as they went along.”

BraveWords: Raven are absolute gems. All For One a monumental moment in metal. And the Gallagher brothers are highly entertaining live!

Mantas: "Mark’s (Gallagher) a fucking lucky guy as well, he’s lucky to be walking considering the accident that he had. They’re really nice guys, and it’s really nice to meet people that you sort of grew up with musically. I sat down a good few years ago in a hotel with Rob Weir from the Tygers, and Harry Hill from Fist, and a journalist - he wanted to do an interview about the early days of Neat -and we were sitting there much older, and none the wiser, and we actually had a good conversation and jogged each other’s memories about things. But there seemed to be this thing where - and they’ve admitted it - all the bands on Neat hated Venom. And the reason they hated Venom? Because we fucked off and did something different. Even Mark and John - who were a hard working band, they played every club, every bar - they said that we were just fucking off playing arenas.” 

BraveWords: Yeah, but then they got signed to Atlantic and Stay Hard came out and they kind of wanted to be American pop - they wanted to become Twisted Sister. 

Mantas: "Yeah, I’ve seen the photos! But it’s good to see that people are still doing it.” 

BraveWords: And everyone’s aging. 

Mantas: "It doesn’t get any easier.” 

“Stand Up (And Be Counted) lyric from 1984’s At War With Satan: “We are the black metal gods V. E. N. O. Fucking M.” 

Amen to that.

(All live photos by James Garvin)


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