Venom Interview with La Rage
Legendary black metal veterans Venom have released their fourteenth studio album just recently. “From The Very Depths” has been hailed by fans, media and critics as one of the strongest – if not the strongest – album Venom have produced since the 1980ies. It seems that it is full steam ahead for the trio even after 36 years of being part of the circuit. I had the chance to catch up with guitarist Stuart ‘La Rage’ Dixon to chat about the new album, Venom’s live performances and life in general.
Obviously I was interested in his opinion about the new album “From The Very Depths”. “It came from the very depths (laughs). We are extremely proud of it. The reactions from fans and journalists were overwhelming so far.” The new album is Venom’s second album with the same line up consisting of Cronos, La Rage and Danny ‘Dante’ Needham. This seems to have made Venom a tighter outfit. “From The Very Depths” is heaviest and best produced Venom album ever. “This time around we changed how we did write the songs. On “Fallen Angels” everybody contributed with complete songs that we presented to the band. The rest then got into the tune and we changed little things here and there. All the songs on “From The Very Depths” came from extensive jamming. We just got together and jammed for hours and hours. We recorded the jam sessions and there was a lot of great stuff on it. We then picked pieces from here and there. This is how we constructed the songs.” He goes on “It was easy for us to write and produce this album. It is the second album with this line up. Everybody knows their job and what to do. Everything was the same: the studio, the equipment and the production team. We had more time to concentrate on the sound. Cronos was responsible for the production and he especially focussed on the guitar sound. We didn’t want it to be overproduced because Venom needs this raw energy. On the other hand we wanted the album to sound heavier than “Fallen Angels”.
You would think that Venom now is fully booked with gigs for the rest of the year but so far only four festival shows in Europe are confirmed. This is a theme that continues throughout their career. Venom was never a band that played extensive world tours. A Venom interview is not complete without talking about this. La Rage agrees. “Venom have never played live as much as other bands. We continue this tradition. We want every gig to be special for the fans. That’s why we concentrate on the festival shows. Although I like the club gigs when you can see the white in the fans’ eyes.” Naturally I was interested in finding out if we will ever have the chance to see Venom live in Australia. It appears that is something the band is working on for a while now. “We had everything lined up for a tour in Australia two years ago. Everything was prepared and booked. We had all the shows confirmed. Then the promoter pulled out. We were very disappointed. Australia is unchartered territory for Venom. The band has never played there. Currently we are working on a couple of shows in Japan. Maybe we can piggyback on those and come to Australia. We just need a promoter that has the guts to do it. Tell the fans to write a petition and we will come and play Soundwave next year.”
Another topic we discussed at length was how Stuart became part of the band. He is clearly excited to be part of a legend. “I knew the drummer at that time [Cronos’ brother Anthony Lant] through a friend. The next thing was that the guitarist at that time [Mike Hickey] lived in the US and only came over to play shows. The band still wanted to rehearse. I was in a band called Order Of The Black Sun. I had written some songs for them. Cronos heard them and obviously like them. He invited me to rehearse with the band. I was so excited that I played all the classics way too fast but it went well. Cronos invited me back for rehearsals. It then became obvious that Mike wouldn’t return to the band in late 2006. That’s when Cronos offered me the job.”
Venom have plans for the next 10 or 20 years. Hopefully a part of these plans will bring them over to Australia. It is a shame that a legend like Venom has actually never played down under. Soundwave is just over so let’s put up a few names to play Soundwave 2016. Venom are clearly on my list of favourites.