Venom's Cronos: The Guitar World Interview
GUITAR WORLD Much has been written about Venom’s impact over the years, but little has been said about your life. You were born in London, correct?
CRONOS Yeah, but we moved up north because all these family members were dying of old age and things, and me parents thought it would be better to stay up north and be with the family. It just seemed like a whole load of family just dropped like flies at one point.
GW Is that where you were discovered music?
CRONOS There was always a lot of music in the home and instruments all around. My uncle played in a bluegrass band, and my two brothers and sister and me would always bash about on instruments and make some noise and have a laugh. My parents, who are in their Seventies now and are still together, weren’t necessarily musical, but they always encouraged us to play. And I knew I was doing right by my music when I found out that my parents hated it. [laughs]
GW Did you take music lessons at any point?
CRONOS Yeah, but I just wanted to throw that rulebook out the window. After I left school I started working in a recording studio, and I would see all these new bands coming in who thought they were different, but to me they were just younger versions of Judas Priest or Saxon or Iron Maiden. I just didn’t see any originality in these bands, and I wanted my band to be unlike anything else around — which is exactly what Venom was.
GW Venom’s sound on Welcome to Hell and Black Metal was very much metal, but there was also an obvious punk influence.
CRONOS Oh yeah, I was a big fan of punk at the time — to me, there was nothing else like it, and seeing the Sex Pistols for the first time was just one of greatest things for me. And it wasn’t about some guy being technically correct with his fingerwork — it was more about creating a vibe and an atmosphere and making a connection with the crowd, like the band and crowd were one big gang. Which is something I definitely wanted Venom to be.
We always used to say that Venom was all of our favorite bands thrown into a pot and mixed up — the stage show of Kiss, the lyrics of Sabbath, the speed of Motorhead, the look of Judas Priest. Trying to use as many influences as we could to make the ultimate metal band, but also being original.
GW Lets talk about Venom’s lyrics and image. To say Venom embraced the dark side of life would be an understatement.
CRONOS I’ve been interested in death ever since we moved up north when I was a kid. My mother always insisted that we go and say goodbye to our relatives who died, which meant going to see them in the coffin and giving them a kiss goodbye. So death was all around us growing up, and I’ve always been interested in the subject.
Lyrically, I loved the whole horror thing and was a big fan of Sabbath, but I always felt that Ozzy stopped at a certain line and wouldn’t cross it — but I wanted to cross that line and scare the fuck out of people.
In the early days of Venom I would look at kids in the crowd as if to say ‘You can do this — you can get on this stage and do this.’ And what I’m saying with the lyrics is, ‘You can have your own life. You can do what you want. Don’t just be a sheep and follow along with what everybody does.’ It’s all about empowering yourself.
GW What are your views on religion? Did you come from a family of church goers?
CRONOS No, not at all — we weren’t even Christened. My philosophy is this: you’re born and one day you’re in a box, and what you do in between is your own choice. And to live by a dogma that tells you that you can’t do this and you can’t do that is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. After you’ve gotten out of school you’re supposed to have learned everything you need to know to get on in life, so what the fuck do you need religion for? You should be your own boss.
GW Did Mantas and Abaddon share that sentiment outside of the band?
CRONOS To me, Mantas and Abaddon were just living the image in Venom. I mean, these are guys who would always use what would be considered blasphemous phrases like ‘Jesus Christ!’ and ‘Fucking Hell!’ and they’d be wearing crucifixes around their necks — that’s hypocrisy to me. I remember once Abaddon went on some TV show in England and the guy asked him if he was a Satanist, and when he said yes, the guy interrogated him and Abaddon fell flat because he couldn’t answer any of the questions.
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