Mark Ashby of Über Rock recently conducted an interview with former VENOM and MPIRE OF EVIL and current DEF-CON-ONE drummer Antony "Antton" Lant (brother of VENOM frontman Conrad "Cronos" Lant). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Über Rock: Of course, we all know you spent ten years in VENOM. How do you look back at the time?
Antton: Most of it was awesome. The most fun was the "Metal Black" period. I've known Mike [Hickey, guitar] for a long time and he is a very good friend of mine: at that point it was all about the music, and we were all getting along just fine, but then greed raises its ugly head and it all goes pear-shaped again. The period for the "Hell" album was actually hard work — everything seemed so "forced" and it was all about how we could sound like the band did on the first couple of records. It was forced and horrible.
Über Rock: Then you left after the "Hell" album, which seemed to further consolidate the band's position as returning heroes: what prompted your decision to leave at such a seemingly crucial time in the band's career?
Antton: I don't like "Hell"; the songs aren't that good and the production is crap. The recording process was horrible, too; there were lots of arguments and bad feelings. I played the guitar on a few of the tracks and I honestly thought they were guides for the guitarist to play over but they ended up on the final cut... What I do find funny is that some of tracks Mike and me wrote have ended up on their new album. Go figure, eh! The song "Punk's Not Dead" is 100% Mike Hickey's riff. He brought that to the band back in 2004 and I still have it, plus copies of the "Metal Black" lineup playing it at rehearsals...
Über Rock: More recently, of course, you were one third of MPIRE Of EVIL, with Mantas and Tony Dolan. Many would have argued that this was just the "alternative VENOM" — especially with the very public disagreements between Mantas and Cronos which have blighted a large part of VENOM's career (at least for diehard fans): now that you're outside both bands looking in, as it were, how would you answer such a challenge?
Antton: Well, it was not supposed to be "alternative VENOM," or at least that's what I thought: the plan was to be an original band. Unfortunately, me and my so-called brother fell out a few years back, so I have nothing to do with him anymore, but I should have listened to a few of the things he used to say about the other original members. Megalomaniacs! Ya know, saying that, I've never had any problems with [former VENOM drummer] Abaddon; he's always been cool with me. The arguments started when Jeff ["Mantas" Dunn] started chopping my drum parts up. I recorded all my drum parts separately and gave Jeff the drum files: he then chopped my parts up, taking verses and replacing them with choruses from different songs; he then took so long to mix the tracks that we were running out of time with the record company deadline. I first found out that my parts had been changed when I was cc'ed in on an email to the record company. A lot of those songs sound like that because of me: some of the riffs were not going to be used and I suggested them and I changed some of the bits too. The whole chorus for "Hell To The Holy" was my idea, even the melody. I still have all the original shit without the changes, with my vocal ideas, etc. There was a 12-inch vinyl released but it had nothing to do with me: when I asked about the deal etc, I was accused of calling them thieves. But hold on, if there is nothing to hide well then show me the contract. I can now see what was happening, though, and I guess I was a bit stupid to not see it... having me in the band made the whole three ex-VENOM members thing more attractive to agents — and also the Cronos connection kinda gives it a seal of approval somehow. So, when Jeff heard that I had left VENOM, he thought, "Maybe I can use this in my favour..." He was not my friend. I feel a bit stupid now for not seeing it. Then we talked about touring: I wanted to tour straight after the release of the album, not three weeks before it was released — that's stupid. And I thought we were an original band that was going to throw a couple of VENOM songs into the set. Not a full-on VENOM set: come on, man, what's all that about? I have NO desire to be in a VENOM tribute band, NONE. If I wanted to play VENOM songs all night long, I would still be in VENOM... remember, I left VENOM...? Ya know, I don't see the FOO FIGHTERS playing NIRVANA songs live.
Über Rock: Do you still keep in touch with your brother, musically I mean?
Antton: Nope, he's no longer my brother.
Über Rock: So, if Cronos came knocking at your door and asked you to help, you wouldn't exactly be in a hurry to join up with him again?
Antton: No way, and he knows to stay the fuck away from me, too.
Read the entire interview from Über Rock.