Guitarist MANTAS Discusses VENOM's Legacy

Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock recently conducted an interview with former VENOM and current MPIRE OF EVIL guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

69 Faces Of Rock: VENOM's legacy is unquestionable.

Dunn: There is definitely a legacy, there is a heritage there, and it had a massive influence as well. I've met so many people on this tour, who say to me, "oh my God, do you realize what you've done for metal?" It's incredible that I get that reaction.

69 Faces Of Rock: And then there is always a new generation of kids discovering the original VENOM.

Dunn: Oh yeah, definitely. We've had young guys in the audience, and I've met tons of people after the show. In Seattle and Portland especially. There were fathers bringing their sons, so that's a new generation of fans. And to think those young guys are going back and paying homage re-discovering all the early stuff. I mean, most of them were not even born when "Welcome to Hell" came out, you know, but they are re-discovering all this stuff. And it can only be a good thing at the end of the day.

69 Faces Of Rock: When you look back at all the music you wrote over the years, especially VENOM's golden years, how do you see your musical growth?

Dunn: I hope I've grown up, and evolved, and progressed. I'm very proud of the new album, but it's still me writing the songs. I mean, I still got the same attitude. When we did the MPIRE album, we wanted to do anything we pleased. We wanted to put the album out, hoist the flag, and see who salutes! And the reviews so far are amazing. The reviews had been absolutely amazing. I mean, we took a lot of risks on the album. There is a track on the album called "Devil", which is a big heavy blues track. I play slide guitar, all that kind of stuff. When I had the idea for that song, I wanted to play the blues, and pay homage to Robert Johnson, the crossroads, and all the old blues players. You see, everything we do as musicians comes from the blues. The other thing that I wanted to say in that song was VENOM created black metal, but before we took its influences from BLACK SABBATH, and there was BLACK WIDOW. But way, way before that there was some guy sitting on the porch in the Delta with an old acoustic whaling about the devil. So it's nothing new, and that's what I'm trying to say in that song. The opening line is, "A widow on the Sabbath day."

69 Faces Of Rock: VENOM's image was very much in your face, shocking, often thought-provoking. How much of that was a gimmick?

Dunn: We've always said that we wanted to be the band that we would like to see on stage. And we've said that if you took every heavy metal cliché, put it in a big pot, stir it all up, then pour it out, it's gonna spell VENOM. That was always our thing.

69 Faces Of Rock: And the satanic aspect of the band?

Dunn: That was an absolute shock value. Nobody had taken it that far before. I mean, yeah, I've read the Satanic Bible. We all had an interest in the sort of darker side, if you'd like. I mean, my grandfather, when I used to go to his house, he let me stay up late, and watch all the old horror films. It was that kind of thing, so I had that sort of background. But I mean, the whole thing, the name VENOM, the way we wanted to portray it, and everything was all new. It was all there before Cronos joined the band. It was an already made thing to step into, really. The songs were written, everything was there. But, I've got no particular religious beliefs. I think religion causes more problems than anything else. I get asked this a lot, especially from people who are into the black metal thing. They want to know your views on it all, but I'm still into the music. That's what it's about for me. Yeah, I like presenting things with a certain image, making it look as good as you possibly can. And that was the whole thing with the VENOM thing as well. The stage show, the pyro, the way we looked. It's nothing new when you think about it, nothing drastic.

Read the entire interview from 69 Faces Of Rock.

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