Mantas, the guitar player of Venom, published his second record „Zero Tolerance“. Therefore I want to ask Mantas some questions:
Hello Mantas, where do the idea came from, that you recorded a solo album again?
Basically what happened was, Venom had been asked to headline a gig to celebrate 100 issues of a British extreme metal mag called Terrorizer to which we agreed. It was at this time during the preparations for the gig that Cronos had an accident which forced us to cancel the show. During this enforced lay off we basically just lost touch which is the way it has always been. What people have to realize is that aside from Venom the members have absolutely nothing in common with each other so it has always been Venom that held us together, when that is not there we go our separate ways. I then just concentrated on my Martial Arts training and gained another Black Belt this time in Aikido. Some months after these events I received a call from the guys at Demolition Records asking how I was and what I was doing and would I like to meet up for a chat. It was during this meeting that they put forward the idea of doing a solo album. At that time I had absolutely no thoughts of doing anything like that and it was only after several more meetings that I agreed to do it and began the writing process. It was during the recording process that myself and other people around me began to realize that this was taking on a life of its own and turning into something pretty special. What had started as a solo project was now demanding to be a band and I had the chance now to take things far more extreme than I could within Venom. I began to feel more musically alive than I had done in a long time and every song I wrote seemed to inspire the next, the writing process continued during the recording of the album and the track “Kill it” was literally written one day and recorded the next. To have musicians around me who could take this new beast out on the road was the next logical step.
What do your colleagues of Venom say to your project?
We very rarely talk to each other these days. I have spoken to Cronos on a couple of occasions during the last couple of years and we both wish each other well with our different projects.
I have not spoken to Abaddon for around 5 or 6 years and have no intention to.
Arise in that way not a kind of rivalry?
There is no rivalry between myself and Cronos, he has his band and I have mine, and we are going our separate ways doing totally different things.
Your album „Wind of change“ which was published in 1988 was still Heavy Metal. How it came to the change that the new record goes more in the direction of (New-)Thrash?
“Winds if Change” was a moment in time captured for what it was and a total rebellion against what I was expected to be and I had a damn good time doing it, strangely enough it also made people aware of the fact that I could actually play as some of the stuff on the album was quite complex so I suppose that was my guitarist ego coming out Ha! Ha! What a lot of people don’t realize is that the 3 instrumental tracks on that album were recorded well before the rest of it …. while I was still actively in Venom.
As for any similarities with “Zero Tolerance”… forget it ! “Zero Tolerance” is ME, it’s me writing the heaviest shit possible with no compromise. I love Metal, its simple as that.
The first album was just fun to do and at that time I needed to do something different. Every musician in their career does something unexpected or different and that was mine. Im not the only one in Venom to have done something out of the ordinary and hey…. it was the 80s for fucks sake.
You can listen to all kinds of music, after all, if all you ate was eggs and you wore the same clothes every day and did the same things … life would be pretty fucking boring, but at the end of the day I am a total METALHEAD and that is what “ZERO TOERANCE” is all about ………full on, heads down HEAVY FUCKING METAL. This is me doing what I want, writing what I want, sounding how I want and surrounded by the people that I want.
How were the reactions on the new album so far?
The reactions so far have been excellent, I am really happy that everyone is reacting so positively to “Zero Tolerance” it certainly seems to be making its mark and now that we are about to see the release of the album we are fully committed to promoting it in every way we can. I am very proud of this album and want everyone who is into Metal to hear it.
What is really cool that I have found is everyone seems to have their own favourite song from the album which says to me that there are no weak songs on there at all.
Now you are on tour since some decades. In which country you enjoyed the audience most?
Every audience in every country I have visited has its own merits, obviously some are crazier than others but as a musician I always feel privileged to be in the position where I can visit different countries and meet different people and it is something that even 25 years on, I still do not take for granted because after all, without the fans the bands would not exist and they are the ones that essentially keep the music alive.
I have fond memories of all the audiences and I think it would be unfair to pick a favourite as they have all played an important part in my life.
Under which point of view you choose the musicians you play with?
During the recording of the backing tracks the question arose as to who was going to handle the vocal duties. It was then that I received a phone call from a friend of mine with whom I train with in Aikido and he asked how the recording was going. I told him that it had come to the time to find a vocalist at which point he said he knew a guy who he had worked with in a previous band who he thought would be perfect for the job so he put me in touch with Bry. Bry then came down to the studio to have a listen to the songs and he liked what he heard. An audition was then arranged and we went to a different studio. At that time I had just began writing the lyrics and one of the first songs that came together with the lyrics was “Rise” so that was the track he sung. Two weeks later the job was his !
Marsy was originally brought in to design the web site, it was much later that I discovered he was a guitarist. By this time during the recording I was starting to think about a full band line up as things were progressing so well it just seemed natural that there should be a band. I wanted a second guitarist to add to the weight of the sound as the recordings were sounding so fucking brutal. Marsy was at that time in the process of disbanding his own band due to the lack of commitment from some of the members. I approached him to see if he would be interested in trying out for my band and gave him 2 songs to learn – “Rise” and “Original Sin”. He came back to the studio about a week later, played the tracks and the job was his.
Obviously then Tony D. came in to handle bass duties which I was really happy about and with him came Cherisse on drums both of which have since very sadly departed the band, Cherisse because of other contractual reasons and Tony because of an unfortunate situation completely unrelated to this band. Tony is and always will be my closest friend and he is a great miss to us all but we have to move forward and so now have recruited ex Hellbastard bassist Drew.
We now have an amazing young drummer from the Czech Republic called Marthus who we found via the internet and who had just relocated to England to continue with his music. We got in touch with him and invited him for an audition and when we all played together we knew that this was meant to be, he fitted in perfectly and is now a permanent member of the band
Can we await more solo projects from you?
There will definitely be another MANTAS album but as I have said to everyone, MANTAS is a band - not just that guy out of Venom - so the next album will feature the band that I have now.
I have already written several of the tracks for the next album and we have already decided on the title but as for when we record it, I don’t know as we have committed the next 12 months to the promotion of “Zero Tolerance”
What are your plans for the future?
Tour, tour, tour, and then tour some more. As I said, the next 12 months will see us heavily promoting “Zero Tolerance”. We are also going to be editing the video for the song “Zero Tolerance” and there are plans to record an EP to coincide with our touring plans which will feature 2 new songs, some live recordings and some other cool stuff.
Your last words:
I hope you all enjoy „Zero Tolerance“, check it out I think you will be surprised and I will see you all on tour my friends.
Thank you and I wish you much success.
Thank you for the interview,
See you soon,