» Jeff Dunn - Mpire Of Evil
« back

Interview conducted March 31 2012
Interview published April 14 2012

Key members of Venom have undergone a resurrection of prime evil proportions. Thawing from the temples of isolation, Guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn and Tony "The Demolition Man" Nolan have resurfaced in Mpire Of Evil, and these diehard mettle creatures of the black are bringing hell to the holy.

I nearly went insane when I was granted the opportunity to have a one on one with "Mantas" the vociferous legend himself. This metal messiah and myself had quite an interesting dialogue sure to send shockwaves to all who read, as we wake the dead with words of wisdom and warning!

With bloodlust and sincerity, and countless blathering, we entered the snake pit and faced the 8th gate...come hither and lend an ear...all hail!

MettleAngel: Hey Brother, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this impromptu and unplanned interview.

  • Jeff: Sure, no problem. Sy Keeler from Onslaught assured me that I was in for quite an interesting conversation, so I figured why not!

MettleAngel: I am a little nervous, as you are such a thrash icon to me, but I will do my best to make it worth your while, as ill prepared as I am.

  • Jeff: Yeah, that is cool. I always talk shit all the time anyway.

MettleAngel: So do I! A few years ago I had this conversation with Andy Sneap, Martin Walkyier, and Giz from English Dogs about how Venom invented thrash.

  • Jeff: Oh really?

MettleAngel: Yeah, it was when Sabbat came to Chicago.

  • Jeff: We played Chicago last night, and it was incredible.

MettleAngel: I am so glad to hear that! Anyway, Giz claimed that Motörhead were deserving of that honour. When I saw Venom with Goatwhore, I spoke with Cronos who took credit for creating Black Metal, to which I attribute that to Quarthon.

  • Jeff: I can see that....

MettleAngel: When I first heard Venom, I was a Christian, and I actually feared the band. I did not then realize that it was all tongue in cheek.

  • Jeff: Oh really...

MettleAngel: My first experience with Venom was when I saw a crazy video on the USA Network on a program called "Nightflight Videos" in the early '80s.

  • Jeff: I vaguely recall that...

MettleAngel: Then I bought a cassette compilation called 'Metal City' that had Venom songs on it along with Saracen (UK) and Rage (UK). Those songs on there really got me interested in the band. My first Venom CD though was 'Prime Evil'.

  • Jeff: You do not say!

MettleAngel: Now I have the re-masters.

  • Jeff: I am proud of those first few Venom albums, but not really 'Possessed'. I really like 'Resurrection' too.

MettleAngel: I love all the classic Venom, but not so much the last few albums with only Cronos as the original member. 'Fallen Angels' fell short for me. When I first saw Venom and spoke with Cronos, they only played 35 minutes.

  • Jeff: 35 minutes?!

MettleAngel: Yeah, it was the 'Metal Black' Tour in Cleveland. We drove four hours, and paid 60 bucks for tickets for that short set. We were supposed to be on the guest list, but it fell through. My wife also got an $80 speeding ticket trying to get us there on time!

  • Jeff: That is a shame. You should really be pleased with our set tonight. We really mix it up with Venom songs and our own material.

MettleAngel: I hear you open with my favourite Venom song "Countess Bathory". I am a big fan of Mpire Of Evil. Once I heard the 'Creatures Of The Black' (EP) with all those covers, I was very excited for the full length - 'Hell To The Holy'.

  • Jeff: So you do like the album?

MettleAngel: Hell Yeah! I love that 'Prime Evil' edge, but I also like the rockin' vibe which reminds me a bit of Chrome Division.

  • Jeff: Hmmm, I can see that.

MettleAngel: There is that real heavy feel similar to what you do with Venom, but there is also a rockin' intensity like ted Nugent or Motörhead. All the bands you cover on the (EP) sound like the perfect mixture of influence.

  • Jeff: A lot of thought went into the creating of the album. Tony wanted to keep that classic sound, even if it meant riskin' it all.

MettleAngel: Well I think that it has paid off in aces and spades! I assume the tour it going well then too, with all these diehard fans supporting you?

  • Jeff: When Tony and I put the band together, we had loads of opportunities to do things in Europe. The 'Creatures Of The Black" (EP) was put out as a precursor.

MettleAngel: That was smart thinking showcasing two originals and several decent covers.

  • Jeff: With the touring options, Tony pushed for the American side of it, despite the opposition. We are seeing the shockwaves going back through the internet to Europe and everybody is going "Holy shit they are doing some good fucking business over there!"

MettleAngel: That is awesome!

  • Jeff: It is to a point where we have been offered a couple of festivals for this year in Europe and, even more next year. It has done us a lot of good coming over here and the reaction has been absolutely phenomenal. Honestly I mean in all the times that I have been over to the States I do not think I have experienced a reaction like it has been. After the gigs, we make ourselves available for photos and autographs.

MettleAngel: I am sure the fans really appreciate that!

  • Jeff: When we meet fans of all ages, we realize just how vital Venom is in their lives. I can understand this, as I am a huge Judas Priest fan; especially of K.K. Downing, whom I have never met.

MettleAngel: Wow being from England, and being in Venom I would have assumed your paths would have crossed.

  • Jeff: I wish! We met Rob Halford recently at NAMM. He loved our cover of "Exciter" and he wants to re-record this with us with him also doing the vocals. We have even figured we could take the pope from our cover art, and put him on the Harley.

MettleAngel: That would make for a great T-shirt cover design!

  • Jeff: I recall seeing Priest in '79 and soon as I saw K. K. on stage I knew I wanted to be just like him. He is the epitome of a Heavy Metal guitarist. His long blond hair, the leather spandex, the way he plays that flying V, everything. Just look at the early shots of me in Venom and you can see where I took it from. I admit it that I modeled myself on that guy. If I met him I would be nervous like you.

MettleAngel: I cannot believe you never met Ken.

  • Jeff: If I had a chance to sit down with him like we are doing, I would need a fuckin' nappy.

MettleAngel: I assume you are meaning you would shit your pants...

  • Jeff: Definitley. The same goes if I were to meet Gary Moore, well...

MettleAngel: You mean before he passed?

  • Jeff: Yeah, I have everything he has ever done. I also really I love Frank Marino's playing. Zakk Wylde has an incredible style as well.

MettleAngel: What about Michael Schenker? I got to meet Carmine Appice and Michael Schenker on the same night, it was quite an honour. I was very giddy!

  • Jeff: I saw them on the Black Country Communion Tour when they hit Newcastle and Schenker was supporting. His playing was unbelievable that night.

MettleAngel: My interview with him was not what one would normally expect. It was very cerebral and almost metaphysical, but it was still amazing.

  • Jeff: I have heard that Michael can get spiritual.

MettleAngel: Now here I am with you, and I can see this interview evolving. I am just so glad that now I can enjoy Venom, and not worry about all the "evil" shit that I once feared. I now see how over the top and tongue in cheek you really were. I just recently played "School Daze" and it reminded me of Van Halen and W.A.S.P.

  • Jeff: I think a lot of people missed that aspect of Venom.

MettleAngel: Oh, I know.

  • Jeff: There were a lot of people who took on board the real heavy satanic edge.

MettleAngel: Yeah, well we saw the album covers and we were naive, young and innocent, so we did not know what to think. We were freaked out because we were raised with this very strict dualism type belief system that there is only good and evil in the world. We thought Venom were evil. Lyrics really held bearing, and some seemed quite serious.

  • Jeff: I can see your point. What I always felt about the lyrical content of the Venom stuff was that it had Dio-esque quality.

MettleAngel: I assume you mean the fantasy based style like he did with Rainbow?

  • Jeff: Yeah, I was always fascinated by the demons and angels stuff when I wrote for Venom. However, with Mpire Of Evil it is more reality based.

MettleAngel: Cronos still tries to continue the gimmick with Venom and have those questionable lyrics, but what is your intent with Mpire Of Evil?

  • Jeff: I focus on the evil in man. Consider two movies: "The Exorcist" and "The Devil's Advocate", where Al Pacino says, "I am a fan of Man!"

MettleAngel: I can see that and let us not forget "Angel Heart" with Mickey Rorke and Deniro as Luis Cipher.

  • Jeff: Those movies demonstrate the power of evil. Then again true horror happens every day when you just turn on the news. There is nothing more disturbing than watching this.

MettleAngel: That is why the only news I watch is weather reports.

  • Jeff: There is far more evil in man as a being than there is in a little demon with horns and tails and stuff like that. The human race is the ultimate evil and we speak about that in the song "The 8th Gate".

MettleAngel: Is that song dealing with Man's inhumanity to man?

  • Jeff: It is about Man as the ultimate incarnation of evil itself. When I wrote the "7 Gates Of Hell" with Venom, as my Dio-esque tribute, I was all about fantasy based themes, ..."Ride the wings of a hydra take the sword from the sacred shrine...", however, when I wrote "The 8th Gate" Tony and I saw it as more of a reflection of man's inner sense of evil.

MettleAngel: Please explain...

  • Jeff: We saw it as if you pass the seventh gate and approach the eighth gate what will you see but a mirror, and yourself staring back at you.

MettleAngel: I get it, as it reminds me of the scene in "Empire Strikes Back".

  • Jeff: Evil is everywhere! It would drive you crazy if you took everything to heart which is going on in the world, with all the cruelty and devastation that is happening all over.

MettleAngel: I agree, which is why I do not let it connect with me. I acknowledge it then I put my shield up. I face enough bullshit in my life everyday as it is.

  • Jeff: I am not a particularly religious person, or a believer in a so-called God to be honest.

MettleAngel: That is fine. I do my best not to judge.

  • Jeff: I am more of a universal type of guy. I believe in the law of attraction, I believe that you create your own destiny.

MettleAngel: I totally agree with that theory!

  • Jeff: People are attracting all this positive and negative energy and positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. I am not so much a believer that somebody up there sitting on a cloud is all good and great.

MettleAngel: Right, as Martin claims it is all mythhistory...

  • Jeff: If he is really up there watching over us, what the fuck is he doing? What is up with this great fall of Satan?

MettleAngel: You mean the supposed great war in Heaven where Lucifer was cast out, taking his minions with him? This is the source of many Metal songs!

  • Jeff: Yeah, but what happens if they cast out the wrong one? What if they are praying to the wrong God? Maybe Satan wants to help?

MettleAngel: That is like the Running Wild song "Victim Of States Power"! I personally do not believe in the Devil. You should read a great book called The Biography Of Satan. This dispels all the myths.

  • Jeff: I have always said on this planet you are a blip on the radar. Your time on this planet is so short. So my belief is to make the most of every single day, do the absolute best you can.

MettleAngel: That is an excellent philosophy!

  • Jeff: Live your life the way you want to, not to the detriment of others. I do this volunteer work with under privileged kids, helping them with learning to play music. It is great for confidence and team building.

MettleAngel: That is so noble.

  • Jeff: I live my life by this motto (shows me his tattoo): perserverance, determination, commitment and no fear. The word failure is just nature's way of saying it is not the proper way to do it.

MettleAngel: Wow! Hearing your wise counsel is akin to listening to Blaze Bayley's lyrics, after all he has been through the past few years. He is always about never giving up and never surrendering to that victim mentality. I am inspired by him and I always focus on service.

  • Jeff: That too is a very good thing.

MettleAngel: Life can be very challenging. My friend in the amazing one man thrash act from Sweden called The Porridgeface wrote a song called "God Of Shit". I at first thought this title was a bit beneath him, until he shared the tragedy which inspired it. Then once he sent me the lyrics, I was really moved, and truly understood what it took for him to write this heartfelt song, questioning God and his divine plan.

  • Jeff: If I had any faith whatsoever, that faith faded the day my father died.

MettleAngel: Oh really, that is truly tragic...

  • Jeff: He was 49 years old and he died like (clap) that. He was an honourable man, who never was out of work, served in the military, was faithful to my mother, etc.

MettleAngel: Like Billy Joel says, "Only The Good Die Young!"

  • Jeff: Michael, if ever there was a perfect marriage, it was my folks. They were so close. I remember having to break the news to my mother, the day my dad passed. My father was a drummer, as I come from a musical family. We were all so close. I mean where is the fucking justice!

MettleAngel: Man, I am so sorry. It is like what Nuclear Assault claims, "In this world, there is no justice!"

  • Jeff: Life is full of junkies, murderers, rapist, pedophiles etc. who even if in prison, they are fuckin' still alive!

Life is just not fair, a reality I must accept daily.

  • Jeff: My father was a good man who provided for the family, loved his wife, loved me and supported Venom completely. My Mum survived another 25 years without my Dad, but I do not know how she did it.

MettleAngel: My grandmother who was from England died young, and my grandfather never remarried...

  • Jeff: I really do not know how she did it, and in 2005, my Mum had a stroke in February and as a result of that stroke we found out that she had cancer for a year and a half. She had not told anybody.

MettleAngel: Whoa! My grandfather had a bad fall and was hospitalized, and then they discovered he too had lung cancer.

  • Jeff: She had nursed two of her best friends to the end through cancer but she had not told anybody and she lasted until December the 17th, she passed away in my arms and I only felt her relax and give up when I said, "Have a great Christmas, go to my Dad. You know he is waiting for you" and I felt her relax in my arms and that was it, she was gone.

MettleAngel: Man Jeff, I feel for you...

  • Jeff: I fell out of faith with God! In Newcastle, I had a Martial Arts gym for over 19 years. I was focused on keeping my mental and physical health while across the street was a needle exchange where crack whores pushed their addicted babies in prams.

MettleAngel: I did not know you were into martial arts, not to change such a delicate subject...

  • Jeff: It is alright! My partner and I watched generations of scumbags just waste their lives away. Look at the G.I.'s, who are fighting, look at the people who are laying down their lives for the freedom of these fucking people! That is where I wonder, "Where is the good God, where is justice in all this world?"

MettleAngel: Your existential struggle reminds me of the Skyclad lyrics, "Who am I, what am I, why am I here?" It moves me to tears to hear you open up to me like this.

  • Jeff: There has been a lot of weird stuff happening over the last few months. Everything is cyclic. In 2009, after having been married for 15 years, my marriage ended, and I had an accident where I snapped my Achilles tendon. I had to give up the gym. Everything "wrong" was just happening at the same time: crash, bang, wallop, a triple whammy business, marriage, everything.

MettleAngel: I can definitely relate...

  • Jeff: Then when the marriage was definitely, definitely over around 2010 the Mpire Of Evil thing came around.

MettleAngel: When one door shuts, a window opens.

  • Jeff: Yeah, and then I get a message on Facebook from my first girlfriend who was there at the beginning of Venom 30 years ago, she was 17, I was 19.

MettleAngel: Now that is serendipity!

  • Jeff: Go figure, she was also going through a divorce, we got together for a coffee, and we have been together ever since. I keep thinking that something is lining up there and it is giving us all these opportunities and it is going "there it is "fucking take it, because you missed it the first time!"

MettleAngel: It sounds like you have the spirit of happiness, and are possessed by the good demons, as the Greeks once believed, if you read your Plato.

  • Jeff: Michael, I have been doing countless interviews while on the road, but not one like this. I mean fucking Hell...I have been around for a while now, so I think I have earned the right to talk about this stuff, do you not agree?

MettleAngel: Absolutely! I am more than pleased to help you express your emotions, even if this is not what was originally intended. Damn this is becoming like the Michael Schenker interview!

  • Jeff: I would rather just open up than just talk about the guitars I play; or the shit with the band, etc. I appreciate you allowing me to get more personal.

MettleAngel: If you want me to print this, I will!

  • Jeff: I know I was in Venom, and I accept that. I know everyone wants to hear about this, and I can tell you stories about how I ignited at the Hammersmith show, with the sparks from my guitar, and singed my eyebrows, but I feel what we have discussed is also very relevant.

MettleAngel: I whole-heartedly agree! We are all one. We all bleed red!

  • Jeff: I like what you just said there about everyone essentially being the same, that there is no one individual on the planet. I am a big fan of Neale Donald Walsh.

MettleAngel: Oh my God, you have also read the Conversation With God Books! Dude, those are some of my favourite wisdom works of all time! That is amazing. I just mentioned these to Ben of Goatwhore when we talked about Death being worshipped as a deity.

  • Jeff: I have a seminar of his on DVD. I would love to sit down and talk with him about that.

MettleAngel: I would too! I totally love his discussions on "The Illusions Of Need". Wow this is a real metanoia, and truly catholic or universal experience!

  • Jeff: On the 'Hell To The Holy' album I wrote the song called "All Hail". This song refers to how all these religions claim to worship that one thing, it is just they do not agree what that one thing really is.

MettleAngel: I hear you. It all comes down to our beliefs! We need to focus more on the aspect of "be", and not the "lie" and "if". We need to get over this my God is better than your God bullshit.

  • Jeff: This is why I want people to really listen to the lyrics for their own sake. When people ask me, "What do the lyrics to this song mean?" I always say "What does it mean to you?"

MettleAngel: Exactly! It becomes very personal, and open to interpretation.

  • Jeff: This is simply because what it means to you is probably going to be a lot different than what it means to me. Essentially, I think that this is good because that makes the song much more unique.

MettleAngel: It is like watching the finale of the TV show "Lost". That sure did create major controversy.

  • Jeff: I did a solo album called 'Zero Tolerance' and on there is a song called "Kill It". Even though it is very aggressive, it is actually an anti-hunting song.

MettleAngel: That is like what Carcass did with "Pedigree Butchery", or even "Incarnated Solvent Abuse". Sure it is brutal, but they are really having a laugh, and demonstrating their animal activist tendencies. I am still amazed and reeling over how the ex-guitarist of Venom has read the Conversations With God series!

  • Jeff: I am sure my fans are wondering why I am reading that shit. The truth is that I study a lot of this universal stuff, searching for meaning. Like I said before, if I did have any faith it fucking went the day my dad died.

MettleAngel: Basically all faith is blind faith! Faith is a crutch, a Band-Aid on an open lesion. People should focus on service and reciprocity. Doing just one altruistic task a day will work miracles.

  • Jeff: More people need to open their eyes, but too many people are enslaved by technology. Too many people are selfish and self-absorbed.

MettleAngel: This may appear to be the case, but this too is just an illusion. Like CWG encourages, God does not want anything from anyone else, there is more than enough of everything to go around, and there is nothing we are supposed to be doing. This is mettle, and this is the way to celebrate the moribund dance of death!

  • Jeff: Michael, I am so glad we had this time to share. I know you will enjoy the show. Thank you for this opportunity.

MettleAngel: It is I who should be thanking you! WOW. This is so not what I expected. Thank You so much for bearing your soul to me Jeff. It truly has been a unique and unforgettable experience!

  • Jeff: Indeed it has, and this is one interview I will not easily forget.

See also: review of the album Hell To The Holy

Related links: