Venom bassist and vocalist Conrad “Cronos” Lant has never been one to mince words. The British founder of black metal has always spoken his mind about just about anything, metal-related or otherwise. In a recent interview with Australia’s The Rockpit, Cronos veered off from promoting Venom’s latest album, From The Very Depths, to express his very detailed critique on the state of metal and rock, based on his past personal background and experiences in music:
[I’m] not worried about that. That’s why we did things differently. It’s always amazed me why other bands want to sound like another band. You don’t get artists who say, “I want to paint like Picasso.” It’s finding themsevles their own ideas, their own styles, how they want to use the brush, what types of paint they want to use. I think music is the same. I think you should really dig deep and spit out what comes out of you, really. The style you play can be similar to another, but I don’t think… I mean, it’s something that I’m conscious of, really. If I come up with, say, a chord progression or something where it sounds like I’ve heard that before, it goes in the bin because that’s the last thing I want to do is produce a song that somebody says, “Hey, that sounds like such and such.” So it is about coming up with something new, and I’ve always liked being a bit controversial and coming up with stuff that people didn’t expect, and, to me, that’s the whole point of it. Fucking people didn’t expect VENOM, so I’m gonna keep doing things that people don’t expect. To me, it would be boring that people could predict what I was going to do next. It’s kinda like the end of your career. It’s the death knell. “Oh, yeah, we can tell what the new VENOM album is gonna be like.” In a way, that kinda leads me onto things that have been going on around the country and in Europe where big names, big concerts, big festivals with lower attendances, it’s down to a lot of the bigger bands who have lost their hunger and have made their millions, or they think they don’t have to bother anymore. And they’re coming over to Europe and playing the same fucking set year after year, same stage clothes, same backdrop, same songs and fans are sick of it. Why would you pay money to go see the same shit every year? It’s as if these bands don’t have to try anymore — they’ve made it — whereas the end of your career could be tomorrow, so if you don’t keep trying, if you don’t stay hungry, then get out the way and let somebody in who is hungry. And I think that’s one of the great things about rock and roll is it’s been around since the 1940s or something. There’s even a song on the new album, “The Death Of Rock N Roll”, which tells about how this thing we call rock and roll progresses in such a way that it becomes unrecognizable from how it started out. All of the so-called metal bands of today all play rock and roll and it’s so different to what Bill Haley and Elvis [Presley] and Chuck Berry and all the guys did back in the day, but it’s all just rock and roll. It’s a progression, and it goes on and on and on and the fans stay with it forever. Once you become a rock fan, it never leaves you; it stays a part of you. People have asked me, “Do you ever see a day when you are not going to be doing this?” and I say, “Fuck that!” I’ll probably die on stage! It’s in your soul. It’s in your bones.
To say that Cronos has what could be called an “old school” approach to his views on music and performing would be both expected and an understatement. But he didn’t just stop with metal and rock, he continued with drawing equally detailed parallels of the past to modern pop music, showing his knowledge of perceptions of big name female vocalists.
Yeah, there is a lot of bands now that kind of went down that of… 90 percent of the songs are pretty lame, and then you get this 10 percent of a heavy riff, and then they try to call themselves death metal, thrash metal, black metal, and it’s not. It’s rock. It’s pop. It’s FM. It’s like U.S. FM, easy listening. But I think music goes through phases, and it’s a bit like the calm before the storm in a way. Music has to kinda lose it a bit before it can come back on top… rock music, of course. It has to kinda sometimes get to that stage where people are scratching their head and looking at each other, saying, “What the fuck are we going to do?” and then, “Boom!” Something will happen. I mean, even after Venom started, I thought the black metal scene as it stood had kinda lost it a bit. Bands like Exodus had stopped touring and were falling to bits, and there was always arguments with all the U.S. bands and nothing new coming out of the U.K.. Europe didn’t seem to be providing much of any integrity and talent, and then, all of a sudden, from Scandinavia was this explosion of bands who had this real venomous attitude, like, “Let’s just plug it in, go crazy, smash the shit up.” Those guys were much more extreme than [what] we did. They fucking burn churches and murder people! I mean, fucking hell! So I think that’s what happens. There’s always a low, and then something will happen, and I think we are sitting on that sort of precedence at the minute, where hopefully something will happen. I was telling some press guy recently, where the fucking hell are all the frontmen? Where have they gone? It seems like that’s one of the biggest things that’s missing at the minute, is where’s the new people like… and I’m not saying copycat… but I’m saying the next charismatic figure. Where’s the next Ozzy Osbourne? Where’s the next fucking Alice Cooper? It’s just girls at the fucking minute, ‘ause when you see the stage show for artists like Pink and even these fucking Aguileras and all the rest of these fucking Katy Perrys, they are putting on incredible shows and they’re fucking kick-ass bitches with a fucking attitude! And it’s like, “Wow!” Frontwomen. I’m up for that. [Laughs]”
…Huh, well what do you know? It seems that one of the godfathers of extreme metal is not afraid to step out of what many metalheads may consider a comfort zone, in order to have a larger worldview of music as a whole and how it pertains to his own niche. And in a surprisingly non-cynical tone, no less! Cronos certainly makes many plenty of good points, and the rest of the interview is worth checking out for yourself.