!!!OLD SCHOOL PUNK METAL FROM THE UK!!!
We had a conversation with Duncan. Enjoy!
Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Tell us a few things about VENOMWOLF (Members, Starting Year etc).
Venomwolf began in late 2015, initially as a one-off project to use up some studio time a mate had booked. It was supposed to be for another band I was playing in, but that didn't work out. After I released the WITCH OF THE BLACKEST NIGHT EP, I started getting asked to play gigs, so put together a live lineup. We've been through a few lineups since then, but the lineup now is:
Duncan: live vocals/guitar, everything in studio
Andy: live bass
Chris: live drums
Chris drums for London speed metal maniacs DUNGEON, and Andy drums for Newcastle heavy metal heroes SKYRYDER.
After the WITCH OF THE BLACKEST NIGHT EP was re-released by CACOPHONOUS RECORDS, we released the BLOOD RITUAL / SACRIFICE single in late 2016, signed to IRON PEGASUS RECORDS for the release of the full-length STORMRIDING POWER in 2018, then the single BRING DOWN THE AXE in 2019. Most recently, we released the BLOODTHIRSTER single!
You have recently released your single ''Bloodthirster''. What is the Feedback from your audience as well as from the Press?
The feedback's been pretty good so far! We've not promoted it super hard, as obviously we can't play any shows in support of the release, but people seem to be enjoying it! There's not been much press coverage of it, but we don't expect that anyway.
Label or DIY and why?
Both, haha! For the most part, Venomwolf is a completely DIY band. I do all the writing and recording myself, and we obviously release the singles independently. IRON PEGASUS RECORDS released the STORMRIDING POWER LP, and they are great to work with. They handled pressing the LPs and CDs, and their distribution is far better than anything I could do, haha! Even with a label, the release was still very DIY - I even did all the layouts and design work myself, haha. I've always been very DIY with touring and gigs, both with booking things myself and putting on shows. Especially playing this more obscure old-school style, it's not always the most popular style, so those of us in the bands and the scene have to make it happen ourselves.
Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
If I had to choose, I'd go for CD. It's the most convenient physical format and the sound quality is the best, so that does the job for me. Vinyl's great for the artwork, and digital is great for convenience and access, but I can't listen to vinyl in my car, and I don't feel like I ever "own" digital files, haha! They all have a place.
Your music style is Black/Speed Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
I find it kind of funny that we get labelled as "black/speed metal" so often, when I've always seen the band as a METALPUNK project... When it comes to influences though, the first and most obvious is the almighty BATHORY! The first album in particular, just pure raw power! VENOM and HELLHAMMER as well, the first wave of black metal is the best wave! For the punk side of things, DISCHARGE and GBH are probably the main ones for the classic d-beat style. For the pure metalpunk influence, there are three main influences, that have probably affected the band more than any save BATHORY. Those are SACRILEGE, ENGLISH DOGS, and BLÜDWULF. SACRILEGE's first album, BEHIND THE REALMS OF MADNESS, is one of my all-time favourites, even after listening to it countless times over the years it still blows me away with the energy and fury behind it. The main riff from THE CLOSING IRONY is the best riff ever! SACRILEGE have mostly been a direct influence on the new material I've been working on, as opposed to the STORMRIDING POWER era. ENGLISH DOGS are also a more direct recent influence, specifically their album WHERE LEGEND BEGAN. These two have been more of an influence as my guitar playing improved to the point where I can now make an attempt at stealing some of their ideas, haha... BLÜDWULF were the band that opened my eyes to what METALPUNK really was, their album CRYPTIC REVELATIONS has been a firm favourite for a long time! And I also need to mention DARKTHRONE, specifically their CIRCLE THE WAGONS album - it was the first time I'd heard anything with a raw, lo-fi sound, and it totally changed my life. It's all been downhill from there, haha! The name VENOMWOLF directly comes from these influences as well - I like VENOM and SPEEDWOLF, and needed a name for the project, so I threw them together... and it's stuck!
Which things, do you think, a Band should sacrifice in order to succeed?
Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future of your Band?
What counts as "succeeding" though? Is it getting rich, is it making a living, is it just breaking even? For the kind of music I play, in the music industry that we have today, "success" is only ever going to be a limited thing. In an ideal world, bands wouldn't have to sacrifice anything beyond their time and effort to succeed - if the music business wasn't highly exploitative, if society valued the arts properly, and if the capitalist culture we are unfortunate enough to live in made it less agonising to actually do this.
As it is though, I think a band should be prepared to sacrifice whatever is necessary to reach their goals. So maybe it's not going out partying to save up money for a good amp, maybe it's investing in a car to drive to gigs, maybe it's knowing when to get others involved when you can't do the job. I think it's also important to be prepared to sacrifice short-term comfort, fun, and convenience for the long-term benefits. I've been in bands before with people that got way too fixated on things like having to stay in hotels, or partying all night, or borrowing gear because they couldn't be bothered bringing their own. That doesn't end well. To do things seriously, sometimes it does involve sleeping on floors, or calling it early because of a long drive tomorrow, or doing some heavy lifting at each gig. I guess it's a form of paying your dues? The DIY spirit for me is exactly this, it's the attitude of actually DOING IT!
Have I ever sacrificed anything? Only my sanity, finances, my physical health... haha! Jokes aside, that's not too far from the truth. I'm a sound engineer by trade, so a lot of my work crosses over to the band, which does make a lot of things easier - but then, being a sound engineer isn't the easiest career either! But that was a choice I made a long time ago, it's a career that fits perfectly with being in bands as well, as it all happens in studios and venues anyway! Being a one-man project as well isn't the easiest, it certainly costs a lot more to have full guitar/bass/drum setups, and I handle all the finances for practice room/van hire, merch printing, touring, and anything else that comes up. It can be a lot of work, but it's worth it!
Describe your ideal live show as a performance Band. Have you already experienced that?
Not too big a venue, a crowd of old-school metal maniacs, a wall of amps, smoke and lights, booze, and chaos! It's always fun to play bigger shows, and if we ever get there I'm sure we'll have plenty of fun with bigger productions and theatrics, but for the most part, small, loud, and old-school is the dream! We've had each of those things, just not all at the same time, haha! We played THE DEV in London in November 2019, and that was probably our best so far. It was the third night of a short run with our brothers in GRAVE ALTAR, at one of my favourite places in the world, we were tanked up on BUCKFAST TONIC WINE, and it was just the right kind of chaos! That run was the first time the current live lineup of Andy and Chris came together, and it was the first few shows where I truly felt that we had ARRIVED as a live band! 2020 then torpedoed our plans for more shows... but we'll see what the future holds!
Which attributes, do you think, that a new Black/Speed Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
I think just being sincere and true to what you're doing gives a band an identity. I have never gone out of my way to make VENOMWOLF unique or different, I've only ever just wanted to make the kind of music that I'm into. Through the way I write music, play my instruments, perform my vocals, and produce the recordings, it becomes unique just because it's me doing it. It's like how two people could play the same riff, on the same guitar, through the same amp, but it'll still sound different. It's like there's a feeling, or an energy, that comes through on recordings or at shows, where if it's REAL and TRUE, people can tell. We've all seen bands that just didn't seem right, haven't we? I think an easier angle to approach this question is to flip it around, and talk about what NOT to do. And I think that's an easy one - bands should NOT fake it. Every VENOMWOLF track that's been released is full takes, with no edits or punch-ins, no drum triggers, and definitely no drum machines (drum machines are for WRITING and DEMOS ONLY for this kind of music!). I could edit things to be perfect, quantise the drums, trigger samples, and make everything "perfect", but then what would be left? A soulless, modern sounding record that nobody in their right mind would listen to! We don't listen to BATHORY or VENOM for the musical virtuosity, we listen to them for the POWER! Would HELLHAMMER be as good if the production was nice and clean? It would kill the soul and heart of these bands! If a band records real drums and real amps, and mixes them in an old-school, correct way, then a band will have a unique sound. KEEP IT REAL! KEEP IT TRUE!
Do you believe that Bandcamp and other Digital Platforms help the new Black/Speed Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a Band to promote its work?
Without Bandcamp, VENOMWOLF wouldn't be where we are today, haha! It's been great for letting the band be discovered, selling merch, and connecting with the maniacs around the world. I don't know if there really is an "ideal" way to promote these days, as everything has pretty serious drawbacks... unless a band suddenly becomes trendy, haha. I just try to direct people towards the Bandcamp, where they can listen, and buy if they want. It's all about the music!
Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in Glasgow, Scotland, UK (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
I'm a bit out of touch with the Glasgow scene these days, haha! Even without the fact that there's been no gigs since March, I've not been keeping up with the local scene as much as I have the wider UK scene. I usually travel around quite a lot, so I tend to keep up more with the UK bands more. The only "metal" club in town is called the Cathouse, but their definition of "metal" leaves a lot to be desired... a few of the bars in town (Bloc+ and Nice N Sleazy) will play heavy stuff, depending on the DJs. There's the Solid Rock as well, which is more of a rock pub, but they also don't tend to play much that I find interesting. For the bands, the Glasgow ones I pay most attention to are MIDNIGHT FORCE and NIGHT FIGHTER. MIDNIGHT FORCE are old-school heavy metal, they might be familiar to you as I think they've played Greece before. NIGHT FIGHTER are more black/speed kind of stuff, Inculto was the first live bassist for VENOMWOLF. There's a good number of wider UK bands worth checking out. DUNGEON are our live drummer Chris's main band, they're furious speed metal with a real punked-up attitude. They were one of my favourite bands even before I borrowed their drummer, haha! SKYRYDER are Andy's main band, they're from Newcastle and play shred-filled heavy metal, I get a bit of a third album CLOVEN HOOF vibe from them at times. GRAVE ALTAR are our touring buddies from... somewhere in the middle of England, they're pretty much the UK's answer to the furious AURA NOIR/CONDOR/NEKROMANTHEON-style thrash from Norway! Heavily underrated. AGGRESSIVE PERFECTOR are from Manchester, and they play horrific heavy/speed metal. INHUMAN NATURE from London have a strong hardcore influence, kind of like IRON AGE. There's two bands from York I really like - THE VEXED, who are chaotic street punk, and SEGREGATES, who are about the next best thing to MOTÖRHEAD! I used to play in Lancaster deaththrashing mob INSURGENCY, LIVE BURIAL from Newcastle are the best death metal band in the country, and SEVEN SISTERS, ELIMINATOR, and HEAVY SENTENCE are three truly excellent heavy metal bands. There's many more worth checking out, I know I've left a load out, but the UK has a really strong scene these days!
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
I know that there are some crazy metal maniacs there! I've not been to Greece since I was a kid, but I've got friends that have played and attended festivals there, and I've heard some great things! I'm not massively familiar with the current bands in the scene - I've heard some of the old black metal, and I'm sure I've got some CDs from Greek bands somewhere, but I can't remember right now, haha!
What are your future plans?
I'm going to record the next full-length album in early 2021, hopefully to come out before the end of the year. There's also a four-way split planned, with some great bands that I'm very excited about. The aim is to have the music for that done by the early spring, so that might see the light of day next year as well! Hopefully we'll be able to get back on the road if the coronavirus situation improves, I'd like to tour in support of the album release. It would be cool to get out to Europe as well, but Brexit's probably going to make that really difficult, if not impossible... so we'll have to see on that front, haha!
Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Thanks for having us, and hails to anyone who's read this far!
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By Steve the Filthy Dog.