|Antton Lant - Def-Con-One - Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Thursday, 10 May 2012 04:30|
When Antton Lant, best known as the drummer in Newcastle black metal legends Venom, got in touch with Über Rock to ask if we wanted to chat about his new project, Def-Con-One, we didn't quite know what to expect. What we got was a pretty close-to-the-knuckle conversation about not only his current band and their new album, but also his relationship with his former band mates - and, most revealingly, his brother, Conrad aka Cronos... read on (if you dare)...
Thanks for taking the time to chat with Über Rock: what are you up to at the moment?
Hi, no problem, just working on getting the Def-Con-One album released, rehearsing etc.: it's all good.
Let's turn initially to your current project, Def-Con-One: can you give us a bit of background to the band and how it came about?
Def-Con-One was put together by me and Johnny: it's took a long time to find the rest of the puzzle but we have it right now. Steve joined a good few years back and Davey has been in the band for a couple of years now. Def-Con-One is a band that is playing what we want to hear and what we want to see from a live band. I tell ya, I've worked with a lot of different musicians and I feel this is the best band I've ever played in, honestly. There are no megalomaniacs no hidden agendas; we are like four brothers all wanting the same thing and the best for Def-Con-One.
How would you describe the Def-Con-One sound and what influences your songwriting?
We are all influenced by very similar bands: we want to be heavy, but with groove in there; we want the hard core vocals but we also want to have melodies, etc. We try to fit it all in and create a good vibe to each track. We all write too, and every comment is taken onboard: as we say, 'there is no I in team'. It's all about the four of us.
Of course, we all know you spent ten years in Venom - how do you look back at the time?
Most of it was awesome. The most fun was the ''Metal Black'' period. I've known Mike for a long time and he is a very good friend of mine: at that point it was all about the music, and we were all getting along just fine, but then greed raises its ugly head and it all goes pear shaped again. The period for the 'Hell' album was actually hard work - everything seemed so "forced" and it was all about how we could sound like the band did on the first couple of records. It was forced and horrible.
It was a time of flux for the band, as they hadn't recorded anything for quite a while and then seemed to re-emerge from the darkness with the 'Metal Black' album, which many saw as a return to the Venom of old...
Yeah, me, Mike and Cronos sat down and talked for ages about how we should approach it. Funny enough, it was Mike and me that put up most of the money to get it all recorded; Cronos was still fighting Sanctuary about the back catalogue. I wanted it to look like Venom again. I said "the early pics are cool, with the stage gear, etc., but if you look at the pic of the band on the back of 'Cast In Stone' it looks like they're all going to a christening or something". So, I made a lot of that stage gear, with help from my good friend Pat from D.P. Leathers in Newcastle. And everything was going great and the gigs were awesome, but then, after the American tour, there were a few accounting problems. Mike left and, looking back, I wish I had left then too.
Then you left after the 'Hell' album, which seemed to further consolidate the band's position as returning heroes: what prompted your decision to leave at such a seemingly crucial time in the band's career?
I don't like 'Hell'; the songs aren't that good and the production is crap. The recording process was horrible too; there were lots of arguments and bad feelings. I played the guitar on a few of the tracks and I honestly thought they were guides for the guitarist to play over but they ended up on the final cut... What I do find funny is that some of tracks Mike and me wrote have ended up on their new album. Go figure, eh! The song 'Punk's Not Dead' is 100% Mike Hickey's riff. He brought that to the band back in 2004 and I still have it, plus copies of the 'Metal Black' line up playing it at rehearsals...
More recently, of course, you were one third of M-PIRE Of EVIL, with Mantas and Tony Dolan: many would have argued that this was just the 'alternative Venom' - especially with the very public disagreements between Mantas and Cronos which have blighted a large part of Venom's career (at least for diehard fans): now that you're outside both bands looking in, as it were, how would you answer such a challenge?
Well it was not supposed to be 'alternative Venom', or at least that's what I thought: the plan was to be an original band. Unfortunately, me and my so called brother fell out a few years back, so I have nothing to do with him anymore, but I should have listened to a few of the things he used to say about the other original members. Megalomaniacs! Ya know, saying that, I've never had any problems with Abaddon; he's always been cool with me.
The arguments started when Jeff started chopping my drum parts up. I recorded all my drum parts separately and gave Jeff the drum files: he then chopped my parts up, taking verses and replacing them with choruses from different songs; he then took so long to mix the tracks that we were running out of time with the record company deadline. I first found out that my parts had been changed when I was cc'ed in on an email to the record company. A lot of those songs sound like that because of me: some of the riffs were not going to be used and I suggested them and I changed some of the bits too. The whole chorus for 'Hell To The Holy' was my idea, even the melody.
I still have all the original shit without the changes, with my vocal ideas, etc. There was a 12" vinyl released but it had nothing to do with me: when I asked about the deal etc, I was accused of calling them thieves? But hold on, if there is nothing to hide well then show me the contract? I can now see what was happening though, and I guess I was a bit stupid to not see it... having me in the band made the whole three ex-Venom members thing more attractive to agents - and also the Cronos connection kinda gives it a seal of approval somehow. So, when Jeff heard that I had left Venom he thought "maybe I can use this in my favour..." He was not my friend. I feel a bit stupid now for not seeing it.
Then, we talked about touring: I wanted to tour straight after the release of the album, not three weeks before it was released - that's stupid. And I thought we were an original band that was going to throw a couple of Venom songs into the set. Not a full on Venom set: come on man what's all that about? I have NO desire to be in a Venom tribute band, NONE. If I wanted to play Venom songs all night long, I would still be in Venom... remember I left Venom...? Ya know, I don't see the Foo Fighters playing Nirvana songs live?
So, the split with M-PIRE Of EVIL wasn't exactly amicable? I read in another interview how you seemed to react quite angrily to Mantas' suggestion that you had left because you didn't want to tour - something that seems to be quite contrary to your own busy schedule with Def-Con-One...
I had a few problems with the tour, but they would not listen to my arguments...
One - why are we touring a month before the album is released?
Two - I said we needed days off: Tony had not been in a band for a long time and I thought it would be hard on his voice... Guess what? I was right: his voice blew out. Hey, I take my hat off to him for getting through it, but it was a shit idea.
Three - why is the set mostly Venom? I thought we would play a couple of Venom songs... it's funny because I've had a few people sending me links to videos and they are all Venom songs? Cronos songs too? Why?
But I tell ya, Jackson is doing an awesome job, he's a great lad and a very good drummer, good on him.
Do you still keep in touch with your brother, musically I mean?
Nope, he's no longer my brother.
So, if Cronos came knocking at your door and asked you to help, you wouldn't exactly be in a hurry to join up with him again?
No way, and he knows to stay the fuck away from me too.
Are there any young drummers - especially British ones - who you admire? And what advice would you give to them?
Yeah there is a lot... too many too mention I guess.
Wow, advice... Make sure you get everything sorted and in black and white before you do anything. People think they can take the piss out of the drummer because he "doesn't contribute to the song"? Well, I would just like to say: the drummer contributes a lot more than you think... your dumb ass riff will always be a dumb ass riff until a good drummer makes it have feel and groove. A lot of the time the way the drums are played can influence the way the riff is played or even change it somewhat: then, if it does the drummer, should be credited. I stand on both sides, I can also play guitar and do write, and I hate greed, greed boils my piss and gets me angry.
So, finally Antton, the Def-Con-One album is upon us: can we assume there's going to be live dates to support it, and where can we expect to see you and the band?
Hell yeah! Finally, after about 15 years struggling along, we've got a killer label behind us... Scarlet are really cool. We have some gigs booked and a lot more offers in the inbox, (laughing), and we are also talking to agents to get us out into Europe and the States, etc. We can't wait: we are all on the same page and we just want to get out and deliver our brand of metal to the world.
So, there you have it. You've got to give it to the man for being forthright, hard-hitting and honest, and telling it as it is... just like the new Def-Con-One album 'Warface'- which is due out on Scarlet Records this summer. Stay tuned for our review.
If you want to catch Antton and the rest of the band in action, they play Trillians in Newcastle on May 24, The Snooty Fox in Wakefield on May 25 and The Intake Club in Mansfield on May 26.