Heart of Steel: Interviews

MANTAS:
Tony Dolan

Interview by Arto & EvilG

This Mantas interview was setup a few months ago and was originally to be with both Tony Dolan and the man himself, Mantas. Unfortunately, the questions specifically set aside for Mantas never got completed since he became too busy. After leaving this in limbo for a few months we decided to run it as is since there is still plenty of info provided by Tony about his previous bands (Atomkraft and Venom), his current status as an actor, and as a member of MANTAS.

 

 

I just found out that the never released 'Atomized’ album of ATOMKRAFT (which was originally released on a different label to Neat, never came out) would be finally released during 2004. Why now, and what went wrong back then?!

That album was recorded but not for any label. We were looking for a new label but before we could find one the signer we used left and I went to join VENOM. The album got shelved! The Sanctuary group now own all VENOM and ATOMKRAFT masters and are set to release the ATOMKRAFT anthology this August. I will be re-mastering the material for that and then thought why not put out ATOMIZED around the same time! Our fan base was limited as Neat records had poor distribution and ATOMKRAFT never made it to CD like lot's of other 80's thrash acts. No one knew we were there after 1988!

 

 

Atomkraft was one of the first speed/thrash bands hailing from England, but did you consider Atomkraft as a speed metal band in the first place? Did you try to have more Punk influences in the stuff?

At first the band was a kind of Punk outfit. It was the late 70's and that was the British scene. Then I saw Motörhead on the first tour they did at Newcastle University. I thought these guys are great. Dirty, loud and fast! That was it, it was everything I ever wanted from a band. Listening to those early acts now it seems crazy to class them as fast but believe me if you weren't there, Overkill by Motörhead was considered as stupidly fast by most. Ha! Ha! Makes people laugh now though! So I guess if matching Motörhead made us fast then yeah we were a speed outfit. Although playing a show next to Slayer in 1985, also taught us that, we were not fast at all!!

 

 

Did the original guitarist of Atomkraft, Chris Taylor, come up the name of Atomkraft after visiting Germany in the late 70's?

Well he returned form Germany with badges for us as gifts. There was a lot of Anti Nuclear stuff going on back then. The badges were in that vein. "Nuclear Power No Thanks!" However in German that read, "ATOMKRAFT Nein Danke!" I liked the way ATOMKRAFT sounded and looked so that was it! We changed our name.

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You relocated to Canada in some point of the stage of the career of Atomkraft, why?

It was 1983. I used to live in Canada in the early 70's. My sister was still living there and does to this day, in Ontario. Steve White decided to leave for personal reasons (a woman!!!) so being unemployed I felt very depressed as ATOMKRAFT was my life. I didn't want a lesser guitarist and at that time people like Steve and Jeff Dunn (Mantas) were few and far between. It was just coincidence that my sister invited me to live with her for 2 yrs while she was studying, to help with her two kids. I thought why not, things looked grim for me in England, so I went. I played in a few bands over there but was really just keeping my hand in! They all seemed to be doing covers back then.

 

 

Soon you returned back home and Atomkraft was resurrected from the ashes with the tysondog drummer Ged Wolf, Rob Matthews on guitars…can it be said this line-up was the first real Atomkraft in a way or another?!

Actually this became the lineup that recorded the first album, but if anyone has ever heard the 'TOTAL METAL' demo with the original lineup I'm sure they'll agree that this was a weaker band and a weak album in Future Warriors. The danger and ferocity was gone!

 

 

You then signed a deal with the same label that had Venom, with Neat Rec. Was the decision to sign a deal with Neat kinda easy because of Venom?

Neat was actually 10mins from my house. I had recorded demos there before. The owner knew me. There was a lot of speculation about us. Were we Venom roadies(ex), because the drummer was related to the Venom manager is that how we struck a deal. It was all bollox. The guy was interested in us from 1982,when we became a three piece. Maybe he liked the three piece, Venom, Raven! I dunno. The only reason we went to Neat is that it was on the door step and that was it!!

 

 

The first release called Future Warriors came out 1985. Are you still pleased with how the album turned out as a debut?

Not at all. I had recorded some great tracks and heavy material before with the original band and Future Warriors never stood up! Fun and exciting to do and at the time I suppose I was into it. Production was crap! The guy who produced it for Neat, when I asked if he could give us some of that Venom sound on it, told me he couldn't do that, that was venom's sound and no one else's!!! I realized years later after, shit upon shit album's by the guy that he didn't even know what he was doing with the Venom album's let alone anyone else's!! We got truly fucked by everyone on Neat, The producer, the owner, the label, Venom, all except Raven who were dons to me!

 

 

Soon after you set off for the first Euro tour with the label mates Venom. Can you recall any kick ass stories about that tour?!

Don't know about kick ass! We got very drunk as much as we could. Hung around with Exodus and the diamond that was Paul Balloff (R.I.P.). Thrashed and fucked my self to death and rarely saw Venom. Except every now and then performing but we were really just hanging out front to catch the female fans around the bar. Big fight in Osnabruck Germany with some guys after a pool game. Me and the guitarist got pissed and some guys were trying to roll us for our dough but we'd already ran out. They bought a whole bunch of beers and Rob was getting nervous as he knew we had none left to return the favour and they would ask us to. I wasn't bothered, I was so pissed (Drunk) I didn't give a fuck as long as the booze kept coming! They then asked us for beer I said we were broke they didn't like it, we all went outside and there was a big fight. Our crew turned up and joined in as did more German guys and it was a great night! I don't think Exodus were there but I'm sure if Rick had been he would have enjoyed it too!! ha!  Oh yeah we weren't given any food in Copenhagen too so I refused to play. Metallica were in town recording 'Ride the Lightening' and came down to the show to see their mates in Exodus and I remember too Paul Balloff and King Diamond bringing us food out to our bus and dedicating their entire set to us! Cool!!

 

You opened a gig for Slayer at Marquee - could you finally clear up what exactly happened on that gig because I have heard some wild stories that you were forced to cut the set for three songs and you had some fight with Slayer?

No fight with Sllayer I am afraid!! haha!!! The P.A. went down after only three tracks, sabotaged! Who or why we never found out but we didn't give a fuck we wanted to impress so we took sledge hammers to the show to destroy any equipment! This we did. Once we realised the P.A. wasn't coming back we just destroyed the place! We got one review and I knew at the time that the guy was in the bar next door and didn't even come in to see us! Everything he wrote was bollox too. I have shots of ourselves and Slayer right after the show and we are all smiling together! Maybe I should get 777 to post some on the fan site so everyone can be clear about that!

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Marquee, London - with Slayer - 1985

 

Then you left the band when you were working on the follow up to Future Warriors and a new line up was quickly assembled with new additions being ex-AVENGER vocalist Ian Davidson Swift and bassist D.C. Rage. The album was an EP called Queen of Death.. Why did you leave the band and what is your opinion on the output?!

I left as we had disagreements about management. Abaddon and Eric Cook, venom's manager, wanted to represent us. I didn't trust them and thought they were shit!! It was my drummers brother so you can guess what he wanted to do? My guitarist was promised all sorts of things if he stayed so he did. Then we, that is myself, Tony Bray and Eric all had a big argument, they called me a fucking Lemmy (meaning power crazed!) and said I wouldn't walk! So guess what, I said Fuck you and went. I got a deal with a Belgian label called Whiplash and began writing what later became 'Conductors of Noize'. Just as I was set to begin recording, Whiplash backed out. Abaddon and Eric Cook had fucked the deal up so they could get Queen of Death out as ATOMKRAFT, to fuck me over. I thought the title track was good, it should have been I guess five people wrote it for them! Or so I was told by them! The other A side track was OK! The other tracks, Demolition, Funeral Pyre,were mine anyway and still had my playing on them and Mode three, which was a cover of a 16th century number had me and Rob playing. So they left my face and name off it but I am on it!!

 

 

You returned back for ‘Conductors Of Noise’ EP, what made you change your mind?

I had Conductors sitting there and no deal. They came to me after Queen of Death as no one in the band could write and they couldn't find anyone to do an album for them. It suited me. I got to do my album and they got an album to play on and put out. They never had ATOMKRAFT off me they only used the name on Queen of Death to stop me using it.

 

 

Then you played at Dynamo and toured as a support for Agent Steel and Nuclear Assault. Where did you play, what kind of reception did you get, and how did you get along with Agent Steel and Nuclear Assault dudes?!

Agent Steel were OK I guess but told not to mix with us or Nuclear Assault. John Syris( Syrus???) I dunno, is a fucking pussy. That's all I'll say! He's lucky he didn't get fucking nailed on that tour! Nuclear Assault were great. Dan Lilker moans a lot but John, Glen and at that time Antony Bramante were fucking great! John is a very funny guy. We had a great time with them although I think that Abaddon and Eric stole money off them and as they arranged the tour, ripped them off bad so maybe they don't remember it fondly like I do! The fans were fucking brilliant. Except Germany were on the whole they fucking hated us! We did have some great fans but like I said on the whole! I do remember though that Dan lilker was like this fucking book on underground bands, which was great, plus he basses like a don! Dynamo was great in 88. 15,000 people in a car park. Testament, Destruction, ATOMKRAFT and fucking Stryper??????????Still, all the band were cool and we had a great time too!

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A new bassist named DC Rage joined and you switched to the guitar, was it an easy move?

Yes! I wrote everything in ATOMKRAFT on guitar anyways. Like all the Venom stuff I wrote. So I have always played both guitar and bass. It's not a problem, I am happy with either. It was better and faster than looking for the right guitarist. Plus Rage had already been associated with the band and I like him too!

 

 

In 1988 you toured with Exumer and Nasty Savage and I remember having some old articles on some gigs... but you played even behind the iron curtain of that time, namely in Poland. I guess it was a great chance to play there!?

Yeah that was cool. Still a Berlin wall back then. The fans were amazing and we played the first show at an arena called Spodek to 25,000.That was so cool. That whole tour was amazing for ATOMKRAFT...we had arrived! We thought it was all to come! We worked so hard.

 

 

Why did Atomkraft split up then!?

Singer left for a woman. D.C. Rage got even more hooked on drugs and booze, The guitarist was already going a bit crazy, wearing silly boots and making weird signs every now and then. I just couldn't be fucked to start all over again after we'd come so far and worked so hard. Then a call from Venom and that was that anyway!

 

 

What are other guys doing nowadays?

D.C.Rage? Who Knows? Ian Swift started boxing, had one match got knocked out and now is a Butcher!! Rob Redhead, is a street busker/clown! Ged Cook(Wolf) runs, Demoltion records with his brother Eric Cook. Steve White the original guitarist runs a Theatre and the Original Drummer Paul Spillett is a photographer.

 

 

Is there any chance to see the Atomokraft reunion in the wake of these reunions of old 80's thrash bands like Agent Steel, Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel, Destruction, Necrodeath, Assassin and so on?!?!

NO!...............................................Well?

What do you think of all these reunions anyway?

Great, welcome back boys!

 

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You continued as a new front-man of Venom by doing a series of albums and one ep, but was it a big step for you to step into Cronos' shoes?

NO! Ha! ha!

Primal Evil 1989, Tear Your Soul Apart ep 90, Temples Of Ice -91, The Waste Lands -92.... To be a honest those albums are quite unknown releases in the glorious Venom history, although Mantas and Abadon were involved, do you think that people kinda didn't want to consider them as Venom releases because Venom is known as a three piece band?!

How do you mean they are quite unknown? Prime Evil sold more copies than either 'Cast In Stone' (the Reunion album) and Ressurection (the cronos/Mantas album) that's not my bullshit, that's the facts from the labels involved and their figures not mine! Yeah the hardcore Venom fans wouldn't accept it as Venom but on the whole the wider fanbase did. Even the fans that didn't accept it as Venom used to tell me and still do to this day through the fansite how they loved the material etc, but just wish it hadn't been called Venom. That's cool, but it was and that 'IS' history I'm afraid! Look at any discography and the material is there as am I. I have had so much fan mail by people who claim that I and Prime Evil and the rest turned them onto Venom and helped them discover the back catalouge. Great, then as long as they got something then isn't that a good thing for everyone? There's a concept that Venom is Cronos, another that Venom is Mantas, I was a fan from the off. VENOM is the three of them, not any one individual and THAT is THAT! Without each other! Well, let's wait and see...................................................again! Yawn!

 

 

scan0038cropno2.jpgHow was the fan reaction at gigs when “Demolition Man” was in Venom in the early 90`s?

Great! Only one show in Germany where I got hassled and that was my fault. I used to dedicate Bloodlust to Cronos. I did from the off at every show. He wrote the lyrics and that so I kinda thought it was his theme tune. This one night, the fans were chanting, we don't need Cronos, we don't need Cronos and I joined in, stupidly! A bunch of dudes at the bar didn't like it and we had a few things to say to each other. After we finished the show, myself and a roadie went to meet them as we thought we were going to have it with them and they'd fucked off! After all that, they went home! On the whole though, everywhere we played the fans were exceptional to me and I thank them all again right here right now!

 

 

Venom was put on hold for a while and you left to carry out your movie career?

Yeah I lost patience in the end. Abaddon and Eric were too much into keeping the money from me and Jeff and making cheap product. They ended up as today just trying to squeeze as much money out of the VENOM tag as possible. I had enough and thought better to leave them to it! I left. Then Jeff left and then a new deal was offered by a German company, they accepted the deal did one album, split again, sacked Abaddon got Conrad's bro in (Who is amazing by the way, as good on guitar as on drums in my opinion), did a follow up then got kicked off the label and here we are! Still a new album coming with Mike Hickey playing guitar. Remember him? He played on 'Calm Before the Storm' with Jim Clare, the replacements for Jeff (Mantas). MANTAS has recorded Black Metal. They've recorded Black Metal's the word so let's see what happens next eh?

 

How did you get an idea to re-start working with Mantas on his band and new output?

He called me we spoke he told me about the project, he had no bassist and eventually I offered and he agreed!

 

 

Isn’t it kind of funny that drummer Mark Savage is from another old UK band War Machine, formed by the former Atomkraft guitarist Steve White…..what comes around, goes around I guess? XLR8R features mark savage on the vocals and Al Barnes (who used to be in Venom ) in the same band as well... hmmm...

Savage was 'NEVER' in War Machine! Besides where does Mark Savage come in? I don't get that? Mark Savage played with MANTAS in 1986 or something and only in the video's for his solo stuff he was never on any product that was a drum machine! I am in the MANTAS video for King of the Ring but never played on the album! Al Barnes was Jeff's mate and came into Venom with him as part of the deal. They were in MANTAS, the Band together at that time and Jeff didn't want to just up and dump Al. None of them are connected with this project.

 

How did you end up in Stallone's movie Judge Dredd and now the Russell Crowe film 'Master & Commander'?

I had an agent and they sent me up for the parts! I met the casting and directors and got the jobs. The Dredd thing left me mostly on the cutting room floor. Danny (Cannon), the director, re-edited about 6 or 7 times and made so many cuts and bad for me I went, to trim things down and tighten up the movie. Still, a famous guy in the UK called Rick Mayall did the new Harry Potter movie and all his material was cut out as was Christopher Lee's in The last Lord of the Rings so I didn't do too bad at least I am still in the moviie eh? Ha!ha!

 

 

Did anyone on any of the sets know you were once in Venom and freak out a bit?

Yeah. On Master and Commander, the researcher for Fox movies went to L.A. and New York and got all the album's I'd done including 'Kissing the Beast' the Russian album we did and brought them back to the studios. That day when I went to lunch they were playing the material in the eating hall. The whole place was staring at me and laughing! Afterwards I had loads of extras and technicinas talking, getting my autograph and banging on about the music. Which I really enjoyed!

 

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Tony in Master & Commander

I understand you jammed with Russell on the set, so did you get to show Russell any metal riffs or what? Ha!

Yeah me, Russ and Paul Bettany and Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings) too all had a great time playing. We played metal and all sorts. Clash to Thin Lizzy. We even did a bit of Green Day. No ATOMKRAFT or Venom though! ha! Russelll had a whole 2 trailers with full P.A. and everything you could possibly need to use for us all. Fridge, couches in there, fucking everything it was great but mad! WE fucking rocked the place it was so cool! No Bullshit just music for music's sake! Great!!

 

 

Do you have any other film/theatre projects coming up?

Yes I am filming at the moment for the BBC and HBO T.V. A movie called 'Dirty War'. I also have a series coming at the end of summer to British T.V. Called about British History, 'Battlefield Britain'. We are also preparing for a show in London called, 'Hitler and the Boys', which is very funny. Plus a radio play, part 3 actually yet to go out but recorded for Fox.

 

 

How would you compare acting to performing live with a band?

Very different. No fans to feed off. No one screaming you either though so both have their negatives and positives. I like them both and both give me satisfaction. My music was always hampered by small timers but the acting is a business and therefore feels more real as far as the money and job angle goes!

 

You also have a solo album coming out soon!? Please give us the details on what to expect musically, the line-up, release date, etc?

The lineup is still coming together. So I can't give too much away. I don't want anybody's preconceived ideas about the material so until it's around no-one will know who it is exactly. The material will speak for its self! The album was due out now originally but I had to delay as I was waiting for tracks to be returned to me as I have a few guest thrasher on there and also, filming plus the MANTAS material, the schedule all went crazy.. It will make it out by the end of the year. When the information is more solid you and all will know my friends!

 

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Mexico, Master & Commander -on set- 2003


MANTAS official site: www.mantas666.co.uk

Tony's official site: www.tonydolan.net