Hell To The Holy retains its snarl of wicked and as M-Pire of Evil vocalist, Tony Dolan reassures Alternative Matter – it’s all about what “Metal used to be, bang your head, feel free for a bit”. Dolan takes some time out to chat with Alternative Matter’s Lav, about the first blood-pulsating album from M-Pire of Evil, Venom’s dressing room, the upcoming tour with Onslaught and why Vinyl is “still really cool”.
Hello M-Pire of Evil! Thank you for doing this interview with Alternative Matter! Every one of the black/death metal bands came from a Venom background. You can’t ignore it. M-Pire of Evil have something to live up to – does this make it more difficult?
Hello, thanx Lav and thanx to Alternative Matter for chatting to us. Well, I suppose that will be a focus and something ‘WE’ can’t ignore but to be honest, I can’t imagine anyone classing us as Black Metal…lol..well, maybe in the vein of the Venom a little but not as to the Black Metal scene that has developed. I think this is more traditional. It’s funny, so far most of the reviews we’ve seen understand where we are coming from but there are those that miss it completely…If we had approached this in a Black Metal kind of way, it would have been contrived and not who we are but then if we had people, I imagine, would have attacked us for trying to fit into something, so we chose to do whatever we wanted, I mean we are a bit long in the tooth to try and fit into such incredible scenes full of incredible acts. What we always did was create our own path and that’s what we are doing here..the new album Hell To the Holy, isn’t some kind of intellectual statement or dark brooding, we eat virgins and kill goats, kind of thing, lol..it is more of a commentary on human reaction to Rock/metal music fans and their affiliation with their respective genre’s, the outcasts from the normal conformity, if you like. That shit is to be praised, it’s what makes individuals and makes the world more exciting. But in a basic way, a fun way. It is about having fun pure and simple, just like Metal used to be, bang your head, feel free for a bit….fuck the politics, we know all our governments have just fucked us all with this whole banking thing , then there are the countries overturning their corrupt rulers, so let’s escape and have some fun for a bit..Do we have something to live up to? Not us….we are who we are, we do what we do…if the listener, reviewer, fan, thinks we do….that’s in their own head..their own thoughts..which is fine of course, just not how we are thinking. We aren’t in any shadow here…we are casting a few perhaps!
Jeffrey Dunn (Mantas) and Tony Dolan (The Demolition Man) have a rather long lasting relationship before M-Pire of Evil. How does it work and why?
Well yes, we go way back..from the early days and then performance wise, I suppose from the first Mantas solo project in the ‘80’s, the second in the ‘00’s and of course Venom, ‘89 – ‘92..and now here..I think we are like minded. We seem to bounce off each other very well, our styles complement each other very well and we are like brothers..we have never argued but discussed, we have a great laugh and it’s easy spending time together and know when each other needs space ,all the things neither of us could enjoy with the others associated with Venom, well not eventually anyway. We share our passion for music and Metal in particular. Writing together comes naturally and easily..I think perhaps when bands say musical differences preceding a demise, it’s simply, they don’t share the same direction anymore, usually that means, one wants to continue in the same way and one wants to progress into new directions. You can take any associated time of us two and at that point we are approaching the same thing, the same way, be it the same way as before or in a new direction. This is no different..we like how each other approach material and what we produce, it’s that simple. If you have true respect for the other musicianship, then you have something, when you let ego drive you, you will ultimately, fall, and maybe more than once as you try and fall repeatedly wringing blood from what eventually becomes a stone..lifeless and uncreative. You can’t do this shit for an ulterior motive, it has to be because you believe in what you are doing and when you aren’t it’s time to go. The only reason we stopped working together in the past is because we let other people involved make decisions, this time only we will do that for ourselves.
Earlier last month, M-Pire of Evil saw the departure of drummer Antton. What gives from here?
Yes, well like I said..you can’t do this is you don’t believe %100. He had family commitments and his other band…everything wasn’t going to fit for him and he had to go where his %100 was and that wasn’t with us I guess. What gives from here? Well the new drummer…he’ll be with us on the US tour and beyond. He’s a pretty amazing drummer loves the material and the idea and we have mutual respect as musicians, that’s about all you need. This is the beginning and at least it all happened before we began live.
Hell to The Holy is more traditional metal with a snarl of wicked. Could you elaborate on the new release?
Yes it is. When we began the process and decided this should happen for us, the main concern was to be honest. Not try something, not try to fit. So we looked at everything we loved about metal, what we liked, what inspired us to be in a band, to make music, that’s where the Creatures of the Black Ep came from. We covered tracks that were inspirational to us, by bands that inspired us. Some people got what we did with that and others, again, missed the point but it was a personal choice and that choice as well as the result ,we were all very proud of. It wasn’t about changing the classic songs to something they weren’t, it was about playing them for all the right reasons, they way they were, as much as we could. I say that because I am not Rob Halford for example and even with my testicles tied up and snapped at by piranhas I still would not be able to cream those fucking amazing falsetto notes that make your spine tingle in Exciter…what I can do is rip some fabric to let some light in…so I did what I do and I loved doing it. Same was true of the ACDC track…Bon Scott spoke about things he’d experienced, you can’t be in someone else’s life, so covering someone like him is always gonna be a challenge, so I went for my own motive…and that was that. We placed 2 of our own songs on the Ep to join everything together…so by the time we came to Hell To The Holy, we hopefully have expanded and shown where we are coming from. The Classic Metal area..with an obvious modern influence as we as musicians have also moved on a little. It’s shamelessly honest, no fancy footwork, no false statements, no cryptic sentiments, nothing we are not is on there. We wanted to have fun..we wanted people to feel the fun. Bang your head, scream a chorus, throw that hand in the air…just have some release…be entertained..if you wanna be so serious about everything,musically speaking, well, there is always U2 , Radiohead or ColdPlay..this is Heavy Metal so it’s up to you.
Mantas not only plays guitar for the Hell to Holy album but took to the production chair as well. Why the need to wear different hats?
Well budget..hahahahaha..We had constraints that kept us local I guess you could say..however…Mantas has been writing, recording and producing his own work and that of others for some time now and so…who better to produce something the way you want it but you, if you are capable. It just made sense, we needed to have our own identity and were aware others may have approached it in a very different way than the way we were thinking. So we kept it at home and kept control. He did a great job and it was a lot of pressure and at times very difficult for him and perhaps for us all….but the end result? I think it was exactly what we aimed for and something we are very happy and proud of. Usually bands big up their shit then put it out and everyone crushes it as crap so the band disassociate themselves with it saying, yeah I wasn’t completely happy with this or that..hahahaha..what a load of old shit…you loved it before everyone trashed it!! Am I right, yes and you fucking know it. With Hell To The Holy, we’d love people to feel like we do but understand people are very different and want or need different things, so not everyone will ‘get it’ or even like it but that makes little difference to us or it. We simply accept that but for us…we like what we did and are very happy it is out and at the result, love it or hate it..it is yours now..and all we can do is bring it to life in front of you and we will..
The album artwork by Gyula Havancsak must be praised. It’s rather ‘demonic old school’. Was there any concept behind Havancsak’s creation?
I am so happy to have his work on a cover at last. I have been a great ,great fan for years and thank my old friend Schmier(Destruction) for hooking me up with Gyula. It is Demonic and Oldschool..and exactly what we went for..we we had a concept idea but it wasn’t the cover, what I did was wrote 2 lines to Gyula…one said ‘Hell To The Holy’ the other said, ‘Dirty Priest, smoking, in stained clothes with stained teeth’..what do ‘you’ see?…..and the cover is what came out of him….fucking stunning work. I always like an artist, in music or anything to express themselves..if you constrain them too much you simply stifle their flow and don’t get them or their best work…the fact that he accepted and was happy about that was amazing. I guess he went oldschool to give us our own character…the Pope..ahahahahaha…perfect! He must have just instinctively felt our vibe but then that’s why he is so incredible as an artist..
The band has signed with Scarlet records for both the prior EP release and the Hell To Holy album. What has it been like working with them so far?
That’s right..as well as Iron Pegasus and Costa who put out the Vinyl version of the Creatures Ep…Filippo, Enzo, Angelo, Chiara, are just fantastic people, supportive, generous…and real nice..I think Filippo and Enzo have just been incredible because they have taken the risk and just shown nothing but great faith. I was in Milan with them at their Headquarters while we were still recording Hell To The Holy and all Filippo said was..no fillers…make every song count…so..we did..They are great guys and we are very happy..Angelo, who also assists Enzo with PR has started emailing from the office which he now is calling…the…’M-Pire State Building’ hahahaha…very funny..I have to give some space here for 2 other Italian who were integral to this whole thing and Scarlet..Luca Bosio (Flash Magazine) he pushed and believed and convinced me that this should happen and was integral to the Scarlet deal and I can’t thank him enough. Then there is the amazing Titti Angeramo…she has just been tireless in here support and belief…words fail me…We’ve been very lucky to have such amazing people behind/with us!
With many bands releasing music on vinyl, will M-Pire of Evil consider taking this route or in your opinion has vinyl become obsolete?
Yes we will take this route, Vinyl is still really cool…Scarlet is doing a digipack of hell To The Holy and as with Creatures Of The Black, we will release a Vinyl version of the album…now how oldschool is that?? Hahahaha….maybe a cassette or 8 track version too???? Ok, maybe that’s too far…lol. I even did an Ep with AtomKraft in 2011 and the label WAR productions released a7”Vinyl in Blue…I mean common….is that NOT cool? Yes it is….you know it…lol
What can we expect from the upcoming tour with Onslaught, which kicks off on the 19 March?
Well…if you are a Holy one??? Hell…lol…coz we are bringing it!!! Fun man..fucking fun…METAL…..the way it should be…heavy, loud, fast, slow, Black, Blue…..entertaining….come and see us…come and talk…come and be one again..it’s about fucking time…those high brow, holier than thou, fucking overcritical, segregation , genre blinkered Rockers just came together under one umbrella again and stopped closing their minds…Metal was always about liberating us from the man….not from fucking each other…coz they like Doom and they like Black Metal or thrash or whatever…or Oldschool…it’s all fucking bollox…we are all in it together…if we can’t share anything else, we can at least share our passions. Come out and see us and let’s fucking kick some ass!!!
Lastly, how would walking into a Venom dressing room in 1989 (during Prime Evil fame) differ to walking into an M-Pire of Evil dressing room today?
Lol…Well..I guess…no different really..…you’d think, those days we’d be jumping around like boys and these days patiently sitting like men…Mmmmm..nope…just the same…nervous but controlled excitement. Focus, some exercising…easy happy chatting…oh..well except back then Abaddon would be in there and now he isn’t lol. Let’s just say if you came in early it’d be relaxed and calm like nothing out of the ordinary was happening but if you came in the last 20minutes before we were about to hit the stage, you’d feel the atmosphere, pensive, dangerous and kind of electric…Mantas would be smiling one minute and void of emotion the next as he focused, I’d be…increasingly animate and aggressive the closer it came to game time. And back in the day…we ere exactly the same…I invite you to come and see for yourself…wherever you’d like to join us..Thankyou for the interview and I’ll se you all on the dancefloor…All Hail and don’t forget….Zero Fucking Tolerance!
EDIT: This interview was initially published on Alternative Matter's webpage.
Thank you for Alternative Matter!