Photo Courtesy of Venom Inc. / Alpha Omega Management
Metal legends Venom are primarily known for their early eighties material created by the original line-up, as well as scaring more than a few parents with their over-the-top Satanic imagery. This material would go on to inspire legions of bands across the spectrum of heavy metal.
These days there are two versions of the band. Bassist/vocalist Cronos tours with new members under the Venom name, while guitarist Mantas and drummer Abaddon have been joined by frontman Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan under the banner of Venom Inc. Dolan is a familiar face to Venom fans, as he took over for Cronos when he originally left the band in the late eighties.
Last month Venom Inc. rolled through Toronto’s Hard Luck Bar and delivered a set of classics to a loud and receptive audience. The show initially seemed under threat, as it had been downgraded from the spacious Danforth Music Hall. The thing is, the band sounds really good. In fact it sounds like vintage Venom, and good thing too because that’s pretty much what they’re going for. I sat down with Abaddon before their set to talk about why this lineup is concentrating on the early Venom material rather than the songs they recorded together, re-starting their careers, and how he’s happy for there to be two versions of Venom... even if Cronos is using the original band logos he created.
Photo by Barry Roden
I recently had a chance to sit down with Canadian rock and metal icon Lee Aaron at a benefit for Musicounts, a charity associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that helps fund music education programs in schools. The evening took place at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre, and featured artists like God Made Me Funky and Simone Denny collaborating on a number of covers and originals. Aaron herself belted out a memorable take on the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.”
Aaron initially became well known in the Eighties heavy metal and glam rock scenes, but grew dissatisfied with the genre as well as her image. She’s since made well-received forays into alternative rock, blues, and jazz. I spoke to Aaron between sets about her personal connection to Musicounts’ cause, what you can expect from her live show these days, and the modern perception of her early material.
Photo by Dustin Rabin
Canadian alt-rockers Finger Eleven have attracted a variety of fans over the years by approaching their base sound from a different angle with every release. From their funk-heavy early material, to their mildly metallic middle period, and the tight and catchy hard rock that would see them fly up the charts. Their latest album is 2015’s Five Crooked Lines, and it thankfully brings back some of the sonic rawness of their early albums following a couple of more slickly-produced affairs.
I recently met up with guitarist Rick Jackett before a jammed and sweaty set at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre to speak about how all their different styles actually come from the same place, the dangers of getting too comfortable in the studio, and the lasting effects of having an international chart topper.
Photo by Eddie Chachon
“I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately,” quipped Vanessa Carlton from the stage at Toronto’s Mod Club before launching into her 2001 alt-pop hit “A Thousand Miles.” A few hours earlier Carlton and I were sitting in a sweltering hotel room talking about whether or not the song was still worth playing, as it doesn’t really line up with her more recent material. Take for example her latest album, 2015’s Liberman, which comes across as a subtle mix of piano folk rock and trip-hop.
Back on stage Carlton slyly concluded that she continues to play the song just because she’s “really nice.” In addition to waxing nostalgic on her biggest track, we also talked about how she arrived at her current sound, and how being a new mom has changed the way she performs live.
Vanessa Carlton will kick off the winter leg of her North American Liberman Tour in Vancouver on January 14th. The album is available now on Dine Alone Records and you can watch the video for “House of Seven Swords” here.