The "Neat ATOMKRAFT Anthology" released by Castle Records, praises one of the best bands from Great Britain so far. And everybody who's into stuff from the 80s should check this little present, that I was awaiting for a long time. Till now no other release from this British Thrash band was released on CD in Europe. And I was wondering if ATOMKRAFT was still existing! So, I took the chance to do an Interview with ATOMKRAFT bassist, singer and mainman Tony "Demolition" Dolan who also took the chance to talk about their bad record company and about the history of this British masters of steel. This man had more to tell than I had expected, so read this long interview with Tony about his band, which started out some years before VENOM created "Welcome To Hell"!
Hello Tony, nice to make an interview with you about ATOMKRAFT. It's not easy to find old bastards from the 80s and doing interviews with them. But now we once again found one man who will be so friendly to talk a little bit... Do you often give interviews in the name of ATOMKRAFT? Are you proud that you can talk about the past now, hahaha?
"I do give interviews about ATOMKRAFT and am usually proud but you're right I am an old bastard and when you're old it's always nice to take a trip down memory lane from time to time. Ahhh, the good old days they say!"
Tony, first question: when, why and with whom did you start ATOMKRAFT and what was the intention to create your own baby? Who were your influences in the past?
"I was influenced mainly by Punk Rock initially. The spirit, the freedom to express without corporate limits. When myself and my first drummer (Paul Spillett) decided to form the first band (not yet called ATOMKRAFT) it was basically a Punk affair. We had different guitarists come and go at quite a quick rate and the last one we had in our Punk days came to a rehearsal , after a visit to Bremen in Germany to see his father who worked there for the Royal Air Force, with gifts for myself and Paul in the form of button badges bearing the slogan, "ATOMKRAFT, NEIN DANKE!" We were kind of into the whole nuclear power thing as it was quite the issue in the late 1970's and into the early 1980's. I liked the word ATOMKRAFT and thought it was a good slogan for the band, 'POWER'. Up until that point we'd been called MORAL FIBRE, a very weak name even for a Punk act I thought! Anyhow, we kept the name and ditched the guitarist and began to look for a replacement. Someone more Metal and less Punk. I'd fell in love with MOTÖRHEAD at this point. Eventually after trying out a couple of people I found our guitarist in my art class at college. Steve White and that was it. Although at that stage I was playing rhythym guitar and we had for a few months a bassist, Mark Irvine also in my art class. When Mark left and in order to continue our live shows I took over bassguitar. Bought myself a Rickenbacker (a la Lemmy) and that was the first real ATOMKRAFT. The 2 bands who had a major influence on me were, of course, MOTÖRHEAD and the DICKIES."
You were from Newcastle! Was Newcastle not the home from VENOM, too?
"Yes, we were from Newcastle, where VENOM, RAVEN, etc, were all from and eventually ATOMKRAFT signed to Neat Records also."
In 1985 you've released your ultimate "Future Warriors" album on Neat Records. How did you get the deal? How many demos did you record before "Future Warriors"?
"We did three studio demos and several none studio demos. Rehearsal tapes etc. We didn't pitch anything to Neat until around 1985 and that was the "Pour The Metal In" demo. It featured 3 tracks, 'Pour The Metal In', 'Burn In Hell' and 'Carousel', sadly Steve and Paul were no longer in the band at that point. They had left at separate times and for different reasons and had been replaced by Ged Wolf (drums) and after a couple of other guitarists, finally Rob Mathew (guitar)."
Was Neat your first address or did you send demos to other labels too? Like Roadrunner, Noise, Ebony... I think you know all these labels, don't you? Why did you sign with Neat? Was it, because Neat was based in Newcastle too?
"We sent no demos to any labels. I do know all the ones you mention and at that time there were lots of small labels springing up, but basically I didn't know what to do. One of our demos had made its way to the USA and was getting great response albeit underground. I once even had a fan send me a copy of the "Total Metal" demo from Wales in England. He'd tape traded it and wondered if there was more material. The copy he sent me had no vocals on it because it was about 200th generation copy. He was very surprised to find it actually had vocals originally on the recordings! This and other letters I received indicated to me that the demo was doing the rounds and we were getting noticed albeit on the underground and trading circuit. The "Total Metal" demo (the only one we'd actually gave away) was given to a guy called Sam Kress who was actually at Neat looking to get them to sign a new band from California he was promoting called METALLICA. They didn't sign them as they thought they weren't very good! Ha! Ha! I bet they look back with pride at that decision?! Neat? Well by this stage the new drummer was the brother of the then VENOM manager and they were of course now recording artists with Neat. We had recorded all of our studio material at Neat as the studio and offices were only minutes from my house. Both of these reasons gave us cause to offer the recordings to Neat for consideration for the label. We did and they agreed to sign us and we began work on '"Future Warriors" for them. Had I known then what I know now, I would have tried every other label in existance before even going near Neat but then that's the case for most of the bands from the early 1980's and certainly every band that ended up signing to that label as far as I have been told by bands who were on Neat back then. No money, no promotion, no real tour support, what a balls up! The thing is, back then, all those labels were looking to sign bands. When you're a young band you just want to be a 'Rock Star' and have albums out. The labels knew that and I suppose it's relatively the same these days. They signed you and your publishing for the term of your bands existance or at least they tried and in some cases succeeded. Then you were left with albums going out but they got all the money there was to have and offered you nothing other than the actual album's release! Neat were very bad at promotion and tour support. It all cost money you see and they never quite understood that you must invest to gain. They just spent whatever money came in on themselves. Our albums were poorly distributed as a result and never promoted sufficiently and we were left scraping around for free tour support. Now this isn't the sad story of ATOMKRAFT but the story of probably 95% of bands from the 1980's. Just have a look around and if those bands have kept it up from then until now, see how many are still with their original labels and happy? How many left over concerns over poor label support, be it money or whatever. Not many I'll tell you! I'd like to think that with this knowledge, then perhaps today's bands be they Black, Thrash, Death, Hardcore, New, Goth or whatever Metal are a little wiser and shrewder than we all were and even more so, perhaps the smaller labels themselves have realised that in order to increase sales and gain a wider business interest then investment in the acts is of primary importance!"
Tell us a little bit about the recordings! Was it relaxed? Stress? Your first professional recordings?
"Rob always said his guitar playing on "Future Warriors" was very nervous. I can't say I ever noticed that! I suppose I had been in the studio before recording many times by then and Ged himself had already done the first TYSONDOG album by that point so it was only Rob who had never been in the studio situation before. I think we were more exited at the prospect. That, in my opinion was a mistake. I lost sight of where the sound was going. The guy who engineered / produced the album was terrible and really had no idea. We got no guidance from him and ended up with a weak album with awful production, again in my opinion! I asked him once when we were mixing, with regard to the title track, if he could get us that heavy VENOM type mix with the polish of Black Metal. He told me quite flatly that, that was the VENOM sound and he wasn't prepared to push our production in that way! Funny now as I eventually realised that, he had no fucking idea what the 'VENOM' sound was or how he was actually achieving it either. It was purely down to the band themselves and had nothing to do with what he was doing. He couldn't do something for us, when he had no idea how he was doing it for someone else! Ha! Ha! So we ended up with an over reverbed, messy album."
Were you proud when you got your copy? Rockstar feeling, huh? Hahaha...
"Of course! I put it straight into my own record collection and every now and again pretended to forget and skip through the album's and mimic being surprised when I encountered my own album!! Ha! Ha! You always look back and think, man that could have been so much better but at the time you're just proud of the achievement! You've recorded an album, it's in the shops, you're in a magazine and going on tour. You are a 'Rock Star' at last! Ha! Ha! Was I ever really a 'Rock Star'? Am I still one? Mmmm, NO! Ha! Ha!"
Who came up with that "future warrior" outfit with all that leather and spikes? Do you wear that stuff sometimes today, maybe to have breakfast, hahaha?
"I only wear the 'future warrior' outfit when I'm sitting watching old videos of the band or listening to old album's or demos and even then I only wear the jacket and an old pair of underwear from the period! I think it was Ged and myself really. I had this Jacket which I re-designed and Ged had some stuff made also. We wanted to add something visual. Actually, and not many people know this but it was actually Mantas (Jeff) who sewed and made Ged's top that appears in early press photo's. I also wore a wrist band with studs which was also Jeff's from the first VENOM Hammersmith Odeon show. My jacket had American footballers shoulder pads, which had actually been Swifty's (Ian Davison Swift, who later became our singer) which he wore on the cover of AVENGER's album debut, "Blood Sports"."
Do you still remember a little bit about the Metal scene back from 1980 till 1985? Were you in contact with other bands, like the great ROX, Wildfire, Cloven Hoof (last year Cloven Hoof played in Germany at the Keep It True Festival), Venom, Spartan Warrior etc.? Do you know what the members from ROX are doing today?
"Apart from CLOVEN HOOF and VENOM, I was aware of the other bands but had little contact if any! I know CLOVEN HOOF played the 'Keep It True' and did well I heard? Hopefully at some point it would be nice to have ATOMKRAFT appear there also but perhaps it would be in a different guise. RAVEN, HOLOSADE, HELLENBACH, ACID REIGN, HELLBASTARD, TYGERS, FIST, TYSONDOG, GIRLSCHOOL, SATAN, BLITZKRIEG, AVENGER, ARTILLERY, WARFARE, LONEWOLF and a whole host of others I guess where all around. Sometimes you met a guy or a whole band. Sometimes you played with one or two or went to see them. Whatever, you were always aware as there were bands everywhere and all doing something and also, I guess the scene was quite fledgling in some ways so it was a pretty small family unit on the whole."
What did Neat do for ATOMKRAFT to support the record? Did you get support from them? I cannot believe!!!
"Released it!!!! Minimal advertising, you know the kind, a half page in a mag, with like 20 new releases at the same time. In the whole time I think we had 2 decent adverts and they were both for "Conductors Of Noize". We were making money for them by then. Although we a) didn't see any of it and b) weren't actually aware at the time! We got no tour support from them, maybe 3200 Dollar once. We never even got our 31 Dollars advance for the publishing for the world that was in our actual contracts, thus making them actually void according to English music law but we didn't know that either back then. They had 200 shirts done once for us. Half were the "Future Warriors" skull in black and white and half were the same in colour. They must have cost about 320 Dollars! They were the worst quality and unwearable almost after one wash and the colour ones were just blue and looked so shit! Ha! Ha! They looked like they'd all been photocopied! We actually sold one once at a live show and then the kid brought it straight back to the merch desk, saying he thought he was buying something else! Yeah I think perhaps I am the only one with both those shirts now. Fuck knows where the rest went? Burnt I fucking hope! What a waste. Hahaha! Neat were never into the spending money thing for anyone not just us but then that's the problem isn't it. If you don't push your bands then how can you sell records and grow? They were just complete shit!"
Why did Neat never book a tour with Neat bands outside England? I mean, on the rooster were great bands like Artillery, Chateaux and stuff like that!
"Why???? Hahaha! MONEY!!! They wouldn't spend it. Also, you would have to know the scene and know how to capitalise on it. They had no idea about the scene, the bands (as displayed earlier with my example of how they turned down METALLICA) and not a truly creative idea amongst them! This all sounds very bitter I guess but it's not meant to be. I am just laying open the actual truth of how those masterminds of Neat approached the business of music. It happened to them and not because of them!"
In Germany "Future Warriors" got great reviews. Never read a bad one, did you? What were the reactions on "Future Warriors" from press and fans? Did you get many mail on it?
"Yeah I read good reviews also. Bands I even meet today say how they liked the album. I got lots of mail back then personally as I did the fanclub type thing from my own home and Neat passed along all letters they received also. Everything I got was incredibly positive. All we then needed was for Neat to go all out and I thought they would but they just wouldn't! We did the VENOM,EXODUS tour off the back of '"Future Warriors" and that was a very successful tour for us and EXODUS, being both bands fist real experience of a tour of Europe. We returned to England even more full of hope and… nothing! All press we got we did ourselves as well! One thing I never did quite understand was that some of our biggest fans were German but we were also not liked mostly in Germany! We took a German name and my love for Germany is such that my wife is half German, I teach my daughter German, studied German history, visited Germany from around 1983 and have family all over Germany including many friends. Not that that on the whole should make people like us but I always felt there was a German influence in my music and that if anyone got us it would be Germans. It always puzzled me that I was so wrong! Not that I am complaining you understand, I love Germany as my second home and think they are 'THE' most loyal fans in the whole world as far as Metal goes anyway. If they say it's good then it will be and if they say it isn't then they are most probably right there too! I just didn't understand why, the first album got such good reviews and then the fanbase seemed so hard to erect in Germany?"
In late 1986 came your Thrash blasting MLP called "Queen Of Death"... ATOMKRAFT was more raw and faster than all the times before, right? Why? Was speed the ultimate way? I mean, 'Protector' was faster than anything else which came from England at the time. And 'Protector' is the best track ATOMKRAFT ever did in my opinion, hahaha. I love this roughness and Ian's crazy and violent voice. A little bit of Punk was in it too!
"Yeah, 'Protector'! Well, Ian had something to prove as a new vocalist so he pulled out all the Metal stops on the "Queen Of Death" EP and especially on 'Protector'. He re-did the vocals as originally a guy called Alan Hunter (ex-TYSONDOG) recorded vocals for the track and he had a fantastic set of lungs and the most brutal attack but wasn't the frontman Swifty was. So, Swifty just copied Alan's vocal style and that's where the brutality came from, it wasn't exactly his idea! I wrote the track 'Demolition' before the EP came along and we thought it was pretty good and fast and just wanted to step up the speed a bit. We'd always done material that we thought was pretty fast and it was at first as far as British bands were concerned but compared to what started to come out of the US and Europe as a whole, we were pretty slow I guess. Haha! It has always been said, or I seem to have read a lot, ATOMKRAFT sounded at times like a heavier, faster type of Punk band and I guess that all comes from my past as a Punk. So although I stated earlier that my influences were MOTÖRHEAD and the DICKIES, I guess the DICKIES should have been first in that list. Haha! The roughness you mentioned is more down to the poor production though if I am truly honest. We were never going to get any polish out of Neat. They didn't have the expertise, that would have cost money! Haha!"
I can remember that the reviews for "Queen Of Death" were not that good as for "Future Warriors". They said ATOMKRAFT copy the Bay Area style. I mean that was a problem at that time: our press only looked at America and a good band from the U.K. was not worth their mention anymore. All what was coming from England was a Bay Area copycat, if that was Xentrix or Onslaught, the press said. Your comment, please! What do you think about "Queen Of Death" nowadays?
"I think that's true! The EP we had originally recorded and that was scheduled to go out at that time was the "Your Mentor" EP. That was the natural follow up to the "Future Warriors" but a major event changed things! We had returned from a tour and went straight in to record the EP. Then we had a major management disagreement. The VENOM management wanted to take us on and a London based management company also wanted the same. The London deal was a major step up and forward but the VENOM management offer would keep us where we were and under the VENOM umbrella. I thought we should go with the London guys but Ged wanted to stay in the north and with his brother and VENOM. They between them all convinced Rob (guitar) that they were right and I was wrong, so after I refused to deal with them as management, they called me a "Lemmy wanna be" and threw everything derisive at me. I told them to go fuck themselves and promptly left. They changed the name of the EP and had 'Queen Of Death' and 'Protector' recorded without me, even removing my credits for songs and taking my image of the release! I was about to sign with the Belgium label Whiplash, when VENOM's management corrupted the deal for me. I had already written the tracks for "Conductors Of Noize" at the point the fucked my Whiplash deal up. They did this to get the "Queen Of Death" EP out before I could release "Conductors Of Noize". I think that they just thought that without me they would be moving in the right direction by sounding like the American bands that were enjoying the moment. I thought they were wrong and I think the reviews also thought that! They were trying to copy the style and that never works, one thing I always prided myself on in ATOMKRAFT and that was our originality and here they were without me trying to emulate the US invasion? Impossible!!! I think "Queen Of Death" these days sounds like it had something but lacked a definite direction and it also made linking "Future Warriors" to the next album mini, "Conductors Of Noize" a little more difficult!"
You were not on the pics on the backcover for "Queen Of Death"! Why not? Did you leave the band before? What was the reason that you took Ian Swift from AVENGER (I've never heard a tone from them but I've heard that they played raw and violent Heavy Metal) and D.C. Rage from VENOM (he was from them, right)?
"Haha! AVENGER were definately NOT violent Heavy Metal (well not the English AVENGER anyway!). D.C. Rage (Darren Cook) was related to Ged and had nothing to do with VENOM at all!! Haha! Oh and ATOMKRAFT were, NEVER,VENOM roadies, ever! Ged Cook was before and after he left the band but not during his time with me! Ian was never my choice, I just accepted it. I thought he was a nice guy and cool as a front guy but his voice got a bit warbly like Bruce Dickinson at times (he loved Bruce!) and it didn't fit sometimes. He also couldn't keep time, he was terrible at that and it used to drive me fucking crazy! Haha! Darren (D.C.)was a good guy but he turned to drugs or something I guess in the end, although when he was in the band with me he was always fun to be with and reliable as a bassist. I think I've explained in the previous question what happened with the '"Queen Of Death" EP and the subsequent cover, so there's not more to say on that."
After that you did your first European tour together with Nuclear Assault and Agent Steel (promoting their second record "Unstoppable Force" ). Three awesome bands but really different and unique in their style, or? If I remember correct, that was in 1987.
"That tour was great! We'd actually done a tour before that with VENOM and EXODUS as I said earlier and had opened for SLAYER in London at the end of their "Hell Awaits" tour. We'd also around that time done the Dynamo Open Air fest alongside TESTAMENT, DESTRUCTION, STRYPER and MAD MAX. The first show of the tour was in London at the Hammersmith Odeon where we filmed our first video, "Conductors Of Noize" live. The show was called "The Longest Day" and was a live broadcast on BBC radio. The line up was: MAX PENALTY, ATOMKRAFT, ONSLAUGHT, NUCLEAR ASSAULT and AGENT STEEL. We had to go on at 6:00pm or something and were generously given about 15% of the halls P.A. We didn't have our own soundman and although the radio broadcast went OK (I have a copy!), the audience got shafted (ripped) as our general outfront sound was almost none existant!! I watch the video from 1987 now and cringe! Yeah he whole tour though was great fun. NUCLEAR ASSAULT were good fun. I have such pleasant memories. Anthony Bramante and myself staggering around Amsterdam before soundcheck off our tits on hash brownies from the famous Bulldog ring! Haha! Me punching Rob (our guitarist) out on the tour bus we shared with NUCLEAR ASSAULT and Dan Lilker telling us we were a fucked up band! John Connely, just one of the coolest and funniest guys I have ever met and Glen their drummer, just a fucking powerhouse and with his head firmly screwed on! What a great band! AGENT STEEL? Cool band and great crew all except their tour manager and John Cyriis. He was just a fuck wit! He once accused our two bands of putting battery acid in his shampoo! Imagine that? Haha! He threatened his crew and band with being fired if they interacted with either band! Fucking stupid shit that. Anyways it only served for both of our bands to take the piss at every available opportunity. Great shows though and I had such a good time on the whole. Yeah very different bands, which was so interesting and I hope good for the audience, they all got a little bit of the whole genre's style in one hit! Good stuff!"
Any good or bad memories from that tour? I saw you in Bochum and I was blown away from your wild stageacting but when I remember correct you were on it as vocalist, right? Tell us a little bout about psycho John Cyriis who lives now together with a wild horde of aliens, hahaha.
"I was actually just bassist on that tour although I did some backing and joint vocals. Swifty was the main vocalist then. Yeah I think in the prior question I mentioned something about the, E.T. character who went by the name John Cyriis! A nutcase who should have been locked away! Just a paranoid and crazy type really, sad. He just should have relaxed and been cool. We were all just having fun and he should have realised we were all in it together. Oh well history now! Good memories? John Connely and great audiences. Bochum was actually a favourite and it always was one of the best and most favourite places along with the Noordlight (I think that's the spelling?) in Holland, that ATOMKRAFT ever played, ever. Bad memories? None! That crazy stuff that happened was just funny that's all, not bad!"
A year later you've toured again with NASTY SAVAGE and... sorry I forgot with whom, haha. Which tour ran better for ATOMKRAFT?
"That tour was ATOMKRAFT, NASTY SAVAGE and Germany's EXUMER. That tour was a strange one really. EXUMER, I thought were great. They were a German version of SLAYER (my fave band!) but perhaps too much of a copy really! I remember years before, Von Stein playing me their original demo at Neat offices with him on vocals and they were a little different. I really liked them. I still have the first two album's, Von Steins and the singer that replaced him Paul Arikira (or something). I preferred Von Stein but they were still brutal when we toured with them. NASTY SAVAGE, were pretty cool except for their little drummer boy Kurt who was just a spoilt little fuck. A mommy's boy, playing with a man's band! Not good! Haha! We did this great bunch of dates in Poland, before the Iron Curtain came down. The show were amazing and we had another video taken, ATOMKRAFT "Live In Poland 1988, Katowice". It never went out but I still have all the masters! Actually the night before our first show in Katowice, all the bands and crews were taken out to get mashed at some Polish club or other and the night ended in a bit of a mess. D.C. Rage who was back playing bass for the band, I had switched to guitar alongside Rob to broaden our sound, got kind of arrested along with Classic Rock / Metal Hammer journalist, Dave Ling for being real drunk in the streets. I eventually got back to the hotel as did the entourage and some Polish gangsters with their prostitutes turned up and began hassling Kurt who was causing trouble. I tried to step in (all be it in a more than drunk and very ham fisted way) and the EXUMER manager stepped in to get physical with me and I took him to bits, then I started on Kurt and he called for Nasty Ronnie and it all got a bit ugly. Our management gave me a talking to in the morning as the hotel was only moments away from calling in the army it seems! Haha! Yeah that's right, not the police but the fucking army, what the fuck is that?? Anyway, I think NASTY SAVAGE got ripped on that tour by our management who were acting as tour management and I felt bad about that because I didn't know that until it was too late and the tour was done! I hope they never blamed the band. I dunno about EXUMER? Good tour from a dates and fan point of view but not comparable to the fun we had with NUCLEAR ASSAULT. Actually, ATOMKRAFT performed as an encore, BLACK SABBATH's 'Children Of The Grave' as a mix with METALLICA's 'Four Horsemen'. I still have a copy of that show, now on CDR! Also in Posnan, I think, myself, the guys from the Polish band WOLFSPIDER, who were on those dates in Poland with us and Abaddon from VENOM, performed as an encore, 'Welcome To Hell' . I have that too now on CDR also. Apparently it was that performance with me doing vocals and guitar that made them offer the job in VENOM when Conrad (CRONOS) left!"
What about the "Conductors Of Noize" album. I must confess that I don't know the album. What had changed? Is "Conductors Of Noize" worth my mention?
"I think the mini album that was "Conductors Of Noize", was good. Again the production leaves a lot to be desired but I think we did some good work on there. Very different to "Future Warriors" and a sort of move towards typical Thrash, kind of where "Queen Of Death" was going! I'll send you copy so you can see for yourself! The album features, myself on bass and vocals, Swifty, vocals, Ged on drums and Rob on guitar. Our last official release through Neat."
Why did you have so many line up changes in the years from "Future Warriors" to "Conductors Of Noize" ?
"Haha! Sorry, bit confusing I know! Well, on "Future Warriors" were myself, bass vox, Ged, drums and Rob guitar. Then we had some band trouble over management and I walked after recording a EP, "Your Mentor".Neat released the title track on a Neat compilation and the rest of the songs I'd done, 'Funeral Pyre', 'Demolition' and 'Mode 3' made their way onto "Queen Of Death". They were re-recorded and Ged brought in Ian Swift to sing over my vocals and D.C. Rage to perform bass on two tracks. When I came back after the release, we kept Swifty and dropped Rage. As the foursome we recorded "Conductors Of Noize" We then went out on tour and I wanted to get another guitarist to thicken the sound but soon realised that as I wrote the majority of the material and on guitar, it made no sense bringing someone in and teaching him everything. D.C. Rage had been in for "Queen Of Death" and already learnt all the material in case he had to tour with the band. So Rage came back in and I switched to guitar. So much quicker for the band. When we finished and I moved to VENOM the line up was exactly that. Myself, Ged, Swifty, Rob and D.C. Rage. I hope that's all clear?"
The Track 'Vision Of Belshazzar' sounds really like SABBAT from the U.K.! Do you agree with me?
"I suppose it does! Haha! Not on purpose though, just one of those wackey titles that used to spring up. More Spinal Tap than SABBAT really I think. Haha! Listen to the lyrics, Swifty wrote most of them, typical for him, Haha! They don't make sense!!!"
What came after "Conductors Of Noize"? The end? Why and when did you split up?
"Well, we actually recorded a bunch of tracks (just demos) for another album. We were going to call it "Atomized". We had finished off a tour and had done our last recording for Neat. We did the last demos with the view of finding a new label and deal. Then… Swifty fell in love and moved to another town chasing this girl, Rage got more into being pissed and drugs I'm told, Rob became a kind of fruitloop which left myself and Ged! A week or so after returning from the tour and doing the demos I got a phone call from VENOM's manager to go for a meeting with him and Abaddon. I went and they said they had a deal with Music For Nations, Cronos had left for the US and they wanted to offer the job to me! Well I didn't feel like starting to put another ATOMKRAFT together again so I joined VENOM."
With whom all did you play live? You've opened the tour with Exodus, Slayer and Venom. I have this video but ATOMKRAFT was not on it. Why not?
"The EXODUS,SLAYER,VENOM video you have is from Studio 54 in New York. We never played the USA with VENOM or EXODUS. We played with, GIRLSCHOOL, VENOM, EXODUS, TESTAMENT, DESTRUCTION, STRYPER, AGENT STEEL, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, NASTY SAVAGE, EXUMER, MAX PENALTY, SLUTT, WOLF SPIDER, MAD MAX, ONSLAUGHT, WARRIOR, SHE, WARFARE AND ROUGE MALE (I think?). A massive list of Polish bands and a few bands I can't remember and some we were posted to play with but never did. If anyone remembers seeing us with any band I've forgot then please remind me, I'd appreciate it!"
What was the best moment with ATOMKRAFT and what was the worst?
"The best? Going on stage in Katowice, Poland, without a record out. We had the music from the movie "633 Squadren" as our intro tape and when we arrived on stage there were Union jacks everywhere and about 20,000 people or something they said! What a night! We'd arrived, we thought. Worst? Steve White telling me he had to leave the band in 1983!"
Did you get any pounds from Neat for your records? How many copies you've sold all in all? Did you get money from Roadrunner for the "Conductors Of Noize" album?
"Hahahahaha! etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. Nothing ever! No fucking idea!! They still will not tell me even now, as it would mean that they'd have to tell me how much they owed us too! Haha! As I've learnt through all these years, if they did come up with sales figures etc. They'd manage to juggle things around so that we actually owed them! Haha!"
Who was responsible for the great guitar harmonies in tracks like 'Total Metal', 'Starchild', 'Dead Man's Hand' or 'This Planet's Burning'?
"Rob! He was a gifted boy and that's the truth. Couldn't get a live sound to save his life but he had the gift on the fingers!"
Are you into Metal nowadays? Do you like bands like Cradle Of Filth (hey grandpa, no bad words about CRADLE OF FILTH! I like those guys and their music, really and I think CRADLE OF FILTH is the best band from England for a long time, hahaha). Are you into Death Metal?
"Well, I like what I like! If it's good and it does something to me then I like it. Death, Black, Speed even Nu, whatever if it's good! Yeah I like CRADLE OF FILTH! I wish they had better production on some of the albums but I think they are exceptional and am proud they're British! My last band purchases were by, EXODUS, FEAR FACTORY, DESTRUCTION, MACHINE HEAD, DAMAGEPLAN and of course SLAYER! Oh yeah the ATOMKRAFT, "Total Metal" Neat anthology and a PANTERA album, plus the new MEGADETH and a whole bunch of album's that were sent to me from labels. Around 30 or so! I can't remember all the stuff but that's the tip of the iceberg."
Are you still in contact with the old band members? What are they doing nowadays?
"Steve White (the original guitarist) is the Godfather to a three year old daughter... he now runs a Theatre as the Master Carpenter. Paul Spillett (original drummer) is a Photographer at a University. Ian Swift works as a butcher (Kaufman!). Rob Redhead is a street musician, big an fat with a beard or so Ged told me. Ged 'Wolf' Cook, had a label he owns which his brother runs for him. Darren (D.C.Rage)? No idea! The other guys from the past before "Future Warriors", are all doing different things but only two I know about are still doing music. Chris Taylor (the guy who first introduced us to the name ATOMKRAFT) and IG (Paul Cowan) who was my drummer around "Queen Of Death" when I was writing and performing "Conductors Of Noize"!! I am in touch with Steve White, IG and was until recently Ged as I was doing the MANTAS album. He is signed to Ged's label. I thought the label wasn't good enough and Ged's brother (the label manager) was still corrupt so I left MANTAS to save the album in the end! So from then Ged and myself haven't spoken!! Haha!"
What about the covers. Did Neat choose the covers or was that your choice? I mean, the "Queen Of Death" cover sucks supreme (childish comic crap) but the "Future Warriors" kills, today as in the past!
"Ok this is how it went. The "Future Warriors" cover was designed by myself. An artist appointed by Neat did the final artwork but the layout idea was mine and the Skull was my artwork also. "Queen Of Death"... I had nothing to do with and I agree most definately, it is SHIT!!! Makes me laugh and cringe every time I fucking look at it! I wasn't there when they had it done but it looks like something Abaddon and the VENOM manager would come up with, pure amateurish crap! The "Your Mentor" EP (that was supposed to go out instead) was a much better cover in my opinion! The "Conductors Of Noize" cover was done by myself and Abaddon. The ideas were thrashed around and the idea for the cover came up and was refined. Abaddon had it shot. The layout idea was simple! I still got the Skull logo in there and even re-designed the ATOMKRAFT name logo. Dunno if it worked better but aways felt the original "Future Warriors" name logo looked sooooooooo shit! Haha!"
The "Anthology" double CD is perfect! All ATOMKRAFT songs on two CDs. But no wonder from Sanctuary Records only came perfect stuff like the Chateaux anthology. Did you get it, too? Who is behind Sanctuary Records? A well known musician from the past? Or you, Tony "Demolition" Dolan?
"Haha! I wish!!! There are a couple of big players behind Sanctuary. The main guy, Andy Taylor is an accountant! Iron Maiden are behind it too! People slag them off for all sorts of reasons but for bands like ATOMKRAFT and CHATEAUX like you mentioned and a whole host of bands, Sanctuary are important and this is why. They release all the music they aquire and have the best distribution. OK they don't promote everything that well , like we all would like, however for most of these bands their material would be lost forever if it wasn't for Sanctuary. Then there's the money thing. Sanctuary released, "Kissing The Beast" a few years ago, a compilation of my VENOM days and six months after it went out I received a cheque!!!!!!!I never had been paid by VENOM for anything before, ever!!! All those years and finally someone is releasing material and paying the bands on sales!! So they may have their faults as far as bands are concerned but they're in it to make money as any business but unlike all those other labels where all the bands were before, they release all over the world and you get paid if you sell. Now what's wrong with that? It's more than ever happened before to anyone of those 80s bands from the UK! Sanctuary have all my VENOM and ATOMKRAFT material masters with the exceptions of my own private collection which I suppose is quite extensive. Lots of studio and live stuff from both bands never released!"
How would you describe ATOMKRAFT's style? Thrash Metal?
"I suppose we were one if not the British forerunner of what became Thrash. Now don't fucking all scream at once!! Haha! I know all the readers and probably you mate will scream as everyone thinks someone else was. Well whatever you think is cool, we all have our own minds and opinions, right? If MOTÖRHEAD were classed as somewhat laying the foundation for Thrash as some people claim then I think we were cut from the same cloth as them in a way but only with an even younger spirit which carried us forward. Now I'm not saying we layed a foundation like MOTÖRHEAD, just that we carried or tried to carry their heavier banner forward somewhat. I think early on we were just a Heavy Metal band but just not a 'nice' one! Haha! Then later as the worm turned became a true Thrash band".
The ten best ATOMKRAFT songs in your opinion and why?
"1. 'Total Metal' (Demo 1983) - It was our standard by which we lived and best described who we were and what we were about in those early days even before we'd recorded "Future Warriors". Closest to my heart! 2. 'Future Warriors' ("Future Warriors" 1985) - First song I wrote with Rob playing guitar. I just loved the complexity of the song but I think a lot of people just didn't get it! 3. 'Warzone' ("Future Warriors" 1985) - Again real interesting to play, some of my best lyrics I think. Quite another complex song considering when it was written (note, not all songs were written in 1985 the year "Future Warriors" was released!). Producer sucked and put so much bomb effect on the final version you can hardly hear the goddamn song!! 4. 'Demolition' ("Queen Of Death" 1986) - My middle name! Haha! Poor recording on "Queen Of Death" and Swifty singing it out of time but I made sure the original with my own vocals made it onto, the "Total Metal" Anthology. All instrumentation is badly mixed but it was the best to play live and I liked the speed, although compared to most it seemed kinda slow! 5. 'Funeral Pyre' ("Queen Of Death" 1986) - Something different for us. It's cool but not a live track. Just love that we did something different. Don't think people understood why. Haha! Because we wanted to!! 6. 'Foliage' ("Conductors Of Noize" 1987) - I loved playing the bass intro. Cool fast track I thought, great to play live too. The best bit for me though is that people always ask what the fuck is the song about? I just laugh. You'll have to work it out for yourselves!! 7. 'Teutonic Pain' ("Conductors Of Noize" 1987) - Great track in my opinion. Fantastic live track to play. Rob's first real constructed song. Rob and I moved stuff around and edited here and there but really his main work. Swifty's title and very bad lyrics, Haha! The song actually says nothing and the lyric mean even less!! 8. 'Rich Bitch' ("Conductors Of Noize" 1987) - Live it was such fun to do. Good riffs to play. All about Margaret Thatcher our Prime Minister for too many fucking years! 9. 'Annihilate The Bride' ("Atomized" demos 88 - "Total Metal" - the Neat anthology (2004). Just love the track. Stupid title and very tongue in cheek lyrics, all written by myself I'm afraid, around the time of "Conductors Of Noize"! I actually do a lot of the rhythm guitars on the track as well as all bass. What a wanker eh? Hahaha! 10. 'Dead Again' (soon!) - About two British child murderous from the 1960's. New song from the new album. First one that was completed. Mike Sifringer (DESTRUCTION) appears. I just love it!"
I've read that ATOMKRAFT is still alive. What are your plans for the future? A new record? A tour? A gig on the German "Keep It True Festival"?
"I am now working on the new album. I started last year but then did the MANTAS album and a couple of shows and that took up my whole year and delayed my own things for quite a while. Since leaving the MANTAS thing I have finally managed to secure the new line up. We are rehearsing in Copenhagen as the drummer is from Norway and the guitarist is from Sweden and as I am based in London we kind of meet in the middle. I have all the backing tracks done and am working through all the guitar parts now with Payre the guitarist. The album will be finished in Belgium now it looks like. I did most of the recordings so far in my studios in London so far. The guys who produced the new DESTRUCTION album are going to do the new album. The new band shots are being done in the next few weeks and we are steaming ahead as we have a festival in Holland at the Podium in March. We have been offered several shows and may be making same guest appearances this year. The main plan though is to get the album done and out and to do a full scale tour with a couple of band friends. So far we've been offered show's in Australia, America, Italy, Spain and South America. What shape and when it all happens? Well right now, apart from the Dutch show in March I can't really say. As far as the "Keep It True Festival" is concerned, fuck yeah if they'd be interested but so far I haven't spoken to anyone about it. Maybe I should talk to them and see what they think."
Last question: how old are you now? Hahaha. You must be older as I am and I'm 30 fuckin' 6 years old!
"Ahhhhhhhhhhh, well I guess then if I say 29 years you'd see right though that? Haha! Ok, my birthday was this month on the 21st of January and I'll be fucking old!"
Tony, stop this madness interview with your own words! Stop it before I create 30 more questions. I think I forgot so many to ask. But you are alive so I can bomb you with mails if I forgot anything, hahaha. No, man. Thanx a lot for spending the time answering this fuckin interview. I hope you've had some fun with it and you've enjoyed my questions! Good luck for the future and when you tour in Germany: be sure I'm there, hahaha. Thanx and good night! The "Future Warriors" are eternal! Blast on!
"Marcus mate, thanx for the great questions. Whatever you forgot to ask, like you say, I'm not going anywhere yet, I hope! I'm only going to add that I thank everyone who actually ever got in touch with me and anyone who wants to from here on in, is more than welcome. After all I'm here because of you and you are the reason I did and do what I do! Thanx for your support over the years and here's to us all and the future, whatever you are doing or are going to do I wish you the best of everything. I really had fun with this, I thank you for the opportunity! Let's hope I get to see you out there sometime, maybe even this year perhaps, who knows??? 'Til then! Tony 'Demolition 'Dolan (email@example.com)."
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