An interview with Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan and drummer Abaddon of Venom Inc.
Interview by Melanie Falina
As most lovers of music will tell you, it’s at the hardest times in their lives that music matters the most. Sure, going to concerts with friends is great, as is bringing home (or downloading) that new album by a well-loved artist. And laughing and having a few drinks among loved ones with tunes ablaze can create some of the best memories in a lifetime. But it’s the struggles, the tear-shedding, anxiety ridden days and nights when we turn to the music we love as if kneeling upon an altar in prayer when we get to witness the power of music – – – how it comforts and how it heals.
And that’s one of the reasons why a group like Pick Collectors Against Cancer [PCAC] makes so much sense – taking something that offers pleasure and giving back to others through it. An idea formed around something as simple as a guitar pick – a small, music related item that has the power to grant great pleasure to its owner, with a dual purpose of helping those who have been stricken with a terrible disease like cancer.
Founded by Lee Hutchinson in September of 2015, the Pick Collectors Against Cancer group was created to raise money for cancer charities and organizations and via guitar pick collecting. Hutchinson, a guitar pick collector himself, began by auctioning off music artist’s guitar picks and then donating the winnings to various organizations, and then some national bands and artists got wind of what was happening and were more than happy to get involved. One of the first was New Found Glory bassist, Ian Grushka, who donated a slew of items for auction and then later came up with the idea for a custom-designed guitar pick which included logos from both the band and PCAC as part of the design. The initial custom pick with New Found Glory’s logo on one side and the PCAC artwork on the other instantly became a must-have collector’s item – it sold out in just six hours and raised over $1,000 alone, and thus spawning a fundamental element of the PCAC movement.
Since then, multiple bands and musicians have gotten involved as well, either by donating guitar picks and other memorabilia for auction, by helping to design custom picks, or both. Thus far, Shadows Fall, Wolfsbane, Karma to Burn, Kyle Gass Band, Sandra Araya, and others have gotten involved.
Another of which is heavy-hitting, thrash metal band Venom Inc. whose members have had their own, unfortunate share of heartbreak due to this beast called cancer. Bassist and vocalist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan and drummer Abaddon opened up about how and why they decided to get involved with Pick Collectors Against Cancer…
“My father-in-law and my young cousins died of the disease,” explained Dolan, “And although I donate and have raised money too myself this seemed like another way to contribute through my work.”
“My brother died from cancer at an early age of 54, younger than I am now,” added Abaddon, “He was a outdoors kind of person, didn’t drink much, never smoked, very happily married. Was dead within two weeks of being diagnosed. Absolutely horrible disease.”
But why PCAC when there are seemingly so many groups and charities out there – how does one know who to trust?
“I knew the pick maker and his association with the company,” replied Dolan, “So I knew it was not only a great cause but also a real legitimate charity auction. I also knew other musicians who’d contributed [to PCAC] as well.”
“It was a very easy way of doing something meaningful if it worked, and by fuckin’ has it worked,” exclaimed Abaddon following the success of the Venom Inc. auctions. “I thoroughly enjoyed batting one fan off against another,” he laughed, “It went on all night and I kept adding things I found in my tour case – sticks, passes, all desirable to collectors of your band. It’s extremely satisfying to have a laugh with your fans and do some good at the same time.”
And in an effort to maybe ‘pay it forward’ in a way and get other musicians involved, the guys from Venom Inc. were asked who they’d like to see become involved with PCAC, and while Abaddon offered up Metallica‘s James Hetfield, Dolan replied in earnest, “I would have chosen Lemmy but imagine someone like Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Tipton, Zakk Wylde – many, many should, could, and would be great! James Hetfield too.”
Dolan then added: “Who do I think would be interested? Everyone!”
Be sure to visit Venom Inc. via Facebook and their official website. And check out Pick Collectors Against Cancer for more information. Whether you’re a musician, a pick collector, or simply a music lover and you’d like to aid in the fight against cancer, PCAC is a great place to start.
* Black and white Venom Inc. photos by Theodore R. Teets