Venom Prison’s Ash Gray on Craziest Show, Dream Show and More

Venom Prison, 2019; photo by Jake Owens

Led by charismatic vocalist Larissa Stupar, U.K. rabble-rousers Venom Prison are one of the most exciting new extreme-metal bands coming up right now. Their debut album, 2016’s Animus, is pissed, powerful and politically outraged, reclaiming the brutal, often-misogynistic tropes of death metal and brilliantly flipping them. It set a high bar, but the young band managed to take things next level on their follow-up full-length, 2019’s Samsara. Just check out lead single “Uterine Industrialisation” for the evidence — savage and knotty, it breaks into almost–Lamb of God–level groove at times while Stupar roars and growls, taking on the issue of forced pregnancy and religious hypocrisy with blunt force.

As savage as they are on record, Venom Prison are even more ferocious live onstage — as they’ll showcase later this year when they open for Parkway Drive, Hatebreed and Stick to Your Guns on the “Viva the Underdogs – European Revolution” 2020 tour. With that in mind, we asked guitarist Ash Gray about some of his and the band’s standout shows — from their worst to their craziest and beyond.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST SHOW YOU EVER PLAYED?
ASH GRAY My first band in school played some show that we got our bassist’s mum to hire out a hall because she worked at a leisure centre in Newport. We were some shitty punk band that played one of our own songs and, like, five covers — ha!

HOW ABOUT THE WORST SHOW?
I’ve never really had anything tragic happen, but at a show Venom Prison played in Sheffield, I believe, I blew an amp up and then Ben literally blew his amps moments later. A couple people helped us out, but we stood there, like, Yeah, this sucks. It was only half a song in, as well, so a total play time of one minute and 30 seconds. Cool, right?

HOW ABOUT YOUR CRAZIEST SHOW?
Venom Prison played a house show in Cardiff. It was the music video shoot for “Perpetrator Emasculation.” If you haven’t checked it out, you should — it’s pretty cool.

WHAT WAS THE SMALLEST SHOW VENOM PRISON EVER PLAYED?
The house show!

AND THE BIGGEST SHOW?
Bloodstock Festival with Venom Prison was pretty big. However, Brixton in London with Trivium was such a big deal as I never pictured Venom Prison being in Brixton out of all places.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM SHOW?
I live by expect nothing appreciate everything — work hard and let cool shit happen.