Interview with Venom Prison’s Larissa Stupar and Ben Thomas: “We obviously have to step up to meet that but I think we can do it”

Venom Prison at Bloodstock Festival 2017

Venom Prison have easily been one of the most exciting bands in extreme music over the last year. Their debut album Animus has gained them a dedicated cult following and landed them support slots with some of the best names in metal. Rocksins caught up with vocalist Larissa Stupar and guitarist Ben Thomas ahead of their London headline show. With so much happening right now regarding abuse within this music scene and the attitudes of Venom Prison, we thought it was important to get their views on what is happening as well as the difficult circumstances that lead to this headline tour happening. As well as this we looked back on how the past year has been for them and look ahead to their massive tour with Trivium.

So to start with, the circumstances that lead to this headline must have been quite difficult to deal with. What was your initial reaction when the news about Decapitated broke?

Larissa: Erm we were all really upset when we heard, it’s something you just wouldn’t expect from a band you’re about to tour with. And a band that’s quite well known. We were shocked and just didn’t know what was going to happen. Whether it’s true or not cos there were several rumours, all different kinds of things being said. We just kinda needed to figure out what’s actually happening.

Even outside of what happened with Decapitated there are so many incidents being brought up now of abuse. As a band you really back up your words with actions, do you think more bands need to start doing the same and call out this sort of behaviour in order for things to really change?

Larissa: I definitely think bands should call out other bands if they know these things are happening. I think too many are just afraid.

Ben: Yeah you don’t wanna get chastised for being that band, you wanna make a name for yourself in other ways.

Larissa: I think it’s something that should be happening, right now is the time.

It’s certainly happening more amongst fans but less with bands being vocal about. Fans are deciding to not support these bands but I feel the music scenes could really do more.

Larissa: Yeah I think the bands are just scared they’re gonna lose their status if they try and speak out.

Do you at least think we are at a point where things are starting to change. Even outside of music there are so many cases of people speaking up about abuse they’ve had. Are people generally less willing to let these incidents go?

Larissa: I do think something happened to change this. Being in this age of social media, people can say something and it can spread all over. That’s how people are getting to know these things. I think the more people start to believe the victims, then more of them won’t be afraid to speak out. And that’s a big part of why so much is coming out now. Cos all these women and men that it’s happened to were previously afraid to say something.

Ben: They’ve got more of a voice now, the whole social media thing with the speed in which you can reach out to people is still very new. It’s insane how quickly one message can spread. If you wanna speak out against something it is a great platform to do so if you are willing to put yourself out there. As long as you feel confident to do so and feel safe, then social media really has its perks in that respect. I don’t think people are quite used to dealing with being so reachable now, you can tweet any celebrity and call anyone out that you could never do before. You used to have to find an address to write a letter to and it wasn’t like anyone was gonna read it or had to respond. It’s so different now.

I know this has been quite a negative start to the interview but given what your band stand for I thought it was important to get your voices out there on what is happening now

Larissa: Yeah definitely. It’s why we decided to cancel the Decapitated dates and go out on this tour instead, because of these accusations.

Well I guess we should move onto some more positive things. It’s been a little over a year since you released Animus, how could you sum up this time?

Ben: It’s been mad

Larissa: The day the album came out we started our tour with Trap Them, which was a really great way to celebrate the release. We could tour all over the Europe and show that we have this release, look at us we’re here. And since then it hasn’t really stopped. We’ve played Download fest, toured with loads of bands, played Bloodstock and some festivals in Europe as well and now we’ve been offered this tour with Trivium for next year which was mind blowing for us.

Could you pick a particular highlight?

Larissa: For me it would be Bloodstock

Ben: I think just being able to tour again is just amazing. Being able to go to so many places is a highlight for me.  Don’t get me wrong the big festivals are great, scary but great fun.

You hadn’t really had the chance to play on big stages before this right?

Larissa: Download was in the tent and that was the biggest stage we’d played on as Venom Prison at that point. With Bloodstock we really didn’t know what to expect because it was early in the morning on the Sunday. We were on second and didn’t know if there was even gonna be people watching us. And then seeing so many people there having fun was really cool.

I noticed over that weekend just how much Venom Prison merch there was in the crowd so it did seem like the word of you guys was really out by this point and people were really into it.

Ben: Yeah it’s crazy

So after doing all of these support slots are you glad you’re now able to get out on your first proper headlining tour?

Ben: It’s amazing to be in the position where we can do a headline tour. I’m so grateful that everyone is coming out to these shows to see us as headliners.

Larissa: And today is pretty much sold out

Ben: That’s absolutely mind blowing. When you’re on tour with a band you respect you’re kind of comforted by the fact that you know they are gonna pull in so many people that it’s gonna be cool having a crowd there when we come on.

Larissa: It is exciting cos we didn’t know if we were gonna be able to fill these venues and seeing that we actually can…

Ben: It’s cool

So do you feel like you’ve really grown or changed as a live band?

Larissa: We’ve definitely progressed a lot

Ben: I think we know each other better, as musicians we know what to expect of each other. We’ve just gelled together as a unit, travelling a lot together has just naturally made us a lot closer.

Larissa: We’ve also got used to playing the songs a lot more. We could probably play most of them with our eyes closed now. Our live performance has certainly developed.

Ben: I think we’re just a lot more comfortable

Larissa: If I think back to our very first show and how weird it was, cos we all came from different bands. We didn’t know how it was gonna be to play shows together. And now at this point where we all know each other so well and just feel so comfortable around each other, it’s a good feeling.

You mentioned before but the other big news for you right now is the Trivium tour, how excited are you to be part of that line up?

Larissa: It’s so sick, it’s probably the best line up for next year.

I think a lot of people would agree right now. You’ve got Trivium touring the new album that everyone seems to really be into and then three of the best newer bands in heavy music on one line up

Ben: It’s amazing cos you’ve got a lot of people who are into sort of more underground heavy music now, they may have started out on Trivium’s earlier releases. You can see how metal does a full circle. You can start on a band like Trivium, come round and get into someone like Code Orange or Power Trip and then come back to see Trivium again. It’s like there will be a set of fresh ears and old ears at that show.

Outside of festivals these will be the biggest shows you’ve done. Is that intimidating at all or are you just thinking “bring it on”?

Larissa: Bring it on! I think we’re ready

Being the first band on will probably be a challenge but I guess you’ll just throw yourselves at it

Larissa: Yeah the thing is all the bands on this line up are so good. They’re good live bands who are so aggressive and heavy. We obviously have to step up to meet that but I think we can do it

Ben: We got this

Matt Heafy has really been vocal with his support for you. Do you think it is important having someone in a bigger band really backing you, whether it’s just tweeting about you or wearing your merch?

Larissa: I know some people condemn that sort of stuff. Saying it’s a bit of a privilege to have bigger bands doing that for you. But I think it helps smaller bands so much and we know Matt really does like us. And he likes Code Orange and Power Trip as well. He really shows his support and I think that’s really cool. I remember when I was younger and I’d see Matt or Corey Taylor wear a t shirt for an underground band I’d definitely check that band out.

So just to wrap up, have you done much work on a follow up to Animus?

Larissa: We’ve written a few songs

Ben: Ash and I are writing almost every week, I think Ash is writing constantly. But yeah we are working really hard and really like where the new songs are going. I think it sounds more aggressive, more technical and more in depth. It’s a nice step up from Animus but I think it’s got the vibe people really enjoyed from Animus. So we’re not departing from that, just developing it.

Great well I think that’s everything, thanks

Both: Thank you

Venom Prison continue their headline tour for the rest of the week at the following dates:

Nov 14: Glasgow Classic Grand
Nov 15: Leeds The Key Club
Nov 16: Manchester The Star & Garter

For tickets, contact the venues directly. They have also been announced as the opening act on Trivium’s UK & European tour for 2018, which also features Power Trip and Code Orange. The UK shows for that tour are as follows:

Mon 16th Apr – Bristol, O2 Academy
Tue 17th Apr – Birmingham, O2 Academy
Thu 19th Apr – Glasgow, O2 Academy
Fri 20th Apr – Manchester, Academy
Sat 21st Apr – London, O2 Academy Brixton

Tickets for Venom Prison’s tour with Trivium can be obtained from Seetickets, Ticketmaster and all the other usual online ticketing providers.

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