METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Larissa. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
So, how are you? How is your summer going so far?
LARISSA STUPAR: I’m just counting the days until we’re on the road again. There are a few festivals and a UK and European tour ahead for us. So, things are looking good!
MPAP: Let’s talk about your band, Venom Prison. One will automatically think that venom prison is a very dark place. So, would you say there is nothing cute and cuddly about your band correct?
LARISSA: Absolutely, you can’t get out alive.
MPAP: For the new listener, what should they expect when they hear your music for the very first time?
LARISSA: A brutal, extreme heavy mixture of old school death metal and hardcore.
MPAP: If it wasn’t for YouTube and watching some videos of a band while working on an interview, I might not have ever known about Venom Prison. Randomly the song "Perpetrator Emasculation" played next, and since then I was hooked to hear more Venom Prison. Unfortunately, the death metal genre takes a back seat to get national air play on the radio or even television. Is it frustrating to you that your great music is not reaching the worldwide audience fast enough yet?
LARISSA: I think it’s one of those things that are a blessing and a curse at the same time. It would probably be a lot easier if your music was played on mainstream media but then again, mainstream culture often doesn’t have an understanding of extreme music and writes it off as loud noise. Even though there has been more interest in extreme underground music lately, and you can see heavy bands smashing the stages at big festivals.
MPAP: Or, at the end of the day are you just satisfied if Venom Prison’s music reaches one person and they fall in love with it?
LARISSA: We are happy about everyone who enjoys our music and supports us in any way.
MPAP: Do you feel it’s hard for a death metal band to start out today? Is it hard to form one in South Wales where you’re from?
LARISSA: I don’t really know to be honest. Personally, I think it’s always hard being a band, no matter what music you play and it involves hard work if you want to get out of your practice room or the local pub and not everyone is willing to do that work with full commitment. Wales and the UK generally have a dedicated metal community that supports their bands.
MPAP: Do you feel you could get further in your musical career if you were maybe closer to the United States?
LARISSA: I’m not sure. We have only been a band for a little over two years and we’ve come a lot further than we ever imagined, winning a Golden Gods Award for 'Best New Band' last month, playing Download Festival, touring with Suicide Silence, Darkest Hour, Aversions Crown and a run of shows with the likes in Gorguts, Havok, Fallujah and Revocation and now Bloodstock Festival. Maybe we’re lucky as the UK scene is smaller compared to the US, resulting in fewer bands having to stand out from. Who knows?
MPAP: What got you into the death metal genre? When was your first experience hearing death metal for the very first time?
LARISSA: My older sister was a massive Nirvana and fan in the 90s so growing up I was used to listening to grunge and punk. When I was 12 I discovered Slipknot and at that time I thought it was the heaviest thing to exist. Since then I was fascinated with metal and constantly on the lookout for new bands. By the time I got over nu-metal (never really got over it) and discovered other subgenres I was probably about 14.
MPAP: Do you remember which band was it?
LARISSA: Me and my friend used to hang out in that electronics and music store in our home town, where they had CD players with headphones installed next to the sections of different genres and so we always looked through the new releases and when The Wretched Spawn by Cannibal Corpse came out in 2004 it was one of the CDs that was playing in one of the Discman’s on the wall. I was coming back to listen to it almost every day until I could afford to buy it.
MPAP: Now let’s talk about your latest release called Animus. It came out on Prosthetic Records and hit the streets back on October 14th, 2016 with some great reviews? How are you still feeling about it with the release almost creeping up on being almost a year old now?
LARISSA: We’re very satisfied with the outcomes of Animus and having played the songs live for almost a year now still feels awesome and doesn’t get boring at all. Every tour we played since the release was basically for a different audience and people are still getting to know us and Animus and we’re still getting very positive feedback.
MPAP: It’s been said that Venom Prison delivers a punishing blend of death metal that makes most landslides look lightweight? What do you feel makes you stand out from any other band that’s out there?
LARISSA: Growing up within a very active hardcore scene, I feel we kept that wild hardcore punk vibe which transforms very well in our live shows with a huge release of energy that plays along with the heaviness and pace of our sound very well. Venom Prison is loud, uneasy and in your face.
MPAP: Going back to your video that I watched on YouTube, how fun was it to make "Perpetrator Emasculation"?
LARISSA: Oh, it was incredible. A fine mixture of blood, sweat and loud noise.
MPAP: For someone that hasn’t seen it yet, please describe it for them?
LARISSA: We played this house show in Cardiff with some really cool local bands; it was a mixed bill of indie, doom and hardcore. If you know British housing, you know how tiny a living room can be and we crammed a full stack backline in there. The room was filled so it was impossible to move and the later the evening the hotter the room and the thinner the air was. By the time we played it was impossible to breath but that’s something that pushes me even further when I play. Everyone was moshing, people kept falling into the drum kit, and my hair was getting stuck in Ben’s guitar. It was insane.
MPAP: Did it ever get out of hand and you had to tell your fans to calm down? Or did you have to tell them to get even rowdier for the video?
LARISSA: People are usually very respectful with each other at shows here; everyone knows each other and nobody is getting hurt deliberately. The deal is, if you’re a dick, you get kicked out.
MPAP: Even though your band is still fairly new to the music scene, how do you feel you’ve grown since Defy The Tyrant (Demo 2015), and The Primal Chaos (EP 2015)?
LARISSA: We have evolved massively as a band and musically in the last two years. There is not much room to grow on a demo or an EP, but you can hear where we were heading to find us where we are today with Animus. I like all our releases but personally I think it takes a full length to introduce and establish your sound and take the listener onto a sonic journey.
MPAP: To make it or break it, everyone knows it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. What are you doing to make sure you stay on top of the mountain?
LARISSA: It’s important to introduce yourself to a broad audience and gain a solid following, so we’re going to continue playing shows, festivals and touring all over. We haven’t been to the States yet so that’s something that is going to happen in the near future. We started writing new material as well that should be due to be released sometime next year. Like I said earlier, there’s no way to the top without putting the work in.
MPAP: Let’s go back to your recent release, Animus for a minute again. It means hostility or ill feeling? And one of the songs on it that was mentioned before, "Perpetrator Emasculation” is all about revenge? For the new listener that’s hearing the song and seeing the cover artwork by Eliran Kantor for the first time, please explain it to them point blank?
LARISSA: Lyrically Animus captures various forms of fighting an oppressive force, may it be mental health, capitalism or the values of contemporary society. In "Perpetrator Emasculation", a rapist is being force-fed his own genitalia. This scene is pictured on the cover artwork for Animus. You can say it’s about revenge but it’s much more than that. This song addresses rape culture and misogyny. It’s 2017 and sexual violence is accepted as something inevitable and part of existence like death. By normalizing sexual violence in the media and popular culture we create a climate that encourages sexual violence. If you look at what happened at Sweden’s Bravalla festival this year where four rapes and 23 sexual assaults have been reported you realize that this is still reality and those things happen on a daily basis.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Larissa, for spending some time with us getting to know about you and your band. Look forward to what Venom Prison does to finish out the year 2017 and beyond.
Any last words you’d like to tell all the readers and your fans out there?