Tattoo Stories: Venom Prison’s Ash Gray on First, Worst, Most Painful Ink

Venom Prison, 2019; photo by Jake Owens

Rising U.K. death-metal outfit Venom Prison wear their hearts on their sleeves. The band’s last album, 2016’s Animus, pulls no punches, hitting intense emotional chords with the musicians themselves and their fans alike, and the group’s new LP, Samsara — which drops this Friday, March 15th, and features the incendiary single “Uterine Industrialisation” — is even darker, more personal and more sociopolitically outraged.

Venom Prison’s Ash Gray wears his heart on his sleeve in another way, however: via his colorful tattoos. We recently caught up with the guitarist to discuss his ink.

What was your most painful tattoo?
Ash Gray Jesus front piece — my nipples wrecked, I ain’t even joking.

What was your first tattoo?
I got a rose and dagger done by my friend. I’m still happy with it, but never filled the banner in, probably will at some point … or not.

What is your most embarrassing tattoo?
I don’t have one, honestly.

Do you have any band tattoos?
I don’t and I probably wouldn’t either, but probably Blue Öyster Cult maybe …

What is going to be your next tattoo?
Honestly, not a clue. I pick a spot and check a flash book with the artist and see what I think is cool. I will always have a vague idea, but can’t say I overly plan this type of stuff.

Do you have a favorite tattoo artist?
I like a lot of artists. I’m lucky to be friends with some of my go-to people, as well. It’s pretty cool to see people start out from the bottom and kill it. People like James Matthews, Brad T, Ash Davies —including all the Stronghold Cardiff boys. I mean, there are so many people I could shout out.