Music and tattoos have a long-running relationship. Loads of musicians have them, loads of music fans have ones dedicated to musicians. Heck, I’ve been wanting to get the Placebo logo tattooed on me for years (but a combination of fear of needles and my mother’s constant guilt trips have prevented me from it). Hey, as long as I don’t come back with a “DRAKE” tattoo on my forehead or a chest tattoo dedicated to Skrillex, I think I’ll be fine…
We spoke to a load of bands about their favourite tatts, and got the inside story on their corporeal scribbles. We also posted a hashtag on Twitter – #mymusictattoo – asking for your top music-based tattoos. Scroll down for the best of the responses, and thanks again to everyone that contributed.
My first tattoos were what I call job killers. My first was 14-hours deep and for the most part I got the majority of my tattoos in the space of 2-3 years. The piece on my chest was designed by a friend of mine called Nick Kushner. His design is what he perceived is meant to be ‘Manson’.
When you ask a person what a tattoo means to them, it’s difficult to say. They are something permanent, they reveal a dedication to how you feel. I’ve always tried to cover up my tattoos, I’ve never flaunted them and never gravitated towards people with them. I favour tattoos that have unusual meanings, something personal about them.
This could be a good or a bad thing, they either put me on the easier-to-find FBI watch list or they give people something else to be concerned about when I take off my clothes, apart from the romantic inclinations.
The tattoo is a picture by Hans Holbein the Younger, from a book called ‘Totentanze’, which is a series of portraits of people being reminded of their mortality, published in the 1520s. The one I chose is the Peddlar or Traveller, the penultimate character (lower than everyone apart from the Old Man). It’s a memento mori of sorts for me. The work was done by my good friend Matt Hunt at Modern Body Art in Birmingham.
Steve Forrest, Placebo
I guess one of my favourite things I have tattooed on me is the words “mama” and “papa” on the lower ends of my fingers (see the top of the blog). My folks were both amazing in supporting me as a kid in whatever I put my mind to. They are the whole reason I’m here doing what I love for a living, and so for that, I salute them with ink.
Oli Sykes, Bring Me The Horizon
My fave tatts have to be the shark, wolf and the eagle. I went to Japan especially to get shark and wolf done, by a great studio called Ink Rat. Check it out. Allison Manners who is based in Brisbane did the eagle. She’s my favourite tattooist. She has worked on a lot of my tattoos including my left sleeve. I love her.
My “speed demons” is my favorite tattoo. Like all my tattoos, it’s a token to remember a special moment, and that special moment is when I fell in love with my baby Tuesday Cross – burning a path straight to Hades the whole time.
Lee Vincent, Pulled Apart By Horses
This is my newest tattoo and one of my favourites. It was a birthday present from my wife. The anchor symbolises that I’ve settled down and the two stars symbolise my wife and daughter. Not very rock n roll I’m afraid!
I’ve got a very lucky neck. Two weeks after the tattoo, I got stabbed in my neck. There are a lot of complicated mechanics in the neck which being a professor I understand. It missed my carotid artery by millimetres. Any higher and the whole left side of my face would have fallen off. (From Guardian, 2010)
Mat Devine, Kill Hannah
Our band made a conscious decision to avoid the whole musicians/tattoos stereotype. But one night, while we were touring in Florida, I was tipsy when an artist approached me and offered me a free tattoo, so I got in his car and we drove to the coast. As it turns out, he was renting J Lo’s beach house, and a bunch of fans had followed in their cars, so it turned into this late night tattoo party thing. It was also my first and only time on this liquid oxycotin stuff that an EMT had offered from his ambulance kit, so I was passing out and didn’t feel anything.
In that setting, it seems ironic, but I chose the word “courage” because I was feeling weak. I was in a phase of making unhealthy decisions based on fear and weakness, and I wanted to remember that the right path is most often the hardest. Aside from the font, I don’t regret it at all.
Scott Miller, Dry The River
My sleeve tattoo, designed and tattooed by Darryl at Diamond Jacks, Soho is a cross of traditional Sailor Jerry and Japanese styles. I’ve spread it over sessions and its taken 6 months so far and I’ve still got the colour to go in. It’s an oceanscape with two mermaids and some flying fish. As a kid I always had a bit of a fear of the ocean but once I got over it I fell in love with it and now love swimming in the sea.
The most painful part of getting this done was the elbow. The skin there isnt great for tattooing and it dropped out a little after the first session so we had to hit it again and again. It felt kind of like a cross between being electrocuted and burned at the same time. But they’re so addictive you soon forget about the pain. I’m already looking at what I want to get after this sleeve is finished.
Jon Warren, Dry The River
My newest tattoo is a black and grey half sleeve by Nasko at Butterfly Tattoo. I currently have a plethora of band and label tats but as I’ve gotten older I have been more interested in larger, detailed pieces. It took nine hours to complete and the work was spread over three sessions. I wanted a bold, classic design that somehow represented the nomadic nature of being in a band. After much deliberating I settled on a tall ship motif.
The words ‘Son of the River’ are written below the ship in a not-so-subtle nod to my involvement with Dry The River (we also watch a LOT of Sons Of Anarchy!).
My favorite tattoo would probably be my Frans Masereel wood block print on my left forearm. Mike Ski (from the band The A.K.A.’s) did the work while both of our bands were on Warped Tour together. Frans Masereel was an amazing artist and social critic, warning of the effects of the industrial revolution on our planet. His work caused such a ruckus amongst the powerful that he was forced to emigrate from France to Switzerland.
This particular piece is extra special to me as it comes from a German Masereel collection book printed in 1949. This book was given to me as a gift from Billy Bragg. We were out together on Australia’s Big Day Out Tour and I was wearing a Masereel shirt I created and he noticed it. I printed one for him and he returned the favor by giving me this book. Being a tremendous fan of Billy’s, this was an honor I won’t forget, especially now that I’ve tattooed a piece from the book on my body, ha.
Dean Richardson, Heights
I got this ship tattoo done when I was 17 because at that age, my Dad joined the Navy and spent the next 10 years of his life traveling around the world. I kinda have the same aims, but in the much less dangerous world of music… well maybe.
Deuce (ex-Hollywood Undead)
It’s an hourglass with wings, because time flies, you can’t stop time from going. The diamond is because I use time wisely. All music is based off time, time = music, my music = money.
Michael Skattum, Wild Nothing
The bat on my stomach was done in 2009 by Liam Sparkes in NYC. It doesn’t mean anything, none of my tattoos do really. Bats are probably my favorite animal though. Berta and the rope on my wrist? It’s my lady’s name – tied to me forever! The space pig on my forearm is just a space pig monster hanging out. I like outer space and monsters, this represents that idea spot on.
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