KMFDM has been one of my favourite bands for more than 20 years, so getting the chance to see them live (again) and spend most of the day hanging out chatting about tattoos and music was wonderful fun. On October 28th, I took the day off work, packed my camera bag and headed to Toronto, to the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Kapt’n K, Jules, Andy and Steve, along with the crew and the opening band, CHANT, which that night was Bradley Bills alone (passport issues kept his bandmate in the US), were so lovely and a real joy to sit and share stories with. Then there was the music … absolutely sublime. Best birthday present EVER!
What you will find below are the complete transcripts of Jules, Andy, Steve and Bradley, on how tattoos have modified their lives. Listening to these guys tell stories is what inspired me to write about lived experience, since they so clearly demonstrated it. At the bottom of the blog is a gallery of all the shots I took that day. Click on the image to see it bigger and with some details. I’ve also included some tattoo pics of KMFDM crew members David and Josh in the gallery as well. It’s everything I couldn’t squeeze into my article (found in Things & Ink #6: The Modification Issue). Enjoy! ~Kimberly
I came quite late to the tattoo game, so my first one wasn’t until 2000. A “tribal” on my right arm that was done in Japan by Permanent Mark. After its completion it was clear that I had gotten what looked like a tribal version of the old Kellogg’s corn flakes rooster. I’m in the process of having the covered up. The piece of flash on my upper right arm was done a year or two later at a shop in Tampa, FL while on tour with KMFDM. I recall Steve getting something done at the same time.
Next up was the glorious back piece that was done by my ex girlfriend who was apprenticing at a shop here in Seattle (where I live). I thought it would be novel to combine the”diamond” logo (Pig being the band that myself, Andy and Steve were in prior to joining KMFDM) with the fist symbol from the kmfdm “symbols” album. The addition of flames also seemed like a grand idea. The fact that she and I were in the process of splitting up and it was her first tattoo on something that wasn’t a grapefruit didn’t deter us from going ahead with the plan and the results speak for themselves!
The line work on my left arm is about 6 years old and I’ll complete the sleeve one day. It’s a bio-mechanical “twisted metal” thing that I’m sure is going to look amazing when I find the time and money to complete it. It was done by Jesse Roberts at Lucky Devil Tattoos in Seattle.
Most importantly, and most recently I’ve been covering up the “tribal chicken” with a more traditional roses and cobra sleeve. It’s a thinly disguised band tattoo – mine and Andy’s other band The Spittin’ Cobras. So as not to mislead your readers, it’s not industrial in any way. Think more punk/metal/hard-rock-n-roll. Sort of Motorhead vs AC/DC vs Judas Priest on PCP! How was that for a shameless plug? HaHa!
I’m really excited to get this finished. It’s being done by good friend Chani Murat, owner of Good Karma Tattoos in Edmonds, Washington. Every time we’d see each other she’d rib me about getting my tribal chicken covered up, so we got to it and started on my sleeve a wee while ago. Next up is going to be a heart and banner with my dog’s initials on my right wrist, and after that, who knows? Probably not another tribal chicken, though…
I started getting tattooed at about age 14 or 15, at a tattoo shop in Ipswich, UK. Me and a friend saved up lunch money, about £5 each, and went to this back alley shop. These were little flash. Most are now covered over by other bigger tattoos. I had an uncle, one of my dad’s brothers – uncle Arthur – had a prison tattoo. Few playing cards on his arm. I saw them and I just wanted them. Always wanted to fill up.
God, the early ones were awful, so needed to cover up and go bigger and bigger. Then just had to fill up the rest when the empty spaces were noticed. Once you fill arms, chest and such, might as well do your back … and then you’re full.
Many are tour mementos – tattoos as tour souvenirs and band tributes (Swine, Pig, KMFDM, etc.) when tattoo artists are willing to do them for free. My left forearm, this 3-headed purple thing was by a fan boy. Got it 2 days till end of the tour. Started it – 1.5hrs – immediately prior to going on and drumming – and 1.5hr after playing. Beyond painful. You know Andy, Jules and I have been present for each others tattoos (most of them). Since 1997 or so we’ve been together (1996 he and Steve were in PIG, then Jules came in 1997). I gotta mention these guys too, for my tattoos and other art:
- Dan Gold, Astronaut guy on my arm, London Ink (Graffiti artist, Denmark)
- Artist for cobra tattoos & Spittin’ Cobras band logo – Mark ‘Firehazzard’ Hodgkinson, he has a website and Facebook
- Skunx Tattoo London, London, UK. Nick Reid is close friend
- Bones Lininger (my cobras tattoo) Fort Lauderdale, Bones Tattoos & Barbers (shop no longer exists?) – now an independent artist in Florida. I have plans to see him for a big back piece and some touch-up work on other tattoos
- Kenny Dick (my knuckles) Lucky Seven tattoos, West Palm Beach, FL
So, briefly I suppose living and growing up in London UK in the 80′s I wasn’t aware of Tattoo art, as virtually nobody had anything other than the odd prison/ school yard pin and ink (cue Skinheads with a spider’s web and tear on their faces). The art hadn’t really developed as it has today, so apart from the odd aged roadie or biker at a rock festival there were no peers.
When Jules, Andy and I toured the US in ’97 as Pig supporting KMFDM we became more aware of the advanced US development of Tat Art . We wore suits onstage in those days so we were protected from revealing our virgin flesh. Andy, I remember, had a couple of coloured scabs that he insisted were Tats and he eventually had a tour tat that turned sceptic and peeled. Not a particularly enticing experience for Jules and I so we didn’t give them much more thought. Eventually it became apparent to me that this tour was fast becoming the time of my life and the only fitting memento would be an indelible one… A few years later and now on tour as KMFDM , it didn’t take us long to find a keen fan boy artist in Tampa to deliver our first ink. I rushed the decision and chose some colourful flash. He proceeded, while I gently snoozed, to choose olive-green as the only hue his colour blindness could register. I awoke from the tour fatigue and the gentle stabbing of the needle (quite a soporific experience despite what others warned ) to find a large bloody, verdant smudge on my upper arm. However, despite my disappointment at the shoddy needle – work, I gushed like a teenager onstage that evening, with my cellophane, bandaged arm, dripping and bloody a true rock ‘n roll badge of honour. Not one known for succumbing to peer pressure, I felt I had captured the essence of my foreign adventure and never missed a photo opportunity to show it off.. Ha! What did I care if it more resembled a piss stain on my Khaki pants than a multi-coloured, fire-breathing Dragon?
These days teenagers with full sleeves and full chest pieces (and that’s just the women), have made me a little more wary, not to mention the huge hourly rate increases due to said popularity. However I’ve collected a few and still catch myself staring longingly at others ink and I feel good to be part of the experience . But unless we start selling truck loads of records again or that colour-blind fan boy from Tampa calls me, that will be all for now …
- (Dragon, upper left arm) Jesse Roberts, Dark Age Tattoo, Seattle, WA
- (Sugar skull) Roni Falgout, Hidden Hand Tattoo, Seattle, WA
- (Cobra tattoo) Jeff Cornell, Hidden Hand Tattoo, Seattle, WA
- (Leg skull) Jason, Raven Ink, Portland, OR
It definitely enriched my life experiences for the better. As a musician, it’s always wonderful to share the experience of writing music with another musician, so likewise, as an artist or even a human who loves art – when you get tattooed, you are sharing that art experience with the artist in a very open, intimate, and personal way – especially if it is custom art and represents something of deep meaning in your life – like my larger pieces (the Dragon and the Whale). But, another great thing about tattooing and art is that it doesn’t ‘HAVE’ to be all serious and full of deep meaning. Art is FUN, and like the silly anchor I have on the back of my leg, it was a fun and liberating experience to run get something with some friends so we had something to share. If I never got ‘inked’ then that would be fine, but then I wouldn’t have these experiences.
For ‘Tattoo credits’ – here are the shops and artists in Austin, TX who worked on my big pieces: