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Tattoo You: Music Ink

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tattoo culture is needling its way onto television, with the upcoming reality show “Ink Master” on Spike TV and a sketch about an Eddie Vedder tatt on IFC’s “Portlandia.” Today, we’ll hear from listeners about the band logos, instruments, album covers and other music-related images that adorn their bodies. Guests include tattoo artist Joseph Ari Aloi (aka JK5) and musician-artist Bryan Kienlen of the punk band Bouncing Souls.

Got a great music tattoo? How about a bad one? Soundcheck wants to hear about it! We’re collecting stories – and images – of the band logos, musician portraits and other music-related images that are inked on your skin for eternity. Tell us: Why did you get the tattoo? How long have you had it? And, how do you feel about it now?

          If you’re really brave, send us an image of your tattoo using one of the methods below.

          Please note: Text and images sent to us may be used throughout Soundcheck’s vast digital realm. (In other words, we might talk about them on the air and post them on the Internet.) We will only use your first name and city -- or, we’ll withhold your info if you request to remain anonymous.


          From Whutsiznaim: "About a year ago I got an image of a cassette tape tattooed on my arm by the great JK5 himself. I grew up as a die-hard B-Boy/hip-hop head in the '80s and '90s, and spent about 20 years of my life pursuing a career as a rapper, until I got fed up with the nonsensical world that is the music industry (book coming hopefully sooner than later).  The tattoo is a memorial to good music and the format in which it was available. RIP to good music, specifically good hip hop music, and RIP the cassette tape and the hours we all spent performing surgery with scotch tape and yellow pencils, to ensure we'd never lose the soundtracks to our young lives."

          Eighth note

          From Richele: "This is my music ink. I got it on my 18th birthday three years ago. Music has played a huge role in my life as both a singer and a fan, so an 8th note was the perfect symbol for something with which I felt connected on such a deep level. To this day I absolutely love my tatt. The only complaint I would make is that I wish I could see it for myself a little more often."


          Submitted by TUBA{{FReSH}}: "I've had my tattoo about a year and a half now. Got it in September 2010 as soon as I graduated from 'music school.' I love it. It is the only tattoo I have. I figured since I've been playing the tuba for over half of my lifetime, I couldn't go wrong. It reminds me to work hard and keep my eyes on the prize. It also just celebrates my love for music and the tuba."



          "Tennesee Waltz"

          Submitted by Erin

          Music notation

          Submitted by Danielle in Hell's Kitchen: "I've been a musician since I was a child. My favorite musical notation is sforzando, which means 'forcefully.' So, you could translate this tattoo to mean 'love music forcefully!' And I do!"

          My Wedding Song

          Submitted by Melinda in New Jersey: "This is the piano music from my wedding song, 'I'll Catch You' by The Get Up Kids. I got it around the time of my engagement, about six and a half years ago. It had always been our song, but I made the commitment to always hold it close to my heart with our engagement. My husband and I just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary in October and this is still one of my favorite tattoos! I get compliments on it all the time and often get questions whether or not the music is 'playable' which it definitely is."

          "Imagine" Waveform

          Submitted by Gabriel in San Francisco: "It is a representation of a digital waveform based on the first four bars of the chorus of 'Imagine' by John Lennon. I wanted a waveform on my arm to represent my commitment to being a sound engineer. I picked this song for three reasons: One, it's my mom's favorite. Two, it doesn't go out of style. And three, if aliens find my preserved body in a million years, they will decode my tattoo and know our ancient civilization was a peaceful one. (Silly, I know.)

          Lisa's Bouncing Souls Tatt

          Our on-air guest Bryan Kienlen plays bass in The Bouncing Souls, a punk band that has inspired hundreds of fan tattoos. We received images of several, including this one from Lisa.

          Flawed, Yet Beloved

          Submitted by Jo in Kitchener, Ontario: "If you look closely at my Bouncing Souls tattoo you can see that the left hand has a gap in it. I brought the 'Maniacal Laughter' album into the tattoo artist and told him what I wanted was on the back -- but not to include the barb wire that went through it. So he traced it exactly, and I found out later that he never bothered to fill the knuckle in. I'm 27 now and I still love it, just like The Souls."



          Bill's Bouncing Souls Tatts (1 of 3)

          Submitted by Bill: "Here are a few tattoos in honor of the Bouncing Souls specifically. One done by Bryan Kienlen [the band's bassist and Soundcheck's on-air guest]."

          Bill's Bouncing Souls Tatts (2 of 3)
          Bill's Bouncing Souls Tatts (3 of 3)
          Dave Matthews Band

          Submitted by Brittany via Twitter: "These are Dave Matthews Band logos that I altered a bit and put together."

          Social Distortion

          Submitted by Darrin in Palmerston, Ontario: "This is my Social Distortion tattoo, which I've had for a few years now. I have always loved the band. I think their music is amazing. I couldn't think of a better way to show my support for the band. Social D has been a big part of my life in my 28 years, and I can't see that changing ever!"

          Cover of Bad Religion album "Suffer"

          Submitted by Crash in Chicago, who grew up in a small town in Michigan: "'Thrasher' magazine, when I could get it, solidified my love for punk rock, skateboarding, graffiti and tattoos. One image -- the cover of Bad Religion's album "Suffer" -- appeared in mailorder ads, on T-shirts and stickers. It took my breath away. I'd seek the image out, and stare at it forever, knowing what it felt like to be that kid, on fire with rage, coming to burn down the whole &*&%ing block. And I hadn't even heard the album yet! I swore I'd get it tattooed some day."

          Gogol Bordello

          Christina posted this on our Facebook page: "This is my Gogol Bordello slingshot tattoo. My friend is an apprentice for Studio Rockstar in Grand Junction, Colo. She surprised me with this tattoo for my birthday. I absolutely love it."

          The Black Flag Bars

          Chris from Detroit: "Barred For Life is now a book about the communal idea of thousands of people tattooed with the Black Flag Bars logo. The band's name is usually not included with the bars because it is not just a 'fan' tattoo. The tatt usually means that the wearer was part of the American hardcore movement. We were there ... a fan, band member, zine publisher, etc. The D.I.Y. ethic of hardcore punk carries with most of us and I feel that is the most important meaning of the tattoo. Most of us have created something ourselves to be left behind. WE have left our mark."

          Anti-Flag, Plus Peace

          Submitted by Erica in Reno: "I've had this one for about 3 years now and still love it. It's the "gunstar" symbol that the band Anti-Flag uses as their symbol and uses to represent anti-militarism. I added the red peace symbol in the middle because it complements the idea."

          Inspired By Muse (The Band)

          Submitted by Michelle in Queens: "On my upper left arm, I have a recreated piece by an artist called Jasper Goodall. He did the album art for one of my favorite bands, Muse. And underneath, it says 'Problematique' which is from my favorite Muse song 'Map of the Problematique.' The camera above it is just an outline of my first digital SLR. I'm a professional photographer, specializing in live music/band photography."

          My Chemical Romance

          Submitted by Leah: "The art is from My Chemical Romance's 'Welcome to the Black Parade.' Bryan [Kienlen] did it on my arm about a year and a half ago. I love it."

          H20 Lyric

          "This is a line from 'What Happened?' by H2O. I got it in March of 2010. Music has always been one of the only things that I could trust and count on no matter what. The line 'The reason I scream is a feeling inside' just answers the question why I love music and why I am front and center screaming my lungs out at every show that I go to. There is nothing like going to a show and forgetting about life for a few hours and just letting everything out."

          Alkaline Trio

          We received two images of tattoos inspired by the band Alkaline Trio. This was submitted by Kelli in Lexington, Ky. "Alkaline Trio's music has really helped me through some rough times in recent years, and I truly admire what they do. So, of course, my first tattoo had to be a tribute to them."

          Alkaline Trio Signatures

          Christopher submitted our other Alkaline Trio tattoo: "My wife and I are huge fans of the band. This has, of course, spread to our four children. A couple years ago, before a show in St. Petersburg, Fla., I promised my kids that if we met them, I’d have them sign my body and then get it inked on. They didn’t believe me."

          A Word From Saratoga Schaefer

          A submission from John's daughter Saratoga: "I have six tattoos, and two of them have musical references. I have a treble clef on my wrist. Throughout the years, I've dabbled in different instruments and music has played a huge role in my life. The second tattoo is of lyrics from the Neil Young song "Hey Hey, My My" on my side. The quote reads 'It's better to burn out than to fade away.' It was one of the songs my dad used to sing to me and my sister on the guitar at bedtime. I take them to mean live every day to the fullest and burn your brightest. It's better to make an impact than to slowly disappear into nothingness."


          Joseph Ari Aloi and Bryan Kienlen

          Comments [26]

          Heather from Bayside, NY

          I have been a die hard bouncing souls fan since I was 14 years old. I remember seeing them at CBGB's when they were doing the video shoot for their song true believers...I have a tattoo of the bouncing souls rocker heart on my lower right arm. I got it after seeing the bouncing souls perform an aucoustic show for record store day at generation records on 4/18/09.

          Jan. 13 2012 04:23 PM
          Rob Bakker from Chicago, IL

          I just drove to New Jersey from Chicago to make sure the Bouncing Souls tattoo I got from Bryan would be done right by it's designer. Bryan did kick ass job. Great interview.

          Jan. 10 2012 04:15 PM
          Natalie from Las Vegas

          I have a Bouncing Souls tattoo on the back of my arm above my elbow, just like the band members. ;) It's a great spot: I love that I can see it when I want to or hide it when I need to. Thanks for the great art, Bryan & crew - both music and logos. <3 always, Natalie

          Jan. 10 2012 12:24 PM
          Edmund Fitzgerald

          Great Pixies song, Schjanna!

          Jan. 09 2012 06:47 PM

          it really bums me out,that john from the office,sort of agrees with me. what next ?

          Jan. 09 2012 03:14 PM
          Schjanna from Brooklyn

          I had a number 13 tattooed on my chest - just like the Pixies song #13 Baby. It is still my favorite song and most treasured tattoo.

          Jan. 09 2012 03:03 PM
          Billy Atwell from New Jersey

          My right arm runs the gamut. Black Flag on my forearm, Mozart on my bicep and a Pink Floyd tribute on my deltoid. I made a documentary on those and others on this YouTube channel: 5 episodes of "Think Ink" featuring NYC tattoo artist Johnny Ford. Enjoy.

          Jan. 09 2012 02:36 PM
          Toddy from Williamsburg, brooklyn.

          I actually have a couple tattoos by Joseph. He is an amazing artists and a great guy. No better person to help guide you through that process.

          Pre Joseph however, I a long long time ago I got a tattoo of the words "A Love Supreme" tattood on my arm by a friend in a house in the ghetto of Salinas California. His first tattoo he ever gave and it went waaaay to deep, which means that now I've got a very bumpy blob on my arm that reads more like "burrito supreme."
          But to be frank, I'm just as proud of the experience of getting it as I am of the tatoo itself. Getting the thing is often overlooked in importance when assessing a tattoos worth. It has to be worth the friendship, time and experience...

          Jan. 09 2012 02:35 PM
          james from Brooklyn

          Perhaps a bit meta but I have a "13" tattooed on the back of my neck after the Johnny Cash track off of "American Recordings", written by Glen Danzig about a boy with the number thirteen tattooed on his neck. (I dated Johnny Cash's grand daughter throughout highschool and college and had the enormous pleasure to spend time with him throughout those years.)

          Jan. 09 2012 02:30 PM
          Thomas Lhamon from Flat Rock, MI

          I have the Dimarzio guitar pickups sun logo on each shoulder. They were the first tattoos I had done way back when I thought I was going to become a rock star. I figured I would be able to get a sponsorship and free gear by advertising for them. Alas, I became a high school chemistry teacher instead.

          Jan. 09 2012 02:25 PM
          eric from nyc

          thank goodness for the rock music's tattoo fetish. now you can determine how lousy a band is by the number of tattoos they have instead of wasting your time listening to them i.e. red hot chilli peppers,jane's addiction,black flag, every ideological punk band. maybe at one time getting a tattoo was a sign that you lived an unconventional lifestyle. now that every fourteen year old girl in the country has one doesn't that indicate the fad has run its course?

          Jan. 09 2012 02:23 PM
          Ron Mwangaguhunga from Williamburg

          I undertstand the appeal of tattoos -- which are as old as human civilization. But the way our musical tastes change, wouldn't it be smarter to get a symbol with a more universal message? Then again, if someone is cool with having a music related tattoo to comemorate what the music meant at a specific time in ones life -- a nostalgia tattoo -- then, well, hey ...

          I'd rather get something like a Gurdjieffian enneagram or something more philosophically meaningful myself. Then again, music is the fruit of life and all that.

          Jan. 09 2012 02:21 PM
          john from office

          Lots of dermatologist will get rich in a few years. Tattoo removal is a growing area of medicine. What is cool at age 18 will look foolish at 40.

          Jan. 09 2012 02:15 PM
          Betty Anne from UES

          My favorite tattoo of all time was from a book I saw at Totem Tattoo in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I swear this true! Someone had a tattoo of Billy Rae Cyrus with the phrase "Achy Breaky Heart" below. I've laughed for years about this but maybe in haste, he did become relevant again.

          Jan. 09 2012 02:10 PM
          Matt from Brooklyn

          Goes to show you that if you're going to start a punk band, make sure you've got some memorable logos. What else would your fans get tattooed?

          (I'm still holding out hope that someday I'll see a non-punk/metal/jam band tattoo and see some, I don't know... Charles Mingus tattoos.)

          Jan. 09 2012 01:56 PM
          Erica P from NJ (in exilium)


          That would have been an homage to Man Ray's iconic 1924 photograph, "Le Violon d'Ingres"

          Jan. 09 2012 12:26 PM

          i've never understood the appeal of tatoos. call me archaic,but i think it's a barbaric practice. there is also good science around the fact,that the ink used, leeks into ones body,causing sub-clinical toxicity,that can compromise the immune system in time..........yuck.......!

          Jan. 09 2012 10:37 AM
          N from NYC

          The song used to promo today's episode on the morning news was absolutely horrible. Bad enough I switched the station, the clip lasted way too long. Hope we won't have to endure that the rest of the day in the lead-up to your broadcast.

          Jan. 09 2012 09:05 AM

          just sent my Alkaline Trio ink story via email. What up Brian, ECFU!!!

          Jan. 08 2012 11:27 AM
          Kathy from Philadelphia

          We have turned music tattoos into a family hobby. My husband, daughter and I share Frank Turner tattoos. My daughter and I have 2 matching sets of Alkaline Trio tattoos. She has 4 Trio related tattoos, 1 Gaslight Anthem and 1 Frank Turner. What can I say? We love good lyrics. I will try to email them, giving me a problem right now. Whats the actual email address?

          Jan. 08 2012 10:51 AM
          Dustin . from Canada

          Lol, got an 'Indestructible' (Rancid reference) tattoo spelt wrong.. funny right?

          Jan. 08 2012 10:38 AM
          whutsiznaim from NYC

          Just submitted mine via email...

          Jan. 06 2012 02:56 PM
          Chris Dellas from Detroit

          "Barred for Life" is now a book and was before the communal name for Black Flag bars tattoos. Most people do not get the name of the band inked with the logo. To most of us the tat means that we are of the American Hardcore generation. In other words, we were there. That DIY punk attitude shaped many of our lives and most of us have created something by ourselves. Movies, art, writing, music, motorcycles...BFL folks believe it is important to create something to be left behind besides just a photo collection so we leave OUR mark.

          Jan. 05 2012 02:53 PM

          Danielle—that's badass.
          Also, we knew a guy in college, a music major, who tattooed two gigantic f-holes on his back. Like he was a human cello. Awesomeville.

          Jan. 05 2012 02:42 PM
          Danielle from Hell's Kitchen

          This is my tattoo in the picture up there. The story? I've been a musician since I was a child. My favorite musical notation is sforzando, which means "forcefully." So, you could translate this tattoo to mean "love music forcefully!" And I do!

          Jan. 05 2012 09:44 AM
          Bernie from UWS

          Tattoos on pop stars have gotten completely out of control. MTV now looks like the Ringling Brothers channel. Be an individual -- resist the peer pressure toward excessive ink.

          Jan. 04 2012 07:24 PM

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