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Bouncing Souls Bassist Bryan Kienlen Tattoos When Not Touring

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Tattooers and musicians have been related at the very least since Janis Joplin was publicly inked by Lyle Tuttle in April 1970 — six months earlier than her demise. However whereas rock stars have spent loads of hours in tattoo retailers over the a long time, few of them truly took the plunge into the trade itself.

Bryan Kienlen of the Bouncing Souls is a type of artists. After starting his ardour for tattoos again within the late Eighties, Kienlen spent a while away from the trade whereas touring with the New Jersey punks. In 2010, as soon as the Souls had advanced into extra of a part-time endeavor, the veteran bassist returned to his different ardour, apprenticing below a pair of revered and well-known tattooers and studying the ropes at different folks’s retailers earlier than opening one in every of his personal.

Now the proud proprietor of Anchors Aweigh Tattoo (a reference to the objectively greatest Bouncing Souls album), Kienlen finds himself embedded in each worlds equally. SPIN spoke with the punk tattooer in regards to the balancing act of two unconventional careers and all kinds of different matters.

Picture by Ryan Johnson



SPIN: How did you get began in tattooing?
Bryan Kienlen: It was like truly a ardour of mine proper alongside music again in highschool. I graduated in ‘88, so no person I knew in highschool was tattooed apart from this older child, Brad, who I ended up being in my first punk band with. He was slightly little bit of a mentor to Pete [Steinkopf, Bouncing Souls guitarist], Greg [Attonito, Bouncing Souls singer], and myself. He bought a tattoo, and I used to be like “Wow!” So I bought a tattoo just about as quickly as I turned 18. It was additionally round then that I noticed the X phase in The Decline of Western Civilization, and we realized do hand-poked tattoos on ourselves. Then I progressed to constructing my very own machines, after which I bought fairly critical about changing into a tattooer, so I despatched away for machines from [famous tattoo supply catalog] Spaulding & Rogers.

And the way did your beginnings within the tattoo trade tie into your early punk days?
I really feel like I used to be one of many only a few punk rockers entering into tattooing at that time. Truly, we have been all skinheads — and I all the time have to say that I used to be an anti-racist skinhead again then, and I very a lot nonetheless am. I began entering into tattooing extra, and I believed I used to be going to be a tattooer, so I began constructing higher machines and tattooing extra folks. However the band was additionally getting extra critical, and as we have been graduating highschool, all of us moved right into a home collectively. So I had ample folks to study to tattoo on — as a result of everybody was glad to get free ink since no person had $2 to rub collectively — however when the band bought busy touring, I simply put it apart.

What made you resolve to return to tattooing extra lately?
Tattooing simply simmered on the again burner for me for nearly 20 years. Across the time of the band’s twentieth anniversary, we determined to pump the brakes on touring as a lot, as a result of we have been residing on the highway for years and years and years. There was no room for the rest to occur. I don’t remorse a second of that. However as quickly as we slowed down slightly bit, I knew that was my probability to deal with tattooing and actually dive all the way in which into the deep finish. I bought myself an apprenticeship and began working in a store, and that’s once I realized do every little thing the precise method.

How do you stability the band’s schedule and proudly owning your individual tattoo store?
It’s a full-time life. It’s sort of onerous as a result of touring turns every little thing the other way up slightly bit. I’m used to that as a result of I’ve been doing it for many years, nevertheless it’s more durable than ever to depart house as a result of I like my tattooing profession. I even have like two careers that I like equally, and, fortunately, I’m not pressured to select between them. They each fulfill a inventive urge in me. They’re each actually good for my soul. They’re each my glad locations. Anybody who has one profession that they love is blessed, so I’m doubly blessed. So how am I balancing it? I’m doing slightly of each on a regular basis. Once I’m out on tour, I’m drawing tattoos and reserving appointments. There’s loads of downtime on tour to get that sort of work completed. Once I’m house, I’m dealing with band stuff. Like in the present day, I designed a handful of shirts for Seashore Rats, which is my different band — and can be pretty busy. I’ve two bands which can be each dropping data inside a yr, so I’m designing Seashore Rats shirts whereas I’m placing the ending touches on the Bouncing Souls document cowl for our new document which is popping out this winter. Oh, and I’ve two toddler daughters. So I’m simply busy on a regular basis doing one factor or one other.

 


<![CDATA[<![CDATA[Are there any skills that transfer over between your musical career and your tattooing career?
I’ve had to push myself more because of tattooing. It challenges me and brings out the best in me, and that does carry over to everything I do in the band. Plus, at the tattoo shop, we have a little jam room set up with amps and guitars. We like to learn Hot Water Music songs, and it’s actually at the shop where I finally got fairly proficient at singing harmonies. We almost have a Hot Water Music cover band, which we have a couple of names for, actually. The going name is Caution: A Hot Water Music Tribute, but I really like Warm Water Music, because we’re nowhere near as good. We always make time to do some other things at the shop, so we practice music, we throw knives — which is also really good for our focus — we stretch, we meditate, we have dumbbells and boxing stuff so we can spar. All of this stuff is not only great for our mental health and our focus, but trying to learn Jason Black’s bass lines has made me a better musician. It’s actually influenced a lot of what you’ll hear on the next record.

Is there anything that surprised you about diving deeper into the tattoo world when you came back to it 20 years later?
I found it to be so grounding. I think if I didn’t do that, I would have run out of things to write about. I was a full-time band guy just circling the globe on tour for so long, and I think getting a job, having a boss and having a daily grind and responsibility. It really grounded me at the right time. I think band guys live in a bubble, and it was really important for me to just have a normal working-class life. It was also really important for the Bouncing Souls to stop being so full time, because you just have to become a little more well-rounded as a person. You learn a little humility and pride in your work and all that, and I’m really glad that I have a day job now. It makes the band more meaningful now, because when we play shows as the Bouncing Souls, it’s because we want to be there, not because we have to be. Having both things enables me to do both on my own terms. Everything just feels fun and new all the time. It’s amazing. They both stay fresh. They never get stale. We’re just stoked when we get together to do stuff, and it all feels like a bonus. It’s just a great place to be for the band and also for tattooing. Tattooing has been so good to me, and I plan on tattooing as long as I physically can — which will be somewhere in my 70s, I’m guessing. That’s how we feel in the band now, too. Why would we stop this thing that we’re doing for our own happiness?

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