Permanent Loyalty: Fans share their band inspired tattoos

Posted: by The Editor

Among the various expressions of adoration for musicians, there is one that arguably occupies the highest degree of dedication. People throughout the music scene have chosen to engrave tattoos paying homage to their favorite bands.

Kathleen Halliday’s tattoo of a black bird with the lyric “the black bird is a part of me” from the song “The Black Bird, The Dark Slope” by Los Campesinos! serves as a metaphor for bipolar disorder.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Halliday

“It’s an acknowledgement that it’s part of you and it’s powerful – and it’s not going to go away,” Halliday said. The drummer for Los Campesinos!, Jason Adelinia, gave her the tattoo. Halliday said she intentionally requested for the bird to scowl.“Bipolar disorder is a force to be reckoned with and it’s not necessarily on your side,” Halliday said.

Michael Huezo said he felt compelled to get a tattoo relating to Bayside’s song “They Looked Like Strong Hands” because its lyrics resonate with his experiences as a musician. Huezo is now an audio engineer, but was formerly part of the band October Drive, which performed at Warped Tour in 2009. The song details the often uncomfortable experience of creating highly personal music, then performing it for an audience largely comprised of strangers. One of its lyrics is “Trying to win approval from people that I don’t know.” Huezo said that he tends to be introverted, which made performing more of an adjustment.

Photo courtesy of Michael Huezo

“At a young age, I tried to jump into that crazy life,” Huezo said. “You kind of have to throw yourself in it when you may not be used to that type of stuff.” Moreover, Huezo said that being in a band, for him, was more about personal fulfillment and less about achieving notoriety – something that can’t be said for all musicians. “There’s a lot of people who are genuinely in it for the clout and the money,” Huezo said.

Hunter Manders opted to get a tattoo in memoriam of the band Modern Baseball after the announcement that they would no longer produce music. The tattoo features the lyrics “whatever forever” from the band’s song “Rock Bottom.” He said the lyrics’ lighthearted connotation serves as a personal reminder to cherish life.

Photo courtesy of Hunter Manders

“They’ve [Modern Baseball] always been themselves and open about who they are,” Manders said. “They make me feel seen and have given me a voice because I see myself in them a lot.”

Molly Hudelson’s band tattoo represents feeling welcomed and appreciated. It’s inspired by the band Call It Fiction, who Hudelson became a fan of while attending college in Ohio. “Growing up, I always felt pretty out of place. I never really felt like I fit in,” Hudelson said. “They really made me feel like I had a home in the Ohio music scene.”

Photo courtesy of Molly Hudelson

Hudelson said that through the local music scene, she formed valuable friendships with others who supported her artistry as a writer and photographer.“There were people I met at these local shows that were really encouraging,” Hudelson said. “It was a positive, uplifting environment.”

A tattoo is permanent, but the same can’t be said for a fan’s admiration. After Evan Stephens Hall, the lead singer of the band Pinegrove, published a letter addressing his instances of sexual coercion, Levi Bradford felt uneasy about his tattoo featuring artwork borrowed from the cover of Cardinal, the band’s sophomore record. The original tattoo of two intersecting squares is now part of a cubism inspired face. Bradford listened to Pinegrove heavily during his honeymoon, leading him to associate the band’s music with a momentous occasion. He said that before Hall’s letter, he believed with confidence that the band’s members wouldn’t disappoint him.

Photo courtesy of Levi Bradford

“I idolize people too much and too readily,” Bradford said. “I’m trying to step back and not prescribe any characteristics to them that they might not have.” Bradford felt urgency in revamping his tattoo because he didn’t want it to make others feel uncomfortable or triggered. “People were clearly so upset about it that I knew representing the band visually was a bad call,” Bradford said.

As common as band tattoos may be, Bradford believes that people should seriously consider the implications of them. “If you’re going to put it on your body, you’ve got to be willing to be let down by that person,” Bradford said. “And if they do let you down – are you okay still having that?”

Bineet Kaur | @hellobineet

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