“The only member without body art is bassist Cuz, and we’re going to make sure he fixes that at the Ink-N-Iron Festival,” says keyboardist Will A. Lerner of Shake Before Us, which’ll play the second day of the tattoo-themed event happening in Long Beach June 8 through 10. Locals Stephen Rey & the Slicks and Low Volts will also appear at the festival, which includes daily tattoo contests.
“I have our ‘SBU in a Flash’ logo tattooed on my chest, with a tweaked version of the old Elvis TCB logo,” says Lerner. “I also have some of the more arty tattoos you’ll ever see, like a grand piano, a portrait of Beethoven, and a raven sitting atop a bust of Pallas Athena, among others.” Heavily tattooed singer/guitarist Jesse Pryor doesn’t rely only on inked needles for satisfaction — he recently underwent acupuncture to relieve soreness and tightness in his hands.
The debut Shake Before Us full-length was recorded with John “Swami” Reis, an ink aficionado who used to let anyone with a Rocket From the Crypt tattoo into their shows for free.
A lot of famous ink has been slung in San Diego. Rob Halford’s “Pain” logo was done by Gilbert Lynch at Master Tattoo on Fifth Avenue (one of the city’s oldest tattoo shops), and his arm dragons were inked by Dutch at Jade Tattoo in Hillcrest. Travis Barker has said that approximately half of his $35,000 worth of ink was obtained in San Diego, and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers got tats at Inkers Tattoo Company on El Cajon Boulevard.
One longtime inker, Brooklyn transplant Hammer, has tattooed members of Epitaph and Sledd, including a drum set for Dino DeLuke. “That’s actually his drums, right down to the nuts and bolts,” says Hammer. “You can see the wing nuts on the adjustable stands.”
Gary Hoag (long associated with Ace Tattoo in Ocean Beach) says one of his past clients was the late comedian Flip Wilson. “Believe it or not, I tattooed the head of his [penis].”
Notes Lerner, “Now that would have been a great place for a Shake Before Us tattoo.”