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July 2000 Features
xmag.com : July 2000 : Rock & Ink Tour
Rock &Ink Tour Sevendust's John Connelly tears himself away from his Playstation long enough to wax idiotic on the meaning of metal, body art and "Show us your tits."

by John Chandler
tattoo 1When it comes to making a permanent mark in the quivering flesh of contempo youth culture, no traveling menagerie of axe-wielding ass-kickers can compare with the “Tattoo the Earth” Tour—a celebration of Tattoos and Body Art that makes its inaugural appearance right here in Portland on July 15th at Portland Meadows. Call it the Lollapalooza legacy.

Spawned by Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction in 1991, the barnstorming summer festival featured the “coolest” bands and got the kiddies came in droves. And as these annual summer wing-dings made buckets of cash, the die was cast: we would have more bloated summer tours than we’d know what to do with. Ozzfest, the Furthur Festival, WARP, H.O.R.D.E. and other such colossal collections of big-stage talent have been successful at carrying the torch of the now-defunct Lollapalooza. Yet one of the unfortunate side-effects of these city-to-city rock fests has been the increasing emphasis on profiteering by exhibitors who set up booths to market their dubious wares. Originally, according to Farrell’s Lollapalooza design, tents and booths were manned principally by volunteers trying to further political and social causes like “Rock The Vote,” “Green Peace” and “Rock For Choice.” Eventually this gave way to plain old hucksterism, with peddlers trying to fob off over-priced rock memorabilia to the streams of youngsters who just might be carrying Mom’s credit card. How anyone can look themselves in the mirror after buying a $50 t-shirt is beyond me.

“Tattoo the Earth” presents fickle suburban youth with a decidedly different kettle of fish. Instead of going home with a pile of overpriced souvenir rubbish, Junior can plunk down the Master Card and get some major body work done by the likes of Paul Booth—whose tats have graced the torsos of Pantera, the Deftones and even the gargantuan “Undertaker” of WWF fame—or Sean Vasquez who has needled his superior designs on such notables as Howard Stern, Ace Frehley and Biohazard. But it won’t be cheap. If it’s cut-rate tats you’re after, there are plenty of shops around town manned by ex-sailors that will service your needs for $150 or so. An original design from a master craftsman will take a major bite out of the college fund money.

How about the state of rock music at this shindig? With a head-banging lineup of Stone Temple Pilots, Slipknot, Sevendust, Slayer, Coal Chamber, Sepultura and Nashville Pussy (among others), it’s a safe bet that the mosh pit will be erupting with Old Faithful regularity and the medical tent will see its usual barrage of catastrophic bruises, sprains, fractures and lacerations. Words of caution from an old rock fest campaigner:

  1. If entering the mosh pit, wear hard-toed footwear. Getting your tender tootsies stomped on by some brute’s size 13 Doc Marten’s is almost sure to happen, and girls don’t find a limp particularly sexy this season.
  2. When in the pit, expose as little flesh as possible since there will certainly be hard-skanking dudes with leather jackets festooned with studs, buckles and other sharp objects that can cut and rend.
  3. If it’s hot, make sure you stay hydrated. Duh!

The chief engineers behind the “Tattoo the Earth” tour are Slipknot and Sevendust, who have been planning this escapade for well over a year. Slipknot’s #6 (a.k.a. percussionist Shawn Crahan or “The Clown”) told Alternative Press recently “[We’re] really into this theme. It’s another form of artistic expression, instead of just throwing together a bunch of bands. There’s live music, and then there’s art beyond the music. I don’t even think you need to be a tattoo lover to really appreciate [it].” Crahan also praised the body artwork of Paul Booth and indicated that he might have to “kidnap” him for a much-needed tattoo.

Sevendust are an Atlanta hard-rock quintet, veterans of both Ozzfest and the WARP tour, and they too felt the time was right for “The Rock and Ink” Tour. I spoke to Sevendust guitarist John Connelly (no relation to the Texas governor who was wounded while riding in the car with John F. Kennedy) [Yeah? That's what they said about Senator Paul Simon and Garfunkel. We know the truth. --WebEd] via telephone as Sevendust were heading to New Jersey by bus for a concert.

Exotic: Is body art something the entire band endorses?

Connelly: Oh yeah, we’re all into it.

Exotic: Are you going to get some new tattoo work done when you’re out on the road? Paul Booth has done work for Pantera, Deftones, Coal Chamber and even that wrestler the Undertaker.

Connelly: Yeah, he’s great. He was out on tour with us when we did Ozzfest in ’98. I’ll get some work done if I have time and if he does.

Exotic: What does somebody like Paul charge for tattoos?

Connelly: Oh, it’s gotta be at least $250—$300 an hour. At least.

Exotic: Wow! Either bring VISA or stick to something small!

Connelly: Paul doesn’t do the small stuff. No way. He does major work only. If you wanna go small, you better find someone else.

Exotic: Requires a large canvas, does he?

Connelly: Yes he does. He needs room to move. He’s one of the major tattoo people and he only does large drawings. Hell, it’s worth the money. Paul’s a great artist.

Exotic: Do you think getting a tattoo is a better deal than shelling out $50 for a t-shirt?

Connelly: (laughs) Depends on what you’re into, man! It’s a permanent thing; it’ll last, that’s for sure! I’d get one!

Exotic: Why are the folks at the “Tattoo the Earth” website referring to this tour as a crusade? Are you bringing culture to the mongrel hordes?

Connelly: I don’t know about that. Sounds like marketing to me, man.

Exotic: Speaking of which, what other big tours have you been on and which one’s were the best?

Connelly: I’ve been on Ozzfest and the WARP Tour and they were fun for different reasons. On the WARP tour there’s usually a problem with seating. The best summer shows I went to were the first two Lollapalooza tours. The first one had Jane’s Addiction and the Rollins Band, the second one had Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry—they were pretty special.

Exotic: Was Lollapalooza more of a pure thing? Was this before the onslaught of marketing that goes along with these tours?

Connelly: Well, yeah. Lollapalooza was just about fun and music. But, I mean, the people who put on these tours have to make money, too, or there wouldn’t be any. The WARP tour was pretty mellow about everything. It wasn’t so business driven.

Exotic: How are kids supposed to budget their bucks for all this summer hoopla?

Connelly: (laughs) Good question. There’s a lot of tours out there with heavy bands. The kids are just gonna have to weigh which one gives ‘em the most bang for their buck. Ours is gonna be cool.

Exotic: You called ’em heavy bands. Is metal still a valid term when you’re talking about bands as different as Sevendust and Slayer or Sepultura, who are also on the tour?

seven dustConnelly: Sure, it’s valid as a way to categorize music. I don’t think we’re as fast and heavy as Sepultura and Slayer, but there are similarities. I just think over time metal has grown into different things.

Exotic: Evolution?

Connelly: Sure.


"The best summer shows I went to were the first two Lollapalooza tours."

--John Connelly, Sevendust

Exotic: Where do you stand on the whole “Show us your tits” controversy?

Connelly: Well, I think it’s behavior that goes back to the dawn of time. I’m not really in favor or not. Sometimes trouble starts that way, and we sure don’t want anything to happen like at Woodstock last year [allegations of rape and sexual abuse incited by drunken fans and bands alike]. It’s sure not something we go out of our way to start up.

Exotic: Guitar question. What was the first rock riff you ever heard that made you go “Whoa!” and want to start playing yourself?

Connelly: Probably “Blackened” by Metallica or “Mouth for War” by Pantera.

Exotic: How long will “Tattoo the Earth” be out on the road?

Connelly: About four weeks. We hook up with Metallica in New York. That’ll be exciting. ’Nuff said

Exotic: Last question, John. I understand you’re a video gamer. What are you playing now?

Connelly: Gran Turismo 2 for the Playstation. It’s great!




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