A Handy Guide To Help Determine Whether or Not Your Band Tattoo Is Awful (Spoiler: It Is)

Categories: Lists

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Last week the Daily News broke the story about New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's tattoo, a Lost-like Easter egg pregnant with allegory and symbolism that held all the clues to the mysteries of the Jets woeful season on bungling purgatory island. It was, in case you missed it, an image of his wife wearing the jersey of on-again off-again quarterback Mark Sanchez.

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After spending the entire weekend alternating between tears of laughter and gleeful schadenfreude (go Brady!), the inky taste transgression reminded me of one of the cardinal rules for tattoos in music--aka sports for skinny people--which I like to call the "don't get high on your own supply" corollary. In other words, just like you don't get a tattoo of your own professional sports team (because it's a fickle business and things change quickly) or of your girlfriend's name (ditto), you definitely don't get a tattoo of your own band. Why? Because your band is going to break up and you are going to hate everyone in it. This is not up for debate. ("Wino-na Judd Forever" would be a pretty sick tat though, if anyone in Nashville is looking for ideas).

That's only the tip of the inky iceberg, of course. There are as many ways to be bad at tattoos in music as there are to be bad at music itself. As Tolstoy said, "All good tattoos are good in the same way. All bad band tattoos are stupid. Also, what's a band tattoo?"

Here are a few of our favorites from bands and fans alike, from the off-centered and the ill-considered, to the horrifyingly demonic, and the confoundedly bone-headed.

The Band Whore

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Speaking of football, there's a saying, which applied perfectly to the Jets this year, that if you have two quarterbacks then you don't really even have one. Same rules for epic fandom. You're allowed to have a tattoo of exactly one band, so it's important to choose wisely. This is why getting tattoos as a teenager is such a bad idea, because odds are you're not going to be into the same bands you scribbled on your notebook in study hall when you're a middle-aged landscaper--unless you are, which is a lot worse. Not so fast 35-year-old music writers who still listen to Morrissey every day.

The Photo Realist

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Morrissey tattoos are a whole sad genre unto themselves. That's mostly because, unlike with, say, an AC/DC tattoo, you know the person wearing it did some serious time in the pain cave reflecting on the perfect lyric to express their devotion. And yet still, after all that introspection, they went ahead and did it anyway. That said, I'm not sure which is worse here, getting a portrait that looks nothing like the singer in question, and there are thousands of those to peruse through online, or one that looks exactly like him. Somehow the latter seems more depressing. Maybe that's the point here?

The Preemptive Canon Introduction

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At least there's a couple of decades worth of rich lyrical content and, you know, actually poignant music to choose from in his case. Not sure what the excuse is here. I get being carried away by a musical style in the heat of the moment, I really do--which explains all those undercut asymmetrical Skrillex haircuts we've seen for a couple years now--but how about getting a tattoo of that haircut? That's next level devotion to shittiness for life. Almost admirable in a way.

The Nightmare Fuel

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In his defense, at least homeboy doesn't have to look at this Guillermo del Toroian monstrosity that often. He might even have convinced himself it doesn't exist by now. But something tells me (read: the rope necklace and plugs) that he spends a lot of time walking around with his shirt off, which is like punching the entire world in the face with a creepy soul patch fist. Forever. Crust punks with "fuck you" tattooed on their foreheads should take notes on this dude's hate game.

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1 comments
elmgreen11
elmgreen11

"...Do not mark your skin with tattoos...."  Lev. 19:28, The Holy Bible.

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