The vocalist of the band from Utah, just done with Eternal Nightmare, tells us why art will save us all. All art, in general. Skin art included.

Tom, I can see that you know your ink seeing as how you’ve got it pretty much all over your body. Tell me how you came about your great love of tattoo art…
My inspiration comes from my big brother Keith. I used have such great admiration for his tattoos, until finally, when I turned eighteen, I was able to start collecting my own. And then, at highschool, I was also really into videogames, comis, cinema, and, obviously, music.

Basically all the pop culture that, one piece at a time, led me to get tattooed all over with my favourite subjects.

In fact you only have a couple of music tributes. Pretty big ones in terms of artistic significance…
Yeah, I have the Love Symbol of Prince and also a nice portrait of Chris Cornell on my leg. Ok, maybe these are my most obvious tributes, but I can assure you that every one of my tattoos tells its own particular story. Otherwise, I would never have gotten that piece in the first place.

Chelsea Grin
Chelsea Grin

Could you give us a general description of those Black’n’Grey pieces you have on your arms?
Those are subjects connected with the dimension of horror and haunted houses. And then there are spiders, lots of spiders! (laughs) Those pieces were mostly done by Rob Carpenter of “Working Class Art”, a tattooist from New Jersey that I’m really tight with. Chelsea Grin are a band from Utah, ok, but I’m proud of my East Coast origins.

You often give your tattoo artists a mention on your social media, isn’t that right?
Yeah, I often mention them on my Instagram page (@tomtomgrin). Like my friend Nowlin of Stay True Tattoo in Oklahoma City. He, along with others I go to, is a truly great artist. And he deserves all the publicity he can get.

Chelsea Grin
Chelsea Grin

You’re in a metalcore band, actually deathcore to be exact. Do you think that the great wave that has invaded the heavy metal scene over the past fifteen years (meaning metalcore) has been behind the revival of a certain kind of tattoo art more associated with Traditional than the more specifically New School?
I believe that art in general, more than music or even tattoos, is always the driving force behind every single thing. Believe it or not, I started singing because I believed in the power of song and not to get to meet girls like 99% of rock musicians… (smiles) Art is basically a form of self-expression. It allows us to tell the world who we are and what we are feeling at any given moment and this is something we should never forget whenever we are looking at a picture, or a nice photo on Instagram, a great movie or simply when we go choosing the subject for a great tattoo.

Chelsea Grin
Chelsea Grin

The cover of your latest album Eternal Nightmare seems to have been done with this concept in mind. Maybe it might appear some in the form of a tattoo some day…
You never know. The illustrator who did the artwork, Aiff Ardiansyah, is a lober of Horror and New School tattoo and I guess that cover is the blinding proof. All of us in the band are crazy about it! Believe me, we couldn’t have found any better artwork.

Chelsea Grin

Did you enjoy our interview? The continuation of our interview with Tom Barber, the singer with Chelsea Grin, will appear in a future issue of Tattoo Life…