This past Friday, November 27th marked the release of alternative groove rock band Attic Theory’s debut EP, The Sign of an Active Mind, via ThunderGun Records. Featuring booming vocals, innovative melodies, crashing guitars, and lyrics with a lot to relate to, the EP is living proof of why this band has been so swiftly catching the attention of those in the industry.
Earlier this year, they were named Best New Band at Planet Rock Radio’s The Rocks 2020 Awards and they have carried that momentum forward with this new EP release. The Sign of an Active Mind was recorded at Motor Museum Recording Studios with the help of producer Loïc Gaillard, recognized for his work with Revival Black and Ashen Reach. The sextet has been quick to emerge since their formation in late 2017, playing shows most notably alongside Candlebox, The Soapgirls, Saving Abel, Psycho Village, Tragedy, and Derange.
Just for today, we pushed the topic of music aside and spoke to a few of the members of Attic Theory about the finer things in life, like tattoos. For our latest installment of Tattoo Talk, we got to know the group from a different point of view where they let us in on their favourite tattoos, best tattoo shops, embarrassing ink, and so much more.
When, where and what was your first tattoo?
Lewis Wright: “I got my first tattoo in 2013 and it was the beginning of my Marvel Comics sleeve. It was done by the wonderful Sammy from Empress Tattoo (in Airdrie, Alberta) and is on my right arm.”
Tim Cunningham: “A slightly cheesy tribal effort on my bicep I now have covered by a massive Celtic green man.”
Kenny McArthur: “First tattoo was probably in around 2007 and it was done in bevolution tattoos SA. It’s a Maltese cross on the inside of my right forearm.”
Matt Simon: “My first tattoo, I got when I was about 17 on my right arm. I blagged my age, of course. I was short of cash, young and foolish and just wanted to be all rock n’ roll and have something on my arm. So all I could afford was getting the Pearl Drums logo inked on my arm. I went to a place called Tattoo Jack’s in Liverpool. The guy was a very interesting character who was known for referring to everyone as ‘Gobsh*te.’ It was cool though, because after talking to him, it turns out his grandad did my grandad’s tattoos back in the 1940s. I ended up getting the tattoo extended with a half sleeve a few years later from a tattoo studio in Los Angeles, but I’ll tell you more about that later…”
Do any of your tattoos have a particularly special meaning behind them? If so, do share!
Wright: “My sleeve is all Marvel Comics related. I am a massive comic collector so each piece on my arm has a different meaning linked to my love of comics. My favourite character is Captain America and his cracked shield is paying homage to Fear Itself #5 when the Serpent shattered it with his bare hands. The flames surrounding the shield are dedicated to Nikki, a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy team as GOTG is one of my favourite comic book series. The next part is Groot from the new GOTG team holding a cassette tape, below that is Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, this is due to Thor’s first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #83 actually getting me into comics. I also have Agent Venom’s red chest symbol from The Thunderbolts series by my wrist as this is one of the best comic runs ever written and lastly, I have Jean Grey’s original iconic phoenix force symbol under my arm, dedicated to when the X-Men series was at its best… the late ‘70s.”
Cunningham: “I have three runes on my wrist, initials of me, my wife and my daughter. And unless you understand elder futhark runes, you’d never know.”
McArthur: “All of them have a meaning I guess but I don’t think of them the same way anymore as meanings change as you get older. I have a skull will violin F holes over the eyes that I got when I was a kid to kind of mark that I was gonna take this music/art thing seriously and make a living with it. Guess that one did it’s job actually now that I think of it (laughs).”
Simon: “I have a tattoo of a mermaid/siren on my left arm. It’s done in a minimalist kind of style. It looks almost like something you might see in a carving or statue from Ancient Greece. For me, it symbolizes relationships. As for many, I’ve had my share of heartbreak and this tattoo serves as a reminder. Maybe even as a warning that things you think are beautiful on the outside sometimes turn out to be quite ugly and poisonous underneath. Our interpretation of a mermaid is very Disney but the harsh reality of the folklore behind that image is something incredibly sinister- with sailors being lured to their doom hidden behind promises of beauty and bliss.”
Do you have a specific shop or artist that you frequent (insert shameless plug time!)?
Wright: “Yes! The absolutely amazing artist Sammy from Empress Tattoo in Wallasey, UK.”
Cunningham: “Sacred Fortune in Allerton, Liverpool. Julie is the BEST. I won’t go to anyone else. It’d be like cheating.”
McArthur: “I’ve only ever had tattoos done by my dad! Max McArthur. He does guest slots in loads of shops in Johannesburg and Cape Town so it’s hard to nail him to one shop (laughs).”
Do you have any new tattoos planned or underway? Give us the dirt, dude!
Cunningham: “Odin the old man on my left bicep and Yggdrasil the tree of life on my back.”
McArthur: “Got a few planned actually! The main one is headhunter flowers over the front of each shoulder. My uncle has them and so does my dad and my cousin, all the men in my family get their dad’s design so I’m up next for them. It’s all blackwork on the collar bones so that’ll be fun!”
Have you seen any fans with a band tattoo, anything crazy memorable?
McArthur: “I’m not sure there are any Attic Theory tats around. Or are there? I once saw a dude who had Dio tattooed on his forearm so it looked like his hand was Dio’s hand and when he pulled the horns it would be like Dio was doing it. Unfortunately that also means Dio wiped his ass and jacked him off!”
We know you have one… tell us about that stoned/drunken joke-tattoo you once got….
Cunningham: “I have a Friday the 13th key hole tattoo on my back. That’s getting covered (laughs).”
McArthur: “I’m lucky enough to say I’ve always had a beer whilst being tattooed but I’ve never gotten one because I was drunk. Being stoned whilst getting tattooed just sucks don’t do it.”
Do you have any tattoos that you now hate, want to replace, or have covered up, and why?
Cunningham: “My tribal stuff was current then, but I was young and naïve. Now I want stuff that means something to me so I’ve already had one covered and will soon have the other done.”
McArthur: “Nope not at all. I just need more.”
Simon: “As I mentioned earlier, I was young and foolish and I guess the idea of just having tattoos was more important to me than the thought process behind the tattoo. This for me is where things get interesting. I’m booked in for a cover up on my right arm. I have spent so long trying to find a suitable cover up concept that is dark enough and I’ve also been searching for the right artist to take on the task. I have finally found a great tattoo artist who can do it. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by classic horror films and the history behind them. One of the most iconic horror movie creatures is the alien xenomorph. I’m a really big fan of the original Aliens film. It’s a ‘haunted house in space’ masterpiece. So I thought it’d be very fitting to use this as the inspiration for my next tattoo. There’s no mistaking Giger and his amazing artwork.”
Have any tattoos that were painful. Like made you cry, see white light, and regret being born?
Wright: “I was petrified beforehand but when we actually got started, the pain really didn’t bother me until we got under my armpit and that stung and tickled at the same time. It was the aftermath and the not being able to ‘scratch the itch’ that bothered me the most.”
Cunningham: “Nearly passed out during my two green man sessions. Brutal getting cover ups.”
McArthur: “The demon head on my calf kind of sucked when the horns started going into the back of my knee. Just the line work was like seven hours and I fell asleep for that but woke up and threw up when it got to the knee (laughs).”
If you HAD to get someone’s face tattooed on you, whose would it be and why?
Wright: “Probably Gerard Butler’s. I have been told that we look alike but people might think I’m super vain and that I just got a tattoo of my own face… but that’s the price I’d have to pay for being so handsome (laughs).”
Cunningham: “Obviously Lewis our trusty vocalist. He’d thoroughly approve.”
McArthur: “If I HAD to get a face it’d probably be Beethoven or something I guess. Or some scientific figure, someone that won’t end up being a nonce next year because everyone nowadays apparently.”
When do you get work done? Is it something planned and more regimented, or whenever the mood strikes?
Cunningham: “Planned and prepared for always.”
McArthur: “I like planning things out. Sitting and sketching out designs and playing around with them in your mind is half the joy.”
Do you have a crazy, weird or super-memorable tattoo experience you’d care to share?
McArthur: “Not quite a tattoo story but I once got my dad to lose a bet and pierce his own nipples which was possibly the most brutal/hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I lost the same bet and suffered the same punishment.”
Tattoo artists are similar to bartenders in the sense that people confide in them. What’s the most personal story you’ve shared (or been told) while getting work done.
Wright: “I’ve known Sammy for many, many years so it’s always great to catch up.”
Cunningham: “My tattoo artist is basically my therapist and very good friend and sister-figure and she knows pretty much everything about my family. She tattoos my wife as well so she knows us VERY well (laughs).”
McArthur: “I once tattooed a guy who gave off a very weird vibe. Every time he came in for work we’d have to ask him to put his guns under the counter (Johannesburg… go figure). One day when I was tattooing him he confided in me that he’d chopped up his wife and kids with an axe. I was like 17 at the time and he wasn’t messing around. Suffice to say I shat myself.”