Pennywise discuss their tattoos. Feature from Prick Magazine.

Keeps punk rock alive

You might think from the looks of their tattoos that the members of Pennywise wouldn't have a whole lot to say about them. I mean even they would probably admit that this isn't the best ink we've ever displayed within our pages. But that doesn't mean each of their tattoos doesn't have a story behind it.

Take those of guitarist Fletcher Dragge, for example. That scrawled squiggly line going up his arm has more meaning behind it than some people's most elaborate pieces.

"I went to a tattoo spot one night and I wanted to get something done," says the band's most intimidating member. "They were closed, but I wouldn't leave. Bob Roberts was there visiting and I didn't know him by face, so we kind of got into it a little bit. We didn't get into a fight, but we came pretty close because I was drunk. He said, 'Fuck off. Get out of here. The shop's closed.' He split and then came back and goes, 'You want a fucking tattoo, boy?' I said, 'That's what I came here for,' and he did this big skull on my chest. He had his apprentice, Chris tattoo it on me. Then we got into another argument because I wanted Bob Roberts to tattoo me. He ran out the front door, I chased him out to the car and he fucking took off again."

So what does that have to do with the line on his arm?

"After a while I was thinking maybe he was trying to put a curse of some sort on me because he put a skull over my heart," Fletcher continues. "And he didn't really seem like he liked me - we kind of almost got in a fight and shit. So in another drunken stupor of a night, I figured one way to break the curse was to tattoo a line from my middle finger up through the skull, basically saying, 'Fuck death.' It's not that I didn't like the skull - it's probably the best tattoo I have if you go by quality - but it wasn't one that I wanted and it's the only one I've got that someone just drew on me and said, 'Here, this is what you get.' I'm pretty sure he didn't put a curse on me, but just in case, you know."

The dog on his chest involves yet another instance of very strange circumstances.

"I thought it would be a good idea for me and [pro skater] Mike Smith to tattoo each other at the same time with two different machines, neither one of us knowing how to tattoo," he recalls. "We wound up tattooing each other on the chest so we couldn't see what either one was getting. We didn't know what we were going to give each other and we just kind of went for the trust issue. So I did 'Born Free' on him and he did his dog, Pedro for some fucking insane reason. His dog was spending the night at my house, so then we went home and slept for a few hours. He split in the morning and borrowed my bike and while he was riding home, the dog got hit by a car and got killed. And he was kind of born free because he had never had a leash and I was always like, 'Dude, your dog is going to get hit by a car.' But he had the dog for 12 years or something. He was really old, so maybe the dog knew he was going to go and he wanted to leave his mark, so somehow he got us to fucking get those tattoos. It was weird because he was holding the dog [before he left] and was like, 'When Pedro dies you're going to have to get R.I.P. under [your tattoo].'"

Bassist Randy Bradbury has a much more humble approach to his ink.

"I just wanted tattoos," he says. "So me and my friends would just get drunk and go in there and find the flash on the wall and go, 'Hey, will you give me this one for 35 bucks?' That's why they ended up like this. But I thought they were cool. I've got some stories about them, but they involve drugs and stuff. The Rudimentary Peanut, I got that one ten years ago and that was this band that I really liked and I always wanted to get one and I finally did. A couple of bands I was in I have tattooed on me.

"Believe it or not, some of these are cover-ups," he continues, poking fun at the quality of his own tattoos. "I almost wish I had the originals now because they looked like I locked myself in a room with a gram of speed, a tattoo gun and some Indian ink."

by Jonathan Williams
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