In the mid 2000s, it was typically common place to see most of the patrons of a packed venue sporting merchandise from the Michigan metal/grind power house See You next Tuesday, a Ferret Records heavy hitter who toured the world with such acts as Daughters, Coalesce, The Banner, Elysia, and Knights of the Abyss to name a few. Much to the dismay of most of the aggressive scene in the Midwest, though, the band called it quits in 2009.
Chris Fox, the front man of SYNT, spends most of his time now tattooing at Harlequin Tattoo in Hamtramck, Michigan. We had the chance to recently speak with Chris not only about his time in the band, but about his life as a tattoo artist and his part in the tattoo community and culture.
Q. How long have you been tattooing now?
A. I have been tattooing professionally since 2006.
Q. Did you also draw and/or paint before becoming a tattoo artist?
A. Yes I did. The plan was to be a comic illustrator for awhile. But all the band stuff I was involved in really took my focus off of any practical career before I took the major steps to work at it.
Q. Did you always have the desire to pursue tattooing/making a living off of your art? Or did you simply fall into it?
A. I kinda fell into the world of tattooing. Growing up, I always loved tattoos but I never thought about actually tattooing as a career. I met a few tattooers through a band I was in when I was still in high school. Started partying with them a lot, started getting tattooed a lot, learned a lot from them about it all. I really loved the whole world of tattooing. It was fascinating. Maybe a couple years later I woke up one morning and thought to myself, "Why am I not trying to be a tattooer?" I went to my friend and tattooer, Greg Drake, and he was able to set me up with an apprenticeship with a friend of his by the name of Hawk. And I've been in it ever since.
Q. What is your favorite tattoo style as an artist to put onto people? Is it your same preferred style when getting tattooed?
A. I have a lot of styles that I'm into. I really love super wacky cartoony stuff. But more in a traditional vein opposed to new school. Really bold with lots of black and bombing it with bright colors. I'm also really into anything black and grey. I have fun doing portraits in sort of a stylized traditional way. But honestly I'm not stuck on one style of tattooing. I just like doing tattoos in general. I'm definitely in an environment where I do more traditional pieces, which I love, but I'm more than happy to do whatever comes through the door. I have more traditional stuff on me than anything, but I have a pretty wide variety of pieces. I just try and get stuff from artists I respect, no matter what their style is.
Q. How often does the world of your clientele and your career as a tattoo artist meet with your life as a vocalist/musician?
A. Not very often. Every once in awhile I'll get someone that recognizes me, or actually comes to me because of me playing in bands. But SYNT hasn't played a show since 2009 and not a lot of people know that I'm with the new project yet, so those two parts of my life don't cross paths much. I'd prefer people come to me because they enjoy my work instead of basing their decision on bands I've been in anyway, although it is flattering.
Q. How long have you been singing in bands and performing music?
A. I started out playing in bands seriously in my senior year in high school. So 2001.
Q. Most readers will remember you from See You Next Tuesday, but what are some other projects you were at one time involved with and are there any projects you're currently involved with?
A. My first real band was a Weezer cover band. Funny, right? Soon after that, though, I joined with some friends in a band called One Away From Breathing. That band eventually turned into the group called Flesh And Blood Robot, which I never thought had a really huge impact but I've came across a ton of people lately bringing it up to me. Then See You Next Tuesday came after that which I joined at the tail end of 2006. SYNT decided to go on hiatus in 2009. I was in a band called Vultures for a very short period of time after SYNT, and now I'm involved with a band called Dead Church.
Q. How would you describe Dead Church to a fresh pair of ears?
A. Man, I'm the worst at describing music. It's a lot different than stuff I've done in the past. It's a lot more straight forward and pissed. It's hard to label because all the songs have different vibes. It's real grindy and gritty with a underlying hardcore feel. Short, fast, heavy, angry and to the point songs. We recently recorded a couple splits. We hopefully will be posting some of that material soon.
Q. We would like to know, what are your thoughts on contemporary tattoo culture and the sort of Renaissance it is currently experiencing?
A. I've spent a long time looking at this question and wondering how to answer it. I've made a choice to separate myself from most of it. I feel like the public perception of "tattoo culture" is a joke. I don't like people associating what I do with drama, trashy girls in skimpy outfits or partying. I hate what I see at most larger conventions. I feel what most of the common perception of what tattooers are is extremely degrading. So I distance myself from it. As far as actual tattooing goes, things are f$*king nuts! The amount of talent that is out there is unreal. I find myself being wowed every morning when I go through my Instagram feed. It's hard to imagine where it'll go from here but I'm sure the bar will just keep getting raised.
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