Today we have a guest from beautiful Italy. Matteo is playing rhythm guitar in FIVE WAYS TO NOWHERE, an alternative hard rock band from Torino. He is owner of fifteen very different tattoos and the story of each one he has told especially for us.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? Did it take much time until you decided to get it done?
Matteo: I did my first tattoo when I was 25. I did two stars, one on both elbows: I love stars and I was thinking about it for years. I preferred to wait “a bit” because I wasn’t so sure to get tattooed at 18 or 20. I always loved tattoos, but you know, when you’re a kid it’s easier to make bad choices :-)
RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Matteo: Well, actually I got fifteen tattoos. These are all stories:
1. Stars on elbows: As I said before, I always loved stars and, moreover, the star is one of the “Rock N Roll” symbols too. So, it was quite an easy choice back then.
2. Skull holding a Jack Daniel’s bottle: Well, Jack’s is my all-time favourite drink, so I wanted to have it tattooed someway. When the tattoo artist asked me how I wanted it, I told him that I want a skull/ skeleton holding it, just to remind me “if you drink too much of this, well…you’re gonna be dead soon, man!”
3. “Nice boys don’t play Rock N Roll” lettering: I grew up listening to GUNS N ROSES too and this song was one of my favourite, so…that’s why I wanted to have it tattooed. It’s also a kind of personal motto for me
4. Hardcore babies logo: I used to play in a HARDCORE SUPERSTAR / BACKYARD BABIES tribute band for a while. I put this band on together with Livio, one of my best friend. At that time we played together in a Rock N Roll band called DELEEDERS, but we wanted to have this tribute band too, so we ask some guys we knew and they accepted. This band didn’t last that long, but the true friendship with the other guys is something I’m still proud of, so I decided to get this logo tattooed. Not for band itself, but for what it gave to me over the last years.
5. Ace Frehley solo album cover: Ace is my favourite KISS member and one of the guitarist I love the most (together with Billy Duffy of The Cult, Steve Stevens from Billy Idol and Steve Jones of Sex Pistols), so I really needed to get this tattooed! :-)
6. Kickstart my heart sheet music: MÖTLEY CRÜE is my favourite band. I started listening to them when I was 14: in 1990 one of my schoolmates lent me his Walkman telling me “you gotta listen to these guys!”. There was ‘Dr. Feelgood’ album in his Walkman and the first song I listened to was ‘Kickstart my heart’. I just said WOW. I asked my dad to buy me the vinyl and I listened to that record thousand times. So, I wanted to have it under my skin too :-)
7. “Rocker” lettering: Well, that’s what I am. Just simple as that :-)
8. “I’m quite bizarre, I’m like a punk guitar” lettering: That’s a verse of a DELEEDERS song. I wrote that song with Livio, but lyrics were written by Titti (our singer at that time). I love that song and love that verse too, so some years ago I decided to have this tattoo as well
9. M letter: M is my “family letter”. My dad’s called Mario, my mum’s called Marilena and my sister’s called Marta. So, it’s something really important to me. I do love my family.
10. Dominatrix: Well, let’s put it this way…I like it :-)
11. Muttley: When I was a kid I loved “Wacky Races” cartoon and I liked Muttley in particular because it was a dog who loved to laugh a lot. I also love to laugh and, moreover, its name is similar to mine. I also got a back patch on my leather jacket with Muttley (made by a company called Cold Print): it’s pretty cool! :-)
12. Heart with treble clef: Music’s my life. I listen to it, I write it, I love it. I need it when I’m happy, I need it when I’m sad, I need it to go on and I need it when I gotta stop for a while. It’s something that’s always with me. It’s in my heart indeed.
13. Skull with two guitars: This 8-balled skull has 2 Gibson Flying V (which is my guitar, I fuckin’ love it!!) on the bottom. It’s a kind of Rock N Roll pirate flag :-) The lettering “Rock N Roll since 1976” simply describes my life!
14. “Lotta Love” lettering: Tt has a lot of meanings, but the most important is private ;-)
RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Matteo: There’s one more already planned. It’s a TORET (pronounced turèt), which means, in our dialect “small bull”. It’s a typical small fountain you can find in several spots in Torino, my hometown. It’s one of Torino’s symbols and, as I love my hometown, I’d want to have this symbol under my skin. I don’t a have a plan as I never planned this stuff: when there’s something that comes up to my mind, I do it :-)
RoD: Have all your tattoos been done by one tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose the tattoo artist? In addition, who draws your sketches?
Matteo: No, I went to several tattoo artists. Most of my tattoos have been done by a cool friend from Aosta: her name’s STY. She’s an amazing artist and a cool friend as well: I think it’s about time to ask her for a new one! ACE has been done by an Irish artist called Danny Bullman: I know him since some years and he’s an impressive artist. He’s also a cool singer in an Austrian Rock N Roll band called Black Mariah, so that’s why I ask him to do that one: a rock star tattooed by a rock star. A couple of tattoos have been done by Reitattoo, a cool guy I know since many years: he’s so damn good especially in small and very small stuff. All particulars are so precise and his touch his amazing! So, an artist is a friend to me first, but I carefully chose them basing on their style, trying to understand which artist fits better with the tattoo I want. Concerning the sketches: some of them have been done by the same artist, others have been done by a cool friend called Harry which is an artist too even if he doesn’t do tattoos (but I love his style!).
RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Matteo: Well, normally I talk with the tattoo artist. Yes, I talk a lot…I know! :-) When it’s possible, I like listening to some music too, but having a nice talking with the artist is something I really like and make me feel comfortable.
RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Matteo: No. No regrets at all. Till now at least :-)
RoD: What is your taboo in terms of tattoos? What kind of tattoo would you never get done and don’t like to see on other people?
Matteo: I don’t have any taboo. I mean, why should I? A tattoo is (or, at least, should be) something personal, something you do for yourself and not for other people. I think I’ll never do any political stuff, that’s for sure, but normally I don’t care what other people do: it’s their skin, not mine! :-)
RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire body art is addictive while others say it fails to meet the true definition of an addiction, simply calling it a passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Matteo: That’s an interesting question! Well, I’ve never thought it could be addictive, but, if I think about that now, I’d say so. I love tattoos and I don’t think I’m gonna stop having them. As I said before, I don’t have any plan… I’m just waiting for the next idea.
RoD: Last Year’s tattoos are a new trend; many people do not care about the meaning, they just want to have something coloured on the skin, to be in trend. Those people often just go into a tattoo salon and ask which drafts they have. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they produce consumer goods. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this situation?
Matteo: Unfortunately, you’ve just made the picture. For a lot of people tattoos don’t mean a thing. They want it because “it’s cool”, “it’s trendy” or, which is maybe the worst and stupidest reason, “ because all my friends got one”. Artists have to work, of course, so they have to make a lot of small stars, small lettering, names, dates of birth, roses, etc… I also have to say that there some “so called artists” which are not Artist with capital A: for these people it’s just an easy way to get money, but they don’t really care. They don’t have their own style. They draw those sketches knowing that they’ll be picked up by the next “I want a tattoo, what do you suggest for me” guy…poor!
RoD: I would like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos, too. Previously, many people believed that if you have a tattoo, you will be never be successful and will not find a "good" job. Have this state of mind and people's perceptions changed or are these prejudices still alive?
Matteo: I think that nowadays it’s a lot easier to go around tattooed without problems, but for sure there are still a lot of people that look at you thinking you’re a bad guy or an ignorant or a fuckin’ stupid. Maybe they’re the same people that believe to every word the TV news say or the same people that think that’s important to be “famous on social networks”. I don’t care about these people: I think you can easily understand which kind of person I am when you talk to me, not if you look at me only.
RoD: Which advice would you give to people who are going to get their first tattoo? How to choose a tattoo artist? Colour or black and white? Any practical advice?
Matteo: Choose wisely! Don’t do it only because it’s a fuckin’ trend. I’d suggest to go to a tattoo convention where you can see several artists and if you choose an international one, you may see artists from all over the world. Take a look at their style, not at their sketches…fuck that! You should have your idea clear in your mind, then the artist can draw a sketch basing on his style. All the other details are just about you…and don’t forget to Rock N Roll!!
PS: In all pictures I’m wearing a Dobermann t-shirt. it’s a super cool Rock N Roll band from Torino, ITALY. There’s no other “hidden” meanings, don’t worry!
Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Images courtesy Matteo Lassandro
Special: Artists and their Tattoos - Matteo “Teo” Lassandro (Rhythm Guitar) from Five Ways to Nowhere
- Written by: Daria Tessa
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