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peterwaljus intro
Peter Waljus is the voice and guitar player of HIGHRIDE from Stockholm, Sweden. The band was formed in 2006 and plays a unique combination of Punk, Sleaze and Hard Rock. On 29th May 2020, the band has released the new album, ‘Excellence & Decadence’ which I really can recommend to all Punk fans. I found the artwork of the album simple but very excited and perfectly fitting to the release: a skeleton in crown with a bottle of champagne. Today, we want to talk about our main topic, because Peter has many tattoos to show.


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?
Peter: I was 18 or 19, so I guess it was around 2004. I did big black stars around my elbows. Kinda silly, but I felt like a total bad-ass.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Peter: Depends on how you count, but since my finger tattoos are the letters HIGHRIDE (my band name, for obvious reasons) I’d consider that as one tattoo. Got two ravens on my back, but they are quite far away from each other, so that has to be two, I guess. Got those done just because I think ravens look cool and are an important part of Viking mythology (I’m Swedish). Then I got a lot of random old school stuff on my arms like a python snake, a red rose, an angel, a succubus etc. I have the ether glass bottle from the Johnny Depp movie ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ that says “BAT COUNTRY” on my inner left bicep. A friend who thinks I’m kinda twisted did that for free like 10 years ago and said “this will suit you perfectly” - thanks Fredrik! I got the SOCIAL DISTORTION logo on my left leg, simply because they blew my mind when I saw them at a festival in Gothenburg 2009. I got a king’s crown on my neck because it’s probably the only crown I will ever own. I got “Master of Disaster” written over my chest, because that’s what I am, and it’s the title of a song off the HIGHRIDE debut album from 2013.

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RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Peter: There will always be more. I will be a beautiful corpse. No new ideas right now though. Maybe something on my face to draw attention from me getting older, haha.

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?
Peter: Hmm, let see: All are Stockholm studios. Tumppi (House of Pain), Fredrik (previously Studio Seven Tattoo), Yann Del-Villar (Studio Seven Tattoo), Daniel a.k.a Epic (Studio Epic Tattoo) and Jolly Johnny (I don’t remember the name of the studio). I can hardly draw a smiley face, so all sketches have been by the tattoo artists themselves, but I always have had an idea of what I want.

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RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Peter: I used to be on heavy painkillers for many years for my f*ucked up neck and back, so I used to take some of those right before getting tattooed. Last years I just deal with the pain.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?
Peter: No, never.

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?
Peter: There are plenty of tattoos I wouldn’t want on myself. But it’s up to each and everyone to do whatever they want with their own body.

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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?
Peter: Addiction is definitely the wrong word talking about tattoos, at least for the great majority of people that do get a lot of them. Using the word passion is probably more suitable. But maybe if you ask one of the few people who have every inch of their body covered with ink if they feel that they couldn’t have stopped even if they wanted to?

RoD: Currently, 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?
Peter: Some people just want someone’s piece of art on their skin because they like the art form and that particular tattoo artist's style - and therefore have a look in their portfolio to find something they like. There's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. If you wanna be an artist’s canvas for whatever reason - go ahead! If you wanna get stamped for life with something over-used and boring - do that too! We’re all gonna be dead sooner or later anyway.

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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?
Peter: I can only name one time having tattoos ever gave me a problem, and that’s when I wanted to get into a nightclub in Malmö in Sweden and the guy at the door said “no visible tattoos here” (neck and hands in my case). Strange guy. So I took my friends and we spent our money elsewhere. Sweden is probably the country with the most tattooed population, so if you act like that here you will eventually run out of business.

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?
Peter: Just do it, you can always get another one if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted! But on a more serious note: look around on the web for good studios and find an artist you like. Colour or black & grey is all up to you, but some artists prefer to work in just black & grey. And NEVER chose an artist because of the low price. Pay for quality and you won’t regret it.

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Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Peter Waljus

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