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kevinstorm introThe project FLEETBURNER was instigated by Dutch guitarist / songwriter Kevin Storm and realized with a choice of renowned musicians from the international world of Metal. This amazing album was released on 25th of September. And I am really happy that Kevin has found some time to talk with me not about the music but about his tattoos.

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?
Kevin:My first tattoo was a design I created myself, of 4 planets aligning. I was roughly 18 years old back then. It’s terrible but it meant a lot at the moment and it was used as a logo for the first band I played in.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Could you please tell us their story?
Kevin:I have seven. I can tell the general meaning of most. A lot of my tattoos have extremely personal intentions, and I use them as symbols to navigate through life, but I can definitely explain most of it in a way others will understand its general meaning. I have always made my own designs when making tattoos. I think it’s strange when people get something that is not distinctly personal tattooed on their body. I can fully understand if people need help with drawing something they have in mind, but I never understood those people who walk into a tattoo shop, flip through a few pages and say: “I think I’ll have this one”.

So, in order of having them done, after that first tattoo, I had another one on my hip that is a combination between Thor’s hammer, Neptune’s trident and a magic Sigil I created. This was long before and of the superhero movies were popular and way before any of this popular interest in stuff like that. It had to do with my last name being Storm and having grown up near the ocean. After that I had the band around my right arm. I guess that’s the one most people see and recognise me by, as it’s the only one you always see when I’m playing guitar onstage. I see a ton of people with rings tattooed around their arms now, but I am ignorant about this, so forgive me for that. My design is a band with two dragon tails that wraps around my arm twice. Seen from the inside, they resemble a road closed off from both sides, with only one direction. “Sometimes when you feel lost, you feel like you have nowhere to go”, and then if I turn my arm, the arrows point in all directions. For me this symbolises if you carry on long enough, anything is possible.

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Then my left arm, the bigger drawing is also another Sigil I created myself. It stands for “knowing the question is the key to the answer”. It represents these unnamed negative thoughts we can all have and I see a lot of people struggle with negativity. I have always been a person who confronts those thoughts head on and wants those questions answered. I analyse my own sentiments critically, probably a lot more than others do, and it keeps my path clear. “Why am I feeling this” can give clear insights to life and others if you can be truly honest and direct with yourself. It’s also guitar shaped, because for a lot of the questions I had in my life, the guitar has proven to be the answer, on my wrist is the key to Atlantis. It means if everything around you crumbles, you always have the key to an escape. I believe in symbols and the power they hold. Keeping a positive mindset is not about being stupidly happy, it’s also about confronting the opposite. It’s not so much a symbol for me, but more for a wish that I have for the world around me. This is the only tattoo that I hardly see myself, but others see it always. This place on your wrist is seen more by others than by you.

Then the red circle I have under the coins around my neck. These are I’ching coins. They are used as a tool to tell your future and grant you wisdom. You toss three coins. How they end up on the table has meaning. You create a hexagram with the outcome and this may help you in deciding your future path. I have spent years working on a graphic novel that was completely built on the book of I’ching, and have worn the coins for a long time. I never take them off. But as you can see, I am wearing two, and the last coin is tattooed. This is because I believe that some things cannot and should never be changed. And that the last deciding factor with anything in life is and should always be you. The last tattoo I had done is the one on my wrist. It says “there’s no nothing”. And even though the wrist is a place a lot of people associate with suicide, especially when words like that are there, but it has nothing to do with that. It’s from a book called Jerusalem, by Alan Moore, who has been a very strong influence on me, and deals with four-dimensionality, eternity and what I call the void. It means something new in every situation I find myself in and is the one I see when I play guitar. It keeps me levelled, grounded and also motivates me to work harder.

RoD: Have you already got all the tattoos that you wanted or will you get some new ones in the future?
Kevin: I think there will be others. I have no plans at the moment, but I will probably get more at some point. I can see myself having a tattoo related to FLEETBURNER, which is an album I just released that has very special meaning to me.

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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?
Kevin:No, they are all done in different places across the world. I draw my own tattoos, and they are deliberately simple and iconic, so that I can have others tattoo them. I draw a lot myself, so I made all designs myself, but I would not want anyone to make a realistic tattoo of anything on my body. I have tattoos for their meaning, for the landmarks in your life they can be, and believe them to be personal. I don’t want others out there judging me by something that they have their own references about. I see people with tattoos from ‘Lord Of The Rings’ or ‘Batman’, which is super cool, but it means something different for everyone. A Batman logo can mean “I overcame my own fears” to someone, and to his boss it can mean “oh so you’re like a 14-year-old”. That’s why I create my own.

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts, how do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Kevin:I’ve never really been bothered too much, I kind of space out and try to be in the moment. Like the pain is something you can get inside of and just allow. I don’t mind it, it’s very powerful especially if the tattoo really means something to you.

RoD: Do you regret getting tattooed sometimes?

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?
Kevin:Well, a lot of course. Offensive content, or just plain shallow designs that are meant purely for entertainment are not my thing. I can respect someone for having the “joie de vivre” to be able to do that, but it’s not for me.

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?
Kevin:No of course not. I think it’s nonsense, people can be addicted to literally anything in the world. I mean, if look on the internet and google any random word and add the word “addiction” you’ll probably find some idiot somewhere on the planet addicted to it, haha.

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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?
Kevin:I already answered this above.

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?
Kevin:I think it has changed and the younger generation is totally fine with tattoos but also that generation forgets that older people have a different frame of reference. I’m totally fine with tattoos, although it’s still strange to see a police officer with a cartoon tattoo, but hey, it’s everyone’s personal choice. I think there are still “job stopper” tattoos out there. Thinks in the face, or hands, or too dark will probably get you a “no” on your job application.

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?
Kevin: I would only say “have a reason”. If a tattoo means something to you can live with it for the rest of your life. You can see it as a landmark of something you later changed an opinion on, or just “remember when…”. But don’t get the logo of that last Netflix movie you saw. But hey, who am I?! The only rule with tattooing is and should be “it’s your body, you decide!”

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Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Daria Tessa
Pictures by Kevin Storm

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