Black Table Are Literal Brothers (and Sisters) in Arms
Some people have cool tattoos. Some people have stupid tattoos. Band tattoos are our favorite intersection of this particular Venn diagram. In today's Scarred for Life, we ask guitarist Ryan Fleming of upstate New York progressive blackened metallers Black Table why he (and his bandmates) ink-mortalized his own band's logo.
So, why this band? What about this band compelled you to get this tattoo?
Well, it’s Black Table, the band I’m a part of. On our first big tour, we all decided to get our logo/glyph to take a moment and make a declaration of solidarity, commitment, and celebration of all the work and time it took to get to that point. It was an emotional day. The band means so much to us all in different ways, and we were proud to declare [it] by giving up a few inches of skin.
Tell us more about the tour. When was it and who did you play with?
In 2013 we went out for 17 days on what was named “The Great Southern Heist Tour.” We ran a contest and let people submit possible names for it, and we picked one and sent the winner a few limited edition things. The route was based around a couple shows we landed at SXSW, which was a big deal for us. We ended up booking a bunch of dates with Vattnet Viskar and VYGR, which was amazing; those guys really gave us a lot of help to get us going.
So, best stories on tour? Well, here are the top three. First, the second show in NJ: Mers [Sumida] didn’t realize she flipped her Line 6 amp into bypass, and played the entire set with straight, unaffected, clean guitar — crushingly funny. Second, the day after, we were in Virginia, driving around killing time, and all of a sudden we noticed the front tire wobbling. We stopped to have it checked and found out that the bearings had fused, and the wheel had basically snapped off, and was being held on by almost nothing. We played the show in VA that night, and the next day at the crack of dawn, we drove to Maryland for a spare part at a junkyard, came back, got it fixed and still made the show that night in North Carolina. Third, I was driving out of Louisiana and we were low on gas, so I took a random exit thinking I’d hit a gas station. Nope. I hit a 30-mile bridge over swampland. We ran out of gas and got stuck in 100 degree heat. Jay [Cardinell], who was filling in on bass, found an old hose and tried to ciphon some gas from a guy’s tank, and inhaled mud and gas, I thought he was going to die. After a few hours, we finally got someone to help. That day sucked. The tour was full of oddities. It was kind of amazing.
Where is your Black Table tattoo located? Why did you choose that spot?
Mine is on the inside of my left wrist. I’m not sure I had much thinking behind it; [I] accepted that I liked the way the shape looked in that spot, and it balanced my single Japanese three-quarters sleeve I had on my opposite arm done by Kaz from redtailedink.com. Since then, I finally had Kaz do the other arm, so all my strategizing is now out the window.
How long did it take and how much did it cost?
We stopped at Deluxe Tattoo in Chicago while on tour. It was just a simple black ink logo; it probably took about 15 minutes. I couldn’t tell you what it cost, but I remember not knowing how much cash I handed over, and had to ask the artist to count it to make sure I didn’t give her some obscene tip. Pretty embarrassing, honestly, but hey, we were broke as fuck and I had my eye on a Kuma’s Corner burger for later that night — which I never got. [Laughs]
What's your favorite Kuma's burger?
We have played in Chicago a few times now, and I’ve still never made it to that damn place. But! When I do finally make it, I’m going to get a “Black Sabbath.” I love blackened burgers. I’ll skip the burgers with fruit — the idea of that makes me cringe.
Have you shared your tattoo with the world via social media?
It’s been posted on our social sites. And I see these guys all the time, so we are completely blind they even exist anymore.
What do your friends think of this tattoo? Do your friends have similar band tattoos or even one of the same band?
I think at first people who didn’t know what it was thought we were forming a little cult of some kind. But our friends all have ink, so a little more doesn’t really stir up conversation. Also, the design is pretty simple, so it doesn’t jump out at you as something more than just a tattoo. I’m sure if I had a Papa Roach logo on my wrist, that would be a different story.
Any regrets whatsoever?
Not one. They mean the world to me.
Does anyone you’ve met have a tattoo related to your band?
I think someone sent us a pic once, but we couldn’t tell if it was real. I think anyone who would go to that level to show support and appreciation is simply amazing. I couldn’t help but feel honored by the gesture.
Is it cool or lame to get a tattoo of your own band?
Lame as the day is long. I’ll probably have another one before I finish this interview.
What's your favorite band tattoo that isn't obviously a band tattoo?
I actually have four Black Table tattoos now. We get them as a group whenever we do a big tour together. It’s become part of our ritual. I think my favorite is the latest. We just completed a two-week European tour in support of our upcoming album, Obelisk, and Mers [Sumida], our vocalist/guitarist, illustrated a small glyph that represented the album and our inspiring journey through the many countries we visited. It’s very abstract [and] primal, and I love it.
Black Table's Billy Anderson-produced debut full-length Obelisk will be released October 14 on Silent Pendulum.