METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Chris. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. How are you? How are things going so far this year? By the looks of everything you’ve done, and with what you’re up to now, you are a very busy man?
CHRIS 51: Hi! I am doing rad, thanks for asking. Yeah, I have been called the hardest-working man in the tattoo industry by my peers, and now I am entering my third industry (music) after spending the last couple in the Hollywood TV industry. In other words, I don’t sleep much haha. MPAP: This interview was intended to talk about a huge event you have coming up, but after doing some interview question research on you, there’s a hell of a lot more we could talk about than just this Headbangers Convention you’ve got going on? You’ve done a lot up until this point haven’t you?
CHRIS 51: LOL, yes, I like to stay busy. I like to try everything. Actually, it’s more like my passion for certain things fuels me so uncontrollably that I’m left with no choice but to follow my dreams with everything I got! Up to this point I have accomplished quite a lot, but I am nowhere near done. I started everything owning my own record store and playing in bands. When that market bottomed out I decided to follow my other passion, art. 18 years of tattooing later I have done everything from making my own tattoo ink company (which was the 3rd largest at time of sale) to creating my own reality TV show on A&E called Epic Ink. I conceptualized, cast, starred in and helped produce it. I then created a tattoo tour called the Geeksterink Legends that tattoos as an attraction inside comic and entertainment cons. That has become the largest traveling tattoo tour in the world. I then made a TV show (out later this year) about that tour. After appearing as a celebrity and tattooing at over 150 of these cons, I decided it was time to put on my very own, but I wanted to do something different and new, that was desperately needed in the music industry. MPAP: Taken from your website 'Bio', and it states: You wrote columns for three major tattoo magazines, has published five books on everything from football trivia to poetry. You tattoo all around the world, teach business and marketing seminars, is an All-Star father, realized and cast the A&E show Epic Ink. He created and runs the Geeksterink Legends Comic con Tattoo Tour, the biggest of its kind in the world.
It sounds like there aren’t enough days during the hours for you is there? Do you ever get any rest? Or is all that rest to you and you’d have it no other way?
CHRIS 51: Haha. What is rest? I will do that when I am dead. I want to leave a legacy for my children and set an example that you can do anything and everything in life if you are just willing to work your ass off for it. I despise laziness and have no respect for anyone who is. I have always said that hard work can beat talent any day. Plus, writing all these books and comics is how I relax. Writing is an escape from reality. I am sure many musicians can relate to that. MPAP: Before we talk more about Headbangers Con, let me ask you this? Why do you want to add more to your plate? I’m sure this is no walk in the park to accomplish and have happen?
CHRIS 51: Yeah it is a total bitch creating an entire con by yourself! The administrative work behind the scenes is completely overwhelming. Creating celebrity contracts, vendor applications, applying for permits and temp liquor licenses, asking for sponsorship money, recruiting volunteers and advertising & marketing campaigns are all just the beginning before you can send one Instagram message to a celebrity asking them to attend this thing nobody has ever heard of in a platform that they don’t understand. Then, 500 messages later you get one reply and it makes it all worth it. You have to have unyielding passion for Metal to do this…and listen to a lot or it while drinking Starbucks to keep you going late nights haha. MPAP: Am I assuming there is no rest for you anytime in the coming months? No vacation to Cabo San Lucas, or off to California to relax in the sunshine with the family anytime soon, until the dust settles after November 11th? Is that safe to say?
CHRIS 51: Haha, probably safe to say! There will def be a Universal Studios trip planned for afterwards. I would say it’s for the kids but who am I kidding, I love that place more than them lol. MPAP: So, this plate that you’ve piled more on to is called Headbangers Con. Let’s talk about it and find out what it’s all about and get everyone reading this informed? Headbangers Con is a 2-day event where music fans can meet and mingle with Rock-n-Roll stars of yesterday and today in a comic con style setting that's entirely metal and will be held in Portland, Oregon, November 10th, and 11th. If you’re a metalhead, how fucking cool is this?
CHRIS 51: Headbangers Con is the first and only event dedicated strictly to Rock & Metal Culture. I wanted a way for fans to meet lots of their inspirations and icons all in one place, especially those who maybe couldn’t afford an expensive 5-minute after festival VIP greeting or travel hundreds of miles to the closest concert that comes nowhere near our area. MPAP: There’s going to be a lot of 'Slayerrrrrrr' screams, and endless metal horns held up in the air during this weekend?
CHRIS 51: Shouldn’t that happen all day every day just as a normal part of society etiquette anyway! MPAP: This is something significant that you have planned out? We know you have a tattoo shop located in Springfield, called Area51 Tattoo and Piercing, and it’s just a little over 100 miles south of Portland, but why did you choose Portland for this inaugural event to have happen at? I’m of course glad you didn’t have it anywhere else, but wouldn’t you think California, or even New York, would have drawn a more significant market of people? Or is Portland just a good starting point since you live in the state?
CHRIS 51: I chose Portland because this is my home and I am a loyal Oregonian! Portland needs an event like this, and unbeknownst to a lot of people, Portland actually has a shitload of metal fans and a great scene for it, we just get overlooked by a lot of tours. I wanted the first show to be here to make a statement that we can make this work anywhere, and Metal fans will come out no matter where we are. MPAP: (Side note:) If you’re a fan of the television show The Simpsons, you need to head on over to Chris’s shop. It's unbelievable the number of toys you’ll see there among other things. CHRIS 51: To say that I am a just a fan is a severe understatement! I actually have plans to open a Simpsons Museum in a couple years, for reals! I just might take my collection to GuinnessWorld Records soon. I have seven Simpsons tattoos on me, and I have probably done the most Simpsons tattoos in the world, I am known for it, and I am proud of it. MPAP: Let’s continue for a moment longer and still talk about Oregon? How long have you lived here and what brought you to the Pacific Northwest to set your shop up at?
CHRIS 51: My family moved here from Florida when I was six because my dad was offered a good plumbing job. I moved back there once, a lifetime ago, but will never move from here again. It’s the most accepting place in this country. Nobody gives a shit what color you are, what brand you wear or what car you drive. Plus, it’s the real home of The Simpsons. MPAP: Now let’s start to get into the meat and potatoes of this interview. On our way to the heart of it all you could say? Headbangers Con in a way was your wife’s idea, correct? Explain how it all happened and came together? She must have planted a bug in your ear, and then you grabbed it and forged on with the idea?
CHRIS 51: So, I had Morgan Rose from Sevendust at a Walker Stalker (Walking Dead) con for an episode of my new reality TV show. He was in awe of the surroundings and couldn’t believe the crowds. My wife took notice of this. I also tattoo Charlie Benante from Anthrax, and he’s an avid con-goer too. After continuously seeing Morgan’s and Charlie’s excitement, and knowing my passion for all things metal, my wife mentioned that we should put on our own convention just for music. She said that if the musicians love it, and fans like me love it, then it could work since I have the experience of appearing at over 150 cons. I had the reputation in the industry to get things done and make people listen, I had the celebrity and Rock-N-Roll clientele for support and connections, and she knew I had the unyielding drive and Pitbull attitude to make it happen. That was all it took. She planted the seed and it exploded in my brain. Now she’s fucked, because it’s my whole life haha. MPAP: Like you just mentioned, you got some help from your good friend Morgan Rose, the drummer for Atlanta, Georgia’s metal band, Sevendust? Along with him being there, what is his involvement, what is his role in all of it?
CHRIS 51: Let me go on record of saying this publicly, I fucking love Morgan Rose. He is an amazing human being. I met him through my tattoo artist friend Brett Stuhler who brought him to one of my shows to tattoo. By the end of that con, Morgan was actually tattooing his signature on me for an episode of my newest TV show we were filming at the time. I already had a Sevendust tattoo from a decade prior, so I was freaking out on the inside like a little school girl to actually have the real deal tattooing me! Since then we immediately became besties. I actually called him one day after my wife and I thought this whole thing up, and I offered to just give him a minority ownership share for his help and guidance. If he tells you he does much work for it, he is lying LOL, but he is always there when I need him, and he gets all the important shit done! MPAP: Tell us about your wife for a moment, if you don’t mind? She deserves a high five from every metalhead in the state of Oregon you might say?
CHRIS 51: She is the best person on this planet with the biggest heart. She is definitely a better person than me. I try and follow her example on selflessness and generosity and don’t even come close. And, she has the patience and understanding to let me fly and do these types of things, even though in the end it takes away a lot of time and attention from her. She is a fucking angel by nature, not by effort. I can’t even comprehend how it’s possible most of the times. MPAP: Part of the Headbangers Con motto I guess you could say is, ‘fans always get to see the bands…but do they ever get to meet them? How and where can they get autographs and photos with their favorite Rock stars of yesterday and today?’ I know you’re doing this for everyone, but is there a small part of you that made this Headbangers Con because you also wanted to meet some of these rock stars also?
CHRIS 51: Of Course! (haha). Like I said before I am fueled by my passion, not money, and at my core I am a fan of all things Metal! I am a fanboy at heart. I will pose for pictures and get autographs with every single one of my guest’s backstage for my own private collection. You better believe I will take advantage of that shit lol! I want everyone to experience the feeling of meeting their heroes or inspirations. MPAP: Do you see others traveling far and near to come to this? Obviously, you’re a businessman and your goal to have as many people attend, but would you be just as happy if only one person walked in the door and you made their dreams come true by meeting and getting their picture taken with some of their heroes, along with getting their guitar they bought autographed?
CHRIS 51: Hell yes people will travel! I would. I would hitchhike in some questionable tear-drop windowed kidnapper van to make it to this if I was in a different position. And, no I won’t be happy to make just one person’s Metal dreams come true, fuck that, I want to make everyone’s! I am here to change the face of Metal in the uneducated public’s eye. I want to help make it popular with the younger generation again and nostalgic and tangible for the old, and I won’t stop until I do. This is a platform that Metal doesn’t know yet, but lots of other genres do and it has helped them flourish. This is the first of its kind and it will set a new mold. I am gonna shove Rock and Metal music up the asses of the masses! MPAP: Getting further into how it all came together, was this something that happened overnight, or has this taken months, and months or even years to finally get the blueprints off the table and into the fire?
CHRIS 51: Seeing as how I am so busy with my other companies this has taken a while to come to fruition for sure. I started planning for it while I was filming my new TV show traveling around the world in early 2017. I didn’t announce it until early 2018. Between finishing my children’s book and comic, coaching my kids football and baseball teams, and still tattooing full time, it has been a stay-up all night and day off roller coaster. I have been doing most all of it completely alone; from the administrative end to celebrity recruiting side. From studying how to write my own contracts to graphic design, it has been an exhausting labor of love. My friend Dave Jones who owns OEM Media Group in Portland has been a huge help educating me on the business side of the music industry and has really stepped in to help me nail down talent and live bands. MPAP: Let’s back up for a moment and talk about that help you got? How did you end up meeting Morgan Rose?
CHRIS 51: I met him through one of my artists on my tour, Brett Stuhler who has tattooed him for some time. Morgan actually signed my leg under my old 7D tattoo and then Brett tattooed it on an episode of my show. Morgan and I hit it off and since that day have become best friends. You know when you meet somebody, and you feel like you have known them your whole life…well that’s how I feel about Morgan. I love that dude unconditionally. MPAP: So how did you go about asking him to be a part of this Headbangers Con idea? How does that conversation, even begin?
CHRIS 51: I didn’t give him much of a choice lmao. I called him up one day and said, this is what I am doing, and I need you to be the face of it and help add legitimacy to it amongst your peers. I will make you part owner and you will come have fun and we will make this in to something huge together. He was flattered and might have even shed a tear. It was over the phone, so I am not 100% on that, but I think it happened. I did hear a sniffle. MPAP: Did he think it was a crazy cool idea at first, but it would be impossible to get off the ground since this was all new? I’m sure there were enormous obstacles to get over first before you could even begin to start planning things, right?
CHRIS 51: Honestly, he did not hesitate. I think he knows me well enough to know I won’t let this fail. I literally dove in head first and balls-deep and just started designing logos and we were off. MPAP: Once he was on board, what was the next step? Did you both hit your Rolodex’s and start to call everyone in the music and tattoo industry? CHRIS 51: We tried going through his old tour manager and some mutual friends, but we were going nowhere fast. Then he went on tour and I was left jerking off to nothing and I’m not the most patient guy either. So, I said fuck it and literally sent out over 200 Instagram messages to musicians I liked, inviting them to take a chance for me and Morgan, and Rock music in this new type of event. One by one I started getting replies and I was off. MPAP: So, let’s mention Headbangers Con guest list so far. Of course, Morgan will be there, but also scheduled to be a part of it is Eddie Odjea (Twisted Sister), Dan Chandler (Evans Blue), John Tempesta (The Cult, Helmet, White/Rob Zombie), and Wayne Lozinak (Hatebreed). You’ve also got Bobbi Brown, who is famous for being in Warrant’s music video "Cherry Pie", that aired on MTV back in the 1990s. Alongside her, you also have Derek Riggs, who invented Iron Maiden’s 'Eddie' mascot. And then, just recently, Jose Mangin, who is a host on Sirius XM’s satellite stations Octane, and Liquid Metal is going to be a part of it. This is quite the guest list so far, isn’t it?
CHRIS 51: Yes, it is. I am very proud of this. I didn’t want just all front men with the biggest names. I wanted a unique assortment from different genres, and an equal number of singers, guitarists, bassists and drummers. I want every fan and aspiring musician to get to know and learn from these musicians that inspire and motivate them. I also want to feature the culture of older rock with some celebrities that may have influenced it or spark up childhood nostalgia. MPAP: And that’s just scratching the surface, there’s many more that I didn’t mention, and you still have many more to announce soon? Can you give us any hints of who else will be a part of Headbangers Con?
CHRIS 51: OMG I am in talks with so many guys. It’s getting easier now that some have taken the leap with me. Others see their peers signing up and trust in it more. The hardest thing is that so many musicians either don’t know their tour dates 6 months out or are already committed on a tour or in the studio. So many have said they want to come but are unable to because of that reason. I am talking big names; like System Of A Down, Disturbed, Lamb of God and more. MPAP: Do you have someone on your bucket list you can at least mention? CHRIS 51: Dave Mustaine, Nikki Sixx, Dave Grohl and Mike Patton. I would be walking around with a fanboy boner all day. I would shit my pants. MPAP: So, this event is not only just meeting metal musicians or artists; there’s going to be plenty more to do and see? Two other things that go hand in hand with metal music is, tattoo’s, and beer? Tell us what else is going to be going on that you want to mention?
CHRIS 51: Yeah, this is a whole event. There will be live Q&A panels on the main stage all day, hosted by Jose Mangin and myself. Fans get to ask the questions too. Everything you have ever wanted to know about sex; drugs and Rock-N-Roll. I will be first in line to ask haha. There will also be over 50 vendors, from vinyl record dealers to collectibles/toys to local bands promoting their music. There will be three full bars! There will even be a kid’s area with coloring contest, crafts and a guitar pick scavenger hunt; where the kids can collect picks around the con from staff, vendors and even celebs. I have actually put in every contract that the celebs must bring some of their guitar picks for the kids. The local School of Rock will have their children’s band performing live during the con too. My Geeksterink Legends Tattoo Tour will be there doing tattoos. They were the topic of my latest reality TV show, and it’s the best group of artists you have ever seen. Ryan McCombs’s (from Soil) wife Chantale is even on the tour and will be tattooing there! To top it all off, there will be a live show exclusive to the con, at the Bossanova Ballroom on Saturday night. MPAP: Continuing on about kids are more than welcome at Headbangers Con, but it must also be mentioned that there is a bit of a warning? There will be profanity, drinking, and scantily-clad models correct?
CHRIS 51: Yes. There will be plenty to keep the kids entertained so the adults can have lots of fun. As a father of three, I purposely planned this, because I know what a pain in the ass it can be when you are having fun somewhere and the kids keep nagging to leave haha. But, don’t bring them if you are uptight and a lame-ass parent who doesn’t want their kid to have a little culture and exposure to real life. My kids will be there, and rockin proudly! But I will not apologize to parents who are upset and bitching about what their kids saw or heard when they brought them willingly to a Metal show. That’s why there is a warning on the website. So, be cool with it all and be a cool parent and bring them. MPAP: Other things to mention are, there will be a Red-Carpet Press Gala on Friday, November 9th held at the Bossanova Ballroom. For all that attends, here you can welcome all the musicians and artists that are a part of Headbangers Con. Then the next following two days is when all the action will happen. By any chance is this when you start to begin to stress out maybe? Or are you a relaxed guy and everything will fall into place and be just fine? CHRIS 51: To clarify, the Red-Carpet Press Gala will be only for those who purchase the certain VIP packages that include it, otherwise it is closed to the general public. I have to limit the crowd and exposure to the celebrities as to not overwhelm them right when they get in. Plus, the point is for them to be able to talk to press and do interviews since they won’t have much time to during the event. As far as stressing out goes, I don’t really. I just get in to total work mode with blinders on to the world around me. I have a great team I have assembled, like the Avengers of Metal. I have to make sure I delegate and have faith in everyone surrounding me. MPAP: You, Morgan, and I’m sure many others, have apparently put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this? What’s next? Have you even begun to think about the day after November 11th yet? Will there be a Headbangers Con again in Portland, or perhaps in another city sometime soon?
CHRIS 51: I was thinking about a second and third show before I even secured the location for this first one. Portland will definitely be an annual thing because it’s my home. We are strongly considering Orlando in 2019, and Sacramento/San Fran area, and Austin are on my radar! By 2020 I hope to have a dozen locations! MPAP: Is there something you can say you’ve learned since this all began that you might do differently next time around? Or is there anything else you want to add to it next time that you couldn’t do for this one?
CHRIS 51: I just wish that more sponsors could grasp the magnitude of this and jump on board. More sponsors means more money. More money means more guests and more fun. I want to bring in everyone’s favorite musician, but it’s just not possible…yet! MPAP: Before we wrap things up and bring this interview to a close, let’s make sure everyone knows all the essential details. The event will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Lloyd Center ballrooms and exhibit hall in Portland, Oregon on November 10th and 11th. And if you didn’t get enough of all the debauchery, there is an exclusive live concert and after party after the first day of the Headbangers Con.
On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Chris, for being a part of this interview and making Headbangers Con happen. I see this Headbangers Con taking off and going very far. We will definitely look forward to November.
Any last words you’d like to say to all your fans and the headbangers out there?
CHRIS 51: Thanks guys. I truly appreciate the support, it has been overwhelming from the start. Nothing better to see than all these Rock and Metal fans coming together and getting along under a common passion for something much bigger than us. Hopefully this will be a new outlet to spark some metal culture in the younger generation and get them from playing so many video games and back into playing in so many bands! Keep it heavy, keep it metal and keep it real!