First of all, what gave you the amazing idea to do this?
A couple of days after the news broke I received an email from somebody asking if I could cover the lyrics “I am heaven sent” on a tattoo she had on her arm. She mentioned how the meaning had completely changed for her and how desperately she wanted rid of it. It got me thinking how many other people out there were feeling sick to their stomachs about this and the tattoos they have, so I posted on my Instagram story saying I’d like to help and would try to figure something out. I had an overwhelming response from people reaching out and decided the best thing to do would be to try and raise money for victims of sexual assault.
"I took solace in the music I loved, my musical heroes got me through these hard times with their words and to think later in life, finding out that they have been doing everything awful that was done to you, it’s heartbreaking."
I'd love to know about the day! What was the atmosphere like?
It was kind of quiet to be honest. I booked people in two hour slots to allow plenty of time with each person and not make them feel rushed. With it being prebooked appointments and not walk ins, it meant there wasn’t a big rush of people or anything, just nice and relaxed. I had a lot of interesting conversations with everyone about their experiences and what the band meant to them. It was quite emotional at times, but very positive. I tried to keep the conversations lighter because I didn’t want to dwell too much on the past or make the day feel too negative for people.
Can you share any stories from people that really stuck with you?
I had one client who was overall pretty quiet but at the end made it clear how much it meant to her and that she was trying not to cry. I said she’s welcome to and to let it out. Reactions like that are why I wanted to do this. Nobody should have to feel bad about any part of their body and being able to transform something bad into something good is a great gift to give people. It’s also the one I’ve had the biggest reaction to on social media and I feel like the power in the change shows through, especially as we replaced the old tattoo with the words “I belong to me”.
"Nobody should have to feel bad about any part of their body and being able to transform something bad into something good is a great gift to give people."
It was really tough. Especially as I gave priority to customers who have had their own experiences with sexual assault, all of whom said that Brand New’s music has helped them through it. I really feel a lot of empathy for how hard this has been for everyone.
Would you now warn people off getting band tattoos?
It’s a tricky one really! As I said, I have a lot on myself and plan to have more but it definitely makes me think a little harder. Even though it seems like so many people we put on pedestals are letting us down at the moment, it doesn’t make everyone bad. We have to have hope. If we limit what we do and how we express ourselves because we’re all afraid that everybody will disappoint us, that’s just a sad world to live in. I think we need to look up to more women but also have these conversations and create a world where men who have power know that it’s wrong to take advantage of anyone. Some people I tattooed said they’d never get band tattoos again whereas others said they would get more but be more cautious about who.
I’ve done six cover ups and raised £300. I hope that some more tattooists may be inspired to do the same, or that people may donate to rape crisis themselves anyway.
How did you feel at the end of the day?
I felt very drained both physically and emotionally. I was at the shop for 10 hours and had some heavy conversations and emotions throughout but overall I was really happy to have helped everyone. I was proud of the cover ups I did and how well they worked out.