Friday, October 19, 2007

Atom Strange

On the way to work Thursday morning, I was passing through the Manhattan Mall from the subway whe I spotted a guy reading a paper at one of the tables on the bottom floor. This was peeking out from the bottom of his right sleeve of his t-shirt:

I walked up (after dodging a few commuters passing through the mall) and asked him if I could talk to him about his tattoo. He gestured to the empty chair opposite him and started chatting.
His name is Alex.

At this point, I had only really seen the bottom of what was a half-sleeve. The stars and black lightning blots were compelling enough to get me to stop. Then he pulled his sleeve up to his shoulder to reveal the whole of the piece:

The majority of the piece was done by Scott, who used to work at Dare Devil Tattoo on Ludlow Street. The bolts were inked in later at Venus Modern Body Arts on East 4th.

When I asked Alex what inspired this work, he said that he is a big science fiction fan, from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to more modern "hard" sci fi which has a deeper connection to hard scientific fact. I discussed my own appreciation of Philip K. Dick and talked about how, if you read too much of his work, you start to feel the author's reknowned paranoia, and it begins to affect the way one thinks. Here's a closer look at the piece:

I asked him about any other tattoos. He briefly flashed one on his upper left shoulder that he got when he was younger. He indicated that he was thinking of having it removed/covering it up and incorporating it into a themed piece spanning his back and connecting to the other sleeve.

He did have this tattoo on his inner forearm:

I assumed it to fit in with the sci fi theme, but he also indicated it referred to his band. Oh? What band?

He is in a band called Atom Strange.

He's the guy on the far left. I later learned he was the guitarist.

"What kinds of music do you like?" Alex asked.

I told him I liked pretty much everything that I used to say I liked everything but country, but then I discovered Lucinda Williams. He nodded in agreement. "Lucinda Williams is great," he added.

He reached into a bag and handed me Atom Strange's CD. The theme matched his tattoo. You can order the CD here. I''ll be reviewing it in the near future over on BillyBlog.

Here's a shot, not taken by me, in which you can see Alex and his tattoos in action:

I have listened to the CD once through and I like it, but will give it some more attention before writing about it in detail. Alex said that some people compare them to early Stone Temple Pilots. I certainly see (and hear) why.

Anyway, thanks much to Alex for letting me interrupt his breakfast and paper on Thursday morning.

You can hear samples and see the band profile on their MySpace page.

I reviewed the CD over on BillyBlog here.

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