Here at Inked there are two things we love more than anything—tattoos (obviously) and loud music we can scream along to. Dead Tired falls right in the center of the Venn diagram for us. Not only are they a kickass band with riffs for days, but guitarist Franz Stefanik is also a phenomenal tattooer. In preparation of having our faces melted off by the release of "Satan Will Follow You Home" on July 8th, we spoke with Stefanik about all things hardcore and tattooing.
Let's start off with the easy one, you have a new record coming out in July, can you tell us a little about it?
Yeah, totally! Last March through June we spent some time recording a new record. It was a weird time to decide to record a record, however a bunch of us were off work and had the time to shift our focus on something positive and to distract ourselves from the outside world. Utilizing the talents of guitar player Marco Bressette and his studio that we have called “Deadquarters,” we decided to just go for it and do it all ourselves. Sparks (Marco) and myself were there everyday working on stuff. He even showed me how to do a bunch of stuff along the way. Which made it great when recording his parts as I could man the board so he could focus on riffin’ riffs. A group effort of songwriting and ideas all laid out and pieces together as a band collectively.
What were some of the specific influences that informed this new album?
The songwriting process was a little more of a “wear our influences on our sleeves” kinda thing. From the love of sonic obsession of music gear and guitar nerd stuff, to riffs that stick in your head and make you bob your head while walking the grocery store aisles, to taking influences from the different spread of bands we listened to. I feel like we really sculpted the Dead Tired sound in a new and more mature sounding direction.
The artwork and title track, “SWFYH,” was based off of a dream George had and shared with us as a band. Figured what better way to immortalize a wild and disturbing dream than to put it into song format. George has such a way with lyrics that each song stands on its own expressing current topics and frustrations. Do yourself a favor and read each song’s lyrics in the record liners, it makes each song blossom in a new way.
When was the album written and how did the pandemic affect everything you have going on with Dead Tired?
We had bits and pieces of stuff for a few songs done pre-pandemic. However some songs kinda shaped into what they became as we were approaching the recording and even in the studio as we were tracking. We recorded everything to a click track as we parted ways with our previous drummer. Recording to a click left us some wiggle room and made it easy to send off to Ian Romano who played drums on the new record. It was wicked getting tracks back and hearing the songs come alive.
I know that things are a little different up in Canada than they are down here, but have you been able to play shows? Are there plans for touring?
We had to cancel everything on the books last year, and with the new year approaching and not knowing when we would be allowed to play, we put a pause to booking shows at the time. However, we are back in the swing of starting to book stuff again.
With our record coming out and the new Alexisonfire record coming out kinda shrunk our window of availability. Arranging the lives of five grown ups with work and outside of work schedule can be tricky, however we got a giant six foot calendar for the jam space to block off availability. So cooking up some fun stuff in between Alexis tours and regular life events. We shall rip soon enough.
When did you get into punk rock? Which band was that entryway for you?
Punk and metal have been a huge part of my life as far as I can remember as a small kid. Like many people similar in age, the first record I purchased was Green Day’s “Dookie” at That's Entertainment in St. Catharines. Quickly then the flood gates opened up and I became obsessed with finding new and old bands, and it was all downhill from there.
How did you get into art?
Been doing it beyond my memories. My parents have art saved from before I could even walk [laughs].
When did you first become interested in tattooing?
Once I started going to shows and seeing what a person in a band “looked” like. I knew I wanted to have them all and thought to myself I could totally do that.
How difficult is it to balance being in a band with being a tattoo artist?
It's actually pretty easy now. The early days of tattooing I quit playing music and only focused on learning the craft and trying to put all my energy into tattooing. Once I felt comfortable to divert energy back into music, I knew I needed that as a part of my life too. Now after tattooing for 14 years I don't feel as guilty doing other things that are so important to me.
Creating my own work schedule and running my own shop allows me to do whatever the hell I want to do, so I now just block off time out of my schedule. The way I book myself is on a monthly basis—I open the books on the first Tuesday of each month, book the month in the morning then close it off until the next month. Doing so allows my schedule to be incredibly flexible and open on a month's notice. I love booking that way!
Have you always been interested in traditional tattooing? Or did it take some time to find your signature style?
I was originally into skateboard art (Santa Cruz/Powell/anti hero) and inspired by band artwork (Raymond Pettibone) as well as comics (Charles Burns, Jeff Smith, Mike Mignola). Yet once I started tattooing and getting into tattoos I quickly migrated towards American traditional tattooing.
In the early years I was into recreating old flash and then kept on forgetting my roots in other styles and influences. Then I started to just think less about being an "old school tattooer" and just drawing what feels natural and that's how my style where I find myself now was born. Don't try to do something that you aren't; draw what comes natural. Best decision I ever made in tattooing.
My guess is that people hit you up for work all the time while on the road, do you have any wild tattoo stories from tour?
I like to separate my life of tattooing and playing in a band. We use our time playing shows as an excuse to hang out as friends, enjoy each other's company, go for nice meals and have some drinks at the end of each night. If we were a full time touring band it would be easy to tattoo on the road and I would probably do so to scratch the itch of my love of tattooing. Until then, weekend shredaways are for the boys!
If you had to choose between music and tattooing, which would you do?
Luckily given my global reach of both I don't think I would ever have to. I love playing music and I love tattooing. Like most tattooers and musicians, I hate being told what I can and can't do. I get to do whatever I decide and nothing will drive a wedge in between the two.
Have you done any Dead Tired tattoos?
Oh yeah! I have done a bunch now, maybe like 15 or so? It's great tattooing fans of the music you create and even better when you can give them something special direct from the source. The easiest way to chill is to come get tattooed!