You may have never touched a guitar a single day in your life, but I guarantee you know where "These goes to 11" comes from. The iconic line came from 1984's "This Is Spinal Tap." (Editor's Note: Apologies, our CMS will not allow us to put the umlaut over the N)
The Rob Reiner directed film may not have been the first mockumentary ever made, but it has become the gold standard for the genre. "This is Spinal Tap" does a truly impressive thing in the way it walks the line of mocking the rock and metal world, while simultaneously paying tribute to the heavy genre of music. This is accomplished thanks to the phenomenal performances and writing—plus a hell of a lot of improvisation—by Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. While the feckless rockers are most definitely the butt of the joke, they are treated with such tenderness that the viewer never feels as if they are laughing at them, but along with them as we all ponder the absurdities of life.
It all comes together beautifully in this scene, where Nigel Tufnel (Guest) brags about how loud his amplifier can go.
Tufnel's argument is simultaneously idiotic and logical. The numbers on those dials don't actually mean anything, Marshall isn't saying that 10 means it's at 10 decibels (obviously), they're just saying 10 is the loudest. Yet, Tufnel's retort of "It's one louder" makes so much sense on the surface, because, of course it is.
The influence "This Is Spinal Tap" has had on both the film and metal worlds cannot be understated. Bands like None More Black are named after quotes from the film and even J.K. Rowling was inspired by the horrid fates suffered by a series of the band's drummers when she wrote "Harry Potter."
And, as you should have guessed, there are plenty of Spinal Tap-related tattoos out there. But we wanted to do more than just celebrate the film on 11/11, but the whole genre of heavy metal as well. So crank it up to 11 and rock out to these metal tattoos.
Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper
Ronnie James Dio
Type O Negative
Black Label Society
System of a Down
Yeah, we know, we missed roughly 1,000 good bands. Have a favorite that got left out? Let us know! Have a rad metal tattoo that you think we should see? Blow us up on social with it!