Jeremy Spencer is drummer extraordinaire for Five Finger Death Punch, one of the principal and most beloved bands pushing heavy metal forward in the new millennium, and he is all about balance and symmetry. And, we're not talking about his battering ram playing. We're talking about his tattoos.
His arms and upper torso are covered and he is currently working on his sides. Eventually he will focus on his back for a full piece. Right now, his toned, washboard abs are a blank canvas and that way they shall remain, at least for the foreseeable future, but with good reason.
"I am leaving the stomach open for now and then I am going to do the entire back," Spencer said. "The reason that I am leaving my stomach open is because I just started getting my stomach back in shape. I don't want to tattoo my abs because I have them again! I will leave them bare for now."
He worked hard to get in shape and abs are tough to maintain. So, we don't blame him for waiting before he decides to go under the needle on his abs.
The shape and scope of his upper body tattoos evolved organically. "It just kind of developed. I started getting tattoos when I was 16," Spencer said. "I just started tattooing my sides. I was waiting for the right time and the right piece."
He is getting Oni masks, which are demonic Japanese veneers, on his sides. "They are symmetrical with fire on either side," he revealed.
There is not a lot of blank space on Spencer's chest or arms. That is due to no other reason than his personal desire for balance. That skin real estate developed the way it was supposed to -- because it was aesthetically pleasing for the drummer. "As it grew and developed, I decided I didn't like the look of being unbalanced," the skinsman said. "I filled space until it looked right to my eye. It was not deeply thought out. As long as I have canvas, I will fill it."
In the middle of his chest, you can see a rendering of the kit minder's instrument of choice.
"It's a double bass drum kit, decked out in spikes," he explained. It's an image that should be familiar to fans of his band, since it's one of the kits that he used to play while performing live. "I did that as an homage to my career," Spencer explained. "I still play double bass, but I change drum kits every tour. I want to do different styles and visuals for the fans."
Clearly, Jeremy Spencer is a visual artist on multiple levels.
Of all his tattoos, his favorites are on his hands, which he uses in his career as a skins smasher as well!
"My hands are my favorites," he said. "They both look like flesh ripped away, and you can see my skeleton underneath. That turned out the coolest. Zoltan [Bathory], our guitarist, was like, 'What's with the motorcycle accident tattoos?' when I got them. I was like, "Screw you." "It looks so cool, but I will keep trying to beat it with even cooler ones."
Spencer also has his neck and throat inked, something that he realized he could do because his band is one of the most successful working in hard rock today.
"It was a celebration of the fact that our band is fortunate enough to sell records in a day and age when people aren't selling records," he mused. "They are buying Five Finger Death Punch records! I was like, 'I don't think I am going to work at a bank anytime soon, so I am going to tattoo my neck now.'"
But make no mistake. It hurt. "Yes, it was terrible," he explained. "The sides hurt worse than the throat. The incessant wiping is brutal. I had my fingers done and that was incredibly painful. I was like, 'Dude, you have to hurry, but do a good job.' It was brutal pain."
While there is no unifying theme or overall story to his ink, Spencer does like Japanese art, namely those Oni masks, and monsters, and demons. "So I kind of did both. There is no theme. I got a fair share of each style. I like the look." he said.
Like most bands and artists, especially in rock, Five Finger fans get the band's logo inked on them. "We have fans get our logo and come to meet and greets and we sign them and they get the [signature] tattooed," he said. "I am, like 'Wow!' It is flattering and cool. I don't know that I would have done that as a kid. But I think it's great."
Spencer prefers not to get inked while touring, since life on the road is a dirty, sweaty, and not a one hundred percent sanitary existence. Despite the wealth of tattooists available in cities, he tours through. Spencer said, "I prefer [tattooing] when I am home, when I am clean and can heal, and not have to play drums. I have done it on the road, but I prefer it here with Rick Trip in Las Vegas."
As for FFDP, the band released two albums last year, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 and The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2. Each of the albums debuted at the lofty No. 2 post on the Billboard charts, a huge coup for rock music! "We worked hard for nine months and the fact that people buy heavy metal in 2013 and 2014 proves there is an audience for heavier music, and that it's not just about pop and hip-hop," Spencer said.
The band will spend the next months touring the planet in support of the records.
Also, the drummer is issuing a tome in the fall. "I do have a book coming out in the fall," he said. "It's an autobiography called Deathpunch'd. I've been working hard on it, so I will be promoting that and touring. It's a story of redemption and my struggle with addiction, the dream of making it in the music business, and achieving that dream. It's a book of hope!"
It's all about balance and symmetry for Jeremy Spencer -- in life, behind the kit, and with his ink.
Photography by Billy Ward
Article by Amy Sciarretto