Miguel Lepage - Obey The Ink
"Not trying to reinvent the wheel-we keep it simple, we keep it real." We hear that line less than a minute into the opening song "Lifestyle," out of Obey The Brave's first full-length album, Young Blood.
And that is just what you might expect from this band and its members: Full commitment-giving the fans what they want, plain and real!

Based in Montreal in Ottawa, Canada, Obey The Brave first appeared in the aggressive audio landscape in 2012. They united some members of the legendary Deathcore outfit, Despised Icon, with members of the metal core quintet, Blind Witness.

With Greg Wood on guitar, Stevie Morotti beating the drums, and formerly of Blind Witness, Miguel Lepage on the bass, Obey The Brave was born. Rebel Ink had the opportunity to talk to Miguel during the band's stop on the Never Say Die Tour. We found out that, aside from his badass bass-playing career, Miguel also doubles as a tattoo artist.

REBEL INK: You have two outstanding skills-you play the bass for a successful hardcore band, and you are a tattoo artist. Which of those two would you say is the love of your life?
Miguel Lepage: I guess that would be playing the bass for the band. Traveling around the world, making fans happy with what I do is very satisfying. Tattoos always will be a huge part of my life, and maybe when I'm done with music, and when I want to settle down, I will probably start working as a full-time tattoo artist. But at this point, I like the life on the road too much. Where I stand now is where I was hoping to be at this moment in my life. I am with good friends all the time. I travel around the world, and I meet loads of tattoo artists while doing that. I see lots of cool tattoos when we are on tour from other bands, roadies, and fans. So right now, I would say that the music stands in first place and tattooing second.

In the world of hardcore music, people use tattoos to make a statement. Does Miguel have a statement that he wants to share with the world?
Some people do indeed use this music to express themselves by getting tattooed. Fans, for example, when they really like a band, they get the band logo, or even lyrics tattooed on them, and that is, for me, quite a heavy statement to get on your body. But for that band or the songwriter, it is a very nice confirmation about what they are doing.

Have you tattooed members of Obey The Brave?
Yes, I tattooed all of the band members except Alex, the singer, but this will happen in the near future! On Stevie, I tattooed a Hanya mask on his arm. I ended up doing almost his complete sleeve, and recently I got started on his chest piece. I did most of the tattoos on the legs of John, and I did a Navy tattoo on his wrist. And for Greg, I did a collection of graves on his arm, which are now part of his sleeve that I am going to finish up soon. He also wants some Japanese work done on his legs-stuff like a dragon and Japanese flowers. I am proud that I have done all that.

Do you always carry your tattoo equipment on tour?
Not on this Europe tour because of Customs. They ask inevitable questions when you travel with several hundred needles [laughs]. But when we are on a more extensive tour, I will end up taking them with me, or maybe search a supplier in Europe so that I only travel with my machines. When I tour America or Canada, I always have everything with me.

That brings us to the next question-which bands have original work done by Miguel Lepage?
I had the privilege to work on members of several bands, and that is extremely nice! I tattooed members of Suicide Silence, Stray From The Path, and Counterparts. It happens often that we are on tour with bands we never toured with before, and then they ask me if I brought my stuff along.

Do you remember your own first tattoo and the studio where you had it done?
My first tattoo was Batman and Superman on my right arm. I was 18 in Montreal, so already six years ago by Keith, who's an artist with over 40 years of experience. The first tattoo I did myself was on the brother of Stevie, Eric, who plays the bass in the band, Blind Witness. I did the Slipknot band logo on him. This was a moment that I will always remember!

You're pretty much covered with tattoos. Do you know how many tattoos you have on your body?
I don't know the exact number of tattoos, but I know that it was over 100 hours of work up to this point.

Of all your tattoos, which is your absolute favorite, and which is your most meaningful?
The most meaningful is, without a doubt, the "1728" on the fingers of my right hand, because the "17" stands for the birthday of my mother, and the "28" for the birthday of my brother. And the "12" for the birthday of my father and "8" for my own birthday. So that is completely related to my family and myself. My personal favorite is on the inside of my left arm-the woman with the fox head on top of her head, because that is exactly what I would want to have, and the artist that put it there delivered perfect work. This tattoo is 100% my taste, and that's why I am very proud and happy with that.

Do you plan to get more work done on yourself?
Yes! I am now working on both my legs with Japanese designs. It will eventually take about 40 hours to finish each leg. I started on both legs at the same time. It will not be finished for a couple of more years, but I am not in a hurry.

Is there an artist you really would like to work on you?
I want to get tattooed by Annie Frenzel of Low Brow Tattoo in Germany, but she is booked solid for more than a year in advance. I texted her, and maybe I'll get lucky and be able to have her work on me during this Europe tour. She is one of the artists I want a tattoo from. I would also like to have an original Chad Koeplinger from the USA. He travels a lot to international conventions, and does loads of guest spots in several shops. I like his style, so I will have one of his as well. And last, but not least, Uncle Allan from Copenhagen is high on my list!

Being that you are on the road a lot with the band, do you use this advantage to get yourself tattooed at selected studios along the road?
Yes. I already got several tattoos while touring by not yet really famous artists, but most surely by very good artists. You find good artists everywhere. They may not be famous, but loads of them are just amazing and great!

Is there a tattoo on your body that is a cover up?
Yes, my leg sleeve covers an old tattoo I did on myself. It was a skull with a butterfly. I did that after starting, only three weeks into it. It didn't really look very nice, so that is now covered up by a Japanese sleeve, and I am pretty happy with that.

What style do you prefer on yourself and why?
I like traditional work and neo traditional. I love the perfect blend of details-just enough, but not too many. When there are loads of details in a tattoo it doesn't have the same impact several years after the tattoo is done as it had in the beginning. That is something I find a shame, so I limited the amount of details for myself.

Do you go on a tour with relatively new tattoos, or do you wait until they are healed before touring?
When I get the chance to get a tattoo done while I'm on the road, then I tour obviously with a new tattoo. But, I try to let it heal at least a week before I have to go on stage, to the point where the tattoo is dry, and when you can use a simple lotion to take care of it. I never had any bad experiences with new tattoos on tour, and I hope it stays that way because I have loads of plans to get more.

Last but not least, do you have the intention to open your own shop?
I would like to own my own shop. Maybe in the near future that will happen. I would like to start something like a co-op with some friends-that way I can combine music and having my co-op in a tattoo shop. At this point, I work sometimes for a guy from France, Oly Anger, who started a shop in Canada. He used to work with Jack Ribeiro, and now he opened up a shop in Montreal, where I work when I am not touring. Oly is going to close up the shop again to start something in New York with Paul Booth, so that cooperation is going to end soon. But there will be new opportunities ahead-I'm sure!

Photography by Dirk Van Elslande
Article by Arne Van Hauwermeiren

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