My Mind Is A Machine Gun: An Interview with Jason Friedman
When describing local scenes and communities, folks tend to narrow down their “firsts” with an interaction they had with a unique individual or group of individuals that inspired their involvement. For Houston, Texas, the name “Jason Friedman” illicits both fear and wonder. Fear of “Oh shit, whats about to happen” and wonder of the same. For as long as FPH can remember, Friedman has been an integral part of Houston’s music (metal) and arts (tattoo/piercing) scene. If there were a cultural Board of Directors for Houston’s inner loop art community, FPH would bend over backwards in support of Friedman. The dude is the human embodiment of a detuned guitar riff, played at 60 bpm, decking you in the face at Rudyards. This interview is long over-due and well-deserved. Enjoy.
Free Press Houston: For those who don’t know who you are to Houston’s music and art scene, give us a rundown of the last 15 years of your life.
Jason Friedman: Shit. Released records with Pride Kills, Bowel, KRVSHR, Ten Crowns. Apprenticed at the original Xtreme Skin Art on Montrose close to 20 years ago. Worked at Hot Stuff Deluxe, Elm Street Tattoo, 713 Tattoo, 2Xtreme, Mike Packers, and Secret Tattoo. Currently tattoo full time at Rampage Tattoo. Been training voraciously in MMA for nearly 9 years now. Certified welder. Tattoo machine builder. Ran security at most bars and clubs in the Houston underground scene. Even bartended at Boondocks on the side for a while. Been in a billion fights, played a billion shows, and have lived harder than most people that have lived hard. I am currently opening The Violet Tiger Tattoo Parlour in Montrose with Ram Perez of Rampage Tattoo. He will still be running Rampage, but will be giving me guidance and working with me as I establish my shop. We will have a full service supply depot(serving only pro artists in shops) as well as a full service machine shop. We have our location and will be breaking ground in the next two weeks.
FPH: Why metal?
Friedman: Why metal? GG Allin put it best: “My mind is the machine gun, my body is the bullets, and the audience is the target.” I want people to suffer like I have. I want them to feel the same pain that I feel. Because I can’t play the blues like Skip James. Metal is fucking garbage anymore. Rehashed SOD riffs or shitty, half-assed blues riffs. In KRVSHR, I work very hard to only rip off Ripping Corpse.
FPH: Free Press Houston, in it’s early years, once shared a building with the tattoo shop you were piercing at. What do you remember from that?
Friedman: The early years? [laughs] Fuck. I think y’all remember more than I do. I was doing coke on a daily basis and getting into scraps on a weekly basis. I had a whole crew of people gunning for me at that time. All I remember is insanity and violence and drugs and black eyes. I was playing in Bowel at the time and selling coke for some people I shouldn’t even mention. Life was insane but that was the path I was on. To see how far I could push it. After coming to in a trap house after being loaded on blow and mixed hallucinogens for two days straight and having nothing to my name but a blanket and a beat up minivan, I knew some shit needed to change.
FPH: We used to sit on the back steps with stars in our eyes and listen to you tell us stories about wanting to play brutal riffs and kick ass. Why’d you stop playing music for a while and what got you into MMA?
Friedman: I was getting jumped by people who I used to call friends. People who knew my family. People I trusted. I was tired of being a walking target, so I immersed myself into fighting. Multiple cage fights, 100,000’s of hours of knockout sparring and grueling sessions with nothing but Muay Thai, boxing, MMA, and grappling champions. I had just grown so sick of the fake tough guy paper gangster mentality of underground music. Fucking tall Ts and flat-billed hats. I wanted nothing to do with a group of people that were more busy sucking each other off than writing amazing songs. Seemed so pointless and hollow and passionless.
FPH: You were also featured on the old MTV show “True Life” on an episode highlighting regrettable tattoos. Did you end up getting any tattoos removed and what was it like after you appeared on the show?
Friedman: Fuck MTV. They left out so much shit and overdubbed my fucking voice out of context and even made up lines I never said. I was smoking blunts and jamming EYEHATEGOD most the time they were filming me. I had just been robbed by a contracting company out of nearly $10K and my wife and I had just lost a child. So fuck that. The most attention I got was drunk assholes yelling at me at the bar, “hey you’re that guy!” Or my friends giving me shit. I had grown so disenchanted with everything “underground” — music, tattooing, etc. — that I wanted to remove all reminders. But I finally realized that I am those things and the shit I actually hated was the fake image that pretended to be what I actually am.
FPH: You recently started building custom tattoo machines and it seems like that’s kind of taken precedence over the MMA. What made you want to start building tattoo machines and where do you want to eventually take that craft?
Friedman: I blew out my hip while getting Mike Bronzoulis ready for a fight. I had already started making machines a few years back, but since the injury two years ago, I haven’t been able to compete; this hip surgery I just got will change that, expect to see me back in action next year. Not to mention I am a certified welder and was sick of fucking spending $300-$500 a machine. So I brought my first machine to show Carson Vester and he gave me the okay to build and taught me the foundation of building. I owe him and Cory Rogers most everything when it comes to tattooing in general. The new shop has a huge work shop connected, which will only cause the machine side to grow. We will be offering full service to build, rebuild, tune, and provide parts for coil tattoo machine. Not to mention the supply depot for legit artists.
FPH: What are you doing musically now and what do you have in store for that project?
Friedman: KRVSHR is the only band I am doing and will do. We have been compared to a lot of bands, but it’s more or less brutal sludge metal. We have already released one record and have another about to be released as well as new songs we are about to record in our own studio. It is fucking brutal and full of riffs that will beat on your fucking ear holes. We out riffed Crowbar recently and they got butt hurt and kicked us off the stage. Riff envy. KRVSHR is the last brutal thing I will ever do and plan on keeping it alive till I’m rotting away.
Thanks to Shelby Hohl for being a bad motherfucker and innovator. Thanks to Omar for being sexy. Thanks to Ram for believing in me and my wife Lauren and daughter Hunter for giving me a reason to wake up everyday. And my band, for keeping me from killing the wife and kid. Come get a tattoo!
by Shelby Hohl