I’ve known Wayne TM for more than 10 years now. He is one of the most creative, cool, articulate and well meaning people that I have ever met.
Given that Wayne has always lived in Richmond while I have always lived in Chicago it amazes me that we have managed to maintain a friendship. But each time we are in contact it is like no time had passed at all and there is usually a snapshot of time for posterity.
I love this conversation because it is just like hanging out with Wayne – smart, fun and introspective. Here we crisscross subjects ranging from DIY Art and Tattooing to the philosophy of TM and the in’s and out’s of working at a pawn shop.
So, now presenting one of my favorite people on the planet, Wayne TM…
Conducted via email 8/25/16.
Are you still in a band?
I am. It’s been on and off over the years as getting a dedicated crew together and on the same page seems to get harder with age and people getting married and having kids and whatnot. But I just started playing guitar for a new pretty straightforward punk rock band with some guys I’ve known forever in the wake of their really great band unfortunately disintegrating, so I’m stoked about it. We’re hoping to start playing shows and working on a recording in the next few months.
2. If yes that makes band number what for you?
I’ve done a lot of projects, but I guess as far as active bands that have played shows, recorded, done some traveling with, I guess this would be number six.
3. Did you tour? What was your favorite place to play on tour?
A band I sang for years ago called Flickerflame did a handful of week to two-week tours up and down the east side of the country and a band I played guitar for called The Black Shade did a few weekend trips. Almost all of my bands at least played locally and made it out of state a few times. I don’t really like to dedicate time playing if you don’t get to play out and travel a little but again, it gets harder as everyone gets older with jobs and everything. Cleveland was my favorite from what I can remember. Every time we played the shows were really cool and the kids were stoked and took care of us, and somehow every time we played there there ended up being some awesome 80’s dance night afterwards where the punk kids would take us out to go party and cut loose. And it sounds stupid, but the weather was really great compared to Virginia that time of year every time. I took my favorite nap of my entire life in a sleeping bag by a lake there before we got back on the road.
4. Are you still tattooing?
It’s a long story but I am not. I still paint and do art, but tattooing and I did not work out. I had a great opportunity and I will always appreciate it, but doing art for other people for money wasn’t really my jam and I’m pretty introverted unless I’m drinking so the social aspect was a nightmare with some clients. I did get to do some cool tattoos on some friends and I still love the history and culture and have a huge respect for it. If I had attempted it when I was younger and a little more excited and stable and a little less jaded and crazy, I think it may have worked out. I was a body piercer for years so by the time I tried tattooing I had already been in that scene for a long time, and when I started my apprenticeship I went back to square one and not being paid much and catching a hard time from people that I had worked with a long time that I felt should have been my peers and a little more supportive. Long story short, it made me unhappy as hell, stressed out and anxious all the time, I hated telling people what I did and having to talk about it, and it all ended with a self medicating DUI that made me decide I need to do something that makes me a little less miserable even if I just have to trade time for money and do what I like in the free time.
5. That means you’ve been tattooing for how long?
I was an apprentice for about two years with probably… six months of that tattooing semi-regularly. When I got in trouble with the DUI I literally left all my equipment there, as a sign that I was OUT- and out of respect of the shop I was working for. I wasn’t going to disrespect the community and scratch out of my house, I really just wanted to be free and move onto something else. But I will still occasionally do a drunk stick and poke tattoo if someone wants a shitty souvenir on a fun night or whatever.
6. Can you describe your favorite tattoo you’ve done?
I did a “Rose of No Man’s Land” on my friend Dot that was a spin off of an old sailor tattoo that has a nurse’s head in a rose with a red cross behind it but she wanted her cat instead of a nurse and it was super fun. And a close second would be a cute cardinal on a branch I did on my buddy Jimbo. Both were really cute and clean because I got to do them on cool people that I loved and they made me feel comfortable. That kind was really the best and I did a lot of them on some cool friends. I won’t lie, I did some shaky tattoos on people that stressed me out but it was still better than what some of the hacks calling themselves “artists” put out.
7. Do you feel like the practice of tattooing and DIY Art are a permanent part of American culture?
I do, and I really don’t see how it couldn’t be. Trends like body piercing come and go but tattooing has been happening since someone realized that if you poke your skin with any sort of ink or carbon on the point it’s going to make a mark that stays there forever. And now it’s getting so acceptable because so many people with tattoos are getting older and holding down the real jobs and making the wheels turn I don’t see that ever going away. As for DIY art, people are always gonna need some sort of outlet and for some it’s making art. I still paint pretty regularly and am not really active in the art scene, but I do it cause I love it and usually I just give it away or whatever. Ideally, I would like to get paid to do my own art and am working on that, but bills gotta get paid and I gotta keep my cats fed so I do what I can for money and do the art when I get free time.
8. I still have my homemade TM tattoo and try to practice the philosophy of TM everytime I remember to. Also, thanks to technology you wish me happy birthday every year. Thank you. With that in mind, what do you make of the dichotomy of DIY art vs. technology?
Well you are welcome, and I am flattered to have been able to do that, I still have the lightning bolts on my leg from that night as well. Analog art vs. Digital art or technology doesn’t really seem to me any less relevant than the other. I can paint a picture with watercolor and someone can “paint” a picture on Photoshop and I don’t really think it makes theirs less credible because they use technology. I try to dabble in it myself, for example sometimes I will do a digital color study on a painting I’m about to work on so I don’t get in waist deep painting and realize, “well these colors don’t work together!” and have to start over. And I can record a song with a band and someone can make an electronic song that has just as much effort, and talent, and emotion, so… I really think now technology is just as much of a medium as a box of paints or whatever.
9. Did you ever get a picture of the “Wayne” street sign while you were in Chicago? Where else have you been on vacation since that epic trip?
I don’t recall seeing that, but you did send me some pictures of things some time after that trip that I should try and dig up. That Chicago trip was a really good one and one of my favorites. I haven’t done a whole lot since then aside from trying to get my shit together… some out of state trips with bands and for friends or weddings or whatever, and recently I went to New Jersey and Atlanta for some music festivals. Those were both really cool, I got to see a lot of bands I never thought I’d get to see reunite and a lot of bands on a bill I never thought I’d get to see together. At this age I guess I’m more of a spectator and just stoked to see bands I loved growing up. But I will hop in a car or a bus or a plane pretty much any chance I can.
10. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received about navigating the world was to just “flirt with everyone.” I am wondering if this is similar to your philosophy on being so awesome all of the time…
Well, it’s close. TM started on tour as a way of just having fun with your friends, realizing you won’t even be in the same state the next day, so you kinda just get to do or say what you want or look how you want or whatever. Play hard and be wild as shit because it’s probably the only time you’ll see those people so don’t stress about it. It wasn’t really mean or us being vulgar or having fun at anyone’s expense or anything, but yeah. If you see a girl that’s pretty you say hi or tell her she looks pretty and get her to wave to you or dance at 80’s night, or you know, it could mean you shoot fireworks out of the van if it’s funny and not hurting anyone. Hell, tell a good looking dude he looks sharp that day. Or sneak into that interesting abandoned building because you’ll be on the road in two hours anyway. Eat the pizza that family left six slices of off the table at the mall. Dumb shit like that… we were pretty innocent really, just trying to make each other laugh and feel free. And then once we realized we could do that, we tried to take that to our everyday lives…
11. How often have you been mistaken for Andrew W.K.?
Not often, I got called out on the similarity a few times while I had long hair but that was about it. I guess I like to party but my hair is short now and I never wear white and really, I wish I had half the positivity that guy has.
12. What’s it like working at a pawn shop?
Interesting… Almost everyone who walks in the door needs money, and sometimes (most times) the things they bring you aren’t worth the amount they need. Or sometimes people are just too lazy to sell something themselves so we’re a convenience to them and they get cash for it on the spot and then we resell it for more. But then we have regulars who bring in the same thing that will get them a loan of twenty or thirty bucks till payday when they’re tight on cash and they pick it back up that Friday. So sometimes it’s fun an interesting, sometimes it’s really sad and weird, or you get the people that lose it and try to make their problem your problem. But really you just gotta have a thick skin and remember that you didn’t ask them to walk in and you only responded with an offer for what they have because they asked you to. If they don’t like it or feel offended or it doesn’t help them the way they need it to, it is still their problem and really, you just work there… And obviously you get to deal with stolen property, cops, drug addicts and thieves, but it’s a legitimate business and we deal with that sort of thing accordingly. I was actually in court this morning on what was supposed to be my day off because I bought a PS4 that was stolen. Time for money.
13. What interesting things have people tried to pawn? Do a lot of instruments come through the shop?
Too many instruments. Being a music guy I never thought I would get sick of guitars and whatnot but I guess that’s the first thing a wannabe musician thinks to bring when they need cash. Guitars, amps, keyboards, etc. But you see a lot of things… weird antiques, gold teeth from dead people, tools and electronics and all sorts of things I had no idea about till I worked in that field.
14. What are your thoughts on the Radiohead album “A Moon Shaped Pool?”
I have honestly not heard it, but will dig into that after this interview. I am a fan of Radiohead and think they are very interesting, but they have never really grabbed me in the way I think they have grabbed a lot of people. I guess I would say I respect them more than I listen to them.
15. What is your favorite memory of us hanging out?
That week in Chicago was pretty great and I still have the photobooth pictures from that trip. I was kind of a trainwreck at the time but it was a good escape with good people. Obviously the handpoke tattoo night was great, I’m pretty sure I got drunk and shirtless at the bar the first night I was there, and we ate and drank at a lot of cool places and saw a lot of cool things. The time you came to Richmond was cool too, but we didn’t get to hang out as hard and it didn’t have such a great ending… ha.
16. Do you still drink?
I do, but not like I used to. I’m definitely more of a functioning alcoholic where I usually just work and then come home and have some beers to relax and it’s not just balls to the wall partying all the time. I have a lot more responsibility these days… more like an Al Bundy or Homer Simpson drunk. But I do still try to have that positive mentality where I do like to take breaks from drinking and make my life happier and healthier so I can get on more of a path of that… it’s hard sometimes, but I’m not getting any younger. Ideally I would like to figure out how to be happy and get by without it.
17. What goes into the drink ” The Devil’s Triangle?”
One third whiskey, one third Jager, and a third hot sauce. I think we decided if someone couldn’t handle the hot sauce you could substitute a raw egg instead. Basically just the worst thing we could come up with to drink and then coax others to… like a right of passage, but really it was us just being like, “well we did it, don’t be a nerd…”
18. Do you remember how I ended up sleeping in an airport after drinking one of those on my trip to visit you guys in Richmond?
I do. If I recall correctly we all drank a Devil’s Triangle at the now defunct bar Empire in Richmond, and I’m pretty sure it made you take a trip running to the bathroom and you came back super intense. I am also pretty sure they didn’t have hot sauce but Sriracha instead so it was really thick and gnarly. And then we ended up at a party with some younger kids I was hanging out with, you and James (Jimmy) got all surly, and next thing I knew you were gone and on your way home.
19. Do you feel like you vibrate at a positive frequency? If sometimes “no” what do you do to raise your frequency to a positive vibe?
I try to, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes I drink too much but that doesn’t always really help so I do just try to surround myself with good people and do cool things when I can and make art and really just get through this life as painlessly as possible. Try and change what you can for the better and take the rest with a grain of salt.
20. How do you feel this interview went?
I thought it was pretty great. Sorry if I was long winded but the questions were good and didn’t always have a simple answer. Keep in touch, nerd!