Having worked for Chopper Read as a chauffer and bodyguard it would be easy to presume Tony ‘The Face’ Cronin has lived an interesting life. Aside from his career as a chauffer and bodyguard Tony has spent almost an entire lifetime dedicating his body to the art of tattooing. From his first tattoo at the age of 13, a skull with wings and the number 13, Tony’s tattoos have told a story.

Now, many years later almost his entire body is covered in tattoos, images snaking around his body creeping up his neck to take up the majority of the skin on his face. In an interview with Brett Hamm from The Milk Bar Mag Tony compared the act of being tattooed to a spiritual experience stating that “there’s a Maori tradition – and [he] firmly believes in it – that every time you get tattooed, anywhere but especially the face, you walk out and start again. It’s like a life-changing experience. A new stage.”

Slocombe’s Pussy’s album/DVD Tattoo delves into and interprets the tattoos of Tony ‘The Face’ Cronin. The collaborative piece calls upon the help of various musicians, a video artist and a tattoo collector to capture the stories etched in Tony’s skin.

Musically the album slips from chaotic rock accompanied by a brass section to more sparse, stripped back sounds that call upon only a few instruments. The tracks are at times defiant, layering sounds and calling upon improvised guitar solos and searing saxophones to create an interesting mesh of sound. Bluesy “To The Land of Darkness” is a stand out track, while tracks like “O’ Negative” which clocks in at just over 15 minutes drags on a little too long.

To gain more of an insight into the inspiration behind this album it is necessary to watch the DVD which captures a live performance of Tattoo in 2009 at the Thornbury Theatre as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

The chaotic, experimental and occasionally improvised sounds are accompanied by dark images of skulls, human anatomy and off course Tony’s impressive tattoo collection. The band is also joined on stage by the man himself showing off his body.

Like the tattoos, the music tells a story that is up for interpretation. Tattoo is an interesting take on one individual’s devotion to tattoos.

– Stephanie Lee