March 7, 2001 -- In the world of rock and roll, there are myths and there are legends, and somewhere in between the two, there's Rocket From the Crypt.
Since its debut in 1991, the San Diego band has delivered showmanship and integrity — earning the group a diehard fan base, the members of which show their allegiance by getting tattooed with the band's Rocket logo.
"We really can't take credit for masterminding it," frontman John "Speedo" Reis says of the tattoo phenomenon.
As Reis and his Rocket mates got the logo tattooed, so did some of their friends; the band naturally put them on their shows' guest list … and thus the Rocket Tattoo Myth was born.
"It was perpetuated by people who were into us, not by us preaching this gospel of tattoos," Reis clarifies.
To his knowledge, there are more than 3000 people who have the tattoo. It's a number that can be flattering and frustrating: The "tattoo equals free admission" practice can put the band in a position where it's practically playing for free.
"There are a couple of gigs where it gets a little hard to pull it off," Reis admits, especially in San Diego, where there are approximately 450 people tattooed.
"We're lucky because you can't really choose your audience," he says.
"You pray that the audience has a great deal in common with you, and that you wouldn't mind maybe having a cup of coffee with them and having a discussion about music."
Reis means it. In fact, Rocket From the Crypt has structured the first two weeks of its upcoming tour so they can see old friends.
"We haven't toured for two and a half years, and we didn't want to do this blown-out tour where the band is inaccessible to the friends we've made over the years," he explains. "We wanted a chance to actually see the people."
As the band goes on the road to promote its new CD, Group Sounds, it will be performing two shows every day for the first two weeks.
"During the day, we'll be playing at free shows at record stores." Reis says.
"Rocket Unplugged" this won't be, but Reis says the in-store appearances will include "covers, originals, and about three songs we wrote just for this show."
The chance to perform, see old friends, and "see who buys our records" has Reis ready to get out on the road. He also hopes to dispel one of the myths and misconceptions about the band that he finds particularly bothersome.
"There's this misconception that we're a working-class band, but I don't like to romanticize hard work. It's just what you do to get from point A to point B," he says. "Rocket From the Crypt is a band of leisure."