Ozzfest 2005

Published: 28 May, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 131, March, 2006

In the ever expanding community of microcosms into which tattoo enthusiasts fall there has always been a place for inked out rock’n’rollers. Traced to it’s origins the ink/rock phenomenon might possibly be ascribed to San Fransisco tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle and his early work on Janis Joplin, Joan Biaz, The Allman Brothers, Peter Fonda, and Cher among others. Nestled in the outskirts of the San Bernardino Mountains the Hyundai Pavilion is an expanse of grass that is reminiscent of a scene from Braveheart. Today the surrounding valley resounds with the static throb of bass, drums, and guitar that together form metal.

In place of Scottish clansman these fields are littered with denizens of a different war. Like all warriors they have their chants, and their priests, and on this scorching day they’re all chanting the same thing: Ozzy! Ozzy!


Ozzfest 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the hard rock festival, and though it has evolved throughout the years and has streamlined itself into a well run, patron friendly event, little has changed about its rudiments. It is the only place in America that a die-hard can come to rejoice in that fact that metal is alive and well. It is a heavy metal Shangri-La, and who better to lead it than the prince of darkness himself, Mr Ozzy Ozzbourne?  

Ozzfest, in particular, embodies the disenfranchised soul of a waning juggernaut. Metal, like so many other things, has become commercialized and watered down to the point that it is almost indistinguishable from its nemesis: Pop rock. That being said, there are still places that a hardcore enthusiast can go to be with other hardcore people. Be it ink, or metal and Ozzfest is that place.


Today’s lineup will include performances by Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Iron Maiden and Mudvayne, as well as many other steel rooted bands. Though they will not be performing today, Velvet Revolver will join the tour and remain on the bill until it’s completion.  Amidst throngs of scantily clad Ozzfesters I moved about in search of ink. Though the quality of tattoo art I found was typically nominal I did find a few gems, as well as a multitude of painted breasts, and I got the chance to talk to some of the artists about Ozzfest, and ink, and…well, whatever else they wanted to discuss.




Relapse recording artist’s Mastodon have blazed a flaming trail from Atlanta, where they originally homesteaded all the way to Ozzfest. We spoke on their bus to avoid the scorching 100-degree plus weather. Singer/Guitarist William Brent Hinds is covered in ink…mostly monsters, which seems somehow eerily appropriate given the tenor of their music.  


William Brent Hinds 


What made you decide to put monsters on your body?

I love horror movies. I love old classic “B” movies, and stuff like that. So that kind of stuff really appeals to me more than, like, classic Americana.  


What is your favorite tattoo and what was going on in your life when you got it?

My favorite tattoo is The Creature From The Black Lagoon tattooed on my forearm. When I got the tattoo I was watching a lot of monster movies. I like the creature because he is so misunderstood. He just wants some pussy, that’s all.


There’s not a lot of accessible hard metal out there. As a heavier band, how are you planning to reach people?

Um, We’re not really trying to reach people, man. I think we’re just playing music for ourselves, ‘cause we’re all, like, best friends and that’s just how we think heavy music should sound. We’re really flattered and really grateful that people dig it the way they do. We had no idea that they were gonna dig it this much. I think the reason the music sounds the way that it does is that we’re limited players. We play from the heart, not from skill.


Speaking of skill, what do you think of guitarist Zakk Wylde?

Holyeee Shit! I jammed with Zakk Wylde on his bus. That dude shredded my brain apart into, fucking, millions of pieces.


What can current and future Mastodon fans look forward to in the near future?

Lots of Masto-music.


Is it true that the album Leviathan was inspired by the Herman Melville novel “Moby Dick?”

Yeah, it was. Brann [drummer] read the book on a plane, and came to us and said, “ Man, I think that there are some really awesome parallels between this book and our band. This guy’s trying to capture this big whale and we’re trying to make money playing heavy-ass music.”


Aside from jamming on the bus with Zakk Wylde, what’s been the highlight of the Ozzfest tour for you so far?

Watching Iron Maiden play.


Do you think you’ll ever go mainstream, and if not will that limit the potential for the scope of the bands success?

I really hope that we never go mainstream, but ya know, there’s a lot of good mainstream music. I like some music that’s mainstream. Like Interpol, and stuff like that. If we can do it right and not lose any integrity, then o.k…. [He pauses to think] But I’m not gonna change anything. What we have is not broken, so we’re not gonna fix it.


Are you rich yet?

No, not at all. We’re all really fucking broke. I have no money at all. If I wanted to buy something I’d have to bum money from my girlfriend.


Different artists have different songwriting processes, and derive inspiration from various sources. What inspires a band as heavy as Mastodon?

Day to day trials and tribulations. We all love extremely heavy music. Plus, none of can really sing all that good so we just scream. It seems to work out for us.


If there is an end to this big dream of rock’n’roll what would you most like to do with your life?

Move to an island with my girlfriend. Somewhere tropical. Have money for Christmas time. 


Any life advice for our readers?

Be honest with yourself and with other people. Treat people like you want to be treated. Be the best person you can be without going in the Marines.




Throughout the day there is the faint odor of cannabis, and though the men in the yellow jackets are on the lookout, as well as the cops, there is a general feeling that no one here is looking to hassle the patrons for smoking. “Ozzfest patrons are a surprisingly mellow lot.” says an officer who wished to remain anonymous, “We still have a couple of fights, but it’s hot” he says, and pauses,” and people drink all day. Heat and alcohol cause fights.”


He declines to answer when I ask him what their policy is for dealing with pot smoking Ozzfesters, but leaves me with the impression that it is not a primary consideration in their endeavor to maintain order.



In a tiny production office I interviewed Mudvayne bassist Ryan Martinie who, among other things, has had the good fortune of being worked on by the likes of Paul Booth and Filip Leu. In the background radios buzzed loudly with frantic commands and it was apparent to me just how complex an organizational feat Ozzfest really is. 




How are you today?

Pretty good. It’s hot, you know? It’s nice though. It’s nice to be in a beautiful area and have all these bands and all these fans coming out to see the show. Really amazing.


How does it feel getting to #2 on billboard?

A surprise. It’s not something that we expected, you know? Uh, I think when you build expectations you’re only putting yourself against yourself. You’re gonna end up let down if you build expectations, so that was very unexpected and we are very proud. I think that, if anything, it provides a glimmer of hope for bands that are more, if you will, fringe element bands, um… that are not necessarily accepted as a whole part of the mainstream, but still have mainstream elements, yet are kind of removed from the mainstream audience. Um, I think that it was a good thing for bands to look at and go, “Well, we can actually do this. This is something that’s attainable for a band like us also. If Mudvayne can do it then why can’t we?” So I think that it’s a statement for music as a whole also, you know, not just about Mudvayne. There are still fans out there who are really loyal and the fast food market hasn’t changed the whole vibe overall as far as what people are really into. And that’s…that’s music.


There are a lot of pissed-off, disenchanted kids in the world. I remember being in junior-high school, with no friends, and asking one of the cool kids,” What’s the heaviest music there is?” He then turned me on to Slayer, and I found some sense of my identity in that aggression, like if they could be that angry and do something positive with it than so could I.  Are there any experiences like that in Mudvayne’s past? 

You know I think being where we’re from a lot of [sighs]…a lot of the reasoning for even starting to play music probably came from boredom or a need to vent, or some kind of outlet. Where we’re from there’s really not a whole lot going on. Its pretty much flatland, cornfields and soybeans. Um…So I think that young kids have a pretty rough time finding things to actually do. Fortunately for us we had families that were supportive and friends who supported us. We got lucky in life, and fortunately had a path to be able to express ourselves. So for me, I was that kid. I didn’t do very well in school. I really wasn’t very focused. Maybe it had something to do with the fluorescent lighting [laughs]


Or the hard seats. It was obvious to me what I should have been doing at that point, and that was investing my time into music. Hopefully people who feel like they’re a little outcast because they’re not necessarily a part of the main thing, or…If they find something that really turns them on, as far as a person, and lights their fire hopefully they follow that. Hopefully they follow their passion, and are rewarded in life by being true to themselves, and following their passion, and following their heart. Maybe they don’t have to feel like that misfit. Maybe they still are a misfit, but maybe, at least, it’s under their own terms.


What’s your favorite tattoo?

Well, I don’t know that I have a favourite. I have a favorite experience in tattooing, and that was, um…Once again, I was in the right place at the right time and surrounded by the right people, and said the right thing, I guess, Because I ended up under the needle of Paul Booth, and Filip Leu at the same time for my chest piece, which was, I believe, one of the beginning pieces of fusion art, or the first for them together. Now that art form is being done at conventions all over. So I really feel very, very lucky to have been able to be a part of something that now has become really well known as an artistic practice. Being with those two artists, whom I really respected, and have respected for many years…and for them to have been so kind as to listen to me, and then to tattoo me was really unexpected. Those memories are never gonna fade in my mind. The whole time I was laying on the table and getting tattooed by these artists we were like three kids. They were so happy to be doing exactly what they wanted to be doing at that moment, and I was happy to be a part of it, and now to be a representation of their artwork. That suits my spirit. All of my work except my back piece has been done on the road. My back piece was my very first. Everything else I’ve gotten while I’ve been touring. I kind of chronicle my life with my tattoos. This is my music leg. 


Metal fans are fickle. Is it difficult to reach new fans without alienating the old ones?

 I don’t know that I necessarily agree with you that they’re all fickle because I think that out of all the genres metal fans tend to be pretty loyal. If you look at what’s popular in music, and what people are mainly buying, those things are much more here today, gone tomorrow than a lot of the metal bands that are out. That doesn’t mean that they’re selling a lot of records, but that means that they have a grass roots fan base. They have a fan base that’s really a part of the name that they are. It’s them and they’re fans. That’s what a band becomes, essentially


What message is Mudvayne trying to get across with your single, “Happy?”

Historically speaking, the band has never wished to impregnate you with ideas that are not your own. We do what we do, and however people interpret it…it’s yours to have. We respect our fans enough to give them that space. Art is about building a relationship to something. Art speaks to people on a very intimate level.


What would you like to see happen in Mudvayne’s future?

Um, let’s see…Buy the world, blow the whole thing up, and build a new one.


Any words for Great Britain?

Hope to see you soon.


As the sky darkens bonfires begin to spring up despite the efforts of a behemoth security force who attempt to contain them. The green fields now glitter with pockets of sparse flame and the sky above is filled with plumes of smoke. Though the day has been long and exceptionally hot the patrons seem more energetic now than at the onset of the festival. Perhaps it is the darkness, or the fire in it, or maybe just the overpriced beer and the slowly growing mosh-pits. Whatever it is they are primed, and- dancing in the firelight on the lush green fields- have become almost indistinguishable from Mel Gibson’s depiction of the Scottish soldiers who followed William Wallace into a war for independence. They too are free. Free to be heavy. Free to be the proud bearers of gallons of tattoo ink. Free to love metal, and to revel in it…even if only  for one day.



Text and Photography Dustin Miller


Skin Deep 131 1 March 2006 131