Celebrity Skin 221: Kazzer from Redlight King

Published: 29 January, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 221, February, 2013

A couple of months back, I ran into Kazzer from the band Redlight King. We got to talking about tattoos and music and that's always worth a share in my book...

Kazzer – or Mark Kasprzyk as he’s known to his folks back home in Ontario – is the mastermind behind the band, Redlight King. Spying a full quota of sleeves, I figured this deserved some attention.

Whilst Redlight King might not be a name that slips off the tongue in the UK, you will absolutely, without question be familiar with the band from their contribution to the the Avengers movie in the shape of the song, Comeback. Far from being a one trick pony, their album Something For The Pain is totally worthy of your attention if your heart is made of rock.

“I’ve been around the music scene for something like 12 years now – had various deals with various bands, but this feels right. I’m in a good place having wrestled my demons into some kind of submission, and my songwriting is really hitting its stride.”

You can imagine what those demons are – they pretty much come with the territory of being in a band, and a lot of that surfaces on the album track, Past The Gates. In fact, much of the record positions itself as a lyrical stake in the ground of the past being somewhere Kaz doesn’t intend going back to. It’s a very retrospective kind of affair, but it’s also littered with ‘fight the future’ tracks such as Bullet in my Hand (which had got a mean aircraft hanger video clip to it).

“I’d say that was a good statement of the album, but the best is certainly still to come. I’ve got the full support of the record company, and the future is looking good. You know, a band can’t only live off a record deal anymore – not if you’re dead intent on making it. The future for bands is in live music.

You’ve got to hit the road and put in the miles. It’s old school. Unless you’re a pop artist, there’s no real future to be had in simply releasing records. It’s the cornerstone, but it can’t be all there is. The time on the road honing your craft constantly is going to take music back to where it used to be, and that’s the way it should be.”

And the tattoos? It’s hard to find a rock band without them – and that’s also the way it should be. These sleeves are full of road stories. Some are memorials and captured moments in time, others are signs of nothing better to do while you’re waiting around (and boy, is there ever a lot of waiting around when you’re on the road). Time has greyed the fact that this is how I used to think too. It’s no bad thing.

Something For The Pain is a world away from the guy that was once a judo champion on the national squad and headed for the 2000 Olympics. I think I’d rather have the band out there though… go check them out.

Young's Old Man

Kazzer made the news in 2011 for his success in securing permission from Neil Young to allow a sample of his 1972 song, Old Man. The sample is included in the song "Old Man" (originally titled "Hardworking Hands") and took a lot of ignoring rejection before eventually getting the song in front of Young himself to get clearance. There’s a good lesson to be learned there in the art of persistence.


Text: Sion Smith; Photography: Courtesy of Universal