North Carolina melodic death-metal crew Aether Realm wear their hearts on their sleeves. The title of their forthcoming album, Redneck Vikings From Hell — which is due out May 1st via Napalm Records and available for pre-order now — may sound cartoonish, but its songs pull from deep, personally resonant places. “Lyrically it’s just a sort of cathartic release of frustration,” frontman Vincent “Jake” Jones says of the recently released single “Slave to the Riff.” “Music doesn’t always come when I call. Instead, I usually feel that I’m bound to do its bidding, regardless of time of day or inconvenience of surrounding. Sometimes it’s a great comfort to surrender to it, but often feels like it’s taken over my life. … Musically, it’s also a cathartic release, this one of a hodgepodge of musical influences and ideas, cobbled together with the hope that if it’s good enough, the spirit of music will be sated —if only for a moment.”
Jones wears his heart on his sleeve — or rather his leg — in another way, too: via his one, very large tattoo. We recently caught up with the vocalist-bassist to get the inside story on the insane piece.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR “BIG LEG” TATTOO.
VINCENT “JAKE” JONES I’ve only have one tattoo — “Big Leg” on my left leg. I got it at Wacken 2019. I was performing as the rapper/hypeman Ol’ Big Leg for Christopher Bowes and His Plate of Beans. Wacken has tattoo artists working on site to give free tattoos to performers, with many people getting the Wacken logo as sort of a badge of honor. I was drinking with Gloryhammer — we opened for them in the U.S. a year or so ago — and they were getting all kinds of meme-y shit tattooed by this team — a man who would print out the design and place it on the recipient, and a woman who would actually ink the tattoo — and it came up that I didn’t have any tattoos. Of course, that’s when the peer pressure from Hootsman and Zargothrax started: “Jake, come on, fuckin’ get one, mate — there’ll never be a better time”.
I sorta hemmed and hawed about it for a little bit, finally agreeing to get “big leg” small in plain text on my left leg. The man running designs says, “I gotcha, man,” and proceeds to free hand draw it on my leg, huge, and I’m like, “Hey dog … maybe we go a bit smaller.”
Zargothrax comes over with a razor and just starts shaving that whole area of my left thigh, really goin’ at it with this absolutely devilish grin on his face. I put a stop to the whole thing briefly, drinking their beer and pacing around, until the artists told me it was time to make the call and I said, “Alright, fuck it, lets do it.”
So glad I did. It reminds me of a wonderful time, and I get to brag about playing a big ol’ show when I get asked.
WOULD YOU EVER GET A BAND TATTOO?
I haven’t put a great deal of thought into band tattoos, not sure why — just never gravitated toward them. I worry that my fave bands will do something super dumb or fucked-up and make my tattoo regrettable after the fact. [Laughs] Maybe like a Wretched tattoo or something — someone from the home state.
SO WHAT’S GOING TO BE YOUR NEXT TATTOO?
Been considering getting a tarot card “The Fool” tattooed somewhere — often feel a connection to that one, what with being a head-in-the-clouds-type dude and all.
DO YOU HAVE FAVORITE TATTOO ARTIST?
I really like David Hale out of Athens, Georgia — a lot of very stylized red and black animals. I’d love to go to Kola Hari, as well — the U.K. artist that did the album cover to [Aether Realm’s 2017 album, Tarot].