By Todd Houston
Tattoo You comes back to Mary’s Place, 602 N. Madison St., this Friday. Josh Watson, the frontman for what is truly one of the country’s best tribute acts, took some time to talk to Rockford Rocked this week about how his group got together and his enduring passion for the Stones and their music.
RRI: Your Rolling Stones tribute band Tattoo You has been gaining the reputation for being one of the premier tribute bands in the area. Tell us how the band was put together and who the other members are.
JW: Back in 2005, myself along with our bass player Nyle Smith, we’re in an original band called The Van Damnits. Kryptonite was doing a Halloween show where local original bands were doing a set of their favorite band, so it started as a one off thing. I was telling a coworker about it and how fun it was and he said you gotta keep doing this and I wanna be the drummer. So that’s where we got our drummer, Jeramie Hendricks. Steve Kelly is on guitar duties with me and Jim Westin is on the keys.
RRI: How long have you been a fan?
JW: My whole life. My dad is a huge fan, so it’s only natural. We’ve gone out on the road with them together.
RRI: Your guitar playing is top notch! Having said that, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is known for his weird guitar tunings and often changes axes after every song. How do you keep up?
JW: Usually (when playing) live, Keith sticks to open G. So I have one Tele with 5 strings tuned to open G. Then I usually bring a Tele and a Strat with me for standard stuff. But yeah, Keith changes guitars a lot. I’m too lazy to bring that many guitars with me.
RRI: What’s your personal favorite Stones song to play live?
JW: It’s probably a toss up between Gimme Shelter, Jumpin’ Jack Flash or Midnight Rambler.
RRI: If you had a chance to sit down with good ol’ Keef and chat what would you say to the guy?
JW: Thank you for the music. If it wasn’t for Exile On Main Street and watching you and Chuck Berry on Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll I’d still be playing drums.
RRI: What do you think it is about the Rolling Stones that appeals to such a wide audience?
JW: They’re icons. The music is timeless. They play everything too – rock, ballads, blues, country, reggae. Mick and Keith wrote some great songs and people connect to them.
RRI: You guys are back at Mary’s Place Feb. 24. That place sort of oozes a cool blue collar rock ‘n’ roll vibe. JW: Hands down my favorite spot to play and hang out. They treat bands so good there.
RRI: Do you have any other music projects going on at the moment or does Tattoo You pretty much eat up all of your free time?
JW: I just did an acoustic thing at Rural on Tap (1710 Rural St.) last week. Also, myself and a few of the guys of Tattoo You and Scott Ford do a cover project. Jim Westin and I keep talking about having that band record an original album. That’s something I’d really like to do. Write an album and record it. Maybe play it out a few times.
RRI: Where can we find out more about the band and upcoming shows?