T.S.O.L or ‘True Sounds of Liberty,’ is a long standing American Punk band spanning almost 35 years. For you newbies to all things 80′s (I’m realizing my audience isn’t limited to my age range), you can find T.S.O.L. t-shirts in the video for GNR’s “Sweet Child Of Mine” video. It isn’t a surprise when I found out that the original founding member, Mike Roche, was tattooing at Carey Hart’s tattoo shop in the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel, I had to see what he was up to.
Mike Roche Grew up around Huntington Beach, CA and quickly became immersed in the southern California surf culture. That’s mike 2nd from the left with skateboard in hand. Even now, Mike still commands quite a presence with his towering height and big smile. As I sat down to get tattoo’d we talked about his father’s love of motorcycles and the early surf days.
Now Mike balances his time between touring with T.S.O.L. and tattooing.
We sat down and went through old photos of his punk days in SoCal and all the people he’s been in contact with. He was saying it is fun to be in Las Vegas because when his friends come through town on tour, he gets to hang and catch up.
Now, in his later years, Mike loves that he continues to be creative through both tattooing and music. We shared similar stories of the trials of touring and our love of all things ‘Fender.’ Mike has an extensive bass collection which is split between his time in L.A. and Las Vegas. We both got that sparkle glimmer in our eyes as Mike described his 60′s slab neck P-Bass. As I proceeded to get tattoo’d, we did what all musicians do…. complain about how hard the ‘biz’ is and share stories of Europe’s touring hospitality.
Hart and Huntington originally started out in the Palms Casino as the brain child of star motorcross racer Carey Hart and partner John Huntington in 2004. Since then the shop is now in multiple locations including Orlando, Niagra, and the newer Vegas location in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Besides being a regarded tattoo shop, the brand has expanded to large merch sales and team sponsorships. Las Vegas shop manager ‘Mooch’ walked me through the brand a bit.
Just in the time I visited the shop, it was bustling with Vegas consumerism. People old and young came through and bought t-shirts and hats. Below are limited edition caps by the artists in the shop.
The shop itself is modest compared to their previous run at the Palms with only a couple stations. For me it was less of a circus than I remember which I actually like. A tattoo shop should feel like a family. I got to meet some of the other artists like street artist ‘Blanco’ who walked me through how he got his start, airbrushing his way through Hacienda Heights.
Part of the brand’s success is attributed to sponsoring a motorcross team among others. The ‘HH’ brand was prevalent throughout my time in Vegas.
I was glad to hang out for a couple hours with a fellow musician/artist and now have an original ‘Mike Roche’ piece on my right forearm. When in Vegas, stop by Hart and Huntington and tell them ‘The Self Centered Man’ sent you. It won’t get you a free shirt or even a discount on a tattoo, but it will acknowledge that there is always a separate angle to every story and someone worth meeting around every corner.
Thanks to Mike and the crew at H&H.