Seattleite and longtime Capitol Hill resident Shannon Perry talks tattoos, music and the changes to her favorite neighborhood.
With her bottle-blonde hair and dark, thick eyebrows that match her dramatic black eyeliner, vocalist and tattoo artist Shannon Perry resembles a curly-haired Siouxie Sioux, the goth singer from the ’80s. Perry is a singer herself, fronting Gazebos, a post-punk Capitol Hill band that would have fit right in at New York’s CBGB in the late ’70s.
Something of an “It Girl” — there’s a mural of her on the side of Neumos — Perry’s band released its first record, “Die Alone,” this weekend. But she’s also better known for her art and tattoo work (she owns her own studio, Valentine’s Tattoo Co.). Perry’s Instagram feed has nearly 27,000 followers; and her tattoos — quirky line-drawings of random subjects (a hand holding a tube of lipstick, a snake eating its own tail) — are light-years away from rockabilly-informed art of pinup girls and clichéd tribal designs.
She gave herself her first “stick and poke” tattoo when she was 14, and taught herself the craft with gear she bought from eBay about eight years ago, practicing mostly on herself. “When I first did tattoos on myself, it was extremely emotional. It hurts, you don’t want to do it.” But, she said, “My desire to have a tattoo was greater than my fear of what would happen.”
A Seattle native and a longtime denizen of Capitol Hill, she talked about her influences, and her favorite places to go and things to do.
What sort of music did you grow up listening to?
I was really goth in high school, so I was into a lot of embarrassing, typical stuff like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, and The Cure and Ministry.
You cover “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from “Grease.” Why that song?
I’ve been singing that song at karaoke since I was in my early 20s … I think it’s a song about sexual liberation and sort of, anti-slut-shaming feminist movement, so it feels like a feminist song, in a way.
Where do you like to go to think?
I do most of my thinking at my shop. I spend more time at my shop than I do anywhere else, including my apartment.
What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
Being extremely witty on the fly.
What’s your favorite walk?
Every once in a while, I will walk from Capitol Hill to Fremont or Ballard and walk across the city. Usually, I’ll have to take a bus back. I really like walking for long distances … When you are actually on the streets, you can see how things are changing instead of rushing by in a car.
Pettirosso. It’s one of the last places that during the week is a local haunt more. Even on the weekends when the whole neighborhood is blown out and you have people puking everywhere, that’s the safe place to go. It’s the Cheers of the Hill. I almost always will know someone when I go in there.
Where do you meet up for drinks and what is your drink of choice?
What’s your number one recommendation to out-of-towners?
What’s your neighborhood pet peeve?
The bros. All the new, entitled, just, bro-dudes. They are taking over — our neighborhood was a primarily gay neighborhood. Now, there are all these heteronormative bro-dudes coming in and getting wasted and it’s been much more violent lately. And the skyrocketing prices.
Seattle Freeze, real or fake?
Real. I don’t think it’s on purpose. It’s misinterpreted. Being born and raised here, I don’t think I’m an unfriendly person, but generally unless I’ve got permission from a human that they want my engagement, I don’t give them it. It’s more a polite, careful thing, than it is rude.
Favorite rainy day activity?
Stay inside at my shop and draw and turn the heaters way up.
What’s your favorite place to see a band?
I generally like staying on the Hill because I don’t have a car; I like going to Chop Suey a lot.
How do you take your coffee? Do you make it at home or pick it up? Where do you go?
Americano, cream and sugar. Both. Probably Caffe Vita.
How did you know you were really a Seattleite?
I’ve been here too long to notice what it is or what I am in it. But I feel like I am it.