VAN HALEN singer David Lee Roth spoke to Vogue about his business venture Ink The Original, the just-launched skin-care line specifically made to preserve, protect, and highlight tattoos and keep them from fading.
Regarding how he got involved in a business in the tattoo-maintenance space, Roth said: "Simple: The product that we're dealing with now goes hand in hand with what I think is the true Esperanto: It's a language — ink — that everybody shares, especially if you don't speak the same language. With ink, we read each other's signs and icons. In that way, it's much like music.
"I started this project with three of us sitting around an upended plastic bucket for a table at my house in L.A. Now, there's 34 of us and we have offices in New York as well as L.A. It's taken three years and close to $7 million, and I'm involved in every single element of every part of it. Surprisingly, there's almost no competition. And what we have built is absolutely specialized to our community. My business partner, Ami James, is the curator and one of the three owners of Tattoodo, which has more than 500,000 artists curated on their site. They get 2 billion views a month and have 20 million social media followers."
Asked when he started becoming interested in tattoos, Roth said: "I got my first tattoo 40 years ago, a little seahorse on my ankle, at a place called Cliff Raven Studio on Sunset Boulevard in '77, '78. That was very outré then — the only people who got tattoos then were bikers, rock 'n' rollers to a small degree; the gay community was into it. Eventually, though, I took a much more gentrified approach: I waited until I was 60 and got the whole Japanese tuxedo. It took me 300 hours of sitting over two years. But I planned it for the 30 years prior, and it's my design: kabuki faces, the original showbiz, rendered Edo style — it looks like a woodblock print."
VAN HALEN has been inactive since it completed its U.S. tour in October 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California.
The trek was VAN HALEN's first since an aborted North American run three years earlier in support of its then-new studio album, "A Different Kind Of Truth".
Released in 2015 was "Tokyo Dome In Concert", VAN HALEN's first-ever live collection featuring Roth, despite numerous pro-shot concerts from the band's original heyday being heavily booted for years.