Best Tortoise Side Project | Best of Chicago 2012 | Music & Nightlife | Chicago Reader

Best Tortoise Side Project

John Herndon's tattoos

Critics' Picks

Given that all five members of Tortoise are known for their expansive listening habits and tendency to exhaustively explore whatever genre currently has their ear, the band has never suffered for a lack of side projects. But my favorite by far is one that's completely nonmusical. A couple years ago drummer John "Johnny Machine" Herndon, one of several part-time visual artists in the Tortoise lineup, started learning to tattoo and discovered a natural affinity for the medium. Since then he's been refining his talents by inking idiosyncratic original work onto the bodies of friends and fellow travelers in the Chicago music scene. This spring I had him give me a Misfits tattoo, and I still think it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

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