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Rob Dukes: Tattoos, Artists, and His Exit from Exodus

One of my favorite albums of all-time is ExodusBonded By Blood. Unfortunately, Exodus only recorded one studio album with original vocalist, Paul Baloff. I never got into any of the subsequent Exodus albums until they hired Rob Dukes. Dukes brought the Baloff vibe back to Exodus while adding some of his own stylings. The man's voice is so powerful he doesn't even need monitors when performing live! I had the honor of having Mr. Dukes jam with me twice in my life. I was in shock when he first told me that no vocal monitors were necessary. I have never worked with a vocalist who made that request before. When I think about Dukes, I think about his powerful voice first and right behind that is the man's image. Rob is covered in tattoos. What better way to start an interview for Painful Pleasures than to ask Dukes about ink?

rob dukes, generation kill frontman

Dan Lorenzo: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
Rob Dukes: I was 17 when I got my first tattoo. Howie, a biker in Nyack NY had a shop, and I got a reaper which I covered up years later. We smoked a joint right before he started. I didn't know anything about tattooing, except I knew I wanted to be covered. I didn't know any tattoo etiquette at the time. A month later I went to Larry Davis who was just starting out as a tattooer, and I started learning the etiquette of getting tattooed. 

Did anybody in your family object to it?
I was already living on my own at 17 so I didn't have to answer to anyone. 

How much more work can you get on your body?
I'm working on a full body suit and I'm over halfway there. Time and money, just time and money...

Who are some of your favorite artists?
My favorite tattoo artists are Larry Davis from Explicit Tattoo in Suffern NY, Bob Tyrrell in Detroit, Kurt Wiscombe in Winnepeg, Geordie Cole in Melbourne, Oliver Peck in Dallas, Robert Hernandez in Spain and Arron Coleman in Phoenix. There are a lot of good tattooists in the world. And some really bad ones...buyer beware.

Were you the one who arranged for Bob Tyrrell to jam with Exodus?
When Bob jammed with Exodus, it was all my doing.  Those guys were actually not happy about it. They thought the fans wouldn't like it if Bob was up there with us. I thought the band took themselves way too seriously. It was fun as hell to bring up a friend to play with us. Bob told me it was one of the highlights of his life...and that's awesome. 

Now that some time has passed, any new thoughts on your dismissal from Exodus?
F--- those douchebags. I never have to talk to them again...or their managers, and that's such a good thing. It's like I cut a cancer out of my life.

What's next for you musically?

Generation Kill is writing an album with DMC from Run-DMC. Daryl is a f---ing legend and the nicest guy you will ever meet.  It's a rock record. It's been cool and fun and challenging as f--- to write music that incorporates a bunch of styles and not put another nail in the coffin of rap metal.  That's not what we have done. We wrote some cool songs. Generation Kill is also writing a new record. I moved to Phoenix and started building hot-rods and restoring old VWs. Life is good.