Getting a tattoo is one of the bigger decisions a person can make. It’s a permanent and personal part of themselves. Some use it to showcase a family member, a special cause or even a favorite movie. For some, it is a way to show how much their favorite band and the band’s lyrics means to them. For fans of the band Louden Swain, known as “Swainers”, this is especially true. While some fans may choose to use their own design for their tattoo others have asked their fellow Swainers for help and even enlisted the band members themselves to write out lyrics. Join us on this special edition of our Swain Series!
While design is important, it is the personal meaning behind the tattoo that has led many to get inked. Jessica is one of several Swainers with multiple tattoos inspired by her favorite band. Of her “Angela” lyric tattoo, Jessica says “I had been going through a rough time health wise which isn’t uncommon for me. I had been wanting a Swain tattoo for a few years at this point and was just waiting for the right one and this lyric just stood out to me. It’s like one minute you are on top of the world and everything is great then something like getting really sick changes all that and you are like oh wait this can happen to me. I’m not immune to this or that. I hadn’t had health issues in a while before this time so I just thought that was all put behind me and then bam it all the sudden wasn’t. So this tattoo reminds me I’m not free from it and anything can happen so live your life to the fullest every day.” Jessica shares a “Like the Heart Goes” tattoo with her mother, saying “‘Like the Heart Goes’ is one of our favorite songs. We got it because all of us are happy, a little lonely sometimes but we are still happy and free.” Her third tattoo, with lyrics from Louden Swain’s song “Honey Bee”, was once again inspired by a stay in the hospital. For this one, Jessica had the lyrics written out by Louden Swain’s lead singer, Rob Benedict. “I also chose to put the heart he drew underneath it just to add a nice little touch,” she says.
Several Swainers attribute Louden Swain’s music with helping with their depression. Helen says her “Like the Heart Goes” tattoo reminds her to keep going. “I’ve suffered with depression for a long time and there’s always been highs and lows but I’ve always worked hard to not let my depression define me. That even if I am “sad” I’m not always unhappy.”
Sarah says of her “Downtown Letdown” tattoo: “It’s the song that simultaneously made me fall in love with the band and start thinking about actually treating my depression instead of just trudging through it like I had been for the past several years. This tattoo is a reminder of the friends I’ve made, the adventures I’ve had, the mental health progress I’ve made, and that no matter how bad things get, I will rise up.”
Maranda found peace through the song “A Lot to Learn”. “This song in particular speaks to me on so many levels because of my struggles with depression. It’s there as this reminder that whether I’m here or not, the world will keep spinning,” says Maranda. “Life goes on with or without me. There’s something kinda peaceful about the image of an astronaut hanging onto a satellite, like, this satellite is the one thing keeping me from losing control and flying away. It might be a struggle, it might be the calm in the eye of the storm, either way, the world is still spinning. That’s not gonna change. And I had Rob write the lyric ‘we’re much stronger than we pretend to be’ as sort of the reason to push through tough times. The reason I hang on.”
April and Katie say they chose lyrics that helped remind them they are more than their depression. Both chose to go with lyrics from the song “Downtown Letdown”. April says it reminds her, “that I have risen up and above and will continue to do so,” while Katie says, “I had been depressed and feeling ‘stuck’ for so long. I chose these lyrics to remind myself that I had the courage to leave that situation and pursue my own happiness.”
For Holly, it was the song “Better” that helped her through a difficult time. “Holding on to sentiments like this made me remember life could be worth it even when you feel worthless.”
Alice chose her “Leg Up” tattoo after it gave her “so much hope and reminded me that I could honestly keep going, even if it was just for another day (it definitely wasn’t).” She continues: “I broke down into tears when it was finished because I just knew now that I could never give up, because Swain would always be there for me, even if no one else was.”
Jenna’s “CA Nation” tattoo is a tribute to a new start in her life. “I had recently moved out, so I decided to get blue butterflies, as a symbol of new beginnings. There are 4 of them for the 4 members of the band. It’s a reminder to myself that I can be and do anything I set my mind to, that I’m not limited by my anxiety and depression.”
Jennifer’s “Like the Heart Goes” tattoo is also a symbol of change. “I was miserable in my job and had turned in my notice, they tried to get me to stay, but I just couldn’t for a lot of reasons. So I got this tattoo as a I’m free and moving on kind of thing.”
Other Swainers say their tattoos are reminders of other positive impacts that Louden Swain has had in their life. Sam, who had help designing her “This is How” tattoo from fellow Swainer Trish, recalls how the band helped her find her voice. “Music to me is just…this thing that I need to breathe, I can’t speak with words but through music I can say anything. It’s the cure all for any hardship in my life. I can’t see myself being without it. For many years I’ve learned instruments and had music but it wasn’t until Swain came into my life that I ever felt like sharing my music with anyone. These guys, their music and their lyrics gave me the strength to find my voice and since then all I wanted to do was sing it from the rooftops! So, when this song came out and I heard those words I was brought to literal tears and to this day they still do. This tattoo absolutely means the world to me. It’s my Swain tattoo designed by a fellow Swainer that I met through knowing this band so the placement was easy to figure out. Something this special only belonged over my heart.”
Amanda chose her “Bandaged Hand” tattoo after the song’s lyrics changed the way she viewed the world. “Growing up, things were always painted in black and white and that really swayed my judgments and beliefs about certain people, but when I heard these words, to me, they meant ‘the less I look at the black and the white, the more I see all the shades of gray in between.’ What may seem to some as simple song lyrics, or just poetic words, have changed the way I look at the world; they made me realize there’s more to every situation.”
A lyric does not have to change your life to become a beloved tattoo. It can simply be as simple as being a favorite tune to sing along with or a reminder of happy moments with friends. Brittany wanted a reminder of the love and acceptance she has found as a part of Supernatural’s SPNFamily and as a fan of Louden Swain. “For me, singing Medicated with the band at a show always represents love. We all have these insecurities in life, whether it be appearance, mental health, creativity, or relationships etc and that’s our crazy but our Medicated for all of that is love, kindness, and kazoos.” For her tattoo, she chose a kazoo, the instrument the band and Swainers play at a key moment in “Medicated”, saying “It certainly raises a lot of questions, of which I gladly answer and take a chance to pass on a little brightness and whimsical joy into someone else’s life. Also, you can’t be sad when you say kazoo tattoo. You just can’t.”
Paige says her “A Lot to Learn” tattoo “reminds me of the good times I had with some of the greatest people. Surround yourself with a tribe that lifts you up.”
Similarly, Deidre’s Louden Swain tattoo is more than a tribute to the band, it’s a tribute to the friendships she has made through being their fan. “The people I have met as a result of being a fan are some of the kindest, most supportive and loving friends I have ever had. To represent not just my love of the band but that of the friendships formed through mutual love of their music, I decided to have them each draw a heart.”
For Sarah’s “Poptart Heart” tattoo she decided to turn a heart drawn by Benedict into, appropriately, a poptart. “One of the first things I ever did as a Swain fan was bake homemade strawberry poptart hearts for the band, and the memory of getting to share those with the guys still makes me smile. Plus this is just such a fun song to sing with the band, especially during vendors room jams. This tattoo reminds me of all the fun I’ve had since meeting Swain, and that I’ve got a little piece of Rob’s love with me no matter where I go.”
No matter the reason behind the tattoo, it is apparent that Louden Swain have inspired many, many people with their lyrics and their music. Check out a few more amazing tattoos below!