About 13 years ago, I was hanging out with Bryan Kienlen and he said, “Hey bud, I should tattoo you.”
I admittedly waited a bit as he got dialed in but then he put the iconic Bouncing Souls anchor heart on my calf, a piece I will always love for its association with New Jersey punk, independence and the friends we have in common.
After interviewing Bryan Kienlen for Souls related stories for so many years, it was cool to chat with him about his new career as a tattoo artist. He’s doing some big things at Anchors Aweigh in Bradley Beach.
In the ’90s, he turned his focus to the band. But when the energetic bass player moved to the Lower East Side later that decade and wasn’t on tour, he spent time hanging out at Adorned Tattoo watching guys like Chris Garver (Miami Ink). That period informed his aesthetic as he collected tattoos from renowned artists.
Meanwhile, as a “blue-collar” band, the Souls became a pillar of punk, with 11 studio albums and countless tours. The group has transcended punk to become beloved by generations of New Jerseyans.
“Around the 20-year mark of the Bouncing Souls, we were slowing down from living on the road full-time. I finally had a little time to think about my own life and immediately started tattooing,” Kienlen recalls. He bought a home in Bradley Beach in 2009, and the Souls adopted Asbury Park as their home base. He opened Anchors Aweigh in 2018, a block away from his wife Nicole’s Paws and Anchor pet-care shop.
Today, he is best known for work relating to punk themes with a heavy traditional style. One of his signature tattoos is a Souls logo with the New York City skyline replaced by the waterfront architecture of Asbury Park. “I love doing New Jersey and Asbury tattoos. It’s something I can get behind.”
Visit the shop at 712 Main Street in Bradley Beach. Looking forward to seeing everyone at Stoked for the Summer on July 16.
Read the full story in this month’s New Jersey Monthly or check the online version.