Tales from the Tattoo Shop continues Chris Walter’s punk storytelling

Chris Walter by Andrew Gerrard

April 13, 2017

by Dave O Rama

With almost 30 books to his name, Canadian author Chris Walter has carved himself a niche market as the prolific monster of sleazy sardonic street pulp.

With his roots in the late-’70s Winnipeg punk scene, the 57-year-old Vancouver-based novelist made a serious attempt to trade in a couple hard decades of wide-ranging drug addiction in 1999, by writing his first work of fiction, Beer.

By 2001, married, living in East Van and the father of a baby boy, Walter was still addicted and desperate. On the streets and with his back up against a wall, he was driven to shed his self-destructive tendencies, finally choosing to pry the toxic monkey from his back and chain it to a typewriter.

“I had nothing better to do with my time after giving up hard drugs in 2001,” says the powerfully built and heavily inked wordsmith. “Instead of hunting for drugs all day, I’d just write like a fiend.”

Channeling his addictive tendencies into creative writing, Walter realized a passion for fiction so consuming that he was forced to cap his daily output to a 1,000 words a day so he could devote himself to the serious task of fatherhood.

In addition to his impressive collection of works that dig deep into the dark side of poverty, addiction and the punk rock life, Walter has also been running his own independent publishing house, Go Fuck Yerself (GFY Press) Press. Founded in 1998, it has published titles such as Welfare Wednesdays, Boozecan, Shouts From The Gutter and I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk.

In 2008, Walter decided to delve into journalism, publishing his historical investigation of Winnipeg punk rock pioneers Personality Crisis with the book Warm Beer and Wild Times. Since then, he’s gained notoriety for his biographies on stalwart Canadian punk legends The Dayglo Abortions, SNFU, The Real McKenzies, and Randy Rampage of D.O.A.

Walter confesses that “non-fiction is more like real work, whereas writing fiction is like getting paid to lie. Problem is fiction just doesn’t pay enough. I’d stick to fiction if it actually paid the rent. Non-fiction sells better.”

Even now as the father of a teenager, the street-worn author remains fixated on the bizarre and absurd. With the release of his new book, Tales from the Tattoo Shop, Walter combines his passion for fiction with his intense addiction to the ink gun.

Walter explores the life stories of a variety of veteran tattoo artists and the paths they took to success, including a collection of wild and surreal anecdotes from the world of body art.

Walter’s three-city book launch includes Vancouver, his hometown of Winnipeg and Edmonton’s DV8. He joins forces with hellbilly rockers The Devil’s Sons and hardcore soul merchants Cocaine Moustache for a night of disjointed readings, cold beer, cheap books and heavy vibes.

Walter is soon to be marking 20 years in his chosen field of hardcore narrative and admits that even though his passion hasn’t faltered, it remains a rough road.

“It’s always been a struggle and I never seem to get any farther ahead”, he explains. “Somehow I always make rent, even though it seems like I’ve been treading water for 18 years. Still, it beats construction.”

Fri., Apr. 14 (9 pm)

Chris Walter, The Devil’s Sons, and Cocaine Moustache

DV8, $15

Dave O Rama

Originally published in The Vue Weekly