There’s a “Con” for everything these days: A weekend of festivities where super fans can immerse themselves in their obsession, peruse related booths and vendors, meet progenitors, attend informative panels, and get a sneak preview of things to come. Now, thanks to Springfield, Oregon resident Chris Rohaley, AKA Chris 51, there’s a convention for metal. This weekend (Fri Nov 9-Sun Nov 11) marks the inaugural Headbangers Con!!
Along with being a tattoo artist—tattooing at over 20 comic cons a year—creating/producing reality TV shows like Epic Ink (and a secret new one in production), writing books, and coaching his sons’ football teams, Chris has single-handedly curated Headbangers Con. Wanna meet members of Megadeth, Living Colour, or Twisted Sister? Get your picture taken with video vixens from classic MTV videos like Warrant’s “Cherry Pie,” or Aerosmith’s “Love In An Elevator?” Shake the hand of the man that created Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie? Wanna meet Eddie freakin’ Munster?! Headbangers Con has got you covered.
Chris took some time out of his wacky schedule to answer a few questions about the first con of its kind, and his plans to not make it the last.
MERCURY: What was the initial catalyst for creating Headbangers Con?
CHRIS: My wife (laughs). It was her idea, actually. Since she's always with me (as my manager), when I appear at comic cons, she noticed that whenever I tattooed rock stars they were in awe and wonderment of the surroundings. We got on a plane after a huge Walking Dead Con last year and she said, "Babe, with all your connections in the comic con and entertainment industry and with all the rock stars you tattoo, you should do a comic con style event just for metal." A light bulb went off in my mind, and I realized that this type of thing had never been done on this level.
This seems like the kind of thing that would land best in Los Angeles, or some other big city. Why did you choose to hold it in Portland?
Honestly, because Oregon is my home. And, since I'm self-funded, I also had little option to start it anywhere else. I have literally called in every favor from every local business and every childhood friend to help me make this a success. Everyone has been so supportive and I am so happy to give this to my community. A lot of people don't realize how awesome the metal scene is in the Northwest.
Who are you most excited about on your guest list?
Derek Riggs and David Ellefson. As an artist, Derek's creation of Eddie (Iron Maiden’s mascot) helped inspire me to get into art in the first place. In an indirect way, I owe him a big portion of my success for creating such an iconic masterpiece of awesomeness that every young boy wanted to recreate! Then there is David Ellefson [of Megadeth], who helped inspired me to become a bass player and all-around metalhead. I've now met him since signing him, and all the rumors of him being the nicest, most down-to-earth guy are true! I can't wait to hang with him on a more personal level, hoping I don't fan-boy out too much.
Then there's Eddie [Ojeda] from Twisted Sister and Jason [McMaster] from Dangerous Toys. I'm a huge hair metal guy, so those two are some of my childhood heroes.
Is this something you’re gonna do annually? Perhaps a touring Con?
I already have three slated for next year, so we are tripling in size. I hope to double that in 2020! We are gonna bring Headbangers Con to every major city before we are done!!!
Headbangers Con is this weekend, Fri Nov 9-Sun Nov 11 at Doubletree Inn and various music venues. See website for complete schedule and tickets.