Now this is what we like to see when we go into a shop!! Custom motorcycles, parts, tattoos, custom guitars, cool clothing – the Perri Ink.Cartel is Hollywood’s one-stop shop for moto heads. Can’t go wrong in a store where a 1976 Ironhead greets you at the door.
Born and raised “Perri.” One look at their arms and you’ll understand the “Ink.” As for the “Cartel,” well, they are a familia with thick Italian blood running through their veins, so a little “Godfather” mentality is inherent. One common denominator the Cartel shares is passion, be it passion for motorcycles, music, or the sting of the tattoo gun. This passion birthed the Perri Ink. Cartel, a place where Nick Perri and an eclectic group shares what they love with others, an intimate shop that houses a tattoo parlor, custom guitar shop, motorcycle garage, clothing boutique, and parts store all within a little over 1000 square feet. With Taber Nash wrenchin’ out back it’s also turned into a destination where moto freaks feel welcome when they hit up West Hollywood’s Melrose Avenue.
The idea behind the shop spawned in 2009 when Misi Perri, the glue that keeps the Cartel functioning and wife of Nick, suggested he go public with his custom guitar making skills.
“The whole time I was building guitars. I never played a stock guitar on stage. I’ve been doing that since I was ten. And then, actually on tour with Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen backstage, he’s famous for building his own stuff and making it gnarly, so he actually gave me like a couple of crazy secrets I can’t talk about. He kind of like passed the torch to me in a weird way. This really inspired me,” said Nick.
In the first few months after offering up his handmade electric guitars for sale, he quickly sold almost a dozen of them. Around the same time, a cosmic chain of events occurred that inspired Nick and Misi to open the shop.
“That’s how Perri Ink started, was guitars. But again, paralleling this whole journey, I love bikes, love riding, love working on them. So as things started to snowball a little bit, we were here in LA and this tattoo shop, actually the shop we’re in now, was our favorite place to hang out. The tattoo shop closed and all this, there was just this moment where the universe just kind of signaled for us to do something. And we thought, ‘Hell, let’s get on it, let’s get the lease.’ And then we put everything we love under one roof, because hey, we’re in the middle of a recession, why not throw out as many things as possible and see what sticks. But it wasn’t random things we picked out from the air, these are all things that we’re passionate about.”
Nick grew up in a barber shop. His dad was a barber, his mom was a hairdresser, so having a barber shop “as part of this was very natural.” (Until Hollyweird changed the laws recently, which put a kibosh on the barber shop for now).
“We’re all covered in tattoos, we love tattoos, our best friend is a tattoo artist, so let’s put that in there. Let’s have a showcase for the guitars, let’s incorporate motorcycles,” Nick continued.
“At this time, Taber Nash of Nash Motorcycle Company and I, we’d been friends and had been talking. He was really like a guiding light to influence the shop to be, I think, as cool as it is now and really focus on the custom motorcycle scene and handmade, American-made stuff and to support small businesses like ourselves that are working hard.”
Rock guitarist Nick Perri doing what he does best. Perri is the man behind the misfit crew known as the Perri Ink.Cartel.
“Really the whole aesthetic of the shop is all about small business, American-made parts, handmade stuff, and it all works like this (interlocks fingers) because the world of custom guitars, custom motorcycles, custom body art, tattoos, piercings, straight razor shaves, they all go hand-in-hand,” stated Nick.
He was introduced to Taber’s work through the Limpnickie Lot. Nick had one of their manuals and was a fan of his work before they became friends and business partners. Nick wanted to get in touch with Taber and specifically wanted to carry some of the Nash parts in the shop, but it evolved into much more.
“He became a great buddy, a guiding light and inspiration.”
Nick took a trip up to Vancouver, Washington, to visit Taber at the Nash Motorcycles shop and Taber showed him the foundations of welding, how to run a lathe and mill and other cool machinery. Their families became tight and Nick learned that Taber had actually grown up in California. Taber’s wife and kids had had their fill of the cold and rain that comes along with living in the “Great Northwest” and wanted something different. Taber loves to surf and they already had plenty of Nash parts and some of his bikes in the shop, so Nick suggested they turn the back of the shop into a garage. Before then, people would come in and buy parts and ask Nick if he could install them, but legally he couldn’t. Adding Nash Motorcycles into the mix gave the shop another dimension.
The Perri Ink.Cartel added another dimension when Nick convinced Taber Nash to open the Nash Sickle Garage in the back of the shop. Taber does things the right way, by hand, bending, torching and welding his ground-up customs until they come to life with character and performance.
With Taber Nash on board, the Cartel became complete. The Nash Sickle Garage was opened in the back. In between working on Nick’s project bike and another custom based on a WLA Harley, Taber knocks out service and repair jobs. It also places him in the heart of the SoCal scene, a place where bikes like Nash’s “Sanchez ,” a 1940 Knucklehead with a 6-speed Baker tranny, right side foot clutch and hand shifter can garner more exposure that hopefully translates to more sales of parts, like the popular Gimp Hanger handlebars and Looky Looky gauges with a glass peep hole that allows you to look at your fluid level.
Taber has also been a driving force behind the aforementioned Limpnickie Lot, a collection of American motorcycle shops and custom bike builders who offer handmade parts and services. It is comprised of people who do things the old-fashioned way, taking pride in their craft, finding new uses for old parts and creating their own if they can’t find something that fits their needs. A couple of years back, the Lot had a huge presence at rallies like Sturgis and Daytona Beach, but has scaled down a bit since. Nick has since come on board to help promote it on the digital side, stating “We’ve slowed back a bit trying to figure out what the next incarnation of it is going to be, focusing on making sure we’ve got the right nucleus of people in it.”
The rise of the Cartel has allowed Nick and Taber to combine their skills as the two recently built a custom guitar for the David Mann Chopperfest. Taber oversaw pieces like the laser-engraved pick guard while Nick built the body out of solid Alder and the neck out of maple. The electric guitar has the panache of a custom motorcycle, topped off with TV Jones pickups and GHS Strings. To boot, custom motorcycle-style paint was artfully applied by Spencer Getty of SpaGetty’s Garage. Taber and Nick
One of Taber’s latest projects sits on the lift in the Nash Sickle Garage.
Nick has played with the likes of Shinedown, Perry Farrell, Matt Sorum in addition to forming his own band, Silvertide. His easy-going smile matches his laid-back personality.
also sponsored the “Best of Show” cash prize at David Mann and got to pick out the winner, selecting Scott Jones and his ’59 Pan/Shovel for “being one of the most well-fabricated builds I’ve seen all year.”
By combining so many things bikers are passionate about, the Perri Ink. Cartel has a recipe for success. Hard not to like a shop where a 1976 Ironhead sitting in the foyer is one of the first things you see, followed by Misi’s sweet smile as she greets you enthusiastically from behind the counter. Display cases filled with everything from piercing jewelry to guitar strings to motorcycle parts are front and center, the chairs and flash of the tattoo studio behind it. In the back, Adam Daniel is working his artistry on a human canvas. After graduating from The Art Institute of Philadelphia, a world of opportunities awaited Daniel. He opted to focus his artistry on inking the human body, found plenty of willing subjects to hone his craft on Melrose and hasn’t looked back since. Ask Bruno Mars about his work.
As far as the musical side of this melding of music and motorcycles, Nick says, ““It was a wild ride, man. I started playing at age 12 and signed my first record deal at age 16. Dropped out of high school and signed a major label deal. Started touring the world, spent about seven years on tour all over the world playing guitar and traveling. It was a crazy way to grow up, let’s say that.”
Nick’s mastery of the six-string gained notice with the rise of his old Philly-based band, Silvertide. Since then, he has played with the likes of Shinedown, Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction fame and drummer Matt Sorum in the band The Darling Stilettos. Over the holidays, he played guitar with his pop star sister, Christina Perry, on The Today Show, and has been working on a custom signature guitar for his sister. On New Year’s Day, Nick sprung even bigger news, writing “Silvertide is gonna make music again with all 5 original members for the 1st time in almost 7 years!!!! Much much more on this to come.”
As if Nick didn’t have enough on his plate. In the meantime, you’ll find Taber in back welding and wrenching away, the buzz of Adam’s tattoo gun will busily be inking bodies , impromptu jams will still be breaking out spontaneously and the Cartel will continue to make everyone who walks through its doors feel like part of the familia.