I met Rob Rover Rushing because of the Flogging Molly Cruise, where he swabbed potential bone marrow donors while touring with one of Love Hope Strength’s major supporters, Flogging Molly. Rob has a generous and loving spirit and is one of the most positive people I know; I have rarely seen him without a smile on his face. Because of his job, Rob is able to tour with amazing bands and host marrow donor drives at concerts and festivals around the world. While on tour, Rob often acquires tattoos to commemorate his travels and I asked him for an email interview to find out more about his experiences on the road.
Tell us about Love Hope Strength.
Love Hope Strength (“LHS”) is now firmly established as the world’s leading rock and roll cancer foundation. The organization was created in 2007, registered as a charity in 2008 (IRS #26-0528852), and co-founded by Mike Peters and James Chippendale. Mike is a 3-time cancer survivor and an internationally acclaimed singer for the Welsh rock band The Alarm. James, a fellow cancer survivor, is a respected insurance executive specializing in the music industry. Together they had the vision that LHS could literally, “Save lives, one concert at a time!”
Since 2008 we have been hosting marrow donor drives at concerts and festivals across the globe via our Get on the List campaign. This program encourages people to sign up for the International Bone Marrow Registry via a simple cheek swab, taking our concept of, “saving lives, one concert at a time,” to a whole new level.
After losing a dear friend in 2009, I felt I wasn’t doing good or bad in the world and started searching for a mission. I was watching TV at work one day when I stumbled upon the LHS documentary Everest Rocks where my favorite musician since I was 14, Mike Peters, was urging everyone to save lives with LHS. I called their office the second the doc ended and started volunteering. After 2 years of volunteering and leading shows in Nashville, LHS asked me to move to Denver and come on board in 2011. The last 6 years have been amazing and beyond rewarding.
How often are you on the road? Do you enjoy being on the road so much?
It has steadily grown over the last 6 years leading to 2016 where I will be out about 9 months of the year. I actually do love it. I do miss home when I’m out extended periods, but miss the road after a few days home.
My travel collection started with a Tennessee 3 Star as a tribute to Nashville, which was my home for a long time and my birthplace, prior to Bonnaroo 2013. I got it and then thought that a cool tattoo from cities I fall in love with touring on my right arm would be amazing!
How do you locate/choose the tattoo shops/artists who have done your traveling tattoos?
I have been lucky in most cities to have a friend or friend recommendation to fall back on. The only blind choice was in LA and was just lucky to get a rad artist to do my Cali Bear (impossible to pick one city in an amazing state, so I paid tribute to CA).
How do you come up with the tattoo designs?
I search for something that is representative of the city or state in my eyes. In some cases it’s simple (i.e. Chicago City Flag, Welsh Dragon) and others are abstract (i.e. Hogs and Heifers logo for Las Vegas, the bar is a big supporter of LHS). If it makes me think of a good place, it can take its place.
Do you have a list of tattoos you’d like to get or cities that you’d like to get tattooed in or is it a more spontaneous process? What are your plans for the next one, if any?
The list grows each tour. I don’t always have the time and it typically takes a few visits to nail down the spot.
Right now I need: Boston, Philly, Seattle, NJ, NYC, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta.
How many traveling tattoos have you gotten?
13 so far.
Which is your most recent traveling tattoo and why did you get it?
Las Vegas was last and I am jonesing for new one now. I leave on tour tomorrow and hope to add on this trip.
Which traveling tattoo is your favorite?
They are all like good memories, I love them all.
Do you have a favorite background story for any of your traveling tattoos?
I was lucky to get my Welsh Dragon in Llandudno Wales while there for The Alarm’s annual Gathering concert. Then jumping in the cold Irish Sea the next morning for charity. I know it wasn’t smart, but we have to live!
Have you had any bad experiences with getting a tattoo on the road?
Luckily not yet!
Any advice for those who wish to get tattoos while traveling?
Go forth, but do it for your memories and live the adventure!
To “get on the list,” and potentially meet Rob while on the road, check out the Love Hope Strength events page. After two years of pretending I was on the list because I am ironically afraid of the needles and pain associated with donating bone marrow, I swabbed while at Riot Fest Chicago 2016.