Joel Madden on hosting the new season of INK MASTER

By now, if you’re a tattoo enthusiast, you most certainly have seen INK MASTER, the beloved reality tattoo-centered competition series that’s returning for its biggest season yet this fall. The new season kicks off Sept. 7 exclusively on Paramount+ and is undergoing a makeover with fresh talent coming on board in all aspects. The latest addition to the series? Joel Madden, the innovative entrepreneur and vocalist behind Good Charlotte, who has officially been appointed as the series’ new host. 

“Tattoo culture has been a big part of my own development, identity, aesthetic and life for over 25 years, so this feels natural for me, and I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the INK MASTER tradition,” Madden tells AP. It’s not surprising that hosting a television show comes naturally to Madden — he previously served as a solo coach on the Australian version of the widely beloved music competition series The Voice.

AP caught up with Madden after the announcement about his new role as the host of a major TV series, his favorite tattoos and artists, as well as his on-set chemistry with the show’s eccentric cast of characters.

How did you initially get linked up with INK MASTER and the team at Paramount+? 

They organically just reached out, and they were looking to reboot the series. It’s done really well on Paramount+, and so the audience has grown over time. I was a fan of the show — I watched it with my kids, and it was one of the shows that we watched a lot during the pandemic. We love INK MASTER. 

You obviously have a background in hosting television, largely due to your stint as a coach on the Australian version of The Voice, so I can imagine you felt pretty comfortable hosting the new show from the beginning. How does hosting a TV series compare to performing live with your band Good Charlotte? 

Performing onstage with Good Charlotte has been the best training I could have ever had. I am the frontman, so I am a little bit of a host of sorts. When I’m onstage with the band, I have to lead the show. Some things about that are easier because I’ve been with this band since high school, so we all know each other so well onstage. There are things about it that are harder because it does live and die by our success collectively.

With this show, it’s a large group of people, and it really comes down to the tattoo artists first. I get to be a judge and a host with three other professionals who really know their shit. They know how to tattoo inside and out. It’s rewarding to see people who have given their entire life to art and to get their perspective. As a connoisseur of tattoos and an enthusiast of the tattoo culture, I feel like this was so easy. It was like eating at your favorite restaurant or going to your favorite place to have coffee. Any tattoo enthusiast that gets to go to a convention, meet artists and experience the things they’re interested in is less like work and more like an enjoyable hobby.

What was the chemistry like on set with the rest of the cast, artists, judges and co-hosts? 

Everybody is just very down-to-earth, nice, and they really know what they’re talking about. They care deeply about the tattoo artists. The competition is very serious with a lot at stake, so it’s very exciting to watch it all unfold in real-time. These tattoo artists are putting themselves out there by coming on this platform. Not too many artists, in general, would do that because it’s really hard to put yourself out there knowing that only one person is going to win. It takes a lot of grit, stomach and thick skin, so you really gain a newfound respect for the artists who come to compete. The challenges are really crazy, and most artists like to be in control of what they’re creating, so to come into a competition and compete against other great artists takes a lot of courage. You have to be a little crazy to do it, but it’s the best of the best on this show. 

How rigorous was the filming process for the show? 

The tattoo artists have the longest hours. They really are tattooing, and not only are with us when we’re setting up a challenge but have to come back to be critiqued. It’s pretty rigorous. It’s not hard for me, I would say — it’s just fun. Tattooing is physically exhausting, and I can’t imagine doing three or four hours of it, and then having to come back and film. 

What are you looking for specifically in what constitutes a great tattoo? 

It obviously starts with great art. I look for originality and art that speaks to you. Then you go to the application of the tattoo, so a good application is a must and altogether constitutes a well-rounded tattoo. What I love about this competition is that while you watch it, you also learn a lot about tattooing. It’s great for people who are interested in tattoos to watch it and learn about what they like and become an expert on what to look for in mistakes, whether it’s the line work or the colors. It took me 10 years into getting tattoos to start understanding what I like personally and what to look out for. 

Do you have a personal favorite tattoo, and is there a significant meaning behind it? 

I love the tattoos on my hands because I got them for my family, my kids and my wife. They are very special and feel really meaningful to me. 

Who are some of your favorite current tattoo artists? 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Scott Campbell. I personally love everything he does and love him as a person; he’s just a special being. I also love Thomas Hooper, Sean From Texas and Dr. Woo. There are so many great artists from all different styles, but those are definitely a few of my favorites.