Broken Teeth: Up Close and Personal
This week, I put my mouthguard in to chat up Broken Teeth frontman Jason McMaster in advance of the Austin-based band’s Friday gig at Nightrocker Live. Broken Teeth skull-stomp the line between heavy metal and high-voltage Texas rock ’n’ roll — think old-school AC/DC-style riff rock with the swagger and explosive live show to match. The band spit out a new album last year (their fifth), but McMaster is also well known for disturbing the peace with progressive metal pioneers Watchtower and hard rocking, gold-certified Dangerous Toys in years past. Below, the Texas metal legend dishes on his upcoming induction into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame, getting Canadian rocker Danko Jones to guest on Viva La Rock, Fantastico!, and his new SA-based thrash metal project, Evil United.
Broken Teeth w/Martyrhead, Fri Jan 7, Nightrocker Live, 605 San Pedro, (210) 265-3573, call for cover charge.
I heard you’re being inducted into the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in your hometown Corpus in June 2011. You’re also the first metal artist they’ve ever honored. What does this mean to you?
Being recognized in your hometown for anything is always special. The nominations came in worldwide, but started on a local level, which, again, is very special to me. Friends and fans were the first to put my name in the hat and get the ball rolling. Growing up in Corpus, seeing my first concerts there, and falling in lust with rock ’n’ roll and heavy metal at that young age makes my hometown a big part of who I am. Being the first metal musician inducted speaks volumes. I think more should be inducted — I know people from Corpus who started putting on shows and formed bands, got record deals and toured the world, who need to be in there with me, all metal. I am proud to represent and help raise awareness.
Tell me about the process behind Viva La Rock, Fantastico! I heard that most of the writing for the album happened on the road. What was it like to write material for Broken Teeth without Paul Lidel for the first time?
It was a bit scary, trying to not lose the momentum of the sound of the band. I knew we could do it, and that it would be different either way. I just wrote whatever came out, but you can’t help your influences shining through, such as Paul’s riff writing and whatever your surroundings are. I had been listening to a lot of Danko Jones and had asked him to be involved. That kind of had a [subconscious] influence on some of the songs.
How did you get Danko Jones to guest on vocals? Have you known him a long time?
A friend of mine in Scotland turned me on to Danko years ago. I saw him play a few times and we just became friendly. He digs Broken Teeth and some of my other projects, so it was cool to feel open to call him for a favor. He is a real cool guy and his music is a very good example of how rock ’n’ roll can be fun and heavy, and have different styles involved, while just keeping it simple, fun, and loud.
Broken Teeth was touring a lot last year. How was the new material received?
We have had a great year in 2010. Well received all the way around.
How was ShipRocked? Is it ridiculously fun? (ShipRocked is a rock ’n’ roll music festival cruise. Along with Broken Teeth, 2010 performers included Cinderella, Vince Neil, Tesla, and Drowning Pool.)
ShipRocked is all about the fun. Running around seeing bands, like a mini-festival for four days. It’s also a vacation on top of that idea, so it could very well be saving rock ’n’ roll. A festival, a vacation, a concert, all in one.
I know that you’ve often been plugged by comedian Jim Florentine, most recently on his current project That Metal Show on VH1. How did Jim and the rest of those guys become such big fans of your music?
If they knew about and were fans of Dangerous Toys, or had even heard of Watchtower before we had even met, that’s one feather in my cap. I think someone turned Jim on to Broken Teeth early on; he bought the CDs and shirts from our website, then he happened to be touring through Texas with his comedy act, and he mentioned us on the radio. I got calls from friends saying Jim was pluggin’ us. I found him, saw his act, and we hit it off — we like all the same music, so it was a no-brainer. Since then, he’s turned [That Metal Show host] Eddie Trunk and [co-host] Don Jamieson on to the Teeth. As far as the continuous plugging, I had no influence on that other than just trying to make good rock ’n’ roll.
I feel like San Antonio fans get really excited when they see you’ve booked a show here, because they don’t get to see Broken Teeth that often. What is your San Antonio crowd like?
It’s not as healthy as I think it could be. I wish more people were involved in the live music clubs; I know the business side would appreciate the patronage as well. We’re trying to play San Antonio more and more to give it a stabbing chance of revival. The last time we played Nightrocker’s venue it was pretty good. Lots of friends and fans; I’m hoping for that this Friday.
Are you working on any new projects?
I’m fronting a new, old-school thrash/heavy metal act from San Antonio called Evil United. We’re playing February 12 in Austin at the Dirty Dog; I’m sure that we’ll be playing in San Antonio soon.
Evil United is: Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Gahdzilla Motor Company, Dangerous Toys, Watchtower) on vocals; Donnie “DVS” Van Stavern (Pitbull Daycare, Riot) on bass; Todd “The Bird” Connally (Pitbull Daycare) on lead guitar; John “JV4” Valenzuela (Pitbull Daycare, Uriel) on guitar; Jason “Shakes” West (Pitbull Daycare, Neurotica) on drums.