The Ageless Climate of the Rock Star

Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys: “I Don’t Regret Anything”

1991's Hellacious Acres
1991's Hellacious Acres

Something about December evokes nostalgia like no other month, so seeing Dangerous Toys on the calendar for this Saturday, December 3, at the Red-Eyed Fly only amps up the sentiment. 1987 was a good year for Austin's Toys, who signed with Columbia Records for their eponymous debut.

Metal was in its 1980s glory, and the full-tilt Southern rock attack of Dangerous Toys' singles “Teas’n, Pleas’n” and “Scared” won them a gold record (sales of 500,000) on 1991’s Hellacious Acres, also on Columbia. They continued recording through the 1990s with Pissed (1994) The R*tist 4*merly Known as Dangerous Toys (1995), adding and shedding members along the way including founder Jason McMaster, Tim Trembly, Kevin Fowler, and Dirty Looks’ Paul Lidel.

It’s the presence of Lidel that makes McMaster call those performing on Saturday “the original lineup.” That’s pretty close to the truth, too: McMaster started the band with guitarist Scott Dalhover, bassist Mark Geary, drummer Mike Watson, and in this case, Lidel in the spot of second guitarist Danny Aaron.

“Since 1994, New York native Paul Lidel has been with Dangerous Toys, formed Broken Teeth with me in 1999, and written more material than all former members combined. I was calling the shows we have been doing at the Red-Eyed Fly since early 2000, ‘Back Room reunions.’ I guess I can still call them that, even though it's a mix of the times and climate of the ageless rock fan.”

That climate has allowed McMaster to focus the Toys’ show on “the songs we feel put us where we have maintained.

“The first record is the biggest record, so there you have it. The two Number 1 MTV videos in the summer of 1989 [“Teas’n, Pleas’n” and “Scared”] are staples, but the deep cuts that longtime fans wish we would’ve had videos for back in the day, they’re all there too. It's a greatest hits set as much as it is a rough-and-tumble brawl of fan faves that we never considered to be ‘filler.’

“Sometimes I wonder why we rehearse. It still feels good after 24 years of this. Rehearsals have turned into small family reunions for us. Running the set at a ‘rehearsal’ seems so secondary. We love playing these songs for the fans that have been there since the beginning, but there are new fans who have discovered the band in recent years that may have missed the whole thing - dirty rock, cock rock ...

“I hate the term but here it is: hair metal.

“Whether it’s Sunset Strip or just AC/DC and Motorheadbangers that love Marshalls and Les Pauls, no matter what – young and new, or seasoned rock fans – it’s all there, and as always, it’s a great time.”

McMaster's on a roll now.

“Dangerous Toys has been the most popular achievement in my musical career. When you sign papers, and get thrown into the workings of the big machine that is corporate, from clubs to arenas, from public access TV to MTV, going from playing cover songs to having gold records of your own crafting, it can make you realize, ‘This could be fleeting – this could be a career breaking in front of me. I better pay attention.’

“The Toys, in my opinion, got a chance to do this off the popularity of the era, and maybe plain-out saying it was Guns N Roses that made labels want to copy-and-paste that sound all over the landscape to make a buck. I didn’t even think of that 'til later.

“Looking back at anything we did, or maybe seemed to be able to control about what was being done contractually or not by ‘the machine’ in order to sell records, I learned so much. It was a schooling that most don’t get to soak up or appreciate.

“I don’t regret anything.”

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