1989 – Dangerous Toys self titled debut goes gold!
DANGEROUS TOYS AND JUNKYARD HEADLINE BACK ROOM 30TH ANNIVERSARY NOVEMBER 8, 2003
Long before he stood front and center with Dangerous Toys, Jason McMaster stood on East Riverside at the feet of heroes bands like Saxon, Armored Saint, Nazareth at the Back Room.
I learned more there than anywhere else, says McMaster, who became the club’s de facto goodwill ambassador after the Toys were signed at the club during SXSW 1988 and went on to sell half a million copies of their debut. I’ve seen my idols there. And I still do. Mot rhead isn’t playing anywhere else when they come to Austin, are they?
With McMaster and Co. headlining Saturday as part of the club’s 30th anniversary weekend, a little nostalgia is fair game.
What began in 1973 as a no-frills biker bar has given stage to locals far and wide, from W.C. Clark and a young Stevie Vaughan to current skate-rockers Riddlin Kids and metalheads like HeKill Three and nloco. It was the first Austin stop for the Black Crowes, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains, and where Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and Ice-T visited in the same month when nobody else dared book hip-hop. The Back Room is also where friends of Pariah bassist Sims Ellison gathered instinctively on the night of his death.
It’s about family about home, McMaster says. That’s why it continues to nurture bands.
Back Room faithful have seen Mark Olivarez’s two-decade climb from bar back to general manager, and have seen new generations of customers thanks to the club’s all-ages policy. They’ve also found ways to deal with the giant center-stage support pole that’s been a source of complaints.
As much as people bitch about it, I don’t, laughs McMaster. If you’re tired at the end of the show, it’s an excellent crutch. I just put my dick on it. I use it as part of the show as every pole on a stage should be.
– Andy Langer, Austin Chronicle
Friday Nov. 7, 2003: Dyanamite Boy, Rubberhed, HeKill Three, Born to Lose.
Saturday Nov. 8, 2003: Dangerous Toys, Junkyard, the Lifters.
All ages, doors 8pm.
The Back Room is located at 2015 E. Riverside Drive in Austin, Texas
For more information call (512) 444-ROCK
Back to the Future
If any Austin club is around long enough, it will eventually find itself in the thick of whatever musical movement is currently all the rage. This happened to the Back Room, which celebrates its 30th anniversary Friday and Saturday, during the halcyon days of hair metal in the Eighties. Around the same time, a young San Antonian named Mark Olivarez came aboard as a bouncer.
My first job was to guard the dressing-room door for [ex-Kiss scab guitarist] Vinnie Vincent, who to this day remains in the top three biggest jackasses I’ve ever met, reflects Olivarez, who came aboard while still a UT electrical engineering major, and eventually worked his way up to his current position of general manager.
The hair-metal years, says Olivarez, were leather and long hair and guys looking like girls, and a whole lot of fun. It was everything you’ve seen on those VH1 remember-when shows, plus all the stuff they edited out.
The Back Room began as a folk-blues joint in what is now the ThunderCloud Subs on Riverside Drive. It acquired its reputation as Austin’s premier hard rock/metal venue thanks to its bookings shortly after moving up the hill into its current location in the late Seventies. What is now the game-room side of the club was then the rough-and-tumble biker bar the Copper Dollar.
After grunge nuked the remnants of hair metal in the early Nineties, the Back Room persevered at first — hosting the first Austin appearances of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, among others — but soon fell on lean times because, Olivarez explains, a lot of those bands didn’t want to play a place that had been associated with the era of music they were replacing.
The club instead nurtured a roster of young local bands and broadened its palate to include punk rock of the melodic, 101X-friendly variety. Soon enough, metal crept back into vogue as n -metal, and as every other hesher venue in Texas had fallen by the boards, the Back Room was back in black. But not before learning a valuable lesson.
The real story is all the stuff that happens between roadshows, notes Olivarez. It’s not only the [local] bands that put themselves through the rigors of trying to really do what they want to do, it’s also the people that are coming out and supporting them.
Many of those people who now live elsewhere have contacted him in the weeks approaching the anniversary, and Olivarez is looking forward to reminiscing about the days of L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat.
Hair will be shorter, waists will be wider, but I think we ll all remember each other, he laughs.
Man in the Box
As a young music journalist for the Chronicle and Daily Texan in the early Nineties, Andy Langer was front and center for most if not all of the Back Room’s high-profile shows. A few of his more vivid recollections:
PEARL JAM: After a Sound Exchange in-store, Pearl Jam plays the club on its first real tour. Like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, thousands now say they were there; at best, 50 were. Highlight: Eddie Vedder’s rafter climb, where he loses a huge lock of hair to a sprinkler. It’s probably still there today. Hello, eBay …
EXTREME/ALICE IN CHAINS: After interviewing Extreme at sound check, I head to the neighboring Long John Silver’s, where I make small talk in line with a guy in a Masters of Reality shirt. I’m guilted into seeing his band open. Years later, I realize it was Layne Staley eating my leftover hush puppies.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS: To preview the show, I get a middling review of Core in the Chronicle noting their similarity to Pearl Jam. [K-NACK’s] Ray Seggern calls the night of the show to say the band wants to meet me. When I get there, a young Scott Weiland berates me near the ticket office for nearly 20 minutes, screaming about how original they are. At the show, Weiland repeatedly locks, loads, and points his finger-pistol at me.
ICE-T: At the height of the Cop Killer controversy, Ice-T says he wants to talk, but I don’t have my tape recorder. On the way home to fetch it, I get a series of tickets for running a red light and lack of registration. I’m 30 minutes late to the interview, but when I show up, we have a common enemy (for the day). What’s supposed to be a five-minute interview turns into an hour.
WIDOWMAKER: At sound check, Jason McMaster introduces me to my childhood idol/guiltiest pleasure, Dee Snider. I am forever indebted.
Reign in Blood
In 15 years, Mark Olivarez has seen more than his share of mayhem at the Back Room, including:
MARILYN MANSON: He had to be pulled off the stage on his last song because he broke a beer bottle as part of his show and cut himself in the chest. He’s only supposed to scratch the surface, but he put the bottle in a little too deep and got into the skin layers. I watched the tour manager stitch him up right in front of me in the dressing room.
STEVE EARLE/JANE’s ADDICTION: We did back-to-back sold-out shows. As Steve Earle’s outlaw-country crowd was leaving, they saw this much younger, black-make-up-looking crowd. It was about as big a culture clash as you can imagine.
ACE FREHLEY: Halfway through his set, he walks off the stage, goes into the bathroom and throws up, comes back in, and finishes the show sitting on a stool but playing Kiss music. For what you expect from Ace Frehley, for God’s sake, that’s not what I wanted to see.
PANTERA: The very first note they hit, it blew our entire PA system. Very first note. I was an assistant manager at the time, and the manager split and left me to make the announcement from the stage that the show was canceled.
– Christopher Gray, Austin Chronicle
Photo by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
Dangerous Toys rocked the Back Room’s 30th Anniversary party
Photo by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
Jason McMaster back in action at the place where it all started
Photo by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
Junkyard’s Chris Gates and David Roach bring Hollywood to the Back Room’s 30th Anniversary Party
Speical thanks to Mark Oliveraz and Jason McMaster for keeping the music alive in Austin. It was one big family reunion and a truly rocking evening.
Awesome! Austin’s a hell of a party town! I saw Dangerous Toys here in Houston on the Operation Rock & Roll Tour back in 91! They opened up the show… followed by Metal Church, Motorhead, Alice Cooper, and finally Judas Priest!! What a show!! – said metalshane on Nov 11, 2003
Man, I should live in Texas… circa 1990, those were two of my favorite bands. Teas n Pleas n and Hollywood are classic dirty south rock n roll. – said notoriusbug on Dec 12, 2003
I have never been to Texas… ..but I assume it’s great. – said Child of the Light on Dec 12, 2003
I have never been to Texas… ..but I assume it’s great. TEXAS ROCKS !!! – said atexas on Jan 01, 2004