Metal Edge, February 1990
Beware of Dangerous Toys, but only if you want to miss out on one hell of a good time. Lone Star State-ers Jason McMaster (vocals), Mike Watson (bass), guitarists Scott Dalhover and Danny Aaron, and drummer Mark Geary, play kickass hard rock with a Texas accent, audible on their self-titled debut album, their “Scared” single/video, and on concert stages nationwide. Jason filled us in on the Toys’ past, present and future.
The band has really taken off quickly. Are you surprised?
Jason McMaster: Yeah, we didn’t expect any of it. Everything this band has done has been a total accident. Everything that has happened has taken us by surprise. Getting signed was a surprise. It wasn’t even intended. I was in another band, a thrash band called Watchtower. I was in it for seven years and gave it my all. The stuff was like Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Rush meets Metallica – very progressive thrash. The music wasn’t ready for the world. I can play lots of music, different styles. I like Prince and George Thorogood and Motorhead – very diverse tastes. I’d been doing gigs with bands on the Austin scene, doing covers and having fun on the side, I wasn’t serious at all. These guys [in Dangerous Toys] were in a band called Onyxx with a girl singer, they got rid of her and asked me to fill in. At the time they had platinum blonde hair, wore lipstick, blue eyes shadow and pink spandex and panties.
Really? These guys? I can’t picture it.
McMaster: Yeah. The music was like Mötley Crüe meets Creedence Clearwater Revival, kind of bluesy but not blues-influenced. They had a big following but they were sick of all that, they wanted to change their image. We had to find a happy medium and a name in time for a gig in one week. We were under pressure, but it worked. This was October of ’87 and Danny, who I’d jammed with over the years when I was in Watchtower, joined in December of ’88, so we did the album as a four piece. He auditioned while we were recording in L.A. with Max Norman and we knew he could do it so we started working with him.
How did the band’s fans react to the change?
McMaster: A lot of people had doubts, they didn’t know I could sing rock ‘n’ roll, so I pretty much was blowing people’s minds from the first gig on. “Where the hell did this guy come from?” I’ve been here for 10 years.
Did you guys keep any songs from the old days?
McMaster: Yeah. We took ideas from old songs and made them into new songs, some with new lyrics or titles. “Here Comes Trouble” used to be called “No More,” “When We Die Wild” was the original title of “Feels Like a Hammer.” There’s a song called “J.D. Lady” that we still play. We’ll probably put it on a live EP or a B-side or the next album.
Why was it accidental you got signed?
McMaster: The band never shopped a demo. It was just luck. I was still in Watchtower and didn’t have any plans to leave. Leaving a band you’re in for seven years is very hard to do. We played two clubs and six months later there’s a bidding war over the band. You know, we were happy just playing clubs, spilling beer on stage. We’ve only done 37 dates. We’re still getting our legs.
What’s the rock scene like in Austin?
McMaster: In the past three years there’s been a really good rock ‘n’ roll scene, a few good bands in San Antonio, Pariah, Prezence. Gypsy Rogue here in Austin is pretty good. We don’t want to leave, we love it here. We like the nightlife in New York and L.A. I like the weather in L.A. but I don’t think really think I could live there. Everybody wants to be somebody else. They change their hair, they pierce their nose, they pick up a different lingo just because it’s cool. They’ll tell you they love your band and then turn around and tell their buddy you suck. In New York they’ll tell you if they don’t like you. That’s fine.
They loved you at the Ritz in New York when you played with Warrant.
McMaster: Our booking agent said he’s never seen a band go over so well their first time in New York.
Tell me about the “Scared” video.
McMaster: We shot it at this beautiful old mansion in L.A., to get a suspense kind of thing. We have a six-foot boa constrictor in it. It took two days. The live performance was incredible. I wrote the treatment for it. We did a lot of really neat stuff. They filmed me with my head in a water trough with a glass bottom, my hair’s flowing behind me.
What’s the third video going to be?
McMaster: Possibly “Sport’n a Woody.” CBS thinks they can get away with the rude words in the song. “Feels Like a Hammer” would be really good. They wanted us to do that for the first one but we wanted to come out and show balls first. For “Sport’n a Woody” we want to do a live video, live in a club, backstage antics and tour bimbos, a funny way of looking at everything. “Take Me Drunk” would be cool. We could show real Texas attitude. “Queen of the Nile” would be beautiful – maybe we could get some footage of pyramids. We cover a lot of bases on the record as far as topics.
Have a favorite on the record?
McMaster: That’s hard. I would say “Bones in the Gutter,” “Take Me Drunk” or “Queen of the Nile.”
Do you have a stockpile of leftover songs? Are you writing new material now?
McMaster: Yeah, we’ve probably got a good nine songs, and a couple of verses and choruses and some lyrics. It’s hard to write on the road. Some songs take months and some take five minutes, like “Sport’n a Woody.” Our best shit comes from the hip like that. We have a ballad called “I Will” that has some really dark parts in it. It’s a love song but not mushy, it’s very dark.
You wrote a song with Desmond child for the movie Shocker.
McMaster: It’s called “Demon Child,” and it’s actually an old song – the original title was “Dangerous Toys,” it was about a gun fighter and I changed the lyrics. Between me and Max Norman and Desmond we came up with some cool ideas. The song is a little more heavy metal than our usual stuff. It’s got a gorgeous groove but it’s just kind of dark. It’s a really intense song. It would be cool to do a video for it.
What are your current goals?
McMaster: I want to tour till the wheels fall off. All this band wants to do is play, play, play – this is what the band does best. We’re not a studio band, we’re just nutso kids that want to bang on guitars.