Mack in Sac
Rollins Band veteran Jason Mackenroth brings his new band to his old stamping grounds
So, you and your pals start a band together. You put in all your time and effort, and over the course of years, maybe a decade, you see the fruits of that labor. You’re successful, but not in a garish “Hey! Look how successful I am!” sort of way. You’re making good dough, and some of your industry’s legends and heavy hitters want to work with you. You’re having a blast, but somewhere down the road, you and your partners begin to see things differently. You want to move in another direction, and they’re happy with where you are at the moment. You decide to strike out on your own.
That’s the position Sacramento native and former Mother Superior drummer Jason Mackenroth found himself in a couple of years ago. “I honestly didn’t feel like it was moving forward fast enough,” he said of Mother Superior, which regularly backed Henry Rollins as the Rollins Band. “I quit the band because I needed to try and do something else that was going to suit my needs.” He formed Mack, which put out its first CD last September.
Mackenroth enlisted friends Jacques Wait and John Kuker to produce and to play bass and lead guitar on the album, while Mackenroth himself played drums and rhythm guitar and sang. “The whole album was recorded, mixing and everything, start to finish, in 10 days. I did the drum tracks in one day.”
That urgency is present on the record. The first track, “Welcome Wasted Again,” bursts from the speakers with clear rock purpose, chunky rhythm guitars and crisp drumming. The second track, the driving “Going for the Thrill,” is pushed by a thumping verse and a surprisingly catchy chorus. The entire CD is designed for maximum rock power, a different direction from Mackenroth’s last few records with Mother Superior.
“The tracks are pretty adrenalized,” he said. “That’s the way I feel when I play, and it came across.” The one break on Mack from the in-your-face attack is “Mystified,” which reflects Mackenroth’s feelings about leaving Mother Superior. Otherwise, it’s all about the rock. “It’s not a chart kind of record, but it’s a cool record. I’m proud of it.”
Mackenroth has a point; it’s not a chart record. For better or worse, the album’s tone is consistent. Listened to in one sitting, the relentlessly driving songs can grow a little tiresome. Not great for home listening, perhaps, but great for playing live on the road.
Mackenroth comes home to Sacramento to play the Roadhouse on February 3. “I’m gonna lead the band from the drum set, right at the front in the middle of the stage,” he promised.
Growing up in Sacramento, Mackenroth was a regular punk-show attendee. “There was a good punk-rock scene coming through every weekend. You could see a package of cool punk bands, like Circle Jerks and Crucifix and Social Distortion. Every weekend, I’d go to see amazing shows. My first band in eighth grade was a full-on hardcore punk band called K.I.A.”
For this sort of homecoming, that legacy fits perfectly. “My whole family is still up there. A whole lot of friends are up there. It’s gonna be cool. I think for the kind of music that I’m going to be doing with my record and being a hometown dude playing for my friends, it’s gonna be a pretty rockin’ show.”
And Mackenroth doesn’t have any fear about leading a band live for the first time, either. “We’ve done some shows with Mack, and each time it’s been a little bit better, learning how to be the one who has to say shit between songs. I’m totally into it.”
Sweet. So, what next? “I have almost another album’s worth of material ready to go. I’m gonna spend probably the first half of this year doing the best I can to rock this record out and just move on to the next one,” said Mackenroth. “I’ll just keep it rolling and stay open to whatever new ideas come around.”