The website texasmetalunderground.com was created in 2001, dedicated to preserving and sharing information on some of the great unknown and little-known Texas metal bands from the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Envision the internet back in 2001: no YouTube, no Facebook, no MySpace, no file sharing, Google was in its infancy, slow dial-up connections were the norm. Information on some of the more obscure bands of the classic Texas metal scene was hard to come by, if not nonexistent. It remains the goal of texasmetalunderground.com to inform the world of some of the great bands who wrote original songs, played a few gigs, maybe recorded a demo, and disappeared without a trace. Bands that may have slipped through the cracks of popularity and notoriety, but who nevertheless deserve a place in the tomes of Texas metal history.
TMU RECORDS was created in 2009 as a subsidiary music label, sharing the goals and ideals of the website. As with texasmetalunderground.com, TMU RECORDS’ goal is to preserve the legacy of the classic Texas metal scene and present an opportunity for fans to hear some of the great bands that Texas produced during the 1980’s underground metal revolution.
All releases are given lavish treatment with custom packaging, unseen photos, show flyers, interviews, informative booklets, rare bonus tracks and extras for the denim and leather die-hards.
XS ROCK: So tell me about Texas Metal Underground Records got it’s start?
Scott: The idea for Texas Metal Underground Records started out in 2001 as a website called texasmetalunderground.com with the mission of spreading the names of some of the great unknown or unrecognized metal bands that existed in Texas in the 1980’s. Keep in mind this was before the creation of YouTube, Metal-Archives, Wikipedia, and social media. Information on some of the obscure metal bands I grew up listening to was scarce or non-existent online at that time. I had a large collection of demos and memorabilia from that classic scene and the website was a way to share some of that. Turns out there are fans all over the world who are just as fanatical about classic Texas metal as I am. The record label grew as an extension of the website. As my time to maintain and update the site lessened, my goal to share the music and information remained strong. The role the label plays is archiving the music and stories of some of these long-gone bands. All releases come with extras like interviews, rare photos, vintage flyer reproductions, etc.
XS ROCK: How did you become aware of most of the bands that you currently have on TMU Records?
Scott: I was lucky enough to grow up in Austin, Texas in the 80’s where there was a large metal scene with lots of really good bands. San Antonio is just over an hour to the south of Austin and they also had an incredible scene. Honestly, all areas of Texas were producing amazing bands back then and most were recording demos and playing shows regionally. I got to see tons of shows at the legendary Ritz Theater in Austin as well as travel down to San Antonio for shows at the Cameo Theater and La Villa Fontana.
XS ROCK: Broken Teeth has Jason McMaster from Dangerous Toys. He’s almost considered legendary on the Texas Metal scene. How did you become acquainted with him?
Scott: Jason was instrumental in getting the Austin scene off the ground with his band WatchTower in the early 80’s. He and Chris Gates from the punk band Big Boys were the first to rent out the then dilapidated Ritz Theater in downtown Austin and start putting on shows that were affordable, all-ages, and professionally run. It really became a focal point of the Texas scene and bands would regularly come from San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas, and elsewhere to play there. I’ve been a fan of everything McMaster has done for the past 30 years and he is still one of the hardest working musicians around, hands down.
XS ROCK: As a metal fan myself, I’m always glad to see a record company put out some great metal music that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. But, isn’t that also a bit of risk, at least financially?
Scott: The intent of the label has never been to make a lot of money from these releases. As long as there’s enough sales to cover the next release I’m satisfied. The most important thing is the music and sharing otherwise unknown bands with metal fans worldwide.
XS ROCK: So let’s talk about your artist lineup. Can you tell me a little about each band on the label?
Bad Heaven: Bad Heaven originally formed in Houston, Texas in 1979. By the mid-1980’s the band was firmly established in the thriving Texas heavy metal scene which included such notable contemporaries as WatchTower, Militia, SA Slayer, and Helstar. The band wrote up-tempo songs with shredding dual-lead guitars in the classic U.S. Metal style, while also drawing influences from such European greats as Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate.
Broken Teeth: Formed in 1999 Austin-based Broken Teeth play high-voltage, no-nonsense rock-n-roll. ‘Bulldozer’ is the band’s sixth album and the first to appear on vinyl. Fronted by legendary Texas vocalist Jason McMaster, Broken teeth deliver thunderous heavy rock with a bad-ass Texas attitude.
Baron Steele: Baron Steele was formed in Austin, Texas in 1985 and wrote epic, well crafted tunes influenced by European greats Witchfynde and Mercyful Fate, as well as lesser known U.S. metal acts like Griffin and Warlord. A two song demo was recorded in 1987 but received very little circulation due to the band’s dissatisfaction with the final studio mix. In light of this fact, the demo has become somewhat of a ‘cult classic’ known only to true diehard underground metal fanatics.
Wicked Step: Bridging the musical gap between 70’s hard rock and the burgeoning heavy metal sounds of the early 80’s, Wicked Step played an integral role in San Antonio earning its reputation as the Rockin’ Capital Of Texas. In a time when Disco and Yacht Rock dominated the airwaves, Wicked Step stood tall in delivering no-frills, ass-kicking rock n’ roll. Taking cues from their heroes Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Judas Priest, and Frank Marino – Wicked Step was a staple in the biker clubs, neighborhood bars, backyard parties, and guerrilla-style empty lot gigs. If rock at high volume was needed, Wicked Step was always there to provide.
Wicked Angel: Wicked Angel emerged from the fertile grounds of San Antonio’s south side in early 1985. At the time, the average age of the band members was around 15 years old! The young band recorded a 2-song demo in 1986, but sadly that recording has been completely lost to the ages. After a string of successful gigs with Texas notables such as WatchTower, Syrus, and Assailant, the band returned to Blue Cat Studios and recorded their blistering ‘Chaotic Intellect’ demo in 1987.
Meddallion: Another great obscure band from south San Antonio, Meddallion formed in 1985 and played a strong brand of vigorous and energetic NWOBHM influenced heavy metal with insane vocals, heavy fast riffing, and epic songwriting. Only one known copy of their two song demo recorded in 1986 survives, now unearthed from the dusty plains of south Texas and the Rio Grande valley.
Sentinel: Formed in Austin in 1985, Sentinel’s 1986 demo is a raw speed metal scorcher that detonates the listener’s ears like a close-range Howitzer salute…angry, heavy, devastating classic Texas Metal.
Final Vengeance: This release compiles the 1988 demo from Corpus Christi based Final Assault with unreleased 1989 demo tracks from Vengeance. Both bands were fronted by vocalist Alex Robles and feature virtuosic guitar work from Ruben Vela and Izzy Munoz. Ideal for fans of Helstar, Fates Warning, Militia, Syrus, etc…A true Texas Metal masterpiece!
XS ROCK: Are there still bands out there that you want to get on TMU Records and issue releases from?
Scott: Absolutely, there is no shortage of amazing music out there that few people have ever heard.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting a record label?
Scott: Primarily to archive the music and stories of some of the killer bands that Texas produced in the 80’s metal heyday. Some of these bands only played a handful of shows, recorded a demo to hand out to friends and then disappeared without a trace. The fact that metal fans all over the world can discover something obscure like that and appreciate it now 30 years later is the coolest thing.
XS ROCK: Do you have a background in music or were just a fan?
Scott: I dabbled with playing the guitar in my teens but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a musician.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate and long term career goals?
Scott: The goal for TMU RECORDS is to continue releasing obscure Texas metal artifacts for years to come.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or announce? Up coming New Releases, etc?
Scott: There are currently several releases in various stages of development, but nothing I’m ready to make an official announcement about. Stay tuned!
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Scott: Thanks guys! Visit TMU RECORDS at the following sites: