Mushroomhead coming to Screwies on 9/11

Matthew Carroll

Mushroomhead comes back onto the music scene with a new DVD.

Credit: Ben Breier


Jagermeister Music for FREEdom Tour

Playing: Mushroomhead, Dope, Nocturne and Crossbreed

Where? Screwy Louie’s

When? Sunday, 3 p.m.

How much? $20-23


Two years removd from their last album release and mere months after they parted ways with frontman Jason “J. Mann” Popson, the members of Mushroomhead want you to know they’re still here. And they have a new DVD and a tour to prove it.

Last fall, Mushroomhead hit a road block. In late July 2004, the band was unceremoniously dropped from Universal Records. While the band was still trying to catch its breath, it was dealt another blow when vocalist J. Mann decided to call it quits in September, citing personal reasons.

They immediately canceled their plans to tour with Insane Clown Posse and started the rebuilding process.

Making records without the help of a record label was no big deal. During its 12-year career, Mushroomhead has only recorded one album, 2003’s XIII, with the help of major label support. But replacing a vocalist and a hugely popular member of the band with another person was another beast entirely.

They eventually settled on 3 Quarters Dead’s singer, Waylon, and started touring with him a few weeks later.

Since that time the band has been working on material for its next album and putting the finishing touches on its first DVD, entitled Volume 1.

“We got a new singer last year. And in between breaking him in and writing the new record, we needed to have something to fuel the fire, feed the war machine, keep the whole morale of the band alive so the fans and everyone know that we ain’t going anywhere,” said drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton about the timing of the band’s just-released DVD.

Volume 1 contains a couple of self-produced music videos, live concert footage and a smattering of tour bus shenanigans.

Most intriguing for some fans may be the chance to see the members of Mushroomhead without their masks.

“Overall, the product we wanted to make was very much the early Pantera home- video style, and we tried to keep that format throughout, where it was entertaining and funny and just not boring, not taking ourselves too seriously,” Felton said.

Mushroomhead is currently promoting its DVD on the Jagermeister Music for FREEdom tour, which includes longtime friends Dope. As part of the tour, anyone with a military ID gets into the show for free.

“It’s just to support the troops and show some faith in the system and the whole scene,” Felton said.

In addition, 30 to 40 fans a night get free Jagermeister stuff, including the Jager compilation CD, which features bands such as Mushroomhead and Dope.

However, the tour was almost derailed by Hurricane Katrina as it moved through the New Orleans region.

The Music for Freedom tour just finished up its West Coast swing through California, Nevada and oddly enough, Idaho.

So what are the fans like in Napoleon Dynamite’s home state?

“It’s crazy man, even in the smaller markets, the kids are the same,” Felton explained. “They’re really, really hardcore fans that are really, really into it.”

But in some cases, hardcore fans can go a little too far. Last December, legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell was shot and killed by an obsessed fan at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, a club that Mushroomhead had performed at on more than one occasion.

Felton said the main point of criticism following that tragedy was the lack of well-trained security at smaller-venue shows. That event has certainly given Mushroomhead reason to wonder about its own safety on stage.

“It’s very standard for us to walk into a club and everyone know where the exit signs are,” Felton said. “Our tour manager is always on these clubs about patting people down … being extra tight on backdoor security.”

While the band’s safety is definitely a concern, when it comes down to it, Mushroomhead’s live shows are all about the fans. They stress the importance of visuals and theatrics, anything that will give concert-goers a more multi-sensory experience.

“I definitely want (people) to be able to walk away and say, ‘That was entertaining, that was a show,’” Felton said. “’It wasn’t just five dudes standing there playing a bunch of heavy riffs. That is was as visually exciting as it was to listen to.’”

Contact ALL correspondent Matthew Carroll at [email protected].