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Band a labor of love for music lifers

The three dudes sitting at the table have traveled the world, sold plenty of records and currently perform in one of the longest-running shows on the Strip — the kind of resumes that many musicians would hack off a (nonplaying) arm for.

And yet their current project, which doesn’t yet possess the name recognition of some of their previous gigs playing with acts such as Henry Rollins, Slaughter and Daniel Lanois, is what makes their eyes light up like paper on fire.

The band in question is Mack, a hard rock haymaker that’s the baby of Jason Mackenroth, one of the founders of L.A. rock battering ram Mother Superior, who would eventually become Henry Rollins’ backing band in the late ’90s.

Joining him is bassist Michael “MK” Kelly, guitarist Billy O’Malley and, for live gigs, former Slaughter drummer Blas Elias.

All of them also play in the production of “Blue Man Group.”

Together, they’ve gone back to their respective roots, just bashing out tunes with no regard for anything other than the grins they put on one another’s faces.

“It’s the way we all started,” says Mackenroth, flanked by Kelly and Elias at the bar at the Ovation showroom at Green Valley Ranch Resort on a recent Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t want to say it’s starting over, because it’s not, but in terms of getting in the rehearsal room and just going bare bones, like a real rock band, it feels good.”

“There’s a sincerity to it. It’s not calculated,” adds Kelly, sporting some oversized shades. “We’re just there for the music, we’re just there to play and have a good time doing it.”

Together they’ve readied a new album, “Pay to Play,” available digitally on Tuesday, that’s like a modern-day update of the harder edges of Kiss’ ’70s catalog: songs of sex, sin and redemption powered by shout-along hooks, octopus-armed drumming and lots of fist-in-the-air guitar soloing. It’s a visceral, overheated, organic-sounding recording,

“We recorded like we were on tape,” Mackenroth says. “MK and I recorded the drums and bass tracks live. There’s no edits. Nothing’s snapped to a grid. It’s just live takes.”

The band’s playing their first official live show with this lineup on Oct. 13 at Count’s Vamp’D and are looking to do as much as they can with the band show-wise.

But mostly, though, this is a labor of love, a quartet of music lifers reminding themselves why they became music lifers to begin with.

“It’s just four dudes layin’ it down,” Elias says. “Nobody’s talking about money and business. It’s just about playing rock ‘n’ roll.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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