Heavy Metal Taxi

"People like to keep the party going between clubs." To pay the rent, metal drummer Kurt McCracken drives a cab for San Diego Taxi. He says 60 to 70 percent of his clients are regulars who ask for the Heavy Metal Taxi. McCracken said he has been playing drums for 23 years. "I started when I was seven." He moved to New York and Boston to play in metal bands before moving back here 4 years ago. He now plays in Medius. "It's a medical term for middle finger. It sounds like Pantera on steroids mixed with Slipknot. It's just straight-up metal."

When he works, McCracken brings along his collection of 200 CDs. Sometimes he throws on Medius. "I play my band, and I don't say who it is. This way I get an honest opinion. Only a couple times out of hundreds did people say, 'Turn that shit off.' "

His only celebrity headbanger client so far has been Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. Mustaine lives in Fallbrook but occasionally hangs out in San Diego. McCracken says his regulars are other rockers who like to shuttle between Brick by Brick, 'Canes, and House of Blues. "It's the same laws as a limo. You can drink in the back seat, but you can't drink in the front."

McCracken said the Heavy Metal Taxi is almost as good as the Internet for networking. "Sometimes you get A&R guys in the cab. Plus you gain fans because I give out free discs of my band."

The sound system in McCracken's taxi is driven by a 1200-watt amp. "I have a ten-inch speaker in the trunk. I would have two or three back there, but there are laws that allow [cab drivers] only so much private space. I had to make it to spec so it would be legal."

The police have noticed the noise. "They told me to turn it down a bunch of times. They'll look at me and point down." McCracken said he always complies. "I don't want to rock the boat too much."

But I note that SD isn't known as a heavy-metal city. "Hopefully we can bring that back. I hear there are a few good bands around. Whatever metalheads there are in San Diego, they're going to like Medius. Once we come out with our new record, we're going to crush San Diego."

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