VH1 That Metal Show: An Interview with Eddie Trunk

By on March 19, 2014

Travis Failey with Rocket Sports & Entertainment talks one on one with Eddie Trunk

EDDIE TRUNK (photo courtesy of That Metal Show)

Eddie Trunk is well respected in the music community. Not only by his fans but by the creators of the music he loves. He recently took time out from taping the 13th season of VH1’s “That Metal Show” to discuss many topics with us. Some of these include: The evolution of his career, the state of metal and its community, Pantera and VH1’s booking process of guests for the show.

 

TRAVIS:  Hey, Eddie, how’re you doing, man?

EDDIE:  Hey Travis.  Good.

TRAVIS:  Thanks for coming on the show.  We really appreciate it.

EDDIE:  Sure, man.  Thanks for having me.

TRAVIS:  You’re welcome.  You are currently in the middle of your 13th season with “That Metal Show,” and congrats. Thanks a lot for doing what you do.  You are the heart and soul of the hard rock/heavy metal genre.

EDDIE:  Well, thank you.  I appreciate that.  It’s been going for — been doing it for 30 years now and counting, and lucky to have been able to make a living doing what I love and helping try to get the word out about the music that I love as well.

TRAVIS:   Who put “That Metal Show” together and how did Don and Jim become co-hosts?

EDDIE:  That would actually be me.  I actually had been working for VH1 Classic as a host for about five years before That Metal Show.  A lot of people don’t know that because the channel was not as popular; it wasn’t in as many homes.  But I was a VJ/host/interviewer for the channel since 2002.  Did a ton of interviews for them, of all genres of music, and a lot of hosting and VJ work.  And I was always pushing to try to get a show of my own on where I could kind of talk like I wanted to and have the guests that I wanted to have on and really kind of do my own thing.  And finally, around 2007, VH1 Classic came to me and said let’s revisit that idea.  

So we all sat down in a room and we hashed out a bunch of ideas.  And the show went through a big evolution with a lot of people attached.  And some fell off, some stayed on, and different producers and difference hosts and what have you until it finally got to the point where they said, Well, we want to do this, but we want you to have another person or two out there with you to kind of mix it up a little bit and add some different perspectives.  And they said, We’d like whoever those people are to not be serious.  We want them to be — you know, you are the great interviewer, you are the —

You know, that’s coming from them, not me.  I don’t want to sound self-serving, like I’m calling myself a great interviewer.  But you know what I am saying.  You are the anchor and the interviewer and all that.  We need somebody to kind of mix the pot a little bit.  

And I said, Well, I’ve got these guys that are friends of mine that are both stand-up comics, Don and Jim.  And I said, You should meet them.  It could be a great team.

And Don and Jim had been coming doing my radio shows, which, you know, I had been doing for 30 years.  And they were both from New Jersey, both around the same age, both also really into the music.  And I said, This could really work.  

And we were already comfortable; we were already friends before we started doing the show together, because they would sit in on my radio show whenever they didn’t have stand-up gigs.  

So I brought them into the meeting, we did a pilot, and here we are 100 episodes later, still standing.  So it’s been great.  It’s worked, you know, phenomenally well.  But it all stemmed from the fact that I had already been working for the channel for five years and had those relationship there to develop this.

TRAVIS:  Eddie, I was raised on Barry White, Sinatra, the Beatles, Cooper and Zeppelin, but the moment that really changed music for me was when I heard “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden for the first time.  Hearing this song in my friends attic with headphones on, sparked a passion for music for me at a young age.

What was the big catalyst for you when you were young to get into this business?

EDDIE:  Musically, you mean?  

TRAVIS:  Yes, musically and knowing that you wanted to be in this business.

EDDIE:  Well, as far as the band that was my gateway into all of this hard rock world was Kiss.  You know, I’m 49 years old.  I was exposed to Kiss when I was in junior high school.  And that would have been around ’77, ’76.  My first concert was Kiss in Madison Square Garden.  So for me, it was all about Kiss, and that was the thing what made me obsessed with hard rock music.  And then from there, of course, I went on and got into so much other stuff.

But as far as getting into it at the level that I did in terms of the media, I mean, I’ve worked in all areas of music industry.  It’s another thing that people don’t really know about my background who only see me on the TV show.  I worked for a record label for four years.  I worked in artist management for a while.  I have been on both sides of the fence.  And I started doing a metal radio show right out of high school back in ’83 that I still do to this day.  

And for me, it was always about spreading the word about these bands that I loved.  That was what drove the whole thing.  I just wanted to be able to have a platform and an outlet to be able to shout from the rooftops, or shout to a bigger audience than I could from the rooftop, say, Hey, this band is, you know, this band is great, you should check them out.  

So for me, it was all about how can I spread the word.  And the jobs I had were all music-related.  Worked in a record store; did free-lance writing; worked in a radio station; worked for a record company; worked in artist management; worked for a TV channel that was music based, with VH1 Classic.  So it was always about that.  And that’s what it’s still about, honestly.  Just whatever I could do to help spread the word about the bands that I love.

Now, clearly, the difference is as a kid you are just doing it because you love it.  Now I love it, but I also make a career out of it.  So you have to make sure that you are paid and that you can pay the bills.  But it was always the same driver, just to kind of share the music that I loved with other people.

Travis: The music and radio business are two of the toughest industries out there. Was there ever a time that you thought about changing careers?

EDDIE:  Well, I would say that I always — I was always told and it was drilled into me by my parents to have a backup plan when I told them what I wanted to do, because I was not good in school, I didn’t really go to college, and I just chased all this music stuff.  And they are like, Well, you’d better have a backup plan.  And I was really very much kind of just so headstrong about making this work that I never really did have a backup plan.  But that was always in the back of my mind.

I tell you, I don’t — I mean, there was a time when — a big transitional point for me happened when I moved from doing radio in New Jersey to radio in New York City, which was 1994, for the first time.  And even though I only lived 35 miles from Manhattan in New Jersey, doing suburban New Jersey radio versus being on in New York City, you know, you are going from Market, you know, 70 something to Market 1.  And that was a huge change for me, when I got that break to be on the air in New York City, because suddenly, instead of broadcasting to a couple counties, I’m broadcasting to three states.  And suddenly I’m, you know, being heard by a lot more people, and there’s a much greater impact.  

That was the time in my life that I decided that I was going to chase the other, that side of the fence, meaning that up until that point I was actually more working behind the scenes in the industry.  It wasn’t until I broke into New York radio and started to see that you can make a little money and have some more impact that I said, Well, maybe I’m going to try to be the guy on the other side of the fence and actually, you know, be the host, the presenter, what have you.

So that was the big change for me.  If that hadn’t happened, then I may have been, you know, starting to think about, okay, what am I going to do here?  You know.  

And then I’ve only been fired from radio one time in my life.  And the one time that happened, you know, I was kind of like, okay, there could be time to look for a new gig here and doing something else.  But fortunately, I was able to bounce back kind of quickly.  

And if you are just able to stay around long enough and build enough of a following and enough of a reputation, you know, and do the right thing most of the time, usually you are going to find somebody that’s going to give you a shot to keep working.  And that’s kind of how I just kept building it.

But there were times where I was concerned, but never that I said, Okay, I’m going to have to go and completely do a total 180 on what my goals are.

TRAVIS: Eddie, when I was a teen during the golden age of metal right around 1988, ’89, I remember watching MTV and Warrant’s “Heaven” came on, and they started playing it in regular rotation.  At that point, it was obvious to me that the music that I loved was in trouble. Just because of the saturation of hair metal and the direction that music industry was taking. Did you forsee that a change was coming and that grunge would have such a huge effect on the metal community?

EDDIE: You know, I felt it.  I certainly felt it was a quick backlash.  You know, one of the things that I had done for — did for years, I should say, was work in a record store.  For years I did that.  Even during my time in radio, I always, you know, I worked in a record store.  And it was a great way to keep up with stuff coming down the pike, and it was a great way to get an early read on what people were interested in.  And that was one of the times that I could kind of see that the writing was maybe on the wall for this music, because suddenly, it was very quick, it was like there was one day you are selling, you know, Warrant records and the next day it’s like, you know, you are selling Alice In Chains records.  

And where I was always a guy that was cool with liking all those genres and never felt like I had to choose a side, it seemed like that was not the case.  Like all of a sudden, not only was there this other sort of rock music out, but all of a sudden, if you didn’t like that and you still liked Warrant or whatever else was going on at the time, then you were lambasted, you know.  And that was a real weird to have happen.  

You always have new bands emerge and new sounds and new styles.  But when grunge came, it was just not like only was it a new sound, but it immediately was like you have to disown everything else that you were into.  And it knocked the hell out of everything.

I mean, you know, I do think there was a time when things needed to be shaken up a little bit.  But it just seemed like it was instantly uncool to like anything else but that stuff.  And I sensed it very quickly, working in the record store.  I didn’t realize it was going to be as extreme and as quick as it was.  But it certainly seemed like those customers who were suddenly, you know, were buying, whether it be heavier stuff like Maiden or more commercial stuff like Poison, overnight were like, No, no, no, that’s out now.  We don’t even listen to that anymore.  

I’m like, How do you not listen to it anymore?  You were listening to it last week.  

I’ve always hated fads, and I have always hated trends, and I have always hated people that just followed fads to look cool and hip.  And that was a trend and a fad that, man, people just jumped on instantly.  

And again, it was time that things needed to be mixed up a little bit.  I certainly agree with that.  But I don’t understand why it had to wipe the hell out of everything else.  But it was just a mentality out there that this stuff was not cool anymore and this is what you’ve got to listen to.

Trunk (left) with Don Jameison (center) and Jim Florentine (photo Colin Douglas Gray)

TRAVIS:  I also put it on the record companies.  Any band that was out there that had a can of hair spray, it seemed, were getting record contracts and being played on MTV and in heavy rotation. It just seemed like the quality of the music that was coming out was taken out of the mix when contracts were being divvied out.

EDDIE:  Yeah.  Well, no question, I mean.  But the record industry, the record labels have always been a copycat situation.  I mean, they’ve always been like that.  

TRAVIS:  Well, I see that a lot with what is being played on Sirius and especially on terrestrial radio.  Fans get a little bit of a flavor for one brand or one genre and they just start pummeling you with it until the quality becomes extremely weakened.

EDDIE:  Yeah.  It gets redundant very quickly and I agree with you.  But it’s always been like that.  The music industry and the record industry has always been like that.  They just latch on to whatever they think and they beat you in the head with that until they can find the next thing that they think they can sell you.  

TRAVIS:  We play the intro to “Cowboys From Hell” to kick off our show and I believe they are one of the most important bands in music. How big of a part has Pantera played in the hard rock & heavy metal timeline?

EDDIE:  Well, they were like pretty much the one band that thrived during the darkest periods in metal.  I mean, ironically, they were considered new and cutting edge at that time, when, in reality, they had been around for three, four records.  If people would have seen the music, the records they had made before they broke with “Cowboys From Hell,” and those records were possibly successful, then maybe none of that stuff happens.  We may not even be sitting here talking about Pantera.  Because think about that, there’s a lot of people that don’t know that Pantera had a life before “Cowboys From Hell,” and they had different singers and they had a different look and they had big hair and all that.  If that stuff and those records would have been successful, they might have been thrown right into that same melting pot with everybody else.

But I think the best thing that happened for their career is those early records were not successful and were not distributed across the country as well.  And as a result, they could be viewed as they changed and evolved as a newer band.  

But yeah, I think for keeping that stuff alive, and I agree with you that they certainly were a bridge to lot of different things.

You know, we had Anselmo on my show, on That Metal Show, and he was — we were doing a best-thrash-front-man segment, and I didn’t include him in it.  And if people saw that episode, he got really crazy, in a joking way,that he wasn’t included in the list.  But I said to him, I said Phil, I never thought of Pantera as a thrash band.  You’re not a thrash band.  I said, you know, you kind of walk all these different lines, but you are not a thrash band to me.  

And then that created this huge debate:  Is Pantera thrash?  And there are certainly elements of it, but I don’t consider them at all a thrash band.

So they’ve certainly walked a lot of lines.  Their records have held up incredibly well.  And, you know, you can only wonder what, you know, if the tragedy didn’t happen with dying, where they would be at this point, if they would still be together and if they would still be — you could make a case they could be as big as Metallica right now if what happened didn’t happen and they ever reunited.

But very important, because I think people forget, a lot of times when you talk about the grunge movement taking down a lot of the more pop metal stuff, it also knocked the hell out of everything else. People tend to forget that.  I mean, all the bands, whether it be huge bands like Maiden and Priest or whatever, they all got knocked down a few pegs when that scene was happening.

TRAVIS:  Oh, for sure.  And then you look at quality bands like Tesla and Skid Row that were grouped in with “Hair Bands.” They suffered considerably during the grunge years.

But Eddie, the one consistent entity throughout the years that I have been following music has been the family element of the hard rock/heavy metal genre.  Can you talk a little bit about that and how consistent they have been through the years, the bond that all of us share?

EDDIE:  Yeah.  I think that there’s a good segment of the audience that is.  And, honestly, that’s the segment that’s out there now.  I think that metal and hard rock, the people that are into it now and have been for the last 10 years, those are truly the fans, and they are the real core of the fan base.  Because let’s be honest, it’s not mainstream; it’s not 1988 anymore; it’s not on radio; it’s not on TV like you used to be.  I mean, outside of That Metal Show, there are really no outlets.  It’s a different thing.  The record stores aren’t there.  You don’t walk in, you don’t see the stuff in your face anymore.  The level of magazines and media isn’t there anymore.  So if you are into it now, you know, you are really into it.  You know, you really live and breathe it.  

And metal is always going to go on these peaks and valleys.  You are always going to have these periods where, okay, all of a sudden it is getting on the radio and there is a couple bands that break through, and then you are going to have the grunge period, but you are still going to have those bands continuing and plowing through.

So the fans that stay with it through the ups and downs and who stay true to it, I think those are the true fans.  And it very much is a community, and it very much is a great loyalty for the music.  

And I was, throughout the nineties, I was still doing the same exact thing that I am doing now.  I never changed.  I mean, there were some of the grunge bands that I liked, and there were some that I didn’t.  And that scene quickly burned itself out too, as I knew it would at the time.  

That was the one thing I did know at the time when grunge happened, that that’s going to burn out, just like the pop metal burned out, because for the same reason, over exposure and everybody sounding the same.  And that’s exactly what happened.  

But I just — I stayed true to exactly what I was into the whole time.  I never deviated.  And I think that that’s the true sign of the people that are really into this music.  It’s like you don’t get impacted by the trends and the fads and the things that you do to still look cool or hip.  You just kind of stay true to what you really love.  

And to this day, I don’t get influenced by the trends or the hip bands or whatever.  You know, people beat the drum about some new band that will come out, and everybody will be will be like, Oh, my God, James Hatfield loves them, and now I’ve got to love them.  And they are all in the press and this and that.  And I’ll listen to them and nah, not that good.  I mean, if you are into it, great.  But I’m not into it.  I’m not going to pretend to be into it just because it’s a cool thing to be into.

That was kind of my mandate from day 1, from when I was in high school.  I was never in with the in crowd because I just believed in liking what I liked and what moved me.  And I still feel that way to this day.

I respect a lot of different kinds of music.  I’ll talk to any artist about anything, even if I’m not a fan of their music.  But if you ask me truly what I like, you know, I’m going to be honest about it, and I’m not going to let outside trends impact that.

TRAVIS:  You have been doing your show “Trunk Nation” on Sirius XM on Mondays at 6 for years now. How big of a role has the Monster Energy Festivals, like “Welcome to Rockville” and satellite radio played in regard to the expansion and the continuation of the hard rock/heavy metal movement?

EDDIE:  Well, certainly satellite radio having channels dedicate to rock and metal like that is, obviously, very important.  But the thing about satellite radio, the only thing that diminishes that a little bit is the fact that not everybody has satellite radio, you know.  

TRAVIS:  Sure.

EDDIE:  If you have satellite radio, you are into it and you know about those channels and you listen to them.  But I have tons of friends that don’t have satellite radio and don’t plan on paying for radio any time soon.

So as much as it’s great that satellite exists, and I have a blast doing my satellite show, I do something, you know, a little bit different in terms of it being live and kind of almost being a talk show as well, but that’s what I choose to do with it.  And I find that to be, you know, something I’m really more into these days, especially on a platform like that.  But it’s great that it exists.  But satellite radio is different from broadcast radio in that regular FM terrestrial radio everybody gets for free.  And, you know, although I think satellite radio is incredibly important, I do not think that it’s — I don’t think that it replaces the impact as well that can still be felt from terrestrial FM radio, which everybody gets.

The best analogy that I can say is that it’s kind of like HBO versus network television.  You know, there are amazing shows on HBO.  There are amazing shows on Showtime.  But I have tons of friends that have never seen those shows because they are not paying for those channels.  They can’t afford it or they are not interested in it.  But everybody can watch David Letterman at night.

So it’s a different dynamic.  It’s important and it’s impactful to the people that it reaches, but it can’t push it over the top completely because there’s still a ton of people that aren’t paying 15 bucks a month to hear any radio, they don’t care what’s on it.  

And as far as the festivals are concerned, I mean, I host one every Memorial Day called Rocklahoma that I have been doing since it started in ’07.  There’s a lot of music cruises now.  I host one called Monsters of Rock, which goes out at the end of this month.  Those are interesting, to see those emerge.  

I think that the concerts, the festivals, the cruises, a lot of that is a byproduct of the fact that everybody is making their money on the road and nobody is making money selling records anymore.  So as a result, everybody is trying to reinvent how they can make money on the road.  And those are just ways to do it, through festivals, through cruises, playing your iconic record start to finish or a certain record in your catalog.  Everybody is looking for a way that they can kind of, you know, reinvent themselves on the road and get out there and make a buck, quite honestly, because they are not making it selling records.  

TRAVIS:  Two bands that you turned me on to and that I really like, would be the Winery Dogs and Adrenaline Mob.  I know Mike Portnoy left Adrenaline Mob to go and take part in the Winery Dogs.

Was there any animosity between the guys in Adrenaline Mob and Mike Portnoy?  I believe that Adrenaline Mob had three shows left on their tour, and when Portnoy left.

EDDIE:  Not that I can tell.  I just had — I just had the current Adrenaline Mob on both my radio shows a couple weeks ago, and they, you know, seemed fine with it.  And Mike is very happy with the things he’s doing.  So nothing that I have picked up on, no.  

I mean, you know, I think that the guys in Adrenaline Mob really wanted to make that their sole commitment, and Mike is in a lot of different directions, and that makes it difficult for him to commit fully to that project.  And I think the Winery Dogs started to get a little bit of steam.  

The Winery Dogs have guys in it with Billy and Richie that, you know, kind of more of a Supergroup sort of thing.  Also, there is going to be a built-in audience there a little bit more than Adrenaline Mob, which I think was going to take more work to develop.  

So I think both sides are very happy.  Mike is clearly happy with all the things he’s doing, and Adrenaline Mob seem very happy having AJ on drums and being able to fully commit to that band.

TRAVIS:  Mike Orlando is just an absolute monster on guitar.  And I know he has done session work before and won some awards.  But to hear him play with Russell and the rest of the guys in Adrenaline Mob — wow!  He’s an unbelievable player.

EDDIE:  Yep, he is.  He is.  He is.  And I really only got turned on to him through Adrenaline Mob.  I never really knew him prior to that. He’s quite a player.

 

TRAVIS: Congratulations on the success of your two books, the Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Volumes 1 and 2.Any other possibilities for future books?

EDDIE:  A lot of people asked me if I have considered doing a Volume 3.  I haven’t really even spent any time thinking about it.  Volume 2 is still fairly new, and I’m still going out and doing some promotions and stuff for it.  

It’s possible I could do a third one.  There’s enough bands that I think I could cover that I could make a third one.  So I’m not sure.  I certainly will do another book; I just don’t know if it’s going to be that same format that my first two books are in or it’s going to be more of an autobiography, which is kind of my stories behind the scenes with these acts.  I’d like to do that at some point.  

And really stories about the business and everything I have gone through.  So I’m not sure what’s going to be next.

TRAVIS:  And fans out there can get your books on Amazon, correct?  Or on your website?

EDDIE:  You can get my books anywhere you buy books.  Barns & Noble, Amazon.  You buy them on iTunes digitally if you want.  And if people want personalized, signed copies, they can order them directly through me.  Just hit the “books” tab on EddieTrunk.com and I’ll sign whatever you want and send them back out.  But if you just want them and don’t care about them being signed, you can get them anywhere you buy books.

TRAVIS:  Well, that’s fantastic.  And you’re scheduled to be down here with Red Dragon Cartel in Largo on the 28th.  Will you be doing a signing on that day?

EDDIE:  I will, actually, at the show prior to the gig, I guess in the lobby or what have you there.  I’m looking forward to that.  I haven’t been in that area of Florida in a very long time.  I’m going to be going on that Monsters of Rock cruise, which leave from Miami the next day.  So the promoter who is putting that show on with Red Dragon Cartel, who is a band that I also helped out and who I know pretty well — and Jake coming back kind of was launched on That Metal Show — I’m going to come down and host that show and do a signing and sell and sign some books as well.  I’ll have both copies available to purchase, or if people have them already, they can just come and I’ll gladly sign them.

So that’s what will be happening there.  And then intro the band and then head to the cruise the next day.

TRAVIS:  Well, if you get some time after the Red Dragon show, the Dio Disciples are playing about a 15-minute drive from where you’ll be at up in Largo.  So you might be able to make both.

EDDIE:  Well, if the timing works out, I very well could possibly do that.

TRAVIS:  You being from New York, you are a huge sports guy.  What did you think about the Ryan Callahan trade for Marty St. Louis?  I know you are a hockey fan and a football guy.

EDDIE:  The one thing that I follow intensely is football and the Giants.  

I’m aware of that trade.  I like Callahan a lot with the Rangers.  But I would be lying if I said I followed hockey to the point that I could break down a trade like that and give you real input one way or the other.  

I was intensely into the Rangers when I was in high school, and they are still the hockey team I identify as my team, and I’ll still watch them when I’m on and it’s convenient.  But I haven’t, unfortunately, had the time to really dedicate into watching hockey intensely in a while.  

But, you know, I did see some of that stuff in the news and did hear something about it.  I know Callahan was a very loved player here.  So I’m, you know, very curious to see how that works out going forward.

TRAVIS:  Well, what’s your thoughts on the G-Men and Eli Manning going forward?  

EDDIE:  Well, you know, he’s in his early thirties now.  I heard some rumblings that they wouldn’t be surprised if they dropped in a quarterback if one fell in their laps coming up for maybe two, three years down the road, although they did that with (Ryan) Nassib a year or so ago.  So they are kind of stockpiling these guys a little bit.  

But, you know, I think — I think Eli certainly is really an enigma, because the guy has won two Super Bows, and you can never take that away from him; but, you know, he’s still very up and down as a quarterback.  And to me, I think all of that rides on protection.  I think that the guy is going to sink or swim on how comfortable he is with his offensive line.  And I think that was probably the No. 1 problem with the Giants last year was the offensive line was horrible.  The guy was under pressure constantly, and that led to sacks, it led to a no-running game, and it led to a ton of interpretations.  

So I think that that’s the No. 1 thing they need to address.  And we also didn’t have a strong running game.  So you put all that into the equation, and the quarterback, no quarterback is really going to succeed in that sort of scenario.  

So I’m not looking to chase him out.  I think that, he’s obviously the quarterback of the Giants and will be until he retires, more than likely.  You know, he’s not a kid anymore.  You’d like to see more consistency.  But I think his awful year this past year is more because of what was around him than — you know, I’m sure there’s things he can improve on too.  And now there’s a new offensive coordinator coming in, so maybe, you know, that will help some.  We’ll see.

TRAVIS: Eddie, do you guys have carte blanche when it comes to guests, or does VH1 say who you can or can’t have on the show?  And I know you have had issues trying to get Ozzy on and Paul and Gene and that’s been well documented.  Are there any artists out there that VH1 says “No,” you guys can’t have them on the show?

EDDIE:  Not really.  The way the booking process works is that I work with VH1’s music and talent department directly on booking the show.  You know, we will get submissions from people saying they want to be on, and we will have people we want to reach out to and approach that we want on.  And we get on the phone and we have these calls and we figure out a game plan.  Say, okay, let’s try to put a show together like this.  Let’s do this.  Let’s do that.  No, we’re not feeling that it’s right to have that person on right now.  That person is not big enough.  That person is not known enough.  And we go through process.  And then we all begin reaching out to them and see who is available when we shoot and who we can have on.  

That’s how it works.  And I have a big, big role in all that.  

But that being said, VH1 Classics Music and Talent has to basically rubber stamp anybody that I want to have on.  So I cannot just go pluck somebody off the street and say we’re putting them on.  They need to say, Okay, why?  And what’s the story here?  And what’s the background?  And why do you want to do this?  And why is this good for the show?  And sometimes you have to make a case, and sometimes, obviously, it’s a no brainer.  

But their mandate is not whether the artist is rock or metal or thrash or this or that.  Their mandate is very simple.  They want the most well-known names or the people with the best stories possible at all times.  

You know, I have heard people say, Oh, you should do unknown bands.  You should do unsigned bands.  

I said, Well, those are not buzz words that get a TV network excited.  You know, a TV network wants stars, known commodities, people that when you click the channel, Hey, I know who that guy is.  And that’s the No. 1 mandate.  

That being said, we have a lot of people that aren’t like that, and we work in the best stuff that we can in terms of there are ways where we can at least spotlight newer or lesser known bands.

But for VH1 Classic, it’s all about name value.

TRAVIS:  My friends and I discuss the show a lot and I mentioned that we were doing this interview, they asked me to ask you, “when are Eddie and the guys going to have on this band or that band” and a lot of them are lesser known bands, and they also wanted me to ask about bands like Volbeat, Five Finger and A7X.

EDDIE:  Well, we have had them.  I mean, our first episode of this current season we had M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold.  We had Jason Hook from Five Finger Death Punch on this season.  We have Michael from Volbeat coming on in a couple weeks.  So we have had them, and we continue to have them, and we continue to mix them up.  

The bands that you —

See, that’s another thing that happens to us all the time.  We have over 100 episodes on.  And I get tweets, fan e-mails from people constantly saying, Hey, man, how come you never had — fill in the blank.

TRAVIS:  Right.

EDDIE:  Well, guess what?  We did have them on.  You just didn’t see it.  But we had them on.  So that’s the other side of it.  

But when the show started, the show was on VH1 Classic, and it was basically a hundred percent rooted in classic-leaning acts.  But we’ve evolved beyond that.  And now one week we have Lamb of God, the next week we have Leslie West and Foreigner, and then this week we have Mick Mars.  

So if people truly watch, we have a huge variety of music going on right now.  We had Halestorm on this season.  We find ways to introduce these guys.  Even if they are not — we can’t sit them down right next to us and do a full interview, we find ways.  

But when you are talking about Avenged or Five Finger Death Punch, whether you like them or I like them or anybody likes them is irrelevant as far as personal tastes.  All that matters is do they have enough audience.  And Avenged and Five Finger are two bands that have had back-to-back No. 1 records, so they are going to be on the show if we can get them.  And we’re glad to have them, because they are kind of the next wave, and we’ve opened up to that for sure.

TRAVIS:  I consider those two and Stone Sour to be the top 3, as you call it, “the Next Wave.”

EDDIE:  We have had Corey Taylor and Josh Randall on as well.

TRAVIS:  Corey is a great guy and artist. Very humble.

EDDIE:  There’s a huge misconception about the show, that only bands that I personally like or are friends with get on.  And some people have said that to me.  And that’s just so ludicrous, it’s incredible.  

There’s tons of bands that I love who have never and maybe never will get on That Metal Show, and there’s tons of bands that have been on that I personally don’t listen to, but I respect and listen to and can talk to.  

So it’s not about any of that.  It’s about what’s best for the show and what does most of the audience want to see.  

There is a segment of the audience that, you know, they want death metal, they want extreme metal, they want disk metal, they want Prague metal.  I mean there’s a million bands out there.  And there’s a focus and a target for this network.  And they are not going to go into deep underground stuff; they are not going to go into Euro metal stuff that’s not well known in America.  It’s just not going to happen.  I mean, no disrespect to any of that stuff, but it’s a TV network that thrives on ratings, and they want the most eyes possible on that screen to know who that person is.  They don’t care what kind of metal it is; they just care that people say, Oh, okay, we know who those guys are, or there’s enough of a story to tell.  And a great example of that is it having Lamb of God on recently.

TRAVIS:  Eddie, thanks for bringing them up.

EDDIE:  There’s a great story there.  Not a great story, but I mean an unfortunate story for Randy.  But it’s a compelling story.  So, you know, we’re going to do a full hour with those guys, as we did.

TRAVIS:  To me, it was an epic decision by the court.  I’m especially thankful for Randy and for the people in the metal community that he was acquitted of those charges. I’m not sure if a lot of people understand how big of a deal that actually was.  

EDDIE:  Well, I don’t think a lot of people even really know his story, because it wasn’t well covered when it was happening.  So it’s good that that was able to get out there.  And this movie is certainly going to help as well.

TRAVIS:  Eddie, you celebrated 30 years in radio.  You had a huge bash recently up in the New York-New Jersey area.  You also had a private party hosted by Judas Priest for your 25th.  And you mc’d the Ronnie James Dio memorial. What has been your crowning achievement in this industry up and to this point?

EDDIE:  Wow.  I mean, you have those two parties, were pretty amazing to look back on and see that those things happened.  They are kind of pinch-yourself moments.  

But some of the things that I am most proud of, I mean, I hear a lot of from people about hosting the Dio memorial.  It was an incredible honor that I still am so grateful for that Wendy offered for me.  And a lot of people have said really nice things about what I did that day and how it came together.  It was very tough, obviously, but it was an honor to have done, for sure.

The thing that I am extremely proud of was in 2001 I put a charity show together in New York called New York Steel.  That was to benefit the Fire Fighters and Police Officers Widows and Orphans Fund in the aftermath of 9/11.  And it was a metal benefit done for, you know, good reasons by good bands, and we raised money for people who needed it.  So I’m really, really proud of having been able to pull that off.  

At the time I wasn’t doing That Metal Show.  I wasn’t even on VH1 Classic yet.  So I basically put 3,500 people in a building in New York when nobody was coming to New York, and raised money for a good cause, and put metal in a good light.  And Twisted Sister reunited that night for the first time in 13 years.  And here we are, more than 10 years later, and they are still playing.  So that was kind of a cool footnote to all that, that that was the catalyst for them to get back together.  

So the New York Steel thing is something that’s really very, very, very important to me.  

You know, putting That Metal Show together, it’s probably the biggest thing I’m known for.  And it was very much my baby, to kind of fight and put that thing on the air.  And that it’s still going and it’s become what it’s become is something I’m extremely proud of.  

But every day it’s something else.  I mean, those are just big things that come to mind immediately.  But every day it’s a different thing.  You know, whether last year, you know, having the idea for Richey Kotzen to join Winery Dogs and having that record to come out so great is something I’m really proud of.  Being able to track down Jake Lee and help get him back out there through having him on That Metal Show and showing him how much love people still have for him, and now having this Red Dragon Cartel record is great.

So to have, you know, Ace Frehley and Peter Chris be such close friends and finally go into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.  I mean, I don’t think people have given me a lot of credit for pushing these bands to get in, but I’m not taking that credit.  I’m not saying they are going in there, because of me for a minute.  But I have been vocal about it, and I’m just happy to see it’s finally happening, whatever finally got it over the hump.

So, you know, all these things.  I mean, to have any sort of voice and any sort of ability to move the needle a little bit with this music that I love and people that I love to talk to is what it was about 30-plus years ago and what it’s still about now.  And that, to me, is the most important thing.  

TRAVIS:  Well, Eddie, I really appreciate you taking the time to do the interview. Your fans and I want to thank you for being “The Defender of the Faith.”

EDDIE:  Well, thanks so much for having me.  I appreciate the time and I appreciate the kind words and will hopefully see you when I get down to Florida at the end of the month.

 

For more information about That Metal Show and Eddie Trunk go to:      VH1 That Metal Show and  EddieTrunk.com

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