If the first three faces on the Rock/Metal Mt. Rushmore were Taylor, Grohl, and Lynch, then the fourth spot has to go to Eddie Trunk.
When you do something in life you love, you never work a day in your life as the saying goes. This applies perfectly for Eddie Trunk. Starting off in high school writing about the bands that were idols, and for some, later friends, leading to various other stops in the music world; he has seen a lot and somehow managed to do even more. Mr. Trunk sat down for a few minutes with National Rock Review to talk about That Metal Show, some of that mentioned history, and an opinion or two about the status of the rock/metal world.
NRR: Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to sit down with National Rock Review. Before we get started on That Metal Show, to keep peace with the NRR staff, I have to ask if there is a good Ace Frehley story to get things started that you might be able to share with me?
Eddie Trunk: I go out and do shows in clubs where I do speaking engagements and tell stories and things like that, Iâ€™m actually doing one in New Jersey this Friday, and when I do those I actually tell a lot of these stories, and one of the ones that people really love with Ace.. you know, heâ€™s been sober for about seven/eight years now, and Iâ€™m very proud of him for being sober and changing his life. But itâ€™s well known that back in the day he was a complete raging lunatic and drinker and we had some fun back in those days hanging out. And occasionally heâ€™d come over and weâ€™d drink together and one day he came over to my house in the middle of the afternoon and we started drinking.
The next thing we know we decided to go bowling and he decided to start bowling overhand and he was chucking balls down the lane from above his head like a soccer goalie would throw a ball out and just stumbling around and throwing. This was in my hometown bowling alley and people were just appalled and screaming, â€œWhat the Hell is this guy doing?â€ And they had no idea it was Ace Frehley. I had to go run up and basically put a wet towel on him and get him out of there before the cops came because he thought that it would be funny to just chuck bowling balls like softballs above his head down the lanes and bounce them all over the place. So thatâ€™s just one of many very fun and crazy experiences I had with him that alwaysâ€¦ you know, I tell an extended version of that in my speaking show and people always get a kick out of it.
NRR: I read a little bit of your background and from the story that I got you started out basically in high school writing reviews of the KISS, and that just went one step to another until you finally were asked to hang out at the local radio station. Did you ever think that that would lead to Hair Nation, having your own show on VH1 Classic, every Tuesday on Hair Nation, having the books, being the author, being the speaker, being the guru of everything metal and hard rock? Did you really think it would get to this point?
Eddie Trunk: I donâ€™t think that I thought that it would end up being what I made my living at my whole life. I donâ€™t think that if youâ€™d asked me when I was 18 if at 50 I would be making a living doing this I donâ€™t think that I would have ever thought that, but I think that I would have certainly still been a fan and had the same passion for the music as I do. You know, everything that I started out doing, the reason I started doing it was because I wanted to share the music with other people. I had always hated the fact that the music that I loved was made fun of and marginalized and people always thought you had to look and act a certain way to like it and they could immediately identify a metal fan just by looking at them. I always hated all those stereotypes.
When I was in high school I was made fun of for the music that I liked, but I never looked like a metal guy. I still donâ€™t. I donâ€™t have piercings, I donâ€™t have tattoos, I donâ€™t have long hair, which is fine if thatâ€™s what youâ€™re into, but I just hated the stereotype that came with it and I felt in a lot of ways it kept the music down. So for me it was all about â€œHow can I share this music in a respectful way with other people?â€ It was working in radio right out of high school and starting a metal show. Iâ€™ve had a metal radio show on FM radio since 1983, and in a lot of ways thatâ€™s what really triggered everything, and that show I still do to this day. Itâ€™s on to this day in New York every Friday night and on about 30 other stations. I also worked in a record store, I worked for a record company, I did artist management, I did freelance writing; all of it focused on doing the same thing, promoting the music in a respectful way that I liked. Then that led to a satellite radio show, and before even satellite radio it led to me getting a job in TV on VH1 Classic, a lot of people donâ€™t realize that Iâ€™ve worked for VH1 Classic since 2002 as a VJ and a host, and then that lead to That Metal Show, which was an idea that I had been pushing since 2002 when I first started at VH1 Classic.
It was all just taking whatever I could and then finding new ways to push it through and find new opportunities and find ways to grow it and expand itâ€¦ â€œOkay, Iâ€™m doing a show on FM radio. Okay, maybe I can get a show on satellite radio. Okay, now Iâ€™m doing a show satellite radio,â€ you know, and then, â€œmy FM show the TV network found out about it. Okay, maybe weâ€™ll try this guy out to do something on TVâ€¦â€ so it was all just how can I grow it and keep moving it and build on the things that I was already doing, and I got to tell you, in a lot of ways, thirty-something years later thatâ€™s still exactly what Iâ€™m trying to do. I mean, there are a lot of people that think, Oh, heâ€™s got a couple of radio shows, heâ€™s got a TV show, heâ€™s got a podcast, he must be set.â€ There is still an incredible amount of work every day to not only maintain those things but to grow them and try to build on them still today.
NRR: In the thirty years you’ve been doing this, you’ve talked to thousands of people and hundreds of bands. What are or what was the most memorable interview that you can remember?
Eddie Trunk: Well, for me, whenever Iâ€™m dealing with the guys from the 70s, those are the guys that I grew up with their posters on my wall and those are the guys that I really have a special feeling about. The guys from the 80s, and Iâ€™ve said this many times, I started in the music industry in the 80s, so those guys are friends, a lot of them, and we kind of came up in the business at the same time, so I look at that in a little different way. Although Iâ€™m still certainly a fan of theirs, itâ€™s a little bit of a different perspective because I look at them more like I knew them before they ever had success, I knew them before they had a record deal, Iâ€™ve interviewed them a hundred times. The guys from the 70s, itâ€™s like, wow, thatâ€™s the really special stuff to me. You know, any time Iâ€™m with any of the guys from Aerosmith, any of the guys in UFO, who I love. KISS used to be like that for me. I mean, Ace and Peter are such good friends now itâ€™s different, but certainly KISS was a huge part of my childhoodâ€¦ the guys in Judas Priest. all these guys that were the 70s guys, that really laid the groundwork for me as a fan. You know, Alice Cooperâ€¦ anything from that era, thatâ€™s the stuff thatâ€™s like, â€œWow, this is really cool,â€ and that means it just has a different feel for it for me because they were the icons to me as a little kid.
NRR: With the Mike Piazza interview not being in consideration, have you had a truly bad interview and how did you turn it around to positive or was it simply a lost cause?
Eddie Trunk: Iâ€™ve never really had too many of those issues. A guy like Mike [Piazza] is one of my best friends, and he is obviously known for something besides music, but he is also a huge music fan, and I used to have him on my radio show constantly and I think I had him on the TV show one time, but there are a million guys out there and theyâ€™ve all been, by and large, great with me. The only time I had a problem on the TV side doing an interview was with Marilyn Manson because Manson was hammered, (laughing). I mean, he was drinking absinthe and he was out of his mind, so that was difficult because I couldnâ€™t communicate with him, I couldnâ€™t keep him focused, I couldnâ€™t keep him in line, I couldnâ€™t get what I needed out of him. I had a similar experience with Zakk Wylde back in his drinking days before That Metal Show when I was a host at VH1 Classic and I was just doing regular interviews and I had Zakk in and he was completely hammered, started rearranging the set, and Zakk was a guy that I knew very well and we were friends even at that point. Zakk is originally from New Jersey â€“ but it was a tough spot because Iâ€™m laughing but at the same time I knew that the people I was working for were very upset and it put me a really awkward position.
Only rare instances like that, and in both cases it was because the artist I was dealing with was highly impaired (laughing) on whatever they were on, mostly alcohol. Outside of that, Iâ€™ve never had any issues along those lines where Iâ€™ve had any real problems with artists. Most of them Iâ€™ve got so much history with and there is so much mutual respect, I kind of know what Iâ€™m walking into and know where I can and canâ€™t go. The best interviews are always with the best people that have the great sense of humor, theyâ€™re not full of themselves, they donâ€™t take all it too seriously. You can talk about all areas of their career and not have them get upset or pissed off and are very objective about their entire career and that have fun and get it and know what it is to be a fan. Those are the best people, people like Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, [Rob] Halford, Dio was like that, Lars Ulrich is phenomenal like that, Joe Elliot from Def Leppard. You know, I can tell Joe, â€œHey, Joe. I really just love your first three records. Other than that itâ€™s been up and down.â€ Heâ€™s going to laugh, heâ€™s going to talk about it, heâ€™s going to debate it. Heâ€™s not going to storm off the set. Those are the artists that are really the great artists as far as interviewsâ€¦ the ones that are still fans and get what it is to be a fan.
NRR: I ask the second part of that question just as an interviewer myself with only a fraction of your career, so I was looking for the Eddie Trunk pointers to a successful interview, (laughing).
Eddie Trunk: I think being prepared is one thing and knowing your stuff. You know, Iâ€™m lucky in the sense that, and I donâ€™t say this to brag at all, but I donâ€™t really have to do prep. Very rarely do I do prep, only because Iâ€™ve lived this my entire life. Itâ€™s not something I do on the side. I live and breathe this music. Iâ€™m doing and have done for decades two radio shows a week, a podcast a week, all of it focused on Rock and Metal music. I write, I handle my own social media. It all revolves this world, so every day Iâ€™m reading, learning, getting press releases, getting emails. Itâ€™s my job to stay on top of this stuff, but there will be times that Iâ€™ll have an artist come in that is a little newer and maybe I donâ€™t know that much about and Iâ€™ll have to start doing a little peeking around and get a little bit of a back story or get some research, but by and large I have a great advantage just in the amount of decades Iâ€™ve been doing this that these artists know me, I know them, and I know what I can and canâ€™t do.
But I think itâ€™s important to ask a tough question from time to time and thatâ€™s maybe the hardest thing to do, especially when you know these guys and youâ€™re kind of friendly with them, to ask questions you know they donâ€™t want to answer, but you got to ask them. Whether itâ€™s, say, Dave Lombardo, â€œHey. What happened with Slayer?â€ Whether itâ€™s just last week when Skid Row announced their new singer and I had to say, â€œHow did you not call Sebastian Bach?â€ I mean, I have private conversations with these guys. I know they donâ€™t want to deal with that stuff, but itâ€™s my job to bring it up. They can answer it any way they want, but Iâ€™ve got to bring it up. I think able to do that and create a comfort zone for the artist and still ask those questions that you know people really need to hear from them about is really what the trick is.
NRR: Bridging over to That Metal Show, what can you tell me about what to expect to see from the show this season? Any surprises to share with me?
TMS BTS: Fozzy
Eddie Trunk: Well, weâ€™ve already aired six or seven episodes from the current season, so weâ€™re well into it, so if people have watched this current season they pretty much know what they are getting because weâ€™re more than halfway through this current season right now. Weâ€™re always trying different things. In our fourteen seasons of this show weâ€™ve evolved and tried different things constantly. Itâ€™s what we do and some stuff works, some stuff doesnâ€™t. Stuff that doesnâ€™t we donâ€™t do anymore. Things that work we do and some things we do and we rest and we bring back and we try other thingsâ€¦ so weâ€™re always evolving the show. If people have watched the show since the very beginning theyâ€™ll notice that. Theyâ€™ll notice there are a lot of things we used to do we donâ€™t do anymore and we try new things all the time. Weâ€™ve kind of hit on a formula that really works for us right now, that the audience really seems to be into. Weâ€™re keeping more of the focus of what weâ€™re doing on the set with the artists during the interviews and more interactive things with the artists themselves on set.
We used to go out of the set a lot, do a lot of field packages, things like that. We donâ€™t do that so much anymore. We prefer to kind of keep all the focus of what weâ€™re doing right on the set. Thatâ€™s one of the main things that have been going on in the last couple of seasons. We have different features every show that we run in and out. We have a feature like Rank, where the artists rank their own records, Put it on the Table, Take it or Leave itâ€¦ itâ€™s endless the different things that weâ€™re doing, and if you watch from show to show sometimes we do them and sometimes we donâ€™t. It just depends upon where we want to allocate the time, and thatâ€™s probably the most difficult thing for me, especially the difference between TV and radio â€“ time â€“ because there is so much less time on TV than of course I have to work with on radio. Weâ€™ve found a pretty good balance that most people seem to really like and itâ€™s working for us and the audience, but that doesnâ€™t mean we still wonâ€™t try some different things from time to time.
NRR: Being a metal world guru, give three lesser know/unheard of bands to look out for that could make a That Metal Show’s spotlight in the near future.
Eddie Trunk: As far as next big thing sort of stuff, there is a lot of buzz, especially in England, right now for a band called Rival Sons that is doing really, really well. They are very retro sort of throwback 70s sounding hard rock band. Theyâ€™re an LA band but they have really, really made great strides in England and are starting to finally infiltrate here a little bit as well, which is weird because, of course, theyâ€™re from here, so I think that there is a pretty good buzz on them. There is a band called Kyng that I like a lot thatâ€™s a trio. I like those guys a lot. Theyâ€™re a big riff, straight up sort of hard rock metal band. Those are the things that I like the best. Iâ€™m pretty encouraged by a lot of the new music out right now. There is a band called Farmikos that I like a lot, not necessarily new guys but a new a new band, and that band has Joe Holmes in it, who was Ozzyâ€™s guitar player for about five years, and I love that record. Thatâ€™s a new record that just came out, a debut. Then falling into categories of old guys but a new band, thereâ€™s a group called Black Star Riders that I absolutely love that is one guy from Thin Lizzy and then a bunch of other guys and their new record is phenomenal.
Again, doing really well in Europe; unfortunately, not a lot going on with it here. You have a lot of these offshoot bands and side project bands as well. I mean, The Winery Dogs are a band that I had a hand in putting together and they are working on their second record now, and that is just a phenomenal group. Mark Tremontiâ€™s work with Alter Bridge and on the side of Alter Bridge I just absolutely love. Thereâ€™s a lot of great new music out there. I just really hope that fans take the time to discover it and learn about it. I think that everybodyâ€™s attention seems to be in so many directions these days that not enough people really take the time to discover new music. I do the best I can with it, sharing it with people on the radio shows and doing what I can on the TV side, of course, to help expose it, but itâ€™s difficult. Itâ€™s difficult for these guys to sell and get attention for new music, and I think that sucks because there is a lot of really good new stuff out there.</div
NRR: Well, that brings up a situation of a band like I Prevail, what is your opinion of bands making pop song into a metal piece and explode versus the bands that do it the hard way on pretty much all original music?
Eddie Trunk: I mean, listen, the business is so incredibly difficult right now to get traction in that however you can do it, if youâ€™re lucky enough to be able to do it, good for you. I always think that artists that make it and write their own songs and get the success from their own material, I think, tend to have a little bit more longevity and a better chance at a long-term career. Itâ€™s the same sort of theory of like, you know, youâ€™ve got all these reality shows and talent shows and things like that. I mean, I donâ€™t watch any of them because I think, to me, the real talent is in songwriting and the artists that write their own materialâ€¦ that they arenâ€™t reliant on other peopleâ€™s work to be successful, I think that at the end of the day those are the real talents in my view out there. I donâ€™t begrudge anybody whoâ€™s had success no matter how they have to do it or in what way theyâ€™ve accomplished it, because it is still such a tough industry and you still need talent and you still need a lot of breaks.
But I think that the people that put the work in and write their own material and write truly great songsâ€¦ there are a million great singers, there are a million great guitar players, there are a million great drummers and bass players. Every day Iâ€™m sent YouTube links, â€œCheck out little kid playing Eruption,â€ â€œcheck out this, check out that.â€ Thatâ€™s all well and good and thatâ€™s cool but I want to see somebody say, â€œCheck out this kid and these amazing songs heâ€™s writing.â€ To me, thatâ€™s the real potential for greatness and, to me, it always was greatness. Itâ€™s like, where are the great songwriters? Where are the bands making great songs? I hear so often, â€œThis bandâ€™s got an amazing guitar player. They look great. Theyâ€™ve got this great attitude. Theyâ€™ve got this, theyâ€™ve got that,â€ and you put it on and the song are just arenâ€™t good. So thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m most exited about and hopeful for, that weâ€™re going to have some truly great bands making great new original material, and I think thatâ€™s the key to advancing this and getting greater success for rock music.
NRR: It would be seriously remiss of me if I didn’t ask when That Metal Show airs for more great stories, interviews, and up to date happenings in the music world?
: The new episodes premiere every Saturday night at nine pm EST on VH1 Classic. They replay at eleven pm EST. If you watch the channel throughout the week, if you have a DVR, if you go into your grids on your cable systems and you just search for That Metal Show you will see it repeat constantly throughout the week, so there is no shortage of ways to see it. You can also see it online and the website is here
and there are extras online as well, so for people who donâ€™t have VH1 Classic you can see it online. The shows replay constantly throughout the week, both old and new episodes, but the premieres are always Saturday at nine pm EST.
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