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INTERVIEW: EDDIE TRUNK of That Metal Show – March 2015

| 19 March 2015 | Reply

There are musicians that are on the must interview list, but every once in a while I am given the chance to speak to someone on the other side of the coin.  Eddie Trunk has been a driving force in keeping metal alive for years now.  This rockaholic (he works harder than most in furthering the rock agenda) has radio shows, blogs, writes liner notes, guest columns, and hosts one of the most beloved rock music shows of all time – VH1’s That Metal Show.  Recently I received an email offering me a few minutes with Eddie and I didn’t hesitate…  so glad the few minutes turned into almost half an hour.  It was a pleasure, and a big honor, to speak with this man.  What a great talk… this was less of an interview and more of a discussion of things related to TMS and Eddie… enjoy this – I know I did!

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Eddie: Hey Todd, good to talk to you.

Toddstar: Good to talk to you Eddie. Thank you so much for taking time out for us today. We really appreciate it.

Eddie: Sure, no problem.

Toddstar: I had the pleasure of meeting you at Rocklahoma way back in 2007, 2008 time frame.

Eddie: ’07 was the very first year.

Toddstar: Okay, so it would have been ’08. It would have been the second year.

Eddie: Yeah, I’ve been there every year. I was there every year but ’10.

Toddstar: Cool. Rocklahoma was cool but let’s talk about your real baby, That Metal Show, the thing has been going gangbusters for years now. Did you ever think it would take off like it has, Eddie.

Eddie: I’ve been asked that question a lot and it’s hard for me to answer that. I certainly thought that it would last for a while. I certainly thought that it would make a nice mark and impact because my whole life, I’ve been in the music industry in that end of it. I knew that if I could just get the opportunity then it would really make a connection with an audience. Fortunately that’s been the case. I had a good feeling about it though in the very early days because what many people don’t know is I worked for VH1 Classic as a host and as a VJ for five years before doing That Metal Show. I was part of the channel for many years before That Metal Show came together. I knew that from my history with the channel that if VH1 Classic or VH1 proper or any part of that family was going to do something, they were going to make sure that they gave it every opportunity to succeed. When That Metal Show came together in 2008, they said that they wanted to do a contract with me for it in a way that if it was to be picked up, we would do three seasons of it immediately. It felt like going into it that there was a pretty good commitment to making it work because I didn’t go into it just doing a pilot, I went into it doing a pilot with them having the option to do at least two or three seasons of it. Clearly after the pilot, they could have just gotten out of it if it didn’t work and say, okay, well, we don’t feel this and we’re not going to do it. Fortunately, that’s what happened. Between my past history with them at the time and the fact that they really went into it with an idea of wanting to make it more of a long-term proposition, I had a pretty good feeling that we were going to have a good run.

Toddstar: A good run, it has been, indeed, 118 episodes and counting as far as I know. The whole structure of the show, you guys, with VH1, you decided to on That Metal Show… The structure and the evolution of the show, how much of this has really been your… the ball handed to you and run with it? How much of the structure as the fans of the show see it now, how much of that belongs to you and your creativity?

Eddie: A good portion of it but it certainly, without question, a team effort. I put a lot of work into getting the show on the air because I had had this past history with them. I had been pitching the idea for this show for a long time before it got on the air, a lot of the fight to get it to exist. I put in a lot of work in developing the initial concept with the network and also pushing to get it to happen, bringing in Don and Jim, which I did. I talked to the network about them. I introduced… They were friends of mine already. I introduced them to the network. A lot of the groundwork was a lot of me directly with the network. Once we got to doing the pilot and got up and running on the air, it very much became a team effort of everybody contributing. Don or Jim may have ideas, I’ll have ideas, our producer, Jeff Baumgartner will have ideas. The executives at the network may have some ideas. If you watched over the 118 or whatever it is that you said we’ve done, you’ll see a ton of changes from the way the set looks to features we do or don’t do anymore. We were a half hour show to a an hour show. We used to do a lot of field things outside the studio. We don’t do that anymore. We have features that have become very popular in the show that we do every week that we didn’t do early on. We’re always trying things wherever the idea comes from. The stuff that works, we stick with. The stuff that doesn’t work, we’ll phase out. It’s not like a dictatorship by any stretch. It’s the like the floor is open and wherever a good idea comes from, everybody embraces it and says, “Hey, let’s give this a try.” That’s really, I think, a big part of the success of it too, is just the fact that everybody has an open ear to trying different things.

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Toddstar: Very cool. One of my favorite segments and everybody I talk to, everybody loves Stump the Trunk. Is there one question or two questions that stand out in the history of the show that you think back and you say to yourself, “How did I possibly miss that?” Is there just that one moment you wish you could have back and you think, “I knew the answer. How did I screw that up?”

Eddie: Oh, yeah, well that just happened this season. That just happened two weeks ago.

Toddstar: You were a bit upset.

Eddie: Well, it was my own fault but I misheard a question about Quiet Riot because somebody had asked about the name of the first two records that Randy Rhoads played on with Quiet Riot. I, for whatever reason, heard Randy Rhoads in my head as Rudy Sarzo. I don’t know why that was. I don’t know why I heard that in my head. Not to make excuses but that position where people are on the set is pretty far away from where I sit. There’s a big table in front… Cameras and then there’s an audience and it’s not always easy to hear exactly what the question is. That, coupled with the fact that that all my life going to loud concerts, sometimes you can’t hear exactly and I don’t know why but a couple weeks ago, I completely thought that they said Rudy Sarzo. As a result, I answered that question as if it was Rudy Sarzo. Clearly I know that Randy Rhoads had passed away by the time Metal Health came out. I don’t know everything but I knew that. I just was answering it as if it was Rudy Sarzo versus Randy Rhoads. When I found out my mistake and that they did, indeed, say Randy Rhoads, I was like, “Damn, how did I blow that?” Listen, that’s what makes that segment so popular. People like the fun of it. They like the ball-busting that goes on with it. It’s fine. As long as everybody doesn’t take it too serious and knows that I certainly don’t think I know it all. It’s just a fun thing that we do. It’s fun but there are people that get a little too wrapped up in it. Myself being one when things like that happen.

Toddstar: I’m sure. Any discontinued segments that you wish maybe still continued?

Eddie: When we did some of the stuff outside of the studio, in the first half of the history of the show, we did a lot of stuff where we did stuff outside the studio. We’d go to concerts. We’d go out front of concerts. We went to somebody’s house in Connecticut, did an episode in their living room. We went to England. Those sort of things, I had fun with. Some of it worked. Some of them didn’t. The problem with doing them was the fact we had all these artists coming to us and sitting on our set, especially in the early days. We were half an hour show and it’s like, “Wow, I’ve got Ace Frehley sitting here and I’ve got six minutes with him because I’ve got to spend six minutes… We’re bringing in this package of us in somebody’s house in Connecticut.” That was frustrating as all hell. A lot of that stuff went away. We made the decision that let’s stay on our set more and spend more time with artists which I’m all for. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing some stuff out of the studio from time to time. I wish we could be more mobile and more flexible in our production schedule so that when there’s a cool event happening, we could just put a team together and go cover it. If there’s a tour, we could just go out and hit a show and do stuff from backstage. Budget-wise we’re just not able to do that sort of stuff. I hope that there’s a way that we can get back to doing a little bit more of that at some point in the future. I wish we could… We had no music at all for a long time. Now we have a musician. I hope that someday we can have a band and have a song. Again, it all comes down to budgets and money and what we can and can’t afford to do. I’m up for revisioning things and I’m up for new ideas. I just know that our audience is so passionate about we do and we do it that we can’t take too many turns or they get mad like… We rested the top five a season or two ago. We just left it out of most of the shows because we felt it might be burning out a little bit. People went crazy when we stopped doing that. Just little things like in our debut episode this season, we wore… Myself, Don and Jim, we all wore long sleeved shirts. Jim and I had flannels on and people were like, “What do you guys got a dress code? Where’s the band shirts?” They went crazy. It was the biggest thing that came out of our first episode. Not getting Lee but that fact that we were all wearing long sleeved button downs. It sounds to ridiculous but the social media was going on and on about that. It was like… We totally were like, “No, there’s no dress code. The reason we’re doing this is because it’s February in New York and we’re freezing.” Sometimes the fans and the people watching think there’s ulterior motives to some of this stuff when there really isn’t. We’re always just trying things and doing stuff differently and see what works.

Toddstar: Okay. Who’s the get you haven’t got yet? Who’s still on Eddie Trunk’s list to have on the show?

Eddie: I think probably Eddie Van Halen is probably the number one guy for me. I ask every single season including this season and unfortunately I get the same answer every time. They’re not doing anything. No press. No thank you. I know that he watches the show. They sent us a guitar rig last season which was really nice but we would love to actually have him on the show. They’re also a very press shy band in a lot of ways. They do very little media. As a matter of fact, with this live record coming out it’s like, “Okay, here’s a great opportunity.” The timing is great but there’s just nothing. They just don’t do things. He just doesn’t do stuff really outside of very rare appearances. For me that would probably be the one guy that I wish that one day we could get on.


Toddstar: Okay. On the flip side of that, Eddie, any artists you wish you hadn’t brought on?

Eddie: Mm, no, no. The one guy I always bring up in this sort of category and I certainly don’t have any regrets about bringing him on but I just wish that it could have gone a little differently was Marilyn Manson who we had on twice. I’m a huge fan of him but both times Manson was on, he was pretty inebriated. He was whacked out of his head and as a result, it made for a difficult interview, if you can even call it that because it was hard to get him focused and in line for what we were doing. I’ve also said to a lot of people, too, I’m kind of burnt out on everybody being so PC and giving the expected answers so much that it’s kind of fun to see a guy still being a rock star and being a bit of train wreck like Manson was. I’ve talked to Manson about it since and just went to see him recently and all that. It was one of those shows that our audience… Half of them thought it was the greatest thing they ever saw and the other half were really pissed off by it. Those are okay to do every once in a while too because it gets people talking.

Toddstar: Sure. Any press is good press.

Eddie: Yeah.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about you for a second, Eddie. What in your life made you decide instead of being a rock star, you were going to be the guy that knew all the rock stars?

Eddie: I couldn’t play anything. I mean, I couldn’t play anything. I took some drum lessons very, very, very early on as a little kid. I just didn’t have the discipline to stick with it. I wanted to be able to play the records I was listening to instantly. I didn’t want to play on a little drum pad and sit there and open a book and try to read the notes or what have you. I got frustrated very quickly by that. I just didn’t take the time or the discipline to learn how to play anything which is something I regret to this day. There’s still a side to me that says if I could ever get the free time, I would love to take a guitar lesson or just learn how to play chords. I just don’t have the time right now. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I said,”Okay, well, I love this music so much and I’m so passionate about it and I want more people to hear it and I want to share it the music that I love with people. How can I do that? How can I accomplish that?” The way I did, I just basically set out to do anything that I could to share the music with people. From the earliest days when I was in high school, the college in my hometown had a radio station. When I was in high school, I would walk up to the college and hang out at the radio station. That’s how I kind of got interested in radio. I worked in a record store. I worked for a record company. I worked in artist management. I did freelance writing. After I did radio … I still do radio to this day, then I got into TV. It was all focused, though, for one reason, the music and the bands that I love, sharing them with other people. Helping too in a respectful way grow and promote the bands and the music. That’s still what it’s about today. I do two national radio shows a week. I added a podcast late last year that I do every week. Fortunately, being a part of VH1 Classic since 2002 and having That Metal Show, they’re all focused towards the same thing. I even occasionally do a little freelance writing from time to time for a couple magazines. Whatever I can do to help grow the music. The difference between then and now is that now it’s also how I make my living. I support a family. I have to bring in the financial aspect too. I have to make sure that I’m making enough money to keep everything moving. Back when I was a kid, living at home, it was just like, “Hey, whatever you got to do to just do it.” Now I also have to make sure that I’m getting a fair shake and that I’m being paid so that I can continue to … I’ve got three people relying on me. It’s a little different and then I go out and, of course, I do a ton of personal appearances and hosting of concerts and things like that. It’s a hodgepodge of a lot of stuff. Although it is how I make my living, at the core of it, it’s still very much the same reason I started doing it. It’s sharing and talking about and debating and discussing and helping to promote the music that I love.

Toddstar: Watching you on That Metal Show, listening to your radio show and also as I mentioned earlier, having seen you live, you can definitely tell you’ve got the passion behind anything that you do. That being said…

Eddie: I hear that a lot. I hear that from people a lot and I’m glad that that comes through because there are people that have called me a journalist or a commentator or probably a lot of worse things than that. There are people that have referred to me in different ways as to what I do and I don’t really consider myself any of that stuff. I really just consider myself a fan. Granted, I’m a fan that’s been fortunate and lucky to make a living out of what I love doing but at the end of the day, I still just consider myself a fan. I really don’t ever put myself in any other category than that. I don’t think of myself as any more important or any more above anybody else that’s a fan of this music. I, of course, over the years acknowledge that I have been able to carve out a good fan base and a following and strike a nerve with a lot of people who maybe see themselves in me and what I’m doing and have told me that. That’s really cool. When I got to shows and meet people like that who are nice enough to want to come up and take a picture or ask me to sign something or whatever, it’s somewhat surreal because it’s like, “Hey, I’m just like you, man. I’m hanging out here at the bar just having a beer and let’s just hang.” People … I get that there’s a difference now that the person they hear all the time or they see all the time on their TV, it’s a different dynamic to them. To me it’s not. To me it’s just I’m a fan. Let’s get out there and go see a show.

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Toddstar: Very cool sentiment. That means, Eddie, I’ve got one more for you before we let you move on to the rest of your busy day. Everything you’ve done, there’s a story clear as you mention. If you could look back on a couple things, one professionally and one personally, what are the couple things in your life that you’re most proud of and want to be remembered for?

Eddie: Well, professionally I would hope that when all is said and done, I would be remembered for somebody who respectfully defended and promoted and fought for rock music, rock and metal music. What I mean by respectfully is that I always hated the stereotypes that came with this music. If that’s your trip and that’s your thing, great. I’m not judging anybody. I don’t have a tattoo. I don’t have a piercing. I don’t have long hair. I don’t think you necessarily need the uniform to love this music. I think, like I said, if that’s your trip, that’s great. I’m not judging anyone. I’m just saying that I think it’s somewhat limiting because people think that they can figure out who’s into metal and who isn’t just by looking at them. That’s just not the case. I think that’s one of the reasons why it is… Unfortunately does stay somewhat underground sometimes. I love the fact when I meet people or they see my and they say, “Hey, you don’t look like a metal guy. You don’t talk like a metal guy. You don’t act like a metal guy.” That’s a compliment to me because I… That’s not by design. I’m just being myself. If I looked or acted any other way, then that would be disingenuous. I just hope that through that and through the things that I’ve done, this music … I’ve put a positive light and a good spin on this music and shown that you can… There’s people for all walks of life that love this music and very educated people, there’s athletes, there’s doctors, there’s surgeons. It’s not just a kid in a leather vest that loves it. I’m always fighting to kind of send that message. That’s why I don’t fall into any of the stereotypes. I don’t fall into the things that people would associate and think are synonymous with this music and the fact I’ve survived my whole life kind of defending it or promoting it or however you want to look at it shows that it works. If you keep an open mind there’s a lot of … A lot more people into this stuff than anybody would ever think. Just the whole body of work and they whole reason I’ve done it which is to promote it because I love it and in a respectful way, not be the guy that’s screaming and signing his name with 666 under it or all the sort of stereotypes that come with this. That’s something I’m proud of that I have never caved to that sort of stuff. On a personal side for just the fact that I’ve got a great family that is very understanding of what I do and the fact that I’ve… If I’ve been able to do anything that I look at and I say I’m really… I was able to pull off something pretty cool, that is the fact that I’ve taken this passion that I just told you about and this thing that I love so much but have also been able to make it my profession. If there’s anything, it’s like, “Wow, okay, how lucky is it if you’re able to take the thing that you love doing and also be able to have it be what you do for a living.” Not a lot of people get to do that. That’s something that I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to do. I’ve got a great family. I’m able to thankfully support my family, my kids, my wife through doing what I love. It’s not without its challenges because there’s good weeks, there’s bad week, there’s good months, there’s bad months. The schedule is as erratic as hell. There’s a lot of travel. You have to really have a great discipline and know how to budget and balance things. You have to have a family that is understanding and supportive of very un-traditional hours and schedules. On a personal note, I’m really lucky and grateful that I have that, that I’ve got two great kids and that everybody kind of gets what I do and embraces it and supports it and doesn’t get in my way with it and just says, “Yeah, go do what you’ve got to do and we’ll be here.” That, to me, is obviously a really important thing on the personal side.

Toddstar: Very cool. Well, thank you Eddie for opening up your heart and mind to us today. We appreciate it. We wish you well with the remaining episodes and many future years of That Metal Show for those of us who wear that suit everyday so that everybody can do what they need to do.

Eddie: I appreciate it. It was great talking to you and thanks. I’m with you. I hope that there’s many more seasons and shows to come but no matter what happens, I’ll continue to do what I do. As I say to many people all the time, I can only worry about the things I can control so I just keep on keeping on and always looking for those new opportunities to grow and expand what I’m doing. We’ll see what the future holds but I know that we’ve got another eight killer new episodes coming and I’m looking forward to doing them.

Toddstar: Awesome and thanks for keeping rock alive, Eddie.

Eddie: Thank you. I appreciate that. Look forward to talking to you again.

Toddstar: All right. We’ll talk to you soon.

Eddie: Bye-bye.









Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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