bill bodkin gets metal …
“I just think of myself as a fan.”
However, Eddie Trunk, the host of vh1 Classic’s That Metal Show, which premieres its 12th season on June 1, is so much more than that.
The New Jersey native, who’s been involved in the world of music for the better part of three decades, is the definitive voice of heavy metal. He wears his love for the genre on his sleeve. He extols the virtues and awesomeness of heavy metal more passionately and eloquently than anyone possibly has about any type of music. He’s opened the eyes of mainstream metalheads to bands forgotten by time; he’s given hope to fan who’ve become disillusioned by today’s scene by highlighting bands who don’t have the benefit of million dollar publicity campaigns.
And with his nationally syndicated radio show, his acclaimed first book and of course, his television show, he’s put heavy metal on a national platform, a platform he knows in his heart that metal absolutely deserves.
Eddie Trunk recently caught up with Pop-Break’s resident metalhead, Bill Bodkin, to talk about TMS‘ new season, his new book and of course, metal.
Pop-Break: That Metal Show is airing its 12th Season on Saturday June 1 … did you ever have any inkling that this show would be as popular and run as long as it has?
Eddie Trunk: Most people don’t know that I was a host on vh1 Classic from 2002 to 2006. Even during those years when I was VJ-ing, hosting and interviewing I was always pushing to do my own show; where I could say what I want and have my buddies on and play the music I like.
I was just happy we got to the pilot stage. And I remember shooting that pilot, which we shot in New York and it ended up airing as the first episode, none of us had any idea if we’d be doing another show or even if that show would even see the light of day. As soon as that show aired and the response we got — we started rolling with more episodes. It’s just been a great ride and it keeps on going. I never envisioned that this would become, basically, the flagship show for the channel. Also, one of the things that really surprises me about the show to this day is, internationally, how big the show has gotten. Outside of America this show is seen in South America, Australia and Mexico and they’ve given it an incredible response. They’re a few season behind actually, but they’re really into it too. For me, it was something I fought really hard for to get on the air and once it did … to see how it’s done is phenomenal.
PB: Was there a moment early on in the series’ run where you thought, “Man we’ve really got something special here?”
ET: If there’s anything that I’ve been criticized for in my career, which is now 30 years in the world of music, is that I don’t stop and smell the roses. I’ve had a lot of people say to me ‘You don’t take a beat and realize what you’ve done, whether it be with radio shows or TV or whatever you do.’ But I just never do, I never think like that. This whole thing, my whole world, started in this music because I love it and I want to share it with people and to present it respectfully. So many times it’s marginalized or is made fun of or people think they have the fans all figured out … that they look and act a certain way. I’m trying to give this music the proper treatment and proper respect it deserves. I’m always kind of nose-to-the-grindstone, what’s next, what can I do to make what I’m doing bigger and better, what’s the next opportunity … so I never think like that. But it is pretty amazing.
I was at The Big 4 Show and James Hetfield (of Metallica) came up to me and said ‘Hey listen, what you’re doing here is really, really important and you gotta keep this up. This is really so important.’ And maybe the one single phrase that I hear more often than not from fans and artists and alike is, ‘Hey thanks for keeping this alive. Thanks for doing this the right away and keeping it alive.’I hear this so much and it really blows me away. I just think of myself as a fan. Sure, I’m a fan that’s worked really hard to get a bigger platform than most fans, but at the end of the day I think we’re all in this together and the music is what it’s all about. The big thing for me is that it’s treated respectfully.
PB: You’re still a fan but you are metal royalty, someone we all look to as the definitive voice for the genre that we love. Yet, were there moments on the show, when a guest had the proverbial palms sweating?
ET: I’m always the fan but the advantage I have is that I’ve been doing this for three decades and on the TV show there’s rarely ever going to be a guest that I haven’t interviewed, in many case numerous times and in some cases I’ve become friends with the guys. I always keep it in check, even if I’m geeking out inside, I keep it in a professional context. Of course there’s times where it’s “How the heck is this happening?”
I remember one example, last August, we shot two shows on my birthday. They were taped in L.A. and one was with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, so we had half a version of Van Halen there. And Sammy’s just one of my favorite people as is Michael, great people. The other show was a full hour with Steve Harris (Iron Maiden). During one of the shows Steven Adler (formerly of Guns N’ Roses) jumped out of a birthday cake and I thought, ‘What the hell is going here?’
When you’ve got icons, guys I grew up with like [Tony] Iommi sitting there or Joe Perry sitting there or Michael Schencker, being a huge UFO fan when he played on the show. It’s those moments where you’re like, ‘Wow this is just crazy.’ There’s going to be a time when I’m out of this business and I gonna put these DVDs on and I’m going to wonder, how the hell all of this happened. Now I’m just moving forward and staying in the moment and trying to build it the best I can with what I have to work with. At the same token when my kids get older maybe I can show them the DVDs and tell them to take a look at the guys I got to sit there and hang out with.
PB: The 100th episode features Sebastian Bach, someone who’s been on your radio show numerous times … was he your choice to be on the episode or was it just luck?
ET: To be honest with you until you told me that Sebastian was the 100th episode, I didn’t even know it. (laughs). That goes back to my thing … I just do ’em and the network puts the significance around them. So there’s no significance of Rex Brown, who’s also on the episode, and Sebastian being the 100th episode of the show.
Now, with that being said, Sebastian is always a lot of fun and you never know what the hell he’s going to say. So it’s going to be a lot of fun.
PB: Can you talk about working with Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine — has it become easier these days as the show progresses not to crack up on set or is it just as hard as when you started?
ET: Actually, I say it’s pretty much all the way around. I mean they have the upper hand because they’re stand-up comics but we all break each other up quite a bit, it goes around the horn. There’s buttons we can push on each other where we can make each other crack. It’s a joke, or a stupid phrase that someone said in the dressing room or maybe a bit from Andrew “Dice” Clay, he’s our favorite comic, we recall some ridiculous bit he did just to break the ice and break each other up. We all take turns doing that, we definitely have a good time.
It’s funny, we don’t actually see each other as much as we used to; I mean we used to hang out a lot more. Now we see each other the most when we’re shooting the show. When we’re shooting we’re around each other all the time. The only reason we don’t hang out as much is because since the show started our lives have changed so much. Jim is now married and has a kid, that wasn’t the case when we started. Don was living in Manhattan when we started and when I would go in for shows, we’d go together. Now he’s back in Jersey down in South Jersey. But even though we don’t see each other as much we still talk a lot and [on set] we still break each other up and sometimes we need that … having someone say something ridiculous breaks everything up.
PB: What can we expect in your new book?
ET: It is an exact sequel of the first book. It’s the same publisher and it’s titled Eddie Trunk’s Essential Guide to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal 2. It’s the same format, same exact layout, the discography, the ‘Did You Know’ stuff and of course, the exclusive live photography. So many people enjoyed the layout of the first book, how easy it was to read. So we didn’t mess with the formula that people really liked. The only difference is the bands are completely different. The bands are a little deeper, a little less mainstream. So it’s an out-and-out sequel that’ll be out in September. It’s going to make a great companion piece to the first.
PB: What’s your #1 thing in metal you’re completely stoked for this summer?
ET: I think the GiganTOUR line-up this year looks really promising. One thing I look forward to doing every year and it just happened was ROCKlahoma in Oklahoma which I’ve hosted every year since it started in 2007. That was great, I got to see Alice in Chains for the first time with the new singer. I host a cruise every year called Monsters of Rock which is a lot fun. So those things become benchmarks of my year that are always fun.
In terms of actual music, the one thing I’m looking forward to is from a band I had a hand in putting together is The Winery Dogs and their album comes out in July. The band is Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy. I’m the one who suggested that Kotzen join the band when their guitarist dropped out. Right now it’s my favorite album of the year. I’ve been a huge fan of Richie’s for the better part of ten years and no one in this country has any idea what this guy is all about as far as his ability as a singer and a player. He’s one of my favorite singers. So I think this, after so many years, will put him on the map a bit in his home country. He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever come across.