Eddie Trunk – That Metal Show is Fueled by my Passion and Love of Music!

By: Robert Cavuoto

As That Metal Show celebrates its 14th season on VH1 Classics, co-host Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson, and Jim Florentine continue to fly the flag for hard rock and heavy metal.

As the show grows in popularly, it flourishes and evolves with each new season.

Proof of that is evident as we have seen it go from 30 to 60 minutes and highly entertaining segments like “Stump the Trunk,” “Metal Modem,” and “Take It or Leave It” have become show staples.

On top of his co-hosting and producing responsibilities for That Metal Show, Eddie Trunk also has two highly successful weekly radio shows where he spins some of metal’s classic songs and interviews countless artists. His uncanny knowledge of all things metal is only surpassed by his passion and true love for the music.

I’ve been a long time fan of Eddie’s radio shows and proud of his success with That Metal Show. I have spoken with him  at events, concerts, and outside of his radio shows. I’ve always found him to friendly and extremely approachable.

I was fortunate to attend a recent taping of the show with John 5 and Dave Lombard of Slayer fame. Afterwards, I turned the interviewing tables on him to have an open and honest dialogue about his career in radio, his unique interviewing techniques, and what drives the success of That Metal Show!

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Robert Cavuoto: Every season seems to get better, how do you manage to top the show year after year?

Eddie Trunk: I think the quality of the show gets better as more people get to know the show and the artists continue to get into the true spirit of the show.

As far as topping it, we can only control what is in our world. As the producer of the show, I have the additional say as to what goes on, as well as working with the other producers to come up with new ideas. A large portion of what goes on behind the scenes falls on me; like getting the artists. Majority of the musicians all live in L.A., which can be challenging.

That was the reason we have taped there in the past.  We love doing it in New York because we all live in the area and the show can be a bit more topical. The challenge is always getting guests and getting the bigger name guests. A problem that arises is the artist would prefer to be on the show when they can promote something.

Unfortunately we don’t work like that; we are not like Jimmy Fallon taping every night, though I wish we were.

Ways for us to continue to grow is to take the people who are available when we shooting and doing the best things we can do with them by asking them good questions, having fun, and keeping it loose. Also introducing new elements, if you have been watching the show there has been a lot of evolution over the 14 seasons.

We went from 30 minutes to 60 minutes; we have live music, and added some new segments. Its constantly changing and I have a million ideas that I would love to do, but I work for the network and they make the ultimate call.

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Robert: Tell me more of your role as producer on the show?

Eddie Trunk: Many people don’t know that I worked for VH1 Classics as host and interviewer in every genre of music for five years prior to That Metal Show. I was always pitching them the idea to do my own show as it’s an extension of what I do on my radio shows.

I initially got a lot of resistance with the concept, but 2008 VH1 said, “Let’s talk about this idea of yours!”

Together we developed the idea and they suggested bring on co-hosts. Don and Jim are friends of mine who have been on my radio shows; so we had a natural chemistry, as well as the connection to the music.

The role is really about developing the initial concept, creating segment, bring on the co-hosts, and nurturing the show. The role I fill the most is getting the talent. During my history of doing radio for 30 plus years, I book and produce everything on my own.

I’m totally comfortable with that role. VH1 recognizes that I am a value due to my relationships with the artists.

Robert: Your interviewing technique is very fluid as you have more of a conversational approach when speaking with artists, how did you evolve that technique?

Eddie-TrunkEddie Trunk: Before I did any TV, I had over 20 years of radio experience, so that was a huge advantage. The other advantage is that I know 95% of the artists that we are going to sit down with. I’ve probably interviewed them more than a dozen times. Some of these guys are my close friends, which can sometimes work against you.

I want to be able to put artists in a comfort zone, but also not be afraid to ask the tough questions. At the end day the audience needs to be served. It’s a combination of finding that right balance.

A great example was on tonight’s show with Dave Lombardo, before we shot the episode I went to him and said I know you don’t want to talk about Slayer, but I have to ask you about it. I told him he can answer it any way he wants, but my audience will kill me if I don’t at least ask. He got it and respected it.

I thought it went fine. I don’t often give artists the heads up, but I recently had Dave on my podcast and felt it was a bit awkward for him when I brought it up.

Robert: What advice can to give to aspiring journalists?

Eddie Trunk: I’m a huge fan of these artists and sometimes I have to temper it. I see a lot of young guys fumble all over themselves when it comes time to do an interview, they’re so nervous. It’s great to be a fan, but pull it back and keep it professional, I think that will take you a lot further.

Robert: I speak with many artists who tell me that they don’t like watching themselves perform; do you have any aversions to seeing yourself on TV?

Eddie Trunk: Slash has been on this show four times and told me that he will never watch it [Laughing]. He can’t look at himself on the show. In the beginning for me it was really awkward.

Even from my early days on the radio, I didn’t like hearing myself, I used to cringe. But now that I have been doing for so long it’s become second nature. I don’t watch the shows on loop or replay them a million times, but I’ll watch every episode because I’m always learning and looking to improve. I watch to critique.

It’s a totally different perspective watching the show versus taping it. So much of it comes down to the edits. The turnaround time is so quick from taping on Tuesday to viewing on Saturday, that’s the first time that I’m seeing the show is with the audience.

Robert: Is the “Stump the Trunk” a gift or a curse?

Eddie Trunk: It’s definitely a gift [Laughing]. To have the opportunity to be known for something like that and to do something that resonates with so many people is pretty amazing. It’s a silly thing to be known for, but you know what; I’ll take it [Laughing].

I’ve gone all over the world and have people come up to me to and say, “I’m gonna stump you!” I do not think for a minute that I know it all. It becomes a fun thing which has taken on a life of its own. People love to see it on the show, as well as when we perform it at clubs. Anything that gets people interested in the music, the show, the band, or what I do is good by me.

Robert: How are you at remembering personal things like family birthdays and anniversaries?

Eddie Trunk: Horrible! The worst! [Laughing] To this day I need my Aunt to tell me it’s my mother’s or wife’s birthday. I need my mother to tell me when it’s my aunt’s birthday. It really comes down to dates, if you hit me with release dates or when songs were written I pretty much get them wrong.

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Robert: How do you prepare for your interviews?

Eddie Trunk: Don and Jim do a lot of prep work because they are stand-up comics and this is relatively new to them. They’ve gotten quite good at it and seem more comfortable.

It’s been a running joke when we are in our dressing room and I see them with their heads in books writing stuff down, I’ll yell at them, “What are you doing, you’re making me nervous!” I’m sure the same would apply if I tried to do stand-up comedy.

I do virtually no prep for my radio, TV, or podcasts. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I don’t need to. This is all I know; I live it every day. The last 30 years of my life has been dedicated to music. Everyday I’m reading it, seeing it, and hearing about it. I have two radio shows a week were I’m probably talking about it just as much.

Outside of somebody who may be a little out of my wheelhouse in terms of music or being new artist, I may need to brush up on their history. Then I may prep, but I very rarely write questions in advance as I don’t want it to feel forced or preplanning. I want to get the feeling and vibe of the artist and see where they want to go with the interview.

Robert: For someone who has been flying the flag for hard rock and heavy metal for over 30 plus years, what do think needs to happen for that genre of music to make a comeback?

Eddie Trunk: I certainly don’t think it has gone away or that it’s underground. I also don’t think its anywhere where it was in the ’80s. I think it is somewhere in the middle where it most comfortably lives and existing. When it was huge in the ’80s, it was a bit of an anomaly driven by MTV.

In the ’90s it was beat to hell which was driven by the changes in musical taste. I think right now we are at a good mid-level spot. For it to become massive you would need a really new big young band that completely storms everybody and has enough mass appeal that it crosses over to even the casual fan.

There have been some new bands which have made a mark like Avenged Sevenfold and 5 Finger Death Punch. What I’m talking about is a band like Guns n Roses when they put out Appetite for Destruction, the world stopped and started talking about them.

We need a band like that to give it a big surge.

Robert: What do make of your elevated level of success brought on by the TV show, whether it’s greater public notoriety, people impersonating you on Twitter, or just fans trying to stump you on the street?

Eddie Trunk: I don’t think of myself in those terms. I honestly think of myself as a fan who has fought for this music and done everything to promote it – because I love it. It’s still a little strange to me that I’ll be out to dinner with my family and someone will approach me.

When I go to concert, I know that everybody will know me and stop to say “Hi”, which I really appreciate. There are times when I’m getting a haircut or at the supermarket and some will say, “Hey you’re that metal guy!” I still go to the same amount of concerts as I used to and still prefer to be out front watching from the house because I like to take the show in like that.

I have a pretty long leash on things, but once in a while when someone causes problems and crosses the line, I have to address it.  Artists and friends may not be looking that closely and think I’m saying inappropriate things. Things like that have to be managed and fixed. Instances like that are far and few between.

Robert: Is it possible to pick a favorite show or favorite guest over the 14 seasons?

Eddie Trunk: Oh God, we have done over a 100 shows. Having Steve Harris of Iron Maiden was huge as so many people were asking to have him on. Brian Johnson of AC/DC was unbelievable and so much fun as he truly got into the spirit of the show. Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony were a riot and so much fun.

Ted Nugent was phenomenal, Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi were all my favorites, and Michael Schenker who gave me a guitar – just amazing great stuff.

Robert: Can you pinpoint when your falling out with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS started?

Eddie Trunk: It would be tough to say. There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there about it. KISS fans, and I still consider myself a fan, are very passionate fans. They react to things and sometimes trump things up that aren’t true or don’t have the complete story.

The 98% of the positive things I have done for KISS over the past three decades are not talked about or acknowledged. The 1% or 2% of things is what gets amplified and people run with. It’s unfortunate and as a result I think they [KISS] got bad information.

trunkessentialsvolume2The last time I spoke to Paul Stanley I looked him in the eye and said, “Dude, we need to sit down face-to-face for five minutes so you can tell me what is going on and clear the air?”

I’m at a loss as I don’t know what they read, what they think I said, or what I did say. If you don’t want to work with me, that is fine, but as a fan I need to know what the issue is.

I have seen many people over the years say they dislike things that they did. I’ve seen comedians impersonate them and really take a piss on them and for some reason that’s all good.

I think a big part of it is they erroneously view me as the “Ace Frehley and Peter Criss guy” which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ridiculous I love all the stuff in the ’80s, Eric Carr was one of my dear friends and even dedicated my first book to him.

Just because I’m friends with them doesn’t mean I’m going to play favorites. My door is always open and remains open to everybody including Gene and Paul! I would love to have them on to hear their side of it.

The only thing I said negatively about them, and I stand behind it, is I wish they would have given Tommy Thayer [guitar] and Eric Singer [drums] their own persona.

I can’t look at it that way and choose not to see them anymore. It doesn’t mean I’m not a fan and it doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to do that, but a ton of people feel the same, but very few will say anything.

Artists may not want to say anything, not to jeopardize getting an opening slot since it’s such a sensitive issue.

KISS is the only band you have to be like that with.  You can still be a fan of a band without liking everything they have ever done. You would be hard pressed to find a fan of any band who would say that they like every song, every LP, every line-up change in the 30-40 years of their career.

I have found some things they have said and done in my history to me very distasteful, but I let it roll off my back. I would love to sit there and tell them what I think, but it’s not in a negative sense, just my opinion.

One Comment

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