For over 30 years, Eddie Trunk poured his, blood sweat and tears into fashioning a unique career from his passion for music. His hard work and dedication have established him as one of the most respected personalities in the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Trunk began his broadcasting career in 1983, after convincing the execs at his favorite local radio station, WDHA in NJ, to allow him to produce a hard rock/heavy metal specialty show – one of the first of it’s kind. That show continues to this day under the banner of Eddie Trunk Rocks (also labeled Friday Night Rocks in NYC). Eddie Trunk Rocks originates out of New York City, the number one radio market, on Q104.3 and is syndicated nationally and heard on more than 15 stations including other top 10 markets. Eddie also hosts Eddie Trunk Live, a weekly live music, talk & interview show every Monday night (6 – 10p) on SiriusXM satellite radio channel 39, which is branded “Trunk Nation” during his program.
In 2002 Eddie took the leap into television after being hired as a host on VH1’s sister station, VH1 Classic, where he was regularly seen hosting the interview series “Hanging With” as well as appearing on many of the station’s other segments and specials. That collaboration would ultimately lead to the creation of “That Metal Show.” The series first premiered on VH1 Classic in November 2008 and since has become, not only the longest running program in the station’s history, but the only place for all things hard rock and heavy metal on cable television. The show has been visited by some of the biggest names in the genre!
“That Metal Show” is returning for its long awaited 14th season on February, 21st, 2015. The acclaimed hard rock/heavy metal talk show, hosted by Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson, and Jim Florentine, will kick-off the new season on Saturday, February 21st at a new broadcast time of 9:00PM ET/PT, repeating at 11:00PM ET/PT the same evening. If previous seasons are any indication, season 14 will be the biggest season of “That Metal Show” to date. With the recent announcement of Geddy Lee and John Petrucci on the season premiere, more guests have been confirmed for what promises to be the most diverse season in the show’s history. Recently confirmed guests for this season are “That Metal Show” alumni Frank Bello/Charlie Benante/Scott Ian of Anthrax, John 5, Chris Jericho, Kerry King of Slayer, Dave Lombardo formerly of Slayer and now with Philm, Zakk Wylde, Michael Schenker, Ace Frehley, and Frankie Banali. This season marks first-time appearances for punk rock legend Marky Ramone, rap icon Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, Gary Holt of Slayer/Exodus, Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless, Max Cavalera of Soulfly, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, and Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides. Motörhead and David Coverdale from Whitesnake are confirmed to appear on the show via the “Metal Modem.”
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Eddie Trunk to get a look inside the world of one of rock’s most dedicated journalists. In the interview the pair discuss what drove Eddie Trunk to pursue his unique career path, the the creation and evolution of “That Metal Show,” how the changes in the music industry have impacted him as a rock journalist and what fans can expect from him in the near future!
We have all grown to know you over the years from your work in the music industry. From the business side to the radio show to “That Metal Show” to your podcast, you show no signs of slowing down. What hooked you on music early in your life and sent you down this path?
The first time I ever heard rock music that really impacted me was when I was about 10 years old. Up until that point, I had only really known or cared about pop music, TV soundtracks and things like that. It was “The Partridge Family” and the stuff any little kid in the ‘70s would have been into. I was in the backseat of my parents car when this band came on called The Raspberries. They had a song called “Go All The Way.” The song opens with these really distorted power chords and crunchy guitars. I remember vividly hearing it for the first time. My hair stood up and I said, “Wow! What is this?! This is really cool!” I immediately became consumed with everything to do with The Raspberries. They quickly became my favorite band. That stayed that way for a couple of years until one day, walking home from junior high school, a friend of mine said, “Have you heard of this band called KISS?” He handed me a copy of “Destroyer” and that was the game changer! That set me on my path to become completely consumed with rock music. The Raspberries, more or less, opened the door and got me interested in loud guitars and then KISS was the total package that put me over the top.
What got you to the point where you would pursue your career in music, as opposed to just being an enthusiast?
You know, there wasn’t any one person out there that I modeled myself after. I wasn’t really driven by that. I, for half a second, thought I might actually want to be a musician. I took some drum lessons very early on and I wanted to try and emulate the records I was listening to as a kid, I just didn’t stay with it and didn’t feel like it was for me. I didn’t have the discipline for it and didn’t stick with it as much as I should have. Then, what I really wanted to do was take the music that I loved and was listening to and share it with other people. I wanted to explore how I could help grow this and make it bigger and more popular in a respectful way. I wanted to give it the credit it deserved and the attention I felt it deserved. To that end, that was the whole reason I started doing what I have done. The first thing I started doing was writing in my high school newspaper by doing music reviews and then I started working in a record store. That led to me working at a college radio station when I was still in high school. Then I started working at my local radio station in New Jersey and that led me to do my first ever metal radio show which led me to getting a job at a record company.
So, it was all a big domino effect and I just tried to stay as diverse as possible and do as many different things as possible to grow and support the music and have it viewed in a respectful light. That has always been important to me. I have always felt that some of the stereotypes that come with this music are a little crazy and I always wanted it to be kind of looked at a little more seriously than it is sometimes. I was able to do all of that and one thing feed into another. In 2002, it led me into television and that is what I am still doing to this day. It was a cumulative effect of a lot of different jobs, all based in music and all for one reason, to help share and spread the music. To this day, that is what drives me and what it is still about! Clearly, I am older, I have a family and bills to pay and this is how I make my living, so there is a financial aspect to it. I do need to get paid and turn it into a business but all of the things I do are still about sharing, talking about and exposing people to the music that I love.
You live, breathe and work in music. You spread the word of hard rock and heavy metal through many mediums and spend plenty of time out and about delivering the message. I imagine it can be overwhelming at times. Do you ever need to distance yourself from it?
The good thing is when I come home, my wife is not into this music! [laughs] She is not a hard rock or metal person and is kind of indifferent about it all. She will have some interest and curiosity in what I am doing, where I am going or a record I may have with me but she doesn’t really care about going to shows and isn’t consumed with it in any way. That is a really good thing for me because, like anything, no matter how much you love something you need to have some time away from it and time to focus on other things that are important to you. When I get home from whatever I am doing, it is definitely not about “Stump The Trunk!” [laughs] It’s definitely not about any of that. It’s about regular family stuff. It is a good disconnect but it is hard. I say that because the world we are in today, with technology, you are constantly connected. My day usually starts somewhere around 10:30 or 11:00 o’clock in the morning when I turn on my computer and sometimes you don’t get that disconnect from that world until as late as 11 o’clock at night. With all the things I do, I am kind of a one-man operation. I do a lot of things beyond the hosting stuff and I don’t really have a team or a staff, so I am busy in a lot of different angles of it. I like that but it can be all consuming at times!
One of the biggest things you have going on at the moment is the 14th season of “That Metal Show.” Through the years we have all grown to love the chemistry you have with Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine. What are your recollections of first meeting those guys?
Don and Jim, as you know, are standup comics for a living. Where I was just telling you how my entire life has been based around music and the music business, their entire lives have been based around pursuing a career in standup comedy. Like me, they are also huge fans of the music. We first met back around 2002. My recollection of when we first met was backstage at an Ozzfest. They came up to me and introduced themselves and said they were big fans of my radio show. My radio show is still heard in New York to this day on Friday nights. They said because they were standup comics they would often get out of their comedy gigs on Friday nights and looked forward to listening to my show on their ride home because it was the only time they ever got to hear metal on the radio. We had a nice exchange and talked for a bit. I thanked them and mentioned to them that if they were ever in New York and I was on the air to hit me up if they wanted to come by and sit in with me. I sensed immediately that we were very much cut from the same cloth. We were all into the music, around the same age and from New Jersey. I said, “Hit me up” and they did! For years, they came in and sat in on my radio show and hung out with me. We just became friends from doing the show together. I had always been working at VH1 Classic. I was there long before “That Metal Show” came on the air. When the idea for “That Metal Show” came up, it wasn’t out of the blue. It was an idea I had been pitching and pushing for years. When I got the green light to try and make it happen, the network asked me if I had any ideas for potential co-hosts. Don and Jim were the logical choice for me because we already had this chemistry on the radio, had been friends and I knew it could work. It was also really important to VH1 that I kind of be the anchor but the other people with me be ball-busters who would help stir the pot. They wanted the kind of people who wouldn’t be afraid and you never know what they are going to say. That was very much Don and Jim’s role. Especially in the beginning, it was really important to the network to have that element in the show. They certainly brought that element and still do to some degree. [laughs] That is how it all came together.
You can see the evolution of the show when you catch an older episode and then a new one. What can we look forward to in Season 14 and where do you hope to see the show go in the future?
This season, I think for me, diversity is the key word. I think we have a very diverse roster of artists. The show is called “That Metal Show,” so the core will always be hard rock and metal artists but we are getting pretty diverse. We have a lot of new artists, a lot of first-time guests and a very eclectic mix of rock, hard rock and metal. We are going to do another classic leaning rock show. In the past we have had Leslie West, Foreigner and Styx for a classic show. So, we are going to do another one of those. We are going to have guys like Max Cavalera from Sepultura on, so that is more of the extreme metal side. We are going to have Marky Ramone on to get a touch of punk on there. It is going to be a very, very wide net. It kinda has to happen. We need to evolve and we are constantly evolving. As you said, there is a huge difference between the earlier years of the show and what we are now doing. That will continue to happen! We try new things and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. We do work in new stuff and do our best to mix it up and keep it as interesting as we can. There will be more of that this season for sure. I am sure much of it will work and maybe some of it won’t work for some people but we have to try and see where it takes us.
Going forward from here, I honestly have no idea. The network makes all the decisions on when we work, how often we work and how many shows we do. Unfortunately, we only did 12 episodes in the entire season. I was not happy about that at all, so these new shows are like our first new shows in almost a year. I am thrilled that we are doing it again but it is going to take a little while for people to get up to speed, know that we are back and know these are new episodes because it has been so long since we have had new ones. It is really important for us to get the word out about that and hopefully we will do at least one more run this year. Again, that is not my decision, I just wait to see what the network wants to do and take it from there. I hope we keep doing what we have been doing and keep growing it. Hopefully, we will continue to have the ability to expand it and do more with it. Not to sound like a broken record but it is the network’s decision to make. For some reason, people think I make all of these decisions and control everything. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The network owns the show and they make the ultimate decisions. I just hope we can be a little more active than we have been and more consistent in doing new episodes.
You and the guys aren’t confined to the studio and have a slew of live dates coming up. What can fans expect to see when they come out to see your live dates and the dates you have with Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson?
What we do on the road is not connected in any way to VH1. We go and do those shows on our own. There are two different versions of it. There is one that is me alone where it is more of a storytelling show. I also do some “Stump The Trunk” and some Q&A. Like I said, it is more of a storytelling kind of thing. Then, the other version is myself, Don and Jim all together. When we do those, it is more of a standup comedy format. Don and Jim do standup and I host and tell some stories. Then we do a Q&A together and do a live version of “Stump The Trunk” together. With my own solo shows, both shows have different tones but both are a lot of fun to do. We do have a lot of them coming up, as you mentioned. All of the live dates are listed on the homepage of my site, www.eddietrunk.com. The one thing they are not, and it is really important that people know this, is that the shows are not tapings of “That Metal Show.” They have nothing to do with the TV show other than it is me or all three of us together on the group shows. They are all certainly fun and there is the theme of rock music through all of them but it is not a taping of “That Metal Show.”
You have two amazing books out already. Is there another book in the works for a future release?
Yeah, ya know, I have been asked that a lot lately. It is really good to see people asking about it. I appreciate that people want to know and care about my books. The first two were successful and I definitely enjoyed doing them. I am definitely, definitely going to do a third book. The only issue is that I have not decided yet what the tone of the book is going to be. I don’t know if it will be a third in the series of books I have done already, which is more or less stories about the bands, photos, playlists and things I love about them. People loved that and it was very light reading with a mix of a lot of different things. It has worked really well but I don’t want to get into a situation where I do a third book just for the sake of doing it. I want to make sure that the artists I am writing about are ones I am still passionate about and still have enough good stories about. I haven’t decided what direction that next book is going to go. It will either be a third version of what I have done already or, where I am leaning more likely towards, more of an autobiography format. It would be more of the format of my 30-plus years in the business, how “That Metal Show” got on the air, how I have done the things I have done in radio, the behind the scenes stories of working for a record company and all my interactions with the bands, be it good, bad or ugly. That is kind of where I am leaning, an autobiography type of vibe. I haven’t had anytime to think, focus or concentrate on that and I probably won’t until maybe this summer when things might slow down for me a little bit in terms of my schedule. The third book is definitely going to come one day, I’m just not sure of the timetable.
What is the best lesson aspiring rock journalists can take away from the story of Eddie Trunk?
I would say, stick to your guns, be persistent and don’t be afraid to have a voice. Don’t be afraid, if you are asked, to give an opinion. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain a little bit. I think we are in this world where everybody is so PC and is afraid to give an opinion that might differ from the next guy’s. Everyone seems so afraid to rock the apple cart. Because of social media, people worry that everyone is going to pile on and attack you. You know what? That may happen! But who cares? That means they are paying attention. If you are willing to roll with that and take the heat, great! I’m not saying to make stuff up or to do stuff to create shock value, I am saying that it is OK if you have a different view or opinion. I think that people with strong opinions who are a little bit outspoken and aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd have a little bit better chance of getting somewhere because there is a lot of over-saturation right now. The media is so over-saturated. Everybody has a podcast. Everybody has an online magazine. Everybody has some sort of outlet. What is real and what isn’t? What has an audience and what doesn’t have an audience? Where are the voices that people actually care about and listen to? There are so many people out there claiming to be media who really aren’t because they are looking for something for free. You have to try and cut through all that clutter. It is very difficult. I don’t begrudge anybody who is out there trying to get their start or are at the early parts of their career because everybody was there at some point, including myself. I just think there is a lot of misdirection out there and people who are claiming to have media outlets that really don’t and are just looking to talk to somebody or get some type of free perks. I think cutting through all that is difficult. Everybody can have an outlet but not everybody can have an audience for it. I think building that audience and staying true to it is the most important thing you can do and to try to create something unique.
That leads to my next question. How have the changes in the music industry through the years impacted what you do along the way?
Aside from the over-saturation I just mentioned, on the business side, there are so many bands now. Again, because of technology, everybody has the ability to make music in their house. The sheer volume of music coming through is hard to keep up with. Honestly, a lot of it isn’t all that good. The downside of it is that there is some of it that is really good but it is getting lost in the shuffle. It used to be that having a CD or a record deal meant something. It meant that you had arrived at a certain point and it already had edited out some of the lesser artists who hadn’t accomplished anything yet. That is all gone now! It doesn’t matter if you have a record deal or not. Anyone can produce music as a download, a CD or whatever they want to distribute it as. It is really hard to navigate through all that stuff. Then you have guys in major bands who have four or five other bands on the side! How do you even keep up with it all? How much of it is real? How much of it is going to last past a month? You just really have to be on your game to see through all of the bullshit and say, “OK. This is something worthwhile. There is a reason to engage with it.” Or “This is going to be gone in a week and forgotten about.” Unfortunately, 90% of it seems like it is gone after a week and forgotten about. The independent promotion person’s retainer is up, the publicity person’s retainer is up, the band doesn’t want to put anymore money into the album they just made and in a few weeks, it is gone and forgotten about. It is really hard as a fan to navigate through all of that and if you are in any level of the media because these guys are all looking for a chance to sell their stuff. It is coming at you in waves and it is very difficult to navigate what is real and what is not. So, I think there are a lot of pros and cons to what has happened with technology, the way music is delivered and the media. It is just a question of cutting through a lot of the static and trying to focus on stuff that is worthwhile and meaningful.
I know you lend your voice to charity from time to time. What do you have going on in that realm at the moment?
What I have coming up in May is the fifth anniversary of Ronnie James Dio’s passing. His wife and the foundation in his name, The Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, is putting together a weekend of events out in Los Angeles to benefit his fund. The fund goes toward helping those with cancer. It is a great cause and, ever since it was formed five years ago, I have been honored to be a part of and always help out whenever I am called upon. Five years ago, I was lucky enough to be asked by Wendy [Dio] to host a lot of events, including Ronnie’s public memorial. It was a huge honor to do that. She has asked me to come out in May and help out and engage in the activities for the fifth anniversary. That is going to be a great weekend for a great guy and a great cause. I know she has a bowling event planned, a motorcycle ride and a public memorial at the place where he is buried. All of this stuff is done to help the charity and I am really honored to be a part of it. That is what is coming up in May for me, as far as charitable stuff. There are also many things that come on to my radar all the time and if I can help, find the time and do something, I certainly do. I just met the other day with a friend who asked me to sign a bunch of books and stuff to help out Sloan Kettering Pediatrics. I am very fortunate that I have been able to make a career doing what I love and I’m very fortunate to have such a supporting audience. If there is a way I can give back at times and help out, I am more than happy to do so!
Thanks so much for your time today, Eddie. Most importantly, thank you for all the great content you bring to us each week. You are the best at what you do and we are happy to be a part of spreading the word!
I really appreciate that! Thanks very much, Jason. Good luck to you and I appreciate you taking the time! See ya soon, man!
For all the latest news and updates from Eddie Trunk, visit his official site at www.eddietrunk.com.
Season 14 of ‘That Metal Show’ kick-offs on Saturday, February 21st at a new broadcast time of 9:00PM ET/PT, repeating at 11:00PM ET/PT the same evening! Fans can watch previous episodes and other exclusive bonus clips at ThatMetalShow.VH1.com and on the new VH1 app.
Don’t miss out on The Eddie Trunk Podcast, available for free, at http://podcastone.com/Eddie-Trunk-Podcast. Updated weekly, Eddie Trunk brings you interviews not to be missed!