The Essentials Of Eddie Trunk: An Interview

One person that I’m proud to call a friend for a long time since my radio days is a guy who has seen success as a radio deejay for over 30 years, seen success as a music tv talk show host, and now we can add accomplished author to that growing list. I’m talking about That Metal Show co-host, Eddie Trunk. Many of you who listen to Eddie on Q104.3 or SiriusXM and watch him on VH1 Classic every week probably didn’t know that Eddie used to be an A&R rep back in the day and he used to manage bands as well. My point is that when it comes to hard rock and heavy metal, Trunk should be your “Google” search. He’ll tell you that he’s just a super fan when it comes to that genre of music and that he doesn’t really know it all. I mean, we’ve all watched that segment “Stump The Trunk” on That Metal Show, and he might not know everything, but he comes pretty damn close.

Two years ago, he released Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal, which to me should be a bible to anyone who wants to learn anything about these genres. In this book, Eddie featured bands like AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Judas Priest, KISS, Motley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, etc., and in each of these group’s chapters, he would write bits about his personal experiences with each act along with amazing personal photos and playlists from each band, or at least songs people should listen to from them anyway.

I, personally, loved the book; so needless to say, I was pretty excited to learn that Eddie was releasing a second book featuring groups that he couldn’t fit in the first book like Alice In Chains, Buckcherry, Cinderella, Slash, Queensrÿche, Marilyn Manson, White Lion, etc. He used the same format as the first book just different bands! It’s appropriately titled Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal: Volume II, and it’s being released Sept. 24. Eddie gave me a quick call last week to talk about it. Here’s how it went down:

Being a huge fan of the first book, I just got through the second book, and you didn’t miss anything on this one either.

For me it was really frustrating with the first book—as great as it came out—to have to leave a lot of bands that I wanted to write about out, and I didn’t intend to do that. If you noticed in the first book, there’s actually a section in the back that says “More Essentials.” Those little paragraphs back there were intended to be full sections, but I was told because of space limitations, I had to cut a bunch of bands out. So, even when I was writing the first book and finishing that up, it was in my mind that I will mention these bands, but they will get full treatment in my next book, and that’s exactly what I ended up doing. And I’d say that almost every one of the bands—if not all of the bands—got the full treatment in this book, and there’s obviously more than that.

One of the biggest things that people loved about the first book was the format. It was easy to read and it wasn’t this big, overwhelming autobiography that you needed to take a month out of your life to get into. They can skim it, they can read it, some people loved the “Playlist,” some people loved “Did You Know?,” some people loved the personal stories, the photos, whatever. So this book is in every sense of the word, a sequel. It’s the same publisher, the same art director, it’s the same format; it’s just, obviously, 35 bands that weren’t featured prominently in the first book.

I thought the book was supposed to be called More Of Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal

Yeah, it’s actually now called Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock And Heavy Metal: Volume II. It was originally going to be called More, but I changed that because I just thought it would be cooler to come up with Volume II. You know, there was Van Halen II, Led Zeppelin II, it’s just a cooler thing, I think, so that’s the way we went with it, but there’s also a section in the back of this book where there are 20 bands that didn’t make this one. So who knows if there is a three somewhere down the line, but just like book one, it’s a mix of different things and it’s also what’s always been important to me, and that’s variety in hard rock and metal. Everything is in there from Warrant to Marilyn Manson. So, if you liked the first book, there’s nothing not to like in this book, and most people that I talk to really love the first one, so we’ll see what happens.

You know, a real treat in this second book has been the mention of the band Angel. Not too many people know about these guys unless they’ve been to a KISS convention or something.

Yeah, you know, I made a master list of bands I wanted to include in this second book and like I said, many of them were bands that didn’t make the cut in book one because of space, so those were all automatics. And then I went and thought about some bands that would be fun to write about.

You want to create a balance. You want the well-known bands. You want Whitesnake and Ratt, Warrant and whathaveyou. Those were some really big names that were left out of book one. So you want to cover all of that stuff, but then after I dealt with all that, I wanted to look at a couple of bands that I thought were really kind of fun to write about that have some fans. Maybe not a ton of fans, but the people that they do have are really passionate and just something a little cool. Let’s get underground with a few of these bands. So Angel was one and Riot was another one that I selfishly included just because I thought they’d be kind of interesting and make people aware of them and their histories. It was fun to include them.

I was never actually, personally, a big Angel fan. I always liked the band, but they were a little too keyboard-heavy for me at times. Angel was one of those bands that you either loved them or never heard of them. There’s just no gray area in the middle. Growing up, my brother was a big Angel fan, so the fans are out there. I just thought it would be fun to include them. For Riot, Fire Down Under is, I think, one of the greatest records of all time and unfortunately again, a band that never really made it in a big way, but it was cool to represent them as well. So there are a few of those scattered over the core 35 bands.

I noticed that you also focused on some solo artists like Zakk Wylde as opposed to Black Label Society, Glenn Hughes as opposed to Deep Purple or Black Country Communion, and Slash…well, Slash is a solo artist now.

I kind of had to, but even though that chapter says Zakk Wylde, it has a lot to do with Black Label Society. I left it general because if you look at Zakk, he did release records under his own name. He also had Pride And Glory. He also has, obviously, BLS being the biggest thing outside of Ozzy. So I kind of wanted to make it more general and touch on all of those things and if I would’ve put it as Black Label Society, it wouldn’t have really played as well for that.

Same thing with Glenn! Glenn is a solo artist, but he had Black Country Communion, he had Deep Purple, he had Trapeze. He’s done a ton of things, making his discography was impossible. So I just figured it would be easier to brand it as Glenn Hughes.

And with Slash, that was more of a personal thing because Slash did the foreword for the book. He’s become a really good friend and actually one of these guys who… Listen, everyone would love to see one day if it ever happened an original lineup [Guns N’ Roses] reunion, but I’m not one of these guys clamoring for it. And one of the biggest reasons why is because I truly love what Slash is doing now and I think what Guns does now, it’s obviously very different, but it’s good! For me, I think when you look at Slash’s career, I was a huge fan of the Snakepit record and he’s done the solo records and he’s got The Conspirators and of course, Velvet Revolver, so instead of bill boarding all of those individual bands, I just [thought], “Okay, Slash, and I’m going to talk about, well, Guns was in the first book, and in this book, I will talk about everything Slash that isn’t Guns N’ Roses,” and that was kind of the approach there.

Rob Halford from Judas Priest wrote the foreword in the first book. Why did you choose to have Slash write this one? Not that he’s a great choice, but why Slash as opposed to anyone else in the book?

I wanted to get guys that I truly had a friendship with and in both the case of Halford and Slash, as crazy as it sounds, is true. I mean, both of them are guys that I talk to all the time, or text or whatever, and sometimes not anything even to do with music. Just, “Hey dude, what’s up? Watching the football game?” and whatever.

So over the last 10 to 12 years or so—maybe even longer—Slash has become a close friend. I’ve spent time with him going out to the shows. I’ve become really close friends with the guys in his band. He’s a guy that when I think back… I mean, he’s been coming to my radio studio for so long in various states of sobriety. He’s been sober now for a while, but I mean, back in the day, there are so many stories, and I was just thinking about him. I was thinking that I wanted a marquee name because the publisher, of course, wants that because it helps sell the book, but I also wanted a marquee name that is really somebody that I’m close with and that can actually write something that was personal. Sometimes you get people who write forewords because they’re pressured into it and they write like, “Yeah, this guy’s a great guy and I love his book and I love him and check it out!” I wanted something where someone can speak on a personal level because they really did know me and we really did spend time together, and that was definitely the case with Slash. So I’m honored to have him do it.

I know this book isn’t even out yet, but do you think you have enough for a third book?

I think so. I mean, this book still has a lot of big names in it. The one thing that will happen with a potential third book is it will probably get a little bit more obscure. A lot of people will probably be into that, myself included, but there’s also a concession you will have to make with the publisher, who obviously wants named bands that people are gonna pick up and recognize and want to buy the book and read about. So if I get too deep and I write about 35 bands that really a lot of people never heard about, then that’s going to be reflected in the interest from the publisher and the sales.

I guess I haven’t really thought about it because this book was a lot of work and I’m just glad that it’s finally coming out, but I think that when the time is right and I set my sights to it, I really think that I can easily come up with another 35 bands or so.

Is there anything else that you wanted to say about this new book before I let you go, Ed?

No, I’m just super grateful that people loved and supported the first one like they did and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens to this one. The first one actually sold enough copies in its first week to make the New York Times Best Sellers list, but it didn’t because most of the sales were in places that weren’t traditional book stores. So it was kind of a little bummer to find that out. We’ve sold more books in the first two weeks than some books that made the list, but my book didn’t make the list because I did signings at record stores and places like that who don’t report their stats to the Times.

So this time around, I’m going to make sure that on the book tour that I go on—in the first two weeks, at least—that they’re in proper book stores and stuff because obviously that will be pretty wild to accomplish that, but even if it doesn’t, I’m proud of the first book and am excited and proud of the second one. It’s amazing, man, because these books kind of live on forever and they will certainly outlive me, and even though the first book, which is now more than a couple of years old, I just did an appearance in Vegas this weekend, and I was at a gig and a guy comes running up to me with three copies of the first book with little Post-its in them asking me to sign this book to this person and sign this book to that person. So it seems like wherever you go, they kind of follow you, and I think that’s really cool. I still have people discovering that there’s a first, let alone a second. I love the life span and the shelf life of having books out there.

As a guy who has done radio his whole life, the only downside about radio is you do a show and it goes out into space and who knows if it was recorded or it shows up anywhere. It’s kind of one and done, but it’s cool to have these documents of what was going on in my world, and I’ve never done anything that was universally liked as the first book. People really loved it. So that meant a lot to me and I hope they like this one as well!


Join Eddie Trunk on his book tour at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square on Sept. 24, Barnes And Noble in Morris Plains on Sept. 25, and at Barnes And Noble in Staten Island on Sept. 26. Eddie will also be celebrating 30 years on the radio with a party at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square on Oct. 23. For more information, go to