VH1 Classic decided to keep That Metal Show in New York for a second straight season and for Season 14. Not only did VH1’s decision benefit our heroes Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine since they’re all New Jersey natives, but it also benefits us, the fans, because it allows us to be a part of the studio audience every week. Who is more passionate about their hard rock and heavy metal than New Jersey and New Yorkers?
Anyway, I was invited for another visit to watch a taping of my favorite non-HD cable show a couple of weeks ago. Last year when I visited, I got the chance to geek out over Mötley Crüe guitarist, Mick Mars. This time, I got to geek out over one of my favorite WWE superstars and lead singer of Fozzy, the “Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla” himself, Y2J—Chris Jericho. Other guests for this taping included Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, whom I met almost 20 years ago when I worked at Z100, and Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy frontman Max Cavalera, whose guitarist Marc Rizzo is a good friend of mine. See how I spun that to be all about me? Watching the taping again was a lot of fun. Rich “The Duke” Ward of Fozzy was the guest musician and he shredded. The show was filled with some great stories from Max, Jericho and Billy, but the highlight of the taping for me was getting a chance to “Stump the Trunk,” one of the popular segments on the show where audience members are given a chance to ask co-host Eddie Trunk a music trivia question for prizes brought out in a box carried by the lovely Jennifer. (At the time of this writing, I’m not sure if I ended up on the cutting room floor, but if I didn’t check out the full episode on VH1.com.)
Season 14, up until my visit, has been filled with so many highlights like Geddy Lee from Rush kicking the season off with his first visit to the show since Season 1, the three main members of Anthrax on one episode, guitar wiz Jason Becker who is suffering from ALS on the Metal Modem, members of Twisted Sister coming on the show to remember the late great drummer AJ Pero and first-time guests like Taylor Momsen from The Pretty Reckless, Marky Ramone, Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC and Gary Holt from Exodus. This season has been power-packed so far, but the end of the season is drawing near and I got the chance to sit down and chat with my buds, Eddie, Don and Jim, before the taping to talk about Season 14. I had to bust in on Jericho’s podcast to do it, but here’s what we talked about:
So, you’re almost done with Season 14…
Don Jamieson: Sorry, we can’t answer that question…I don’t feel comfortable answering that question…Next question!
That’s okay! This question is for Eddie anyway. This season is the second in a row from New York City. A couple years ago, Eddie, you told me that one of the reasons why you filmed in L.A. was because it was easier to land guests for the show. Has there been any problems landing guests for the past two seasons here in NYC?
Eddie Trunk: I wouldn’t say problems, but it’s definitely way easier still to get guests in L.A. just for logistics. 95 percent of these guys live on the West Coast. Even Dee Snider [from Twisted Sister] moved to the West Coast. So, everybody’s on the West Coast. The only thing that’s really changed is the fact that this show, thankfully, has become so popular that artists will make the effort to get to New York when we’re taping. For example, today Billy Corgan is coming through and he’s doing some routing just to get here to be with us. So, that’s really important. We’ve been lucky in that regard, but no, L.A. is still where everybody is.
Will you guys be taking it back out there for next season?
ET: It’s possible. It’s not up to us. It’s up to the network and there are pros and cons to both. My preference that I think would be cool is if we did one season there and we alternate. But again, that’s a network decision. We’ll do it anywhere.
Jim Florentine: I’d rather go to L.A. because we go down there in January. We go for two weeks, it’s 80 degrees, it’s sunny and we knock the season out in two weeks.
DJ: He just wants it for his frequent flyer miles.
JF: We’ll drink at The Rainbow and play Ms. Pacman with Lemmy.
ET: The one big benefit to doing it in New York. Jim brings up a good point because it is nice to knock things out in a week and a half, but the other side of that; doing it in more real time in 12 weeks, taping on a Tuesday with the show airing on a Saturday. When stuff happens, we can cover it. Last week was a great example, when AJ Pero died; we were able to get the Twisted guys on. If we were taping in the old way, we could have never done that because everything would have been done already.
AQ: Wouldn’t you have been able to go back and pre-record something?
DJ: No, because once we use up the budget, it’s over.
JF: Plus, the studio’s already broken down the set and all that.
DJ: Yeah, we’re already back and the piggy bank is already empty.
Of all the guests so far this season, who were you most excited to have on?
JF: I’m excited to have Lzzy Hale on.
JF: Why do you think? (Laughs)
DJ: It’s going to be great to have Kirk Hammett back on the show, obviously having Kerry King coming in, Geddy Lee from Rush kicking off the season. It’s been a good run so far.
JF: Taylor Momsen was fun also.
Since you mentioned Geddy Lee…you guys had some pretty memorable moments so far this season like opening with Geddy Lee for the first time since Season 1, chatting with Jason Becker on the Metal Modem and having the members of Twisted Sister on the show to memorialize the late, great AJ Pero. Would any of these moments make your Top 10 moments in the show’s history?
ET: Well, I don’t know. That’s all subjective. Everybody is going to have a different opinion about that. Every fan, the three of us are all gonna have things that we get a little bit more geeked up about or like more than the other. It just really comes down to more opinion, but I think one of the biggest things we’ve done for this season for sure, more than ever is variety. In our fourteenth season, we probably had more first-time guests than we’ve had in the history of the show and that’s because we’ve opened it up wider than ever. It’s always going to be a rock show. It’s always going to be a hard rock show. There’s always going to be metal, but we did a show where we had Marky Ramone, Darryl McDaniels and Gary Holt. Three different worlds. Three guys who didn’t know each other. It turned out to be a great show! Today, Jericho, Billy Corgan and Max Cavalera, again, it’s the same thing; two of those guys have never been on before. So, we’re getting a really wide net of people and I think that’s really good. Most people want that and will come along for the ride with us and honestly, not every single person that comes on are we huge fans of. We learn about them as well by having them on. We don’t have to be huge fans of somebody to have them on the show. That’s probably the biggest misconception in the world. We’ll learn about them through talking to them. Our door is open. As long as the network wants to have them on and it works for them and we can get them on, bring them on! I’ll talk to anybody.
Being comedy writers, do you guys have a lot of say as far as the writing goes for That Metal Show?
JF: No, it’s pretty much just a script. Going out to a commercial and coming back in, but other than that nothing else is scripted. Our questions; we never know what we’re going to ask or anything like that. We just kind of adlib it and mess around.
DJ: Yeah, that’s the beauty of it because the idea was always, “It’s a hang.” That’s why when you meet other metal fans, they just come up to you and they think you’re their best friend because that’s what him and his friends do on Saturday night. They sit around and talk about metal. So, we’ve always kept it that way. Let’s just sit down and start talking about music or whatever comes up and just see where it goes.
Now, the three of you have been taking That Metal Show on the road where you tell personal stories about the show. Do fans connect with you to a point where they try to give ideas on what and who they’d like to see on the show? Better yet, are fans constantly trying to stump you, Eddie?
ET: Well, yeah, but it’s very important for people to know that what we do on the road is not this TV show. It’s not this TV show. It’s not a taping of the TV show, it’s a stand-up comedy show.
JF: Not all the time. Sometimes it’s a taping (smirks).
ET: But what we do is we go out and of course, the idea is to go out connect with the fans and we hear all kinds of things from them and we do some live “Stump the Trunk” them and we have a good time with them. But again, any idea is going to have to go through the network. We work for people and we have a lot of say, but they have to say, “Yeah, we want to do that.”
Do they have to approve the live shows when you go out?
JF: No, we just do it ourselves.
ET: It’s a stand-up show. Don and Jim have been doing stand-up comedy for years. The only difference is I’m joining them now and there’s a theme to our show just because all three of us are there together, but the biggest mistake people make is that if they come to any of our live shows, they think that they’re seeing a taping of our show. It’s not that at all. It’s a stand-up comedy show. It’s funny, we have a good time and we connect with our audience that way.
Well, I’ve been to a bunch of Don’s stand-up shows, so I know these crowds are the biggest crowds he’s ever seen…
DJ: Wow! This is coming from a guy who has a man-crush on Nikki Sixx his whole life. Unbelievable, dude!
ET: Tim, this is the first time you’ve been here that there wasn’t a member of Mötley Crüe on.
DJ: Yeah, that’s what he usually does. He saddles up next to us and piggy backs his man-crushes off our guests. He finds out who is booked and then he goes, “Oh, I want to come on the day Mick Mars is here so I can touch him and say, ‘I actually touched Mick Mars.’”
ET: I’m surprised you didn’t pop up in Vegas when we did the Vince Neil special. All of a sudden Tim comes out of the swimming pool (laughs).
Besides Eddie Van Halen, who else is on the TMS wish list that you’d like to see on the show in the seasons to come?
JF: Alex would be great…Alex Van Halen.
DJ: Wolfgang Van Halen.
ET: Anyone with the last name of Van Halen…Jimmy Van Halen?
DJ: We’ll take Eddie’s wife at this point (laughs).
JF: Roth would be great!
DJ: Eli Roth…
ET: Yeah, those guys. Of course, we’d love to have Simmons and Stanley. We’d love to have Ozzy. We’d love to have James Hetfield. But we’ve had some huge people. So, there’s only very few who have been holdouts up to this point.
DJ: Yeah, most of their names are Van Halen, though (laughs).
Now, Jim and Eddie have podcasts and radio shows, why haven’t you chosen that medium, Don?
DJ: Well, you know, when I see a savvy interviewer like yourself, I always think I can’t hold a candle to what Tim “Chigger” Louie does. So, why even bother (laughs). You know what? I’ve thought about it. The truth is I want to come up with something that’s very unique. That will just be my stamp on it. And thinking hurts, so it’s not going to happen soon.
I interviewed Mark Tremonti last year and we talked about his appearance on That Metal Show last season and he told me he was terrified to be on the show. You had him on again this season. What is it about you guys that you think terrified him? And was he more at ease this time around?
JF: Some people are just not comfortable in a TV setting.
DJ: Ed might have had bad gas that day. That could have been it.
JF: He was good last week when he was on. A lot of guys are like that. The TV lights on in the studio audience.
DJ: Slash was the same way. Slash was always like, “Man, I used to drink my way through these things. Now that I’m sober, it took a while to get used to.”
ET: Geezer Butler! Petrified to be on TV. You’d be really surprised. There are these guys that they go up and play in front of a hundred thousand people no problem, but put a TV camera on them and they freeze up. They’re scared to hell.
Are they like that with you on radio when they come on?
ET: Not really. I think the visual is what freaks people out. The camera and the audience; there’s an audience watching what they’re going to say. We have a live audience on our show. I remember one time, Geezer Butler said to me, “I thought I was just going to be sitting in a room, me and you talking with one cameraman. What’s going on here with all these people?” He got all freaked out.
DJ: Then he saw dead the raccoon we used to have on our set and was like (in his best English accent), “I’m going to call PETA!” Because he’s been a vegan for like 30 years, he was all freaked out by a stuffed raccoon.
ET: The guy writes songs about Satan and he’s worried about a stuffed raccoon.
One last question before I let you guys go…You ask this question every single week on the segment Put It On The Table, but we’ve never heard your answers, so I ask the three of you…
JF: I got six inches.
DJ: Six and three-quarters…I can hit seven if I take a Cialis…20 milligram not a 10 (laughs).
If you could be in any band, what band would it be, and what would you play?
JF: I’d be Bon Scott, AC/DC.
DJ: Lemmy from Motörhead. That’s where my sideburns come from.
ET: Any band? Any time period? Any thing? I would be Paul Stanley in KISS, Alive II tour. Coming down on the risers banging out those power chords, dancing across the stage and belting out “Detroit Rock City?” Come on now.
Catch the last episodes of That Metal Show: Season 14 on VH1 Classic every Saturday night at their new time—9 p.m., or watch the full episodes on VH1.com.