One of my favorite people to interview is a person that I actually call a friend. I’m talking about comedian and former That Metal Show co-host, Don Jamieson. I was introduced to Don by my old guitar player Dennis Kimak and my late friend (R.I.P.) Andrew Gilardi when Don was doing his standup at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy in Point Pleasant, NJ, years before Don was introduced to metal fans on That Metal Show. Don and I became instant friends as he immediately made fun of the fact that I was dating out of my league during his standup set, and the fact that my wife and I were an interracial couple. This guy was right up my alley when it came to comedians!
Don has since released two live CDs, Live And Hilarious and Hell Bent For Laughter, of non-stop laughter full of raunchy jokes about sex, relationships, current events and heavy metal. On April 21, Don released his third comedy CD, Communication Breakdown, by way of Metal Blade Records. I’ve listened to the CD a few times already and it might be Don’s funniest CD to date. It’s definitely in his top three. He has stories about Kiefer Sutherland, Johnny Depp and all things heavy metal. I got to talk to Don about the CD and other things regarding That Metal Show. Here’s what he had to say:
First of all, the CD cover…I love it! How did you muster up the courage to use your college yearbook photo as the CD cover for Communication Breakdown?
Well, I grew up in Jersey. It was a law. You had to listen to metal, have a mullet, and hang out at malls. It’s just the three “M’s” of being a Jersey boy. So, when I saw the picture after so many years, I was just like, “Wow! That haircut was fantastic!” It was business in the front, party in the back! It was a “Wanted Dead or Alive” kind of a feathery, “She’s a Little Runaway” kind of deal, kind of dealio.
It’s definitely true…We’re all guilty of having that mullet photo. I know I am, but how did you keep the leather out of the photo then?
Well, it was my college yearbook picture and even back then when I was young and thought I might have a career someday, so I thought, “Why don’t I put on a suit and look semi-respectable?” That was the last time I ever wore a suit jacket. I mean, what have I done where I need a suit jacket? If I get invited to a wedding I just tell them I have gigs that week and funerals, I’ll just put on a nice shirt.
Wait a minute! Is that why you turned down the invitation to our wedding? (laughs)…So, speaking of the CD title, Communication Breakdown…Has Zeppelin’s people been in touch yet?
(laughs) No, I never hear from anybody. Nobody wants to sue me apparently. I couldn’t get Judas Priest to sue me for my last CD, Hell Bent For Laughter. I couldn’t get Thin Lizzy to sue me for Live And Hilarious. So, part of the yearbook photo was that my major was “Communication,” so we just added the word “Breakdown.” I always like to have the rock ‘n’ roll tie-in, but yes, if you know anybody in the Zeppelin camp, please encourage them to file suit against me. I can use the publicity.
(laughs) You said you called in a favor and had Dave Mustaine from Megadeth play your intro on the CD. Did he realize that he was playing “Live Wire” from Mötley Crüe?
(laughs) Well, I think he just donated a riff from his collection. So, I don’t know if this is a new riff that he laid down for me, but either to have that guy playing on my album, it’s awesome. I have Bumblefoot on my first record and Vinnie Moore on my second. So, Mustaine didn’t owe me a favor but I called one in anyway, and he was cool enough to send it to me. To tell you the truth, he’s been a friend behind the scenes, so I can say he’s always been a killer guy to me…Him and David Ellefson [Megadeth bassist]. Dave Mustaine is doing his beer and Ellefson is doing his coffee, which is good because they both make something that I like to drink in the morning.
(laughs) So, these are all new jokes on Communication Breakdown. I have to admit, you got funnier…
(laughs) I’ll take that! That’s always good in this business. I actually know comics who get worse with time, but thanks, man! For people who like what I do, it’s pretty much what you expect, but I also did a bunch of stories on here, which was really fun for me. It’s a real challenge to be a storyteller on stage because I’m not generally a good one in real life. So, I thought it was really cool to include some of them on there and I hope people dig them. I mean a couple of them are pretty outrageous.
The two stories I really enjoyed were the Kiefer Sutherland and Johnny Depp stories. They were hilarious. Did they really happen? Not everyone can say Jack Bauer gave them a hickey…Or that they stopped Gilbert Grape’s bodyguard. Also, did you have to let them hear these bits before you released it?
Yeah, those stories are both very true. The Kiefer Sutherland story, I had a little encounter with him after a night of many cocktails and yada, yada, yada, Jack Bauer gave me a hickey, and if you want to know how that happened, you’ll have to buy the album or download the track.
And Johnny Depp was very much the opposite of that. It was myself, Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine at a party for Aerosmith, and just one star bigger than Aerosmith was there and that was Johnny Depp. We just turned into a trio of sorority girls trying to get backstage at a One Direction concert. We had to meet Johnny Depp. We couldn’t care less about Aerosmith. Once we got past the bodyguard, we finally met him, and he was a pretty cool guy, man. I have to say he was super nice. And again, if you know anyone in their camps, please encourage them to file suit against me. But no, I just put them out. They’re true stories. I’m allowed to tell stories, right? Kiefer Sutherland won’t remember that night anyway, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Why Cuyahoga Falls? I mean, the crowd sounded great…But it’s Ohio…
Yeah, well, they get me out there. I really work a lot in Ohio. That comedy club in particular is old school, which I love. I mean, when you’re a baseball player, yes, you want to play at Yankee Stadium, but it’s really more fun to play at Wrigley Field or Fenway, which is the old school ballpark with lots of character, and even if you’re a fan, you don’t need sushi delivered to your seat at a baseball game, you just need a couple beers and some peanuts and the baseball game, and that’s the kind of comedy club it is. It’s just an old school club. It’s got a great vibe and character, and if you get the room full of people, you can really rock it out. I’m really happy with the way it came out.
The thing I loved about Communication Breakdown is that it really captured what I loved about your live performance. I think even more than Live And Hilarious and Hell Bent For Laughter…
Thanks, man, and yes, you’ve seen me many times over the years. My performances are pretty loose because I like the unexpected to happen and that’s part of doing the CD. You want that character of the room that you’re in. You want that spontaneous stuff that just happens. Otherwise, you can record it anywhere. You listen to comedy albums and they’re killing, but you don’t know if they’re in Kansas City or Dallas or Baltimore. When you listen to this album, you think, “Wow, I need to find this club. There’s a bunch of freaks in there.”
I wanted to talk about some of the bits on this CD also. The bit on “Where Have All The Rockers Gone?” is so dead on. Rockers really are not what they used to be…
Yeah, well obviously, for the fans of mine who know me from That Metal Show and the rock and metal world, I always like to include jokes about that kind of music. For people who aren’t big rock fans, I try to still set things up in a sort of context that they would understand. Particularly, I wanted to make the point about political correctness through rock bands. Like rockers are the last people to be politically correct, right? We don’t call Black Sabbath, African-American Sabbath, or we don’t call AC/DC, Bi-Sexual Australians. I like making a point with humor and doing it using rock bands as an example, and I think it sets people at ease and they kind of go, “Yeah, you know what? Alright, we get it. Cool. Now, we can just relax and laugh.”
I also liked the bit about La Cucaracha Mania and Stevie Wonder weed, which was also hilarious. My “friend” wants to know where they can buy that stuff?
Denver and Seattle, where you walk into these weed stores and it’s like walking into the Apple Store to buy a new laptop. You have people in nice white shirts and khakis helping you. There’s actually Stevie Wonder weed and all these different names for these strains. I don’t really smoke pot, so I’d walk in and not know what the hell I’m saying. I’d walk in and say, “Can I have one marijuana please?” I don’t know how to order.
(laughs) By the way, Six Miller Lites? Really? I didn’t know that was a thing with you. Now I know why you never stuck around when we hung out. I only used to buy you two…
(laughs) Yeah, well I upgraded. My comedy acts got better, so I think I deserve more complimentary beverages after the show. I mean, after shows people want to buy you a drink, so I’m a professional asshole, so I always say the same thing, “I’ll take six Miller Lites” to see if people actually do it. Actually, when I did that tour with Faster Pussycat, out of 27 shows, I’d say after 25 of them, I got off stage and there would be six Miller Lites waiting for me at the bar.
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this question, but I’m sure our readers want to know…where do we stand with That Metal Show? Still working on a network or is it over? Has there been any thought on just taking it to SiriusXM and just turning it into a radio show for now?
Well, the nice thing about That Metal Show is that people still remember it and will probably remember it for years. The bad side of it is that it’s like having a really hot girlfriend who died and nobody knows it and they’re like, “Hey, what’s up with you and that chick?” And you’re like, “I don’t know, she hung herself like Aaron Hernandez.” And I’m probably going to have to answer that 300 more times today. But you can never count us out. For now, we’re off the air and still looking for a new home. As for SiriusXM, it’s because they can’t afford me. I command a high price and a very high salary.
One last question, you’ve teamed up with our mutual friend Juliet Huddy on her new project “Blondes And Crossbones.” Will this be a regular thing for you?
Well, I’d heard a couple of years ago that Juliet was a metal head, and I was like, “Wow! That chick from Fox News?” It seemed like such a weird fit, but she’s the real deal. She launched this website and I met her and her fiancée, John Fattoruso, and they were just super cool and she asked me if I wanted to jump on board and do some interviews with her, and I said, “Hell yeah! That’ll be a lot of fun,” because with Jim and Eddie, we do have that chemistry, but it’s fun to develop it with somebody else. I can always anticipate what those guys are gonna say, but with her I never know what angle she’s gonna come from. So, it’s been really fun to actually interview artists with somebody else and get kind of a different vibe working with somebody, and she’s hot and fun to hang out with. When we interview these artists, they’re all like, “Oh, Don Jamieson, we know him from That Metal Show…Yeah, that would be cool to do the interview.” Then the minute I show up with her, they all ignore me and start talking to her (laughs).
Don Jamieson’s third CD from Metal Blade Records, Communication Breakdown, is out now at Don’s gigs or wherever CDs are sold. It can also be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon.com. To find out where Don is doing his standup next, visit DonJamieson.com.