Exclusive Interview: Eddie Trunk from VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show’

By on June 1, 2013

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It’s time to get metaled up. VH1 Classic’s centerpiece in original programming, ‘That Metal Show’ is returning for its 12th season. The acclaimed hard rock and heavy metal talk show hosted by Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson, and Jim Florentine kicks off the latest season on Saturday, June 1st at 11:00PM ET/PT.

To kick off Season 12, ‘That Metal Show’ welcomes to the show for the first time, Jason Newsted, former long-time bassist of Metallica. Newsted is currently the front man and bass player for his latest project, Newsted, but is also known for his work in the past with Flotsam and Jetsam, Echobrain, and Voivod. During this episode, Jason talks about his time in Metallica, the injuries sustained on the road, and his new music and regrets.

Season 12 showcases a brand new look for ‘That Metal Show,’ retaining all the fan-favorite segments like “Stump The Trunk” and “The Vault” plus adding a few surprise segments. We caught up with Eddie Trunk to talk about the new season, his passion for being a music fan, and how he worked to make Jake E. Lee a part of ‘That Metal Show.’

It’s cool to see Season 12 of ‘That Metal Show’ back on VH1 Classic. Fans have been waiting impatiently for new episodes.

We’re really excited to have new shows. It’s probably been the longest we’ve been between new episodes in the history of the show. It’s really important we let everyone know the new season starts June 1 and runs for eight weeks. People will not only see new episodes but they’ll see some new features. We have a brand new set. There was a little bit of an extended break as the show got retooled and revamped a little bit. We’re really excited to have the new shows on and extremely excited for all the support from the fans. Their voices were heard loud and clear about how much they wanted new episodes and we were chomping at the bit to do them.

I guess you’re doing something right when the biggest complaint about the show is that there aren’t enough episodes.

That’s our biggest complaint, too. That’s one thing I don’t think the audience understands. If it was up to us – hell, my ultimate dream is to do a live show five nights a week like Letterman. I’d like to at least be doing one new show a week. It all comes down to budgets and the network makes the decisions because they have the purse strings. They allocate what they can, when they can. We feel lucky they want to keep doing it. When they call we go. It’s as simple as that.

The show started in 2008. Is it as exciting for you now as it was back then?

Absolutely. Maybe even more so. We’re completely comfortable now. In the earliest days of the show it was a half-hour. I really fought against that in the beginning because it was so limiting. I was fighting from day one to get it pushed to an hour. We finally got to that point. The show started out being shot in New York. Now we shoot it in LA. The show has evolved and it’s definitely got more comfortable. We’ve always tried different things to see what works and what doesn’t work. At the core of it, sitting down with Don and Jim and an artist is, for me especially, second nature. That’s what I’ve done for 30 years. I’m excited to do them. My only complaint is we don’t do them enough.

Your sincerity comes across in the show, not only because doing it is second nature, but the fact is you’re a music fan. You don’t fake it. It’s painfully obvious when other journalists put forth the bare minimum just to get by when interviewing an artist. It’s definitely not that way with you.

Thanks. I’m glad that comes across on the show. That means a lot to me. And this isn’t me trying to be overly modest, I don’t think of myself as anything other than a fan. Yes, I’m a fan that has put almost my entire life into the music industry and building a brand for what I’m know for. I still don’t think of myself as anything different than the fans that watch the show. That’s what I am at my core. I have to say what I feel and I have to be me. I never, ever, ever wanted to pretend to be somebody I’m not. If somebody asks me if I like something I’ll tell them honestly if I do or if I don’t. I respect the opinions of others. I’m not going to act or dress or behave differently just because I’m on TV. I wear it on my sleeve. Not everybody is going to agree with what I say or feel but I respect everybody’s opinions and I welcome the debate. Being real and being honest is the secret part of the show. I told Jim and Don early on that when we do the show we should try and have the same conversations we would have hanging out and drinking a beer at a show. There’s a ton of fake stuff in radio and TV and nothing makes me cringe more than seeing artists I love go on shows where you can tell the interviewer has no knowledge or regard for what the artist has done. They only know the bio they read two seconds before the artist walked in. They’ll ask the same standard questions and five minutes later they’re done. That always bothered me as a viewer and a fan. We try to do that as best as we can on ‘That Metal Show.’ The biggest challenge for me, coming from radio where I have a lot of time, is only having a few minutes in TV land. Hurry up the clock is running!

I would imagine there is a ton of footage that never gets used. Do you have access to any unreleased content? Are there plans to release any of it?

VH1 owns the show. I put it together with them early on. They own everything from the merchandise to deciding if and when a DVD will ever come out. Anything they’re sitting on is their property. They’ll put some things out online. I’ve had a ton of people ask me about a DVD. For the first time I’m actually hearing talk about it. I don’t know if it will actually be released but I’m finally hearing some discussion about it. If that does happen there is a bunch of outtake footage. Tons, as a matter of fact. Backstage stuff and just things that didn’t air. Especially stuff from the early shows. Back then we shot the shows to be an hour and they got cut way down to fit into 22 minutes of TV time. There is a huge archive of great extras from the first four seasons before the show went to an hour. I hope if they do a DVD they’ll include a lot of that because that’s a huge selling point.

Like you mentioned, there are some new segments this season. A couple I know about are ‘Metal Modem’ and ‘Take It Or Leave It.’ What can you tell me about the new additions this season?

‘Metal Modem’ is in six or seven of the eight new shows. It’s a segment we do at the very top of the show where we welcome in a guest by dropping a screen on the set and we talk to them over the internet via Skype. That came about because one of the biggest problems we have when booking the show is we do eight episodes in four days, two shows a day. In a week we’ve shot an entire season. If a band is on tour in that week we’re shooting we’re obviously not going to have them on. We decided to at least talk to them for a couple of minutes over the internet via Skype. Not only do we get to talk to guys in the studio or on the road, we’re also going to use that as a platform to introduce some newer bands and different genres of metal. ‘That Metal Show’ is always going to be a classic-based show. We all like new music and we all like different stuff so we’ll have a platform for some of the “under the radar” bands or some of the bands that aren’t mainstream. You’ll see a mix of different people in that segment. ‘Take It Or Leave It’ is more of a defined discussion piece at the top of the show. It’s a way to force us to make a decision of yes or no on a hot topic that’s floating around in the rock world. We have six packages for these eight shows called ‘Origins.’ It’s us and different artists talking about how they first got into heavy metal. We have something called the ‘TMS Book Club’ where we read from a rock book. Those are just a few of the new things coming up.

The ‘Guest Musician’ spot is always a highlight for me. I’m really anxious to see what Jake E. Lee has going on. He’s been under the radar for so long. It’s cool he came out of the shadows to be on ‘That Metal Show’ this season.

Yeah, I personally worked really, really hard on that. We’ve had a segment for a long time called ‘Whatever Happened To…’ and he was consistently the top one or two ‘Whatever Happened To…’ names for a long time. I started a process trying to find him. A few years ago I knew I was getting close. He was living in Vegas. I reached him through a mutual friend, a guy named Rob Mancuso. He has a studio and restaurant in Vegas and told me he was working with Jake. I took a couple of trips out to Vegas and finally met him. He’s very press shy and hasn’t done anything in about 20 years. Rob told me he was going to pull Jake into the studio and start making music and I had been working this for about a year to get Jake to come on. You’ll see Jake E. Lee in three of the eight shows. Not only is he sitting down as a guest but we also have him playing in two episodes. It’s really exciting for us to be the first people to reintroduce him to the world.

This new season of ‘That Metal Show’ includes your 100th episode, so early congrats on that. I’m sure it will be memorable for a number of reasons, but having Sebastian Bach on set had to be a blast. I’ve already read that it will be the funniest show of the season.

To be totally honest, I didn’t even know it was the 100th episode when we shot it! I don’t know how many bells and whistles will be added when it airs. That’s something VH1 will probably do in post-production. That episode was shot like any other episode but it was great to have Bas and Rex Brown in for that show. It is an honor to hit 100 but if there’s a party or any extra bells and whistles – it’s news to me! We shot these over a month ago and I don’t remember any balloon dropping!

I see on your social media sites, Twitter especially, that you’re bombarded with questions like “Why don’t you ask so and so to be on the show?” or “Why haven’t you had so and so on?” – and it’s just not that easy. Who are some people you’ve asked over and over to be on the show that just haven’t been on for one reason or another?

I’m very active on my website and Twitter for sure. I like engaging with people on Twitter. It’s very convenient and quick and simple for me. That’s why I’ve embraced it. I guess it doesn’t surprise me because everyone doesn’t need to know how the music industry works, but at the same token I’ll get tweets like “Have you ever thought about having Eddie Van Halen on the show?” That flips my mind! Do you really think we do a show like this and have not tried to get Eddie Van Halen? That’s head-scratching when that happens. It’s either requests like that or super obscure bands that the network is not going to sign off on. I have to say “We do the best we can. I hope you like our show. Here’s the guests.” To answer your question, big names like Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth have been asked every single season. Guys like that are weird about press. All you’ve gotta know is Van Halen turned down Rolling Stone and David Letterman when their last record came out. I didn’t really expect ‘em to come running to ‘That Metal Show’ on VH1 Classic! Nikki Sixx is another. We’ve had Tommy Lee on, we did a special with Vince Neil. We’ve asked Mick Mars. We would have Nikki in a second. I have asked Nikki every season. I’ve been on his radio show talking to him about it. I’ve talked to Nikki privately about it. When he’s ready to do it he’ll do it. People have to want to do the show. You can’t just go get James Hetfield if James Hetfield doesn’t want to do the show. When it comes to Metallica we’ve had Lars on twice and Kirk Hammett on once. I’ve talked to James and he’s a huge fan of the show but he is not a very “press warm” guy. He’s not a jerk about it. There are just some guys that aren’t into it. To think we don’t ask these guys is incredible. We’re fighting to get them on just as much as the fans want them on. The other scenario is people will ask for guests that have been on already. With over 100 episodes maybe they just missed the show. With the big artists it comes down to two things: Are the available when we shoot and do they want to come on? If the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes,’ you can rest assured they’ve been asked every single time. If there’s a big artist you haven’t seen on the show, tell them. Hit them up on social media. If the artists know their fans want to see them on the show they may step up on their own.

Eddie, I appreciate your time. What would you like to say to the fans of ‘That Metal Show’ to wrap things up?

I would like to thank everybody for watching ‘That Metal Show.’ It’s crazy how popular it’s been here in America and I hear from people around the world that see it. It really means a lot. I look at it as a show for all of us. If you’re into this music I hope we do it justice while also having some fun. The simple truth is if people weren’t watching it and supporting it like they do I would not be sitting here talking to you in 2013 about our 100th episode. Most of all, a sincere thanks to the people who make it all possible and keep watching and spreading the word about ‘That Metal Show.’

Season 12 guests and airdates (all times at 11 PM ET/PT):
6/01 – Jason Newsted (former Metallica bassist/Newsted)
6/08 – Corey Taylor & Josh Rand (Stone Sour)
6/15 – Rex Brown (Pantera, Kill Devil Hill) and Sebastian Bach (*100th Episode)
6/22 – Jake E. Lee (former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist / Badlands) and Rick Allen (Def Leppard)
6/29 – Queensrÿche (Scott Rockenfield & Todd La Torre) and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
7/06 – Rob Zombie & John 5 and Tom Keifer (Cinderella)
7/13 – Scott Gorham & Ricky Warwick (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders) and Neil Fallon (Clutch)
7/20 – Buck Dharma (Blue Öyster Cult) & Kix (Steve Whiteman & Brian Forsythe)

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