Hard rock and heavy metal music personality Eddie Trunk has an incredible month ahead. First up is the publication of Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Volume II, a sequel to the successful original featuring exclusive stories (and more than 200 color photos) of more than 30 of the most influential artists ever to wield a killer riff.
Out today (Sept. 24), the tome’s release and the subsequent book tour (beginning this evening in New York City) sets the stage for another career milestone of the host of That Metal Show: Trunk’s 30th anniversary on the radio, which will be commemorated at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square Oct. 23 with a live performance from the Winery Dogs and other surprise guests. (The event is invitation only, but fans can enter for a chance to win a spot on the guest list here.)
In this exclusive, expansive interview, I spoke with the New Jersey native about his growing appeal overseas, the biggest misconceptions about what he does, and his candid opinions on some of the genre’s biggest acts.
This year you’re celebrating your 30th year in radio. What does that mean to you?
To have survived in radio for 30 years is pretty remarkable. Even more remarkable is to have been able to do it in the same market I’ve lived in my whole life. Most people who are in radio that long can rattle off 15 cities that they’ve worked in, and I’m lucky enough to say that [my] entire stretch has been New York and New Jersey….Even more rewarding for me is that I’ve been doing what I love in radio….I truly believe that you have to bring more content to the table to survive in radio than saying, “There was AC/DC and here’s Journey,” because computers can do that. The little secret about what’s going on in radio right now that a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of rock radio stations that they’re listening to [has] a live local DJ, [but] they’re not—they’re hearing a piped-in DJ that could be across the country somewhere through a computer....I still love doing radio; radio’s still probably my greatest passion.
What ambitions are you working on?
I would like to continue to grow in radio, and by that I mean more outlets, more time, more opportunity….I’d love to be on better hours, I’d love to be on more radio stations, you know? People don’t really understand how syndication works in radio. They think that if someone has 100 radio stations they think, “Wow, look how many people they have listening.” The truth of the matter is that you could have somebody with 10 radio stations that has 10 times the audience of the person with 100 radio stations just because of what markets those stations are in: how many people are listening to those stations? What hours are the show on? We navigate through the industry to try to make things bigger…I still would love one day to do a full-time afternoon radio show that’s an extension of what I’m doing now. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that opportunity, but I would love to….I still feel that after 30 years, there’s still a lot that I want to do.
One new thing I saw on your radar is that you’ll be, to quote Motörhead, going to Brazil soon. How did this happen, and was the story behind your previous invitation to Colombia that didn’t happen?
I’m learning about South America; stuff can change on the fly over there quite quickly….I had an offer to go to Colombia and I had an offer to go to Chile recently—both fell through. It had nothing to do with me, just the promoters or what have you—something happened there. But this one looks pretty rock solid and this is all going through proper channels and I’ve got a manager that’s working on it....That Metal Show has been on in South America for a while, and in places like Brazil and Colombia and Chile and what have you, it’s extremely popular. Obviously I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard from many, many people and the fans themselves, because the show airs there and I get a ton of email from there. So there’s a festival that happens in São Paulo, which is apparently the real hotbed for all this hard rock music and the fans....They announced it [recently] that I’ll be [hosting] there….I’m honored because people say it’s a big deal that I’m coming there. I’m excited to see firsthand what goes on over there and to try to connect with as many [fans] as possible, but from what I hear [laughs], they’re pretty rabid and it’s going to be pretty intense, so I’m cautiously [laughs] excited and optimistic about it, and I think it should be a great time. I’m really just excited to break into a whole other territory and see where it takes me.
It’s your first time to visit South America?
Absolutely, first time. Again, I hear all sorts of things from the artists that play there and from the fans that watch the show. I can’t wait to take in as much of it as I can.
You’ve mentioned people you’d love to have as guests on That Metal Show like Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne and Eddie Van Halen. What are some burning questions you’ve been saving up?
Oh, boy. With Eddie Van Halen, I’d just love to get to the bottom of his issues with Sammy Hagar. I know Sammy and I love Sammy and he’s been on my shows many times, and people think that I have some bias against the [David Lee] Roth years and that I’m a Hagar guy, which is completely not the case. I was a Sammy Hagar fan long before he was ever in Van Halen, though. I find it interesting, because Eddie Van Halen has this huge catalog of music, huge songs, that nobody else can sing but Sammy Hagar, and that unless a fence is mended with Sammy and that he finds a way to someday work with him again, there’s an entire generation of people—who that’s their Van Halen—who are never going to hear those songs live again. I think people forget that there’s like a dozen huge hit songs that, let’s be honest, David Lee Roth couldn’t sing in his wildest dreams—no pun intended with “Dreams,” but there’s another song. So I would love to know how he feels about that and about leaving, you know, an entire era of the band on the shelf, with so many huge, iconic, important songs.
So that would be something that would come to mind to ask him, but I have no idea what his response is. I’d just love to get to the bottom of that, and also see if he takes any personal responsibility in the falling apart of that band, because I saw the reunion tour with Sammy [in 2004], and Eddie Van Halen was whacked out of his skull or whatever. I mean, he was playing different songs from the rest of the band. Everyone who saw it knew it was a disaster. So I’d love to kind of pick his brain a little bit about that period and see what he’s thinking and going forward if he thinks there could ever be a way to reconcile so that material could be revisited again.
A guy like Jimmy Page, I’d love to just get to the bottom of what his visions were with [Led Zeppelin’s] recent reunion five years ago, and what his plan is going forward. I was able to do some digging and found out that, of course, everybody knows Steven Tyler was considered to go and sing with them when [Robert] Plant didn’t want to do it—Myles Kennedy was there for a little bit—and just kind of peel away a little bit more about that and the thought process and if there’s any resentment towards Plant for not being able to play, not playing that stuff. And of course, there’s all the old stuff—guys like that, you could get good stories forever from the early days. But I’m just kind of curious of some of the more recent developments to get a handle on how that stuff all went down and what they’re thinking going forward.
I read that you referred Richie Kotzen to be the new vocalist for Velvet Revolver several years ago. Did you ever hear about why that didn’t work out?
I don’t know; I didn’t push the issue. Richie is a guy that I’m a friend of and a huge fan of for the last six, seven years. [I’ve] been trying to plug him into situations and create awareness for what he’s all about, and thankfully I have been able to do that now with the success of the Winery Dogs, and [with] people just discovering him through that. I’m really proud to say that I was the guy who recommended him for [the Winery Dogs] and put that together. I did, actually, a few times suggest Richie for the Velvet Revolver gig. Even if they didn’t want two guitar players, just to let him front the band and sing, because I think his voice is so incredible, although it would be a huge loss as a player because the guy’s equally phenomenal all-around. I mentioned it to Slash a couple times and I think I even gave him a CD one time of Richie’s songs, and also to Duff [McKagan] a couple times, but never really got any response. I don’t know; maybe it just wasn’t the voice they were looking for, or maybe they didn’t want anybody with a history like Richie had; maybe they just didn’t think it was the right fit....I make suggestions and stuff to people all the time, but if I don’t get anything back, that’s usually a polite way of saying that they’re not interested.
You mentioned that if the circumstances were different, you would have had a very different interview with Axl Rose on TMS. What are some of the things you would have liked to ask him or know more about if you could have another round with him?
I’d love to get more into the dissolving of the original band. Axl’s touched on things before, drug abuse and what have you, but I’d love to get more into his head about how all of that fell apart, and more specifics about what exactly went down and how this thing unraveled, and how you had one of the greatest, iconic hard rock bands ever and how it could have imploded so quickly, and from his perspective what he saw. I certainly could have been tougher on him about the late stage times. I did mention it to him in that interview, but he said something like, “We’re working on it, and we’re trying” and this and that, but I could have peeled the layers a little more.
When I do interviews, I never pre-plan them at all, radio or TV. I know all these guys, I’ve been doing this my whole life, and I just kind of let it roll, let it flow, and kind of feel my way through it as I go. So there’s a lot that I could have done, but was very difficult to do, and everyone knows that back story, I hope, when we were waiting around 15, 16 hours and it was 5 o’clock in the morning. We literally had to catch a plane [laughs], I mean, it was crazy. So I would have loved a more relaxed sort of setting where I hadn’t been through sleep deprivation and I was kind of more focused and on my game a little bit. But that interview, for as much as I would love to have some aspects of it back, it still serves as one of the very few things that he’s done at all in 20 years, and there were a ton of people that actually really loved it and thought it was fun and enjoyed it, and really enjoyed seeing a side of him that they never really saw before of him, kind of having fun with us. So it was certainly not a bust by any stretch, but I could have certainly and would have looked to have gotten into some tougher territory if I would have had the time and wits about me.
There have been a lot of rock and metal memoirs published recently. Who would you most like to see put pen to paper in the next couple years?
Good question. Joe Perry has a book coming out, which I’ll be excited about. Aerosmith is one of my all-time favorite bands, so I’ll really look forward to reading Joe’s, for sure. Also I know Bob Daisley, he has one coming out. He’s the guy who has really had history rewritten in a lot of ways about his involvement in the first few Ozzy Osbourne records in which he wrote and played on, so much so to the point that for a while they took his bass off those records, which was just beyond comprehension. Those are two books that actually are coming out that I’m looking forward to reading and getting those stories.
I think Eddie Van Halen would be amazing to read a book from. If he’s forthright on everything and if he really comes out and lets it fly like you hope he would about the good, bad, ugly, what have you. I think that for me, the great books like that, autobiographies, are great when the artists who write them throw caution to the wind and really put it out there as they saw it. When they hedge their bets and try to be conservative and try not to piss anybody off—“I could tell you this really cool story, but I can’t”—that’s just not good. But when you’ve got a guy like Sammy Hagar’s book and Peter Criss’s recent book, where they’re just gonna let it fly and let the chips fall where they may, those are the books that I think are truly great. And even if you don’t agree with everything they’re saying, you still have to respect it because they’re giving you their unfiltered true perspective, and that’s what I think makes a great book. There’s been a ton of them and I’m sure there’s a ton more coming down the pike, but those are just a couple of things that come to mind.
When Rush was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, Howard Stern dissed Alex Lifeson’s irreverent acceptance speech, saying that even if the band was passed over for many years, if he didn’t plan to receive the award with respect, he should have just stayed home. What are your thoughts about that?
I’m not sure what the whole thing was. In other words, I don’t know that that was what he was doing. I love Alex, and Alex has a really, really, funny sense of humor, and I know him personally. A lot of people read that as a diss to the Hall and the whole thing. I don’t know that that was the case….The event itself takes like five hours to happen, and from what I heard from people that were there, there were a lot of people that were going up on that stage making really long-winded speeches, and that it was also a response to that in a way….It’s very much in line with how [Rush] are and their sense of humor. They love to have a laugh about stuff and not take things too seriously. Anybody who’s seen their recent stage shows knows that. So I think it was more about that than any real shot at anything, just kind of the whole absurdity of the situation….He certainly made a mark. People talked about that speech more than any other speech that day, and he said nothing. So that may be in and of itself what the whole point of what that was.
Since we last spoke, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has wised up and inducted more rock acts. Who else is on your short list to be inducted?
Number one far and away is Deep Purple, without question. Deep Purple actually showed up on the ballot, but as many of the artists who are in there will tell you that are in there that are rock, they wouldn’t have existed without the influence of Deep Purple. So my order would be Deep Purple at one, KISS at two…it’s so tough from there; there’s so many.
I know Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are up there for you.
Maiden and Priest, for sure. Lemmy, for sure. Thin Lizzy, for sure. Cheap Trick, Blue Öyster Cult.
Sure. I mean, certainly not a heavy rock band, but Moody Blues, yes. Journey, Foreigner. Kind of hard to believe Journey’s not there. I mean, Stevie Ray Vaughan—someone told me Stevie Ray Vaughan wasn’t; that’s beyond belief, too. So yeah, there’s no shortage, and I’m sure there’s tons more that I’m not thinking of at the moment. And [Ronnie James] Dio should have went in with Sabbath, but of course that wasn’t going to happen. But for Ronnie’s entire body of work, he should have been recognized.
It’s going to feel weird if they come in after Green Day and Nirvana, never mind the ’90s bands.
I think Nirvana’s eligible this year. Just like Guns N’ Roses, they’ll go first ballot.
Shouldn’t Bon Jovi be in there, too? Whether people like them or not, their albums still hit number one every time out, and they’re arguably the most successful touring band on the planet.
Without question. And I was a huge fan of Bon Jovi’s stuff early on. It’s shocking to me that they haven’t been [inducted], because you would think they are somewhat of a favorite of Rolling Stone’s, and it’s shocking to think that they haven’t been. Most would think it’s a no-brainer to have them in already. The other stuff too is Def Leppard—I mean, Def Leppard has one of the biggest selling records of all-time; two of them, actually. Mötley Crüe, you know? It goes on and on and on, where this entity called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just continues to be pretty disrespectful when it comes to a lot of genres of rock music, and it’s something that I’ve been vocal about for so long and continue to be….
So [many] people don’t know these bands are not in; most people just assume that they are. So that’s to shed light on the hypocrisy of it is all I’m trying to do. I’m not under any illusions; although I’ve heard that I’ve helped, I’m not under any illusions that I’m going to single-handedly get that changed. But if the public knows what’s going on a little bit more, then maybe the group outcry can finally affect some change.
What bands would you most like to see make a comeback?
I’ve gotta be honest, even though they’re friends and I respect what they’re doing separately, I really would love to see Skid Row again with Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso, their original drummer. I respect what they’re doing individually and like it, but I really think that that’s a band that burned way too quick, and are still relatively young enough that they could put on a great, energetic show. And they’re a band that got progressively heavier as their career went on, and I’d love to see them kind of embrace that. I think we need an edgy, over the top, in-your-face kind of hard rock band again, and when that band was on its game they were a force to be reckoned with live, and I’d love to see if they could put whatever issues exist behind them and get out there and really just give this genre a real good kick in the ass again. I know that there’s a ton of interest, especially outside of America, in that happening, but I also know that it’s not even close to a reality, having talked to the guys firsthand about it, for a huge host of reasons….There’s a lot of division, still, [among] the certain parties in that band. It’s unfortunate, because I think that they could really do some damage if they could pull it together one more time.
And the other thing I’d love to see one more time, selfishly, everyone knows how much I love the band UFO; same scenario there, I love the current lineup, I think Vinnie Moore’s brilliant in that band, but I would love, and I would go any part in the world one more time, to see the Strangers in the Night lineup, and that’s one that’s a little bit more urgent. The core of the band is in their mid-60s now, and you don’t really know how much longer they all have, so it would be great to see that one more time. I already told me wife [laughs], if that show happens anywhere in the world, I have to go; I’m getting on a plane and going. It’s probably my number one thing I’d love to see one last time.
No one’s done more for UFO than probably anyone on the planet right now, Eddie, as far as tireless promotion.
Again, it’s why I do what I do and always did what I did, and it’s fun to hear from people every day who discover that band through hearing me talk about them. I mean, that’s great.
I wonder how many sales of Strangers in the Night they’ve made just based on your recommendation.
[Laughs] I don’t know, but it’s great for me to be able to have that sort of impact. If anything else in my career, it’s great to make a living at this and to do what I love, but it’s great to be able to hear from somebody almost every day that says, “Hey man, I would have never heard of UFO without you and I love ’em,” “Hey man, I would have never heard of this guy Richie Kotzen without having heard you talk about him and now I’m into it, and tell me what else to get.” Even though I don’t have any financial gain in any of that, it’s not about that for me. It’s just about more people knowing about great artists.
You’re a big sports fan. If you could play anything professionally, what would it be?
Purely for financial reasons, I would pick baseball….There’s no salary cap, I mean, these guys are getting paid crazy money if you’re a star in that sport. For the most part, you aren’t getting beat up, so you can play it for the longest amount of time without breaking down relatively safely. It’s a long season, but generally the weather’s pretty nice, and if you’re a single guy, I’ve heard of the stories [laughs] of the groupies at the hotels and what have you. One of my best friends is Mike Piazza, who had an incredible career as a ballplayer, and to hear his stories and stuff, it’s such a great club and fraternity and all that….But football is my favorite sport.
And if you could choose the team and era?
Baseball would be the ’86 Mets [laughs]. I’m a Mets fan, and that was the period of time, to be Keith Hernandez on the ’86 Mets, that would be pretty darn cool, without question.
Same question, but for a band. You can replace any member—where do you think you’d see yourself having the most fun?
Wow. The most fun would probably be fronting Van Halen, you know? The most fun would be David Lee Roth in 1980 to ’82 or something. The ultimate party hard rock band. Guys and girls loved them equally. That would be the ultimate sort of thing to do, I think. The other person to be would be Joe Perry or Steven Tyler. Those guys are both eternally cool and eternally youthful in what they can still do at their age with their band at this point in their career is pretty unbelievable live. But I always thought that Joe Perry, there’s nothing not cool about the guy, he just exudes coolness and he’s a great guy, too. As crazy as it sounds, I’ve gotten to know him and be friendly with him. Those are the icons to me. And of course, to have been a member of the original KISS would be incredible. To dress up like that and be part of a stage show like that, to do such groundbreaking theatrics, to make what I think are some really good records that are overlooked a lot of times, that would be equally phenomenal.
Because you’ve become a bigger star in the three years since we’ve last talked, there have been a couple of criticisms I’ve noticed, and I wanted to address some of those things.
One is, regarding recent promo images, wearing the Mad Anthony Hot Sauce shirt. Is there any reason why you chose to wear that particular among all the promo shots that you’ve been taking?
No. All the photos, if anyone follows the tread, any shirts that I’m wearing like that, they’re taken from the the set. They’re all shirts and images from That Metal Show, so that shirt, or whatever other shirt I may be wearing at that time, is just a shot that our staff photographer took of me walking to or from the set when we were taping TMS. So that was a shirt that Michael Anthony gave me that I wore one day when we taped an episode, and you never know where pictures turn up. But that’s where that would have come from.
Then there’s the recent Winery Dogs “Happy Birthday” item appearing as news on your site. One person commented, “This site has officially hit rock bottom.” Thoughts on that?
It’s my website. Listen, [the] people that are the most vocal haters or anything, or critics if you will, are usually the people that love you the most, and that’s what I find really fascinating…five percent of my audience will critique and hate and kill and disparage and make fun of every single thing I do or say. Guess what? They’re watching and listening and reading every single thing I do or say, which makes them the biggest fans….There’s people that are following me on Twitter and will [say], “Man, you suck” and this and that, and I’ll look, and they’re following me. And my only response is, “Thanks for following me.”
So you have these people and I’m not exactly quite sure what they want, because if I don’t like somebody or I don’t like what somebody does, then I don’t follow them anymore or pay attention to them anymore or buy their stuff or listen to them or support them. What I find funny is the people who spend so much time—can you imagine taking the time for something that you, as a website or whatever it is, and going through the process of having to write and post a comment? There’s not enough time in the day for me to do that….I find that consistently through my 30 years in this business that people who have the most issues with things that you may do are the people that actually have followed and watched and listened most consistently, so to them I say, “Thank you.”
Here’s one concerning a real group recording new music: Steel Panther doesn’t get news bits on your site. Is there any reason why they are excluded when they have new material or tours?
No, they’re not excluded at all; I have no blanket policy to exclude them. As a matter of fact, I think they have been posted. What I don’t quite understand about Steel Panther is people who don’t get the joke of Steel Panther….It stuns me how many of their fans don’t get the joke, and it’s incredible to me that there are people who don’t.
I’ve never been into, personally, bands that are putting on an act, you know? You can ask Chris Jericho, who’s a close friend, when he was doing Fozzy, and Fozzy originally began as an act. He was using some name, Moongoose McQueen or something like that, and he was trying to get on my radio shows because he wanted to come on and tell this backstory about how all these great classic rock songs from the ’80s, he really wrote, he didn’t get the credit, and they were originals of Moongoose and Fozzy and all that—I didn’t have him on. You can ask Chris firsthand; I would not have the guy on. How was I supposed to have a character named Mongoose something sitting there talking about how he really wrote “Holy Diver”? It’s just not gonna play on my show.
It’s not a personal thing, it’s just to me that bands like that are what they are. Steel Panther has gotten extremely successful from it and more power to them for it, but it’s an act….I’ve not given any direction to not have anything posted about them on my site, and people would be surprised to find out that I have actually offered Russ, a.k.a. Satchel, to appear on That Metal Show more than once, but he was unable to do it because of his schedule. So people just make assessments and assumptions off of things without hearing the full story, and I’m happy to explain it anytime anybody wants to know.
Do you think you get too worked up when you choke on Stump the Trunk?
No, because it’s exactly what the network wants. The entire point of the bit is that they want me to go crazy; they want to see me behave like that. Yes, the point of it’s much bigger for many other people, but VH1 loves the stuff that goes on around it. Not whether I get it right or wrong, they love the stuff that goes around it, so I’m here to deliver. I work for them, so if that’s what they want to see, and to that end, they often tell me when I’m wrong when I’m right. I can think of an example from just this last season with Def Leppard when Rick Allen was sitting right next to me and I answered a question and he goes, “You know what, mate? You actually were right; that was a right answer,” as everybody’s going crazy because I got it wrong. So after a while, what else are you going to do? You’ve gotta stand up for yourself and let people know that that happened, and that’s exactly what goes on—there’s another truth for you. And hey, there’s plenty of stuff I don’t know; I’ll be the first to tell anybody that, by no stretch do I think I know it all. But when I’m told I’m wrong when I’m right, that’s for effect, and they usually get it from me.
Last criticism: You don’t talk much or promote works by groups like Black Sabbath or KISS because you’ve been snubbed by them, in particular making a point on your blog that Black Sabbath wouldn’t provide you a ticket to their recent show in New Jersey and that you made a point of how you had to get it from friends.
Well, as far as Black Sabbath, again, people only dwell on negatives, and I pointed that out because I wanted to thank my friends for inviting me to the show with them, and I also wanted to let people know that I do go to shows when I still have to either (a) pay or (b) go with a friend. So I was not going to let some warped bias with the Sabbath camp, or a certain element of it, meaning Sharon Osbourne—who I don’t even know—prevent me from seeing Sabbath, and providing still a objective, honest review. Now, the part that people leave out about that equation was the review was extremely positive. The New York Post, the same day, had a headline that said, “Ozzy Is Awful,” so I’m wondering, are they banned from ever seeing Sabbath again with that headline? You would think, but I guarantee they won’t be.
My review was in praise of Ozzy, who I thought was better than he’s been in 20 years and overall was a very positive review, and I simply tagged that on to (a) thank my friends, and (b) to let people know, and to completely break that perception that if I personally had an issue, it would affect the review, which clearly it didn’t. I could see if I wrote something like that and then crucified the band and the performance, people would say, “Ehh, this is just his payback.” Well, guess what? It’s not. It was just me letting people know that objectivity has nothing to do with any personal feelings about what’s going on, because if it did, the review would have been negative.
And as far as KISS is concerned, people tend to forget that I’m one of the only people in the New York market to play anything from their latest record, which I thought was pretty bad, to be honest with you, outside of a couple songs. So what really drove any support, ot lack thereof, of the latest KISS record was that I thought it was a pretty bad record, and I wasn’t a fan of it. And there were hardly any requests for it that I had had. As for any sort of blackout of KISS on my site, that’s also not the case. However, I will tell you this: I will not provide my website as a forum for KISS to sell their merchandise and their products. I’ve promoted and plugged and supported KISS like nobody else for 30 years. KISS has in turn blocked me from making an appearance at one of their golf courses in Vegas. I mean, it’s beyond childish and ridiculous, so guess what? I’m not so much into putting a press release on my site for Gene Simmons selling his show-played bass in the parking lot after the show for $5,000 a night, you know? They have plenty of outlets where they can do that themselves.
So yeah, I’ll cop to that completely. I’m not gonna let my website become a KISS website for them selling smashed guitars. Trust me, I see the press releases or take a deep look into the KISS website itself; this is all happening. But why would I be selling that stuff on my website when this is a band that offers no cooperation with me on any level as far as doing my shows and coming on programs that their audience actually watches. Will I let people know that they have a record out or a tour or something? Of course. I played the record. That’s the part people forget: I’m the only one who plays this music and actually spins it in New York City, But that stuff is all forgotten and never acknowledged, which I think is really kind of funny, but only little things are looked at like, “Why isn’t there a press release up for KISS Hello Kitty?” [Laughs] Sorry, you know? My site’s not gonna become their marketplace for that, and that’s as simple as it gets.
Thanks for clearing that up.
I’ve got nothing to hide about anything. It’s the story of the Internet—everybody wants to hack away at the negative….I don’t worry, and I can’t dwell about the five people or less who don’t get it and just want to tear you down, or you reach a certain point and they just want to take their shots. That’s fine, if that’s what you get off doing, go ahead and do it, but it’s not my world and I can’t worry about it. I’m much more worried and concerned about the 95 percent of the other people that truly like and appreciate this music and my role in it and the little bit I’ve been able to do to help these guys and support it and keep it going.
Every single day, I’m stopped by somebody and they say, “Hey man, thanks for doing what you do,” and every day I have an artist on my radio show for an interview, and they walk out saying the same thing, “Hey man, I can never do interviews like that anywhere else,” you know? I go to these places, they read the one sheet, “Tell us about your new album and get out the door, you have five minutes.” I never get the opportunity to have that sort of exchange in media, and that is what matters to me, and that’s what’s important to me, is the people who get it and care about it and want to continue to help build up not me—it’s not about building up me, it’s about building up this genre and this music that a lot of people would be surprised to learn is really, really struggling. Especially the ’80s rock. So many people think that this stuff is back and these bands are doing great business, and a lot of them are out on the road dying. So it’s still about that struggle to give these bands respectful, proper outlets to promote and hopefully build their careers up again and build overall rock music as a viable entity, because it’s not. Sure, the supergroups are always going to be there, but it’s not as healthy as some would think.
And the other part about it, too, and I’ll jump in on this one, I hear from people all the time, “You’re not metal because you don’t do death metal or black metal or prog metal,” or what have you. Yeah, I don’t. I’m not going to lie about it, you know? I’ve done what I’ve done for 30 years. I have a limited outlet of time. There’s a zillion bands that need help. I’m not gonna be a phony and sit here and tell you that I’m loving the new Watain record and that I am now into black metal and then go home and put on the first Van Halen record and not know anything about it. There’s plenty of people out there that will wear T-shirts with logos of bands that they can’t name one song from because it’s the cool, hip thing to do or to fit in with a clique. And I’ve never been a phony and I’m not going to do that and I’m not going to cave to that. I like what I like, I do what I do, I’ve done it for a long time. It’s served me well. And for the people that care about what I do, it’s served them well, too. But you can’t be all things to all people, because as soon as you really try to do that, you realize people will read right through it and you become nothing to nobody.
Eddie chimes in on:
Black Sabbath – Bill Ward’s non-participation doesn’t seem to have affected album or tour sales. Bill and Ozzy have given completely different accounts of what the reason is for things being what they are; what do you feel is closest to the truth?
Probably a combination of the two. I’m sure he was not lying when he said he wasn’t offered a fair deal, but it is tough on drummers as they get older. We’ll never know if he could have cut the gig unless he had a shot. Remember, he did do the press conference with them originally, so they must have thought he could do it then?
At the very least, couldn't Bill have just played on the record and then opted to retire? It looks like he took an all-or-nothing approach that backfired.
I think it was all business, as simple as that. Unless they got past that, it’s all guessing.
Bon Jovi — What’s going on with Richie Sambora? Do you think he’ll be sacked? If that happens, will the band’s music ever be fun or hard rocking again?
I don’t know that he hasn’t been already. I think Bon Jovi has moved far away from the essence of the band they were early on. If Sambora is gone they are even further from that. But if they still fill stadiums it won’t matter and Richie’s leverage is gone. It always comes down to how and if it impacts business. I don’t know more than that about what’s going on in this instance.
What are your thoughts about the other remaining members staying neutral in this as far as press, Twitter, etc.? Should they stick up for Richie?
Jon runs the show. He pays them. They aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds. If they don’t stumble with Sambora gone than for sure they can all easily be replaced, sadly.
How crazy is it that Hugh McDonald has still been virtually invisible ever since he joined as bassist in the mid-‘90s? I caught the band's recent show at MetLife Stadium and Phil X's hand and guitar made far more appearances on the video screens.
He’s a hired gun. Great player who has done more with the band behind the scenes than many know, but a guy doing his job and was never more than a session guy for them. Never a band member. If they do the same approach with Phil you may start seeing press shots down to just three guys. At least they are up front about how it all works and not pretending like most bands do that it’s all for one one for all.
Led Zeppelin – Do you think they could still mount a killer tour with Robert Plant, or has the ship sailed at this point?
Judging by Celebration Day alone, yes, but then that was five years ago now, so hard to say. But the demand will always be there.
An artist should always call the shots, but what other reasons do you think Plant might have for not wanting to do it other than his constant cries of being “busy”?
Performance. Hitting those notes and being that guy from the ’70s again in his 60s now. Probably tough for him to relate to and recapture, I would think.
Metallica – Now that they’re done touring behind their previous record, setlists have focused almost exclusively on the first ten years of their career. What kind of direction would you like to see them go in on their next record? Death Magnetic seemed to be most inspired by ...And Justice for All.
Really don’t know. I loved Death Magnetic and thought it was a good blend of old and new styles. I assume most would say Kill ’Em All and go super old school and raw.
Never heard them, missed that tour.
Queensrÿche – Based on the success of their recently released album, it looks like the Todd LaTorre lineup is here to stay. If you were Geoff Tate's manager, what would you advise him to do at this point?
Geoff seems to be doing fine. Sucks this all went down but both versions have their fans. I think both made pretty good new albums, although the Todd version seems to have done better since it was promoted. Geoff’s came out without much behind it and the tour was doing [Operation:] Mindcrime. I think both camps were inspired to make their best new music in a long time through this fracture.
History seems to be repeating itself—Roger Waters declared a legal war against Pink Floyd in the ’80s and their relationship has been frosty ever since. Do you think Tate had a bona fide case to begin with? His version of Queensryche was made up of members from mostly other '80s metal bands.
If you look at just the numbers you would say one [band] has three guys, one has one, go with the three. But I have no idea how their business was set up originally and Geoff’s case will be he was the driving force.
KISS – Regardless of the band's current image, do you feel they still deserve some credit for writing and producing their last two albums on their own and not trying to follow any pop trends, etc., whether it connects with longtime fans or not?
I don’t know if credit is the right word, I mean, that’s what most bands do. And releasing them on their own is also what most established bands will do because it’s way more profitable. I thought Sonic [Boom] was a decent album, I think Monster much less so. That’s as objective and honest as I can be. With KISS every album that is current is their best, until the next one [laughs]. The one thing they seem to be doing is trying so hard to sound like their early days they aren’t even really fully utilizing the talents of Eric [Singer] and Tommy [Thayer] to the fullest. Seems they are so locked in to having them play and act like the guys they are dressed as that to me it compromises the dynamic players they are.
What topics would you like to see Paul Stanley discuss in his upcoming memoir that wasn’t already covered by the other three original members in their books?
Not really sure. Paul is a sensitive guy and fairly guarded, so it will be interesting to see if he truly opens up. Doesn’t seem like something he will do but maybe we will be surprised. I’ve had a real up and down history with the guy simply because I give my honest opinion when asked, but he was always my favorite member of the band when I was a kid and I’ll be curious to read it.
Slayer – With the untimely passing of Jeff Hanneman earlier this year and Dave Lombardo bailing over yet another contract dispute, they’re down to two original members. What impact, if any, do you think that might have on their future?
Lombardo is a loss for sure, but with Jeff’s passing everyone knows [Gary] Holt can handle the gig. [Paul] Bostaph is a great drummer and has been there before. I think they will be fine. The name is bigger than any one member and I’m sure they will sound great with Paul; they did before. But there is only one Lombardo.
Finally, what’s your take on all the tribute bands that have popped up recently that ape all of the acts named above? Do you think this has a negative impact on the '70s/'80s live music scene, or does it help expose the music to people who otherwise might not be aware of it or were unable to see the original lineups back in the day?
Some of the bands themselves are very close to their own tribute bands depending how you look at it. And it’s a trend we will see more of if people accept it. I don’t think it hurts if it’s done as a celebration of the music and with respect.
Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Volume II is available now. For book tour dates, visit www.eddietrunk.com.
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