He’s the official ambassador of all things rock and metal; articulate, approachable, the author of not one but two sources of required reading in the form of Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Vol. I & II — and he’s become something of a regular visitor here on Monday Rock City.
Along with fellow metalheads Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine, Trunk returns to VH1 for the 14th season of That Metal Show, featuring Geddy Lee, Ace Frehley, Anthrax, Motörhead, Kerry King, Marky Ramone, Chris Jericho, Daryl “DMC’ McDaniels from RUN DMC and of course . . . everyone’s favorite, Ms. Box O’ Junk, Jennifer Gottlieb.
Did you ever dream when you were a kid that Ozzy & KISS would still be going in 2015?
I thought you were going to ask if I ever dreamed that in 2015 Ozzy and KISS would know me and not talk to me! (laughs)
Oh yeah… Heh. Sorry ‘bout that.
I never really thought about the music in the long term though. Some of the bands whose posters were on my wall are still out there and still really good.
The old guard metal guys are older now than my grandparents were back then! Sabbath, Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC? Why do you think so many classic acts are still around? Is it because we don’t have anyone to fill their shoes?
I think it’s more of a case that there’s nothing else they really know to do. Every time they pull away from it, they realize it’s just what they love. It’s kind of like an athlete who retires and then comes back for just one more year. Then it keeps going on and on….
For some, quite honestly, it’s financial. There’s a misconception that some of these artists are wealthier than they actually are. In some cases you have guys who have been through multiple divorces, huge overheads, and for others it’s simply a lifestyle that they can’t afford unless they stay out on the road. And then for others, it’s ego and they don’t want to give that up.
Ozzy said he was retiring on the ‘No More Tours’ show over twenty years ago. Of course his hand is being played more by his wife than he himself – which he has said. So everyone has a different reason they do it. I’ve always said that I don’t mind an artist staying out as long as they want to as long as they are able to do so at a level that’s close to what they originally brought to the game. Once you start seeing cracks and the energy isn’t there then it’s time to go away gracefully. Some have stayed too long at the party and some are still as good as they’ve ever been.
Aerosmith. In fact, I think they’re probably better than they’ve ever been. And it’s the five same guys!
Another thing you have to look at is how many bands are truly doing it live. Fans don’t realize it but you’ve got a lot of bands out there running fake tracks so you’re basically watching karaoke. But when you look at Aerosmith and AC/DC, the energy they are still able to bring, I don’t think they’ve lost a step.
Nobody expects Phil Simms to suit up and take it to the Broncos in 2015. But Angus Young still has to duckwalk in his schoolboy uniform and Gene Simmons still blows fire and stomps around in seven-inch heels. What do you think it takes to actually do it at their age?
Again, I think it’s case by case. For some bands the performance aspect isn’t that grueling. The travel is tougher than the show in a lot of cases. If you’re a major band then you have the finances to tour at some level of comfort, whether it’s flying private or having your own bus and that makes life a lot easier. If you’re a club or theater act, you don’t have those perks. I think a lot of the guys have realized they have to take better care of themselves. You have to rest, you can’t go out and party after the show like you used to do. It’s a whole different scene backstage. Instead of sex, drugs and rock and roll it’s juicers and trainers and massage therapists. It’s definitely changed.
Steven Tyler insists on two, preferably three days off between shows. Aerosmith will always have at least two nights off between shows. I was out with those guys awhile back and some of the crew were grumbling about how it’s a huge money loss to have to sit in a hotel for two or three days. But when you look at what Tyler does at his age, with the health issues he has, he’s still at the top of his game of both singing and performing.
I was talking to Ted Nugent about Aerosmith awhile back and he says, “When you watch what Steven is still able to do at his age – give him all the time off he needs.” So it really is remarkable. So each artist has to find what works for them to keep going.
A lot of us watched these guys when we were little kids and now that we’re grown – and they’re still carrying on? I don’t know about you but that gives me a lot of hope.
I agree with you a hundred percent. You see Brian Johnson who’s in his late 60s and he’s still really good at what he does. I’m 50 now so when I go see these guys play and they’re 65 and still moving around like that, still loving what they do and loving the music – it proves that this music can keep you young.
I have to imagine in 10 years that many of these acts will be retired for good and there’ll be a huge void. Then what?
Sure. You already see that Rush is pretty much out of the picture and done touring after this run. Who knows what will happen with Sabbath, there are obviously health issues there. Bruce Dickinson is battling cancer. AC/DC down two key members. Priest said they were done two years ago but they’re still hanging in there a bit. Time stops for no one and you have to wonder how much these guys will be able to keep doing. I’m not sure what fills the void. Metallica are about ten years younger than the bands we’re talking about. So you have to hope that they can carry the torch along with others.
I’m hopeful for Avenged Sevenfold. I saw them live for the first time recently and they certainly bear a lot of the influences of the bands they grew up on like Metallica and Guns and Roses. What was encouraging was they had a very young audience and they were putting on a big stage show with two guitar players and everyone in the audience was really into it, wearing their t-shirts. It was a very old guard mentality with a young band and a young fan base. So I hope they can continue to evolve and build on that.
I went back and listened to Starz after I saw you wearing their shirt & that led me to The Godz “714.” It was like finding lost treasure. I’ve been going trying to find forgotten rock acts from the 70s & 80s to discover again. Any suggestions?
Oh yeah, Starz would certainly be a band to revisit. They’ve got three or four just great straight-up rock records. Not a metal band by any stretch but great rock. I love Piper, Billy Squire’s old band. I saw them open for KISS at my first ever concert and both of their A&M records from the 70s are phenomenal. Another 70s band I’ve tried to bring attention to through my podcast is a group called Angel.
Yeah, and if you grew up in that time period, you would think Angel were like, the hugest band in the world because they got so much press. Huge stage show, big media machine so you would’ve thought they were almost as big as KISS. But in reality, they did just okay. They never had a big hit single, never really broke through in a big way.
That was pretty much the last thing they ever did. They broke up shortly after the film. I had their guitar player, Punky Meadows, on the podcast awhile back and he said that after Angel quit he went to work as a club DJ.
That would be kind of a let down.
Then he took a job in a tanning salon. After these huge tours, several records – and then the money just isn’t there. So perception and reality are two different things in the music business and everyone has their favorite bands that for some reason or another just never got the acclaim they deserved. The band that was my gateway into rock and roll was The Raspberries. That was the first rock band I ever heard. Very influential to people like Paul Stanley and Nikki Sixx, but The Raspberries never made it through to the really big time.
It’s great power pop, no doubt. And of course they reunited and I got to interview them and see them live since I was too young on the first go around.
You’re living the dream. Rock and Metal were a huge part of our lives growing up – but you get to give back to the bands who gave so much to you.
That’s what it was always about for me. The whole reason I got into the business was to share music I loved with other people. I took drum lessons for a while but realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be a musician.
How did you get into the business?
In high school I was working at the college radio station. I never even went to college! But here was a way I could take records I loved to the public. I did freelance writing so I could write about bands I love and get people’s attention. I worked for a record store. Another way to influence people towards music. And then it all came together and I was doing all three at the same time. Then I went to work at a record company, signing bands I loved. And then in ’02 I went into TV where I was able to interview the bands and talk about the music. So it was never really about me or about how I could be popular. I’d be lying if said that wasn’t a nice perk – but it was never about that. It was always about helping keep rock and metal in a positive light and supporting it in a respectful way. I always hated the stereotypes that came with this music so I was always thinking of ways to push back against that and give it the attention it deserves.
No, not really. To this day my parents are in church every single Saturday, pretty staunch Catholics, and to their credit never gave me any grief about the music I loved. I was huge into KISS so there I was bringing home Destroyer and putting it on the family stereo in the living room! Some parents might have recoiled about that but they never did. They grew up in the 50s as big fans of Elvis so they probably saw the bias against early rock and roll and thought, okay, KISS is our kid’s Elvis. So they’ve been totally supportive. In fact, they’ll still hit me up from time to time for Fleetwood Mac or Eagles tickets.
It’s cool that you’ve become a voice for our music in the industry. My buddy Wes calls you the “Dan Rather of rock & roll.” Do you ever get tired of talking about metal and rock?
Oh no, man. I love it. More than ever now that I’m fortunate to have a history of over thirty years in the business. I’ve got a lot of stories now and the two books I put out have only scratched the surface. When I do another it may be more in-depth stories. You know, I still do two radio shows a week and my satellite one has evolved into more of a rock talk show than anything else. It’s funny, when I first started people would give me heat, like, “Ah, shut up and play some songs!” But I’ve realized that with technology as it is now, you can get music anywhere, anytime. These days, you have to give people more than just music. My show is still live so I thought it would be good to connect with people and because of the other stuff I’ve done, a lot of people want to call and ask me questions, debate – just talk about the music and the bands. I don’t think I’m always right and I don’t have all the answers but I do enjoy the discussion. Anytime I’m out in public — even the bands! – want to ask things like “What do you think about David Coverdale doing an all Deep Purple record? or “What do you think about Motely Crue going away?” But it’s very important to me that even if it’s something I don’t like, I do my best to be respectful.
I think part of the reason you’ve had success is you’ve carried yourself in an intelligent and articulate manner.
I try very much to keep things real. I’m not going try to look cool or fit in or be something that I’m not. Never have and I never will. I’m not into tattoos or piercings so I’m not going to get one just to look cool. People say, “Oh, you’re a metal guy, you got to, that’s the uniform.” No, it’s not! If that’s what you’re into, fine, I’m not judging you. Also, I’ll never say I like something just to appear cool. There’s nothing worse than faking it. It’s okay to say you don’t like something. There are people who get on my case for not playing death metal. I don’t like death metal! Am I supposed to lie? So I’m honest about what I like and don’t like. I’m not saying I’m the law or the final word but I never faked it and I never will.
One of the things fans talk about a lot is reunions. Before we go, let me run a few of the rumors past you for your take.
I haven’t heard anything about that one. And honestly, I’d be shocked if there was anything to it. Maybe people are getting caught up in Metallica putting out the “No Life til Leather” demo for Record Store Day? Obviously Mustaine was part of that but as for recording together or doing a project I seriously doubt that’s going to happen.
Def Leppard and Mutt Lange.
I don’t know how active Mutt Lange is these days? He’s a pretty reclusive guy.
He’s producing the new Muse record.
We just had Joe Elliot on That Metal Show so I know it won’t be this next Def Leppard record. Obviously they had their greatest success with Mutt but there’s probably a side that doesn’t want to re-hash old things. Also, everyone knows that Mutt Lange is a taskmaster and put Def Leppard through a lot. At this point in their career, I’m not sure they’d want to endure that.
Van Halen and Michael Anthony.
I think that would be wonderful. I don’t say this as any knock on Wolfie, who is a talented kid, but it’s silly when you think about it. You’ve got the original Van Halen together except for Michael Anthony? The most loveable, regular dude in the world? It’s ridiculous that he’s not part of it. I know there’s always politics and things behind the scenes but I don’t see why they can’t make that happen. But whatever Eddie decides to do, I think it’ll be with his son.
Absolutely right. I don’t think people every realized how important Mike’s vocals were until they heard the band without them.
Last one. Slash and Axl in 2016.
I don’t know about 2016 but I believe it will happen. Slash is a friend and I’ve done a few things with Axl — but when I say that, it’s strictly me speaking as a fan. I don’t have insider information. But I have had conversations with people in the Guns camp and I think there’s an underlying feeling that it could be gradually moving towards a day when that will happen. I think a lot of people got really excited when Slash tweeted happy birthday to Axl. Sounds silly and harmless but people took it as a huge olive branch.
But yes, I think it’s too big not to happen and those guys are still young enough to make it happen. If you think about it, the only thing to prevent it from happening is Axl and Slash talking. Duff has already played with them. Both drummers want to do it and Izzy floats between camps, totally neutral. So really, it comes down to Slash and Axl coming together.
This is a terrible thing – but if you are a fan of a band and you want to see them reunite, nothing helps to initiate that more than a key member going through a divorce. It’s just true. Because suddenly these guys need to recoup a lot of money quick. My buddy Sebastian Bach renounced anybody talking about a Skid Row reunion for the longest. Unfortunately, he went through a divorce and then he was saying, “Hey, we should do a reunion!”
Thanks for your time, Eddie. We’ll be watching for you on season 14 of That Metal Show.
My pleasure. I appreciate you guys and hopefully we’ll do it again real soon.