Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

Written by on September 22, 2011 in Book Reviews, Interviews, September 22, 2011 - Comments Off on Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

Eddie TrunkEddie Trunk’s “Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal,” is the most fantastic and comprehensive book about hard rock and heavy metal. Trunk’s honesty and candor is about bringing hard rock and heavy metal to the forefront of the conversation. Trunk, the longtime multimedia standard-bearer for heavy metal music and self-professed ultimate fan is now in his eighth season of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic. He also hosts two radio programs: Eddie Trunk Live on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s “The Boneyard Channel” and the FM-syndicated Eddie Trunk Rocks in New York City. Photographer Ron Akiyama shot all of the fantastic photos featured in the book. I had the pleasure of talking to Trunk and the following interview is what ensued:

1. How long did it take you to write the book?

It was longer than I envisioned it would be. I wasn’t as hands on as I thought I would be regarding the layout. The photos have very big part to the book. They are a huge part of the story. It was different to me because I was doing radio for all these years where it was so immediate when you say something everyone hears about it. Doing television it lives on forever. You start on it you spend six months on the book. Then there is another six months before the draft… there is a long process there.

2. Are you ever nervous interviewing rock stars?

No. I’ve done it for so long most of them (rock stars) I can say have become friends or if not friends people I know very well I know where we can and cannot go… there is a great comfort zone so no I don’t get nervous.

3. Who was the most surprising rock star you ever meet or interviewed?

The one I get the most asked about was in 2006 when Axl Rose walked into to my radio station. That would qualify as surprising because we never knew he was coming in. Obviously, it is something people still take about. That is one instant that I was a little nervous because I don’t know Axl. One thing I know is that he can be a little edgy and you never know what is going to tweak him and make him want to leave so you want to make him comfortable. Having him sitting next to me and having a bunch of people in the studio that night to navigate that was a challenge but it was fun.

4. Would you ever considered going back and working for a record label?

Sadly, there is not a lot of them left. The record industry has changed so much since I have worked in it. The industry has completely turned on its head. Funny you asked me that question because it’s not a question I have heard in awhile. The answer is yes! I am enjoying what I am doing now being on the other side of it. I enjoy and am thankful for the fans I have and the relationships with the artists and is certainly don’t want this ride to end. I feel like I have a lot more to contribute a lot more work that I want to do to spread the word about this music and these bands and hopefully entertain people and give these artists platforms TV and radio to talk about their careers and I don’t want that to end. Obviously, the world of media is changing too. If I did find myself in the position (to work at a label) I would not rule that out. I think that I could be valuable to companies and there have been companies that have reached out to me about possible consultant roles, brand things with my name and possible imprint record label stuff like that. All of it sounds interesting and I entertain the idea of it, but I never want to do it just to do it or just for ego. I want to do it and if I have a record label and I want to be confident that I have a great label that is going to give these artists a real shot. Just to put my name out there doesn’t mean a lot to me.

5. Do you think that your knowledge for trivia is like someone’s knowledge for trivia stats for baseball?

Sure, whatever your expertise is whatever you are known for. I think there is a parallel for sports in general with it because there are a lot of baseball, football fans whatever they are that’s there forte that is what they are known for. People like to argue and debating it just like rock ‘n roll. People say all the time, “Oh, I can’t believe how much you know.” Two things, I don’t think I know it all by any stretch when it comes to music. Secondly, I probably know a little more than the average guy when it comes to music but I think of people who are doctors, surgeons and scientists I just don’t think about guys that know a lot about music.

6. What do you know for sure personally and professionally?

I am sure on a professional level at this point in my life I am a pretty good interviewer. Even somebody like Dick Cavett has told me that. I am pretty sure of my ability to talk to anybody about anything. Even artists that I don’t know or I am not fans of. I can strike up conversation and see what makes them tick. I really pride my ability on being able to talk on general and create a comfort zone for these artists so they open up without alienating them. I am sure of my professionalism too. I have been in this business a long time and I never got into drugs, never ran with the wrong crowd. I never been high or late or not functional at work I have always been grateful for the work I have gotten. I have never gotten into contract squabbles. I show up I get the job done. I do it to the best of my abilities. I don’t take it for granted. I make sure I do the best with every opportunity I have.

7. Is there any truth about AC/DC hiring Brian Johnson who they met as a limo/or cab driver?

I don’t know that. Brian who I know and is a wonderful guy. Brian sang in a band named Geordie prior to getting the job with AC/DC. He was a singer and Bon Scott saw him perform before he died and said if I wasn’t around that guy (Brian Johnson) would be a great singer. Bon Scott gave him his blessing. I am sure at one point in his life Brian Johnson might have had a job as a cab driver.

8. Did you know that Vinnie Appice (Black Sabbath) worked for Verizon?

That is very possible… There is a perception that if you are in the rock business at any level then you are immediately rich successful and you don’t need to work. The cold hard truth is that is not reality. People think that if you ever put a record out you’re set and if you ever have a video out on MTV back in the day you’re set. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The music business the second word business is the really important part of the equation. Everybody runs their business in different way. Some guys are hired session guys where some guys are not band members where they only appear in the pictures – they are just employees of the band. Everybody has a different deal if you are one of the key guys and you own part of the band or have the publishing and you have a lot of success then that could really carry you. You might be a salary guy and the money ran out a long time ago… There are plenty guys out there that have day jobs that people would be shocked to find out about.

9. How come you didn’t include Ironman on your list of best songs by Black Sabbath?

Every list on the Play list intentionally excludes the bands well-known songs. “Welcome to the Jungle” is not listed on the Gun’s N Roses best list, “Rock ‘N Roll All Night” is not listed on the KISS list. To me those lists were about exposing other songs that people should check out that they might not know. Everybody knows hits. Playlists were a very tricky part of the book. There were a ton of songs that had to be cut back because of space. The songs are not in any order. Number one is not the best song it is just the way the layout had to be. It was just a fun thing to show the deeper tracks I think people should check out. I don’t ever play their well-known hits from these artists on my radio show. I am about trying to expose other stuff.

10. I was surprised to read that Paul Stanley and Ozzy Osbourne were standoffish with you?

In the case of Ozzy I don’t know if Ozzy knows about it it is his wife and manager Sharon. I don’t know Sharon that well she would stop Ozzy from doing anything with me. I haven’t had any interaction like that and it makes it extremely frustrating. Because if you don’t have direct conversation like that you are only guessing and I honestly have no idea what it is? Do I have opinions about what Ozzy has done and has not done. Absolutely, as has any critic in the world. So what’s the big deal? Ozzy has stated that himself. That I don’t understand and it’s pretty baffling to me. There has not been any direct communication so there’s not much to do about it.

The thing with Paul Stanley is kinda strange to me because I have been a massive supporter of the band for thirty years. 99% support I have for that band has been extremely positive and I am still the only person in their hometown that actually plays their music. But have I been critical of what they have done recently? Absolutely! As a fan I find it hard to look at what they are doing with the band now. But if people are fine with it that’s great I gave my opinion. I am a fan! I am entitled to give an opinion and I don’t think anyone should be afraid to give their opinions. And if you don’t agree with it come on discuss it, debate it, let’s talk about it. There are plenty of artists that have been on my radio show and TV show who I have been very critical about things they have done throughout their career There is nobody that is a fan of music that hasn’t said that they liked one thing or another. What makes my show work and makes it successful is we not afraid and don’t pull punches we say how we feel as fans. We get into debating it ourselves. We fight with ourselves about this stuff. It’s not right or wrong it’s having the discussion and the debate. Most of the artists get that and appreciate it and respect that. Others, unfortunately don’t see it that way and if you say one thing negatively they make the wrong conclusions walk away from you. As I say to everybody my door is open to everyone and hope that they will eventually come around and have a discussion and debate it. I have the upmost respect for people like Lars Ulrich the Def Leppard guys, so many of these guys that I have been critical about they have never held it against me still invite me to their shows. Rush the same thing… many times I said about Rush I wish they played edgier music in the ‘80s. Alex Lifeson came up to me and said that he agree with me 100%. You never know where it’s coming from you just have to do what you do and hope it all works out in the end. To me the most important thing on that thought is having dialogue not talking to other people, not reading stuff online, did this person say this or that not reading chat rooms or postings but have direct contact have direct communication. If you have a problem with something a person said come speak to the person directly. Have a discussion. Don’t buy second or third hand stuff. That’s the one thing I find mind really boggling.

11. What are your new favorite bands?

There are a number of them out there… I guess my favorite new band is Black Country Communion. I love those guys they made two records less than a year and both are really good records. I am a big Glenn Hughes fan, Jason Bonham, Derek Shennian, and Joe Bonamassa are remarkable. They are a new band but each of the guys have a history.

12. Is there anything you would like to include in this conversation?

I am grateful for the support of the book and people who have gotten it so far absolutely love it and it’s been unanimously really well received. I appreciate in the bigger picture of everybody and anybody that cares what I do. Up on thirty years and I don’t take it for granted. I am grateful and appreciative I have put a lot of work into this to build this whatever this is. I never get to high or too low. I am just appreciative about the people I have met that appreciates what I do. Thanks to them. Keep fighting the fight and hoping these bands have platforms and keep getting their do and people can discover some great music.