What first made you want to pursue music as a career?
Well for me it was all about how can I share music that I love with other people. That’s all that mattered to me, it wasn’t about trying to become well known or anything. It was how can I take the music I love- that I thought was being very under appreciated- and get it exposed to more people. So when I was in high school I started writing stories in my high school newspaper, working in a record store, working for a management company, working for a record company and started in radio all in my first couple years out of high school. And basically, it was just all these things that I could do, all these different avenues that I could take the music I cared about and deliver it to other people and tell them that it existed. And that’s all I cared about and to this day it’s still what I do now; the difference is now with a family and everything, it’s how I make my living too. So I have to make sure I’m making money with it but back then it was just a hobby and it was just anything, and I’m still- it’s still about anything I can do to sell and push the music, but I also have to keep in mind that yes I also make a living this way and support a family, so I have to make sure that I’m also working as well. But that was the number one driver from the beginning and it still is today; to elevate the bar, give this music the respect it deserves and maybe get away from some of the clichés that come with it too- that always kind of bothered me. I think there’s a lot more people into this music than people would know but because they think they can figure it out just by how you look, it’s not really the truth so I was trying to break down some of those walls.
Now you went to college, but you didn’t graduate right?
I barely went to college.
Did you go for music or something else?
No I didn’t go to college for anything. I went to a community college by my house and I lasted about 2 months, and I got a job working at a record store which at the time was like my dream job and so I was like ‘that’s it!’, back then record stores were really something. I just decided that. I was never really good in school, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t smart, it was because unless it was something that interests me I didn’t apply myself at all. So what happened was I got the job that I always wanted, working in a record store, and I wasn’t really into going to college and I started to get into radio little bit and then my parents we’re like ‘we don’t want to waste money if you’re not really gonna get into it’. So they said if you’re gonna go and really apply yourself then we’ll help you how ever we can, but when they saw that I was really only half into it I think that’s when they realized, you know, at that point I’m just going to kind of go on my own path. And I have to be careful when I say that because I don’t say that to discourage anyone from going to college, I just say that because for me it wasn’t in my blood, it wasn’t something I really wanted to pursue. I didn’t feel that what I wanted to ultimately do for a living you could learn in school- which you can’t. You have to do it through experience.
When you were younger, like back then, did you ever think you would end up, career wise, where you are right now?
I thought I would just be a big music fan, that I would always love music and support music and be around it as much as I could. Go to as many shows as I could and be involved in it where I could. I figured maybe it will be a part time job when I got into radio- like I said to myself ‘okay, well maybe I’ll be able to do radio on the weekends and have my full time job, whatever that ends up being, during the week’. But I never really thought of the music being my sole career until my radio show moved from New Jersey into New York City, and that was in ‘94. And then that was when things opened up a lot more, that’s when I started to get a lot more interest and reach to a lot more people and started making better money. Then when that happened I said ‘okay maybe I’m going to just stay with music, maybe I’m actually going to make a career just doing this music thing’. And that’s fortunately how it’s been ever since. Very different things, you know, my world is very up and down as far as money, there’s not traditional hours, there’s nothing traditional about it. But I’m an independent contractor on everything that I do, but at the same token you know, if you are good with managing yourself and managing money and everything it’s okay. So I found a way to make it work, but I am very lucky to have taken my passion and made it my career.
What made you want to start a podcast?
I had resisted doing a podcast for a long time. The reason why is because I said ‘well I already have two radio shows a week what am I going to go on a podcast? How is it going to be different?’ I also was concerned that if I’m going to interview somebody, do I need to do the interview 3 times now for the same thing? It would be redundant. But a company came to me about a year and a half ago called PodcastOne, which is one of the biggest companies that does podcasts, and they made me an offer and told me how it could be different and how they could market it and how it would reach a world-wide audience and how it would be free for people to download but there be advertising in it and we could maybe make a little money and that there a lot of people that love them because they’re on demand- you can listen to and download them when you want. So when they came to me and they told me that they really don’t care what I do as long as you give us new content one time a week, I said okay I’ll give it a shot. So I started it, I guess it’s about a little over a year and half ago and it’s done tremendously well. I mean it’s amazing how many people listen to it and download it and I hear from people all over the world and it’s really cool. You know I can’t play music on the podcast because of publishing issue- but it’s cool how just hearing me talk about something or recommend something is enough to get someone to go out and buy it.
Is it difficult to get someone new to do it every single week?
No because I’m in touch with a lot of people and I’m doing two radio shows a week anyways, and when we’re doing the TV show that’s in place too so I’ve got people coming through and on my radar. Having done this for so long there are a lot of people that push present to me, like ‘hey will you have this person on your show or on your podcast’ so it’s a good position to be in. But the one thing that I realized pretty quickly on was that I’m not going to be able to interview somebody three times for the same thing. So one of the things I do is a little bit of repurposing- in other words I’ll do an interview with somebody for an hour and then I’ll take that whole hour and it’ll be uncut on my podcast. Then I’ll take maybe the best ten minutes of it and put that in my FM show because they want more music, then I’ll take maybe twenty minutes of the interview and put it in my satellite show or vice versa. So I move and flip things around because I can’t do an interview with somebody three times it just doesn’t make sense. Or sometimes one of the greatest things about doing the podcast for me, what really was the biggest thing that appealed to me is I actually like some other music and artists and people that I would love to talk to that won’t fit my radio shows because they’re so synonymous with hard rock and metal. And when I worked at VH1 Classic before That Metal Show I interviewed a lot of artists that were not hard rock and metal artists that even though it wasn’t my favorite kind of music I really enjoyed the conversation. So one of the things that I started to dabble in with the podcast and maybe as we go forward I’ll do more of, is get artists that don’t fit on my radio shows, but I can still do on the podcast. So I had to Pat Benetar on my podcast, I’ve had producers on the podcast. So doing that sort of stuff is really cool and I hope to do more of it.
I assume you still don’t know that much about what’s happening with That Metal Show. In the case that it doesn’t get renewed, what do you think you’ll be doing?
We’re hoping to know what the future of the show is in the next month or so and we’re certainly hoping that we continue with VH1 classic or we find a new home for it. When we know that we’ll go to the next step but you know, nothing lasts forever and one day the show will go away. And if it’s now or in five years we don’t know. And we’re gonna keep doing it for as long as we can keep doing it, but when the day comes that the show does end- and I told everybody the same thing. I’ve been working in the music industry for twenty five years before That Metal Show even existed, nothing’s gonna change for me, I’m gonna keep doing what I always do. Keep doing my radio shows, keep doing my podcast and keep looking for new opportunities in TV or radio or whatever. So nothing will change I’ll just keep fighting the fight and seeing where it takes me. It’s all I can do.
So, in 2016 do you think you’ll come out with a third ‘essential’ book or try to do a memoir-ish book?
I likely will not do a third essential book. I’ve been thinking about it but I don’t want to get too thin on the bands. You know if I get into the third level of that book, the bands might get a little bit too obscure for people who really won’t want to buy it. There is definitely, although the second book sold very well, there’s definitely a little bit of a drop off in the sales simply because half of the bands in there people don’t really know. And you would hope that they buy the book anyways because they want to learn about those bands but a lot of people just want to know about these iconic bands. So I’m afraid if I go to the third book it will drop a little bit too off the radar, but the next book, which I’m in discussions with right now with publishers, is to do like my story of my thirty-plus years in the business and how this all happened. So that’s a book that I was looking into, I don’t know if it’ll come out in 2016 but I definitely plan on starting to write it in ‘16, and I’ve actually had some meetings and it’s starting to take shape now. But when I actually start writing it and when it will come out I don’t know, but if not this year then definitely in ‘17.
How do you feel now that you’ve gotten to vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Well they are well aware of me screaming about them for a long time. And I think that, um, my take is that they really are starting to want to make some changes. I really do want to try to make it better and they’ve shown some signs of doing that. And there’s a bunch of people that are on the inside and part of the committee there and everything that had been pushing them for a long time to bring me on as a voting member. So, the last guy to actually really push and put my name in was Tom Morello and I got a call from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s office just before this voting panel and they said ‘we were referred to you by Tom Morello and we would like to see if you would like to be a voter’. But you know I thought about it for a second and really for me yelling and screaming about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it would have been pretty idiotic for me to turn it down because here’s the opportunity for me to actually help make a change and I’m saying no? That would be just dumb so I thought about it for a second and I said yeah sure! Just to be clear on it, I don’t pick who is eligible, I pick from the list they make of eligible artists- the eleven or twelve people each year- and I vote from there. So, this was the first year I got to vote and three of the five people I voted for made it, so that’s a pretty good ratio. I wish I could pick the football games that well.
Where did the idea for TMS Live shows come from?
I think it was all of us. I mean obviously Don and Jim are stand-up comics, they’re in clubs all the time and they’ve been doing that for years. I remember a few years ago, kind of in the middle of doing That Metal Show, I think it was Don that brought up the idea and he’s like “we should really get out there on the road”. And it was kinda on me you know cause these guys are both comics, they can go up and do that no problem. So he told me “you should figure out something to do on the road, we should go out on the road”. And I was up for it because I spent a lot of time traveling and doing different things so I was like ‘okay if we can figure out a way to make it all work- sure’. We all kind of pooled our ideas, tried to figure out what would make the most sense once we got out there and how it would work. Initially one of the big problems was people thought that they were going to see a taping of the TV show. And we were having a lot of problems. People didn’t know what they were gonna get; they thought they were going to see cameras and guests and all that. It took a long time to get people understand that no it’s not the TV show, just the three guys from the TV show, it’s more close to a stand-up comedy show. We’ll do Stump the Trunk with you, we’ll do Q&A; so it’s evolved into that. And it’s a lot of fun it’s very bare bones you know, we keep it very- because we don’t make a lot of money doing this it’s not like a band we don’t have equipment, we don’t have crew it’s very bare bones. But we have fun with it, it’s a great way to thank the people who keep our show on the air, and we have a blast the three of us when we get together. We’re genuinely friends, we have a great time. And there’s a lot of downtime between seasons, so it’s a good way to connect and keep the show alive and have some fun out there and it’s been a blast. And we’re actually hearing from a producer now who wants to take this and actually build into a little bit bigger thing, where it actually is more in line with the TV show and it’s not more of a stand-up show that it is now. So that might be something that happens in ‘16, we’re waiting to see. We’re up for anything as long as it makes sense and as long as it’s done well and everybody gets a fair shake and has a good time.
You can keep up with all things Eddie Trunk by going to his website or by following him on Twitter @EddieTrunk.