I am not one of those people who is able to miss an episode of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic. I’ve been a fan since episode 1 and think that anyone who bitches about the show, the guests, the format or the hosts is missing the point. That Metal Show is providing a real forum to talk about the music we love in a way that’s just not available anywhere else on the tube. That’s precisely why Don, Jim and Eddie are gearing up for the show’s 12th season, the first episode of which hits airwaves this Saturday (featuring Jason Newsted, who will also be here on LRI soon!). I had a chance to speak with one of my favorite guys, the sideburned, comedian/acoustic death metal musician Don Jamieson about the upcoming season, his band Gunfire and Sodomy and much more, read on….
LRI: Hi Don, thanks for talking to us today….how are you doin?
Don Jamieson: Doin good, I’m in loud and noisy Manhattan so sorry about the noise. Trying to get the word out about the new season of That Metal Show and your page has been good to us so it is not a problem!
LRI: Let me be a dick and start with something negative. I’m reading on some of the metal message boards and checking out some of the fan complaints. Number one on a lot of people’s lists is the length of the seasons and the wait in between. Is that VH1’s design or just an innovative way to keep us waiting?
Don: I actually agree with all those people but unfortunately we work for a fairly small channel. I know we kind of pulled an “Axl Rose” and kept everyone waiting for this series of new shows but sometimes you just have to wait for the network to crack open the piggy bank, see how much change is in there and when there’s enough we get to do a set of shows. This time around it’s nice because we have a new set, new graphics and a lot of new segments and so it’s not just a money thing this time around we sort of took our time creatively. We took a look at the show and decided it needed a little kick in the pants and we wanted to bring people something a little different and some new stuff for the show.
LRI: I’m glad you brought up Axl. I think that episode, the Yngwie one and the Vince Neil on location one were some of the best, most revealing episodes ever on the show. The Axl one made a bit of a splash but I think more people need to check out the Vince one too. Were those fun shows, watching guys like that open up and be unfiltered?
Don: I love the shows with guests who are well known for always speaking their minds, guys like Phil Anselmo and Dave Mustaine, guys like Axl, who are always gonna speak their mind. Some of those guys are divisive guys in the world of metal, fans are either gonna love them or hate them, but at the end of the day you’re always gonna wanna watch. You know they’re gonna be interesting, unfiltered, uncensored and have some things to say and certainly Vince is one of those guys too! He basically wrote in his book “”Hey, I’m a hired gun in Motley Crue and if they wanna hire me to do a tour they have to call me and hire me and if they don’t then they don’t go out cause they can’t do it without me”. I like Vince’s honesty and the interview he gave us, guys like that really make the best guests.
LRI: As far as interviews go, it’s pretty hard to top the reclusive Axl Rose….and then to hear some of the things you got him to explain….
Don: Well, yeah….he kind of explained the whole lateness thing too and mentioned how he worked at a grocery store right by his house and could never make it on time for that either (laughs). You know, whether the fans wanna accept that as an excuse for them having to stay up til 4 in the morning on a weeknight to go see Guns N’ Roses is up to them but….you know that interview was sort of a different animal altogether. The whole context of what you saw there is that WE waited until about 5 in the morning to interview him and we were a little bleary eyed but I think all in all, for his first interview in 20 years and what we were up against I thought it was a great part 1. Hopefully, we’ll be doing a part 2 again with him and maybe have him on the set the next time. It really does seem like he loves this version of the band so…I think he’s really into promoting it because of that.
LRI: Bumblefoot is such a great guy in general, he would be awesome to have on too, maybe with Axl??
Don: Yeah. That’s the thing too, I think that the more the public accepts and the more popular this lineup gets, the more Axl is comfortable with doing this stuff. I mean, he was great on Jimmy Kimmel, he was joking around and having fun so I think in some crazy way this is a good time for Axl because he’s like “I’m doin this without Slash, I’m doin this with my guys”. I’m not sure why, when you’re 50, that matters but nevertheless it was a great part of musical history to actually talk to him after so many years of him avoiding the press.
LRI: Back to the bitchy comments on message boards….a LOT of them are directed at Eddie. I have no problem with him but it seems some people, for whatever reason do (laughs). Is Eddie Trunk your Simon Cowell, minus the tight shirt?
Don: (laughs). Eddie is Eddie. There is kind of a dynamic on the show where he’s kinda the straight guy on the show and we’re the goofballs. As much as we all love and respect metal, he’s sort of the straight man and that’s a role that’s really undervalued in general, in film, in comedy. The straight man’s role is always minimized as “Oh, he’s so stiff or he’s not funny” but that’s such an important role in our show is having Eddie there as the straight guy. Beyond that of course, his knowledge of the music really is just spectacular and I never take that for granted, especially this season on Stump The Trunk, we are just shaking our heads goin “How does he know that? This is really sick, this is a whole new level of geekdom”.
LRI: I think sometimes people forget that Eddie didn’t just appear out of nowhere as a metal expert on VH1. He does have a lot of industry background.
Don: I think so too and that’s what’s so funny about this whole thing with That Metal Show and KISS, particularly Gene and Paul. They won’t do the show because what? Eddie criticized one album out of like a 40 year career but meanwhile in New York City he’s the only guy on the radio who’s played anything from them other than “Rock and Roll All Nite”. Meanwhile, Gene and Paul will go talk to those guys who know and care nothing about KISS other than those 1 or 2 songs that they play while Eddie champions everything from the majority of their career.
LRI: We got to do a brief interview with Eric Singer a couple years back and were lucky enough to have Doc get us in to cover a show of theirs with Motley but it sometimes seems like the band is unreachable no matter how much you support or cover them.
Don: Eddie’s supported them 99.9% of the time and he doesn’t even have a problem with Peter and Ace not being in the band but I guess when you don’t hold your rank every single time KISS does something it doesn’t set well with them. I will say this though, there was a nice sit down at the Golden Gods this year between Gene and Eddie which I helped instigate and it sounds like we might have made some peace there which would be nice because we are all huge KISS fans just like everyone else. Just because you don’t like one decision or one album from them over the years doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the entire catalog or legacy of KISS. Those first 8 KISS albums to me are untouchable so…
LRI: Speaking of unreachable artists, I have to say, I am most looking forward to Jake E. Lee this season. Any other artists you are really working towards landing?
Don: Jake was great, it’s always about time and place with guests, as far as landing them on the set. The great thing about this season, that I am really proud about is that we are finally Skyping people in. It’s like “Okay, enough already it’s been so many seasons of not getting this artist on, where are they? Israel?? Okay, let’s Skype them on, let’s do this!” That’s a really neat thing to be able to do finally.
LRI: Finally, one of our favorite bands Danko Jones is gonna be on too, was that also as a result of Skype or just twisting VH1 Classics arm about newer bands?
Don: I think it was the Skype thing mostly, I mean we also got guys like Dave Lombardo and Joe Satriani but in that two-minute segment it’s also a good way to introduce some new people to the audience, people like Danko. We also had Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed was on from England and Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth Skypes in from Sweden and the Dillinger Escape Plan guys also did it. So not only is it a cool way to get guys that are otherwise unavailable to be in L.A. with us on set it is also a cool way to introduce some new faces, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.
LRI: So hey…to that guy on the message boards bitching about how the show is stuck in the 80s….suck it.
Don: Oh man, I do a rant, which is something we brought back from the early, early seasons of the show. I do a rant on people who say “How come you don’t have any love for this band or that band or more new bands come on”. Now on one hand, I get it, I want a lot of new bands to come on too but they have to remember this is VH1 Classic. You don’t turn on ESPN Classic expecting to see the new Mets game do you? No, you know its gonna be some classic era baseball stuff, that’s the purpose of the channel. But seriously, because we have great fans and have had success we have been able to get on some new bands and new people into the format of the show. I actually started cataloging it and realized “Man, we’ve had guys from Disturbed, Hatebreed, Amon Amarth, Machine Head, Slipknot” and I started getting worked up for my rant because I realized we really have given love to a lot of new bands during the course of the show. I hope people check those new bands out and show them some love.
LRI: I have been to some awesome shows lately like Danko and Volbeat and am looking forward to some like Gigantour and was wondering..What shows have you seen lately that just blew you away?
Don: I did see Danko and Volbeat and it was terrific but I will tell you what just blew me away was seeing Newsted play at the Roxy in L.A.. It was definitely one of the top ten shows I’ve seen in the decade and he’s the first guest on TMS this Saturday actually. His band is just amazing, he’s a great frontman and I think the stars are just all aligning for him to play metal and be a frontman and do this amazing band. He previously had a lot of health issues with his neck and all that and I will tell you, if you get a chance to go see Newsted on Gigantour, go! Mike from Staind is his gutar player and you might think, “Wow, that’s a weird fit” but that guy shreds his ass off. They just play old school metal and that show just blew me away!
LRI: What’s the status on your band with Jerry Gaskill of King’s X, Gunfire N Sodomy? Is that on hold for the show and comedy or are you moving forward with new stuff in regards to that?
Don: No, no, it’s not on hold. The band is still goin strong and we’re gonna have some new songs out on iTunes in the beginning of July. Jerry Gaskill is really busy with King’s X and his own thing for the time being so we’ve been working with another drummer and we’ve got about five songs ready and are playing out regularly in New York and New Jersey. For those readers who aren’t familiar, Gunfire N Sodomy is an acoustic death metal band and was probably best described by Brian Slagel of Metal Blade as a “homicidal Tenacious D”. What’s really funny to me is that Dave Mustaine has become a bit of a fan of Gunfire N Sodomy. He is on this new season of TMS and he saw my band’s shirt hanging up in the dressing room and started asking me “What is that?”. I explained it to him the best I could and he started asking me to send him some stuff via email and I couldn’t believe it when I got this really long response back from him about it which was very complimentary and nice of him which I kind of liked and didn’t like all at the same time. I kind of wanted to hear him say “Oh my god, this is TERRIBLE and I hated it” because that would have meant he was the Dave I know but he didn’t which honestly made me feel great because I do respect him greatly as a musician and am a huge Megadeth fan forever.
LRI: Ok, thanks again for talking with us man, it was fun. Last question, these band court battles are controversial and I know you’ve been real cool to Jack Russell in the midst of his case but even more volatile is the situation with Queensryche which pretty much dominates the threads on sites like Blabbermouth. Fans REALLY have intense feelings about Geoff Tate and I wanna know…Did you saw the recent “cell phone throwing” stunt he pulled here in Illinois, do you have any opinion on that or the whole drama in general?
Don: Yes, I did see the cell phone thing. At this point, i am taking a completely different stance with bands like that. I think Queensryche should split into 5 different versions (laughs). All of them should tour, all of them should make new music and we could all go see the individual versions. At this point, with some of these court cases it just has become silly.
LRI: Let’s give “Suite Sister Mary”, Pamela Moore her own version.
Don: Yeah! Let’s do it. Here man, feel this….at this point, the fans of the band are getting confused. That’s the trouble with it. I mean, when Geoff Tate did his solo tour, half the people thought they were seeing Queensryche and they get to the show and are like “This isn’t Queensryche music, he’s playing all these solo songs and we don’t know these songs”. Then they hear he’s doing Queensryche with Bobby Blotzer and Glen Drover and all these guys and they go to see them, except those guys aren’t there that night or they’re not in the band or they get to the show and realize it’s the other Queensryche with Todd LaTorre singing. It’s so confusing. I’ve heard music from both sides and they’re both making good music but it’s like “Comon, let’s figure this out already” (laughs). We need one definitive version of the brand out there so fans can look at their calendar and go “Okay, it’s Friday night, I’m gonna go see Queensryche” and feel confident (laughs).
LRI: I think the court needs to put the cast of That Metal Show on as special appointees for these particular legal battles.
Don: I think you’re right, I would love to do that because we have all the information, we’ve had both versions of Queensryche and both Great Whites and both L.A. Guns. I think it needs to be put before Judge Trunk and we can decide who gets the rights to the names and start doing this stuff right and if he deems that the band has to settle their differences and get back together than that’s what they have to do.