By Patrick Prince
Two years ago, radio and television personality Eddie Trunk came out with the successful book, “Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.” The book was a journey through Trunk’s personal experiences with the genre’s fundamental bands and musicians. It was also a guide to direct fans to the most vital songs of the genre. Now comes Volume II.
With two national radio shows and “That Metal Show on VH1,” Trunk has hundreds of thousands of followers, and “Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Volume II” continues to reveal what he is thinking about in hard and heavy music.
GOLDMINE: When did you come up with the idea for a second book? Were you thinking about continuing this as a series when you were doing the first book?
EDDIE TRUNK: Yeah, I actually was, because what ended up happening with the first book is that I overwrote it. I wanted to include a ton of bands that I found out I didn’t have room for. The first book being my first-ever book — first time working with a publisher — I had no idea of how it all worked. I thought that if there are extra bands, you just add extra pages. I didn’t realize there were only a certain amount of pages to be used and all that. I had written about a bunch of extra bands, and for the people who have the first book, many of those bands ended up with quick little paragraphs in the last couple pages under a header that said “more essentials.” I originally intended for those to be more in-depth.
And when I found out they couldn’t be, I thought if the first book does well and I get the opportunity to do a second one, I’ll get a chance to pick up on most of those bands. Not every one of them, but most of those bands are getting full treatment in Volume II. And, hopefully, there’s a Volume III down the line, because I certainly could do one. It’s crazy to say, but I ran into the same problem this time around, too. I mean, I started and I looked at the “more essential bands” as a framework, and then when there were others I wanted to include, I realized I was running out of space again. Someone just pointed out to me — and I feel like crap about it, because the guy couldn’t be nicer to me and just had me onstage the other day — I fully intended to do a Rob Zombie/White Zombie chapter in this new book, but in the shuffle they got lost, too. I wanted to do an overview on one of my favorite guitarists, John Sykes, too, but it just didn’t happen this time around. There were a lot of bands like Whitesnake and Ratt and bands like that that were very big bands at one point in that “more essentials” chapter of that first book that needed to get the full treatment.
GM: It’s also nice to see the inclusion of bands like, say, Riot. There’s a new generation of fans who should know more about certain underrated bands of the past.
ET: That’s the balance that I needed to create. You know, for every Whitesnake and Ratt and the more mainstream stuff — hit bands from the ’80s or what have you — I wanted to throw in some of these bands that were extremely important and are in there for selfish reasons than commercial reasons. In the case of a band like Riot, I think they were a phenomenal band that far too many people don’t know about or have any clue who they are. They were a band I was very on the fence about doing a section on, only because I was hit with these choices, like if I’m going to do a full section on Riot that means, well, maybe Rob Zombie or Sykes doesn’t make it. But I had to make those choices, and in the case of Riot, I kind of just leaned on stuff that was really important to me when I was a kid.
And that kind of steered me in that direction. I think “Fire Down Under” is one of the greatest metal records ever. For every five bands you get that everybody knows about, there’s gonna be Riot — slightly under-the-radar stuff that I think creates some balance where people say, “Hey, I don’t really know about this band,” or they do, like you, and they are really pumped up to see some photos or hear my thoughts on them. So that was really the balance I was going for.
GM: A great addition to the books are the songs lists (“Eddie’s Playlist”) for each band. As a kid, were you always into Top 10 lists and creating tapes of your top songs?
ET: I was always really into making mix tapes. I still have a lot of them on cassette, being before I started in radio, which is 30 years now. I mean, I was pretending to be on the radio by making mix tapes. I never got into lists and countdowns all that much, but it became a very big thing with my TV show. You know, lists are good, because they get people to debate and stuff. My whole thing with lists is more like a playlist. And I wanted to use the playlist to be songs for people to check out beyond the obvious. People didn’t understand how I didn’t have “Hot For Teacher” or “Panama” on the list for the Van Halen chapter in my first book. First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a hit-oriented guy. The hits from most bands that I love are songs that I kind of check out on, because I don’t ever need to hear them again. Not that they’re bad songs. I’m just burnt out on it. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use the first book as a reference. You know, they’ve given it to their kids or looked at it and discovered bands or songs that they never heard from bands, and they got the song to listen to it. So I didn’t need to tell people in my first book that Guns N’ Roses have a song called “Welcome to the Jungle.” I do want to tell them, though, check out their Dead Boys’ cover “Ain’t It Fun;” it’s really cool. That was really the purpose of the playlists. And in this book, the one difference I made when the playlists came in, I relegated it to 10 songs. That wasn’t the case in the first book. So this time, I was going to give 10 songs, in not any sort of order, that I like from these bands that people should check out.
GM: This book continues to show your personal memorabilia, like ticket stubs and backstage passes. Do you acquire a lot of band memorabilia?
ET: The he stuff that I have is like the scans that are in the book — stuff I got from going to shows, mostly ticket stubs or backstage passes. In the first book, one of the things I really value is this button from my first-ever concert, which was KISS at the Garden in ’77, and WPLJ used to hand out buttons when you walked in. And I still have that button. So that kind of memorabilia is really important to me. But certainly if bands give me stuff, I value it and hold onto it.
GM: You must get a lot of stuff from musicians: “To Eddie, thanks.” That stuff will not only be worth a lot to you but to your fans and fans of the bands.
ET: One of the bands I did a section on in the new book is Buckcherry, because they were a more recent band that was really important to me, and I kind of helped them a lot in their comeback effort. When they first had that huge comeback a few years ago with “Crazy Bitch” and that “15” album, they sent me a gold and platinum record. But Keith (Nelson), the guitarist, sent me this photo and wrote on it “You were there first. Thanks for believing.” It was a little picture, but I still have that up on my wall. Stuff like that that’s really personal. I know people who collect guitar picks or drumsticks, and I was never that guy. I don’t mean to diminish it, but I was never into that sort of thing. The other thing is, especially doing the TV show, a lot of amazing musicians who I have been a huge fan of have given me instruments. I mean, Michael Schenker gave me a V (guitar). Billy Sheehan gave me a bass. Dave Mustaine just gave me a V. I mean, it’s amazing, but I don’t play any instruments, and I don’t really have the room in my house to display them properly. So as much as I value these things, for the most part, for now, they’re kind of in boxes or stored until I can find the right thing to do with them and put them up on my walls.
GM: What do you think your next book will be about?
ET: I honestly don’t know. I certainly think I can easily do a third book. It can really keep going. And every day, I’m discovering new bands. I think from a selling standpoint, most people want hear the stories, and the content is gonna come from the old bands. That’s what I love, and that’s my passion — the classic stuff I grew up with. But there are a lot of new bands that I like, too, so who knows as their stories unfold. And at some point — I don’t know when — maybe within the next 10 years, I do want to write more of an industry-driven book, more of a book that tells my behind-the-scenes stories from being in this business 30 years and counting. There are a lot of stories that I probably can’t tell right now because I kind of have to work with people, you know (laughs). But I’d like to someday tell about “How the heck did you get on the radio? What was it like working with all these radio companies? What really goes on behind-the-scenes? What really goes on with TV? How did you get the TV gig?” You know, that sort of stuff, the business side of my story, if you will. So, yeah, I have more books in me, if people care to read them. I don’t claim or intend for these books to have any groundbreaking secrets here. I don’t claim or intend to be this know-it-all guru guy.
GM: It’s basically a labor of love.
ET: Yeah, it’s my love letter to those bands. I’ve been lucky enough to carve out a following of people who care enough about what I say and play and do and look at it as some sort of reference point or some sort of guide, some sort of trust. “If Eddie says he likes it and behind it, it’s gotta be cool to check out.” And that’s all I ever got into this business for. That’s why I got into radio. To spread the word on bands I love. And into TV. So, these books are nothing more than that. They are for people who listen or watch or read me and like where I’m coming from on this stuff. It’s just another outlet. And I try to, when possible, make it personal enough so it’s not like you’re reading a Wikipedia page. Whenever I meet people now, it’s “Tell me about this guy.” So I try to put a little bit of that in there, so it creates a balance that seems to work. GM