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‘That Metal Show’ Hosts Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine Talk Orion Festival, Metal + Comedy

That Metal Show
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

For metal fans across the world, there are two names that everyone are familiar with: Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine. As hosts of VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show,’ Jamieson and Florentine have become synonymous with the future of metal. It only makes sense that Metallica invited them to their Orion Music + More festival at Atlantic City’s Bader Field.

Doing their own unique style of comedy, and blending it with the hard rock of Jim Breuer’s Heavy Metal Comedy Tour, Jamieson and Florentine attracted a huge crowd to the Frantic stage Saturday afternoon (June 22). After their sets, the two comedians and lifelong metalheads took a few minutes to catch up with Loudwire.

How does it feel to be at Orion?

Don Jamieson: It was amazing just getting here on Friday and walking the grounds. But then on Saturday to actually perform in front of thousands of crazy metalheads, I’ll never have an orgasm like that in my life with a chick. Sorry to my girlfriend.

Jim Florentine: It’s awesome. Now it’s time to drink some beers and relax. The crowd is amazing. They love it.

Between you, Jim Breuer and Jim Florentine, you guys had a huge crowd.

DJ: Yeah, it was amazing. That Frantic stage, the whole tent just filled up. Nobody moved, everybody was into it the whole way. It’s a long day, it’s hot out. But people hung in there. They are hardcore and I love that.

JF: You’re never sure about who will come. Even Lars [Ulrich] told me that we’ve got to be sure to do comedy again. It was crazy.

Will you take the stage again on Sunday?

DJ: I’ll come back to hang but I won’t perform, unless they ask me. James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] seem to enjoy it, so if they want me back, I’ll be back!

JF: I’ll absolutely be hanging out. I love the festival.

How did it feel to be asked to perform at Orion?

DJ: Obviously an honor. But I think I might have bullied Lars into it. He came onto That Metal Show and was talking about this festival for a few months. He said, “Oh yeah, we’re going to have bands, lifestyle tents and comedy.” I was like, “Oh, comedians, huh?” I point at me and Jim and he asked us if we knew any. A week later, the call came in. I’m sorry if I put you on the spot, Lars, but I hope we did you proud.

How is ‘That Metal Show’ going? How many seasons has it been on now?

DJ: Like the 75 and a half seasons. It’s actually going into its 11th season. It’s funny, man, I was just thinking about when we got picked up to do a pilot. I thought it was cool, I’d get to meet Lita Ford and make a thousand bucks. I didn’t think it’d go anywhere because metal never gets the proper respect it deserves. But I thought it was still cool. Now it’s 11 seasons later and I think I’ve made two thousand bucks.

JF: Yeah, everything is still going great and going strong. It’s amazing.

Don, you also have a side-project going on called Gunfire-N-Sodomy. Why didn’t they make the cut for Orion?

DJ: Acoustic death metal! I mean, as experimental as the guys in Metallica are, that might even be a little too much for them. I’m not sure if they’re ready for songs about murder and rape. But you know, they’re done with acoustic guitars, so it’s family friendly.

I saw Gunfire-N-Sodomy once in Alphabet City in New York. What are you guys up to now?

DJ: Our drummer, Jerry Gaskill from King’s X, unfortunately had a heart attack. He’s doing great now, but we had a guy fill in for Jerry for awhile. Jerry is about to get back in the fold. You know, we’ve opened for Gwar and Six Feet Under. We do our own shows. We are going to do an album for Metal Blade in the fall. It’ll be a full-length album. Oderus [Urungus] from Gwar is going to sing on it. Chris Barnes from Six Feet Under is going to sing on it. It’s going to be killer, man.

The two of you are heralded as some of the top-notch metal guys in the industry. I’ve talked to a lot of people at Orion about the state of metal, and everyone seems to think it’s healthy.

DJ: As far as I can see, with this economy, I think it’s as strong as ever. I realize ticket sales have gone down for even some of the big bands, but in terms of the creativity and the content, it’s better than ever. That’s another thing about getting into the spirit of what Metallica is doing with Orion. It’s not just 19 bands that sound like them. You have the Arctic Monkeys and Modest Mouse and Roky Erickson and all these bands you wouldn’t associate with Metallica. They’ve always been the type of band to showcase other talent and expose that talent to their fans. Volbeat is blowing up because of Metallica. The Sword is blowing up because of them. As long as you have bands that keep introducing the next wave, the scene is going to flourish.

JF: It’s the same as it always is. It’s on the ground, it’s not mainstream and that’s fine. It never really gets respect. It’s thriving, though, and people are still going to shows.

You mentioned Volbeat and The Sword, Don. Who else out there is making an impact in metal?

DJ: Lamb of God is still out killing it. Shadows Fall is out with a great new album. Suicidal Tendencies. Ghost. I think there’s a really healthy new wave of bands coming out that people are really digging.

JF: I know the new Fear Factory is great. The new Slash record is really good. There’s a band out of Baltimore that I really like. They’re called Rebel Inc. If you like Rage Against the Machine, they sound pretty much influenced by them. I love that stuff and I wish Rage would do something new, but in the meantime Rebel Inc. is holding strong. They’re definitely up-and-coming. If you like Rage, you’ll love them. You’ll be like, “This isn’t Rage?”

How do you think comedy and metal work together?

JF: It all depends on the comics. You can get the nerdy guy telling monologue jokes like David Letterman. That’s not really going to relate. But if you get normal guys who really know their metal, that’s how it works. You know, [Sam] Kinison started it. Andrew Dice Clay, too. Those are the two guys I love and the two guys who influenced me to get on stage.

DJ: You know, I think they just work perfectly together. We have fun on ‘That Metal Show’ and use humor, but we also know where the line is. You can’t cross certain lines with metalheads. We’re not going to do ‘Rock of Ages’ nonsense because metalheads won’t stand for that. That’s why the movie made like 87 dollars at the theater. No metalhead is going to see ‘Rock of Ages’ because it’s just a goof on a certain scene of metal. There’s a certain line with the crowd and you always want to walk it.

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