Don Jamieson Talks ‘That Metal Show’ Season 14, Tenacious D’s Grammy Win, KISS + More
Season 14 of VH1 Classic's That Metal Show kicks off this Saturday night (Feb. 21) at 9PM ET with guests Geddy Lee of Rush and John Petrucci of Dream Theater. Co-hosts Don Jamieson, Jim Florentine and Eddie Trunk will be back at it again for the new season, and we had a chance to speak with Jamieson about That Metal Show and a number of other topics.
In addition to discussing Season 14, Jamieson offered his take on some hot button topics like Motley Crue's retirement from touring, Tenacious D winning the Best Metal Grammy and the possibility of a reunion of the original KISS lineup. Check out our interview with Don Jamieson below:
You've got Geddy Lee as the first guest on Season 14 of That Metal Show. It seems like Rush are a polarizing band when it comes to rock fans. What's your take on Rush?
Who hates Rush? Three nice Canadian boys! They're definitely a male-oriented type of band. Over the years more and more females have come out. I'm just happy that Geddy is coming back again. When he first came on, we were just starting out, the three of us were still trying to figure out what the hell we were doing on TV. We're still kind of trying to figure it out, but at least we have a couple of more episodes under our belt and we're happy to be back.
How much prep work goes into each episode of That Metal Show, and how much is actual ad libbing once the cameras start rolling?
Most of it is ad lib. We have a script, but we're free to go off and do what we want. The interviews aren't scripted at all. We just go out and start talking; wherever the interview goes is where it goes. That's where you trust each other. We can tell where we can jump in. We've been listening to most of these bands for a good part of our lives. If I can't sit down with Geddy Lee and talk to him for an hour, I'm in the wrong job. It's really unscripted, it's like a hang. That's what we've always prided ourselves on -- let's just make it a hang. Let's not plan it out. We're fans, we know what the fans want to hear. Let's sit down and have a hang.
That's what's very appealing about the show. It like it's three metal fans in their living room and all of a sudden this rock luminary shows up and they just start talking to him. It's not this structured talk show environment.
Cool, yeah, thanks. That's what we've said all along. That's the way it's really going to appeal to people as opposed to, "Okay Jim, you ask the next question." We're like three little school girls out there sometimes. We're just geeking out with whoever comes and sits with us. It's really cool.
Will you still be doing the "Top 5" segment on the show this season?
We haven't even started filming, but I'm guessing yeah -- it's gotta be in there. It's like, Sabbath has to play "Iron Man" and "Paranoid." We gotta do the "Top 5" because people love lists and I admit I get caught up in them, too. The good thing is, there's no right or wrong answer. To anybody watching, and us there really is and we ended up having these crazy fights over such silly things. That's what's crazy about it.
Who do you think pulls the most weight among the three hosts when it comes down to getting that final Top 5 list?
It depends. Jim and I tend to team up when we want to get something up on the board. Sometimes we throw around a little more weight. It depends on how fast Eddie gets exasperated with our childishness.
You've got Dream Theater's John Petrucci as the guest musician on the first episode of the season. He's considered one of the best metal guitarists around. Off the top of your head, who are your choices for the Top 5 metal guitarists of all time?
Wow, OK. You have to go: Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag. Let's go modern, John 5. You talk about a modern age Eddie Van Halen and my favorite of all time, nobody plays like and no one can bend a string like Gary Moore.
No Tony Iommi or Randy Rhoads on there?
I missed them! Take Page out, put Iommi in. Page is out!
In the pure sense of metal, you probably can leave Page off. He's more hard rock than metal.
Our show is really interchangeable, that's why we always say, "Home of all things hard rock and heavy metal." They do cross over. For me, as far as a guitar player, Tony was more influential for the music I love, which is heavy metal. He created it.
Moving on to another popular segment on the show, if someone really wants to "Stump the Trunk," what bands should they ask him about? As in, which bands does he know the least about?
Anything after 1995!
Ha, so Eddie's really an '80s guy?
Hey, God bless, we are on VH1 Classic, so that really is our core audience. But the fun thing is that we really have been able to branch out over the years because they've been around so long. It's funny when we do "Stump the Trunk" and somebody goes, "Uh, the first Cannibal Corpse ... ." Eddie's like, "Give him a prize!" [Laughs]
Which band that got grouped into the '80s hair metal category do you think is the most underrated in terms of musicianship and discography?
The band that really stuck in that category that didn't belong was Tesla. They had ballads and MTV really played those up like, "Love Song," but those guys were T-shirt and jeans [guys]. They never put on the eyeliner or the makeup, but they got roped into that category and unfairly. They were just a straight-upp, really great American rock 'n' roll band.
Motley Crue are retiring from touring at the end of this year, so they say. Where do you see each of the band's members in 5 years?
Doing their next farewell tour!
Ha! That's funny.
Hey, I said it on the show, I said it in front of Mick Mars. It's not a slam against the band. It's just, you've seen it, we've all seen it. Every band who've said they're retiring did not, and I don't care about the contract. You can rip those things up and there's already loopholes in there anywhere. What I'd most like to see, to be honest, after meeting Mick and having been a fan of his playing for so long I'd love to hear a Mick Mars solo album sooner than later.
As someone who is deeply involved in both metal and comedy, what did you think when Tenacious D won the Best Metal Performance at the Grammys up against Slipknot, Anthrax, Motorhead and Mastodon?
I was hanging out with Jethro Tull at the time and even they laughed!
Ha! But do you think that Tenacious D winning was a slap in the face of metal?
Look, on the good side of it, they won it for a tribute to our man, may he rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio. That's the good side. But yes, the bad side is it's two middle aged guys who play funny folk music. There's a lot of metal musicians out there like the bands that you mentioned, all the bands that were nominated, they really worked their craft for decades and they deserve the recognition but, when it's all said and done, that's about on par for what The Grammys would do. So, it's really not a surprise.
A lot of big rock and metal festivals are already announced for 2015. If you had your choice of three headliners for a hard rock and metal fest, who would they be and why?
Definitely one is Slipknot. I know they're going to headline one of the nights at Rock on the Range this year. You have to take Slipknot because no band can follow them. No band is going on after Slipknot. That's like me trying to go on after Chris Rock! It's not going to happen. Josh from Buckcherry said it best: Watching Slipknot live is like watching the end of the world live. You gotta have them.
Look, they got one more album and one more tour to do: Let's get Sabbath out there again. Another band that really, I mean, other than Slipknot, you don't want to go on after Sabbath. You don't want to go on after the godfathers of metal. It's just sacrilegious.
The other guy that just puts on an unbelievable stage show that I've been a fan of since the early days is Rob Zombie, man. I'll tell you, I know he's headlining your guys' festival [Loudwire Music Festival] -- who better to do it? The guy brings it all. He's got the songs, he's got his band at this point that's been together a long time. John 5, Ginger Fish and Piggy D. -- it's one of the most spectacular show's you're going to see.
I know what you mean about Slipknot. I was at Heavy Montreal a few years ago when they headlined and it was insane when they played. I really thought the ground was going to cave in!
In 2009 at Download, Corey had 80,000 people jumping up and down. Do a 360, look around you and see the power that this band puts out. It's really mind blowing, man.
What's the latest music on your own band, Gunfire-N-Sodomy?
We've had a lot of legal problems, we're trying to lay low for a while. But if anybody wants to lease any of our songs like "Die Pig Die," it makes a nice quinceanera song.
OK, a random question: Paul Stanley said he would have kicked Kanye West in the nuts if he were Beck when Kanye stormed the stage at the Grammys. What did you think of that incident?
I would love to see Paul do that, especially if he was wearing one of those 8" high heel boots. That'd be awesome. [Kanye's] stones would have swollen up to the size of his cheeks after that. He's just known as the interruption guy at award shows now. People don't even know he's a musician anymore.
Last year, KISS were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but didn't perform. What do you think it would take to get the four original guys back together?
Obviously nothing, because that would have been the time to do it, and they couldn't get together for whatever reason. I was happy to see all four of them onstage together. The four guys that deserve to get inducted got inducted. It would have been nice as a fan to give 10 minutes and a few songs, but that wasn't the way it was meant to be. I picked up KISS' Destroyer when I was 9 and it's one of my favorite albums and I'm almost 49 and it's still one of my favorites.
What do you think it is about KISS that makes them so influential? They've never been critical darlings but musicians like Anthrax's Scott Ian, the late great Dimebag and more have cited KISS among their biggest influences.
I think because when you're young, they're superheroes. They're everything rolled up into one great band. Superheroes, comic book, rock stars. They have the live show, the makeup, the costumes. Everything rolled into one. And of course the music, as well. That's a huge part of it, too. Again, it's just everything cool rolled into one package.
Our thanks to Don Jamieson for the interview. Tune in every Saturday to VH1 Classic beginning Feb. 21 at 9PM ET for Season 14 of That Metal Show. In addition to Geddy Lee, other guests this season will include members of Anthrax, Slayer, Soulfly and more. To keep up with Don Jamieson's stand-up comedy schedule and other projects, follow him on Twitter at @realjamieson.