Why Eddie Trunk is My Compass

*Originally posted on February 3rd, 2014 as an editorial piece for PureRockNews.com.

In 1993 a good friend of mine handed me a mixtape that changed my life forever. On it were artists like Skid Row, Black Sabbath, Lita Ford, Poison, Meatloaf, Kiss, Sepultura, Motley Crue, Queensryche and a dozen others. This was my true introduction to rock and roll. Sure, I had hear my dad play along to Creedence and Skynyrd, and artists like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen were being spun on the easy listening stations while grunge had just found it’s place in mainstream music, but this… THIS was when I really fell in love with rock and roll. For the next few years I went to every concert I could, and grabbed as many tapes as I could, just soaking it all in. I would records hours at a time of 98.3 KUPD and 93.3 KDKB overnight and mix down my own tapes of pure rock and roll heaven. I still carry one of the original KUPD Red Cards in my wallet for goodness sakes! Toward the end of what I like to call my “discovery phase” our local stations began playing clips and quotes from the Opie and Anthony show, and this guy came on as a guest, talking very honestly about the job of being “the board guy” at a radio station. This guy turned out to be Eddie Trunk.

 

Within a year’s time, those Opie and Anthony clips were being replaced with these amazing interviews all hosted by Eddie Trunk. He had this way of drawing out more from these artists than any other DJ I had heard before. Perhaps it was his friendship with some of the bands. Perhaps it was his experience as a young record label VP working with the likes of KISS and Anthrax. Mostly it just sounded like we were being given access to a living room conversation. There was none of that canned question business or gratuitous flattery and circle jerking. Just conversations that let you in on who these artists were as people, and what the truths were behind all the glitz and glamour they were selling on MTV. It changed the way I looked at “rockstars” for the rest of my life. It also influenced who I would become as a music critic. In the simplest sense, I wanted to be Eddie Trunk when I grew up.

EddieTrunkTMS

Eddie was always very honest with his opinions. He didn’t sugarcoat it when he didn’t like a band, and he didn’t hold back when he loved one. You knew exactly how he felt about each artist he interviewed, and so did they. Sure, that might have made for some awkward interviews, but those would often turn out to be the best ones. Eddie does his homework. While he started with young enthusiasm and a strong focus on his immediate circle of influences, Eddie Trunk did what so many others fail to. He continued to expand his circle, slowly and deliberately mastering every detail of every band he came in contact with. He knows what questions to ask that almost milk both sides out of any controversy, and remind us that these rockstars are just people. Normal humans who have goals, and failures and feelings and triumphs. This can best be demonstrated in this Youtube upload from 2006 when Axl Rose surprises listeners around the world by dropping in the studio at WAXQ New York while Eddie was on air with Scott Ian, Sebastian Bach, and Chris Jericho. This was during the height of criticism for Axl after building a reputation for being difficult to work with and closed-mouth to press. Eddie managed to keep Axl on the radio for two and a half hours, and moreso, keep him comfortable, open and sharing jokes and stories.

 

EddieTrunkThis all speaks to the consistency that Eddie has applied to his entire career so far. As he progressed in his career in radio you KNEW that if he had a guest coming up that you were interested you KNEW it would be a great interview. You KNEW you would learn new things about them and either love them more or be completely turned off by the un-manufactured access that Eddie managed to give us. There were no publicists in the room, or bullet-list pre-approved talking points they’ve given to every magazine and radio show up to that point. You KNEW you were about to get the real deal straight from the source, and you can thank Eddie for facilitating that.

That consistency is why Eddie Trunk was a no-brainer when MTV/VH1 was looking to strengthen its rock audience. And so came That Metal Show with Eddie as the resident rock fact guru, and co-chosts, comedians Don Jameson and Jim Florentine. Who else would have that kind of trust and authority in the hard rock and metal world? Who else would be able to take a show that could so easily be corrupted by the marketing machine of the music business and keep in on track and rolling full steam ahead for what is now 13 seasons without ever once feeling like the fans are being cheated or sold out?

Why when it comes to staying on course in the field of rock and roll journalism, @EddieTrunk is my true north. #Music #RocknRoll Click To Tweet

And as if that’s not enough to make Eddie number one on my list of people to model a career after, let’s take it one level further and talk about how accessible he is to both his fans, and the fans of the musicians he works with. First with radio callers, and now through the power of social media, Eddie Trunk has become the conduit through which fans can reach some of the most unreachable stars on the planet. You want to know how a Megadeth album is coming along, or what the truth is behind the Queensryche split or why Motley Crue is really leaving the road? You ask Eddie Trunk. You ask him on twitter, on facebook, on TMS, and he will answer himself. He may even be one of the only people outside of the bands’ immediate team who knows these details before anyone else, in turn, making him as close to the direct source as you are going to get without some SERIOUS credentials. Of course that can put him in situations where he could reveal too much or make a mistake, but he handles that with class. Much like he handles the critics of his work. And let’s just take a moment to recognize that he has become a critic so renowned that he has his own critics at this point!

Eddie Trunk at Rocklahoma 2012
Any time you have a single person with a vast wealth of knowledge on a singular topic, and you place him on a pedestal to display that knowledge, you will get detractors who try to tear down that person for every reason OTHER than their knowledge. They’ll call Eddie Trunk pompous, awkward, judgmental, arrogant and otherwise. To them I offer this final statement: While Eddie Trunk has become heralded as the official opinion of rock and heavy metal, he is just that… one man with one opinion. One opinion seasoned to taste and developed through experience and exposure to a great deal more inside access than most people would see and hear in their lifetime. Even from my little hill the rock and roll industry looks amazingly different than it did when I was just a fan, and Eddie’s view is from the top of a mountain. Eddie IS the new Lester Bangs of rock radio. Lester was more than just a glorified character in a Russel Crowe film. He was a pioneering journalist whose unabashed criticism and praise of the obvious but unspoken realities of rock and roll earned him a high place in the pantheon of entertainment journalism. Eddie picked up the microphone right where Bangs set it down. That’s why when it comes to staying on course in the field of rock and roll journalism, Eddie Trunk is my true north.

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