Here’s my amazing interview with a man that I’ve greatly admired for years, he just happens to be a cohost on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, as well as a stand up comedian and a musician himself, give it up for Don Jamieson!
Alex Obert: Now that the most recent tapings of That Metal Show are done, what are you up to for the month?
Don Jamieson: Well, I just got done making the bed and I’m about to go do some weeding in my yard. (laughs) I’m a very domesticated metalhead these days. You know, I’m gonna be on the road doing some comedy shows and stuff. That’s what I usually do between the seasons and Florentine and I are both hitting the road for the Summer, and hopefully in the Fall, doing some new episodes of the show.
AO: What are you listening to lately?
DJ: It’s a long list, my friend. There’s so much great stuff out. Black Star Riders is amazing, for anyone who’s a Thin Lizzy fan, it’s got Gorham and Ricky Warwick and Marco Mendoza and Damon Johnson and Jimmy DeGrasso on drums. Thin Lizzy loves Black Star Riders, they’re also guests on this season of That Metal Show. If you want to go heavier, I love Battlecross, I love Amon Amarth, I love Hatriot. I was recently asked, “I need metal, which bands should I get?”, and these are the bands that I told him too.
And my band, I have a crazy band. We’ll have our music on iTunes on July 2nd, my band is called Gunfire-N-Sodomy, acoustic death metal.
AO: I’ve heard you’ve done some shows, tell me what those shows are like.
DJ: It’s like going to see a horror film live. There’s a lot of blood and violence and most people stand way back from the stage when we perform because there’s a lot of fluids flying when we perform and our singer doesn’t stay on the stage very long. He’s usually in the crowd most of the show.
AO: Have Eddie and Jim seen you do that yet?
DJ: Oh yeah, they love it. No one’s ever done acoustic death metal before and with probably good reason. (laughs) It’s me with four of my buddies and we have a good time doing it, but we’re going to have five songs on iTunes on July the 2nd, it’s called Gunfire-N-Sodomy. Our friends at Metal Blade Records as always are helping promote it, so it’s gonna be good times.
AO: Speaking of Eddie and Jim, which bands did they introduce you to?
DJ: You know, we’ve introduced each other to bands over the years. The big one that Jim turned me onto that I’d never heard before was Danko Jones, probably six or seven years ago. He’s like, “You’ve gotta listen to these guys! They’re from Canada. They sound like AC/DC meets KISS meets The Ramones and I’ve been hooked ever since and we finally had a chance to get Danko on the show, actually this coming Saturday, he’s gonna Skype in from one of his tour stops. Those guys have been out on the road, as they always are. So it’s good to finally have Danko come on the show. So that’s a band that I just totally love and that’s all from Florentine.
And then with me and Eddie, we’ve sort of reignited each other’s interests in bands. I’m a crazy, crazy Thin Lizzy fan and he always loved Thin Lizzy too, but I guess over the years, for whatever reason, he just stopped kind of listening to em. And I got him sort of re energized into Thin Lizzy again and he did the same thing to me with UFO. In case people who watched the show out there didn’t notice, Eddie kind of likes UFO.
AO: Which musicians and their bands did you feel more motivated and excited to check out because of having them as a guest on the show and you felt a click with them, so you were like, “Hey, I’m gonna check out their music because I enjoyed having them on the show so much.”?
DJ: Well, I mean just having people come on the show that I’m not really familiar with, obviously I go back and do my research on them. But to come out of a show and really start digging into one of their catalogs, probably Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I really just wanted to get more into some of the earlier Slipknot stuff. I wasn’t on the Slipknot bandwagon in the beginning, I caught onto them very late. But just knowing what a genius Corey is and having seen them perform at Download in 2009 over in England and then started listening to Stone Sour stuff. That guy has made me a fan for life.
AO: Since you’ve had so many guests on the show, but looking back, when you were taping the first season, who were you personally hoping you’d have on the show eventually?
DJ: Anybody. I was just happy that we were gonna keep having the show, man. When we started this thing, I figured we’d do one episode, the pilot episode with Lita Ford and get to meet her and make about a thousand bucks and that would be the end of it. So honestly, anybody after that has been crazy. As far as being a fan, Lemmy from Motorhead is my all time idol, so probably the first three or four seasons we didn’t have Lemmy on the show and we’ve had him on probably four times since and as far as I’m concerned, there’s always a chair there for Lemmy because he’s the greatest.
AO: Which musicians, as well as other people in the entertainment industry, were you surprised to learn watch That Metal Show?
DJ: Again, any and all of them just because all these guys that have come on the show for the most part, especially the classic bands, they’re all bands that I worshiped when I was a kid. Probably the first time that it really struck me was when I was in my dressing room and Bill Ward was on the show and I’d never met Bill before, Eddie knew him very well. I knew he watched the show, but I walked out of my dressing room and he’s standing out in the hallway by himself and he sticks his hand out and he’s like, “Hey Don, nice to meet ya, mate!” And that moment just blew my head off because I’m like, “How does Bill Ward know my name? This is ridiculous. You’re in the greatest heavy metal band of all time. For you to know me, I’m just an idiot from Jersey.” I feel that way with most of these guys, I really do, man. I’m flattered that they watch the show and also that a lot of em say that it’s been important in their careers, so that’s really flattering.
AO: A notable guest you had, I just want to get your opinion on what it meant to you to have Ronnie James Dio on the show and to interact with him at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards just a year before his death.
DJ: Well, as far as the Golden Gods, in retrospect, that was an important interview because it was the last one that he had done on television. It made me so proud knowing how sick Ronnie was at the time that when he came out that night to accept his award, you know you could just tell that he saved up all his energy for that moment and he came out with his fist up in the air and he definitely wanted to make sure that the fans saw him alive and strong. It was a very touching moment, very poignant moment, and of course, having had him on the show and also doing a show in tribute to him. Definitely the tribute show is the proudest moment of my career.
AO: Another guest that I was pretty curious about, in regards to Tom Morello, because speaking of Dio, he was on the tribute, but he was as a guest with many others and it was a Dio tribute, but then, when you had him on in a later season, what’s your thoughts on that show? When it was him and Doug Pinnick from King’s X.
DJ: Not only is he a great player, he’s an awesome dude. He is a crazy metalhead. He’s as into UFO as Eddie, if not, more. Me, Eddie, and Tom went to see UFO in L.A. about a year ago and those two were like little kids running down to the front of the stage, singing every word, and Morello’s playing air guitar. As accomplished as the guy is, he’s also still a fan and that’s what’s really impressive about him. And he’s just a killer dude, you know, he’s a great talent, he’s very unique and a great sense of humor, he’ll go back and forth with me on Twitter and just an overall great dude.
AO: I feel like he is the perfect example of satisfying both new school fans and old school fans as a guest on the show because you’ve had a lot of new guys lately and mostly old school guys, but he’s like right in the middle I feel.
DJ: Yeah, well you’re going to have that connection to the classic. I mean it is VH1 Classic. That’s the thing I know people forget, now they’re used to the show being around for so long and you kind of forget, “Oh, it’s on VH1 Classic.” You’re not gonna put on ESPN Classic to watch a new baseball game, you turn it on to see classic games, so that’s the same with our channel. But all these guys in the quote, unquote new school has been influenced by the classic bands. Tom Morello comes right out and says, “Look, The Mob Rules is the most genius album that I’ve ever heard.” Tom Morello named his son Rhoads after Randy Rhoads. There’s always that connection to the classic bands and all these guys wear it on their sleeve which is nice.
AO: Speaking of the classic and new bands, how was the decision influenced to have more new guys on the show? New guests from newer bands.
DJ: From us, originally. But, also from the fans. And as the show evolves, if you’ve seen any of the new season, obviously you can see there’s a lot of new changes to the show. And if you’re gonna continue to do a show like this, for our audience, it’s gotta grow and expand out, so we’re really happy this season and we have everybody from Ben from Dillinger Escape Plan to Johan from Amon Amarth, Corey Taylor’s back and so there’s a lot of new school influence throughout the show this season.
AO: I’ve seen the first two episodes of the newest season. I think a lot of the changes are impressive. What’s your favorite change of the new season, perhaps a segment or the look itself?
DJ: Eddie’s a lot thinner now, that’s the one I like, because now I can borrow some of his t-shirts when I run out.
AO: They’re still providing the same budget for clothes?
DJ: Yes, exactly. None. We just come in with whatever we put on in the morning and hope we don’t wear the same concert shirt when I get there. The changes, the things I like the most are, as far as the show, obviously I’m proud of my friend, he’s fifty pounds down. But, I love our shoutouts to the international viewers because we get so much feedback from everywhere in South America and Mexico and Australia and you don’t wanna forget that there’s other people in the world just cause we’re here. I’m glad that we’re giving our little shoutouts to our fans around the world. I love ranking the albums, I don’t know if we’ve done one of those yet this season, but I like having artists rank their albums from least favorite to favorite. I think that’s a cool new thing. And I like to have a speed round of questions where we ask the same questions to all the artists because it kind of gives a new dimension to the interviews, you know, some of these guys can be a little long winded and it’s hard to cut em off. They haven’t been on TV in a while and they want to go on and on, but sometimes, you’ve gotta get right to the punchline.
AO: The first episode, Jason Newsted, I know there were some problems originally having him on, there were scheduling conflicts, what was it like to finally have him on this season?
DJ: I was shot out of a cannon! I mean he couldn’t have been more excited to be there, more ready to get out and start promoting his band and his music and I don’t blame cause the stuff is incredible. We got to go see Jason in L.A. play at the Roxy and his band and all his new music is just so great, it’s just so vicious and he’s really great as a frontman and he can sing and play and he’s back physically in great health so he can give it his all and he was an awesome, awesome first guest.
AO: Were these tapings how you met him originally?
DJ: That’s the first time I ever met Jason, yeah, was at this taping. So I knew nothing about him before and Eddie knew him from his radio show, but I never met him before. I had no idea what to expect, honestly. But he was just great and I’m really happy that he’s making some new metal.
AO: Speaking of guests on the show, when you had the first guest in the first half and then the second guest comes on, which was your favorite combination in a single episode?
DJ: Well I always like the oddball combinations. From the past, I like Tesla and Testament on the same show. I liked Corey Taylor being on with Night Ranger, that was awesome. Vinnie Paul with Styx. This season, Rob Zombie’s on with Tom Keifer from Cinderella. I love the oddball combinations cause you don’t know whether these people have crossed paths before, whether they’re fans of each other. We also had Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult on with Kix this season. So, I love the really wacky combinations because at the end of the day, we don’t go by labels. The three of us don’t like labeling anything. If it’s heavy, it’s loud, and it’s good, it’s hard rock, it’s metal, it’s all good, it doesn’t matter.
AO: For any guests you’ve had in the past or any guests you haven’t had, which two would you want to have for a combination? What would be the dream combination on your show?
DJ: The dream combo, well we’d still love to have Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on the show, so I guess if we could get Gene, Paul, and Ozzy on because they seem to be the three that have resisted so far, doing the show. And then we can get em all on and we could have a little campfire get together, we can make amends, we can sing Kumbaya, and make peace with one another.
AO: I know Eddie posted on Twitter recently about talking with Gene Simmons about all the controversy that went on and cooling it down and all that.
DJ: Yeah, well Eddie and I went to the Golden Gods this year and we were backstage in the V.I.P. area and Gene Simmons walks past Eddie and I. And I just look and he sits down about fifteen feet away in a booth and I turn to Eddie and I go, “Tonight’s the night!” He’s like, “What?” I go, “Tonight’s the night you and Gene talk this out.” He’s like, “Oh no, not tonight. There’s too many people now. It’s crazy. It’s loud.” I go, “He’s fifteen feet away! You gotta do it tonight!” So he goes, “Alright. Alright. I’m gonna look at him and I’m gonna see if he makes eye contact with me and I’ll ask if I can come in and if he says yeah, then I’ll go in.” That’s exactly what happened, so they went in, they talked for about ten minutes. As much as I tried to hear what they were saying, I couldn’t, but I was snooping around trying to get a little bit of the conversation, but the gist of it was that Gene says there isn’t a problem and that the door is open there, so you never know, maybe season 13.
AO: Maybe. And back to the guests, who are some guys that would go on, but due to scheduling conflicts, can’t? I remember years ago, I talked to you on Facebook saying that you should have Dave Grohl on and you’re like, “Oh, the schedule won’t work out, but he watches the show.”
DJ: Yeah, that’s still one of them. (laughs) Can’t do it. We were close to having Dave on again this season, but then he had like a family vacation planned. The one time he was actually not working and he was going on vacation with his family and it was funny because you hear that and you’re like, “Alright, maybe he just doesn’t wanna do it.” But then my friend Joe texted me, he’s like, “I’m at LAX, you’re not gonna believe who’s sitting next to me with his whole family. Dave Grohl.” (laughs) So I guess he really did go on a trip. So yeah, he’s a guy that’s been elusive, but he’s definitely a fan of the show. Drank a lot of Jägermeister with him one night, talking about it. So hopefully when he’s not on vacation and he’s not working, which who knows when that will be, we’ll get him on.
AO: I know you get asked about which guests you want to have on all the time, but which guest guitarists do you want to have on?
DJ: Well, John 5 can’t be on enough for me because he treats every lead into break as if it’s his own show. So John’s always welcome to come on. You know who we should have? She’s done the show as a guest a bunch of times and I mentioned her before because she was our first guest ever, God I’d love to get Lita Ford up there shreddin that because I know people know who she is and a lot of people have probably been fans over the years. If you ever went and saw Lita play live, she really kicks ass. She really is a great guitar player and we haven’t had a female up there on the stage yet, so it’s about time.
AO: We were talking about Tom Morello, that would be amazing too.
DJ: Yeah, we’ve asked Tom, I think he likes coming on and talking more than coming on and playing, but we’ll win him down eventually.
AO: So in closing, first, I’d really like to thank you for your time, for this interview, it was great.
DJ: Thanks for the support, man. It’s thanks to guys like you and everybody else and obviously the fans watching. This has really helped spread the word about this kind of new version of the show, it’s all the same stuff you love from the old version with some new twists and we just all really appreciate the support from everybody, so thank you too, bro.
AO: Do you have any websites or tour dates coming up or anything you’d like to share?
DJ: Yeah, you can go to my website, www.donjamieson.com, it’s minutes of fun on there. And you could follow me on Twitter, @RealDonJamieson and I’m pretty active on there as well. So, I’ll be out on the road all Summer in a city near you.
AO: Alright, so thanks again and best of luck with everything going on and I’m looking forward to it.
DJ: Alright man, thanks for the time. Appreciate it.
Don Jamieson (middle) with fellow That Metal Show cohosts, Eddie Trunk (right) and Jim Florentine. (left)