An Interview with Eddie Trunk

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Radio Personality Eddie Trunk Returns as Host For Third Annual Ride For  Ronnie Fundraiser | Billboard

I’m from Long Island. I’ve been listening to Q104.3 for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent a lifetime with the station, and it really shaped my early musical fandom. I may not have gotten into bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath and more without it. For as long as I can remember, Eddie Trunk has been a part of Q104.3 as a host, mostly on Friday nights with his Eddie Trunk Rocks show. Eddie has been a huge force within the Heavy Metal and Hard Rock scenes for over 35 years. Ever the historian, Eddie has both educated us on and championed the genre through his radio shows, television programs and his interviews. Without Eddie, my interest in Metal may not be as deep. I will always remember watching That Metal Show on VH1 Classic, and taking notes as to which band I would research next. So, today I’ve got Eddie “with us” and I can say it was a true pleasure. It’s not everyday I get to discuss KISS and all things Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with a true dyed in the wool fan and member of scene itself. If you’re from NY or Long Island, you’ll enjoy this one. If you love Metal and Hard Rock, then this one is for you too. Lastly, don’t forget to check out Eddie’s show, Eddie Trunk Rocks via FM radio station Q104.3 (New York) as well as his other show, Trunk Nation via SirusXM radio – channel 106, and Eddie is also on the the Hair Nation channel (channel 39) Monday’s only 5-8PM ET. That’s all for me, for now. Cheers.

Andrew:
Eddie, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. This last year has been rough, right? How are you holding up during this seemingly ever-raging dumpster fire?

Eddie:
Doing fine all things considered. I’ve lost a ton of work like most people hosting shows and traveling, but I can’t complain since my main job in radio has held thankfully. I still generate 8 shows a week, 6 live for SiriusXM, so I am grateful I still have my primary job, and family for the most part has been safe and healthy. I’m lucky I have a decent size house and a small beach house I can get away to. I feel for the folks that live alone, in small apartments, and have lost work. So I consider myself very fortunate in all this.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory. What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Eddie:
Hearing “Go All The Way” by The Raspberries on NYC AM radio in the backseat of my parents car when I was 10 was my first introduction to proper Rock. Shortly after that, I discovered KISS, then Aerosmith, and it just went from there. I was consumed with Rock and sharing it with others and seeing it being treated with respect. And through working in radio right out of high school, working in a record store, working for a record company, then a management company, then TV, I’ve gained tons of experience and a following. I just started my 38th year in radio and I’m very proud of that. Because I’ve stayed true to my vision and control over what I say and play, and that’s very rare. I literally started out of high school and now at 56 still doing it more than ever. It’s been a hell of a ride that I still enjoy very much and I’ve built an amazing audience. We don’t always agree but it’s fun to debate and dissect Rock and interview so many artists, many who have become friends along the way.

Andrew:
You’ve had a long career in radio. I’m from Long Island, and I remember listening to you on Q103.4. What spawned your interest in radio? When did you know it was something you wanted to do?

Eddie:
It wasn’t about being known as a broadcaster or anything. To me, it was just a vehicle to share the music I loved with more people. It’s still what I love most about it. I’ll have people all the time tell me I sold them an album back in the day, or I turned them on to an artist hearing me play or talk about it. Radio was just a way to get the word out and share the tunes. Then I learned most DJ’s don’t control what they play. So it almost ended before it started. Haha. But I talked the program director into letting me do my own thing and it’s been that way ever since. And that was super important to me and my career because it ended up that I became known for something more than a voice between songs. It took a really long time to make money and get decent times slots, but it wasn’t really about that for me as a kid. The first time I did it I was in high school. My hometown has 3 colleges in it. So one summer, they asked the high school seniors if anyone wanted to do a show at the station at Drew University. That’s where I first cracked a mic, to maybe 3 people listening haha. From there is was my local NJ rock station that I grew up listening to WDHA for many years. Then Q104.3 NYC, WNEW NYC, back to Q104.3. SiriusXM started for me in 2000 on the XM side before they merged. Again doing a live show and calling my own shots with music and guests.

Eddie Trunk launching monthly Sunset Strip residency with special guests &  fans | Hear & Now

Andrew:
We know you’re a big fan of KISS. I am too. Seeing as I very rarely get to ask about them, I may as well dive in. What got you interested in KISS? Looking back, what does the band mean to you as an adult?

Eddie:
I was walking home from Jr High and every day passed a record store. My friend I was with told me about this band KISS. This was 1976. That day he bought Rock & Roll Over, I bought Destroyer, and it was lifechanging. I remember staring at the cover and hearing “Detroit Rock City.” The next day, I got The Originals, then Alive!, and I was all in. For a couple years there was no other band for me, until I got Aerosmith’s Bootleg. I still love KISS from 2000 back. I’m not a fan of what they do now. I love them most for the music. I was never a collector or dressed up. They are still a big part of my shows and my connect with my listeners and bring me back to being a kid. Very vivid memories .

Eddie:
More on KISS. Choosing a favorite album by them is hard for me. I personally love Creatures of the Night and Unmasked. What would be your favorite with makeup album and non-make up album and why?

Eddie:
Wow, those are 2 very different albums! I’d say original would be Rock & Roll Over. I love all the songs and it’s so raw and live. Non original probably Asylum. I really think that album is somewhat underrated. Great songs on there top to bottom. All the performances were great. The look was ridiculous at the time, but the album killer.

Andrew:
One more on KISS and then we’ll move on. KISS has had some very distinct lineups. While the original will always be my favorite, one lineup that I always wished worked out was the Creatures/Lick It Up lineup of Paul, Gene, Eric and Vinnie. That being said, I love Bruce too. What are your thoughts on that, and Vinnie in general?

Eddie:
Vinnie is clearly a very talented guy. Nobody would dispute that. But he seems to be tough to work with. I only met him once recently and he was cool. But he just can’t seem to get anything together and has had issues. I saw him in KISS. He did overplay live. KISS’s music isn’t built for that. I saw Paul and him argue on stage during shows. Just a weird time. Creatures is an amazing album. Lick It Up great also. But anyone knows ,especially at that time, it was Gene and Paul’s band, and Vinnie wanted to really shred and showcase his playing, and that didn’t fit. That being said, it’s funny that KISS hired two shredders in a row with Vinnie, then Mark St John. Because that was the thing all bands wanted at the time. Their Van Halen guy. So they hired players known for that, then reeled them in. Didn’t really make sense. I think Bruce fit the band best, after Ace of course.

Eddie Trunk and Ace Frehley: Megaforce - That Metal Show (Video Clip) | VH1

Andrew:
I believe I read somewhere that you recorded backing vocals on Anthrax’s cover of “Parasite.” Is there any truth to that? If so, tell us about how that came about.

Eddie:
I am somewhere in that mix. Haha. I grew up with those guys pretty much. I worked for their label and management in the 80’s. To this day they are all great friends. I was in the studio when they were recording and we are all KISS fans, so they had me jump in on a mic for the chorus. There was a B-side called “Friggin In The Riggin.” I think I’m on too. We had some great times back then. My first time ever going to England was with them for their show at Monsters Of Rock.

Andrew:
You’ve been a part of so many interesting shows over the years, but one of my personal favorites was That Metal Show. It was truly an education each week in Metal. I learned a ton from you, Jim and Don. How did that show come together?

Eddie:
I was already a host for the network VH1 Classic for 5 years prior to that show. Hosting, VJing, every kind of music. I also did some great interviews back then. It’s a period I did some great work and my first real TV, but the channel wasn’t big at the time. Some stuff like my Neil Peart interview from that period show up on YouTube. I did huge interviews back then, but I was very controlled on what I could ask, how to dress, how to act. It was an amazing experience, but not really “me” per se. I was always on them to turn me loose and do my own show that I could produce and just be me. Finally in 2008 they let me. Don and Jim had become friends because they listened to my radio show, so when VH1 said they wanted me to have co-hosts, I suggested them since we already had chemistry and they were legit Rock fans. We shot a pilot and made it over 100 episodes until the channel went off the air. I’m very proud of TMS; I put a ton of work into getting it on and keeping it on. Everyone did. It was a great experience I am still asked about today. People just started posting old shows on YouTube and it’s getting all new life it seems. We would love to do it again if we can find a channel. No luck yet, but never say never!

Andrew:
Earlier in your career, you were very critical of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can’t blame you seeing as they overlooked the likes of KISS, Dio, Cheap Trick, Rush and more for a very long time. That said, in recent years it feels as if they have tried to make amends in that regard. Since 2015, you’ve been a voting member of the Hall. Do you feel you’ve been able to turn the tide at all?

Eddie:
I am a voter, thanks to Tom Morello who got me on the panel. But I can’t take credit for those bands getting in. I certainly voted for them! But I am a voter. I don’t control who gets on the ballot. That’s a different group of people. I think however they did finally get in from me and others screaming about what an oversight it was for so long. But I only vote on the options on the ballot they decide every year. It’s still very impactful because I’m one of like 1,000 people that decides who gets in off of who they nominate each year, and I take my voting seriously. Even though there is still much work to be done, there has been improvement thankfully.

Eddie Trunk dissects the list of 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees on  Trunk Nation |

Andrew:
In addition to your FM radio show, Eddie Trunk Rocks, these days you’re also on SirusXM, right? How are you liking it? What are the major differences between FM and satellite radio for you? Sub question: how as your approach to radio changed as you’ve moved through your career?

Eddie:
Eddie Trunk Rocks is an extension of my very first show I started in 1983. It’s really that show. Obviously, much has changed over the years, but I still pick all the music. It’s on about 30 stations including Q104.3 in NYC on Friday nights. There are six live shows a week on SiriusXM. I’m on Monday’s only 5-8P ET on Hair Nation doing a live mix of music and calls from the audience. My main gig is actually a live daily Rock talk and interview show called Trunk Nation on SiriusXM Volume channel 106. That started 4 years ago. It’s all Rock talk. I call it sports talk for Rock fans, and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in my career. Amazing live national audience talking Rock daily. In normal times, I do the show monthly from the Rainbow in LA with an audience. So much fun! So, I have the best of all worlds. A syndicated mostly music FM show, a weekly SiriusXM live music/talk show, and a daily all talk about Rock show. Then there is also a weekly free podcast. I am way more into the live talk format now than when I was younger. It’s very hard with all the restrictions on FM. Meaning very strict playlists and very little room to be creative. I’m a big talk radio fan and these days people can get any song anytime anywhere. So, transitioning into that has been super important and I love it, and it’s still Rock! As far as approach, I’ve always had autonomy, but satellite is probably the only place you would ever find a channel dedicated to music talk! I’ve always believed in being honest about my thoughts on the radio, so nothing has changed.

Andrew:
You’re a true Heavy Metal and Hard Rock historian. In my opinion, the landscape of those genres has been truly affected in a positive way by what you do. Your championing and advocacy for the genres and the artists associated with them has shaped the minds and opinions of many. Looking back, what are some of your favorite moments doing what you do? Any special shows or particular meetings with artists that stand out the most?

Eddie:
Thanks, I hear that a lot and it means a lot. I think it comes with staying true to it for so long. I’ve lasted way longer than most of the bands. Haha. There’s just way too much to cover here honestly. I mean my first show was KISS at MSG 12/16/77. That was game changing for me at 13. My first pro radio gig at DHA was huge at the time, then breaking into NYC radio in ’94, massively important because the reach was so much more. The FM show getting syndicated. Becoming VP of Megaforce at 23, just crazy! And breaking into TV at VH1 Classic in 2003, which led to TMS in 2008. TMS is probably still the biggest thing I ever did. But radio is what I’ve done the most and most consistently. And now more than ever. Writing both my books was cool too. And I should mention very recently I did two seasons of a show called Trunk Fest for AXS TV. That was a blast. It was a travel show covering music events. Unfortunately, they didn’t air it much for whatever reason and not everyone gets that channel. But they just put them on their site and app so hopefully some people see it. It was wild doing that and was a lot of work, and different for me.

Andrew:
A huge part of what you do for work, and as a fan of music in general, is getting out and going to shows, right? But as we know, COVID has disallowed it. What do you miss most about those things? Do you think the live music industry will recover?

Eddie:
I do think it will bounce back, yes. It’s going to take a while but I think it will. What I miss most is just seeing so many artists that are now friends and hanging, and many people on the crews also. I feel for the crew folks the most. Many of the artists can survive, the crews not as much. But just the environment of all that is a Rock show I miss. And nothing like a real live Rock band playing a great show!

That Metal Show' Canceled by VH1 Classic

Andrew:
For a long time, Heavy Metal and Hard Rock was buried by the mainstream. I supposed it still is. In your opinion, why is Metal and Hard Rock continually persecuted, overlooked and looked down upon? Do you feel the tide is turning at all in that regard?

Eddie:
Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is a very broad description to many people. It was always kind of an underground thing. Then MTV changed that in the 80’s. I think it’s very healthy now. Just look at all the festivals we have now that do so well. It’s just different now how it’s exposed and people connect. I think part of the reason it always gets marginalized is some of the stereotypes that come with it. I love when people say I don’t look like a Rock or Metal guy. Way more people love it than look it. You don’t have to wear the uniform. I have no tattoos or piercings. It’s okay either way. Haha.

Andrew:
On the subject of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, in your opinion, who are some of the most underrated bands and artists from the genre? Who perpetually gets overlooked and/or left out of the conversation all together?

Eddie:
UFO is maybe the most underrated Hard Rock band of all time. There are so many others that should have made it and didn’t. Who knows why? I talk about it all the time on my daily show. Some favorites? Blue Murder, Riot, Coney Hatch, Icon, I mean I wouldn’t even know where to begin. That’s just a few…

Andrew:
On the subject of FM radio. Why is it so hard for a band like KISS for example to get any radio play aside from ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night?’ I feel like there are so many bands/songs that would be deemed “Classic” but they can’t get any airplay (unless its satellite).

Eddie:
Because FM radio is a big business built on selling ads and keeping people tuned in and locked in to that station as long as possible without changing it. It is heavily researched and controlled. Sometimes the program director doesn’t even make the calls. Some stations no longer even have live local DJs. It’s not built for hard core fans. It’s for the masses. And the simple truth is way more people will stay on “Rock & Roll All Night” than if they heard “Plaster Caster.” I never need to hear these overplayed songs again and do not play them. But the masses do. Just watch the reaction in a live show when an artist plays the hit vs an album or new track. As a listener I hate that it’s that way, but I understand why.

Eddie Trunk on Twitter: "Happy 50th to a guy I've know since he was 20!  Have a great birthday @sebastianbach !… "

Andrew:
Your passion for music is clear; that said, in general, what does music mean to you? Do you still have the same fire you once did for it, or has it changed and evolved as you’ve gotten older?

Eddie:
It’s changed because the way we get it has and the ability to make it has. I grew up working in a record store. A new release was a major event. Now music is pretty much given away and it’s not a huge deal to buy an album or CD like it was. Used to be there were gatekeepers and you couldn’t get music out without a label. Now literally anyone can post anything. It’s flooded the market and nobody knows what’s real and even where to find it. It is beyond over-saturated. The fact you had a recording at one time was a meaningful big deal, now anyone can do that. I don’t even know what to tell young bands anymore trying to stand out from the fray. Very tough. But times change and I hope the best find a way.

Andrew:
Are you into records? Tapes? CDs? Digital? Where do you like to shop for music?

Eddie:
I love CDs best. I am not on the vinyl kick. All power to those that are. But every single reason CDs made vinyl extinct still apply. I have no interest in flipping an album, cleaning it, buying needles, overpaying. A CD is digital, physical, sounds great forever, doesn’t skip, doesn’t have to be flipped. More power to the vinyl people. It’s great for the stores and artists, but it’s nostalgia in my opinion. Sadly, anyone caring about music in any format physically is rare, and I think that sucks. I’m a CD guy all the way. I still get some labels to send them to me and I also buy at Amazon or at a store in NJ I grew up going to called Vintage Vinyl.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most you and why?

Eddie:
Destroyer because it was my first. Raspberries because they were really my first first! Ace Frehley’s 1987 album because it was the first I worked on after signing him to Megaforce. Aerosmith Bootleg because it’s a real live album and was the first thing after KISS for me. I had the poster on my closet forever! Overkill Relix because they have a song on it called “Old School” that they reference me in and I talk in! Haha. Also White Lion Pride because it was my first ever gold album.

Andrew:
We know you love KISS, but who are some of your favorite artists? Ones that mean the most to you.

Eddie;
UFO, Van Halen, Rush, Aerosmith, Sabbath with Dio, Billy Squier, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, so many, but those are a few. My two favorite newer bands are Rival Sons and The Struts.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for anyone in your field just starting out? How do they stay afloat in a world that seems to be so abhorrent to creatives?

Eddie:
Be unique. Do something to stand out. Fill a void. Have an angle. Anyone can have a podcast, blog, site, YouTube channel. Anyone. That, like bands putting out music, makes it super overcrowded and saturated. Not many have real audience and impact. And to get that you have to be original and find a way to get audience and stand out. Easier said than done but to me that’s huge. It’s also what I did in 1983. Hardly anyone was doing a “Metal show” then. So I got started because of a concept, not because I was a great experienced broadcaster. And I built a following being consistent and true to my beliefs. It is not always easy at all, but it pays off and is most rewarding if you can do it.

Eddie Trunk - Akiyama Photography
Image credit: Ron Akiyama Photography

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Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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