So, do you truly love or hate "Stump The Trunk"?
Ummmmm. That's; man, that's a two-edged question. Well, listen: it's great to be known for something. It's funny. I guess it would be like asking a band if they love or hate a hit record that they might be tired of playing. Laughter. It's a blessing for sure, because it's great to be known for something so much like that. It's become crazy; even internationally when I travel people will come running up to me needing to "stump the trunk." I do a live feed show, both on my own and also with Don and Jim, in clubs and stuff around the country. When we do that show, the majority of people there are pouncing ready to do "stump the trunk" because we do live trivia at the end of the show. It's funny to me, because I don't think I know it all at any stretch. But I do know more than the average person, because I've been doing this my whole life; it's what I do. So I get that people find it fun and get into it.
So it is a blessing, as long as everyone doesn't take it too seriously and understand that it's a bit. The thing I always want to stress is that I'm the last guy in the world to run around and say I know it all. And while it's fun when I get it right, what's most fun for me is when I get it wrong, because I'm learning. Being in this business over 30 years, it's always good to learn.
I'm sure it keeps you on your toes.
Yeah, it's a lot of pressure when we do it on TV. As silly as it sounds, that's a big moment for some of those people. When they come up to that microphone and ask that question, some people are like, 'I've been waiting to do this!' and I feel like I'm going to disappoint them. It's a strange dynamic and a strange thing to be known for, but I'll take it.
Well, and you've worked in just about every aspect of the music industry over those three decades. You left Megaforce back in 1990, and so much has changed with label/artist relations since then. How do you view the industry differently now than you did in the '90s, and in the '80s?
Well it's so much smaller now. There's so many fewer labels, fewer employees, fewer department, ad labels ... and things are so different. I mean, a lot of times bands don't even have labels, and management controls everything. Sometimes artists don't even have management, and they manage themselves! Um, you have to stay on top of that end of it, to navigate all of it. As a producer on the show as well, a big part of what I do is the behind-the-scenes stuff, like I said before, just hanging up with Kirk Hammett and working with his management. Behind the scenes work is a ton. And I'm lucky I've got those relationships and can navigate that, because it's really tough now to keep up with what these guys are doing. A lot of these people who work with these artists are independent, they're outside contractors. So they are hired to work in August and you may be dealing with publicists or a marketing person for six months and then you call them and they don't handle that person anymore. It's constantly changing.
And unfortunately, there's so little money out there now. I was kinda joking with someone yesterday, because I'm still a big fan of CDs. That's still my favorite way to get music and listen to music. Someone at the taping yesterday was talking to me about a band's album, and so I said please bring a CD, don't give me a file download. That's how I need to digest it. And they handed me a burned CD in a white sleeve with nothing on it. Laughs. It struck me that it's so absurd that it's, um, difficult... you know, I'm a guy with a few radio shows, but it's actually difficult for me in 2015 to get a real CD! I said, it's almost comical. If this were the '80s you guys would be sending a private plane to deliver 500 copies of a CD. And now you can't even get a real CD; they are burning them on computers and handing over an unlabeled disc. It's very sad, actually.
It's so crazy. I totally agree. And bands should be prepared to provide that medium as well, and many don't have the available materials they need to even promote themselves.
It's ridiculous. I mean, people say to me all the time, they wonder why the industry is sort of going down, and I mean, I understand that everybody needs to save money and budgets aren't what they used to be. But there are some basic things that you should be able to deliver to people who are out there to help sell and promote the music. I don't know where it's all headed, but it's definitely something where you have to be on your toes and pound away to get the simplest things.
So then what 2015 albums are you most looking forward to?
Hm. Well, there's a few out already that I absolutely love and they've come out already. One is, the new album from Black Star Riders, which used to be Thin Lizzy. Their second record just came out called The Killer Instinct, which is an early candidate for my album of the year.